Category Archives: Iridium Handsets

information on how to set up and use Iridium handsets to access Sailmail

SailMail via Iridium Handsets

While the Iridium GO! provides somewhat cheaper cost for transferring data, Iridium handsets can also be used to transfer data and have the advantage that they are  simpler to use for voice calls in an emergency, not requiring an additional iPhone via Bluetooth.  The Iridium Extreme phone is water resistant, incorporates a GPS, and has an “SOS” button that allow it to be used to summon help, as does the GO!.  Some cruisers buy a “dock” like the one in the photo below from Beam.  When in the dock the Extreme phone is connected to the external antenna, power, and to the computer/USB, and is kept charged.  It can be quickly removed for manual use.  Note that the Iridium GO! and Iridium handsets transfer data at the same speed, but the Iridium GO! has cheaper data rates and connects more quickly.

DriveDOCKExtreme_medIridium offers a “PPP Data Service” for their handsets, which is simpler and quicker than using the Iridium “Direct Internet Service” or a “Dialup” connection.  This is a direct-to-internet connection through the Iridium internet gateway. The advantages are simplicity (no fancy compression or proxy-servers), no other internet service-provider required, and faster setup. This service is perfect for checking mail with SailMail’s direct internet access (aka “Telnet”). This document describes how to set up an Iridium PPP connection.

Drivers: USB drivers are needed for the Iridium 9555/9575 handsets, see this page for more info.

Also be aware that Windows-10 has been reported to “update” Iridium drivers with drivers that don’t work. If you encounter that, re-install the correct drivers.

Prior to using your Iridium phone for a PPP internet connection for the first time, you need to set up a “Standard 19200 bps” modem driver on your computer, and then set up a dial-up networking connection for the Iridium-PPP service.  These steps are both described in detail below for Windows 7, 8 and 10:

First step: Install a Modem-Driver:

1. Close all applications (at least any that use internet).
2. Open Windows Control Panel (Windows search-box is your friend here).
3. Set “View by” to large or small icons, then double-click on “Phone and Modem Options”.
4. Select the “Modems” tab and click “Add”…
5. Check “Don’t detect my modem; I will select it from a list” and then click “Next”.
6. Select “Standard Modem Types”, then “Standard 19200 bps Modem” and then click “Next”.
7. Click the “Selected ports” button and highlight the COM Port that you will use with the Iridium phone (e.g., COM3). Click Next, then Finish.
8. Now go back to Control Panel, open “Device Manager”, find “Modems” and expand that, and find the “Standard 19200 bps Modem” that you just created. Double-click that to open “Properties”, and select the “Advanced” tab.
9. In the “Extra initialization commands” box, enter: AT+CBST=71,0,1
10. Double-check that, then click OK, then close Device manager.

(Note: You can also access the modem properties box via “Phone and Modems”, but the “Extra initialization commands” box is disabled. Go through Device Manager instead).

Second step: Configure a Dial-Up Networking connection

1. Open Windows Control Panel and select “Network and Sharing Center”.
2. Click “Set up a new connection or network” and then click Next.
3. Select “Connect to the Internet” and click Next.
4. If you see “You are already connected to the internet”, click on “Set up a new connection anyway”.
5. If you see “No, Create a new connection” select that, unless you are checking settings of an existing connection.
6. Click on “Dial-up”, and (if prompted) select “Standard 19200 bps Modem”.
7. In the “Dial-up phone number” box enter 008816000025 (see “Note” below)
For User name and Password enter “none” (type that in, without the quotes),
Check the “remember password” box.
For “Connection Name” enter “IridiumPPP”
8. Then click “Connect”, Windows will try to connect– click “Skip” to continue.
9. Click Close and return to Network Center.
10. Click “Change Adapter Settings” on the left, find “IridiumPPP” and right-click and select “Properties”. (Or, open the connection and then click the “Properties” button).
11. On the first tab make sure “Use dialing rules” is not checked, and click “Configure”
12. Then click “Configure”, and check all three hardware features, then click OK.
13. On the “Networking” tab, un-check all items except “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)”. (If any items won’t un-check, that is OK).
14. Click OK to close.

