SPOT Satellite Messenger

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OLLIE
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SPOT Satellite Messenger

#1

Post by OLLIE » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:44 pm

I believe Steve (ssc) asked for a write-up on the SPOT Satellite Messenger. It is kind of convenient because I was just about to start a new thread on the device because a chance encounter with my Old SPOT and a slip and slide on a snow cover Tahquitz Peak sent the unit tumbling and I lost it. Since I had opted for the replacement plan I only needed to pay a $30.00 deductible and they replaced my Old SPOT with a SPOT 2. I was amazed at the improvements they made from the Old SPOT to the SPOT 2. I will get to that a little later.

The SPOT units have several useful features. I got the got the following information from the SPOT website... http://www.findmespot.com/en/
SPECS
Height: 3.7”
Width: 2.6”
Thickness: 1.0”
Rating Temp: -22F to 140F
Operating Altitude: -328ft to +21,320ft
Battery: 3 AAA Energizer Lithium Ultimate 8X

Functions:

SOS / 911:
Use this function In the event of a life threatening or other critical emergency to notify emergency services of your GPS location and that you need assistance. The GEOS International Emergency Response Center alerts the appropriate agencies worldwide – for example contacting 9-1-1 responders in North America and 1-1-2 responders in Europe.

HOW IT WORKS:
Once activated, SPOT will acquire its exact coordinates from the GPS network, and send that location along with a distress message to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center every five minutes until cancelled or until the batteries are depleted. The Emergency Response Center notifies the appropriate emergency responders based on your GPS location and personal information – which may include local police, highway patrol, the Coast Guard, our country’s embassy or consulate, or other emergency search and rescue teams – as well as notifying your emergency contacts about the receipt of a distress signal.

Help:
In the event of a non-life threatening emergency, you can use this function to notify your personal contacts that you need assistance. Additional SPOT Assist services can be purchased and programmed to your Help button as well. When activated with SPOT Assist, the Help button will notify professional services either on the land or water. SPOT has partnered with national service providers to offer non-life threatening assistance.

HOW IT WORKS:
Once activated, SPOT acquires your location from the GPS network and routes it along with the HELP message through the SPOT satellite network every five minutes for one hour or until cancelled. Your contacts will receive an SMS text message including coordinates, or an email with a link to Google Maps™ showing your location.

Check-in/OK:
This feature allows you to let your friends and family know that all is OK with a pre-programmed message along with your GPS location. With a push of a button a message is sent via email or SMS to up to 10 pre-determined contacts and your waypoint is stored in your SPOT account for later reference. Your stored waypoints can be easily integrated into a SPOT Shared Page or SPOT Adventure account.

HOW IT WORKS:
Once you have activated your SPOT Messenger and set up your account, you can change your contacts and customize your message at any time. When you push the Check-in/OK button, you send one pre-programmed message to your contacts. Your contacts will receive an SMS text message including coordinates, or an email with a link to Google Maps™ showing your location.
Custom Message: This feature allows you to let your friends and family now receive a custom message along with your GPS location with a push of a button. Use this feature as a secondary OK message or transfer your personal help alert to this message function if you are using a SPOT Assist service on your Help button.

Custom Message
The Custom Message functions exactly like your Check-in/OK message You can also have access to your waypoints in your SPOT account so you can review your route at a later date. Or link your SPOT account to SPOT Adventures and save a map of your adventures using your SPOT waypoints, and enhance the story with photos and a blog.

HOW IT WORKS:
Once you have activated your SPOT Messenger and set up your account, you can change your contacts and customize your message at any time. When you push the Check-in/OK button, you send one pre-programmed message to your contacts. Your contacts will receive an SMS text message including coordinates, or an email with a link to Google Maps™ showing your location.

Track Progress:
This feature allows you to send and save your location and allow contacts to track your progress in near real time using Google Maps. With your SPOT account you have the ability to set up a SPOT Shared Page which allows you to show your SPOT GPS locations to others on a Google Map.

HOW IT WORKS:
Once activated, SPOT acquires and sends your GPS coordinates to your SPOT account automatically every 10 minutes for 24 hours or until canceled. SPOT tracking must be reengaged to continue. Creating a SPOT Shared Page allows you to share your GPS route with your friends and family easily in near real time on the web through a personal link. You can make your Shared Page private or public. Your choice! Just share that url with your friends and family and they can easily track your adventures. You can also link your SPOT Messenger to SPOT Adventures, a social portal, where you can set up a profile and blog with others sharing their SPOT adventures.
My wife loves the idea of me having the SPOT. I can assure her I am OK when I don't have cell reception. She has a permanent favorite in her favorites she can click on when I'm out on an adventure so she can see where I'm at. I have a schedule that I use to send out the Checking-In. It's a peace of mind, especially when I have our son with me. When she found out I lost it she told me I couldn't go out again until I replaced it.

