Spot Owners....

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Martin
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Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:01 am

Just a heads up for Spot Gen 3 owners.....

As your subscriptions renew you are likely to see increases in your annual fee (from $149 to $199). Your probably also seeing a $14.95 network access fee... an of course all in USD. Maybe a time to switch to InReach?... I looked close at the two offerings and find it a bit of a wash so its a personal choice. As a long time user of the Spot program and a dual subscriber, I did give their customer service a call and after a bit of negotiation, I arranged some credits for next year and for the time being will stay with Spot.

For the Gen 3 owners renewing to the new subscription rate, note your basic tracking now includes a 5 min track rate option (down from 10). Here is the reason I'm posting this notice....

The new Gen 3 basic track will require you to run the firmware communication tool (Spot Device Updater). When you go to your Spot account page it will tell you that a firmware upgrade is required. The tool will update the track rate you set on your account web page to your device. What happened to me during this firmware modification, the "shared" feature of your track status defaulted to "off". I should also point out, I did not change the update rate, I left the rate as it was set (10 min).

With the shared track status turned off, any of your shared track pages (XC find and or your Spot shared page) will not display your track, tho oddly will display your custom messages. So if you do an upgrade or change your track settings from 10 to 5 min, double check your shared status for the device, better yet, make sure you test your track before heading out on your next XC.

You find the "share" settings on your Spot Account page and the Share Locations tab.

I'm not totally convinced that the firmware upgrade is required other than to make available the 5 min track rate. (the 2.5 min track rate remains in the "Extreme" track option).

Cheers

Martin

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Claudia » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:53 am

Hmm, tempting, especially with two way communication only InReach offers. How much is that worth?

Discover plan is CAD 420/year. But only 20h worth of tracking/month with 10min track points (200 track points). Each additional hour is 60 cents. Also allows suspending on a monthly basis for folks who hibernate :wink: .

(number of track points edited...)

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:27 pm

Hmmm?... more like ahhhhh....

Don't forget you have to purchase a much more expensive device ($350-450 for the latest thing after rebates).

I sliced it many different ways, but unless you doing the true off the grid exploring I don't see the two way communication has much value. Of course if your a dedicated Tiger country fan, fill your boots... I just tried to compare the basic stuff and they both seem accomplish the task of tracking and SOS at about the same value.

Martin

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Claudia » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:56 am

There is also the reliability factor. I have seen claims Spot signals are more often delayed or don't get transmitted at all compared to InReach (track points and OK... Help and SOS seem to have higher priority and not affected). A few years back this seemed to effect both InReach and Spot, from anecdotal reports. We noticed that even if there are no low battery status lights or messages it helps to change batteries.

Would be interesting to hear InReach owners comments on this; do they ever experience delays or missed signals?

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Nikolai » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:30 am

Another option is the McMurdo Fastfind Personal Locator Beacon. This PLB is $295 at MEC, doesn't require a subscription, has a 6 year battery life, and is apparently more accurate than SPOT or inReach (uses military satellites and supposedly will work under tree cover). Downside is that it's one use only (I gather) ... so not suitable for regular tracking, plus if you are injured and can't activate the beacon, you are SOL (versus a satellite messenger, which - if you've put in the appropriate settings - will indicate last known position). However, it is useful as a last resort (if you are conscious and capable of activating an SOS), which is all many of us want it for. I have a mountaineering friend who has one of these ... don't know that much about it myself. As paragliders who are flying at speed over terrain that most people don't ever traverse, and who can sustain high impact injuries, maybe a tracking device (as opposed to a manually-activated beacon) is the better option. In any case, here's the MEC link:

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5035-820/ ... tor-Beacon

And here is Part 2 of an interesting 4-part discussion of PLBs vs satellite messengers (not sure of the date on this discussion):

http://www.backcountrychronicles.com/sa ... ssengers/

Any additional comments are welcomed, as I am also in the market for some electronic insurance ...

Bill N. (apologies if this option has already been discussed elsewhere in the forum)


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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby GrumpySmurf » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:47 am

Claudia wrote:
Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:56 am
Would be interesting to hear InReach owners comments on this; do they ever experience delays or missed signals?
I have had the web portal fail to reflect the track log, yet an update message appeared via Twitter. *shrug*

The two-way comm capability of the InReach has proven useful on trips overseas when communicating with retrieve during a multi hour hike out (and no cell coverage).

Likewise, the retrieve coordinator really liked the ability of the InReach to report altitude - he was able to determine when I was likely to land.

Of note: If travelling to India/Nepal/South Africa - SPOT coverage can be spotty (pardon the pun).
Image of SPOT footprint here: https://flyinorange.blog/2017/05/06/par ... -tracking/
The FlyinOrange: Blog Videos Facebook Google+

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Claudia » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:56 am

Bill: I think for our activity tracking makes a lot of sense, I wouldn't choose a device that doesn't have this option. I like the feature of having tracking in case the user is incapacitated. If you are able to activate a PLB there may be a chance that you can use a radio too (although the question is how well...).

