RockAIR User Guide

The RockAIR is a dual-mode Iridium/cellular tracking and messaging device. It can transmit its position from anywhere on Earth. Primarily designed for carry-on use in light-aircraft or dashboard mounting in vehicles.

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RockAIR

This document describes the physical properties, features, and how to use the RockAIR.

Physical Location and Orientation

The RockAIR is equipped with both Iridium and GPS antennas, located on the top of the device. For the best results, it is important to be mindful of the orientation of the device when in use. To ensure good satellite signal, the antenna should be clear of obstructions and have a clear view of the sky. It should be mounted on a relatively flat surface, antenna side pointing upwards.

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RockAIR in Good Position

Examples of obstructions include large metal or carbon-fibre objects above the RockAIR, being inside a building, or anything which creates a visible blockage between the top of the RockAIR casing and the sky. In these instances, it would be best to re-position the device to have a clear view.

The typical mounting position for the RockAIR is on the dashboard of your aircraft/vehicle, allowing a clear view through the visor/windshield.

If you are unable to position the unit anywhere with such a view, you may wish to consider installing the external antenna kit - please discuss this with TracPlus before purchasing.

Physical Specifications

  Unit on its Own With Quick Release Clip With External Antenna
Width 100 mm +6 mm +0 mm
Length 119 mm +0 mm +8 mm
Height 25 mm + 5 mm +0 mm
Weight 210 g +22 g +15 g
 Physical Spec's

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RockAIR with External Antenna Connectors

Dual Mode Cellular / Iridium

RockAIR units are also equipped with Cellular / GPRS, which may or may not be enabled subject to your monthly tariff (ask your account manager if you are unsure). If GSM is enabled, the RockAIR will try to transmit over the cellular network first and will transmit over Iridium if that fails.

Cellular transmissions are significantly cheaper than satellite based transmissions, and so this provides an option to lower running costs if you spend time in cellular coverage areas. Where no cellular coverage is available, Iridium will be used, which works everywhere on Earth.

The RockAIR can also transmit at different rates when in cellular coverage versus satellite-only (e.g. faster in cellular areas, more slowly when transmitting over Iridium) - this is controlled via the Cellular Profile (see the Profiles section later in the manual for details).

Powering the RockAIR

The RockAIR can be powered in multiple ways:

  • Using a micro-USB cable (supplied)
  • Using an external power source (9 - 30v DC)
  • Internal Battery (temporary use only)

The internal battery will recharge whenever the RockAIR is connected to either USB or 9 - 30-volt power source.

If the unit is being powered using the micro-USB cable it is important to use a reputable USB adapter which can provide at least 1.3A @ 5v.

Powering Down

When the RockAIR is powered down, the device goes through a process, during which any queued messages will be sent. A shutdown message will also be sent. During this process, the RockAIR will be attempting to establish a GPS position to attach to the message. When all these messages have been sent the device will then complete the shutdown process. If the device is unable to do this, it will shut down after 15 minutes and the queued messages will be sent when the device is powered on again.

Front Panel: Buttons and LEDs

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RockAIR Front Panel

1. Activate / Deactivate / Suspend

To activate the RockAIR and start sending tracking reports, press and hold the power button for 2 seconds. The LED will light up and will show a solid green light to indicate that the unit is active and tracking is enabled.

To deactivate the unit, press and hold the power button for 2 seconds again. The LED will turn off, indicating that the unit is now deactivated. When deactivated, no tracking positions, waypoints or messages will be sent.

You can temporarily suspend tracking by a short press on the power button. When tracking is suspended, the LED will flash quickly - to unsuspend the device, press the button again, and the LED will show a solid green light.

Note: when tracking is suspended, no routine tracking reports will be sent - however, you can still send alerts and waypoints (see 2 & 3 below).

2. Automated Monitoring Service (AMS)

AMS mode is designed to give you more peace of mind in certain situations. When enabled, it will ensure an automatic alert is raised if your provider decides your activity is abnormal (irrespective of whether you raise a manual SOS). For more on AMS see the User Guide here.

To activate watch mode, press the 'Watch' button. The LED will start flashing quickly. At this point the RockAIR is sending a message to the TracPlus servers, requesting that you wish to be ‘watched’, and awaiting confirmation that their system has received your watch request.

