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Thread: Spot device north side Brooks range

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    Member Longkj's Avatar
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    Default Spot device north side Brooks range

    Forum friends,

    Does anyone have much experience with a SPOT Device in this area? Wanted to know if anyone used there's for tracking and messages home with success.

    Thanks for the time,
    Longkj

  2. #2

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    Yes, I've had messages go through from various spots near the haul road north of Atigun. Can't guarantee every single point but it definitely works in many places.
    Jason
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Spot uses the Globalstar satellite network, and their coverage is not as reliable up north as the Iridium network which itself is not 100% reliable. With Globalstar the better exposure you have to the southern sky, the better your chances. If you're down in a hole you'll likely be SOL.
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    Yep I've used it up on the slope with success, but have noticed if there's heavy cloud cover, the messages don't always go through. But maybe that's the case anywhere.

  5. #5

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    Globalstar has a "call time generator" on their website. I have found that to be incredibly accurate as to when I can make calls on my GS sat phone. Being that they use the same satellites, I would print off the call times for reference of when you could use your Spot.

    $.02

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    I used mine daily up there last week no prob. Same last year.
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    Member BrettAKSCI's Avatar
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    Yes. Worked just fine.

    Brett

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    While it uses the Globalstar system, it is a digital data transfer and not a voice call. Thus, it doesn't take nearly as good of a "connection" for the SPOT to get a message out as it does for making a voice phone call. So, even when the voice call won't go through, the SPOT signal might work just fine.
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    I would hope the op has got his answer now, so if I can hijack for a minute.....

    After reading about the last bear mauling up north, even though I'm "down here", I would like to ask. What is the most affordable, no frills device to send out an emergency signal? I wouldn't need anything else but a button to push to get help. Do they make such a thing, and if so what's it cost?

    Thanks.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    I would hope the op has got his answer now, so if I can hijack for a minute.....

    After reading about the last bear mauling up north, even though I'm "down here", I would like to ask. What is the most affordable, no frills device to send out an emergency signal? I wouldn't need anything else but a button to push to get help. Do they make such a thing, and if so what's it cost?

    Thanks.....
    I believe a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is the simplest, most reliable device. Very low false-alarm rate (a huge issue with ELTs) and accurate location transmission. When the rescue folks get a PLB signal, they head for the helicopter. Of course, for voice communications, (sometimes essential in severe injury situations), you can't beat a Motorola Irridium satphone.

    An overview of these devices is provided on our Communications Gear Page, with more to come later.

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  11. #11
    Member Longkj's Avatar
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    Thank you to everyone that posted! The SPOT has been great to me and my family. I have an older SPOT model. The device will send two personal messages, track your steps, and one emergency signal. I really enjoy using the device device so I can let my wife know if I'm going to be a week late from a hunt. Very cheap, reliable, and small. I just wanted to make sure it would work before I left. Leave next week for the beautiful brooks range!

  12. #12

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    Very low false-alarm rate (a huge issue with ELTs) and accurate location transmission.


    This is really big. I don't know if newer-model SPOTs address it, but I have an older one and I accidentally had it send a "Help" beacon because the buttons got pressed while it was in my pocket. It freaked my contacts out, but I'm grateful I didn't accidentally activate 911 instead.

    Now I carry it around with the batteries duct-taped to the outside.
    Jason
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    http://www.daltoncorridormap.com -- Exact 5-mile Haul Road corridor boundary for GPS & Google Earth

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Rather than taping the batteries to the outside, you can just cut a little strip of plastic from one of those roll-up kid's snow sleds or similar stiff plastic. It should be about 1/2" wide by 2" long to cover up all the buttons. Now use some electrical tape (much less messy than duct tape and easier to remove) to hold that piece of plastic over the top of the buttons. This puts your batteries inside the waterproof battery compartment where they'll stay in good condition. I'm sure the last thing you want to do in an emergency is try to dig through duct tape and then find a screwdriver to install your batteries.
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    The SPOT devices already (as of the SPOT 2) have hard covers over both emergency buttons. You may want to double-check that your covers are secure when you enable the device and when you reset it. During the Yukon Quest last year, though, a freak thing happened in which someone's ski pole sticking out of his sled bag happened to contact and hold the power button on his SPOT, turning it off (we know it wasn't deliberate because he was unusually diligent about resets, etc. and is generally really professional during races). The SPOT 3 relocated the power button so it's not quite so easy to hit accidentally.

    There's been some minor tendency to make mistakes around the buttons. First is to have a clear understanding of which "send help" button goes to GOES and which one goes to family/whomever. The other thing was during the Quest a few years ago someone got into serious trouble, hit the SOS button on his SPOT, and then turned it off to conserve battery. Unfortunately he turned it off before the message was transmitted so it was never received. Fortunately someone found him anyway and helped him out but it could have ended badly. Know your gear!
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    Barney's posted this unit up today anyone have any experience?
    http://barneyssports.com/outdoor-too...e-inreach.html

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    The original SPOT has no button covers (and that's the unit we were talking about). The 2nd gen SPOT was a downgrade from the original and there is little about the 3rd generation about to be released that looks any better. Yeah, they have covers, but you sacrifice far too much to get them.
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    Well no, while the SPOT 2 was clearly a botch the SPOT 3 looks like it's got some improvements. Not really loving their continued use of AAA batteries but at least the 3 has an accelerometer so that it will stop updating when the unit hasn't moved for however long, so that's a win for battery life. For folks using it for race tracking the settable time units is also an improvement, although that won't be an advantage for most folks unless they're moving fast and have some reason to have higher-granularity tracking. But basically it's a 2 with some of the kinks worked out. I hope that includes improving manufacturing quality and antenna improvements, but that's impossible to know until people start getting some experience with them.

    At the Outdoor Expo show a few weeks ago they also announced a unit they call "Trace," which provides tracking function similar to the SPOT 3 but no messaging. The unit's a little cheaper but the subscription costs are the same, so I figure the big advantage is to race organizations that don't want to deal with liability issues if someone hits an SOS button and things go sideways.
    Mushing Tech: squeezing the romance out of dog mushing one post at a time

  18. #18

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    I considered a SPOT several years ago, but (across many forums) I've read about 3:1 pos:neg comments on the SPOT. Considering the uses I intended it for (emergency rescue only) I wasn't impressed enough to go with it. I spent my money on a true ELB (AquaLink) and it always resides in the bottom of my hunting pack. No risk of accidental activation, and I know the cavalry is coming if I ever push the button.

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    I used the spot last year up on the Kavik river 20-30 miles from the Arctic Ocean. Marked where we walked everyday, 9 day hunt and kill sites. Got back home and logged in to spot and the only thing that was registered was our camp site. It was sunny the whole time so we had no cloud cover issue. This year when the automatic renewal came up, with NO way to cancel online I called them up and told them that if your product doesn't work, then I don't need it.
    I would NEVER recommend spot to anyone, if it doesn't work and the website is not user friendly then screw them. You guys that they worked for good luck in trusting that POS with your life. Just my opinion and experience

  20. #20
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    If you look at the coverage map, they don't work north of Fairbanks and certainly not on the Arctic Ocean. The fact that you got a single msg out from that location is a miracle. Read the dang limitations before you buy and know how to use your equipment before you go.

    I've been using the original SPOT since the first year they came out. It has been absolutely reliable. I know that a set of batteries will run it for well over 200 hours. I've recorded hundreds of check in msg points and thousand of tracking points over the years. After every trip, I've analyzed where there were "blind spots" in tracking coverage, so I have a very good understanding of the geophysical limitations of the device. In my opinion, the SPOT works better than advertised.

    And every time I run into someone with a SPOT who is complaining about how it "don't effing work", I go through the operation with them and we find out they are doing it wrong. Pushing the wrong buttons, not holding the buttons for the proper length of time, shutting the unit off before it is finished, not placing the unit with the correct sky orientation, not understanding where the track logs go, etc. Almost always operator error, and almost always they never read the operator's manual before using the device.
    Winter is Coming...

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