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Thread: The S.P.O.T. GPS?

  1. #1
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    Default The S.P.O.T. GPS?

    Has anyone used the new S.P.O.T. GPS/PLB? I've not heard anything bad yet. I noticed that Wal-Mart is selling them now and they have a 50% off yearly service coupon with purchase of new unit. I'm just wondering what anybody thinks. My intent is to use this for some solo adventures in remote but not REEEEEEEMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTE places...heh...thanks all.... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

  2. #2
    Member Casper50's Avatar
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    Default

    This has been discussed for 3 pages. Go here. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=33508

  3. #3
    Member nrc's Avatar
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    Default coverage should be improving

    We used one on a spring trip in PWS. I told my wife before I left "this might not work every day", but lets see how it goes...

    She got a real kick out of the emails coming in each morning with a link to the google earth satellite feed. It put her mind at ease. For the first 5 days.

    On the 6th day we just on the north side of a large east-west running channel, and the satellites couldn't pick up our signal. Since she'd grown accustomed to receiving "hey I'm ok" messages every morning and then one day didn't get one - she got nervous, called my transporters wife at home, and had her catch up with on vhs to see if we were ok.

    It was quite embarassing. Our Captain was a good sport about it (as was his wife, who'd been called at their home).

    I'm told they have acquired signals on several new satellites at this latitude and that the signal coverage has improved quite a bit.

    Nate

  4. #4

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    I used have used mine all over PWS, Seward, and Homer. Every so often you won't get a signal out but usually if you push the button again after 15 min it will go through. Had the tracking feature run from Anchorage up to the Yukon bridge, down the river and up Koyukuk. Worked great.

  5. #5
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default SPOT/ Sat Phone

    I think the SPOT deal is.....a great backup plan to having a Satelite Phone. The Sat Phone is certainly more expensive to purchase and use, but I prefer to be able to communicate directly with (?) law enforcement, rescue personnel, next weeks client-hunters, my air taxi service, and my wife.

    I used to laugh at the whole Sat Phone thing. But now that I'm out for eight straight weeks with client-hunters in camp it is really great to know I can contact emergency services if needed. And its surprisingly nice to keep updated with the family....like 9/11/01, the New Orleans flood, the Palin-being-selected-as-the-V.P.-hopeful, family events, ect.

    Either system, the Sat Phone or the SPOT, can break. So having both would be nice.
    ....just my thoughts...
    Dennis
    AK TAGS

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    Default Thanks

    Sounds about like what I figured. A decent back up plan and should probably be coupled with a Sat phone.

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    Default

    Mine has worked well on the Kenai peninsula so far. I will probably never go to the expense of a sat phone around here so the SPOT will work for me. If I'm going to spend 10 day up north on a river I might rent a sat phone, but realisticaly, when I'm out hunting there's no transporter etc to call for early pickup or anything. I am the tansporter. My wife also understands that if I send he "help" signal (NOT 911) it doesn't mean I'm in trouble, it means I have an animal down & she can call my friends & tell them that if they can get away I could use help (they know where I'm hunting or where my base camp is if I've hiked in some where).
    The OK means not only am I ok, but "even if I'm already a day late don't worry".
    The 911 means start praying...
    All in all I think it's a good investment & worth the nominal cost. It might not work sometimes, but it's much better than nothing, & without it nothing is what I'd be packing.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  8. #8
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Coverage issues

    In case nobody goes to the thread where we discussed this before, I should mention that the SPOT device uses the same satellite network used by the Globalstar satphone, which has had coverage issues in much of Alaska. This is particularly true north of Anchorage (in other words, most of the state). I would advise not using this as a primary means, but as a backup as was suggested. At least until Globalstar gets more birds in the air up here.

    Right now the best choice is a Motorola Irridium satphone. For location info, use a Garmin GPS. Some day someone will come up with a satphone with a GPS built in, the capability of transmitting your coordinates between devices (like the Rhino units), and perhaps even a panic button similar to the way a PLB works. How about it, tech folks? An all-in-one device?

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  9. #9
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    In case nobody goes to the thread where we discussed this before, I should mention that the SPOT device uses the same satellite network used by the Globalstar satphone, which has had coverage issues in much of Alaska. This is particularly true north of Anchorage (in other words, most of the state). I would advise not using this as a primary means, but as a backup as was suggested. At least until Globalstar gets more birds in the air up here.

    Right now the best choice is a Motorola Irridium satphone. For location info, use a Garmin GPS. Some day someone will come up with a satphone with a GPS built in, the capability of transmitting your coordinates between devices (like the Rhino units), and perhaps even a panic button similar to the way a PLB works. How about it, tech folks? An all-in-one device?

    -Mike
    Mike brings out a good point.. when shopping for any satellites service in AK.. the global star uses equatorial orbiting satellite giving minimal service, where as iridium uses polar orbiting... give us up here much better service... so always as about the system your intending to use and it's coveraage as well the satellite system it uses.
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  10. #10
    Member Ellamar's Avatar
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    Default

    Our SPOT messenger performed flawlessly on our moose hunting trip down the Yukon. Our Globalstar satellite phone however did not. Anyone in our group that had an Iridium phone could get and hang on to reception quickly, the Globalstar had a hard time even acquiring a signal (sometimes 20 minutes) and if it did it would only hold it for a minute or so. I have a hard time believing that the SPOT and the Globalstar use the same system.

