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Old 02-05-2010, 09:23 PM   #1786
gageezer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gageezer
I just returned from a trip to Thailand and was very disappointed in my unit's (SPOT 1 - first generation) performance. I turned it on every day before we went for rides, sent OK signals before and after each trip and, when I checked the page to see what I had, I had a total of 58 points, 2 of which were OK signals. It really isn't enough to see where I've been or what roads I took.

I used the unit last year when I rode from my home in Mexico to Barbers in Ala. for Vintage Days and it worked perfect. I understood when I bought the unit that it worked virtually everywhere in the world.

Can anyone tell me what the problem might be? The SPOT website really sucks. Since I've already got this thing, I'll keep it but, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have bought it.
I was just reading some other post on this thread and someone mentioned batteries. I bought my unit last year and have never charged the batteries. It turned on, everything lit up like it always does, and I thought that it would have some sort of warning if the batteries were low.

Anyone think this could be my problem>
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:20 AM   #1787
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gageezer
I was just reading some other post on this thread and someone mentioned batteries. I bought my unit last year and have never charged the batteries. It turned on, everything lit up like it always does, and I thought that it would have some sort of warning if the batteries were low.

Anyone think this could be my problem>
Recharged batteries not good. should be using BRAND NEW lithiums, when they go low
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Old 02-07-2010, 08:54 AM   #1788
TravellingStrom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gageezer
I just returned from a trip to Thailand and was very disappointed in my unit's (SPOT 1 - first generation) performance. I turned it on every day before we went for rides, sent OK signals before and after each trip and, when I checked the page to see what I had, I had a total of 58 points, 2 of which were OK signals. It really isn't enough to see where I've been or what roads I took.

I used the unit last year when I rode from my home in Mexico to Barbers in Ala. for Vintage Days and it worked perfect. I understood when I bought the unit that it worked virtually everywhere in the world.

Can anyone tell me what the problem might be? The SPOT website really sucks. Since I've already got this thing, I'll keep it but, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have bought it.
Hi. Well, the coverage map shows Thailand in a good location, so it must be the way your unit was being used. How was the SPOT device located, vertical, horizontal, facing forward or back?

I had no issues with mine throughout my travels through the Americas except when I was in tight twisty mountains in Peru and Bolivia and Colombia, as you can see from here, just select thr dropdown and all days.

I do not think your batteries are at fault if you did not see any red flashing LEDS, but did you notice if the green lights were out of sync and flashing individually?

BTW Gageezer, the original batteries are Lithium Ion and are NOT rechargeable. I have used normal rechargeable ones when I could not get any Lithiums, but usually after two days of continuous use they start flashing red to show the voltage is low, which meant two sets and constant recharge.

Cheers
TS
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:42 AM   #1789
DiabloBlanco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TravellingStrom
I have used normal rechargeable ones when I could not get any Lithiums, but usually after two days of continuous use they start flashing red to show the voltage is low, which meant two sets and constant recharge.
Which also meant that if you actually got into the shit and had to send out the 911 call your device wouldn't be able to transmit very long, even with full charge lithium isn't it only rated to like 5 days for emergency transmission? Thus with rechargeables you'd probably be lucky to get one to two days of having it send out constant 911 call, and that's if they were "fresh", not already or almost flashing red... for that reason I say never use rechargeables. Having 2 Lithium in the unit and 4 extras in a little ziplock bag should be the way you start any long trip and should last you months to a year of worry free use. I kept a 12 pack in my sidecase (because I like them in my GPS too if I ever remove it from the bike's power source to go hike parks and whatnot or mark where my hotel is when walking around big new cities so I can find my way back).

As for why it isn't transmitting very well in Thailand? Yeah I dunno, did you have it mounted differently? Going through thick overhead vegetation or mountains?
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:24 PM   #1790
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My Bad.

From the answers I've received I probably screwed up on several things.

1. I have the same batteries in the unit that came with it when I bought it last July so that could very well be part of the problem.

2. Instead of mounting it on a ram mount, I just stuck it into the map case of my tank bag so it wasn't pointing straight up.

