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March 15, 2015

New Flexible Antenna and Interface Options for RockBLOCK Mk2

Already established as an innovative, low-cost satcom system for commercial M2M applications and internet of things (IoT) developers, Rock Seven (now trading as Ground Control)’s RockBLOCK plug and play two-way global communications system has been upgraded to offer more flexibility for commercial users. In addition to more standardised interfacing, RockBLOCK Mk2 now offers the choice of using an on board or external Iridium antenna.

Designed to work with any platform with a serial or USB port, including Arduino, Raspberry PI,  Intel Edison, as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, RockBLOCK is a simple and reliable way to integrate two-way communication into any sensor or automation focused product design. It can send messages of 340 bytes and receive messages of 270 bytes using Iridium short burst data (SBD), which offers global, pole-to-pole coverage.

New features in RockBLOCK Mk2 include the addition of an optional SMA connector, so external antennas can be used instead of the onboard patch antenna. Rock Seven has also changed its equipment interface approach, replacing the original RockBLOCK’s proprietary break-out connector with a standard 0.1″ pitch connector. Both developments are aimed at giving greater flexibility when developing communication capabilities at the design stage of a project, whilst enabling simpler installation and interfacing.

As an easy-to-implement and operate system suitable for all levels of technical expertise, RockBLOCK provides a diverse user-base with a reliable way to communicate with and control equipment remotely. RockBLOCK Mk2 is designed to support commercial organisations in their effort to extend the IoT to remote areas, from the deserts and poles to oilfields, wind farms, and near-space.

Launched alongside the ‘Naked’ RockBLOCK Mk2 is a new version delivered in a robust case, called RockBLOCK Plus. Designed for rugged applications, RockBLOCK Plus is encapsulated in a waterproof IP68 housing and includes a 3m lead. It takes 9-30v DC power (instead of 5v on the standard RockBLOCK Mk2) and RS-232 signals (instead of UART).

RockBLOCK+ is ideally suited for use by commercial organisations operating in hazardous or inclement environments and is especially relevant for maritime application on workboats or ‘smart buoys’.

RockBLOCK Mk2 is a low-cost way to integrate remote machine-to-machine (M2M) communication functionality into any project. The product and service is available globally from Rock Seven or via international re-sellers.