SPOT

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AZLOT69
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SPOT

Post by AZLOT69 » Dec 12 2007 5:59 pm

NEW PRODUCT- "SPOT" IS A PERSONAL SATELLITE MESSENGER. LIGHTER-CHEAPER THAN A SATELLITE PHONE OR EPERB.

JUST OUT-THIS IS THE FIRST GENERATION AND I'M SURE THEY WILL GET EVEN BETTER. i'VE TESTED IT AND VERY HAPPY SO FAR. IT WORKS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUPERSTITIONS-FAR AWAY FROM CELL SIGNALS. BESIDES CALLING FOR SEARCH AND RESCUE YOU CAN ALERT AS MANY AS FIVE PHONES VIA TEXT MESSAGE, AND OR COMPUTERS THAT YOU ARE OK AND IT SENDS A MESSAGE WITH YOUR CURRENT GPS COORDINATES AND A LINK TO GOOGLE EARTH WHICH SHOWS EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE AT. I HIKE ALONE OFTEN SO THIS ASSURES ME AND OTHERS.
It's best for a man to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open his mouth and remove all doubt.
--Mark Twain

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Dec 21 2008 7:07 pm

nonot wrote:Odds are that the unit is transmitting every 10 minutes but the satellites are not picking it up. To improve your odds the following general recommendations may help:

In general, have an open/unobstructed view of as much sky as is possible, based on coverage maps it looks like the two most relevant birds are somewhere above south Texas/northeastern Mexico and off the coast of California.
Optimumly orient the unit towards the sky (since I couldn't find the antenna pattern on their website, the most likely guess is to have the unit be held flat horizontally like setting it on a table, perhaps this is in a manual?)
Don't place the unit near metal objects like a digital camera or in a cast-iron pot :).
Don't use the unit near other transmitters/radio towers.

I don't have one but it sounds like a fun gadget that could help save someone's life.
It also doesn't work well near another GPS device...which is a huge minus! :?
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mttgilbert
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Re: SPOT

Post by mttgilbert » Dec 23 2008 6:57 am

All the OK messages I have sent have been while we are stopped (usually in camp or at lunch) with the unit on the ground in the open away from other objects. I've had nearly a 100% success ratio using this configuration. Obviously when I really need it I might not be so lucky to get to choose my conditions like this, but I suspect (and hope) that it's just the staying still portion of it that is increasing my success ratio.

I've had the same experience with the tracking feature and I wonder if the unit was designed with the idea that the end user (for the emergency signals) was expected to be stationary and that's why it has so much trouble with acquiring and sending signals when its mobile. Maybe they didn't put that much R&D into mobile satellite acquisition and/or messaging?
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Grasshopper
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Re: SPOT

Post by Grasshopper » Dec 23 2008 8:57 am

Jeff MacE wrote:It also doesn't work well near another GPS device...which is a huge minus!
Maybe the reason topohiker's unit now seems to transmit better while moving.. we moved his SPOT unit from the front daypack shoulder strap (which was the strap next to the GPS unit) to a compresion strap on the back top area of his daypack.
(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Dec 23 2008 9:09 am

Grasshopper wrote:
Jeff MacE wrote:It also doesn't work well near another GPS device...which is a huge minus!
Maybe the reason topohiker's unit now seems to transmit better while moving.. we moved his SPOT unit from the front daypack shoulder strap (which was the strap next to the GPS unit) to a compresion strap on the back top area of his daypack.
I think that may be it, Hank. We're going to try that next time, in fact...
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Dschur
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Re: SPOT

Post by Dschur » Dec 23 2008 3:04 pm

Had a friend use one on a motorcycle trip to TN this last summer for 3 weeks. I tracked him along the way and there was only two days partly that didn't transmit didn't seem to have any troubles with it. He was on the motorcycle and was transmittling once every so often (is it 15 minutes or so). Could zoom in on the map and even see the hotel were he would spend the night.
Dawn
--On the loose to climb a mountain, on the loose where I am free. On the loose to live my life the way I think my life should be...For we only have a moment and a whole world yet to see...I'll be looking for tomorrow on the loose. ---unknown--

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Dec 23 2008 4:06 pm

I'm going out tomorrow sans GPS so I'll see if Hank's suggestion works...
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Grasshopper
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Re: SPOT

Post by Grasshopper » Jan 15 2009 9:08 am

Jeff MacE wrote:I'm going out tomorrow sans GPS so I'll see if Hank's suggestion works...
Jeff, what was the end result of you relocating the SPOT unit to an upper back section of your daypack?
(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 15 2009 10:30 am

Well, it looks like the formula for success goes something like this:

I) Regardless of which direction you're hiking, point the top of the front face where "SPOT" is printed toward the southern sky (Not the top of the unit), because the antennae is located there. Relocate it around your pack, as necessary.

II) Leave the unit turned on for the entire duration of your hike, even if you don't use tracking.

III) Keep the unit away from other GPS devices and radios, etc. The distance needs to be at least 18".

IV) When sending an "OK" message, wait until you are stopping for some reason and pick a spot that has an unobstructed view of the southern sky. Point the spot toward the sky as in Part I, above. Make sure it is high on your pack, or atop a large rock or tree with the "SPOT" inscription facing due south. Watch for the steady green light and then leave it in place another 30s or so.