When the RockAIR receives the confirmation from TracPlus, the LED will turn a solid green light. You are now actively being watched, and if routine tracking information stops being sent an automatic alert will be raised. 

To deactivate watch mode, press and hold the 'Watch' button for 2 seconds. The LED will start flashing slowly. At this point the RockAIR is sending a message to TracPlus, requesting that you do not wish to be ‘watched’ any longer, and it is waiting for the confirmation that the system has received your ‘stop watch’ request.

Once the RockAIR receives confirmation from TracPlus, the LED will turn off. You are now back in normal operating mode, and TracPlus is not actively monitoring your transmissions.

3. Waypoint / Mark

Sometimes you may wish to mark an interesting spot or waypoint for later review. The RockAIR enables you to do this easily using the Mark buttons.

Pressing the Mark button will make all four lights flash, requiring you make a choice of which one you wish to mark (1, 2, 3 or 4). If you press button 1, then the point will be registered as the respective colour label etc. TracPlus will display these waypoints in the TracPlus Software for later review.

Once a waypoint type has been chosen, a GPS fix will be taken at your current location, and will be sent along with the waypoint type to your provider for later review on the map.

4. Distress 

Pressing the red distress button will trigger the sending of a 'Distress Message' to TracPlus, and the LED will flash constantly indicating your RockAIR unit is now in ‘Distress mode’.

Depending on the arrangements you have with TracPlus, this may alert your own predefined responders, or may alert the emergency services. Check with your account manager if you are unsure who will be alerted in the event of a button press.

Whilst in Distress mode, your RockAIR will be transmitting tracking information based on your Distress Profile. See ‘Profiles’ later in the manual for more information on this.

To cancel the distress, you can either:

  • Press and hold the 'Distress' button for 4 seconds
  • Deactivate your RockAIR unit (button 1)

5. Power On LED Light

The Power On LED light is on solid when the device is using an external power source and is blinking with the device is using the internal battery. The light is off when the device has been turned off.

6. Bluetooth LED Light

This light is on solid when another device; iPhone or iPad for example, has made a Bluetooth connection with the RockAIR.

Reset

In rare situations, you may be requested by the TracPlus support staff to perform a ‘hard reset’ of your RockAIR unit. To do this, hold down the green power button for 12 seconds.

When the unit has been successfully reset, all 6 LEDs will flash 3 times and it will beep to indicate the unit is ready for use again. Resetting can take up to 60 seconds after the buttons have been released.

Keypad LED Brightness Adjustment

Depending on your installation, you may wish to adjust the brightness of the LED indicators. To do this press and hold the two middle buttons (‘Watch’ and ‘Mark’) for 2 seconds. All of the LEDs on the keypad will light up.

You can then use the ‘AMS’ button to cycle through the five different brightness options. When you have chosen the most suitable setting, press any of the three other keys (‘Power’, ‘Mark’ or ‘Alert’) to go back to normal operating mode. The LEDs will go back to their previous states, with the new brightness setting.

Tracking Features

The primary function of the RockAIR is to report its GPS position on a regular basis.

In normal operation, the RockAIR will establish a GPS fix, and then try to transmit that fix back to TracPlus for monitoring and later review.

Tracking Frequency

You are able to select how often the unit transmits a position - the slowest option is once per 24 hours, the fastest is 30 seconds via satellite, and 15 seconds via cellular. Note, extremely quick transmissions via satellite will depend on how good a view of the sky the RockAIR has.

Burst Mode

Burst mode is a special tracking frequency that allows the RockAIR to collect a GPS fix every 'X' seconds, and then transmit the batch of positions at a slower rate (e.g. fixes every 5 seconds, transmit once per minute).

Activity Sense

In all activity sense modes, the tracker will switch to the burst mode settings when 'activity' is detected, and use the normal tracking frequency when activity is 'not' detected. Activity is normal motion, but in the case of the 'power' mode, activity is when external power is applied:

Power

Burst mode is activated when external power is applied and normal mode when running on battery. 

Bump

Bump will use the accelerometer to detect bumps, and will activate the burst mode whilst it's 'bumping' 

SOG

Speed Over Ground will turn on the GPS chip all the time, and activate burst mode when SOG is over 4 mph (this uses lots of battery power). 

