How to use a SPOT device

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Gazelle
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by Gazelle » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:50 pm

Mine did as SirBC’s did had almost full charge took it out to look at Hobbes message to see where he was, I believe I replied then put it away when got to camp 1 hour later it was blank no power on no nothing, tried to charge it nothing. I too could not remember what to do, but texted out for boyfriend on Hobbes’s to find out, tried all that, maybe I didn’t hold long enough. Borrowed Hobbes, next afternoon mine powered up fine and has worked ever since! Maybe not hold long enough? Now I have it written with my fixit gear! I also don’t think I locked the screen before I put it away so maybe all kinds of buttons pushed during that hour? Needless to say I always lock its screen, and have the reset somewhere with me! I do really like it.


The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein






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kpeter
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by kpeter » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:30 pm

bobby49 wrote:
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?
That would be an SOS for immediate evac.

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longri
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by longri » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:17 am

kpeter wrote: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.
From what I've read the first generation SPOT was less reliable. It got panned pretty harshly in a BPL review.

With regard to waiting the full 20 minutes (was it 25 on the old one?), I certainly didn't do that as a matter of course when sending a message in the middle of the day. But sometimes I sat in one place long enough for that. Kearsarge Pass was one example. I was there for about 45 minutes after starting the OK signal, snacking and chatting with people. That SPOT message didn't make it.

In camp I would let it do it's thing for the whole cycle as well, once when I arrived and again in the morning. More than once it would succeed at night and fail in the morning, or vice versa. No real rhyme or reason that I could see as to when it worked or failed. The tracking function was equally flaky, sometimes dropping out for hours of travel through wide open terrain.

Yet I keep hearing from some people that their SPOTs work just fine. So who knows, maybe mine had some sort of hardware issue. I'll never know.

In terms of sending OK messages or texting friends these issues are pretty annoying, especially given that you have to pay a subscription free on top of the price of the hardware. But what I wonder about is what this says about the reliability of the devices in general. Above all the other features it should be able to reliably send an SOS message.

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bobby49
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by bobby49 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:57 am

You guys need to understand better how your device operates. Every brand is different, and even some models are different.

Some people have the philosophy of "it talks to the satellites" without understanding the different classes of satellites involved or what they are doing.

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longri
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by longri » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:46 pm

bobby49 wrote:You guys need to understand better how your device operates. Every brand is different, and even some models are different.

Some people have the philosophy of "it talks to the satellites" without understanding the different classes of satellites involved or what they are doing.
If an understanding beyond what is supplied by the user manual is required to successfully operate it then there is an inherent flaw in the product. It would be like expecting a car owner to understand engine mechanics.

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bobby49
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by bobby49 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:46 pm

I agree. For most devices like these, the user manuals are incredibly thin and poorly written.

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longri
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by longri » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:43 am

Suppose you were writing the user manual for the SPOT. What additional information would you add?

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bobby49
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by bobby49 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:28 pm

For years I taught a GPS class. This was not for navigational purposes, but for another purpose. I paid a lot of attention to what parts of the subject matter seemed to be most puzzling to people in the class, so I adapted my class to cover the puzzlement the best.

Additionally, some people that I know have been in rescue situations, and they misunderstood the operation of a borrowed one-way SPOT device. Even though the SOS was sent and received, the rescue was cancelled due to the misunderstanding. Eventually the person was rescued, thanks to a long wait and a landline telephone. However, it became painfully obvious about all of this misunderstanding.

Personally, I use a two-way satellite communicator, so that gives me feedback as to whether my message was received.

To state it briefly, first you deal with non-geosynchronous GPS satellites in order to get a position solution. Once your device has its position known, it can send a routine message or else an SOS. The routine messages go up to a "sat phone satellite" in low earth orbit, and then they are bounced down to some earth station. The SOS is sent differently, and those go up to special satellites that handle SOS calls, and they are in high earth orbit. It is helpful if the user knows how and where each type of "bird" is flying and how to get transmission one way or the other.

Additionally, most of these signals are flying up and down on various microwave frequencies, and they can be blocked by various natural factors. So, it is nice to know how your own device operates and what is going to foul it up. An example of these natural factors is called multipath interference. Basically, instead of a GPS signal flying straight down into your device, the signal might bounce off some reflective surface like a smooth rock cliff. That causes error in the position solution in the device, so if you see your position moving around at some incredible speed, think about multipath interference. Basically, if you move to higher ground, you can get away from those kinds of problems. Either that or else wait for a different constellation of satellites.

For some of these devices, once you send the SOS message, it will lock the device into full-time SOS transmit mode. If you are not moving, and if some county sheriff's dispatcher gets the inbound SOS message, they can look it up and see where you are on the ground. However, if you are moving a lot and they see your position moving, then they can _assume_ that this was a false alarm and that they can cancel the rescue. For the person in need of rescue, this might be a big problem. That is one thing that makes the two-way satellite communicator so much better. If you send some SOS message, an hour later a county sheriff's dispatcher might send a message to you that asks for the nature of your emergency. Then you can have a decent _text_ conversation to discuss details.

So, at a minimum, I would suggest that you learn how to reset your device in the event that a false alarm SOS was sent.

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rlown
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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by rlown » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:35 pm

And don't move. Probably can't anyway with a broken leg or another medical emergency.

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Re: How to use a SPOT device

Post by oldranger » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:01 pm

In my opinion it would be gross incompetence to assume that a moving SOS is a false alarm. If I encountered a person with severe symptoms of high altitude sickness I would want to move that person to lower elevation while waiting for rescue. A friends son was hiking a volcano in Mexico with a friend who became sick. they used the Spot SOS and headed down. Rescuers met them as they descended.
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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