RockBLOCK Plus


The waterproof and ruggedized RockBLOCK Plus allows you to send and receive short messages from anywhere on Earth with a clear view of the sky. It works far beyond the reach of WiFi and GSM networks.

Designed for small amounts of sensor data, the RockBLOCK Plus uses the Iridium Short Burst Data (SBD) service: low latency, low power, and low cost of ownership.

RockBLOCK Plus

$ 405.00$ 443.00

SKU: FP-GC-RB-PLUS Category:
Coverage Data sheet

Enclosed Waterproof Satellite IoT Device

The RockBLOCK Plus delivers plug-and-play satellite communication, and is a waterproof and ruggedized version of the RockBLOCK 9602. It leverages the Iridium Satellite network – specifically, ‘short burst data’ (SBD), delivering message sizes of 340 bytes up, 270 bytes down.

It’s highly UV-resistant and has a marine kevlar cable, making it ideal for long-term outdoor deployment even in the most severe environments. It uses the RS-232 protocol for serial communication, so is truly plug-and-play. If you have sensor data in hard-to-reach places, the RockBLOCK Plus is a reliable means of getting that data back to you in close to real-time (latency is <1 second).

RockBLOCK Plus Annotated

Where is the RockBLOCK Plus being used?

It’s designed to transmit sensor data from IoT applications, and is being used to great effect in forestry, preventing illegal deforestation and creating alerts for extreme temperature changes; in environmental applications, monitoring earth movement and water levels to provide early warning of landslides and flood risks. It’s deployed as part of Thailand’s tsunami detection system, with the potential to save many, many lives.

You can read more case studies involving the RockBLOCK series of products here.

  • Plug and play satellite communication
  • Available as a PCB (the RockBLOCK 9602) or encapsulated product
  • Full 2-way communication system
  • Integrated antenna and power conditioning
  • Powered via 9-30v DC, RS-232 for data
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux computers (including Raspberry Pi), and many other platforms with serial or USB ports.
  • Truly global operation, pole to pole (see coverage map)
  • Data via e-mail or directly to your web-service
  • Utilizes Short Burst Data: send 340 bytes from an RockBLOCK Plus, and receive 270 byte messages
  • Integrate into your own software with minimal effort
  • Built in Antenna: Yes
  • Transmits Using Iridium
  • Weight: 0.66 lbs (300 grams)
  • Size 1.57″ (40 mm) high, 5.39″ (137 mm) diameter (+cable)
  • Waterproofing IP68 certified (submersible up to 1m indefinitely)
  • Ideal For External use
  • Powered via 9-30v DC, RS-232 for data
  • Power consumption: max 450mA (100mA required)
  • Power I/O: direct header or FTDI / USB
  • Storage temperature: -40F to 185F (-40 to 85 degrees C)
  • Operating temperature: -40F to 185F (-40C to 85C)
  • Operating environment: < 75% relative humidity
  • Iridium modem: 9602 short burst transceiver
  • Iridium antenna: 1621Mhz tuned patch antenna
  • Messages sent can be delivered to your chosen email or sent to your web service as a simple HTTP POST

Ground Control offers Iridium SBD airtime both as a prepaid tariff, and as an annual contract for companies planning a larger deployment of devices. Full pricing plans can be found on our Short Burst Data Pricing page.

If you choose our prepaid, or pay-as-you-go option, line rental is paid in blocks of 1 month, and allows the RockBLOCK Plus to exchange information with the Iridium satellite network. You only pay for months in which you wish to use the RockBLOCK Plus. No annual contract is required. Line rental costs $17.00 per month and includes access to the RockBLOCK management system for managing your devices.

Credits are used each time you transmit. 1 credit is used per 50 bytes (or part thereof) of message sent or received. 1 credit is also used if you check your mailbox and there are no messages waiting (A mailbox check). Credits do not expire, even if you are paying no line rental. Credits are shared/pooled between all of the devices on your account

Please note, while our pay-as-you-go tariffs offer great flexibility for development purposes, we know they are not suitable for everyone. If you are planning a large deployment of devices and are willing to commit to airtime contracts of 12 months or more, please get in touch. We have access to various tariffs which may suit you better.

50 Credits
100 Credits
1,000 Credits
5,000 Credits
10,000 Credits
50,000 Credits
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Line Rental (Per Month):

Iridium SBD Coverage

In Low Earth Orbit (LEO) the Iridium satellite constellation is able to deliver many benefits for IoT applications, not least reduced ping time. As these satellites are much closer to the Earth’s surface, the latency – ping time, is typically less than one second.

Utilizing omni-directional antennas, data will be accepted by the closest satellite and then ‘handed off’ as appropriate to the next. Using a mesh of 66 satellites in total, the SBD service is ideal for mobile applications anywhere on the planet including both poles.

Iridium’s truly global, low-latency SBD service is perfect for monitoring and updating status on everything from weather balloons to fleet telematics. Used for tracking and IoT applications alike, this service works anywhere on Earth without expensive roaming charges or the need for multiple service agreements.