Bump+SOG

Bump+SOG is kind of between the two. It will trigger burst mode when it detects bumping, and THEN turn on GPS, and will keep burst mode going until SOG goes below 10 knots. 

Notes:

  • Bump is good for walkers, or in something which is continuously bumpy, such as a 4 x 4 car.
  • SOG is good all the time but uses a lot of power as the GPS is on all the time in this mode.
  • Bump+SOG gives optimum power usage; for example when the aircraft initially is 'bumpy' on the tarmac to activate it, but then when in cruise it is smooth (and so needs the SOG mode to keep burst going).

Tracking profiles

The RockAIR can send tracking information at different rates, depending on its status. For example, if transmitting data over the cheaper, cellular network then it could be set to a faster transmit rate, e.g. every 15 seconds, while when transmitting via satellite (SBD) then it can transmit at a slower rate, e.g. every 2 minutes.

These settings are controlled using ‘Profiles’. Each profile allows you to set a tracking rate, and also a ‘burst mode’ tracking rate.

There are three profiles - Cellular, Iridium & Distress:

Cellular Used when the RockAIR has cellular coverage, and the cellular mode is set to 'GPRS Preferred' or 'GPRS' Always.'
Iridium Used when the RockAIR does not have cellular coverage, and/or the cellular mode is set to 'Never.'
Distress Used when the Distress button has been pressed on the RockAIR and the unit is in the 'Distress Mode.'
Profiles

Alert Features

Button Alert

Pressing the red alert button on the keypad will trigger a distress message to be sent to TracPlus, and the LED will flash constantly indicating your RockAIR unit is now in ‘distress mode’.

Depending on the arrangements, this may alert your own predefined responders along with TracPlus Support. Check with your account manager if you are unsure who will be alerted in the event of a button press.

Whilst in distress mode, your RockAIR will be transmitting tracking information based on your Distress Profile.

Dead Man's Switch Alert

This function requires a physical button press every 'X' minutes to ensure you are still present and able to respond. The Dead Man’s Switch alert is 'OFF' by default.

When the timer runs out, the LEDs on the two middle buttons will flash, and the unit will beep. You are required to press either of the two middle buttons within 20 seconds to prevent an alert being sent.

If you do not press either of the two middle buttons to cancel the alert, the RockAIR will be put into distress mode. Whilst in distress mode, the RockAIR will be transmitting tracking information based on your Distress Profile.

Cancelling a Distress

If you have inadvertently set off a distress, you are able to send a distress cancellation message.

To cancel the distress, you can either:

  • Press and hold the distress button for 4 seconds
  • Deactivate your RockAIR unit (see button 1)

Power Loss Alert

This is a one-time alert which will notify TracPlus if your RockAIR unit has lost external power. It will not put the RockAIR into distress mode, and cannot be cancelled.

The power loss alert function is 'OFF' by default.

Messaging and Configuration

Using TP Connect App for iOS you are able to configure your RockAIR’s settings. Also, the RockAIR device is capable of sending and receiving short messages and other types of communication via the app.

TP Connect can be download from the iOS App Store here. The TP Connect User Guide is available here.

The default PIN code (which is required to configure the RockAIR via the app) is 1234.

Settings and Options

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Turning on a RockAIR

GPS Settings

There are five options to consider when configuring the GPS settings.

Early Wake-Up

By default the RockAIR will try to transmit ‘on the minute’ - so for example, if it is set to hourly transmissions, it will try to transmit at :00 past the hour, if set to 5 minute transmissions it will try to transmit at the :00, :15, :30, :45 etc.

In order to do this, the RockAIR wakes up slightly earlier than the transmission time to allow it to establish a GPS fix. The default is for it to wake up 20 seconds beforehand. This default can be changed using the ‘early wake up’ setting.

Note: This only applies when running on battery power alone, when the RockAIR is running on external power the GPS chip is permanently ‘on’.

Mode (2D / 3D)

The RockAIR requires a certain quality of GPS fix before it is allowed to transmit data. One of the options is whether it accepts a 2D or 3D fix. A 3D fix generally has more accurate altitude data but requires more GPS satellites to be in view.

