Spot Owners....

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:52 am

Spot, Cracks in the system?

Must admit I'm reflecting on the use of my Spot as a SOS device. There are a few reports out there of failed SOS activation , (One recently, in the Backcountry of Mount Baker in Washington state). To be clear, every device out there is subject to failures of the system/device but the basic function of the SOS has brought in question for the incidents posted. The failures have been sourced to the device Spot Gen3 and the actual activation of the SOS process.

If your a Spot Gen3 owner, I highly recommend contacting Spot customer service and request a SOS test of your unit (Don't just press the SOS! you need to do the test via customer service). There is a possibility that certain Gen3 units are defective and they should be tested.

I hope to get a chance to test both of my units shortly....

Martin

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:46 am

Follow-up....

Just ran SOS tests on both of my Gen3 units and both passed, from pushing the SOS button to confirmation.

The procedure to test is not so straight forward but understandably so. If you call Spot you will be given a number to call GEOS, the systems operating center (1-888-460-4554). They will send you a test request form, fill it in and send it to :

testing@geos911.com

I left the date and time blank on the form and they called me right back. Service was prompt and courteous.. they mentioned that they had been getting a few requests... (note, I think if you just send a request for the form to the email address above, I believe you will get your form without doing the phone call).

I'm 99% convinced the device will work when I need it, my 1% reservation is based on the fact that if its electronic and it relies on a man made system to work, its prone to failure. On the other hand, I was satisfied that the 2 Gen3 units that I have work. Beyond all the comparisons between Spot and Garmin, I do believe if you want the best in personal emergency safety (from a technology)... then you should purchase a PLB/ELB... and even with that option, you can still have a bad day !

Cheers

Martin

Claudia
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Claudia » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:09 pm

Thanks for posting the SPOT test procedure, good to know!

I just read a blog on the accuracy of PBLs and they didn't come out all shiny. The post is from 2011, so things may have changed. The author (Northshore SAR member) describes that PBL rely on radio signal to get location fix and that is limited under trees and in tight valleys (some PBL have GPS in addition). http://blog.oplopanax.ca/2011/08/person ... rspective/

The main problem with PBL is that they only work if the user is capable of activating it. Spot and Inreach leave a breadcrumb trail...

I posted earlier on this forum on the importance of informing your emergency contacts on what to expect and what to do when the Inreach Emergency center (Texas) calls to confirm emergencies: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9741

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:11 pm

Good point on the contact settings, the Geos people will ask if you want the SOS message information reviewed, they read back what I had in the system for information (Glider/Ham frequencies/contacts and so on...)

Martin

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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:38 am

For anybody that takes the time to test their Spot's, please post your experience with the process and if you had any issues (or not).

I would also encourage owners of the Garmin InReach to also test their devices and maybe give some feedback on the experience and results here on the forum.

The interesting about both systems (as I understand it) the administration of either SOS call on either of the two services comes down to the same ground base service, GEOS, International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center (IERCC). The differences are in the technology that delivers the signal (and of course the differences in how the devices work).

Thanks

Martin


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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:46 am

Some additional feedback on the Spot Gen3 Tests and a few extra comments.

I have heard back from several other owners who performed the tests and all were successful. Since I'm not on Social Media, I don't have any additional followup from the incident in Washington State other than a note that one of the suggested failed SOS activation's was on a unit where the subscription had expired (you get what you paid for?).

I also have this observation about the Gen3 SOS activation. I'm Right handed, the SOS indicator is on the right hand side of the device. When I push the SOS button, my thumb covers the indicator lamp. When I did the test with the GEOS people it took me a few seconds to actually go looking for the light and the confirmation (which is matched by the message sent light on the top). Just a suggestion here but, in stressful situation, not seeing the SOS lamp could cause confusion, which in my opinion is one of the reasons I have always found the SPOT interface a bit cryptic, lacking any sort of clear statement of status (and where InReach is superior).

Last, A comment on your contact information and emergency information on file with Spot/GEOS. This can be extremely useful. I have my 2meter frequency listed (nearly every search and rescue organization will have MARS/CAP radio gear in the FM band so no mater what frequency you use in the 2meter, you will be covered. Perhaps not the case with Aircraft Band for ground crew but I suspect any professional SR will be airband equipped and obviously, any SR Helicopter/Aircraft response would be Airband supported but just as likely to have MARS/CAP FM capability). Also list your closest contact Cell numbers and as mentioned before, make sure they know they are on the list and just as important, why they are on the list.