3. I was in very mountainous country most of the time. When I was in flat country it seems to have worked fine.

I thought the lithium batteries were rechargeable. Do you mean that they just don't last as long when they are recharged or they can't be recharged? When I googled "lithium batteries" several chargers came up.
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:50 PM   #1791
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There are varieties of Lithium batteries that are rechargeable, but just like any other battery, the type of lithiums that are rechargeable !!MUST!! say "rechargeable" on their bodies. Just like regular alkaline or NiCd batteries, you don't want to take a chance recharging something that isn't made to be recharged. Normal energizer/duracell lithiums you buy in the store are not meant to be recharged.
(I'm not a battery expert, so they may actually be able to receive a charge from a standard recharging unit, but I wouldn't dream to try).

Additionally, I have owned rechargeable lithiums, and while they do work, they never hold nearly as much of a charge as brand new out of the box non-rechargeables. I have used the lithiums rechargeable type in various products, gps, remote controls, cameras, etc, but the Spot I wouldn't just because it is not something you want to take chances with. If you ever get in trouble and need to use it, you want to make sure it can transmit that 911/help call as long as possible without dying.

So while I KNOW the spot will operate for a long time on 2 standard lithium batteries, if I'm riding and using it every day (like trip back from South America), I would swap the batteries out after 2 months just to make sure they had lots of juice so it will be strong when I need it, I would then put the replaced batteries (that still had a decent amount left in them) into my GPS or some other device. Standard ho-hum use at home I'd probably swap them out about mid season (since we have an 8 month riding season here in Minnesota)
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:17 PM   #1792
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My LI batteries last on average about 15 days with tracking mode all day every day during my ride in the Americas.

I used to use them until the red LED came on. That is a good point about the 911 function and getting 5 days out of the batteries when transmitting full time, that would not happen with me.

I never expected to be not found for 5 days, if I am in trouble for that long my body will be on the nose a bit!

Cheers
TS
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:37 PM   #1793
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Time To Review...

This may be a good time to go back to what SpotMaker said about batteries - he was addressing the Alkaline question, but it's still good to know why they spec'd the batteries they did.

This is from post 652 of this thread

"Summary (but please read the case for using Lithiums exclusively, below):

Alkalines will power the SPoT in a pinch, as long as the temperature is above 40 degrees F or so and they are VERY, VERY FRESH.

Now, the reasons we say "Lithium only":

First reason: Alkalines put out NOTHING AT ALL in high drain situations below freezing (32 degrees F) and even fresh alkalines behave like they're nearly dead below about 40 to 45 degrees F or so.

So, if you're using Alkalines and you send a check in message in the daytime and it works great, but then need the 911 feature at night, or after going up in altitude and it's gotten cold, you'd be stuck with a non-functioning SPoT right when you need the 911 feature!

The Lithiums, on the other hand, put out enough current to operate the SPoT correctly down to -22 degrees F (-30 degrees C) throughout their entire useful life and down to -40 degrees F (-40 degrees C) when they are fairly fresh."

---------------

End quote - see the link to the post above to get the full text including high quality full resolution charts!
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Old 02-07-2010, 08:20 PM   #1794
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gageezer
From the answers I've received I probably screwed up on several things.

1. I have the same batteries in the unit that came with it when I bought it last July so that could very well be part of the problem.

2. Instead of mounting it on a ram mount, I just stuck it into the map case of my tank bag so it wasn't pointing straight up.

3. I was in very mountainous country most of the time. When I was in flat country it seems to have worked fine.

I thought the lithium batteries were rechargeable. Do you mean that they just don't last as long when they are recharged or they can't be recharged? When I googled "lithium batteries" several chargers came up.

Actually, #2 is a good thing if I am reading your post correctly. You want the unit laying on it's back with the front facing up. The plastic of the map pocket shouldn't degrade the signal.
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Old 02-08-2010, 03:51 AM   #1795
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatworker
Actually, #2 is a good thing if I am reading your post correctly. You want the unit laying on it's back with the front facing up. The plastic of the map pocket shouldn't degrade the signal.
Your body will block it a bit when it's placed like this though. I've tested and confirmed this with mine. I think I'm going to either RAM mount mine on the handlebars or on the top of my top box.
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:37 AM   #1796
TravellingStrom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TavisB
Your body will block it a bit when it's placed like this though. I've tested and confirmed this with mine. I think I'm going to either RAM mount mine on the handlebars or on the top of my top box.

Yes, I have had this happen in the early days.

