The folks at Fab Lab really like their GATR!

by Jon Thompson on February 1, 2009

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about the inflatable VSAT rig called GATR.  I have always been a bit scornful of GATR’s due to their high cost.  I never really new how they functioned but figured that if the US Military was using them they would have to be fairly durable.  Well, I got an earful from some GATR fans that wrote to tell me that they are tough, functional and fairly easy to set-up.  While there were a few complaints, overall members of the Fab Lab team in Jalalabad, Afghanistan were very impressed with their rig.

I’ll have to say that I am very grateful to the Fab Lab team for coming to the defense of the GATR and taking the time let me know that they not only thought it was a good bit of kit but also what were it’s strengths and weaknesses.  This is exactly what I wish more people would take the time to do and I am now thinking of setting up a gadget page so that we could get into some hardcore discussions about new technologies.  Such reviews are extremely valuable to Procurement Officers researching equipment that they are looking to buy for their field teams.  I used to have to do this all the time and field reviews are the first thing we look for.

While I am now convinced that the GATR is a good piece of equipment I still couldn’t justify the expense (I think $50,000) if I was still shopping for a large humanitarian org.  For that matter I don’t think any agency would drop the cash on such a purchase.  So, for the time being the GATR will probably remain out of reach for many humanitarian organizations.  At one point in her comment Amy states, “GATR enthusiastically allowed rookies to take their ball out for a spin in an inhospitable place.”  I would hope that GATR would approach more organizations and let them test drive their rigs as I am sure they would get some pretty good feedback.  Hopefully, once production steps up they’ll come out with a less expensive model so that more of us can reap the benefits of the GATR.

Here’s a sampling of the comments.  Click HERE to read more:

I’ve been following the Jbad fablab for awhile, and there are no other comms options for internet connection at this time. The gatr they have is an earlier model and has been performing for about 2 years. Newer models are not that bad in terms of set up. I’m not a tech expert, but I managed to get one inflated and connected during a tech demo at the pentagon. See the danger room post about it:

-Joe (not Fab Lab)

The environment that this beach ball has withstood is amazing. Ive been there in the Wind and Sand Storms..and in the blistering heat.. as the ball brilliantly self adjusts and keeps pinging. Is GATR for a long term set up, probably not. You always want a rigid dish with solid service. But as an interim Broadband solution, theres nothing like it.


It’s very fast, no complaints. Once during a very high windstorm the connection did go in and out, and it had to be repositioned after the winds died down. It performed admirably, and it’s a sturdy piece of equipment.


You didn’t observe that I’ve managed to maintain my/the lab’s blogs and massive uploads, video conferencing, real time design work, and so forth, all through the GATR system. Our entire FabFi network funnels back to the GATR. Honestly I’m (we’re) pretty happy and grateful.


Thanks to everyone who left a comment!  My only hope is that now a GATR rep will visit and set me striaght on the pricing!

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GATR and ‘The value of a flyaway VSAT’ | Aid Worker Daily
February 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm

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