Universal RAM Mount - SPoT Tracker

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Squeaky, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Squeaky

    Squeaky A Few Loose Screws...

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    If I don't find what will work well, I might just leave it in my tank bag, but I'd rather mount it.
    Based on website pics and measurement, here's what I've found so far that might work. If anyone has had experience with any of these mounts, please speak up - whether it's been for the SPoT or some other gadget. None of the local stores have these "universal" type mounts on display to test fit.

    SPoT Dimensions: 2.75 x 4.38 x 1.5"
    [​IMG]

    CRADLE- Aqua Box II Weather Resistant- Medium
    Inside Dimensions: 2.86 x 5.75 x 1.2"
    I test-fit this one that a friend has for his iPod and it fits, but it's a tight squeeze (the top part is a flexible membrane that has enough give to accomodate the depth of the SPoT). The box seems pretty big and bulky, but it offers the advantage of quick removal by just opening the case. There's a Large version, but it seems way too big.
    [​IMG]


    CRADLE-UNI FingerGrip -PLASTIC MEDIUM
    Grip min 2.25/max 4"
    Arms min .75/max 1.5"
    Base 5 x 2.5"
    Looks kinda funky and the base is a bit longer than the unit, but if the arms are grippy enough it would stay put but could it be in there tight enough to not fall out and still be easily removable for extended stops/overnight without it being a hassle or wearing out the grip/tension on the arms?
    [​IMG]


    CRADLE-UNI QUICK RELEASE -PLASTIC SM
    Base to top edge 3.5"
    Rail Height 1.75"
    Min/Max Width 1.675/2/75"
    Looks like it might fit well enough, but with just the two side sliders compressing, is it enough to keep it from knocking loose? How easy is it to open/close the grip on the unit?
    [​IMG]


    CRADLE-UNI QUICK RELEASE -PLASTIC MEDIUM
    Base to top 3.875"
    Rail Height 0.875"
    Min/Max Width 2.25/3.5"
    This one looks better than the small, but the side rails are shorter and might not get as good a grip. Again, ease of opening/closing the grip?
    [​IMG]


    CRADLE-UNIVERSAL 2
    Grip Min/Max 2.875/4"
    Arm Length Min/Max .5/2.25"
    Base Plate 4.5 x 3.0"
    This one doesn't have a bottom rail or base, but it has spring tension from one side to jam it up against the other side. Is it enough tension to hold it, and how hard would it be to remove it?
    [​IMG]


    Other than the universals, there are cradles that look like they might be close enough to work, but I can't tell from the pics. Any feedback on these (or other) units that will work to hold the SPoT in place GREATLY appreciated!
    #1
  2. BigX

    BigX n00b - Yeah, right

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    Anyone notice yet that the holes for the screws that attach the battery backplate are EXACTLY the distance apart as the mounting holes on a standard diamond shaped Ram mout.

    I removed the two screws that hold the battery backplate in place and found longer screws that fit the threads (whatever they are).

    I added washers and, voila, custom mount.

    Yes the screws must be removed to change the batteries, just like the original design.
    #2
  3. Hotspice

    Hotspice Satellites not acquired

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    :eek1 So simple I can't believe this is the first time this has been posted. I wonder how the case will hold up to abuse and vibration.

    :thumb
    #3
  4. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    I don't get it. Why not just put it in your pocket? If you don't like stuff in your pockets when you ride, why not put it with your survival kit(you do carry survival gear if you are going back country enuf to need a tracker, don't you?)?

    Why mount a piece of gear this compact that doesn't require your attention during the ride? I'd put it somewhere safe from the elements, vibration and theft. Somewhere within reach if I came off or left the bike for some reason.
    #4
  5. TexBiker

    TexBiker Been here awhile

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    The SPOT requires a pretty clear view of the sky for tracking purposes. Several people have noticed that there were large gaps in their transmitted routes caused by their body shielding the unit while riding. It performs better when it's out in the open.

    However, if you only plan to use the SPOT to send messages in case of emergency, then your suggestion would work just fine.
    #5
  6. brianjonesphoto

    brianjonesphoto Single Track Noob

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    +1 RedMenace
    I wonder why you would want to attach it to the bike as well. What if you and your bike get seporated? I keep my cell phone in my pocket for he same reason. It's hard to call for help if you come off the bike and can't get back to it.
    #6
  7. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    Red,

    You're thinking of the SPoT as a PLB and if it were being used for that purpose you're right on - keeping it on your person is the right thing to do.

    I think most of the folks around here are using the SPoT as a "Tracking" device though and therefore need to have it in a position where it has satellite reception all or most of the time they are riding. The GPS receiver in the SPoT is not a high-sensitivity receiver so it really needs a clear view of the sky to acquire and keep a GPS lock.


    BigX,
    As for mounting, maybe SPoTMaker can provide us with a bit more insight but I don't think the brass screw inserts that hold the plastic battery cover on are going to take the strain and vibration encountered by mounting it on a motorcycle for very long.
    #7
  8. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    Oh. I guess I had a totally different mindset....makes some sense now.

    Boy if I had the money, the communications array my get away from it all machine would sport (in addition to the camera booms and vid equipment already bolted all over the poor beast):D
    #8
  9. aciurczak

    aciurczak Been here awhile

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    I don't think the clear view of the sky is so much for the GPS receiver, it's for the satphone transmitter to get the signals back out. From what I've seen the GPS holds a lock just fine, even indoors. You can tell if the GPS is not able to hold a lock if the green lights start blinking out of sync with each other, and at least in my own experience that seems to happen pretty rarely.