I now have the RAM mount on the dash and a lanyard from the SPOT to my jacket, in case I fall off, it comes with me :)
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:01 AM   #1797
gageezer
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My bad again

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatworker
Actually, #2 is a good thing if I am reading your post correctly. You want the unit laying on it's back with the front facing up. The plastic of the map pocket shouldn't degrade the signal.
The tank bag was sloping down so the unit was pointed more toward me than it would have been in the proper mount on the handlebars. I brought the mount but didn't bring a ball for the handlebars so I just went with what I had.

I'm home now so I'm going to test out all these scenarios and find out what works.

I really like the idea of the SPOT but think the company has done a poor job of implementing it. Their website is confusing, on my gen 1 unit it's hard to tell if you're sending an OK or tracking. It seems they could have done a much better job. I think they are like Bicimapas, letting their customers do their product testing for them. (and letting them pay for the privilege of doing it, of course)
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:27 AM   #1798
Emmbeedee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gageezer
The tank bag was sloping down so the unit was pointed more toward me than it would have been in the proper mount on the handlebars. I brought the mount but didn't bring a ball for the handlebars so I just went with what I had.
At the risk of starting up yet another "you should not mount the SPoT on your bike" threads, here's how I mounted mine on my F800GS handlebars:



I used this bicycle mount, so was able to get away without a ball mount below the SPoT RAM cradle. Click the picture to go to the part description on the GPSCity site.

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Old 02-08-2010, 03:54 PM   #1799
DiabloBlanco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TravellingStrom
My LI batteries last on average about 15 days with tracking mode all day every day during my ride in the Americas.

I used to use them until the red LED came on. That is a good point about the 911 function and getting 5 days out of the batteries when transmitting full time, that would not happen with me.

I never expected to be not found for 5 days, if I am in trouble for that long my body will be on the nose a bit!

Cheers
TS
You're saying completely fresh non rechargeable type lithiums only lasted you 15 days?! Did you keep the unit on and in tracking mode 24/7 (even when parked)? Because it was at least 45 up to 60 days before I swapped out my lithiums and the red light never even came on. But I only rode every other day and only had the unit on while in transit (to include during the boat from Cartagena to Panama).

And I agree, having completely fresh 5 days worth of 911 signal is more than ample since if they haven't found me in 5 days I'm probably past f*cked anyways, but my general point was simply if you're using some weaker type of battery (recharged lithiums or alkalines) and the battery is already far from full life when you do get in that f*cked situation, you may have a day or two or even only a few hours of emergency transmission, and that's what you want to avoid. So I sez keep it safe, keep em fresh. But who cares what I say, live and let ride.

That's the same RAM mount setup I use for my spot as well, although I haven't created a tether for it as I should.

As far as Spot 1 being not that great, well I won't argue that, but no one had ever created a device quite like it before, so it's unique in the market, VERY cheap if you consider what you're getting out of it, and very much improved upon with the gen 2 (except for them being overly concerned with making it so small as to force reduced battery performance). The first gen of something always has numerous places for improvement, I mean come on, shall we compare a gen 1 cell phone circa 1995 to what we have in our pockets today? It's gotta start somewhere.
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
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Old 02-09-2010, 05:21 AM   #1800
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No, it was only transmitting tracks when I was moving, I would also do an OK before and after. Down here though with the road conditions, it was sometimes 14 hours a day to get anywhere,

I am unsure on the 'freshness' of these LI batteries, they were Energizer which I have used everywhere else, BUT, they have a shelf life and who knows how old they were. I have had different results over the past two years, but my riding days also change as well. I know I have gotten a full month sometimes, so I guess it is the shelf life thingy.


I am happy with SPOT 1, I would like to see two modifications with it though which I doubt I will see any time soon.

1. A dead man tether, this would allow the unit to sit on the dash in full sky view, when/if there is a prang, I go this way while the bike goes that way and this would pull the 'deadman' cord and activate the 911 function after a 2 minute delay. This allows me to make a mistake when I get off the bike and still not send a false 911 request. At the moment if I come off, the lanyard I have pulls the unit off with me and I just hope it does not wrap around my neck :)

2. I would like to see a waterproof external power supply dock/dash/handlebar mount so the extremely expensive LI batteries only get used when it is off the bike. The batteries are a hidden cost and do not get mentioned a lot and can also be hard to find in South America.

We shall see what happens in the future.

Cheers
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