IOTsatcom is IOT and robotics everywhere

Global two-way satellite communication for robotics and IOT sensors.
Easy to use, GPIOs, telemetry, low power and web API provided.

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This project is for idea-makers with telemetry to send or robots to monitor but without doubts
IOTsatcom wants to play a role in the CLIMATE CHANGE research. Low cost, easy to use.

The IOTsatcom is about a telemetry system to be used via Iridium satellite network.
Using the IOTsatcom, robots and IOT sensors can be deployed everywhere in the globe.
The scientists are able to gather the telemetry on the web platform via its API, download
tables or to analyze data with custom graphs.

Two-way communication is provided in order to send remote commands from the WEB
to the remote unit. The remote commands include GPIOs, Serial RX/TX to the sensor or
robot, PWM, ADC readings.

IOTsatcom is optimized to run with a battery recharged by a solar panel.
A programmable sleep status is available and special low power features are implemented.

Satellite traffic cost is low because the smart protocol and timing/grouping strategies.

Why, climate change and a short story..

This project began with a problem to solve for my ROV. Last year, I needed a method to connect my robot with a web application in order to receive its telemetry, any radio system was out of my purposes because the planned deployment location was very far from everything, even from the GSM network.I started to think to a satellite uplink.

After months of development, I created a system able to bridge the data from/to the robot via satellite link but I wasn't completely satisfied yet. There was another necessary step to do. I wanted to convert my device into an universal product and I had a thought in constant-looping into my head:

"What if we would have a satellite radio device, programmed from a web API, easy to
use, so universal to be connected with any kind of IOT sensor or any robot via serial
port, with low power consumption and cheap in terms of satellite traffic?"

I started to work on it further and I was proud about the results but after I realized it could be used for the scientific research as well. A very important topic for me is the climate change, I am a sailor and a scuba diving instructor, environment, the nature, the ocean is my second home...maybe the first.. this is IOTsatcom today!

A beautiful place I need to take care..

Addressing a world problem ..the CLIMATE CHANGE

Many scientists today need to gather an enormous amount of data, many of them work with a limited budget. They are pushed in their pursuit by their commitment to achieve a scientific result. We need them, we need people who care, we need people with strong motivation in science.

Scientists today will provide us the sustainability of life tomorrow.

  • How to give them access to cheaper technologies?
  • How to help them to focus in their scientific research and spend less time in engineering?

Other men want to have sensors too, control, mobile apps, telemetry everywhere. We see a great amount of IOT sensors on the market today but many solutions can't be provided yet.

Often the 4 common problems to face are:

  1. How to power the far away sensor?
  2. How to send the data to some remote processing system?
  3. This has to be cheap!
  4. Can we change the logic of the IOT sensor/robot from remote?

These questions rise in the context of the ROVs, with complex robots, with big green-houses, monitoring a forest, a volcano, in the ocean or with autonomous systems and sensors. There is a great amount of use cases still difficult to implement.

These problems are even more evident in the case of the study of the CLIMATE CHANGE.I did a search on the web and the results are interesting, some URL links:

Some examples of systems using the Iridium satellite network:

A satellite communication system from the ARGO float sensor in the field of environment research


Another use case example about a robot funded by NASA

[image from Nasa archive]

[article from]

IOTsatcom helps the study of the CLIMATE CHANGE

  • The scientists need to gather a lot of data, in remote locations, almost everywhere.

IOTsatcom is a satellite communication device with a 32bits ARM cortex M4 CPU from Freescale, leader in the sector of automotive due its superior reliability and performances.

  • He needs to convert the system easily and fit different usage scenarios.

The core design from Teensy 3.1, supports many pins with several capabilties, GPIOs, ADC, PWM, hardware serial buses. The web application...