Doing all of these things consistently seems to lead to a 90% message success rate.
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Grasshopper
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Re: SPOT

Post by Grasshopper » Jan 15 2009 12:06 pm

Jeff MacE wrote:Well, it looks like the formula for success goes something like this:
Cool.. best advise for SPOT owners so far!
(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")

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JoelHazelton
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Re: SPOT

Post by JoelHazelton » Jan 20 2009 8:36 am

Jeff MacE wrote:Well, it looks like the formula for success goes something like this:

I) Regardless of which direction you're hiking, point the top of the front face where "SPOT" is printed toward the southern sky (Not the top of the unit), because the antennae is located there. Relocate it around your pack, as necessary.

II) Leave the unit turned on for the entire duration of your hike, even if you don't use tracking.

III) Keep the unit away from other GPS devices and radios, etc. The distance needs to be at least 18".

IV) When sending an "OK" message, wait until you are stopping for some reason and pick a spot that has an unobstructed view of the southern sky. Point the spot toward the sky as in Part I, above. Make sure it is high on your pack, or atop a large rock or tree with the "SPOT" inscription facing due south. Watch for the steady green light and then leave it in place another 30s or so.

Doing all of these things consistently seems to lead to a 90% message success rate.
Very cool, thanks Jeff. I'll be getting one of these on my birthday next month.
"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga

http://www.joelhazelton.com

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 20 2009 8:46 am

Oh, one other thing I figured out this weekend...SPOT won't work in a canyon with high walls. You really need that view of the southern sky.
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JoelHazelton
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Re: SPOT

Post by JoelHazelton » Jan 20 2009 8:57 am

Well that's a bummer... I'm quite a big fan of canyons with high walls. I was worried about that... Oh well, still better than nothing, I suppose.
"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga

http://www.joelhazelton.com

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 20 2009 9:02 am

Yea, just wait to send it until you pass by a saddle or climb up one of the sides. It's also possible that it would go if you put it up in a tree facing south and left it there for 15 or 20 minutes, or so...
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JoelHazelton
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Re: SPOT

Post by JoelHazelton » Jan 20 2009 2:50 pm

Jeff (or any other SPOT users): One thing that worries me is accidentally pushing the 911 or "help" buttons when I don't really need assistance. If my pack gets banged around or dropped, or my SPOT is in a really tight pocket, is there any chance of these buttons accidentally being pushed? Sometimes I'll pull my gps out of whatever pocket it's in on my bag, and random buttons will be pushed and I'll have to exit out a few times to get back to the main screen.
"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga

http://www.joelhazelton.com

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 20 2009 3:21 pm

We joke about that sometimes when we're out hiking and see a helicopter; "Did someone push 911", etc. The 911 and Help buttons are pretty small and slightly recessed. I've actually considered putting some kind of foil tape over them, to be safe, but I haven't run into an issue with them being pressed...Hank?
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Grasshopper
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Re: SPOT

Post by Grasshopper » Jan 20 2009 3:48 pm

They are recessed and smaller to make it more difficult to push them. Also, I understand for the 911 button (need to ref the manual), that IF you press it by accident or press it and then change your mind, then you have a certain amount of seconds to press it again to reset it to off. The 911 button is also red blinking in color and the other options are green in color. Joel, I think you will need to avoid putting it inside your pack anyway since if you do it probably won't transmit. It needs to be outside (like you & us all) and attached to you pack as Jeff detailed below. ;) Disclaimer: I get all my answers from topohiker who reads the manual and I ask him questions. I see it work and am on his email list for SPOT message transmittals.
(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")

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TwoWeims
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Re: SPOT

Post by TwoWeims » Mar 03 2009 11:53 pm

A SPOT to the Rescue. From the Prescott Daily Courier:

Yavapai County deputies were able to find a lost Prescott couple this past weekend, thanks to a commercial satellite-tracking device the couple had that allowed deputies to use GPS coordinates to find them.

In a Monday press release, Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, said YCSO personnel believe this may be the first time someone has used this type of device for a rescue in Yavapai County.

Geoffrey Smith, 58, and his wife separated from the off-road party they were with and were having difficulty in the deep snow, the release said.

Because of that, Smith and his wife were trying to walk back to his truck parked on Senator Highway near Crown King. They were not equipped for an overnight stay in the open.

The first rescue alert came in at about 6 p.m. and deputies found the couple just after midnight, the release said.

The couple used a "Spot" tracking device, which uses both the GPS satellite network to determine the owner's location and its own computer network to transmit that information to friends, family or an emergency service center.

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Jeffshadows
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Re: SPOT

Post by Jeffshadows » Mar 04 2009 8:08 am

The guy that owns Summit Hut has some good info on his AZ Trail blog about his experiences with the SPOT device along the trip.
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rushthezeppelin
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Re: SPOT

Post by rushthezeppelin » Apr 01 2009 10:25 am

Well thanks to an awesome deal a week ago (free spot unit with 1 year paid service with tracking...$150 bucks), I'm now a Spot owner. Really glad this thread is here though so now I know how best to use the unit. Thanks for all you who have come before me to show us the pros and cons of this system.

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andy_ellarby
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Re: SPOT

Post by andy_ellarby » Oct 12 2009 12:46 pm

Hi everyone, I just bought a SPOT II today (my birthday), I bought this after reading the posts here and other reviews. I got it from REI in Tempe (last one in stock), so I will let you know how it goes. I did not have the original, but it is supposed to have a modern GPS chipset and is faster and lighter than the original.

Andy

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