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Old 07-02-2014, 10:45 AM   #1
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SPOT Personal GPS tracker

http://www.findmespot.ca/en/

Anybody used one of these? How well do they work? I'm thinking it might be good to have when in the backcountry.
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:18 AM   #2
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Ski-doo recommend and use these for their snow mobiles, I've seen them demoed once before seems like a good system
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:59 AM   #3
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a friend has one of these in his ducati, he said it works great
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Old 07-02-2014, 12:56 PM   #4
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My dad uses this all the time when he goes on trips.

Sends out check in messages to a preset email address list, and had 2 emergency functions.

Hasnt had any issues with using it out in the bush yet. I'd say its a good idea if you spend a lot of time out in the forest with no cell service.
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Old 07-02-2014, 01:54 PM   #5
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I know people who use SPOT while travelling, camping, on road trips, and while flying. Good reviews from them all, I will be purchasing one before my next trip. The SPOT Connect looks interesting but I'll be going with the Gen3 so I don't need to depend on my phone having juice all the time.

It does have to be face-up towards the sky, though, but it being waterproof means that shouldn't be an issue for most people.
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Old 07-02-2014, 02:15 PM   #6
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At first, I disliked all PLBs. Now I just dislike SPOT and usually encourage people to get a true PLB.

To me, SPOT seems overly consumer. If you want to genuinely go back country adventuring, you leave a lot of tech and connectivity at home and go chase mountains. You shouldn't have the ability to press a button "just to say hi".

2 years ago for my birthday, my mother (who is a big worrier) got me a real PLB. At first I resisted it but now I find a bit of a sense of comfort that in the bottom of my bag I can hit a button as a last resort and summon help. I've tried to go over situations in my head when I'd actually use it and I've decided that I would attempt self extraction in nearly every circumstance before activating. I'd even spend an unscheduled night under a tree if I was simply lost and uninjured.
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Old 07-02-2014, 02:22 PM   #7
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What also really gets my goat is that the S.O.S. function on SPOT is a paid subscription.
It really should be that S.O.S. is free (over 406 mHZ at least) and any of the "say hello" functions are paid.
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Old 07-02-2014, 03:07 PM   #8
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Because I fly, what I do like about the SPOT is the breadcrumb trail tracking service. If I wasn't able to activate the S.O.S. function, my track plot gives SAR a starting point. This of course depends on someone alerting SAR.
Extra $50 to customize the intervals, but free as a COPA member.

ancient_510, do you know any other PLBs that offer that too? The DeLorme inReach does but is far costlier and has way more functions than I need.
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:13 AM   #9
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I'm mostly interested in the tracking/logging and SOS features, I don't have any use for check in messages. At first I didn't see a use for the tracking either, but I came to the same conclusion as BillyBishop, if I end up unable to activate it or I can't get a signal whoever I was supposed to check in with knows roughly where I am based on the last position.

I guess the main things I want to know before I get one are 1) does it work worldwide? 2) what happens if you accidentally hit the SOS button?
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:59 AM   #10
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1. Like any Globalstar based system, functionality gets spotty once you are near or within the arctic circle. But it works worldwide (mostly).

2. You can cancel the SOS.

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I guess the main things I want to know before I get one are 1) does it work worldwide? 2) what happens if you accidentally hit the SOS button?

Last edited by godwin; 07-03-2014 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:59 AM   #11
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Well because Spot just uses the Globalstar network ie 1.6ghz.. all satellite time costs money. You want global and dont have the knowledge to do HAM.. they are pretty much the only game in town. In the end, spot is just a satellite modem that is marketed for safety, it is not a RF device.

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What also really gets my goat is that the S.O.S. function on SPOT is a paid subscription.
It really should be that S.O.S. is free (over 406 mHZ at least) and any of the "say hello" functions are paid.

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Old 07-03-2014, 09:00 AM   #12
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I'm mostly interested in the tracking/logging and SOS features, I don't have any use for check in messages. At first I didn't see a use for the tracking either, but I came to the same conclusion as BillyBishop, if I end up unable to activate it or I can't get a signal whoever I was supposed to check in with knows roughly where I am based on the last position.
And there is anecdotal evidence all over the internet that in some conditions, SPOT is not accurate (top-lid backpack material too thick, under heavy tree cover, blocked by the cave mouth you're sheltered in, during a big electrical storm...) and these considerations make it less than ideal as an SOS device. Just this Canada Day I was up in Golden Ears Prov. Park and there were gaps in my Garmin 910XT GPS track; one gap was even 2.5km long!

PLBs don't need a view of the sky for broad 406 broadcast (but do for the better GPS fix) because of a 5 watt antenna as opposed to SPOT's 0.4 watt. A PLB will use doppler shift on 406 mHz to transmit an initial position and then add GPS when available when SPOT will sit and do nothing. Having 12 times the power in a transmitter is more important to me. There is even one story of a PLB activation underground in a cave! No GPS fix but SAR was dispatched and a rescue made.