GrumpySmurf: In 2014 Spots worked well during our Nepal trek (we used 3 devices).

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Mon May 14, 2018 7:26 pm

Ah, so something new to spark some Garmin vs Spot to debate! (or that to da-Bait?)

https://www.findmespot.com/spotx/lander.php

Reminds me of an old Blackberry! Love it... I bet its got tubes and valves and gets nice an warm when its turn on?

Seriously, Device cost roughly half of the InReach (or what ever its called now) and Unlimited tracking with all the plans. Not sure what limits are set to a "message" but it does look interesting.

Martin

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Claudia » Mon May 14, 2018 8:06 pm

The new 2-way messaging Spot looks very interesting!
But I'll wait to hear some feedback from owners once its out.
I also couldn't find if it can be used via cell phones - can it?

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Mon May 14, 2018 8:27 pm

Yes it's new... maybe on my wish list "next year".

My bet, no link to your cell phone (No Bluetooth). Intended to be a stand alone device (not tethered) . Mind, one interesting point, it is assigned a cell number and you can send messages to the device and reply back to the senders number.

The big deal that I see is the fact you have unlimited tracking all year round included and now add messaging. No mater how I sliced it, I could not get the Garmin offering to be cheaper than the spot.

Of course it could all be hype and junk but I'm sure there is more news to follow.

Martin

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Paddy » Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:49 pm

London Drugs advertise the Spotx in their latest flyer for $350. Spot advertise it at $250 US.(thats 330 to Canadians)
Strange I cannot find any recent reviews from people actually using one.

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Claudia » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:19 am

Looks like there are a few kinks to be ironed out, there a some reviews on the REI website:
https://www.rei.com/product/139231/spot ... -messenger

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:31 am

I think one of the real problem issues that SPOT is stuck with is the use of the Globalstar satellite constellation (24 sats) vs Delorme's Iridium system (70+sats).

All sorts of discussion regarding the condition of the systems.

Iridium has massive redundancy and is actually launching replacement sats into the constellation and it seems to have a much finer and robust coverage. That said, Iridium appears to "need" to bolster its constellation as it appears the system is much finer and occasionally develops issues with coverage(?).

Globalstar's 24 second gen system completed its second gen build in 2013 (last launch). Life expectancy of 15 years and does not appear to have plans to replace or maintain. The other issue with Globalstar appears to be the technology, "bent pipe repeater" that is dependent on ground based repeaters (which I think explains why we may see so many complaints about lost Spot signals and or breaks in reliability).

The better system appears to be the Iridium satellite constellation , the better device may be the Spot...

Martin

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby kenf » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:40 pm

Hey, long time since I've flown, but I can't pass up a chance to comment on Spot vs Inreach. It took me a really long time asking on every outdoor forum I could find before I could get somebody to confirm side-by-side performance of the two. Somebody finally did for me, a few years back, and confirmed the Inreach was better at getting messages out from under a tree canopy for sure. On that advice, I bought the Inreach myself, and did my own side-by-side tests in several places, and had the exact same results. At best, Spot messages were often delayed, at worst, they often didn't go out at all. Inreach has been 100% reliable to date, including sending from deep under a canopy in steep terrain. Yes, very pricey but at this point I'm pretty happy to spend it to give me a better chance to make it home if things go really sideways.

I'm not sure about the new Spot, but as Martin said, I believe it's the satellite tech that's the limiting factor here, not the handheld unit, so I'd be very surprised if the new one makes any difference. Other than making it easier to know for sure that help isn't on the way because they haven't answered your SOS yet via the cool new 2-way feature.

As an aside, I had a (nameless) friend accidentally activate his Inreach SOS just a few weeks ago while boating in a remote northern inlet. Coast Guard response was astonishingly fast, he figured he would have been out of the water in 15 minutes tops had it been a real incident. Fortunately they heard the alert over the VHF that CCG was on the way, realized the coordinates were them, realized what had happened, and were able to avert the full deployment before an actual boat was on scene, but it was definitely already on the way. So not that false alarms are at all a laughing matter, but it was pretty reassuring to see just how effective the SOS could be in a real situation.

Also, having the 2-way communication turned out to be a huge salvation to Mr. Nameless, as his wife got a pretty alarming phone call from whoever mans the other end of that SOS call, and he was able to defuse that situation from the Inreach as well, as soon as he realized what had happened.

Cheers
KF

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Claudia » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:33 am

Another first-hand review of the SpotX: we just got back from a river trip in the NWT. The bush pilot who flew us into the headwaters of the Nahanni/Broken Skull uses it for communication and says it works fine.


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