Gen 3 Spot and Extreme Tracking. Is it worth the money?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by lacofdfireman, Nov 28, 2013.

  1. HogWild

    HogWild Scott Whitney

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    According to Squaw77, your second sentance is incorrect. Did you find that statement written in SPOT informaion or did you just assume it?

    Please build your own satellite system and SPOT-like units, on your own money, and provide all the hardware and features we want, for free.
    #21
  2. shu

    shu ...

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    from SPOT website FAQs Gen 3 Tracker:

    Author:SPOT Web Team Article Reference #:AA-00490 Views:524 Date Added:2013-05-16 01:00 PM Last Updated:2013-06-18 06:49 PM 2.5 Rating/ 2 Voters

    SPOT Gen3 tracking is smarter than ever! A built in vibration sensor sends tracks only when you are moving. When the device is stationary for more than five minutes SPOT Gen3 will enter Suspended Track mode. SPOT Gen3 will automatically send, at least, one more track from your resting location. While at rest, SPOT Gen3 will not send tracks. Tracking will automatically resume after the vibration sensor detects the unit has begun moving again.

    Motion-Activated tracking conserves battery life and reduces duplicated tracks.


    ..............shu
    #22
  3. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    With a handlebar mounted Spot 1, I consistently see an average of about 3 points an hour. So that's 50% of the time they get through. I'd say 1/2 my riding is national forest, so that seems good all things considered. If I knew my sucess rate would quadruple, I might consider the Spot 3 and 2.5 min interval. I'm not sure it would. Here's a sample track of a day trip doing the first segment of the WABDR:

    https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=758251ecae697d34a

    There are regulary 15 mile gaps in my tracks, and they are often in the areas where I'd be hardest to find. The thing works great on the interstate though, right where i don't need it. I suspect with 2.5min tracking it would work even better on the interstate, but I'd still be 5 minutes apart at best on the trail.

    I carry a PLB too, it's on my person, and it's the medical emergency device. A lot more power, and a beacon to track for when I'm in the trees. They are $250 and last five years, $0 service.

    I've thought through various scenarios:

    - I'm hurt, and can't activate the PLB or it doesn't survive a crash -> spot tracking and the route I sent out before my day are all they'll have
    - I'm hurt, I can activate the PLB -> GPS location if the sat can see me, beacon for homing, and the spot track and the route too. It's amazing how many places have cell service where I don't expect it, so that's a potential option as well.
    - Mechanical failure that can't be resolved -> cell maybe, or I'm walking. I've played out the HELP message scenarios and I think the notion I'll get a response out in the middle of the woods is pretty weak. A sat -phone would be nice, but they are spendy service wise and you don't get tracking. The other option is texting away on a delorme in reach. I think that could be a reasonable alternative, to be able to actaully communicate, and to track too. Their tracking completion rate is better too.

    Before I went to SPOT3 / extreme tracking I'll think really hard about the delorme in reach. Two way communication has a lot more value to me than the higher tracking granularity.

    From a pure medical safety perspective I think a PLB is a huge advantage. It has a MUCH more effective signal, both in terms of raw power and and propagation. It's downside is you have to be able to deploy it.

    Riding with a similarly equipped buddy makes all of this better unless you run into each other and/or both go off the same cliff!

    I've got about 6 mos to go on my spot subscription, I'm tempted to buy an inreach and run them concurrently and post up tracks all my rides. My hypothesis is, based on the allegedly superior iridium service, that I'd see the same improvement in actual track points as the Spot 3 / extreme, and have the two way advantage. Now if only I had $250 + 25$/mo lying around.
    #23
  4. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Spot 1, 2 & 3 (in sequence) user here. The units have become progressively better in tracking ability, and I'm pretty happy with the Gen 3 unit overall.

    I recently logged into my Spot account and it told me that there was a firmware update available for my unit. I plugged it in and it was a painless process.

    I love technlogy when it works :D
    #24
  5. lacofdfireman

    lacofdfireman Long timer

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    We had a pretty good snow storm in Southern Utah yesterday. Not sure this is normal but spot wouldn't even track at all. Is this because of cloud cover? I had the Spot Gen 3 on put it in track mode, outside with clear visibility to the sky and sent my son out on the RZR. He was gone for about 2hrs. We were worried about him and so I went in to track him on the computer. It didn't even ever show the unit was turned on let alone 1 single track mark.. I was pretty bummed about that.. That seems like a condition where I would really want my Spot 3 to work and it didn't. Not even one bit..
    #25
  6. klinquist

    klinquist ├╝bergeek

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    Re: the 1 hour of inactivity - inactivity means the unit is on but NOT in Tracking mode.