The Old SPOT was nice but as Cruiserlarry has mentioned in other threads on the website it was a little confusing at times. The Old SPOT also had an issue with falling off what you hung it on. The clip on the back was a lot like a knife clip. So when I took that slide down the slope of Tahquitz it was stripped from the strap it was attached to on my backpack. The SPOT 2 is more compact and iis more user friendly. The SOS/911 button and HELP button have a safety cover over them so you can't accidentally bump them. Here's a picture of the Old SPOT...
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The SPOT 2 gives you several options for for attaching the unit to your person and gear. There's an arm band, belt loop. carrabiner, and Velcro. Here is what I got in the package when I received my SPOT 2.
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"OLLIE"
(K6JYB)


APRS
K6JYB ("BugEater")
K6JYB-7 (VX-8R)


http://www.facebook.com/FJOllie

"Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, the Marines don't have that problem."
-Ronald Reagan


CHECK OUT THE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE USA AMATEUR RADIO NET:
Every Thursday night at 7:30pm PST

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146.385+ PL: 146.2 Keller Peak (Echolink Equipped)

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toms
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#2

Post by toms » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:01 am

Ollie,
I beleive there was a problem in the orginal SPOT 2 and there was a recall. I assume you received one after the fix?

"Dear valued SPOT customer,

Spot LLC appreciates your cooperation in the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger (SPOT 2) Product Return Program. We know you are eager to receive your SPOT 2 replacement unit and Spot LLC is dedicated in providing you with the highest quality product as soon as possible.

We are happy to inform you that the testing for replacement SPOT 2 units is nearing completion. We anticipate having more good news with specific timing soon. In efforts to keep you informed on the status of your claim and the SPOT 2 product availability, we will provide you with email updates on a weekly basis. You can also review regular updates at www.findmespot.com/exchange.

The Product Replacement Program has been expanded. Please check the ESN number on your SPOT 2 unit (located in the battery compartment) or in your SPOT account. If you have a SPOT 2 unit with an ESN number equal to or below 0-8053925 and have not submitted your SPOT 2 replacement claim, please visit www.findmespot.com/exchange and complete the simple Product Replacement form. All claims must be submitted by March 31 to be eligible for a replacement unit. If you have already submitted your claim, thank you.

Have questions?

Please call toll-free 1 (866) 727-7733 or Email: SPOTexchange@findmespot.com

Thank you for being a SPOT customer. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

The SPOT Team

Feb. 17, 2010: Replacements for Recalled SPOT 2s Shipping
"
See you on the Trail!
TomS
KI6FHA / WPZW486

Badlands Off-Road
tom@4x4training.com
http://www.4x4training.com

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OLLIE
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#3

Post by OLLIE » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:09 am

Yes... There was a problem. That issue has been resolved. It was a battery issue. Like everything, including amatuer radios, especially Yaesu's, the initial models tend to have bugs in them. In my experience, the SPOT customer service has been phenomonal.

It has been mentioned that their website is kind of cumbersome. They are continuously changing it trying to make it better though. It is easier than it once was. Now, if you have the TRACK package, you can post your adventures to SPOT Adventures and your adventure will be displayed on Google Earth which you can upload photos to once you return from your trip.
"OLLIE"
(K6JYB)


APRS
K6JYB ("BugEater")
K6JYB-7 (VX-8R)


http://www.facebook.com/FJOllie

"Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, the Marines don't have that problem."
-Ronald Reagan


CHECK OUT THE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE USA AMATEUR RADIO NET:
Every Thursday night at 7:30pm PST

Repeater
146.385+ PL: 146.2 Keller Peak (Echolink Equipped)

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DennisDawg
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#4

Post by DennisDawg » Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:17 am

I have had a Spot 1 for a long time, nearly from the start, of it. We, as modern people, have become accustomed to having connections to others, phones, cell phones, radios, and more. So, in the “wilds” where most of the accoutrements or modern life are gone and that connection often cut, the Spot seems to give it back.

It is nice to use the tracking feature, it lets my wife and family see where I am. If I needed Help it would let them know how I got to where I was, and might give them an idea what they needed to bring or how to get to where I was.

In the truck it simply goes on the passenger side visor. I used a strap to hold it in place up there and keep the visor down so it is in the window. Works well enough for driving about. When on foot it goes on the day pack or in the top compartment of the backpack. I use a neck strap attached to the pack to ensure it cannot fall off or out, it is always tethered.

I nearly always send OK messages at the start and end of each day to my list or people, including cell phones of friends, who have agreed to track or help. That same list is who’d come help and know that such request is not due to injury, but some other issue for which I just need them. Thus far, luckily, I have not had to use Help or 911 (SOS).

Though the Spot is useful and adds a layer of safety, it would be an error to reply on it 100%. Beyond the obvious, that it could break or be lost, it does not do well in forested areas with a thick canopy or in canyons (or other areas) where its view of the sky can be obstructed. In sending OK messages I have found not all make it through. Help and 911 could fail similarly, due to terrain. One could sustain an injury or be in a situation where those terrain issues would be difficult to resolve.

That is just something one needs to think about, something one should be thinking about anyway, as they move through terrain - ‘what is the exit strategy for this moment should something go wrong.’ Spot does not relieve one from needing to think about that and Spot cannot be the only answer to that question, just part of it.

