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SPOT Messenger

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RioGrande95:
I was buying a new set of boots at REI today and decided to take a look at the SPOT while I was there.  It is a little on the big side but it is still a fair amount smaller than the other PLBs REI had in stock.  The guy I talked to said they made it bigger so that it would float, which seems like a reasonable feature for a personal locater. The unit retails for $150, but a subscription to the locator service ($10 a month or $100 a year) is also required.  If a years (or at least a few months) worth of service were included in the $150 price tag I may have bought one on the spot... No pun intended.

Can't wait to here your report on the unit.

dustdriver:
Should have them by the end of the week, can't wait to check it out.

Remember, these are not mere PLB's.... a PLB can't send an email and text message with a Google map link to your contacts just to let them know you're OK, or need help for a non-emergency incident, as well as send a 911 call from anywhere, or show your contacts your track progress on Google maps. 

PLB's are much more expensive and don't do nearly as much.

RioGrande95:
yeah, doesn't a PLB also emit a homing signal for search and rescue to aid in the recovery effort when you get close?  But you're right, what I really like about the spot is the non-emergency functions.  I think you can personalize the messages for example I could set the help button to be something like "Hey, got behind schedule, will be a little late, but not in trouble"

dustdriver:
Got the SPOTs working today, and will be using them quite often.  There are 4 buttons, 4 functions, and 4 lights.  The lights blink to tell you what the unit is doing (or trying to do).  It's pretty simple once you read the user guide and FAQ.

During testing today, I powered the unit on, and hit the "Check-In/OK" button.  It takes a few minutes for the unit to get a GPS fix.  When it gets a GPS fix, the power light and the check-in light flash once every 3 seconds in unison to tell you that they have a GPS signal.  Then, once every 5 minutes, it sends the message.  The check-in light stays on for 5 seconds to tell you when that happens.  Or, you can just let it sit for 20 minutes and let it do it's thing for maximum performance.  When it sent the signal, I had my cell phone right there waiting, and the text message appeared on the phone in under 10 seconds from the time the message was sent.

The email is also fast, depending on your ISP of course.  The link to Google map showed my position with amazing accuracy!

The 911 and the "Help" feature will send even if the unit can't get a GPS fix, which is good.

You can have up to 10 contacts that receive your messages (either email or SMS text).  The text messages don't work for TracFones (yet) due to the multiple carrier agreements required.  That could change in the near future.

You can configure multiple "profiles" for each unit, with separate contacts for each profile.  So it would allow you to customize your check in message and who receives it.  The messages are pre-programmed though; you can't change them unless you log in to your account.

So far I'm impressed.

Yeah I think PLB's have a locator signal (like an avalanche beacon), but you don't really need that with a SPOT because the position is so accurate to begin with.

Edit:  also the online activation process was pretty simple.  Basic online registration & payment stuff.  Took about 10 minutes to have everything set up and running.

dustdriver:
update:

Using these daily at work.  They are awesome, and I highly recommend them for anyone who travels alone out of cell range.  Period.  PM me if you need more info and I'll be glad to chat about them, otherwise I'll let this thread slip silently into the night...   :)

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