Read more »

  • 1 × Rockblock modem This is the device that connect and communicates to the iridium satellite netowrk. Inside there is an Iridium 9602 modem.
  • 1 × Tennsy 3.1 The teensy 3.1 board implement the communication protocol and power saving techniques

  • Server side and WEB frontend

    Fabio Balzano06/27/2015 at 17:46 0 comments

    Update Tue Jun 30 00:31:40 UTC 2015

    I am working at the server side technologies, above there is my last conceptual work, some details could change between today and tomorrow but we are almost there. The technologies involved are:

    • WAMP on websockets at the early stage of the deployment, after will be more probable switch to something in erlang but still WAMP. It also offers tokens for the authorization before the websocket handshake

    The WAMP architecture

    • no cookies to keep the session at the browser side

    I want to implement something new, the WAMP will provides tools to track the user and his session

    • REST API to push telemetry via HTTPS from the IOT sensors or robots

    This will be in pure python: falcon or wheezy.web, after I will switch to something in erlang probably. The REST API front end offer a solid PUSH only new data interface and very fast. I calculated to support at least 30K requests for second.

    • Postgresql

    Main DB for the data of sensors, rock solid, proven and becoming very versatile these days, I still have to decide few things but I will play with NOSQL schemaless datastore at first, the data will be stored probably in JSONB. I still have to deeply verify if we can pass JSONB to the javascript in browser.

    • Redis as auth. token DB store, it will keep the tokens until the ws is handshaked

    This is a security extra layer, before establish the websocket handshake, the browser needs to send a token received at the first contact with the server, REDIS DB will keep temporary the tokens until they get used with the handshake.

    • in browser HTML rendering of the templates

    This is my challenge, it is more than one year I see new javascript framework to process HTML templates browser side, this means they are not generated server side, the server is just a data streaming backend. It should e useful to keep an impressive amount of requests on.

    • Bootstrap responsive theme with HTML5 and CSS/JS

    I am evaluating several admin panels based on bootstrap, at the moment the more interesting are:

    Ultimo admin link

    AdminLTE link

    further templates could be added tomorrow.

    WAMP, it's time to play..

    I wanted to see how the things work, so after installing, I began to look at the code of the example project and read the online documentation, I changed configuration parameters and code to understand better how it works. There is not to much to see about underneath protocol and WAMP because everything is raised to an higher level of abstraction and it just works but some hacking is still good...

    Now my concern is about the security I could build on top of this system so I am interested to the authorization and authentication features provided by

    The current documentation on github explain about the CRA authentication method, it is interesting, I could write an authenticator in python able to retrieve the secret from a DB to let to perform the authentication BUT some clever guy on github suggest to implement WAMP-SCRAM instead because more secure.

    I am exactly documentation yet...reading the source code to understand how to use it...sure will be a long night again :)....see you tomorrow...cheers

  • Update - Fri Jun 26 21:15:23 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/26/2015 at 21:21 0 comments

    Working on the WEB API, tomorrow I will publish a schematic about the web platform, some technologies I am putting in the boilerplate are:

    • browser side rendering of the HTML template
    • secured websockets data stream to the browser
    • postgresql server side DB
    • mobile first CSS + javascript libraries Bootstrap based
    • c++ language websockets server or uwsgi (still deciding..)

    ...have a nice evening, Thank you


  • A separated programmer - Thu Jun 25 22:20:20 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/25/2015 at 22:32 0 comments

    I want to propose you the idea of a separate programmer for the Freescale CPU, I designed the above block following the schematic of Teensy 3.1 at the website. I divided the Teensy 3.1 in 2 blocks, programmer and CPU.

    Possible benefits:

    • To reduce the costs in case you want to have multiple IOTsatcom, you just need one programmer for all of them, in this case IOTsatcom will keep just the Freescale CPU onboard.
    • Simplification of the IOTsatcom PCB, an easier board to be more reliable and solid dropping the USB interface and programmer on each board.

    Let me know if this idea could be interesting for you and you think this is a necessary feature for the project.

    Thank you.

  • Update - Wed Jun 24 19:47:07 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/24/2015 at 19:47 0 comments

    • Better pagination of all texts

  • Update - Tue Jun 23 10:00:40 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/23/2015 at 10:06 0 comments

    • Cleaner "Addressing a world problem ..the CLIMATE CHANGE"

  • Update - Mon Jun 22 20:42:57 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/22/2015 at 20:45 0 comments

    • Features list is cleaner now.
    • Duplicate notes and text removed.

