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Re: Spot rental from Satellite Phone Solutions

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  • John Ladd
    Ravi Make sure you use Lithium batteries (at least if it is the original Spot). Use of alkaline batteries can screw up the electronics of the Spot. The
    Message 1 of 12 , Aug 18, 2013
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      Ravi

      Make sure you use Lithium batteries (at least if it is the original Spot). Use of alkaline batteries can screw up the electronics of the Spot. The original Spot had a warning about this right on the body of the device, but it was possible to miss it.

      Maybe this is a non-issue with later-generation Spots.

      John Curran Ladd
      1616 Castro Street
      San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
      415-648-9279
    • ravi_jmt2013
      It is a Spot 2 and I don t see warnings but I m waiting for lithiums to arrive from Amazon on Tuesday to test it just to be safe. I also decided to switch to
      Message 2 of 12 , Aug 18, 2013
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        It is a Spot 2 and I don't see warnings but I'm waiting for lithiums to arrive from Amazon on Tuesday to test it just to be safe. I also decided to switch to lithium for my headlamp which accepts either lithium or alkaline. I can probably get away with taking one set of spares for both. I ordered the energizer ultimate lithium which is supposed to last 8x as long as energizer alkaline.

        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
        >
        > Ravi
        >
        > Make sure you use Lithium batteries (at least if it is the original Spot).
        > Use of alkaline batteries can screw up the electronics of the Spot. The
        > original Spot had a warning about this right on the body of the device, but
        > it was possible to miss it.
        >
        > Maybe this is a non-issue with later-generation Spots.
        >
        > John Curran Ladd
        > 1616 Castro Street
        > San Francisco, CA 94114-3707
        > 415-648-9279
        >
      • ravi_jmt2013
        I ve been testing out the Spot 2 and have a few observations for those who are on the fence regarding whether to carry it: 1. The unit itself with three
        Message 3 of 12 , Aug 22, 2013
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          I've been testing out the Spot 2 and have a few observations for those who are on the fence regarding whether to carry it:

          1. The unit itself with three lithium batteries weighs in at just 4.2 ounces on my scale which is better than expected. The case with the arm strap is an additional 1.3 ounces and probably a good idea for anyone using continuous tracking and has a need to mount the unit on the backpack securely. I personally won't be using continuous tracking and plan to keep the unit in a dry bag in my pack's side pocket. Therefore, I will not need the case. I have installed a small piece of light shock cord (barely registers on my scale) with a loop so I can attach the spot to my pack when I take it off at stops and wish to check in. This is just insurance against forgetting to take the Spot with me after a break and probably not robust enough to try to attach it to anything while moving.

          2. I tested the unit for a couple of hours locally. It took a while to locate the satellites the first time I turned it on and attempted an OK message. After the first attempt, the GPS lock came in more quickly even though I turned the unit off and on between check in attempts (as I will do on the trail). I suspect that the first lock in a region takes a while longer. This is the case on other GPS devices I have used.

          3. OK and custom messages are sent within a few minutes according to the message light on the unit. I checked email and the web interfaces as I was testing and found that under a clear sky the messages went through immediately. However, under tree cover, the message did not go through until about 15 minutes after the message light was blinking. This reinforces the recommendation to leave the SPOT on for 20 minutes after it reports a message as being sent. The message light itself isn't a confirmation of receipt of the message based on my testing.

          4. I have shared the web tracking information and set up email notices for family members who wanted it and everyone really likes the system so far. If it works as expected on the trail I think that the check ins will relieve quite a bit of anxiety. I set up the OK button for general check ins and the custom button to indicate that I have arrived at camp for the evening.

          I'd say that the unit is definitely worth the $75 I paid for four weeks but, for whatever reason, the price has more than doubled since I rented it... I may consider buying a Spot 3 after the trip if this unit works out well.
        • ravi_jmt2013
          I got a chance to review the SPOT messages that I sent from my rental unit during the hike and thought that I would share my experience with the device. In
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 23 5:49 AM
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            I got a chance to review the SPOT messages that I sent from my rental unit during the hike and thought that I would share my experience with the device. 


            In general, having the SPOT was worthwhile due to the peace of mind it provided to family members.  I did not use continuous tracking instead opting to send two or three SPOT messages each day.  I would send messages at times when I knew that I would be in one location for at least 20 minutes.  This usually would happen at camp and during a lunch break.  I would also stop at each of the major passes to send a message. 