    If it's in tracking mode, it is not 'inactive'.
    #26
  7. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Heavy precipitation will suck a satellite signal dry. I spent time on a microwave repeater site in Italy in a past life, and we could tell how bad the fog was by the loss of signal strength.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
    #27
  8. Mastery

    Mastery Mr. Funny Man

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    It was cut and pasted from the SPOT PDF file made by the manufacturer. Don't be an asshat, Nancy.
    #28
  9. jackalsour

    jackalsour Dreamer

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    Predatory business is one thing for consumer junk and cell phones, but some business models succeed with a different attitude like I would expect for an SOS service. I think you'll see Spot lose a lot of market share to Delorme. No I can't build my own satellite system, but the military built GPS and in some countries if you need help it might actually be military SAR coming to the rescue. In many countries you don't have to pay for EMS or SAR.. but when I do pay extra for SOS I do expect more than a cold shoulder when they fail in the middle of a long trip.

    This is a pretty good run down. I figure the first line of defence is a cell phone and Spot is my backup. Spot provides a track to retrace steps if one just disappeared or couldn't activate EMS, and it can also call for non-emergency help. A real PLB is built to last a lot longer than a consumer grade Spot and also works on the more robust satellite system (built for military rather than profit). Both Spot and Delorme use smaller satellite constellations and have limitations. Both a PLB and a cell phone can activate EMS for free but if you don't pay the Spot bill, it won't do a thing.

    Maybe a Spot/Delorme mounted on the bike and a PLB in a pocket/backpack would be the ideal setup.
    #29
  10. HogWild

    HogWild Scott Whitney

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    The Iridium satellte system that the DeLorme inReach uses is a far bigger constellation than ANY military built satellite system.

    Where can you get a PLB for free, and where can you get a cell phone for free with free monthly service? They are NOT free.
    #30
  11. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    The PLB has no service cost. It does have an upfront price, and periodic battery replacemnt. For the ACR Resqlink, figure about $250 up front, and $100-150 for a factory battery replacement every five years. I just figure $50 / yr.
    #31
  12. jackalsour

    jackalsour Dreamer

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    The military uses Iridium satellites.. plus others.. There are PLB's that use multiple constellations on a universal frequency without a subscription (free). A cell phone can call 911 without a paid subscription (free)... Spot and Delorme require a paid subscription for a response on a private frequency, but they provide additional non-emergency services as well.

    I'm in a "poor coverage" zone right now. The tracking is degraded here just the same.. difference is the GPS will go red for periods. The tracking was degraded in Europe and NA where coverage was "99%".. The tracking is degraded in a plane with a clear sky. A $100 HDMI cable won't make your 1's and 0's look any better either. It's either connected or not.

    Everyone says inReach tracks better than Spot because "it has more satellites"... yet they don't seem to be testing it in South Africa or Greenland?.. I suspect the real reason is because the Delorme has a better transmitter. GPS works by receiving a weak signal thanks to a good algorithm. Maybe the weaker point of Spot is the transmitter.

    Spot and Delorme are good for tracking and non-emergency messages. PLBs are still better for SOS and emergencies. I shouldn't have to worry about my Spot breaking because it was on my person.. It could break just as easy on the motorbike.. and being exposed increases the chance of failure. I would like to see something more "military" built..
    #32
  13. HogWild

    HogWild Scott Whitney

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    Iriduim was built by a private company with private funding. The fact that the military uses it just shows how good the system is. And actually, just about every military satellite is also built by private companies, the same companies that built the Iridium system and the Globalstar system that the SPOT uses.

    Neither the PLB nor the phone are free, and you can't use the system without the device. The system that supports the PLB and 911 are not free either. We pay for those through taxes and increased monthly phone bills. Are you suggesting SPOT and inReach should pass on their operating costs to you and me through taxes and on your monthly phone bill? Somehow, some way EVERYTHING has to be paid for. I like the SPOT and inReach approach of charging the people who use it rather than taxing and adding fees for everyone, even if they don't need or use the system.


    Airplane? There is NO PLACE in a typical airplane where you can give a SPOT a clear view of the WHOLE sky and still see the lights and have access to the buttons. And if you're operating in marginal areas, you really should study the system more, and understand the roll of the ground stations and their position relative to your location.

