The Great Big SPOT Thread

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by John E Davies, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. HogWild

    HogWild Scott Whitney

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    The 911 messages are sent out every 5 minutes, over and over until the batteries go dead, which should be days. If one 911 message doesn't get out, it's likely another will. Since the receiving satellites are moving all the time, even heavy tree coverage will have a gap at some point. So, unless you're in a cave, the SPOT will get the message out.

    If you turn tracking on, even if you can't press the button you have a chance of being rescued because there's a "bread crumb" trail leading directly to you. As long as someone back home checks in on your tracking once in a while, and knows when you should be home, you may have a better chance of being rescued with a SPOT that a PLB. What good is a PLB if you can't press the button?
  2. Alleycatdad

    Alleycatdad Unbunch yer panties!

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    I dunno...after a lot of thought and use of both a spot v1 and v2, I've gone both ways....:D

    I have the SPOT v2 on the bike for tracking. My wife likes it, and as another rider who rides solo and out of cell coverage most of the time, this means that it's easier to get the hall passes to actually get out and go.

    Many here view tracking as an unneeded extra. Given that tracking in a lot of the country I ride in, especially some of the wooded canyons, is sometimes unreliable, I can understand that point of view. However, having searched for missing riders in the past, I am here to tell you that a "last known good" position that's an hour old and that puts rescuers onto your tire tracks with a direction of travel, is MUCH better than, "well, he left here this morning headed kinda west and it's getting dark, so...." Tracking will do that for you. Even if the last good tracking point is old, it's newer than the time you left home, and closer to you as well.

    Period.

    They need to find the body so the insurance will pay. The spousal concern is that I could end up really hurt in one of those spots where the spot doesn't work well, or trapped under the bike, or, or... Murphy is the reason we use these things at all, right?

    The SPOT tracks poorly when I carry it on my body, but may get wiped out or be out of reach if carried on the bike.

    The newer ACR true PLB: http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wc...toreNum=50157&subdeptNum=50205&classNum=50207

    truly is cell-phone-sized, and is a true PLB. I got one for Christams this year, and it rides on my person. It's one more thing to carry, but it just replaces the cell when I'm out and about.

    For us, this is the best combination of "where's Steve"; a "last known good" from the trail, and a true "oh shit, this ain't good" call for help. Yes, the tracking costs extra. Yes, for us, it's worth it, and really, for me, it's the difference between being able to ride the way I like, when I like, or not at all.

    ...and spare me the lectures about being whippped, etc.

    YMMV...

    Steve
  3. sandalscout

    sandalscout blah blah blah

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    Yep, I forgot about that. I knew that at one point, but must have forced it out with some new thing I learned!

    Righto, my bad. I do have quite a bit of missed tracks riding around here, even NOT on the woods, but my wife can see that I'm out and moving with updates at least every half hour, so it's worth the cost to me. Thanks for the clarification, I hate to spread half-truths.

    My biggest complaint is that I weird misses in signal. I have gotten 100% coverage riding in the woods on one day, and about 50% loss of tracking the next day while on the interstate. It definitely has gotten better since I moved the Spot from the map pocket on my tank bag and up onto a RAM mount on the handlebar. Tucks in nicely on the KLR, the picture is somewhat deceiving as it does sit nearly horizontally while the bike is mounted:

    [​IMG]
  4. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Happens more and more to me...think I'm ready for a hard drive upgrade. Yeah, that's the ticket! My problem was described recently as "too many birthdays." :huh :eek1
  5. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Talking about the PLBs. Looking at the ACR site, it says when you activate the distress signal, you have to have a clear view of the sky. So, do the PLBs suffer the same problems as the SPOT and GPSs where anything organic will block its view and render it useless unless moved? Anybody with experience with PLBs in heavily overgrown conditions?
  6. Alleycatdad

    Alleycatdad Unbunch yer panties!

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    I'm not entirely sure about that, since the GPS-side needs to see the sats, but the true PLBs transmit 5 watts while spot uses ~.4 according to reports I've seen on the net.

    That's gotta help. Even if it's a general fix by GPS, once they're close, the PLB transmits a homer which the SPOT does not.

