Mar 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm #1270651
Dennis ParkBPL Member
@dparkLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Anybody have experience with the SPOT Connect?Mar 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm #1710007
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Dennis, I have to check their website but I'd say that the "Smart Phones" that are pairable with the Connect are the critical link in the system.
I'd want a Smart Phone that has really good built in GPS antennae for fast positioning in deep forest or valleys. A slot canyon should be the only place it won't get a sat signal. Or does the Connect have its own GPS & antennae that Bluetooths the info back to the SPOT phone app for Connect??
Do you know if there are any Smart Phones with good GPS antennae?
And remember, all companies charge $15./month extra when you own a Smart Phone, whether or not you use the "smart" features like e-mail, etc. That's a fair amount more than the yearly fee for a SPOT II. Like about $60. more.Mar 17, 2011 at 7:57 am #1710126
I had Gen 1 spot for a while and when I was looking to buy Spot 2 I got an Immarast Isat Sat Phone Pro which worked out cheaper than the running costs of the Spot.
StephenMar 17, 2011 at 10:20 am #1710204
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
How much does it cost? initial and continuing?
How heavy?Mar 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm #1710257
If you check the specs, the Connect has an internal GPS sensor. It wouldn't really be as attractive for emergency use without one, and of course tracking mode wouldn't work.Mar 18, 2011 at 1:17 am #1710616
Per their website:
Per year: $149.99
Weight: 4.9 ozsMar 18, 2011 at 8:48 am #1710697
I don't see why people buy these SPOT devices. These are not true PLBs and need a commercial 1.6Ghz sat cell phone network in order to operate. The coverage is spotty (which is why it's called SPOT – you need to find the one place where it works :). Even if you go their website and look for the coverage map – it will show you that all continents are mostly covered, but not completely. Right under the map they say it is only an estimate of coverage. Even more, they say that "virtually all" locations in USA are covered. I kind of would want to know what "virtually all" locations are not covered – so I don't try to use SPOT there. Spot devices also don't have a homing beacon. In case of emergency, it WILL take rescuers longer to get to you. Not only that, but if you use spot – the operator often tries to contact your main "contact" first to see if the help should be sent, and then they relay your location information to the crews on the ground. Which means that rescuers will need to have constant channel open to SPOT for updates and communications, vs simply going to a GPS location and using a homing beacon.
With real PLB and EPIRB devices none of this is a problem and they cost as as much as SPOT with a year of service. McMurdo PLB (tiny and light) start at $280 and are guaranteed for at least 5 years. So if you don't use it – you saved yourself $320. If you did use it – it gives you better chance of being found.
ACR PLB with Link406 service cost $400 for the unit and $59 for premium service with e-mail/sms "I'm OK" message notification with links to google maps to show your location. And they allow you to test an actual SAT distress message link by provisioning a test through the emergency systems.
There are quite a few people unhappy with the fact that very low number of "I'm OK" messages go through with SPOT. In fact, some say that their devices have big trouble obtaining GPS lock in all but urban/open sky locations where a little Garmin tracking unit has no problems.Mar 18, 2011 at 11:05 am #1710785
If you want a device to call in a needed rescue, get a PLB.
If you want a device to prevent an unneeded search, get a Spot.
I haven't used my Spot 2 extensively, but so far I have a 100% connect rate on "I'm OK" messages. Zooming in on Google Maps I can see that the coordinates are "spot"-on.Mar 18, 2011 at 11:30 am #1710805
Greg MihalikBPL Member
Although "product reviews" on Amazon make for interesting reading, I would be more inclined to follow Equipped to Survive for solid testing and review.
IMHO.Mar 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm #1710853
I know that amazon reviews should not be taken to heart completely, however, there is some grain of truth in reports of the units not getting a lock or not delivering an OK message.
There is also a recall for some SPOT units.Mar 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm #1710857
Greg MihalikBPL Member
The SPOT recall did not relate to GPS fixes, but to waterproofing and pressure issues.
Any "grain of truth" surrounding "failure to lock" in 2nd generation SPOT has to be tempered with knowing the "operator's capability". That is why testing by an independent organization which knows how to operate the unit has much more credibility than some lone soul venting their frustrations.Mar 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm #1710872
It cost about 550 USD and it weighs 279g, calls cost about 80cent a minute, its available on contract or Pay as you Go (not in US for some reason), if you Google Isat Phone Pro you could get exact pricing.
StephenMar 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm #1710969
Mike MBPL Member
just called them (Isat) and they have an "emergency" plan- cost is $150 for the year, no extra fees- they give you 60 minutes of air time, if you go over that it's $1.39/minute, texts are .55/text and don't go against your 60 minutes, incoming texts are free
I'm not a chatty fellow, this would be used for emergencies or quick check ins
outside of the polar regions, coverage looks pretty good
I think this is the route I'm going to goMar 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm #1710982
Mike, I assume that you carry a separate GPS receiver, and you would use that to get your location coordinates for an emergency message. Or, you are an expert map reader and can accurately calculate your own position.