    You're missing a bunch of other factors that play a major roll in how well inReach and SPOT work. Antenna type and size, transmit power, receive sensitivity, ground station location, satellite cross-link capability, satellite orbit altitude, etc.

    I think the weakest part of SPOT is the user. Very few people seem to understand the limitations and the right way to use it. Mounting it on your body (except the top of your head) is not going to give the best results. Using it in an airplane may well not give good results. Using it in a marginal coverage zone and not knowing where the nearest ground station is could give less than optimal results.

    Excellent systems already exist. They just cost an arm and a leg. You seem to want the highest end equipment, yet you don't want to pay for it.
    #33
  14. jackalsour

    jackalsour Dreamer

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    Sounds like semantics. Most everything in the military today was built by a private company. A good PLB has better coverage than a SPOT/Delorme. PLB is better for emergency and requires no additional paid service. Spot/Delorme can do non-emergency tracking/messaging at additional cost. I hope they don't have financial incentive to call in a "private" $$$$ SAR when we already paid for a military equipped and trained one. Or do they call the 911 we already paid for?

    An airplane is higher up.. An airplane can see more sky than on the ground.. You can never see the "whole sky" because of the Earth.. I'm saying the transmit power is the weak point because GPS algorithm works great to receive weak signals with typical obstacles and trees etc... I work on an airplane with a myriad of antennas including Iridium.. Your theories are right but in practice not a major "roll". Spot works by retransmitting a weak signal until it goes through..

    So get the user with a broken leg to find the nearest ground station? Walk around with it on your head? Why aren't these explained in the instructions if required? Remember this is an SOS device so the user shouldn't be the weak point. If you call them, of course they will try to say it's "user error" not "we put a weak transmitter" In practice, it tracks the same whether it's upright in view of the entire sky or in my pocket.. There is good satellite coverage over the US and Europe..

    I just want something built more like a Garmin 60CSx rugged... or they could at least back their SOS device up when it fails on a trip by replacing it.
    #34
  15. Hellmit

    Hellmit n00b

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    This seems like a rather broad discussion, and there are a few streams of thought happening here. I have been having trouble with the firmware updater and SPOT keeps insisting that I need to update firmware, yet when I attempt to do the update I am instructed to contact Customer Care. So I did. After two weeks of a few emails we have finally reached a point where they are referring the problem to the "Technical Department"... which makes me wonder who the hell I've been talking to for the last two weeks. SPOT Customer Care has a very poor response time. Don't expect a reply in less than 5 days.

    From various references I have seen around the net, I' not the first to express my dismay. The unit itself seems to work really well, but the company appears to not pay much attention to their customers.
    #35
  16. DRZ RIDER

    DRZ RIDER Been here awhile

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    Need some advice. Purchased the Gen 3 thinking of only the SOS tracking and SAR incase i'm hurt.
    Do I need to have friends, family, phone #s, email addresses and contact information for anyone but me?
    I have no one to "tell" when and where i'm going or anyone that could help me if I were broken down. No one "tracks" me and I know where i've been while riding, why place tracks on a website? If I do break down, I'm totally alone and responsible to get myself out.
    Can the Spot Gen 3 be used just as an SOS beacon, or do I have to have "others" involved from Spot point of view?
    Maybe you could recommend something better for me than Spot?
    #36
  17. Str8lin

    Str8lin Keep it moving!

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    Mu custom message, which is reserved for just a few key and very responsible friends / sons, is : If you receive this message followed by the "I need help at this location" then I am jammed up and need "NON Emergency" assistance at this location. Please contact the closest support service to extract me from this location.

    I know I know, the message I shared above exceeds the number of characters I can actually use for that message, but I am sure you catch my drift.. it is a "confirmation" message to be taken seriously.
    #37
  18. neerajsainie

    neerajsainie Wanderer

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    #38
  19. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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    SPOT Trace offered at 100% rebate.
    I don't get what's the diff from the SPOT gen 2 I have now...
    Can someone 'splain?
    #39
  20. snooker

    snooker AttitudeIsEverything

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    I just received an email from SPOT that basically says...

    Existing SPOT customers of many (all?) older products can purchase a SPOT Gen 3 for FREE !
    Pay at least $149.95 for a SPOT Gen 3 between 12/16/2014 and 12/31/2014 and activate it in that SAME period, and get a $150 Visa rebate card.

    Details in new thread: LINKY
    #40