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GeoHiker
Rocky Walker



Joined: 26 Feb 2005
Posts: 6042 | TRs
Location: Off the Deep End
GeoHiker
Rocky Walker
PostFri Jan 25, 2008 9:42 pm 
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I think the biggest selling factor for the SPOT is you have the option to notify your contacts and eliminate the worry. What that is worth I guess is up to the individual.   With a PLB you can't do that.  Adding the tracking feature would be a huge benefit for a wife or loved one at home.

How many SAR events would have been eliminated if the person could have messaged that they were holed up by weather or just decided to spend an extra day?  I would bet quite a few.

I've been out many times on solo trips where I've been able to communicate my time schedule,( I take Ham Radio equipment) Knowing I have that capability is a huge burden off my mind.  If something were to come up I wouldn't have the calvary scrambling to my aid unless it's absolutely neccessary.  Something everyone should consider.

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You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye......Eagles
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Coasty
I like Salmon!



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 763 | TRs
Location: Kodiak, AK
Coasty
I like Salmon!
PostSat Jan 26, 2008 6:05 am 
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I will be posting my Field Report on my SPOT experiences here shortly.  However, I wouldn't be suprised to see the SPOT functions married to a fully functional GPS in the next year or two...

Jason B

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http://www.BackpackGearTest.org
The Most Comprehensive Interactive Gear Reviews and Tests on the Planet!
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Dean
(aka CascadeHiker)



Joined: 02 Mar 2002
Posts: 1968 | TRs
Location: ex Kennewick, Wa & Lehi Utah
Dean
(aka CascadeHiker)
PostSat Jan 26, 2008 10:07 am 
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Spot to the rescue.  This story from Alaska

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Dean - working in Utah for awhile and feeling like it is a 'paid' vacation.
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=1160
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trad_guy
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Member


Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 39 | TRs
Location: Bend, Oregon
trad_guy
Member
PostSat Jan 26, 2008 7:19 pm 
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Here is my analysis of the Spot Satellite Messenger:
http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/News_Spot_PLB-Plus.htm

The page is still under construction because I have not received my demo unit.
--trad_guy

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The downside to alpine mountaineering is the elevation gain!
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cjshaker
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Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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cjshaker
Member
PostMon Apr 14, 2008 12:31 am 
The findmespot.com website appears broken
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So far, I haven't been able to successfully register my SPOT. During the
registration process, I got as far as entering my credit card information,
and the Next button got me to the login screen.

Their web site has no record of my user name, nor my email address, and
so far, no one from the company has replied to my customer service and
sales email questions about the problems.

Chris Shaker
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bobbi
stillaGUAMish



Joined: 13 Jul 2006
Posts: 7863 | TRs
Location: olympics!
bobbi
stillaGUAMish
PostMon Apr 14, 2008 8:28 pm 
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i posted this also on trail talk:

hubby has been testing the spot for the national park service.  when friends planned a winter traverse of the bailey range, mark had them carry the spot.  what mark learned was:

no contact when in thick forest canopy
keep spot upright and make sure it's free from obstruction
use the ok button when settled in for the night...turn off when asleep.
keep spot with you even if out for a day hike

when our friends got 'stuck' someplace on the sol duc trail before the fork to appleton and heartlake, spot stopped, possibly they turned it off.  no okay signal from them.  we had no clue what was going on.  there was no signal until the next day when they got close to the ranger station.  no more signal..again we think they turned spot off.  the next day they made it to the high divide and spot was back on.  we tracked them around cat basin and then back to camp.  no signal until the next day when spot showed they were on the move back towards the sol duc.  apparently they realized the conditions warrant a retreat instead of making an attempt on the bailey's and possibly death.

every day mark emailed a list of people that our friends wanted to see their progress.  besides the list of longitude/latitude, it also gave the time when spot made contact with the satellite.  you can also add the tracks onto google earth with terrain/topo.

pretty cool!  but we decided it was just as unnerving to track their progress/location as it would be without it.  whenever spot was quiet, we had no clue if they were in trouble...that's why it's important to send the okay signal, especially when stopped for a long period of time.

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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Grannyhiker
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Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 3060 | TRs
Location: Gateway to the Columbia Gorge
Grannyhiker
Member
PostTue Apr 15, 2008 12:57 pm 
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Note that there are now 4 active threads on this critter--three here in Gear and one in Trail Talk.  Any way they could be consolidated????