  • Update - Sun Jun 21 21:56:16 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/21/2015 at 21:59 0 comments

    • Better paragraph "IOTsatcom helps the study of the climate change"

  • Update - Sun Jun 21 19:04:12 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/21/2015 at 19:05 0 comments

    • Improved the description about the Rockblock satellite modem

  • Update - Sun Jun 21 15:27:06 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/21/2015 at 15:29 0 comments

    • better article about why IOTsatcom helps the scientific research

  • Update - Sat Jun 20 00:42:27 UTC 2015

    Fabio Balzano06/20/2015 at 00:43 0 comments

    • Added a paragraph about the energy saving strategies
    • TODO list updated

View all 22 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    The building instructions are fundamentals, they are in the TODO list screenshot attached to the project. I will document every step when the OSHpark PCB board is ready. Thank you.

View all instructions

Enjoy this project?



Fabio Balzano wrote 06/27/2015 at 23:07 point

Is this the case of adding WAMP to the stack? Let me know what you think...thanks

  Are you sure? yes | no


[this comment has been deleted]

Fabio Balzano wrote 06/22/2015 at 22:55 point

I will consider your help for the next project,

I need an Atmel security chip to add encryption and safe key storage for a MCU.

Thank you

  Are you sure? yes | no

Atmel Corporation wrote 06/23/2015 at 12:00 point

We’ll you’re in the place, we’ve got security at our core! That being said, send us a direct message on here and we can discuss further! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Fabio Balzano wrote 06/23/2015 at 12:05 point

Thank you.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Atmel Corporation wrote 06/23/2015 at 13:51 point

Anytime! Just send us a message on here and we’ll chat! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Fabio Balzano wrote 06/21/2015 at 11:17 point

Hi there! Call for the community voice!

I need help to decide if add extra features or not, to be specific:

*Do you prefer a modular design or to have everything integrated on a single PCB board?

Please, could you give me your opinion answering this post?

In case, some ideas for the custom PCB board:

-Solar panel charger with maximum power point tracking (MPPT)

-LIPO battery fuel gauge

-ESP8266 WIFI mesh or acess point modes to gather extra wireless IOT sensors data

-GPS module for precise position and date

-RTC for keeping time during power down (..just with the add of a button battery and a quartz)

-external flash eeprom for data storage...not be used as a mass storage but just as telemetry backup

-...please, add your brilliant idea to this list


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Fabio Balzano wrote 06/17/2015 at 11:17 point

I need help! I putting all my effort to write down this project but I need help in reading proof, if somebody out there has a bit of time...Thank you!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Fabio Balzano wrote 06/16/2015 at 09:31 point

Please flood me questions about the project, it will help me to edit it better and make it outstanding. Thank you!

  Are you sure? yes | no

greenaum wrote 06/16/2015 at 06:43 point

See, I'd ask a question, but you already seem to have everything covered! And I think satcom is a bit of a niche area, although it's amazing you can buy satellite modems as fairly cheap modules, not so long ago you'd have to be NASA or somebody to have your own satellite modem. 

Sorry, nothing to ask. But good luck, and great idea! Talking of NASA, this is just the sort of thing they send to Mars, maybe you should get a CV together.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Fabio Balzano wrote 06/16/2015 at 09:29 point

Hello, thank you for your time,

I appreciate your message and I am doing my best to make this project complete and useful. 

I have a strong commitment about to post an update every day to make this project beautiful and outstanding. I will not make things at half...

Your words are helping me to continue, there are a number of things I still have to do, if you interested in this, follow me, give me a skull!

I will not give up..never! If you are interested to collaborate just let me know, I am always open to new ideas, I still have a lot of new projects to publish.

Have a great hacking day!

Thank you


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Fabio Balzano wrote 06/15/2015 at 14:40 point

Project name released: IOTsatcom

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Fabio Balzano wrote 06/14/2015 at 23:14 point

Please flood me questions .. it will help me to write better future updates..thanks

  Are you sure? yes | no

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