    Squeaky - are you finding that you're not getting the performance you want when it's sitting inside your tankbag? Like you, I was at first very interested in finding a way to mount it to the bike, and even considered just velcroing it to the top of my topcase. But after I got the device and started playing with it, I found that the performance turned out to be just fine with the unit just sitting in a top pocket in my tankbag. After thinking about it, I figured that's even a better solution. It's hidden, more secure, less affected by vibration, protected from the elements, etc. I guess if someone wanted to be able to send OK messages while on the move, a RAM mount may be the way to go. But I now have the unit in tracking mode pretty much whenever the bike is moving, so I don't tend to use OK messages that often anyway.
    #9
  10. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    Hmmm. Now you have me thinking. I wonder if they give a group discount for the units or the subscription service? Might be just the thing for keeping track of my back country tour groups...
    #10
  11. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    aciurczak

    My experience with the SPoT has been that if I place the device on my person the body tends to block good GPS reception; as well as Satellite up-link. So having the SPoT in a Tankbag (cloth doesn't interfere with reception) or on a mount with a clear view of the sky is important for good performance. This is especially important in SPoT-Tracker mode since you won't get an up-link transmission until you have a good GPS lock.
    #11
  12. Squeaky

    Squeaky A Few Loose Screws...

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    Any chance you've tested the mount yet? Maybe on some washboard gravel? :ear

    As has been said, users have seen less-than-desired results when carried close to the body. It doesn't stay flat with the logo up, so the torso and arms can get in the way of the signal transmission. My survival gear (I call it a decent first aid kit and tools) is inside my pannier - a steel pannier. No way the transmission can get through.

    Do you have one? Mine requires some attention, based on the way I've been using it. I send an OK at each gas stop or break - basically anytime I think I will be stopped for more than ten minutes. Some call it overbearing for my family to want to watch out for me on solo rides, but it's mine and I can do with it as I please. I'm not using it as a PLB and don't ride without my cell phone, whivh has coverage just about everywhere I go. I'm not a 'survivalist" type rider - when I'm solo I stick to roads.

    It works great in my tankbag, but I have a mini tankbag and it was already pretty full with (what I consider) essentials before I got this. When I add the SPoT, it get so crammed in there I feel like I'm going to bust a zipper. Heck, I'm a girl - I just pack too much! :lol3
    #12
  13. aciurczak

    aciurczak Been here awhile

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    DRTBYK - Agreed in full! Proper orientation seems to be key to getting good performance out of these. It's also clear that both the GPS downlink and the satphone uplink need to be functional for the unit to perform at all (though I think it does send satphone signals blind even without GPS lock in 911 mode). From what I've read here and seen by looking at the light patterns, all I'm saying is that the 3 most common modes of operation seem to be:

    - GPS working, Satphone transmitter working
    - GPS working, Satphone transmitter not working
    - GPS not working, Satphone transmitter not working

    The 4th mode, with the GPS not working, but the Satphone transmitter actually able to get a signal out and received, seems to be a pretty rare case. Given equivalent conditions, it's easier for the device to get a GPS lock than it is to get a satphone signal out and successfully received.
    #13
  14. Hotspice

    Hotspice Satellites not acquired

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    I just heard back from my inquiry to my RAM rep about your question.

    As far as he knows they are still in discussion with SPOT about a mount. Once they get a green light it can take anywhere from 45-75 days from design to distribution so it looks like they are still a ways out if they decide to make one.
    #14
  15. BigX

    BigX n00b - Yeah, right

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    I have NOT tested this under off-road conditions so if anybody uses it under those conditions YOU ARE THE TEST DUMMY :D and should let us know what happens to it.

    This is where the SPOT engineers scratch their heads and say, "Gee, who figured there'd actually be a bunch of guys out there who would push our design to the limits."
    #15
  16. Squeaky

    Squeaky A Few Loose Screws...

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    Does anyone know of a company that I can order three of the mounts from and just return the two I don't want? (eithout restocking fees, hassle, etc)
    Is there something besides REI, Bass Pro, Academy that I can go to and see these in person to try them?

    It would make the decision so much easier... :ear
    #16
  17. HogWild

    HogWild Scott Whitney

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    I tracked two top riders through the Baja 1000 and they worked great. The crews called me when they wanted to know where the riders were, and if the bikes were still moving, and I gave them the exact location (Race Mile) and an estimated pit arrival time based on what I saw. That feedback was priceless for the crews.
    #17
  18. BigX

    BigX n00b - Yeah, right

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    We all know the units work.

    My response you quoted had to do with the mount engineering that I described near the top of this thread and was questioned about later in the thread.
    #18
  19. Mike JRA

    Mike JRA Been here awhile

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    I just got back from a long road trip with the SPOT with some off road. I had an old Touratech GPS mount for a Garmin 76c on the handle bars, the SPOT fit in it great and I held it down with a velcro ski strap. It never moved and the tracking reception was almost perfect, the OK message success was 100%.
    #19
  20. Squeaky

    Squeaky A Few Loose Screws...

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    Until I can get my hands on the universal mounts to size them up, I've been keeping my SPoT in the pocket of a bag on top of my pannier.

    Hidden from prying eyes, accessible through an easy zipper, and I can actually hit the buttons right through the fabric. It's behind me, so body movement and arms won't interfere with reception. Has worked out well so far. :1drink
    #20