Tell me about SPOT location beacons - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-29-2011   #1
 
Helena, Montana
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Tell me about SPOT location beacons

I have been on a few trips over the last two years where at least one person has had one of these. Seems like a decent idea (in theory, at least).

I have seen prices as low as $99 for the unit. What is the monthly cost? can you deactivate the contract in the off season, or do you pay for a full year in one pop?

thanks

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Old 11-29-2011   #2
 
Denver, Colorado
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Hi

I have the " spot messenger ".

I use it for off-road motorcyling, river rafting, skiing.

There is a $150/year subscribtion fee for this model. No off season turn off.

You should go to their web site for details.

I have found the tracking feature and the ability to send both custom and prewritten text messages to your friends/family a big plus.

I do not regret my purchase.
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Old 11-29-2011   #3
gOtTaGokAyAkn'
 
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Ashville North Carolina, Colorado
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ACR

I have a TerraFix 406 MHz GPS personal locator beacon. It has no yearly subscription fees, and contacts the Feds with a personalized msg. My PLB reports that I am not lost. I am seriously injured from a kayaking or skiing related accident, please send a helicopter as soon as possible. The beacon has a 121.5 MHz homing signal for the helicopter or SAR to pinpoint your location within the 100 meter gps search area. I got mine from amazon for 268, retail is 650. It works anywhere on the planet.
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Old 11-30-2011   #4
 
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Fort Collins, Colorado
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I've used the earlier versions on river trips and Ma loved getting the emails saying we're OK, though if it's way overcast or if you're in a walled canyon it seems to struggle like any GPS device. I recently used one of the second generation Spots on a two week off shore sailing trip and anyone who wanted to, family, friends, could get on the website and track our progress. They loved it! It took some of the anxiety away for members of the tribe who worry. Never had to use it in an emergency, but the communication is way cool.
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Old 11-30-2011   #5
 
Riverton, Utah
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I have had a SPOT since they started making them. The original one was a cool idea, user interface sucked. No biggy, got used to it and figured out how to make it work... used it a LOT for tracking and for check in messages.

Bought the new Messenger when it came out. Its got better satellite reception and is a bit better form factor, but it requires a smart phone app to really be useful... I don't like that about it. That said, I like it WAY better than the original SPOT. I've had it for nearly a year now and use it all the time and find the personalized messages to be super handy for keeping folks back home informed.

Its a great idea... I think the user interface still sucks, like it was designed by some tech engineer that never goes outside. But that can be said about my avy beacon too I guess. So if you buy one, figure on taking a few minutes to get familiar with it and then play with it around town so you know how it works before going off into the back country.

BTW, I don't know if it works everywhere in the world, but it does work in China... I took it with me there on business and sent messages with it.
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Old 11-30-2011   #6
 
North Bend, Washington
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So the new SPOT requires a smart phone? If you don't have a smart phone then it doesn't work? Hmmmm. Interesting.
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Old 11-30-2011   #7
 
st george, Utah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kendi View Post
So the new SPOT requires a smart phone? If you don't have a smart phone then it doesn't work? Hmmmm. Interesting.
You need a smart phone only if you want to send custom messages (there's no way to enter text using just the spot). Otherwise, it works like the original...
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Old 11-30-2011   #8
 
Riverton, Utah
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Originally Posted by mfshop View Post
You need a smart phone only if you want to send custom messages (there's no way to enter text using just the spot). Otherwise, it works like the original...
Or if you want to put it in tracking mode or if you want to send check in messages... then you need the smart phone app.

If you want to push the 911 button then you don't need it.

Its pretty useless other than for an "emergency send the calvary" unless you have a smart phone.
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Old 11-30-2011   #9
 
st george, Utah
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Originally Posted by DanCan View Post
Or if you want to put it in tracking mode or if you want to send check in messages... then you need the smart phone app.

If you want to push the 911 button then you don't need it.

Its pretty useless other than for an "emergency send the calvary" unless you have a smart phone.
Wow. Those new spots do suck w/o a smartphone. I'm sure you could pick up an older model for pretty cheap instead.
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Old 11-30-2011   #10
 
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Nanaimo, B.C.
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There are, as far as I'm aware, three iterations of the SPOT. The first two being the original spot "puck" and it's sucessor version. What you guys are describing is the SPOT Messenger, the aforementioned third, which requires the use of a smart phone to send messages, track etc.

I think the Messenger, while able to send texts/fb updates, is pretty gimmcky compared to the second edition of the puck, the SPOT Satellite GPS communicator. It fits in the palm of your hand at about 1.5" thick. Simply put it's a waterproof puck with 6 buttons, with it you can send an "Ok" message, a custom pre-written message, log your gps position, you can also send either a "help needed" or an "S.O.S." signal. Most of the messages can be pre-edited, and when you activate them on the SPOT they go to to pre arranged emails and online accounts, with the exception of the "S.O.S." which will also be received/routed to SAR resources who can then use the SPOT to locate you.

I've used a 2nd generation SPOT, the messages need to be activated and left for 5-15 minutes or so, and it can be tricky trying to determine if they've sent or not (I just learned to let them sit for a bit, before carrying on or turning that message off) the track-logging works well, but last I checked the UI limited the # of waypoints you could view simultaeneously, which was a pain.

With a year's subscription it was about $300 CAD for the whole thing.

edit- wanted to add that I think for a rescue professional a proper GPS/Beacon setup would be more useful, but for the rest of us, it adds a resource safetywise that alot of people would otherwise be without.
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