NOTE:  Telstra customers should use the Telstra data number “66666”. The “0088…” number will also work but may be charged at a higher rate.

To connect manually, click on the Networks icon in the system-tray (lower-right corner of the screen), select “IridiumPPP” and select “Connect”. Repeat to disconnect. You can also get to the connections properties from this window.

The following details are important:

1. Don’t forget the “Extra initialization string” in the first section, this is critical.
2. Under Network Connections (second step), only “TCP/IP” should be checked.
3. You need the COM-port number associated with the phone. (The 9555 phone installs as a COM port, use the driver CD supplied with the phone).
4. You must be logged into Windows with Administrator privileges.

Once all that is done, open Airmail’s “Telnet” window (click the “Internet” button on the toolbar or open the Modules menu then Telnet-client). Check the “dial first” box in the Telnet window, and select the “Iridium PPP” connection, and make sure that the “hang up” box is also checked. In recent versions of Airmail the Telnet-window is already set up, just select “Server1”. Also be sure to select “Set up dedicated route”, this will block other programs from trying to “hijack” your Iridium connection.

To check mail, click Airmail’s “Internet” button (or go to Modules menu, Telnet-client), make sure “Server1” is selected and click the green “connect” button. Airmail will dial the phone, contact the server, and exchange mail. Watch the connection and make sure it disconnects when finished. (in the rare case that the primary server is unavailable, there are also two backup servers available).


Remember that the Iridium antenna must be outdoors, with a clear view of the sky. The best antenna is a proper fixed-mount Iridium marine antenna, not cheap but strongly recommended if you are serious about it working reliably. The next-best is the small “hockey-puck” car-style antenna, IF it is stuck to a piece of metal (e.g. a car, or a metal pie-tin 8″/20cm or larger). It is meant to work on a car roof, and needs the metal ground-plane. The phone’s antenna also works (as a third choice), IF it is above-decks with a clear view and oriented vertically.

Also remember that Iridium connections (voice or data) are relayed from satellite-to-satellite to reach an earth station. Your phone shows the signal strength to the first satellite only. If the next satellite is too far, or congested, then the connection will stall or be dropped. Unlike radio, this uncertainty is unpredictable and can be frustrating.

If the phone doesn’t connect at all, check the signal and then check the modem and connection settings above.
If the phone connects but you cannot connect to SailMail then check the Telnet settings below. You must be using port-50.
If you do not have an Internet/Telnet window at all then go to Airmail’s Tools menu, Options window, Modules tab, and check the box to the left of “Telnet Client”. Click OK.

To check your Telnet settings first open the Telnet window (click the “Internet” button or go to Airmail’s Modules menu and select Internet or Telnet Client). Make sure “SailMail” is selected if you have also configured Airmail for ham use. Select “Server1” and click “Settings”. (From Airmail 3.5 these settings are part of the system settings, earlier versions may need to be entered manually).
Check the following settings:
remote callsign: Server1 (or SMSG1)
remote host: (see ** note)
Port: 50
TImeout: (blank)
Local callsign: (your SailMail/marine callsign)
Password: (your SailMail internet password, Case-Sensitive!).
Click OK to save settings.

** Note: For quickest access via Iridium, use “Server1” (SMSG1), make sure the port is “50”, and enter the numeric IP-address  instead of the domain name such as “”– this saves a few seconds. But remember that this address may change if we need to shift servers– so if you cannot connect then enter “” and note the address which is shown when you connect. (Don’t include the quotes shown here). A second server is SMSG2 with the address all using port 50.

If you want to initiate a PPP Data call manually, open the Dial-Up Networking window and open the “Iridium PPP” dial-up connection and click “dial”. And don’t forget to disconnect when you are finished!

Cheers, Jim
(revised 2019-12-20)

Using Iridium’s AxcessPoint with Sailmail

The Iridium AxcessPoint is a hardware device available from Iridium that connects to an Iridium handset and creates a wifi hotspot.

