Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: what beacons are best?

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pennsylvania for now
    Posts
    53

    Default what beacons are best?

    From what i have read, the "SPOT" brand beacon can take 6-24 hours before the company even starts making calls to send rescue. Is this accurate? I could understand 1/2 an hour to make some calls to confirm it is not a false alarm, but 6 to 24 hours? The SPOTs also have a subscription. Wouldn't it be better to buy one of the actual coastguard approved beacons that cost more but have no subscription (just a registration for use)? I'm not trying to brand bash, just curious about the better method to call for help. If i have to push a button for help, i NEED help ASAP, not when some company feels like getting around to calling someone. and on the same subject, i know cell phones are required to connect 911 calls even if they have no current service. Is this true for sat phones also? Thanks for any responces.

  2. #2
    New member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    5,416

    Default

    I don't know where you are getting 6-24 hrs but I personally know someone who was at the scene of an accident last summer. They activated their SPOT and within 2 hrs had responders on scene. During that time they performed cpr. The accident was north of Fairbanks. There were at least 2 incidents in 2010 here in Alaska where people were rescued after activating the SPOT. One was a woman by herself on a float trip in the Brooks, the other was 2 guys on the Yukon. I think there was another solo individual as well.

    Subscription is 99 bucks a year. That's cheap. I think the SPOT is a great device. I've one for a couple years.

    EDIT: Brooks range rescue

    http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/8394622/article-Woman-rescued-from-Brooks-Range?


    G
    uys on the Yukon

    http://www.newsminer.com/view/full_s..._safety_report

    :Search and rescue

    Two Fairbanks men were rescued by Alaska State Troopers Thursday after becoming separated from their canoe near Stevens Village.

    Daniel Schibl and Dave Critchfield were canoeing on the Yukon River when they sent out an emergency signal using a SPOT satellite messenger.

    They were transported to Stevens Village Thursday and flown back to Fairbanks Friday, according to troopers.

    Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Public Safety Report July 18 "


    And here's another one....

    http://www.adn.com/2009/07/10/860274...-rescuers.html
    Last edited by Snyd; 11-04-2011 at 08:38.

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pennsylvania for now
    Posts
    53

    Default

    thanks for the links and for responding. Where i got the info was a literature i picked up about the SPOT beacon and from posts online. While most ppl said they send help fast, a few had mentioned that it took over 1/2 a day before any action was taken. i know all the systems have good results most times, but if i have to use it, i want to be using the one with the best track record, nomatter what the cost. When i e-mailed a local SAR team here in Pennsylvania, the responce i got was:

    "For greater reliability and faster response,a 406 Mhz EPIRB type PLB is your best choice. If you're wiling to understand the tradeoffs, then a SPOT device may work for you."

    When i inquired about the tradeoffs, they mentioned in the message:

    "EPIRB's use geostationary COSPAS-SARSAT satellites and SPOT uses communication satellites like the ones used by satellite phones. most of these use the same technology that the beacons required to be carried commercial ships and airplanes do, which is designed first and foremost to be an official emergency distress system. with rigid specifications. While EPIRB distress signals are handled by government and international agencies, SPOT emergency messages are handled through a private company, the GEOS Emergency Response Center in Houston, Texas and it's support centers around the world. I've received feedback on this subject from Civil Air Patrol or CAP search and rescue team leaders who have expressed frustration over the fact that the GEOS response center used by SPOT does not communicate well with their organization or in an acceptable time frame. "

    I own a SPOT also and i have noticed that when i want to send the "i'm ok" message to family, sometimes i had to move to get it to find a signal if i was too close to clifs or under heavy tree cover, and even sometimes even when i was inside my winter tent. My main concerns come up when the thought comes to me "what if my leg is broken or my spine is crushed from a severe fall". i know its not the best way to think, but i learned long ago to plan for the worst, just incase.
    any further comments are welcome

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6,031

    Default SPOT vs. PLB

    If the (I'm guessing here) $500 price tag of a non-spot PLB does not deter you, and you're OK without being able to send "OK" messages etc.... buy all means, go big-bucks. Yes. It IS a more direct path to rescue, and you can spend more to also add to your unit a localized ID frequency that lets SAR locate you faster once they're at the correct lat/lon.

    This is coming from a dedicated and loyal SPOT user, since their beginning, that is on a budget, one that really likes to send OK messages, and has never pressed his 911 button. SPOT is for me.

  5. #5

    Default

    After careful research I chose the new ACR compact (1 1/4" X 2" X 4") 4.6 oz. I think it was about $300.00

  6. #6
    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Eagle River
    Posts
    725

    Default

    I think SPOT's and PLB's both have their place and you need to look at the features and decide which you want. In my case, I didn't need the add'l functionality of a SPOT and I like that the PLB operates off of the higher orbit SARSAT system rather than the Globalstar network. I also like that SAR is notified directly if I activate the unit. I bought a McMurdo FastFind for $249, there are no subscription fees or any other fee after initial purchase so basically if you compare that to the price of a SPOT and 1 year subscription, the price is the same for the first year between the two units and I'm money ahead every year after that. I'm not knocking any other device, it's just what I selected based on my personal needs. I imagine as they continue to integrate emergency beacons with GPS that eventually I'll end up with some version of a combined unit.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,892

    Default

    I can tell you things happen pretty dam quick when you hit the 911 button. Then numbers you give to the command center in texas will call with in mins of them receiveing them beacon distress single. Then the troopers are notify when your on the phone.
    This summer all this was put to test. It worked better than the ELT in the aircraft. Which was in the bottom of a valley. With 4.5 hours the air mountain boys had picked and had them back in town.