            From my review of the messages that were received, I believe that almost all of the messages went through when I allowed the unit to go through the 20 minute cycle.  I timed the 20 minutes starting from the time that the sent message light started to appear.  Since that light often took 5 minutes to appear, sometimes my breaks had to be 25-30 minutes long which was OK for lunch but sometimes annoying when I just wanted to send a message to indicate that I was at a major pass.  At other times, I sent a message without waiting for the 20 minute cycle to complete.  A couple of times at lunch I forgot to start the process when I first took the break and I did not want to delay hiking for another 20 minutes.  I know that at least a few of those messages did not make it.  In addition to the messages during the day, I also sent a "custom" message each day after arriving in camp to indicate that I was done with my hiking for the day.


            In terms of battery life, I swapped out batteries after 12 days but only because I wanted to use the partially depleted SPOT batter in my headlamp (which was burning through batteries more quickly than expected).  My guess is that the SPOT would have required only one set for the entire trip. 


            I can recommend the SPOT device to JMT hikers assuming that waiting 20-30 minutes for the cycle to complete is acceptable.  I cannot comment on how the continuous tracking works or how many batteries it would consume.  That could be a workaround for someone not willing to wait so long after each message is sent. 


            My guess is that much better solutions will exist in a few years and perhaps the InReach is a  better solution that exists today.  I met a few hikers using the SPOT but no one using the InReach. 

          • whcobbs
            To Spot users and prospective users: I completed the JMT (excepting an excursion out via Bishop Pass resupply and back via Independence/Kearsarge Pass) 27
            Message 5 of 12 , Sep 23 8:27 AM
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              To Spot users and prospective users: I completed the JMT (excepting an excursion out via Bishop Pass resupply and back via Independence/Kearsarge Pass) 27 August- 15 September 2013. I carried Spot II all my hiking hours, set to the tracking mode.  When I put the Spot to bed at night I sent an "OK" message. I changed Li batteries just twice, once at Muir Trail Ranch, and again on the way out on the trait to Portal.  I purchased Spot, so rental fees were not an issue, although contract renewal may yet be.  On review of tracking data, coverage was very good, with little in the way of dead locales.  This experience contrasted somewhat with my prior experience in the forests of Pennysylvania, where missed points were routine.  My time-date stamped photos and the time-date Spot points match, a blessing for identification of photo points.  Thanks to everyone for advice and support along the way,

               

              Walt



              --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <ravi@...> wrote:

              I got a chance to review the SPOT messages that I sent from my rental unit during the hike and thought that I would share my experience with the device. 


              In general, having the SPOT was worthwhile due to the peace of mind it provided to family members.  I did not use continuous tracking instead opting to send two or three SPOT messages each day.  I would send messages at times when I knew that I would be in one location for at least 20 minutes.  This usually would happen at camp and during a lunch break.  I would also stop at each of the major passes to send a message. 


              From my review of the messages that were received, I believe that almost all of the messages went through when I allowed the unit to go through the 20 minute cycle.  I timed the 20 minutes starting from the time that the sent message light started to appear.  Since that light often took 5 minutes to appear, sometimes my breaks had to be 25-30 minutes long which was OK for lunch but sometimes annoying when I just wanted to send a message to indicate that I was at a major pass.  At other times, I sent a message without waiting for the 20 minute cycle to complete.  A couple of times at lunch I forgot to start the process when I first took the break and I did not want to delay hiking for another 20 minutes.  I know that at least a few of those messages did not make it.  In addition to the messages during the day, I also sent a "custom" message each day after arriving in camp to indicate that I was done with my hiking for the day.


              In terms of battery life, I swapped out batteries after 12 days but only because I wanted to use the partially depleted SPOT batter in my headlamp (which was burning through batteries more quickly than expected).  My guess is that the SPOT would have required only one set for the entire trip. 


              I can recommend the SPOT device to JMT hikers assuming that waiting 20-30 minutes for the cycle to complete is acceptable.  I cannot comment on how the continuous tracking works or how many batteries it would consume.  That could be a workaround for someone not willing to wait so long after each message is sent. 


              My guess is that much better solutions will exist in a few years and perhaps the InReach is a  better solution that exists today.  I met a few hikers using the SPOT but no one using the InReach. 

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