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Spot Sattelite Messenger
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
Posts: 535
Location: Mesa AZ

PostPosted: 3/6/2008, 9:46 pm    Post subject: Spot Sattelite Messenger Reply to topic Reply with quote

Just got my April 2008 Backpacker magazine in the mail. Page 96 is one of their editors picks and looks like a reasonable costing device that uses sattelites to provide emergency text or email messages to 4 people you select or 911 message to a coordination service 24 hours per day.

It will send an email or text message to up to 4 people you pre-select. There are 3 possible messages. 1 is just OK meaning no troubles so donít call rescue. 2 is some trouble but not emergency type and 3. is 911 which goes to a global rescue coordination company that then directs local search and rescue support to your location (24 hours per day).

Device is $159, basic service is $99 per year, tracking adds $50 per year and SAR insurance is only $8 per year.

Sounds like we are headed in the right direction.

See the link to the providing company.
http://www.globalcomsatphone.com/spot/
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
Posts: 535
Location: Mesa AZ

PostPosted: 3/8/2008, 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I would like to add that this is the first piece of gear that is small and lightweight and at a reasonable cost that will allow you to get an emergency message out with you exact location identified in all areas even those without cell phone coverage.

None of us are invulnerable. There can be accidents or medical emergencies to us or any of our friends. This device can bring help to the scene hour or days before it would otherwise be there. When GB and I backpacked to Mt Whiney a hiker experienced symptoms of what was probably a heart attack. Fortunately for him a passing hiker had a Sattellite phone and the helicopter was there pronto. The sat phones are too big and too expensive for most of us but no one can argue about their usefulness in an emergency.

Individuals don't need to buy this device if they hike in groups. One device per group would do the trick. It's worth exploring anyway.
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Suz





Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 3186

PostPosted: 3/8/2008, 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Hey Joe, I agree it's a great price for an awesome device. I think this was brought up in another thread already.
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
Posts: 535
Location: Mesa AZ

PostPosted: 3/8/2008, 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Oh, sorry. I missed that. First time I saw it was in the April 2008 Backpacker Magazine.
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Suz





Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 3186

PostPosted: 3/8/2008, 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

yeah..............I think it might have been Tim that found it and posted about it, but I'm not sure. Just thought that perhaps that was why there was no dialog......aside from the obvious ghost-town issues.
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Shawn
I'll sell you map to Lost Dutchman mine!




Joined: 03 Jan 2003
Posts: 2592
Location: Ahwatukee, AZ

PostPosted: 3/9/2008, 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Here's that previous post on this. Still sounds like a great idea.

http://www.arizonahikers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7171&highlight=

I used a GPS (Garmin 76CSx) this weekend in the Sup's. My first experience where I really used it hiking--So Mtn doesn't count. I could get hooked on this gizmo, it adds a dimension to the whole experience.
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cmc





Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 43

PostPosted: 3/10/2008, 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I've used one and it's pretty awesome. DAB on here has it. I'm going to borrow it for an upcoming trip of mine with some friends. My wife loves the idea and knowing that I'm doing ok on a remote trip. Don't have the tracking but might set that up before the next outing.

cmc
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Suz





Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 3186

PostPosted: 3/12/2008, 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

So from those that have used it.........what about these narrow canyons? Any luck in those?
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
Posts: 535
Location: Mesa AZ

PostPosted: 3/12/2008, 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Suz wrote:
So from those that have used it.........what about these narrow canyons? Any luck in those?


That is a great question. I would assume that the device has some indicator that tells if you are receiving sattelite signals strong enough to send a message, but there will be situations where the signals would be blocked. So it will not be useable in all situations (canyoneers having the most problems). For the stuff I do it would work 99 percent of the time. In a canyon it may be necessary to move to an open space where sattelite signals can be received.
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Davis2001R6





Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 5591
Location: Italy

PostPosted: 3/12/2008, 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Here is a review I found on REI.com, pretty informative I thought. I still think it's a cool idea and would maybe like to share one among 5-6 people, but wouldn't buy one for myself yet. Maybe when they combine it with a normal GPS unit.

Here is the review though:
"On the plus side, Spot GPS has several nice features--it's splashproof to watertight, light weight, and uses 2 AA Lithium batteries (user replaceable). Ir has a variety of functions, from alerting to rescue, and more functions than the ACR MicrOFix or its waterproof brother the ResQFix, which are initially three to four times more expensive than the Spot GPS unit.