Yes, as mentioned, I do go solo from time to time (in the rig and on foot) and did that before Spot as well (since I was a teenager). I understand the dangers in that, a risk folks have taken since the beginning of man, and prepare for that as best I can. The Spot is part of that, as is a backpack and extra food, water, and all that. Sometimes I just want to be alone. The point is that the Spot does not enable careless behavior for the careful person, it is just a layer of safety, but not one on which one should ever rely on by itself, just like owning a GPS does not negate the need for a map and compass.

Over all I recommend Spot and will likely upgrade to Spot II soon.
Local Repeaters On Which You Might Find Me (K6DOB):
  • Big Bear K6BB 147.330+ PL: 131.8 - Keller Peak KE6TZG: 146.385+ PL: 146.2 - Sierra Peak KD6DDM 146.610- PL: 103.5

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ssc
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#5

Post by ssc » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:07 pm

Thanks Ollie for the informative report. It is appreciated.

Regards, Steve
FJ Mamba. Icon 2.5 front CO XT, Icon rear 2.5 with res, Icon UCA, AP sliders, Demello front bumper, AP Rear Bumper and skids. BFG KM-2 285-70-17. Warn winch. Don't forget the Puddy Cat!

2012 Tundra Crewmax 4x4 with BFG's, 05 4-Runner 4X4, BFG's, http://www.sscphoto.zenfolio.com
The other off road rig, the "License To Chill"

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OLLIE
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#6

Post by OLLIE » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:19 pm

DennisDawg wrote: Though the Spot is useful and adds a layer of safety, it would be an error to reply on it 100%. Beyond the obvious, that it could break or be lost, it does not do well in forested areas with a thick canopy or in canyons (or other areas) where its view of the sky can be obstructed. In sending OK messages I have found not all make it through. Help and 911 could fail similarly, due to terrain. One could sustain an injury or be in a situation where those terrain issues would be difficult to resolve.
You are asolutely correct... However, the SPOT 2 has done a lot in overcoming these issues. It also has a light now that tells you whether a message made it through or not. :)
"OLLIE"
(K6JYB)


APRS
K6JYB ("BugEater")
K6JYB-7 (VX-8R)


http://www.facebook.com/FJOllie

"Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, the Marines don't have that problem."
-Ronald Reagan


CHECK OUT THE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE USA AMATEUR RADIO NET:
Every Thursday night at 7:30pm PST

Repeater
146.385+ PL: 146.2 Keller Peak (Echolink Equipped)

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DennisDawg
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#7

Post by DennisDawg » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:31 pm

OLLIE wrote:
You are asolutely correct... However, the SPOT 2 has done a lot in overcoming these issues. It also has a light now that tells you whether a message made it through or not. :)
Way back when they asked for input on their web site (me being a software person I had numerous opinions and at the time little of the site worked correctly) and the unit itself from some of the early users. I was lucky enough to be one of them and spoke directly with their engineers (as did others, I wasn’t special just a squeaky wheel). The issues above and the lack of clear feedback for successful messages, along with the lack of covers for the Help and 911 buttons to prevent accidental activation, were all addressed with the second version. They did way more than that in fact and made it much better! Eventually I will upgrade to Spot II.

My main point is to not let Spot or any technology replace proper care and preparedness when out and about. One still needs 100% of that as they did in 1820 or earlier (pick historic time that you like best before electricity and far off in a Jeddahia Smith entering into California from the east kind of way). One’s brain is still the best thing they have going. Look, then step . . .

But, my Spot is always out and about with me, in case the dice roll the wrong way one time! I hope I never really use it.

Folks who do go out and about should all have one, IMHO.
Local Repeaters On Which You Might Find Me (K6DOB):
  • Big Bear K6BB 147.330+ PL: 131.8 - Keller Peak KE6TZG: 146.385+ PL: 146.2 - Sierra Peak KD6DDM 146.610- PL: 103.5

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cruiserlarry
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#8

Post by cruiserlarry » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:31 pm

DennisDawg wrote:My main point is to not let Spot or any technology replace proper care and preparedness when out and about.

...my Spot is always out and about with me, in case the dice roll the wrong way one time!

Folks who do go out and about should all have one, IMHO.
This was the point I was trying to make in another thread; modern devices should not replace common sense and proper preparation, but they a good to have in case of unforeseen trouble... :o ;)
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

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DennisDawg
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#9

Post by DennisDawg » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:18 pm

cruiserlarry wrote:This was the point I was trying to make in another thread; modern devices should not replace common sense and proper preparation, but they a good to have in case of unforeseen trouble... :o ;)
Absolutely, and at the same time, one has to balance that against the risks they are willing to take for whatever they want to get out of what they are doing. That tolerance for risk is going to be different for different people.
Local Repeaters On Which You Might Find Me (K6DOB):
  • Big Bear K6BB 147.330+ PL: 131.8 - Keller Peak KE6TZG: 146.385+ PL: 146.2 - Sierra Peak KD6DDM 146.610- PL: 103.5

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OU812
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Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger

#10

Post by OU812 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:38 am

What advantage does that SPOT have over a PLB? I guess the fact that your friends can track your progress is fun. But isn't a PLB more reliable and cheeper?
KJ6COB

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