It's amazing what advertising (much of it, IMHO, misleading) can do for a gadget that (per a number of reviews I've read) doesn't work a good part of the time.

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey
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Coasty
I like Salmon!



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 763 | TRs
Location: Kodiak, AK
Coasty
I like Salmon!
PostTue Apr 15, 2008 7:58 pm 
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Well I will bump this one back up... all of the testers have posted our long term reports here
http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Communication_Gear/SPOT%20Satellite%20Messenger/

Not good.... bawl.gif

Jason

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http://www.BackpackGearTest.org
The Most Comprehensive Interactive Gear Reviews and Tests on the Planet!
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trad_guy
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Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 39 | TRs
Location: Bend, Oregon
trad_guy
Member
PostThu Apr 17, 2008 3:19 pm 
SPOT Satellite Messenger must be used correctly
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SPOT Satellite Messenger Update
April 2008

Recently, three testers on BackPackGearTest.org questioned the ability of SPOT to connect to the GPS satellites and to the Communications satellites.

In each case, the three field testers clipped their SPOT to belt or pack-strap:
"I wore the spot on my pack's sternum strap because there weren't any better options for securely mounting the device on the pack anywhere else."

"The belt clip which is held in place by one of the flathead screws had begun to loosen itself over time allowing the belt clip to be sloppy and not stay securely in place. I think this might have attributed to the Spot coming off of my shoulder strap at Gold Creek."

"As I hiked the Spot was clipped to my belt on the front of my pants."

BackPackGearTest.org

Perhaps it is not obvious on the SPOT website or in the booklet packed with the device, but SPOT MUST BE LYING ON ITS BACK WITH THE LABEL UP IN ORDER TO HAVE MAXIMUM CONTACT WITH THE GPS SATELLITES AND THE COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITES. People standing around the unit may also block the line of site electronic signal.

Garmin GPS receivers must be standing up straight with the the users hand at the lower part of the unit and no people hovering over it in order to see what is going on.

To re-state it, SPOT is best at connecting with the GPS satellites and to the Communications satellites when it is comfortable lying on its back with the label up.

The antenna needs to see the entire sky and not just half or less off to one side. This is kind of explained in the booklet packed with the unit. I have checked this information with SPOT Customer Service and I have heard this explained by a SPOT distributor.

Clip the SPOT to the top of your Saloman Raid Race summer Daypack or take a rest and a photo and give it a chance to get comfortable on its back on a rock.

Boggers on NWHikers.net are concerned because of this connectability question. I will bet their SPOTS were clipped on belt or pack and not HAPPY.

One described how he got a good contact when he placed the SPOT (flat) on the hood of his car.

One described how the unit "should be" oriented: . . ."keep spot upright and make sure it's free from obstruction  . . ."

Another referenced the three tests from BackPackGearTest.org. that we have noted were not SPOT oriented correctly.

Personally, I am a happy well oriented user.  smile.gif

Read the entire report here:
http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/News_Spot_PLB-Plus.htm

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The downside to alpine mountaineering is the elevation gain!
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Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Posts: 10979 | TRs
Location: Going to Tukwila
Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer
PostThu Apr 17, 2008 3:40 pm 
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I'd question the design decision, then, that forces users to strap such a device to the top of their pack. One of the testers lost his test unit because of such a precarious location.

If they want their product to be taken seriously, they need to consider how it will be effectively used in the field and or include integrated clips or straps that would allow it to be used effectively and safely with most pack designs.

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"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
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trad_guy
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Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 39 | TRs
Location: Bend, Oregon
trad_guy
Member
PostThu Apr 17, 2008 6:12 pm 
SPOT Satellite Messenger must be used correctly
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Hi Mike-
Thanks for your input.

Actually, I carry my GPS in the top pocket of my day pack. The SPOT has a spot right beside it. The GPS and SPOT will read right through the pack material. (My Salmon day-pack has a mesh top. Check it out):
http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/FAQ_Day_Pack.htm

The SPOT design is great - as long as you read the fine print. The nice big clip kinda throws people off. Never clip camera, GPS or SPOT to your pack straps!

But what do I know?  dizzy.gif
--trad_guy

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The downside to alpine mountaineering is the elevation gain!
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Coasty
I like Salmon!



