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SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby oldranger » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:38 am

The kind of place where you could easily twist an ankle or worse. I thought -- nobody will find me here and probably my SPOT isn't even visible to the GPS satellites. Sure enough, when I got home there was a large gap in tracking coverage there, not too surprising. But what did surprise me were the even larger gaps in areas where I though sky visibility was pretty good.


From my experience and understanding of the literature the big problem with any system that relies on the two satellite communication systems is uploading message not getting the coordinates (though the accruacy of the coordinates can vary due to location, cloud cover, vegetative cover etc.) I think the communication satellites are to the s. so the bottom of an e-w trending canyon may make communication difficult and this problem increases as you head north. As an aside satellite radio was pretty useless in Alaska and the Yukon this summer and worked progressively better the farther south we were. Still lose signal at the base of a steep n. facing slope.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!



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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby longri » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:03 pm

oldranger wrote:I think the communication satellites are to the s. so the bottom of an e-w trending canyon may make communication difficult and this problem increases as you head north.


That's not quite true. From what I've read they have groups of satellites in different orbital planes, all of which are tilted with respect to the equator. So various satellites in the system are in different hemispheres at different times. If you average out their paths they'd be over the equator so one could say that they are more likely to be south -- even though a particular satellite might be north of your location; or east; or west.

As to why the device appears to report that it sent a message when the message doesn't actually reach the recipient is something that I'd love to hear explained. Clearly there is some failure in the handshaking. Or maybe the SPOT device simply has no way to know if the message was actually delivered. If that's the case, then why the lying lights? It would be better if they didn't blink at all as it's a false promise.
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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby mrphil » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:28 pm

Years ago, long before I bought my ACR, I did a lot of research on the reliability of distress call signals between the ACR models and SPOT available at the time (those were the choices). Bottom line: the ACR Aquafix worked in virtually all environments, almost globally if registered in the region, all the time, and the SPOT didn't. The negative reviews from people that had actually pressed the SOS button on the SPOT were overwhelming, hands down. I now own a newer model ACR ResQlink+.


longri wrote: But it had a weird side effect. I felt like someone unseen was watching me. I found I hated that feeling and wondered if it might influence my choices. I'd rather be unseen, I think.


That's an interesting point. On one hand, I get loved ones worrying and wanting to stay in touch constantly. One the other hand, I don't get that at all. There are times when it's nice to be free from being constantly "connected". I suppose it's nice to be able to send and receive a text, but I own and carry my unit in order to have the best chance of summoning help for rescue in an emergency, and chatting with home is way, way down the list of my priorities. With the ACR, I buy it once, register it with the NOAA, test it before every trip, re-register it once every two years, and beyond the initial purchase, I do it all for free with the best device I can possibly have to save my life or get me out of trouble. With the SPOT, you're basically paying all that money annually for a texting device, and the rescue part of it is secondary to the task/cost of messaging: A glorified phone provider that knows they've got a pretty good lock on the market for the service they provide, and whose device just happens to have a marginally reliable rescue component built into it for good measure. I'm sure there are plenty of testimonials from people that have been saved because of their SPOT, but personally, I resent the hell out of paying for a service that keeps me trackable and never out of the loop. If I wanted to do that, might as well go to Vegas, hike the Strip, and never fall below 5 bars.

For loved ones that might worry, I leave a detailed itinerary with daily route expectations, potential bail out locations, and return ETA +/-, tell them I love them and I'll call when I get back in range, and that if they don't get a call from me or a SAR agency, I'm fine and having a good time.
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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby rlown » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:37 pm

mrphil wrote:
For loved ones that might worry, I leave a detailed itinerary with daily route expectations, potential bail out locations, and return ETA +/-, tell them I love them and I'll call when I get back in range, and that if they don't get a call from me or a SAR agency, I'm fine and having a good time.


Exactly.
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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby longri » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:54 am

One aspect of tracking that initially seemed appealing, in addition to the "feel good" aspect of friends/family being able to see where I am, is the scenario where I am injured or otherwise incapacitated and unable to activate the SOS. Perhaps I'm separated from my pack or unconscious. With a PLB you have to be able to get the device out and push the button. With a tracking device, someone remote could see that your device is active but motionless.

The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that this was of only very limited value. I know someone who was unconscious for an unknown period of hours in the Sierra. If he had a tracking device, would it have helped him? No. Because a motionless device has to be motionless for a considerable period of time before a red flag is raised. And then there are other possibilities besides injury. Maybe the hiker is taking a rest day and forgot to turn off the device. Maybe it was dropped or left behind by accident.