Iridium Coverage Map – Real Time Tracking

Considering the RockBLOCK Plus?

Great, click the button below to start a dialogue with one of the team and see how the RockBLOCK Plus fits with your application.


Frequently Asked Questions

How rugged / waterproof is it really?

Very. The RockBLOCK Plus is a completely encapsulated design, so it’s at least IP68 (submersible for extended periods). Just don’t expect it to send messages from underwater, as with any satellite solution, it needs a clear view of the sky.

How quickly can I send a message?

Testing shows it generally takes around 20 seconds from power-up to successful transmission, with a perfect view of the sky. With a very restricted view, it may take several minutes. You should be able to complete an Iridium SBD session roughly every 10 seconds, assuming a perfect view of the sky.

Do I get positions with my messages?

The RockBLOCK does not have a GPS chip inside it. It’s envisaged that if you want position reports, you’d use an off-the-shelf GPS module with your solution and get position data from that.

However, it’s worth noting that with each Iridium transmission we do get an approximate position report. This varies in accuracy from 62 to 0.6 miles and therefore can’t be relied upon for accurate tracking, but we do provide this information for you (along with the approximate accuracy, ‘CEP’, in km) with your messages. If you’re looking for a dedicated tracking satellite tracking device, you might want to consider our RockFLEET product.

If I have a whole set of RockBLOCKs, how does billing work?

Our pay-as-you-go billing is flexible and allows you to pay only when you’re using your devices. Line rental is sold in one-month blocks, and credits are bought in packs. If you have several RockBLOCKs, credits are shared from a credit pool among all your devices so you don’t need to buy separate packs of credits for each device. Similarly, if only some of your devices are being used at any one time, you don’t need to pay for line rental on those which aren’t in use.

We also offer annual contracts for larger deployments of RockBLOCKs, which are more cost effective. Data pooling is still available on our annual service plans.

What happens when the unit refuses to give me data using the SBDRT command?

If you’re using the SBDRT command and the modem appears to ‘hang’ when you issue the command, it’s probably due to flow control configuration. The default state for the RockBLOCK and RockBLOCK Plus units has flow control turned ‘on’ in the modem. When running in 3-wire serial mode, flow control should be turned off, which will ensure you get responses to your requests.

Use the command AT&K0 at the start of your command sequence. This turns flow control off, and should solve the problem.

How do you control the sleep pin?

The sleep signal is internally pulled high on the RockBLOCK and RocKBLOCK Plus products, so you can leave it disconnected if you want to leave the modem ‘awake’ all of the time. To turn ‘off’ the modem, pull the line to ground.

Do you have USB drivers for my XYZ platform?

Almost certainly. If you’ve purchased the optional FTDI-USB adaptor then you’ll need to install the FTDI drivers. You can check on their website, where you’ll find drivers for Linux, Mac, Windows, Android, and others.

How can I integrate the RockBLOCK Plus with my own software?

The RockBLOCK Plus appears as a serial interface and you can talk to it using a simple set of AT commands. It’s expected that you’ll be able to integrate it into your own software with minimal effort.

Could you give us some sample code to get started?

There is a Node.js library available and an Arduino library, which you can find here. There’s also an excellent Python project for Raspberry Pi, which would make a great starting point for any Raspberry Pi users, found here. We’re working on publishing some samples for other languages soon.

How do my messages get back to me?

Messages sent from RockBLOCK can either be delivered to your chosen email address or sent to your own web service as a simple HTTP POST. The message data will be hex-encoded so there are no character set problems. Full details of our web service are available in the Web Services User Guide.

How do I send data to my RockBLOCK Plus?

You can make a simple HTTP POST to our web service. The message is queued on the satellite network almost instantly, ready for RockBLOCK Plus to download (on your command).

Does RockBLOCK Plus get notification of a new message waiting?

Yes, as long as you configure it correctly. Check the 9602 documentation for the ‘Ring Alert’ feature.

Do you know what you're doing?

Yes. Ground Control (formerly Rock Seven) has been an Iridium Partner since 2008. We’ve been developing all sorts of products, and we’re famously the people behind YB Tracking.

"The RockBLOCK Plus has proved useful for sending data to the rovers on our system. Users can uniquely address and send rover configuration data via the RockBLOCK Plus. This data is eventually dispatched to the proper rover and can dynamically change the behaviour of the device – i.e., we can tell the rover to wake more or less frequently or make the rover unit’s accelerometer more sensitive to movement events."

Kamron Kent Ebrahimi, Slide Sentinel Developer and Project Lead


Let's get started

If you are looking for a reliable, secure, and easy-to-use Waterproof Satellite IoT Device, then the RockBLOCK Plus is a great option. It is perfect for a variety of applications and it is backed by a team of experts who are dedicated to providing you with the best possible support.

To learn more and work out whether the RockBLOCK Plus could be right for your application, simply fill in the form and a member of the team will get in touch.