Cheers

Martin

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby philibis » Wed Apr 03, 2019 7:24 pm

Recently, I heard a story from Brazil.

A pilot had an emergency unrelated to flying, which made him unable to walk, but not seriously injured. He activated his spot. First off, he was under a kind of metal shade roof thing, and there was no satelllite signal, so he had to throw it a few feet and was able to see the light indicating the SOS went out. The pilots wife got the emergency message, used google maps to get there, but was unable to help. Quite some time had passed, and no emergency services had arrived, so his wife drove to the nearest police outpost.

When she explained who it was that sent the SOS, they said, "oh yeah, we got the alert, it came in these funny coordinates (lat,long!!), but we don't know what to do with them". So, even if your alert makes it out, you can't always assume anyone knows what to do with it!

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Nikolai
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Nikolai » Wed May 08, 2019 8:52 am

Just bought an inReach Mini ... anyone have any suggestions as to subscription plans? I'm trying not to break the bank:

https://explore.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/#subscriptions

Thanks for any advice!

B.

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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby tnankie » Wed May 08, 2019 11:35 am

Ultimately it depends on how important the tracking is to you Bill. It is a safety feature.....but even on the cheapest plan you can turn it on if you think you need it. I use the recreation plan and I tend to leave it running year round.

I find 40 text messages is more than enough, I doubt I use more than 10. But I like the tracking.
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Martin
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Martin » Thu May 09, 2019 6:15 am

tnankie wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 11:35 am
Ultimately it depends on how important the tracking is to you Bill. It is a safety feature.....but even on the cheapest plan you can turn it on if you think you need it. I use the recreation plan and I tend to leave it running year round.

I find 40 text messages is more than enough, I doubt I use more than 10. But I like the tracking.
Curious, who did you sign up with for your InReach device? Garmin Roadpost or Garmin. There have been changes to the subscription setup since Garmin took over the InReach administration. The old Roadpost could be altered (minor fees applied) but now if you are subscribing a new device you will be taken to Garmin and you have to make a choice of a premium price plan that rolls in the costs of activated and deactivate vs. A plan that is cheaper but has harsh fees associated with changes to the plan.

Canadian Roadpost:

https://inreach.roadpost.ca/contract-fr ... ost-plans/

Garmin (noting its a CA based link):

https://explore.garmin.com/en-CA/inreach/

Also, Curious if your signed up with Garmin, are they charging taxes? An interesting quirk of Garmin International is they have not been applying tax but it probably just part of the transition. Using the basic Recreational, left on year round will clock you close to $550 Canadian, Spot is dinging me $310 (give or take). Still, I think the InReach is the better device...

Martin

tnankie
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby tnankie » Thu May 09, 2019 9:28 am

I am paying $50.35 a month, taxes inclusive. I have the mini, so no choice (I believe) with who I signed up with (Garmin Canada).


And I just realised I'm paying to be on a freedom plan but never changing/deactivating my plan based on usage.....so I've just changed to the $35 a month Garmin plan.
I might try downgrading to safety and turning tracking on for a month or two see how it compares in cost.
Tom Dupree
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby the other martin » Fri May 10, 2019 6:57 am

I got the InReach a year or so ago after being disenchanted and disgruntled and generally pissed off with Spot. A number of Spot owners are pleased with the product and have never had an issue with messaging or coverage. With InReach I am on the $35.00 a month plan year in and year out. Activating and deactivating a few times a year didn't work in my case. No fuss, no muss with the monthly plan. The InReach has been working flawlessly. Not once has it dropped a message or a signal. The initial cost is a bit of a shock but after setting up the plan it is all good to go. You get used to the cost of doing business and once a month some electronic numbers get shuffled out of an account. Life is good.

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Nikolai
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Re: Spot Owners....

Postby Nikolai » Sat May 11, 2019 1:39 pm

Thanks for all the input! I think I might start with Garmin's 19.95 p/month Safety "Freedom" plan (rock bottom) and see how it goes ... can always upgrade if I find my usage needs are greater than I think.

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Re: Spot Owners.... Interference with GPS

Postby pep » Fri May 17, 2019 8:35 am

Adding to the SPOT "Issues" apparently SPOT also has the capability to interfere with other GPS devices.
There is not much of a solution than the mention of not placing the electronics to close to each other.

https://www.bcaviation.ca/bcga-news/urg ... cker-users

https://copanational.org/en/2019/05/16/ ... erference/
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