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Spot GPS Trackers, anyone use them? What all can they do?

Old 02-19-12, 02:36 PM
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amckimmey
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Spot GPS Trackers, anyone use them? What all can they do?

I'm interested in getting a Spot GPS Tracker not sure what one yet, but I don't completely understand what they do.

-They seem to be cheap enough $75-170. Do you have to pay for a "Plan" or do they just work for free?

-Can you let multiple people track you? (family and friends) as well as delay it to the public or something like that?

-Do they track your route or just find your position when you check in?

I have an iPhone so I think I would like the Spot Connect model.

-Does they phone have to always be connected by bluetooth or can I turn that off and use the device by it's self?

-Would it be better to just go with a more basic model? What are the differences does the Connect do everything and more? or less?

Sorry for all these question I am really intrigued by these and think it would be nice for some solo trips and riding though the forest and hills in the North West. It would keep my family from worrying about me. If anyone has any experience or knowledge about these I would like to know what you think.
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Old 02-19-12, 07:04 PM
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My brother and I carried one with us when we rode from Canada to Argentina a couple years ago. We had just the basic model (the connect wasn't out at the time), and sent an 'ok' signal from it every night. You can add a bunch of email addresses to your mailing list that it sends your messages to - there are different lists for the 'ok' and the 'help' message, so you can put different people on each if you want. It didn't seem like there was a limit to the amount of email addresses on it. You pay a year subscription - it was $99 Canadian dollars for the year at the time, and that gives you an unlimited amount of messages, so you could send it 10 times a day, or never in a year, and it would cost the same. You can set it to track your route, and then it automatically sends up a signal every minute or so I think, the only thing is that really kills the battery. For us, we used it every day for over a year, and I don't think we ever had to change the battery (just AAs I think). But I think they said it would last about a week if you had the 'tracking' feature on.
I haven't actually used a connect, but from what I've read before it looks like you can still have the normal functions of the standard one, but then you can send custom text messages using your phone if you want, without having to have cell coverage. If all you're looking to do with it is let people know you're ok, then I think the standard one would be just fine. But if you're looking to send out individual little messages (just found a sweet 14% grade!, or something like that), then you'd want the connect for sure.
Hope that helps!
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Old 02-19-12, 10:39 PM
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I use one to put my wife at ease when I am riding out in the O&C by myself (you're in Eugene, so I know you know where that is). I just use the basic model which doesn't interact with a cell phone. It is kind of like a reverse GPS. A normal GPS tells you where you are, but leaves your friends and family in the dark. The Spot tells them where you are, but leaves you in the dark.

If you want the thing to automatically track your position, you can pay a small additional fee for the "tracking" option. When this is engaged, it sends your position approximately every ten minutes. It does not track your route, it just connects the last position to the current position with a line. The Spot really doesn't work unless it is situated with it's face up. I have finally settled on clipping it to my back, which works well. Don't bother strapping it to your triceps like they show in their video, that doesn't work. In fact, my sister-in-law had several friends give up on them because they didn't realize that it wouldn't work when strapped to an arm while backpacking. It also often has trouble with tree cover and will sometimes take over an hour to send the messages that it is supposed to send every ten minutes; that's not so good for worry-wart watchers if they aren't warned.

It has three messages that you can pre-program in (other than the SOS). One is the Check-in OK message, which I have set to tell my wife/friends "Still Rolling". Then there is some chat message, that I have set to say, "I'm stopped, but Okay, don't worry". and one is a help message, which I have set to say, "I need someone to come get me". This seemed to be enough flexibility for me, so I went with the cheaper model (plus I don't have a smart phone, so I would have had to get one of those to make the more expensive unit worthwhile).

You also have to pay an additional fee if you want the SOS button to notify anyone but your designated contact. There is some company that they set you up with that will notify the appropriate agency to come find you when you hit the SOS. I paid for it, but I will likely never find out if it works as advertised.

Bob Welch, a columnist in the local Register Guard, has one of the models that interact with a cell phone. Send him an email and I'm sure he will tell you all about it. He used it on his hike of the Oregon portion of the Pacific Crest Trail last summer. bob.welch@registerguard.com 541-338-2354.
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Old 02-20-12, 03:07 AM
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Thanks for the help I think I understand it more. That's pretty disappointing it cost $99 a year to activate it. I don't spend to much time riding out of cell service to make that worth it right now. I only have maybe a week long trip planed out for this summer that it would be useful. The "Find My Friend" and "Find My iPhone" allows my girlfriend and my family to follow me as of right now. It does only work with cellphone/3g service but that might have to do for now.

If the service goes down in price I would get one right away. To bad I really want one.
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Old 02-20-12, 07:12 AM
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I am going with a Spot Messenger but for those interested DeLorme also have a product on the market now called InReach. I think it is only for the US but (need to verify that). It might have better pricing?

Andrew
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Old 02-20-12, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Aushiker View Post
I am going with a Spot Messenger but for those interested DeLorme also have a product on the market now called InReach. I think it is only for the US but (need to verify that). It might have better pricing?

Andrew
From the looks of it they sell for 250 but offer monthly plan which might save you some money in the long term. Also hey can only be paired with and android phone not an iPhone or one you can pair it with one of their expensive display units.

I just wish the plans werent so expensive.
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Old 02-20-12, 01:56 PM
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Be touring in Big Bend in April, a huge expanse of mostly no cell service. Buddies' SPOT device will be piece of mind and allow family to track us as we wander about the desert, avoiding drug smugglers, rattling snakes, rabid mountain lions, and heat stroke. He swears it's worth the risk of life and/or limb.
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Old 02-20-12, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
Be touring in Big Bend in April, a huge expanse of mostly no cell service. Buddies' SPOT device will be piece of mind and allow family to track us as we wander about the desert, avoiding drug smugglers, rattling snakes, rabid mountain lions, and heat stroke. He swears it's worth the risk of life and/or limb.
It's doubtful that help will arrive in time to avoid some of those thigs, but at least it'll be easier to find the bodies.
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Old 02-20-12, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
It's doubtful that help will arrive in time to avoid some of those thigs, but at least it'll be easier to find the bodies.
If they dont eat the Spot tracker to !
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Old 02-20-12, 05:50 PM
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The SPOT product, whether it be Spot I or Spot II, old or new versions of each, is notoriously unreliable and the renewal, which increases (doubles?) in the second year from the teaser rate, is mandatory and automatic. The company insisted after only 14 months of occasional use that I buy a second new unit to replace the first that pooped out mid tour to use up the second year's fee. After MANY phone calls Spot finally agreed to refund the balance in the fee between when they consented (month 16 or 17) to the end of the second period at month 24. These people are truly crooks.

Reviews here.
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Old 02-27-12, 05:19 PM
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Charles Ramsey
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My Sony HX100V came with a GPS it tags the photos with the coordinates.
 
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