On the minus side, you pay a yearly service fee for the Spot GPS features that runs between $100 and $159, whereas the ACR and similar Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) units have no activation or annual service charge EVER.

Most importantly, you need to determine why you are buying a GPS locator beacon. If it's to dazzle your camping buddies or your techie friends at home (watching on a computer via the SPOT GPS on-line tracking feature), then this might be just right for you. But despite all your planning and conditioning are you willing to bet your life on this unit? In my case NO! The ACR and many other PLBs use the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite family, run by the U. S. and other governments, not private industry as with the satellite system supporting SPOT GPS. When you activate an ACR or similar PLB, a U. S. Air Force ground station (staffed by highly trained, incredibly dedicated personnel) receives and processes the message and routes it to the nearest Search And Rescue (SAR) facility within 3 to 15 minutes world wide. The ACR units also contain a standard 121.5 MHz transmit frequency for SAR homing to help find you fast. The Spot GPS unit does NOT contain this SAR homing transmitter, which adds time and risk to your rescue.

Don't get me wrong, SPOT GPS has some nice features beyond tracking and it's roughly half the weight and size of the ACR MicrOFix or ResQFix. The ACR and other PLBs, however, do NOT have any activation or service fees--you register the unit with its unique beacon digital identifier string on the U. S. government 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database System web site. That's it--the unit is ready to use and there is no activation or service cost EVER.

Granted, the Lithium AA batteries used by SPOT GPS run about $2 each when bought in bulk and have a long shelf life. The high capacity Lithim battery in the ACR units has a 5 year service life and an 11 year storage life and is not user replaceable (to maintain the waterproof seals). If you intend on keeping the SPOT GPS and ACR units for many years then the total SPOT GPS cost begins to approach the ACR MicrOFix or ResQFix cost. If you only plan on keeping it for a year or two, then the SPOT GPS is cheaper.

If I had enough money I'd buy both types of units. But in a life threatening situation the ACR MicrOFix or ResQFix PLB wins "hands down." Granted, one of the first rules of being an adventurer is to never get yourself in a situation of requiring a rescue. However, I'm just not willing to bet my life on the SPOT GPS unit."
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cmc





Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 43

PostPosted: 3/25/2008, 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I'll try to give a hands on report after our 5 day pack trip this week taking along my friends SPOT so our wives and friends can see our progress.

cmc
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cmc





Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 43

PostPosted: 4/3/2008, 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Well after spending 6 days away from home packing into the Galiuros my buddies and I were able to keep our wives up to speed with our status (Ok emails). They each took great solace knowing we were doing ok and could report in now and then. We tried to send OK messages twice a day unless we forgot or a canyon was blocking GPS usage. In the end although it would take a while for the SPOT unit to sync up and then send out the message it did work. Pretty well down in some tight canyons. We were pleased, of course not as much as our wives. They all said the SPOT service/unit is worth the price.

We'd like to see some additional services with it and hope version #2 includes more than just the three message/notice types. That and weight of the unit could stand to be a little less.

Over all 8.5 out of 10 stars from us... 10 out of 10 from our wives.

cmc
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Shawn
I'll sell you map to Lost Dutchman mine!




Joined: 03 Jan 2003
Posts: 2592
Location: Ahwatukee, AZ

PostPosted: 4/4/2008, 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I am much more envious of 6 days in the Galiuros than the gee-wiz gadget!
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
Posts: 535
Location: Mesa AZ

PostPosted: 4/4/2008, 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback CMC. Family peace of mind is cetainly one of the values of that capability. I would hope the next generation of this device would be smaller, lighter and with more messaging capability than this first generation device. That said, it sounds like a winner to me.

I understand that for $50 per year it will also send tracking information back home so your position and movement would be viewable on a google earth display of some sort.

You could also plant one on your teenage kids to invade their privacy. That's a frightening thought.
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PageRob





Joined: 03 Mar 2005
Posts: 859
Location: Page, Az.

PostPosted: 4/5/2008, 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

gpsjoe wrote:

You could also plant one on your teenage kids to invade their privacy. That's a frightening thought.

Oh they already have those. I've seen ads for them on billboards in Tucson and heard an NPR report about them as well.
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