    Steve
  7. sandalscout

    sandalscout blah blah blah

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    As I nunderstand it, PLBs use a more comprehensive satelitte network and should have a faster lock and transmit than a SPOT, or at least more reliable.

    In addition, PLBs tend to (maybe all do) have a radio transmitter that broadcasts a signal that allows responders to locate the device once they are on the ground in the vicinity that they known you to be in.

    Check this out:

    http://www.energyindustryphotos.com/a_guide_to_personal_locator_beac.htm
  8. Pete O Static

    Pete O Static Adventure Seeker

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    A PLB will typically broadcast a distress signal on the 406 MHz band and "supplement" it with a GPS fix coded within the distress signal. The GPS is used to provide those coordinates. So if you don't have a clear view of the sky, your distress signal will still go out but will not have your Lat and Long. The rescue center, upon receiving the signal, will typically look at your profile and contact your listed " responsible person" to get an idea of your whereabouts. ( all 406 PLB's must be registered with the authorities. always leave an itinerary with the responsible person you have listed in the registration ) Most PLBs will also broadcast a distress signal on 121.50 MHz which is a VHF based aviation distress signal. Any airliner overhead or within line of sight will hear it along with most Air Traffic Centers. ( as an airline pilot, I can tell you that our #2 radio is always monitoring 121.50 mhz and whenever an ELT is heard, it is reported immediately. ) This is the same frequency used in an aircraft's ELT and can be homed in on. A friend of mine removed his from his airplane for annual servicing and the kids set it off in the garage. Within hours he had a search and rescue helicopter hovering over his house and a knock at the front door.

    So the short answer is yes, the PLB uses GPS to send a distress signal but unlike the SPOT messenger, that is not all it uses and you won't be left wondering, "Gee did the message get out this time? "
  9. RZRob

    RZRob Long timer

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    I didn't want to read all 200+ threads, but am glad it's discussing more than the Spot. I just received my ResQLink+ from GPS City that I think for the next few days has a $50 off making it just $209.

    The ResQLink+ is a 406MHz PLB registered with NOAA (registering it is the activation process) and offers worldwide support. It's about the size of a cellphone and floats. I carried mine on my person during my last Mohave to Yosemite 1,200 mile XR trip. Tomorrow I'm taking it to Lytle Creek. It gives you good piece of mind when riding alone. BTW, these are sealed units with 5 year life on the battery.

    Your Best Last Chance!

    RZ Rob
  10. halmc

    halmc Turkey T*urd

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    Thank-you gentlemen/inmates. Very good food for thought. The bread crumb argument is a very persuasive argument for the Spot V2.

    One last question: I'm loathe to add anything to my bars, and would greatly prefer to carry such a device in my CamelBak. No doubt the canvas cover reduces the tracking function somewhat, but to what extent, reckon?
  11. Emmbeedee

    Emmbeedee Procrastinators

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    Spot V1 does the bread crumb thing too.

    And it's not the canvas that's the problem, it's the fact that the Spot is likely not being held horizontal, and your body is blocking some of the signals from the sky to the Spot.
  12. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    That's what I do; never had a missed message in just about 1 year of use. I keep it clipped to the cord loop in the top of my camelbak backpack. I don't use tracking, but whenever I stop--gas, lunch, view break--I'll open the backpack, hit the OK button, zip it back in and get back riding.

    I've also kept a gps inside my backpack clipped to that same loop when I'm riding an enduro race so I'll have a track of the course (the Spot stays home for races) and it works just fine, although I don't know if that's a fair comparison.
  13. halmc

    halmc Turkey T*urd

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    I too put a cheap gps in that top pocket and it very rarely misses its occasional 'fix'. I would assume the same results for the spot . . . ?