The Iridium AxcessPoint WiFi device comes from the factory programmed with a firewall to limit internet access, but port 50 (used for Sailmail access) is not open. The following setup will allow the AxcessPoint to be used with Sailmail, but for most applications it is simpler to connect directly to the Iridum phone and use the Iridium PPP setup ( or send a blank email to:

To use the AxcessPoint with Sailmail some initial setup is needed:

1. Connect to the AxcessPoint via WiFi using Windows wireless networking.
2. Open a browser and go to
3. Login with the last 6 digits of the mac address. The mac address is on
the box and in the battery compartment.

Note that the Admin password can be changed Under Tools->Admin. However, there is no way to reset the unit so if the password is lost then unit must be returned to Iridium for service.

4. Go to advanced->Outbound Filter

Once there you need to add a rule which opens port 50. Then save settings, the device will reboot.

Other ports can be closed if no other use is planned. This will avoid competition for the Iridium Connection and may speed things up. You can also disable DNS on port 53 if you use the numeric-IP address instead of “” (see this page:

Don’t forget to save the settings and wait for the unit to reboot.

5. Log back into the unit then go to modem settings.
6. Change the mode to manual. This is especially important if the firewall is left open. Otherwise the unit will make a data call as soon as the user wifi connects to it.

Note that DNS is what brings up the connection so if you have blocked all the ports then “on demand” does not work. If you leave DNS open then any DNS activity on the users computer will cause the unit to start a PPP connection. So… it is best if you set this to manual.

Once in manual mode you will need to log in to the web page to bring up the connection and take it down.

Connecting to Sailmail:

Once the above setup has been done, connect to Sailmail as follows:

1. Connect to the AxcessPoint via WiFi.
2. Open a browser and login to (see above for password).
3. Go to status and hit the connect button wait for the unit to go online.
4. Back on the PC run AirMail and do your terminal session.
5. when done, go back to the browser and disconnect.

That should do it, please let us know of any problems or questions.

Cheers, Jim


Iridium 9555 and 9575/Extreme and Win-10 Drivers

The original Iridium USB drivers for the 9555/9575 handsets were not compatible with Windows-10, resulting in a “blue screen” Windows crash whenever the USB port was opened. It took a long time for updated drivers to become available, in the meantime we created a work-around (details below) which is no longer needed.

A CD that came with a recently-purchased phone will have the correct drivers, or you can download them from Iridium at this website:

There are two downloads on that site, the “Iridium 9555 – USB and Modem Drivers” download is a zip file containing the driver files themselves which can be used with Device Manager’s “update drivers” function. (Save the download file, open WIndows Device Manager from the Windows search box, find the Iridium handset under “Ports”, right-click and select “Update Drivers” then browse to wherever you saved the driver files).

There is also a “Iridium Handsets – USB Driver Installer” download on that Iridium page, which is a driver-installer program which can be run to install the drivers. Download that file, then run (open) that file with the handset disconnected from the computer to install (or re-install) drivers.

Alternately you can download the driver-installer from our website here: Handset USB Driver Installer 6.3.9600.9520.exe  Again, be sure the handset is disconnected from the computer.

If you want to read the Iridium release notes click here: v1.3 – Iridium Handset USB Driver Installer – 6.3.9600.9520.pdf

An important note: We have received reports that Windows-10 update will occasionally overwrite these driver files with versions that won’t crash, but also won’t connect. So be sure to keep a copy of the Iridium drivers or diver-installer, and re-install the Iridium drivers if you encounter this after a Windows update.

If you have already done our previous work-around, then no need to un-do that.  If you installed ver 3.5.041 of our Airmail software and used the driver-checker then again this works fine, but you can re-open  Airmail’s “Check Iridium Driver” (under Tools menu) and click “Reset Driver-Test Mode”.  Also, if you disabled the UEFI “Secure Boot Mode” then you can re-enable that if you want:  From the Windows button click Power, Shift-Restart, Troubleshoot, Advanced Options, UEFI Firmware settings, Restart, “Secure Boot Control”.  Whew!

Once the drivers are installed, go back to the Iridium set-up page to finish the setup.