Mis-use of Satellite Messengers (inReach, SPOT) - Page 2 - ClubTread Community

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post #16 of (permalink) Old 05-24-2016, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by oplopanax View Post
PLB (personal locator beacons) are more reliable in many ways, not the least being they have no other use than to call for rescue, thus the batteries are always fresh. Single use user interfaces!
Agreed. I'm a big fan of PLB's and recommend them to lots of people. If a hiker/adventurer really believes near real-time communication back to civilization is necessary then maybe, in some cases, they shouldn't be out there.

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post #17 of (permalink) Old 05-24-2016, 02:27 PM
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It seems that we should also include the use of multiple devices/modes in this conversation. I still use a Spot2, but that is not my only device; a satphone and inReach for groups are reasonable devices as well.

While researching an area for an upcoming trip Monday, I had only two of four Spot messages go through, and I've been using the device professionally for many years. Steep sided canyons can make the delay for messages exceedingly long or even not possible. Satphones and inReach also need a clear view of sky, but at least they are often able to confirm receipt of messages...
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post #18 of (permalink) Old 05-27-2016, 02:18 PM
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Thanks for the notice. I have been considering buying a Spot, I figure that waiting for a slow response would be better than dying. Wireless communication has always had issues with reception. Sometimes you are lucky if you survive to never do it again!
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post #19 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2016, 10:11 PM
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I'll get those details to you.

We've had other incidences where the older spots with the easily triggered 'help' buttons would get pushed accidently.. >:-(

To add to the rigmarole the coordinates we get from these call centres in the Dallas are sometimes quite far from where the subject actually is, due to terrain and signal strength..

We got one from the middle of a lake, so had to get boats, swiftwater people mobilized, etc.. Then it turns out he's nowhere near water, bumped it by mistake..

Who needs a signature? Mine is always: Last edited by dougz; Today at 03:27 PM

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post #20 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2016, 11:04 AM
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We got one from the middle of a lake, so had to get boats, swiftwater people mobilized, etc.. Then it turns out he's nowhere near water, bumped it by mistake..
Devices like SPOT remind me of those 1960's boat-cars. They weren't very good cars and they were even worse boats. If someone wants a form of messaging back home, so to speak, then of course a SPOT or Sat Phone is the way to go but its use as rescue beacon should rank way down the list. Messenger devices, like SPOT/Iridium are just that, messenger devices, they are not very good rescue beacons, no matter what the sales guy at the electronics counter says.

If what you want is the highest possible chance of effecting a rescue then a PLB is a must, especially in convoluted terrain. Their use of the COSPAS/SARSAT network, a much higher power signal on 406mhz and generation of secondary homing signal on 121.5 is as good as most marine manual-activation EPIRB's.

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post #21 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2016, 03:34 PM
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I bought a SPOT when they first came out and before joining SAR, but one look at how easy it would be to accidentally push the SOS button and I knew I had wasted my money..

Looking at an In Reach, currently.. Our team has a couple, but we haven't gotten around to using them yet (we usually have teams use sat phones if radio comms are going to be iffy)..

Who needs a signature? Mine is always: Last edited by dougz; Today at 03:27 PM
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post #22 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2016, 04:51 PM
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I have had an Inreach SE fora few months now and I have no complaints. The SOS button can not be accidentally triggered and the two way messaging has been absolutely flawless. I have been able to message while in slot canyons this past March and without any issues in the mountains. If the need to be recuse ever arises the inreach people can contact you via message to find out the seriousness of your problem.....whether it be life and death need a rescue ASAP or a twisted ankle/broken leg where it is not as dire.
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post #23 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2016, 04:59 PM
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Can anyone cite examples where someone has died, or not been rescued, as a result of the SPOT S.O.S. feature NOT WORKING?
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post #24 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2016, 07:09 PM
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Can anyone cite examples where someone has died, or not been rescued, as a result of the SPOT S.O.S. feature NOT WORKING?

SPOT is a commercial organization and it is NOT in their interest to track and publish examples of failures. PLB/EPIRB incidents are reviewed by the Dept. of Defence, where all beacons are registered.

SPOT claims 4,000 rescues and counting so it's not that it's ineffective. However, as of December 2014 the Cospas-Sarsat System had provided assistance in rescuing almost 40,000 persons in many thousands of land and marine incidents, but that may also be partly a function of time deployed. (I got this number from Coast Guard officers on my last marine radio course).

Also, if you've ever been involved in SAR it's obvious that getting close to the signal source is vital. A difference of a few miles can cut a life short. PLB's are far more accurate as a signal source because of their 406mhz beacon and 121.5 mhz homing signals.