    Sent from my Milestone X using Tapatalk
    Do I give my friends advice? Jesus, no. They wouldn't take advice from me. Nobody should take advice from me. I haven't got a clue about anything..

  8. #8
    Member JOAT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Soldotna, ALASKA since '78
    Posts
    3,720

    Default

    Long time SPOT user here. Been using mine since the first year they hit the market. Use the tracking subscription level plus the rescue insurance, so it carries an annual cost of somewhere around $130 for me. And I gladly pay it every year.

    I don't know what drives the anti-SPOT people, but it is almost fascinating to watch how PLB/EPIRB users, many who have never even used a SPOT, will tear down the SPOT in order to make their own chosen device look better. I really don't know why they should care that there is another device on the market that can call for help, but they seem to take it personally. It's almost as irrational as all the guys with 1911s who spend all day trying to convince the world that Glocks are the spawn of satan.

    The real story is... a SPOT can get your message delivered in less than a minute. The OP's quoted timeframe sounds like internet hogwash to me. When your 911 msg reaches the dispatcher, they start calling people right now. The alternative is that you don't have a clear signal to the satellite and you don't get your message sent out at all. This can happen with ANY radio transmitter, even a PLB. But we are comparing apples and oranges. The SPOT is a messaging device that also has the ability to send an emergency message to a dispatch center. A PLB is an emergency-only locator beacon. Which one you want depends on what/when/where you want to send messages. Maybe you need both of them. But if your only need is to be able to get a gov't rescue team to your location in the event of an emergency that you can't manage, then maybe the PLB is the way to go. If you can find value in the ability to send messages that tell your family that you are "OK" and request non-emergency help from your friends and family, while still being able to summon a gov't rescue team then maybe the SPOT is the ticket. The SPOT also has the added (optional) tracking feature that sends your current location to your personal SPOT webpage (using a Google map overlay) so that anyone you desire can see your actual location within the last 10 minutes. And that is done fully automatic. How's that PLB for automatically notifying your family that something might be wrong and giving them your exact location?

    Look at it this way... Say you're going on a one week hunting trip way off the grid. If you have a PLB and have an emergency, you could summon help as long as you are conscious, have the device with you, and are able to operate it. If you don't have an emergency, the family just has to wait all week until you make that first in-range cell phone call on your way home.

    With the SPOT, you can send an "OK" message at pre-determined times (e.g. morning, noon, and night). Your family gets a text message and/or email (multiple people if you want) so they know you're OK and they get the coordinates to your current location. If you miss a check in, then your family can respond appropriately after allowing enough time (e.g. 2 missed check-ins and you call cousin Billy-Bob to head out and find the boys). If you run into trouble and need help, but not a rescue helicopter, there is a mid-level help request that you can send. Now your family/friends list knows that you need help and where you are. If you need emergency help, you hit that button and get pretty much the same response as the PLB, but the dispatch center at SPOT has all the personal info and contact lists that you entered (and can change at any time). So, you can tell them something about how you are equipped, where you are, what you're doing, etc.

    Now, here's a really neat trick that the PLB can't do... let's say that on the first day of that hunting trip, you fall off a cliff and break your leg, losing your beacon during the fall. The PLB will continue to sit there, turned off, and you're sitting there for a week before you are missing. The SPOT, with the tracking mode active, would be keeping tabs on your location and sending a new "breadcrumb" track point every 10 minutes. The family back home doesn't get your scheduled OK check-in message. They look at your tracking data and see the trail end. If your SPOT is still on and communicating, it is continuing to send a track point every 10 minutes, but that point doesn't move. Even if the SPOT falls in a hole or gets damaged, you have a track point within 10 minutes of your current location. Help will be on the way shortly, right? The guy with the unactivated PLB will be lucky to survive the week.

    I say, get one of each.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  9. #9
    New member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    5,416

    Default

    Having the ability to send 3 pre-set messages AND have the 911 made sense to me. On a fly in hunt you can use one of them to send a "come and get us" message to your pilot. We did that the last 2 years on sheep hunts. If 2 guys each have a spot you can get real creative in your communications logistics.