In the event that one is actually unconscious it's unfortunately most likely that help would arrive after a significant delay, maybe too late. I suspect it's a very rare scenario where it actually works to one's advantage.

So that means tracking is almost entirely a feel good feature, a kind of toy. Lots of SPOT users I talked to told me they never turn it on and only use the other messages. But those messages are essentially the same sort of thing: "Here I am right now".

I suppose a PLB with an automatic SOS feature could be designed to deal with cases where one is unable to press the emergency button. It could fire if the user doesn't hit a reset button before some selected time period. But it would have to be very carefully designed to prevent a lot of unintentional distress calls. I wonder if such a feature exists on any available PLB. Maybe it's not worth it; a PLB is already a huge improvement over having no way to communicate distress. You can't insure yourself against all dangers.
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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby freestone » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:52 am

Our very own Rocky Road activated a SPOT and was rescued on his hike to the 2016 meet up.

I didn’t know how much time had passed since I had activated my SPOT. Dialing 911 on my mobile phone repeatedly failed. But I was surprised to feel a little excitement about this ordeal, about breaking a bone for the first time, and the challenge to recover. I suppose I never seriously considered that I wouldn’t be eventually rescued. Still, I was relieved at hearing the helicopter blades and thought to myself that their response time was really quick. They flew overhead in the general area and each time they got close, I flashed my headlamp at them. This continued for maybe 20-30 minutes. My measure of time was not very accurate. The helicopter disappeared after a while before returning. Then it would disappear again. I thought they had seen me but could not find an area to land. Maybe they sent for a foot crew to come rescue me. The next time I saw the helicopter circle over me, I took out a shirt and started waving it. The helicopter sounded its horn in response. They finally saw me, and landed at 4:15pm, 4 hours after my fall.


I'm sure there are endless stories of successes and failures, but it's folly to think that a detailed itinerary is all you need when going solo, especially given the ease of use and affordability of these devices as they are today. If you are amused by these devices and have fun using them... all the better.
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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby Vaca Russ » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:01 am

freestone wrote:I'm sure there are endless stories of successes and failures, but it's folly to think that a detailed itinerary is all you need when going solo, especially given the ease of use and affordability of these devices as they are today. If you are amused by these devices and have fun using them... all the better.


Although these devices can be use not only for rescue in an emergency (or, worst case, for recovery). The InReach has the additional features of text communication and tracking. I have used the "tracking" feature a few times and plan to use it more in the future. It is an excellent was to share climbing routes.

There is also a silly feature of "Waypoints", but I consider this rather useless.

Most posters, however, have not discussed the true reason why I purchased mine.

It was because of a direct order from her majesty the Queen. :D :nod:

IMG_2259.JPG


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YMMV,

-Russ
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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby freestone » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:20 am

Vaca Russ wrote:
freestone wrote:I'm sure there are endless stories of successes and failures, but it's folly to think that a detailed itinerary is all you need when going solo, especially given the ease of use and affordability of these devices as they are today. If you are amused by these devices and have fun using them... all the better.


Although these devices can be use not only for rescue in an emergency (or, worst case, for recovery). The InReach has the additional features of text communication and tracking. I have used the "tracking" feature a few times and plan to use it more in the future. It is an excellent was to share climbing routes.

There is also a silly feature of "Waypoints", but I consider this rather useless.

Most posters, however, have not discussed the true reason why I purchased mine.

It was because of a direct order from her majesty the Queen. :D :nod:



Yup, me too! :paranoid:

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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby longri » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:24 am

Another curious SPOT behavior.

I've had it on with tracking enabled for the last few days, right here at my desk. Admittedly GPS reception isn't perfect indoors here but more often than not I do get a GPS lock (with a different GPS). Anyway, it's been two days since the last tracking report. But when I hit the OK button the lights flash happily and I get an email within 60 seconds. Clearly it can see the satellites. So what's up with tracking? I took it outside for a 15 minute walk and came back and still no tracking reports. Some sort of bug and another reason not to trust this thing.
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Re: SPOT Fee Increase - Aarghh!

Postby rlown » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:39 am

Vaca Russ wrote:
It is a Delorme GARMIN InReach Explorer! Anyway I will never drive a KIA for the same reason. I'm glad your getting one so now I can use your tech brain as a resource. Maybe someday I will have a reason to test the SOS, but I hope not.

-Russ


I don't need the map on the device for the late September trip, but I'll pick your brain. How the heck do you get a map on the device? I can see it in earthmate, but it doesn't upload. hmm. I'm not carrying the cell phone.

Had to warn the contacts they might get messages, but If I press the SOS, it might not be for us; Other people on the trail as well.
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