By default, the RockAIR requires a 2D fix. However, given the RockAIR is usually powered at all times, in the vast majority of cases 3D fixes will be sent.

Fixes Before Accept

RockAIR requires a certain number of ‘good’ GPS fixes in a row before it will accept the fix and transmit. This setting controls how many consecutive ‘good’ fixes are required. The default is 5.

Hot Status

This setting controls whether the GPS chip is permanently powered during battery-only operation. By default when running on battery, the GPS chip will only be turned on for short periods controlled by the ‘early wake up’ period defined earlier.

Note: During powered operation, the GPS chip will always be on, so the Hot Status will be ignored.

Mailbox Checking

Whenever RockAIR transmits information via satellite, it will also check whether there are any messages waiting to download. This suits most modes of operation, and there is often no need to use specific ‘Mailbox Checking’.

However, if you are predominantly running in cellular mode, you may wish to have the unit check-in with the satellites every so often, just to download any messages waiting for you, since otherwise, you may not get them.

To do this, you would turn on Mailbox Checking and set the Frequency to suit your preference.

Again, for most customers, this feature is not required or useful, and excessive mailbox checking will incur satellite costs. Contact TracPlus Support for more information on this and for specific advice.

External Accessories Settings

 

External Power Availability

When connected to an external power source, the RockAIR will keep its GPS chip and Iridium modem powered at all times. This enables it to maintain an accurate GPS fix more easily, and also means it will receive messages from Iridium more quickly.

At times you may wish to use your device without external power, but by default, this will have the side-effect of turning off the GPS / Iridium when not being used to send a position.

If you wish to ensure GPS and Iridium stay on permanently when running on battery alone, you can set External Power Availability to ‘Unlimited’. This will deplete your battery more quickly.

This setting can also control whether the device comes on automatically when external power is applied and deactivates itself automatically when external power is disconnected. To do this, change the setting to ‘Unlimited + Activation’. Some may prefer this mode of operation, as it removes the need for the operator to remember to activate/deactivate the tracker - for example, for automated tracking of flights in aircraft.

Note: When the device is set to Power Mode, as a safety measure the unit will not be deactivated automatically unless the GPS speed is lower than 10 knots. For instance, in case of power is lost during a flight it is assumed that it is desirable for tracking to continue, even though external power is not present. 

Serial API

All RockAIR units have an RS-232 serial interface which can be used to send custom data strings. Please refer to the Serial API documentation, and also TracPlus who will be able to guide you in the correct way to use this feature.

External Switches and Switch Input Sensitivity

RockAIR has 5 switch inputs which can be used to send specific ‘events’. For example, you could wire a switch input to a door switch, to transmit an event each time that the door is opened or closed.

Please refer to TracPlus Support on the correct way to use these switch inputs, how to wire them, and how to setup the input sensitivity for your application. 

Ports and Wiring Diagrams

There are three main ports on the back of the RockAIR, and optionally 3 SMA connectors, (if you have the version with external antennas).

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RockAIR Back Panel

From left to right on the back of the unit: 

  1. Iridium antenna (red SMA connector - if supplied on purchase)
  2. GPS antenna (blue SMA connector - if supplied on purchase)
  3. Cellular antenna (yellow SMA connector - if supplied on purchase)
  4. Switch input port (Molex)
  5. Power/Serial port (Molex)
  6. Micro USB port (5v power)

Connection Diagrams

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RockAIR Wiring Diagram

Compliance Information

This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC rules. The operation is subject to the following two conditions:

  1. This device must accept any interference and;
  2. This device must accept any interference received including interference that may cause undesired operation.

Changes or modifications not expressly approved by Rock Seven Mobile Services Ltd. could void the user’s authority to operate the equipment.  

Support

For assistance, please contact the TracPlus support team by emailing support@tracplus.com or call +64 (3) 477 8656. Please be ready to provide the following information:

  • Name and contact number.
  • The serial number of the device (see serial number label).
  • Symptoms of the issue.
  • History of action taken to attempt to rectify the issue.

Please remember that the more information you can give us, the better we’ll be able to help you. Please be as descriptive as you can and we can then get you up and running again as quickly as possible. 

Should you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact the TracPlus support team on support@tracplus.com or call us on +64 (3) 477 8656.

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