  10. #10
    New member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    5,416

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bklausman View Post
    "I own a SPOT also and i have noticed that when i want to send the "i'm ok" message to family, sometimes i had to move to get it to find a signal if i was too close to clifs or under heavy tree cover, and even sometimes even when i was inside my winter tent. My main concerns come up when the thought comes to me "what if my leg is broken or my spine is crushed from a severe fall". i know its not the best way to think, but i learned long ago to plan for the worst, just incase.
    any further comments are welcome

    Judging by his statement here he does't understand how the SPOT works. The only signal the SPOT "finds" is gps signals. When you push any of the buttons the first thing it does is try to get your gps coordinates. The light turns green, otherwise it turns red. If it cannot get gps coordinates it will still send the message, just without the gps coords. That is when it uses the sat phone satellites. Mine works (gets gps coordinates) inside my double wall Hilleberg tent all the time and I have gotten it to work at my kitchen table next to the window and on the dashboard of my van.

  11. #11

    Default

    Has anyone seen the new spot connect that you can team up with a smart phone to send personal messages? This is something I have been waiting a long time for. Wold be so awesome to be able to tell rescuers the nature of the emergency or to tell your friends that you need a belt for your snow machine.
    That said if I could talk to a factory rep I would tell them I don't like relying on a smart phone to work with this unit. A unit that would be perfect with me would include a simple display and keyboard and be waterproof / shockproof. Like if they could merge the display of the original Garmin e-trex with a spot messenger with a simple keypad. Now that I think about it wouldn't it be nice if they teamed up with a GPS manufacturer and combined the spot messenger with the features of a high end GPS unit. Things like mapping software. That way I wouldn't have to pack 2 units.

  12. #12
    Member JOAT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Soldotna, ALASKA since '78
    Posts
    3,720

    Default

    I've not heard of anything about this new smartphone connection, but last year they did team up with DeLorme and you can pair a DeLorme PN-60w handheld GPS with a SPOT Communicator. The DeLorme allowed you to customize the text message on the SPOT. The DeLorme GPS functions independently or it can be paired for sending messages, while the SPOT Communicator can also function independently just like a standard SPOT, or it can be paired to send instantly customized messages. I wish they would have paired with Garmin, as I would have bought into that right away. But there's no way I'm going to downgrade my Garmin handhelds to a DeLorme just to have that SPOT pairing ability.

    http://findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=219

    Interesting change though, I just went to the DeLorme site and the PN-60w is now paired with a device called the "inReach" satellite communicator that has the DeLorme brandname on the front. So either DeLorme is making making an in-house device with service from SPOT or they've started their own, separate sat messenger service? Will have to do some more reading on this one. And the following description page states that this is a 2-way messenger device. That would be a huge break through!

    http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELi...&section=10460

    http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELi...?section=10820

    As for the smartphone thing... I'm sure they won't consider a BlackBerry a "smartphone", so I don't expect this to be of any benefit to me either. And I'll hold onto my BlackBerry until there is absolutely no company left that will provide service for it (and then I'll probably switch back to the Motorola Razor just to avoid the "idiot-phone" ).
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  13. #13
    Member JOAT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Soldotna, ALASKA since '78
    Posts
    3,720

    Default

    More on the inReach... it's not SPOT and it's running off the Iridium sat network. Wow, this is a huge blow to SPOT. The device is supposed to be released sometime this month.

    http://www.delorme.com/about/pressreleases/inreach.htm
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,892

    Default

    I have smart phone connect. I used in anchorage works great just like texing. Ill be using next week hunting on montague ill report back on it when I return.

    In my opinion the spot works great never had any problems and one time the sos button was pushed it work just like you need too. So saying it don't work or takes to long.
    The bottom line is everyone who has used. The spot in a emergency Has nothing but good to say about it. Like anything you have people who knock it. But they have never had to use it.
    I trust my spot more than I trust my transporter to pick me up.

    Sent from my Milestone X using Tapatalk
    Do I give my friends advice? Jesus, no. They wouldn't take advice from me. Nobody should take advice from me. I haven't got a clue about anything..

  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6,031

    Default Is inReach waterproof and does it float?

    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    More on the inReach... it's not SPOT and it's running off the Iridium sat network. Wow, this is a huge blow to SPOT. The device is supposed to be released sometime this month.

    http://www.delorme.com/about/pressreleases/inreach.htm
    The specs on that look really nice, as does the price.

    I didn't see if its waterproof, and floats, like SPOT. This last year I thought I'd lost my SPOT; I found it a couple hours later, floating in the engine-well section of my craft. Never a hitch; it was still turned on and working.

    Looking at the inReach, I see some screws and a plate on the front that don't look real waterproof. If they don't make it waterproof (not merely water resistant) I wouldn't look twice at it.

    I've used SPOT since it was first introduced, still have and use my same original unit, and am happy with it, but will always keep evaluating other products as I'm able to.

  16. #16

    Default

    wow really cool. Says its water proof it floats and meets mill specs for impact resistance.

  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6,031

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by woodsman View Post
    wow really cool. Says its water proof it floats and meets mill specs for impact resistance.
    OK, I'm a long time SPOT-fan, but I definitely need to keep an eye on this one. Looks like they just might have leap frogged SPOT.

    Post it up when you see they're on the market, eh?

  18. #18

    Default

    R.E.I. has them for sale on their website right now

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •