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Thread: "SPOT" Satellite Personal Messenger

  1. #1

    Default "SPOT" Satellite Personal Messenger

    Does anyone own (and use) the new "SPOT" electronic device while out in the bush? Do they work in Alaska?

    I just saw them listed in Cabela's and am curious.

    http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...first+aid&N=48
    Last edited by MEtracker; 06-23-2008 at 16:28. Reason: correct spelling

  2. #2

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    We've evaluated it.

    It works off the Globalstar Satellite network, which advertises (and has) limited coverage in Alaska. In the Alaska Range we found spotty coverage. However there are success stories from the southern areas in the state, most notably from the Ultima Thule Lodge in the Wrangells where the winter caretaker was suffering a medical emergency and used one to summon help in the form of the US Air Force Pararescue resources.

    We took a pass due to the limited coverage up here. I hear that in the lower 48 they are the best thing since sliced bread, if you don't mind the subscription. We instead use the GPS-enabled PLB's which - though they don't offer the flexibility of different types of notifications, or tracking - are guaranteed coverage in an emergency.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Search this forum for SPOT and you can read the several other threads on this topic.

    In short... yes they work in the southern half of Alaska, but coverage is less than perfect. I believe we were looking at roughly 80% success rates all the way up to Fairbanks.
    Winter is Coming...

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    Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Search this forum for SPOT and you can read the several other threads on this topic.

    In short... yes they work in the southern half of Alaska, but coverage is less than perfect. I believe we were looking at roughly 80% success rates all the way up to Fairbanks.
    I wonder how long it will be for that to improve... I'd really like to get one, but that is a concern.

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    I wonder how consistent these little gadgets are. Is one better than another for transmit success? That might explain why mine isn't 80% reliable. Not even close. I've been very objective, too.

    My disappointment in SPOT has been earned by my SPOT. In fact, my Iridium phone is in my flying gear right now. My SPOT is holding down some old mail on the table.

    Has anyone been able to get a SPOT subscription refunded?

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    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    I wonder how consistent these little gadgets are. Is one better than another for transmit success? That might explain why mine isn't 80% reliable. Not even close. I've been very objective, too.

    My disappointment in SPOT has been earned by my SPOT. In fact, my Iridium phone is in my flying gear right now. My SPOT is holding down some old mail on the table.
    I wonder about different units as well. In Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay I have had over 90% success rate inside the boat cabin. I have only had one I'm OK message not go through. The help and 911 should have higher success rate as they try more times.

    I haven't tried other places yet. At my house in Eagle River I have had 100% success.

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    A friend of mine just picked up one of these. He sent me messages all the way from Fairbanks to Valdez with 100% success.
    The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps! (Eleanor Roosevelt, 1945)

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    Since Spot is using Globalstar's satellites, and these are said to be deteriorating from age faster than they are being replaced, can we expect improving service in AK, or worsening? If it is going to improve, when would we reasonably it to occur, and how bad will it get before getting better?

    Or am I completely out to lunch on this?

  9. #9

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    The deteriorating amplifiers work on the band used for voice comms. The data band amps aren't having any problems.

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    Ok, good to know. So is there any hope that they will put more up that work better in AK?

    As I understand it, Iriduim uses a batch of circulating satellites that cross over AK (and everywhere else), but Globalstar uses geosynchronous satellites that stay in place over the equator. If I have that right, Globalstar's network will forever be limited as one nears the poles. But then there are the earth stations that they add, I suppose to enhance local reception. Will this be expanded?

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    I tested one for backpackgeartest down here in Washington and Minnesota and I was not pleased with the results. I couldn't get any recepetion in canyon areas or in areas with heavy tree cover. I think it is a great concept but needs some improvement.

    Here is a link to my report http://www.backpackgeartest.org/revi...Jason%20Boyle/

    Jason

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    I have had 100% success here on the Kodiak Road System.

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    Thats good to know... I will be up there soon.

    jason

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    Default PWS/Whittier

    I was out Friday in the rain. Stayed close and the Spot went 4 for 4 on good messages from Esther Island, Pigot Bay, and Surprise Bay. Weather was crappy as hell.

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    Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    Here is an article from backpacker.com about it's usefulness on Mt. McKinley.

    http://www.backpacker.com/blogs/273

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    Default SPOT: working well so far

    I activated mine today; 100% success from Anchorage and Eagle River. Very nice. I'm happy with it so far.

  17. #17
    Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    I activated mine today; 100% success from Anchorage and Eagle River. Very nice. I'm happy with it so far.
    Thanks for the update!

    I am still debating whether or not to make the purchase. Please keep us posted on your SPOT usage as there are a few of us that are curious of it's usefulness in the Chugach Mountains and Kenai Peninsula.

  18. #18
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    Default Water use

    I bought a SPOT early this season and have used it on every boat trip in Cook Inlet, Resurrection Bay, and PWS. It has been almost 100% on the boat. I find it real useful when my son takes out the boat as he will send me an OK message several times a day. He also sends an OK message when he catches something worthwhile. This helps my wife relax and not worry as much. This has more than paid for it in my mind for the peace of mind. While it is a pain for my son perhaps it is worth it if he gets to borrow my boat.

    We went to Talkeetna this last weekend. When trying to send a message from the car on the dash while driving they did not go through. When sending a message from a parking lot from the dash they worked fine. Not sure the difference, perhaps it was my wife's driving. Your mileage may vary but I would get another one. I did not get the tracking feature as I heard it was buggy.

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    Got a successful "I'm OK" msg from my Dad in Anaktuvuk Pass yesterday. Don't know yet how many tries it took to get through. Standing by for a msg from Barrow, will let you all know how that goes. HH

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    Got another msg. from Kaktovik yesterday.

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