These devices have different purposes and SPOT's are sure cool, but if you want the best chance of having your backside saved in an emergency, get a PLB.

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post #25 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2016, 08:06 PM
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When I first got my spot generation 3 messenger I had a lot of trouble with the OK function. I discovered a couple of things. First of all I had to update the firmware from the website. But the biggest mistake I was making was getting impatient and pushing the OK button a second time thinking that the message hadn't gone out. Apparently this cancels the first message and starts over. Once I became patient and let the messenger sit until the sent message button came on I found the device to be 100% reliable. I send a message from every hike I go on and check when I get home. It is always right on the money from where I sent it.
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post #26 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2016, 09:04 PM
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I send a message from every hike I go on and check when I get home. It is always right on the money from where I sent it.
The SPOT location algorithm uses your back track and a little of the forward track to rectify its current location. That process does not occur in real time. That's why it seems to be on-the-money when you look a the message location.

It's performance under an instantaneous SAR-send would leave you surprised at how poorly it resolves, often hundreds of meters off. This is the issue with SAR often locating SPOT calls a long way from where people actually are. Further, it's almost unheard of for a PLB to be complicit in a false alarm.

A PLB needs no such thing. It powers out a very strong high resolution and low resolution signal of your location, to two satellite networks (GEOSAR and LEOSAR) and it works within metres of your location in almost every case and nearly instantly. No battery to change, no subscription fee, what's not to like.

Like I said, SPOT's are cool and useful. However, EPIRB/PLB's are far more robust at getting SAR to you in any situation.

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post #27 of (permalink) Old 05-30-2016, 12:20 AM
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Burndug: If I've sent a message or a Spot signal asking to be rescued, there is no need for discussion about the seriousness of my injury. It's not like I'll say I'm only a little bit hurt so no need to rush.... SAR teams will respond as if it is life and death no matter what the injury. They know that a broken leg could quickly turn into a more serious situation.

xj6response: There is no question Spot has limitations; therefore, I'm not going to try to defend it against other devices. I have the 1st gen Spot. I can tell you, though, that my OK messages have never been a few miles or even a hundred meters off. And I can tell if my message has been sent by the way the lights are flashing. Nor has my SOS button ever been accidently triggered.

It seems to me that all the problems identified with the Spot in this thread are caused by human error ("mis-use"), and not the technology itself.

I'm aware Spot is not going to advertise situations when their device did not work. But I'm still waiting for someone to show me an article with the headline: "Malfunctioned Spot found next to dead hiker....", or, "Spot SOS not received, resulting in hiker's death."

Not saying it couldn't happen, but there doesn't seem to be much evidence that it has happened.
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post #28 of (permalink) Old 05-30-2016, 12:50 AM
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It seems to me that all the problems identified with the Spot in this thread are caused by human error ("mis-use"), and not the technology itself.
You might be right, in fact I think you probably are. FWIW, i think SPOT's + Iridium's etc. are nifty gizmos and for those who want messaging, very nice to have. I do think there is an ongoing issue with SPOT generated false alarms with land and marine SAR. Hopefully those will get sorted as these devices get better and their networks more robust.

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Last edited by xj6response; 05-30-2016 at 12:52 AM. Reason: missed word
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post #29 of (permalink) Old 05-30-2016, 01:38 AM
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Once the inReach SOS is activated the control center texts you to find out if you activated the SOS and need to be rescued. You then have the opportunity, if you are able to reply, to let them know what the problem may be. If you do not reply they send out a rescue. Having the ability to communicate your circumstances has many many benefits.

Here is one example of the benefit of being able to communicate with your rescuers.....There are many many more examples of such rescues.

http://www.delorme.com/about/pressre...cues-Surge.htm

Last edited by burndug; 05-30-2016 at 01:48 AM.
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post #30 of (permalink) Old 05-30-2016, 08:28 AM
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I can't comment on the Gen 1 SPOT, but I had the Gen 2 and took advantage of their offer for a free upgrade to the Gen 3 when it first came out. I can say that they've improved the ergonomics, and it's hard to see how someone could accidentally trigger an SOS on the Gen 3. You have to lift up a cover (which now has a hard plastic insert) and then hold down the recessed button for 3 seconds.


There are also different price points for the various features. The InReach gets you two way, but is $200 more than the SPOT. While a proper PLB is $100-$150 more, you'll save on the subscription costs (but PLBs don't have the 'OK' or tracking function)
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