Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 19:01
Yes, the SPOT
II has its advantages, but disadvantages too.
The down side of the SPOT
in my opinion is that it is monitored by a 3rd party (GEOS Rescue Coordination Center) in the USA via a satellite network. They call you and your nominated phone numbers and then notify the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The other is that the SPOT
only sends a signal to the satellite that provides your GPS co-ordinates that is then forwarded to the rescuers. It uses batteries that will need to be replaced or keep thing on an external power lead, it also has an annual subscription.
The up side is that your family or Mrs at home can track your progress when out of mobile phone coverage and see you are at an outback pub, rather than in a ditch 1/2 way there. It has the "OK" button, the "Its All Gone To Custard and Could Do With Some Help, But I'm OK" button and the SOS button, so you can escalate the level of help required.
They will also leave a 'bread crumb trail', so if you do fall off the face of the earth or are unable to push the SOS button, then those watching from home can see where you were, so have some idea where to start
searching. For that reason a lot of my motor bike riding mates have them.
Based on the way it is meant to be used, the SPOT
will be on the dash in plain view and easily accessed/activated. Relatively cheap to buy.
PLB cons; You have to be physically able to push the button to turn it on, so no good if you can't get to it. Because it is a one trick pony, more likely to be buried in the glove box and therefore not easy to find/access/deploy/activate in an emergency and absolutely no help if no one knows it is there.
Doesn't give you the option of those at home tracking your ramblings, so they can't guess where you were heading.
Pros: You push the button, the signal goes to a satellite and then AMSA
. Not only do the new ones transmit your GPS location, they can also be picked up by aircraft and allows the rescue helicopter to use it as a homing beacon
so they can fly straight to you. Will work for 24hrs (minimum) and no batteries to service. More expensive, but no ongoing costs, so probably cheaper in the long run.
Definitely the preferred option In case of emergency.
I have had mates use both, both were out in the desert and a long way from anywhere. One had a SPOT
II, one a PLB, both had to wait several hours and both got a ride with the RFDS. Would one have got rescuers there faster than the other? Its hard to say, 10 or 20 minutes saved was probably insignificant when looking at the travel times.
Personally, I'd like both, the SPOT
would be nice to have, but if betting my life on it I would get the PLB and mount it somewhere obvious in the vehicle.. or in the pouch on my PFD.
Follow Up By: Hoyks - Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 19:06
Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 19:06
I'm also told that SPOT
is also more affected by steep hills and tree canopy, but anything that has to get GPS reception and then get a signal to those same satellites is going to struggle.
High ground and clear skies are your friend here.
Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Monday, Jan 09, 2017 at 10:02
Monday, Jan 09, 2017 at 10:02
How do you think the PLB gets its position?
Both use satellites!
Anything that relies on satellites will struggle in some circumstances, particularly in hilly country when you are in a steep sided valleys. In those cases HF is often more successful.
Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Monday, Jan 09, 2017 at 11:25
Monday, Jan 09, 2017 at 11:25
A couple of things to consider here…
Firstly, whilst both use satellites, a 406MHz beacon
uses 5 watts of power, versus Spot
which uses substantially less, depending on requirements this should be an important consideration when comparing the capability of these devices.
The other consideration is frequency.
The rule of thumb is the lower the frequency the easier it is for a signal to be received.Spot
uses the 1.6GHz frequency which is four times higher than a 406MHz beacon
, meaning the lower frequency device (PLB) has a much better chance of penetrating things in between it and the satellites.
So this is another factor to take into account when deliberating the merits of each device.
In my view both devices have strengths and weaknesses, but neither is mutually exclusive. But without doubt, if you are looking for a response to an emergency that is tried, proven and efficient than the 406MHz beacon
is the better choice. Both in terms of ability to “connect” with the satellites, and secondly the response employed when an emergency activation is made.
If you want something that provides access to an emergency response, but your requirement also includes communicating and providing tracking information, than a Spot
device might be more appropriate, but also might include a consideration of other communication devices such as HF Radio
I use a Spot
Tracker primarily for providing tracking information to family and friends via EO Track Me. But can say from personal use in close-quartered walking expeditions is that it is heavily affected via terrain and vegetation and I would never rely on it to get me the emergency response that a PLB will give if I ever find myself in a position to call for external assistance.
All food for thought,
Cheers, Baz – The Landy