    I've not found the subscription rates. Do they vary depending on whether you use the tracking function?
  14. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    The tracking is an extra $50/yr. IMOP, pretty well worth it. As has been mentioned, even if you have a crash that leaves you unable to push for help, there is at least a bread crumb trail that gets help close as long as someone knows you are missing.
  15. HogWild

    HogWild Scott Whitney

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    That's not correct. Remember, a GPS only RECEIVES signals from the satellites. The SPOT has to do that as well as TRANSMIT your position and messages up to other satellites. Given that the SPOT internal antenna is so small and the transmit power is super small due to runnning on little batteries, all kinds of things make it hard for that tiny signal to get from the SPOT in your pocket to the satellites hundreds of miles up. And the SPOT antenna is directional. That means it works best when the antenna is pointing towards the satellite. When it's in your pocket, the antenna is probably pointing parallel to the ground rather than up into the sky. And if the receiving satellite is behind you then the antenna may be pointing almost directly AWAY from where it should be, and your body is blocking the signal as well. So, putting the SPOT in your pocket is not going to give it the best chance to get the messages out. Amazingly, it still often works, but you're pushing your luck if it's in your pocket.
  16. SF_Hooligan

    SF_Hooligan Deadwood Original

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    I recently spent some time in Tennessee on a rented Kawasaki Concours 1400. I threw my Spot in the little "glove box" at the front of the tank, where it promptly slid down into a little crevice. It was more of an experiment - I wanted to see how well it'd track in there, blocked by glove box cover, the bars and occasionally my body. It was definitely not an ideal place to keep it.

    It missed more points than usual - I think I was getting 2 or 3 points per hour, about half of what it should in better circumstances. But that was actually better than I expected in those circumstances.

    For reference, I keep mine mounted on my bars on my own bike.
  17. flyhyguy

    flyhyguy n00b

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    Morning oh wise ones of the forum.... I am on a trip with my wife from Vancouver to Alaska. Shes on the 800, 990 for me. I had hoped to experiment with spot adventures prior to the trip but ran out of time. It took half a day in Williams Lake before I figured out how to upload the track from the GPS 60CSx and geotag photos. It all went well for a couple of days. Internet has been a bit unreliable but I was taking the time to try and update the track and photos every other day. I entered the info for May 29, 30 and 31 on the 31st, taking the time to peck out a long description of the 3 days of riding on my tiny netbook. When I went to update on the 1st, the spot adventure layout had changed and my info for three days was gone and the photos I had uploaded were not showing (.jpg files direct from the camera usb card to spot adventures). I have become obsessed with trying to fix this thing and I have allowed the frustration with spot adventures to affect my enjoyment of the ride and to be no fun for my wife to be around. Spot is closed for the weekend but I plan on calling tomorrow am to find out what gives. The email I sent to complain says it cant be sent due to a server error */"!$&é?##
    Is anyone else experiencing any issues with the spot adventures or is it only my stupidity with computers the problem
  18. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Just ride!!
    Make your notes on your netbook each evening while the day is fresh in your mind.
    Other than that just ride safely. You won't need the Spot.
    Your internet access will only get worse.
    RIDE and have a great trip. Don't let malfunctioning technology ruin the trip of a lifetime. :D :D
    Also the pictures right out of the camera might be too large a file size.

    PS: anyone run across a discount code for Spot recently?
  19. UnclebudinTX

    UnclebudinTX Been here awhile

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    DITTIO dont let this ruin a trip... even if it is a once in a liftime trip and you want to document it...

    i have been on the fence about getting a spot.. and with an upcoming two week ride i guess i better go ahead and buy it , figure it out, so i can enjoy the ride..
  20. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    As others have said, just ride, take lots of pics and enjoy. I've never tried to GeoTag my pics - uploading pics on the road is sometimes difficult with dodgey internet connections.

    Every trip will have its disappointments and keeping a positive attitude to work around those disappointments is part of the adventure.

    Failing your GeoTagging, since your photos will be numbered and likely dated, it's pretty easy to approximate where they were taken. If it is really important, to determine the exact location, make a quick waypoint on your GPS - more accurate than the SPOT. Closest SPOT track may be a long ways away anyhow.

    I like the SPOT for its main purpose: Let the world know where I am, let my family know I am ok and to summon Florence Nightingale if I get in trouble. However for tracking, I much prefer to use Spotwalla rather than SPOT Adventure - no loss of data, will track for as long as you want and you can upload photos, which I think is the GeoTagging you are talking about. Price is right . . . free.