How to use a SPOT device

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Hobbes
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by Hobbes » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:05 pm

I've got 15 or so pre-set messages on my DeLorme. My wife loves to follow along from my breadcrumbs, and we usually have a brief "chat" when I stop for the night. I've gotten pretty good with the chiclet keyboard, so I can also type messages on the fly.

At last year's meet-up, Gazelle's InReach failed, so I lent her mine since I was hiking out that day. It's a feature that isn't really promoted, but you can add/delete/modify contacts while in the wild. That allowed Kristine to notify her boyfriend that she was using my unit. Thereafter, she was able to stay in contact and use the device as her own. (She mailed it back to me once she reached home.)

One other thing: if two or more people have the InReach, you can contact and communicate with them while on the trail as well.








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rlown
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by rlown » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:43 pm

Hobbes wrote: At last year's meet-up, Gazelle's InReach failed, so I lent her mine since I was hiking out that day. It's a feature that isn't really promoted, but you can add/delete/modify contacts while in the wild. That allowed Kristine to notify her boyfriend that she was using my unit. Thereafter, she was able to stay in contact and use the device as her own. (She mailed it back to me once she reached home.)

One other thing: if two or more people have the InReach, you can contact and communicate with them while on the trail as well.
How did her InReach fail?

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bobby49
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by bobby49 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:05 pm

rlown wrote:How did her InReach fail?
That is a valid question. Typically, the inReach will show failure indicators if it has really failed internally. Otherwise, it will show a battery that is almost dead. There are all sorts of possible user errors that get blamed on the device.

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SirBC
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by SirBC » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:19 pm

rlown wrote:How did her InReach fail?
My InReach failed on day 1 a couple of summers ago. It had been in tracking mode and after I setup camp I pulled it out to send a, "I'm setting up camp here" message. However, it was totally dead which didn't make any sense as it was fully charged and should have easily lasted the entire trip. The screen was blank and it didn't respond to any button presses. The next morning I was playing around trying to remember what the "reset" key presses were but nothing obvious worked.

I eventually did get the unit reset by pressing and holding down the "X" button and the "down" button on the directional pad. However, you have to hold both down for a really long time. Not 10 seconds, not 30 seconds, but a whole darn minute. Seems a tad much. When it came back up it had a full charge. I'm not sure what caused it to freeze like that, but I *think* it was because I had switched on the new Extended Tracking mode. It saves battery and can extend tracking time by "weeks". I turned that mode off when I had the unit up again and I haven't had a problem since.
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by bobby49 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:48 pm

SirBC wrote:
The next morning I was playing around trying to remember what the "reset" key presses were but nothing obvious worked.

I eventually did get the unit reset by pressing and holding down the "X" button and the "down" button on the directional pad. However, you have to hold both down for a really long time. Not 10 seconds, not 30 seconds, but a whole darn minute.
Was that the inReach SE? On the old models of it, it was very difficult to remember the magic button push sequence in order to do a hard reset. In newer models, they put a descriptive label on the back to step you though that. Still, once that magic sequence is done, the device has to reload its firmware, so it doesn't surprise me that it takes a long time.

It is more of a concern as to why it needed a reset in the first place. I realize that this is part communicator and part GPS, but some models of GPS receiver were susceptible to getting "scrambled" by external RF interference or for other reasons, but none of that makes much sense in a wilderness setting.

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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by SirBC » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:16 pm

Yes, it was the SE.
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by fishmonger » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:03 pm

I had one of the early SPOT models. It worked as a tracker 9 out of 10 days, rest of the time the outside world who expected to see our progress but didn't see movement was worried for no reason.

I stopped using it after two seasons, got a sat phone and never looked back. The main reason I prefer the phone is that it allows me to call for help in situations that don't require an extraction, just a consultation with a doctor or nurse to figure out what may be going on. It is not always life and death up there, but the unexpected happens and a phone with a set of well chosen numbers for rangers and doctors and other sources of support (like a shuttle to a trailhead we didn't expect to exit on) have so far kept my adventures safe and predictable, all without the drama of that 911 call the chopper decision.

The real plus of having the sat phone along is that we receive daily targeted local weather reports via text messages, and overall can communicate whenever we feel it is necessary with anyone we need to talk to. The cost is higher at first - even a used phone is $500 or more, but the actual operation is quite inexpensive for my needs: I go through one $50 sim card per 4 week adventure. I rarely use more than a few units as texts are quite cheap. I haven't looked at how SPOT has changed since those years (2010?) so maybe I am missing out on some features that make them more attractive these days.

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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by kpeter » Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:48 pm

I am still carrying my original Spot first gen device. I never have used it for tracking. I send OK messages at passes, before and after crossing fords, as I pass key lakes, and twice from my final campsite. I take care to find some open ground to signal from--at least not right under tree cover. During the day when I am not as intent on getting a signal through I let it go for one cycle--or 5-10 minutes while I snack and rest. I'm not going to sit around for its full 25 minute triple cycle if I don't have to. From camp I let it go the full triple cycle until its light signal that it is done.

My experience is that about 80-90% of the daytime signals get through on the first cycle, and I have never had a single failure from camp when I let it go the full 25 minutes.

Perhaps the old model is more reliable? Or perhaps most people just don't let it cycle through the full 25 minutes? I really have not had reliability issues. I've been thinking about replacing it since it is a decade old now, but I worry about doing so given the problems you folks are reporting.

The old model doesn't have the fourth option. It has OK, HELP, and SOS. I've nonetheless create codes with the OK and HELP button to communicate with my wife. HELP from the trail means I am delayed a day but will make it out on my own. HELP from the trailhead means my car won't start and please send AAA.

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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by bobby49 » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:29 pm

kpeter wrote:
The old model doesn't have the fourth option. It has OK, HELP, and SOS. I've nonetheless create codes with the OK and HELP button to communicate with my wife. HELP from the trail means I am delayed a day but will make it out on my own. HELP from the trailhead means my car won't start and please send AAA.
What do you do if you broke your leg?

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Post by Gazelle » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:49 pm

Opps
Last edited by Gazelle on Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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