The "breadcrumbs" to help with an overdue arrival in case I was completely incapacitated or setting up a message "I will be one day late" would be very nice, but my emergency contacts know that a one day trip I could be a day overdue and not worry too much. Also, if I was so incapacitated I couldn't activate a PLB, would I really make it the 6-24 hrs that SAR often takes to arrive and extract?

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Because I fly, what I do like about the SPOT is the breadcrumb trail tracking service. If I wasn't able to activate the S.O.S. function, my track plot gives SAR a starting point.
So you really need an ELT with an accelerometer.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:30 PM   #13
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Even a 2.5km gap is a big improvement over no trace at all. I agree that the "breadcrumbs" may not be as useful on foot, but if I'm dirtbiking or offroading or even skiing it's very possible to end up either destroying the device or being unable to activate it.

If you can point me to a PLB that does breadcrumb tracking I'll get that over the SPOT, hell if they don't require a subscription I may get one in addition to the SPOT as a backup.
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Old 07-03-2014, 03:47 PM   #14
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The bottom line does come down to individual needs. I'll agree with ancient_510 that if you're going to go deep in the bush and want the best chance of calling for help, pick up a PLB that'll transmit to satellites as well as on 406 and 121.5.

I think that might be the best way to go, underscore. Pick up one of ACR's PLBs (no subscription) as well as a SPOT for the tracking.

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So you really need an ELT with an accelerometer.
Plane already has a 406MHz ELT, all I want the SPOT for is the breadcrumbs and consumerist gimmicks that I can also use when I go on motorcycle trips, adventuring, etc. When I start fly gliders (without an ELT) for extended times though, I'll likely pick up one of the dedicated PLBs in addition to the SPOT for track stats. At the end of the day, peace of mind. I read more SPOT experiences today, enough to convince me to get a real PLB for situations that I can't risk the SPOT being spotty. (Pun totally intended.)
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Old 07-03-2014, 03:58 PM   #15
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If you can point me to a PLB that does breadcrumb tracking I'll get that over the SPOT, hell if they don't require a subscription I may get one in addition to the SPOT as a backup.
There aren't any PLBs that do that. By nature of a PLB, they stay completely off until they need to blast out a signal to "save the day".

I still stand by that if you're in no condition to send an SOS (on a PLB or a SPOT or even maybe a handheld HAM radio), you're probably not getting out alive.
SPOT's breadcrumbs then just become a body recovery tool.

Also, forgot about this but just remembered now:
You can sign up for a 406 mHz test service providing psuedo text message capability for less than a SPOT subscription. As long as you tell your emergency contact on file that you sending a "normal test" from the mountains means "overdue but okay, do-not send SAR" and a "GPS test" means "lost but uninjured, send low priority SAR to these coordinates", this seems to be the very best way to go.


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Old 07-03-2014, 07:14 PM   #16
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That's what I figured, in which case I'll be doing the SPOT + PLB approach.

In most cases yes, if you can't send an SOS you may well be toast. But again, being motorized can get you into situations where either your beacon got destroyed or lost, even though you're physically okay, leaving you well beyond where you would want to be hiking out from. It can also get your into situations where you need help, but don't need full blown SAR coming to get you.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:31 AM   #17
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So did you end up picking one up?
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:59 AM   #18
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Not yet, birthday is in 2 weeks
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Old 07-06-2014, 10:21 AM   #19
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keep us posted after you pick it up.

i'm sure there are others who are interested in venturing into the woods but want that "peace of mind" that a SPOT can provide. i'm sure there are people who work in the wilderness who would also be interested as well.
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Old 07-06-2014, 11:48 PM   #20
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Will do, I'll be playing around with it a bit once I get it to see how well the tracking works and how well it maintains GPS contact around here.
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Old 11-22-2014, 09:07 PM   #21
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How'd it work out for you, underscore?

Decent discussion here, too:
AVCANADA ? View topic - SPOT vs PLB
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Old 11-23-2014, 11:38 AM   #22
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also curious to know how well its been working?
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Old 11-23-2014, 01:00 PM   #23
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50% off devices currently, tempting.
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:09 PM   #24
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I didn't end up getting one for my birthday which worked out okay as I've been too busy to do anything anyways. It's high up on the Christmas list though, especially with that 50% off deal.
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Old 11-25-2014, 11:04 AM   #25
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Please guys remember 121.5

I'm an Ground ELT Specialist for CASARA and my DF only Does the 121 MHz Spectrum for DF. I can find you easier if you are using a PLB with 121.5


even if you have a basic Marine radio or VHF that transmitts on that channel, Our team can get close to you with 121.5
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