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    Default Spot Use In Yukon Endurance Race

    It's my understanding that they will not only use the SPOT on the endurance race scheduled for the next year on the Yukon - but that it will be a requirement for the contestants to make regular checks using the unit. Seems to me the unit must work pretty well in that area if they are going to have a high profile race depending on it.

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default SPOT and Globalstar

    Quote Originally Posted by Ellamar View Post
    ...I have a hard time believing that the SPOT and the Globalstar use the same system.
    Ellamar,

    I don't know how all of this works from a technical perspective, but SPOT does indeed use Globalstar's satellites, as reported HERE on their website.

    There have been issues in Alaska as a result.

    Also I have been reading that this technology may not be the rage it originally looked like it would be. I don't know one way or another, but it would be worth researching. Especially as it relates to Alaska remote travel.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  13. #13
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    Default

    As I understand it the SPOT & Globalstar sat phones use the same sattelites, but sat phones use a 2 way signal while the SPOT uses a 1 way signal which seems to make a big difference. Many folks are reporting dependable service with the SPOT clear into the Brooks.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  14. #14
    Member kodiakbound's Avatar
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    Default more info

    as taken from an amazon.com review. Note I know nothing about the SPOT GPS so take this for what it's worth

    "Please ignore the comments about Globalstar service below, he has no clue about this product. Globalstar is having problems with its duplex service S-band amplifiers which only affects two-way traffic. I should know I have a Globalstar satellite phone. SPOT uses the L-Band uplink (simplex modem) which is used to track trucks etc. this network is running at full efficiency. I have this product and it works better than my expectations. About this product: it is not a personal locator beacon and if you wish to use this solely for emergencies, I would recommend another product. A true personal locator beacon because it works in all conditions and all-terrain (I also own one by ACR). SPOT needs to have an uninterrupted view to the satellite. In other words in heavy canopy this product does not work very well but in broken canopy or in the open this product works great (samething is true with my handheld GPS). I use this product to communicate with family and friends on my progress when backpacking, biking, or just out and about. I do use this product in heavy canopy areas and send a signal when I cross a road or powerline crossing. I still carry my personal locator beacon for real emergencies but this product helps in non-emergency situations. For more operational details you can download the manual at www.findmespot.com

    My cell phone doesn't work when I'm away from cell towers or underwater while scuba diving nor in caves. Similarly SPOT will not work if it cannot contact the satellite. As with all communication devices, they all have limits and parameters that they operate in. You should know this before buying any product like this."

  15. #15
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Question

    If the SPOT device uses the same satellites Globalstar uses, then how can it get a reliable signal in Alaska? My understanding is that the Globalstar satellites are on an equatorial orbit, so we get poor coverage in Alaska because the birds are low on the horizon. So how is SPOT reliable in Alaska? How can it get a signal if the satellites are below the horizon (or very low to the horizon)? Trying to understand; not being critical here.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  16. #16
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    Default

    What I have read is that the Globalstar network has a bunch of (older?) satellites that are experiencing amplifier or transmitter failures. But this is only with the band that their sat phones use. Since the SPOT uses a different band with different amps & transmitters it's not a problem. But there is still an issue with satellites either being low on the horizon or not enough of them. To bolster this they've added some earth stations to the mix. Perhaps they should add more. I have no experience with them though.

    BTW, I finally bought your book on float hunting, Michael. Very good stuff in there. Thanks for writing it. Hopefully you will make something from it. The "AK only" book market is kind of small though, so I suspect you won't get rich.

  17. #17
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    Spot claims to have added satellites to increase coverage in AK. Not sure what sats but they claim good coverage on the entire state now.
    What I do know for sure is that mine has worked 100% of the time here on Kodiak.
    I highly recommend them to anyone thinking about getting one.
    JMHO

  18. #18

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    Globalstar satellites are in low-earth-orbit, just a few hundred miles overhead, and there's an earth station in Wasilla. They are having trouble with the S-Band downlink amplifiers on the satellites. The uplink is a separate L-Band system and does not have problems, so a SPOT has no trouble sending data up to the satellite. Also, since it's just a tiny amount of one-way data, it doesn't require nearly as good of a connection that a voice call or internet connection would need. I've seen it work while hanging off the rocks at Chitina. The SPOT works fine in Alaska.

  19. #19
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Okay, I'm in!

    Well, sounds like I better take a closer look at it. You guys just cost me a few bucks...

    Well, I was looking for an excuse for another toy anyway...

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  20. #20

    Default Spot

    I watched 2 different party's using different Spot's moose hunting this year. The tracking option worked all the way from Soldotna, to the Yukon river bridge on the haul road, down the Yukon river to Galena, and up the Koyukuk about 150 miles. Look on the map, that covers a lot of the interior , and there was never a dead "SPOT". I will have one this spring. Some times when I'm out there, I don't want to hear any bad news, just let folks know I'm ok and don't worry.

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