I assume that the sat phone doesn't have its own GPS receiver. If you had a "standard injury" like a broken leg, that would work pretty good. Some people like the convenience of an integrated solution where they just have to push an emergency button, but that can also lead to mistakes.
If you needed to call out in a hurry, about how long might it take to get a connection? I've heard of times like one minute. To me, that seems tolerable.
–B.G.–Mar 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm #1710984
Mike MBPL Member
Bob- it actually has a GPS locator built in, hit a button and it tells you your position- you can also then send it as a text
the guy is going to get back to me on whether you can change the lat/long to UTM's (my preferred coordinates)
hookup is dependent on sat coverage, but ~ 1-5 minutes, so not instantaneous
MikeMar 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm #1710989
Ken T.BPL Member
Thanks Mike. That does sound like the way go. I had a first generation Spot. Would have a hard time trusting that system again. Dave Chenault dropped his in a river and it sent the 911 message. No reply and no reason given why not. I would prefer to leave a third party out of messaging.Mar 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm #1710995
"Bob- it actually has a GPS locator built in, hit a button and it tells you your position- you can also then send it as a text"
That sounds good.
"the guy is going to get back to me on whether you can change the lat/long to UTM's (my preferred coordinates)"
Even if it is stuck in lat/long, that shouldn't be a big deal as long as it agrees with your paper maps.
"hookup is dependent on sat coverage, but ~ 1-5 minutes, so not instantaneous"
Hmmm. Yes, I guess that is tolerable time. It would not be if you were in the military and were getting shot at. You would need to practice with that a bit to learn how to predict the connection time better. For example, is it based purely on when the bird is coming overhead? It may vary with latitude.
–B.G.–Mar 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm #1711000
@fluffinreach-comLocale: no. california
i own a spot. and now, after walking fully across alaska and the NWT with no phone or bs whatsoever, i deploy this marvelous little thing guilt free.
i have watched it place my camp, which was very far above the arctic circle on the porch in a friend's yard, directly in his back yard on his porch. what could be better ..
the spot beacon works correctly across the entirety of .. i can't even remember the name of it .. but it's between Paulatuk and Kugluktuk .. park.
your friends can watch you beat your head against the wall across the north. and THEY LOVE IT ! at least mine do. your's, may not.
when i zing off a new location, the entire tech dept of a leading machinery production company comes over and looks at the screen. they are not watching peter, they hardly know me, but by watching, they become part of, The Dream. it's somewhat bigger than me.
and you need not call down a C-130 gunship to save your show when all you did was lose your raft, your buds can send a floatplane to get you without it being an "emergency".
there are ethical reasons both ways on to carry or not a beacon. they wrote articles on this in early bpl days. there seems to be not right or wrong, as long as one does not deploy it thru stupidly.
ahh well, hike yor own hike.
i'm certainly going to hike mine.
all that said, their jolly lash-up to a sat phone seems like contrived techo/patent issues still needing to be sorted out.
garmin foretrex 401 is 2.6 oz w/lithium batts.
v.Mar 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm #1711012
Iridium satellite phone rental is only $20 a week.
http://www.satellitephonestore.com/Mar 19, 2011 at 4:43 am #1711093
I have only used mine a few times and got reception within 1 minute.
Texts can be sent to handset from the inmarsat website for free.Apr 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm #1720052
Stephen AdamsBPL Member
Just received my new Spot Connect. Sent myself a text with my Iphone connected via blue-tooth and it came through with in 5 minutes from inside a building. That seems much better than my Spot 1. I am assuming it will work on par with the Spot 2.Apr 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm #1720131
Ted EBPL Member
@mtn_nutLocale: Morrison, CO
will a PLB like a McMurdo Fast find, where it works on the 406MHz system, work in places like slot canyons?Apr 4, 2011 at 8:56 pm #1720134
Ted, you are thinking all wrong about this.
Yes, different frequencies will travel different ranges into space. However, the problem with a slot canyon is your view of the sky. A slot canyon has an extremely limited view of the sky if viewed from the bottom. Therefore, your only good shot at getting your signal received is if you are shooting at satellites that are very thickly populated in the sky view. The higher the satellites are, the easier that works. High enough is geosynchronous altitude. Lower, like low earth orbit, will receive only erratically, if at all, from the bottom of the slot canyon. Plus, their transit time overhead is very brief.
Instead of trying to focus on your transmit frequency, you want to think about which transmitter product will hit the right constellation of satellites the easiest.
Frankly, since most products include a GPS receiver, the darn GPS receiver is not going to fix a position from the bottom of a slot canyon, anyway. Same problem in the reverse direction.
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