Spot GPS tracking, who is using it? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-29-2008, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Spot GPS tracking, who is using it?

Hi All,

I just bought a Spot GPS tracking device with the full package of services (live tracking, "check-in" tracking, 911 service, non-emergency help function), and just put it into service last night.

I played with it today, thinking I was running it in live tracking mode (pretty sure I was following the directions). Trouble is, it didn't seem to be doing any live tracking, and it sent out "I'm okay" check-in messages all by itself twice today. I had it sitting face up on the dashboard of the car all afternoon looking at a cloudless sky in the flatlands of eastern MN. I should have been seeing plenty of satellites.

I'll have to check the manual again, maybe I'm goofing it up.

But, anyone care to share their thoughts or experiences with their Spot devices/service? Good, bad, indifferent...

Thanks.

Steve.
Twin Cities, MN, USA
'18 DL650XT, previously '07 DL650 and others
"With the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness comes responsibility, to yourself and others. With responsibility comes accountability. Without responsibility, without accountability, we cannot and will not be a free and civilized society."
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-29-2008, 07:40 PM
Hmmmmm
 
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I didn't think there were any sats over Minisoda



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post #3 of 10 Old 04-29-2008, 08:59 PM
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I bought one this winter, mostly to use on extended backcountry, sometimes solo, canoe trips, to keep my wife from worrying quite so much. It's cheaper than a sat phone. But I've tested it on bike trips too, as recently as last weekend, 1,600 km in 2 days. I didn't buy the tracking feature, figuring I could just as easily press the OK button a few times a day. Worked every time, without fail. I used it at most stops, turning it on, pressing OK, and sticking it in my tank bag, face up, with the lid closed for a few minutes. I also currently have it set to send me a text message on my cell as a test; I received one within a couple of minutes of every activation. And my wife got all the emails. So, I'm happy enough with it so far. Ask me again after a 3-week trip to Nunavut or Northwest Territories, if I make it back :rolleyes:

There's a new Beta test feature called shared pages, where you can have it create a Web page with your tracked points displayed on a Google map. I thought that was pretty cool until I discovered that those points disappear from the shared page after a very short period of time. Not sure exactly how short, but certainly they don't seem to last more than 2 days. I've complained to them about this 'feature'; no reply yet. I'll post if/when I hear something back from them.

I view it as an inexpensive addition to the set of things I use to help keep me safe. No lectures about reliance on electronics and failures of same, please. I'm old enough to have had lots of experience with a map and compass and needing help, and can even use a sextant if I have to. Things like SPOT and GPS and sat phones and PLBs are just more things in the arsenal.

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post #4 of 10 Old 04-29-2008, 09:04 PM
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Look forward to future reports. I'm interested in Spot, but really want to hear some people that impressed with the tracking feature. I may hold out for version 2.


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post #5 of 10 Old 04-29-2008, 09:07 PM
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Oh yeah, forgot to mention, there's a thread over on advrider.com; one of the contributors is one of the design engineers at Axonn LLC (they designed and manufactured SPOT). Interesting reading if you're a geek (like me).

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=282391

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post #6 of 10 Old 04-29-2008, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, one step closer to success.

My neighbor happens to be an electrical engineer for a/the company that makes those over-the-road truck-top GPS transceiver devices, those round, white cylinder thingies (about 12" diameter, 6-8" tall) that are perched atop truck cabs. So he knows his GPS stuff.

Anyway, I've been keeping him updated on this toy, and I was telling him of the live tracking issue I had today. He said to let the device go through cold and warm start, cold start is letting the device find as many satellites as possible, warm is when it then narrows down the ones it will use for the location I'm at. Did that, gave it about 5 minutes (probably more than necessary) sitting outside looking at the sky, got on the bike, stuck it in my jacket pocket, and went on an errand. About 40 minutes later I returned, check their site, and there was my trip, signals being captured roughly every +/- 10 minutes.

So that's what I'll do on start-up from off- give it a couple minutes to find all the birds it can and then take off.I think this is going to be a nice tools in the safety arsenal. Even if I dump and can't manage to hit the 911 button to bring in search and rescue and a helicopter if needed (I bought the full package), at least they'll know my last known coordinates and should be able to key in on me.

As part of the 911 function, I can create a short profile message that gets sent with the alert. In that message (which I can change at any time at the website) I entered that I'm allergic to certain medications, that I'm most likely traveling by motorcycle, and that I should be wearing a yellow jacket. That way they have something to look for.

I'll update back here in the future when I get more use on it.

And, yes, my neighbor had eyed up my bike wondering where he could mount one of those big white cylinder thingies. I told him to step away from my motorcycle... Besides, the technology used with those, other than the GPS satellites, is typically cellular technology, since their main customers are normally found on major highways and interstates, where US cell coverage is *nearly* flawless. That's why I didn't go for GPS tracking on my cell phone. And I wasn't going to pay for satellite phone technology.

Steve.
Twin Cities, MN, USA
'18 DL650XT, previously '07 DL650 and others
"With the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness comes responsibility, to yourself and others. With responsibility comes accountability. Without responsibility, without accountability, we cannot and will not be a free and civilized society."
-Me, Steve T.
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-30-2008, 09:28 AM
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My wife and I use one to keep our grown kids informed as we tour for 6 or 8 weeks a year. She takes it on her solo tours so I don't go nuts if she misses a call. Daily calls even if you can get service are a pain. This thing works great. Here we are in the parking lot of the Barber museum near Birmingham Alabama.
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-10-2008, 01:56 PM
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Not really Strom or motorcycle related, but I just came back from a week-long canoe/fishing trip in Algonquin Park. I sent a few OK messages every day (I took the thing because I was solo, and my wife feels better knowing that I'm not dead). Every single message got through, including a few that were deliberately triggered under heavy tree cover. Coniferous only, the leaves weren't out yet :rolleyes: I've also used it on the road, no failures yet. I think it's worth the peace of mind.

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post #9 of 10 Old 05-10-2008, 03:05 PM
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I used it on my Baja trip, all the messages got through, and my girlfriend was very happy I had it! :-)
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-10-2008, 07:38 PM
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I bought one recently with the works. Down here in Oz it worked flawlessly for the 7000km round trip to the center of Oz and back to the east coast. I had it in track mode(nb, you must hold the OK button once for an OK message but hold it down for 5 seconds until the LED goes out to activate track mode). I had set up a shared page and people back home could follow everything.

I got some phone calls from a freind who said it worked great. In the outback of OZ we don't have trees or building, mainly wide open plains, no worries with the sat reception.

This was just a test for my upcoming round the world trip. I would like to see the shared page keep the track for longer, but other than that I am happy with the unit. Of course the proof will be in the pudding, that is when the 911 button gets used, I hope not to use that function.

Cheers
TS
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