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 763 | TRs
Location: Kodiak, AK
Coasty
I like Salmon!
PostThu Apr 17, 2008 7:54 pm 
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Trad guy,

I don't appreciate you taking our reports out of context.  If you read the reports more closely you will see that we all tried to get the SPOT to work in various ways including pointing directly in the sky with limited or no results.  Believe me I carried it with me everywhere for four months and it didn't work.  I am glad that it works for you, but I can only report on the results that I had.

Jason

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http://www.BackpackGearTest.org
The Most Comprehensive Interactive Gear Reviews and Tests on the Planet!
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trad_guy
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Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 39 | TRs
Location: Bend, Oregon
trad_guy
Member
PostThu Apr 17, 2008 8:37 pm 
SPOT Satellite Messenger must be used correctly
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Hello Jason-
Thanks for your nice suggestion.

I have made the links on my web page go directly to the Reviews and not to your Website: http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/News_Spot_PLB-Plus.htm

However, I checked the reports more closely and I still do not see where the Reviewers tried to position the receiver in "various ways".

You state "If you read the reports more closely you will see that we all tried to get the SPOT to work in various ways including pointing directly in the sky with limited or no results."

If the SPOT "points directly in the sky" it is not correct. The SPOT must lie on its back with big label side up.

I hope this helps you and other folks. It works for most users.  smile.gif
--trad_guy

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The downside to alpine mountaineering is the elevation gain!
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Coasty
I like Salmon!



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 763 | TRs
Location: Kodiak, AK
Coasty
I like Salmon!
PostFri Apr 18, 2008 4:33 am 
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Trad Guy,

I say several times in my Field Report and in the Long Term Report in the field conditions sections that I laid the spot flat or facing up.  Please stop taking my report out of context.

I have no desire to debate anything with you or anyone else. I don't care about the intricacies of patch antennas or PLB's vs the SPOT.

Based on my observations it doesn't work for me.  Hopefully folks will check out our reports, your site, and all the other reviews they can so that they are able to make an informed purchase.

Jason

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The Most Comprehensive Interactive Gear Reviews and Tests on the Planet!
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wamtngal
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Joined: 13 Jun 2004
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Location: Seattle, WA
wamtngal
Member
PostFri Apr 18, 2008 7:55 am 
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To clarify the bit on SPOT falling off a packstrap...there is the ability to put a lanyard on SPOT, which can then be tied to a packstrap. So if SPOT were to try and abandon it's owner, it would dangle from the lanyard tied to the packstrap.

I have been carrying SPOT, logo up, in the top hood pocket of my pack. SPOT still does not work in trees effectively. My next test will be to mount SPOT on the strap of my backpack to see whether or not the positioning makes a difference.

The SPOT antenna, from what I've read, is under the SPOT logo, which is on the front of the unit. Why it would make a difference if SPOT is on it's back or upright doesn't really make sense to me as I don't think the signal goes out from the antenna in a straight line...but perhaps my knowledge of GPS technology (which is minimal, really) is off. Someone can feel free to correct my nonsense.

A couple days ago I took a look at my SPOT manual again. On the very last page it mentions that SPOT needs a clear line-of-sight with the sky to work it's best. To me, if SPOT is hooked to a pack strap, it would work just as well (or even better) than if it was obscured by being inside the hood pocket of one's pack, with all the other junk in the pocket...or am I the only one who keeps things like gloves, maps and bars in my hood pocket?

BTW, when I talked to a customer rep person after repeatedly trying to use SPOT in the city and in my neighborhood to no avail (and with a clear line-of-sight to the sky) I was told that SPOT needs a clear line-of-sight with the horizon to work at it's best and that surrounding houses and buildings were obstructing SPOT's "view" of the horizon.

From the SPOT manual:
To work, the SPOT logo (which is directly above the
transmitter) needs to have an unobstructed view of the sky, either outdoors or in a glass enclosed area such as in a vehicle.


FWIW, I've tried to use SPOT in a car, sitting on the dash logo side up, and it has not been able to track me.

As I've said in the multiple other thread discussions on SPOT, I am not a SPOT-hater ( wink.gif ) I think it's a good technology that just needs improvement and will surely improve over time. I don't stick in the trees for long and SPOT works perfectly in open and even lightly-treed (sub)alpine, so I'm happy with that.

Trad Guy, I can't find any information on SPOT's website that says the unit must be lying flat in order to work effectively, where did you get this information? Survivor Man hooks his SPOT to his pack strap.  smile.gif

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Opinions expressed here are my own.
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