SPOT satelite messenger

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 00:25
ThreadID: 56062 Views:2443 Replies:3 FollowUps:3
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Hello all, i was do some reseach on a new hiking tent (much cheaper from the US) and came across this little device:

Find me spot

It looks like a fantastic idea. Utilises GPS satellite and commercial satellite to position and send messages. Allows you with the push of a button to request help, let people (friends, family, SAR, etc) know where you are, and can even be integrated with google maps so that people can see where you are in realtime.

It is a shame that it appears to be only us based. Does anyone know if it or a similar device is available in Aus? Cheap purchase price, about $150 us and an annual subscription fee for the services. I would think you would need to be doing a lot of travelling to make it viable, but would certainly be a viable option for many travellers.

Anyhoo, off to bed to finally get back my hour of lost sleep (its only been 3 months!!)

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Reply By: John S (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 03:13

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 03:13
Very clever concept. Cheaper than an EPIRB and with more functions. You can have up to 10 contacts with messages being sent by email or SMS. It will transmit 911 distress calls for up to 7 days.

And it does work in OZ !! SPOT Coverage

Unit cost - US$170
Basic Sat Service - US$99/yr
Track Progress - US$50/yr
GEOS Search & Rescue Benefit - US$8/yr at time of purchase

I will definately look into getting one of these for our travels.
AnswerID: 295514

Follow Up By: mike w (WA) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 10:06

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 10:06
Yes, I did looks at its coverage map. My only concern would be whether or not the 9-1-1 feature could be roeconfigured to suit our 000 system, and if it would be recognised by AMSA for search and rescue, as from what I beleive GEOS is US, and would be mighty expensive sending thm out to aus to pick you up ;)

Keep us up to date on anything you find out, Im going to do some more looking when time permits myself.

FollowupID: 561567

Follow Up By: John R (SA) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 10:40

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 10:40
Copied from their website:

"ALERT 9-1-1: Use this function In the event of a life threatening or other critical emergency to notify emergency services of your exact location and that you need assistance. The GEOS International Emergency Response Center alerts the appropriate agencies worldwide – for example contacting 9-1-1 responders in North America and 1-1-2 responders in Europe."

As for re-configuring, my understanding is that the Emergency Response Centre they refer to is a service provided by another organisation, which is manned and capable of ringing whoever they deem appropriate. I would assume (and therefore may be wrong!) that part of the registration process covers this.

However, one of the strengths of this machine is that it is probably redundant as to where you buy & register it - it looks like it will work in most of the world (at least greater than half).

Have a look at 'The Bertsch Story'. It gives some indication of how to use the gadget.
FollowupID: 561571

Reply By: aroundwego - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 11:05

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 11:05
There has been a rescue within Australia using this system. It was a kayaker off the Tasmania coast a few months ago. There were some cordination problems with the alert being passed to Australia but the GEOS center now have the correct contact point in Australia.

AnswerID: 295550

Reply By: timglobal - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 11:35

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 11:35
My only concern is that reading the fine print, it uses the GlobalStar satellite constellation for the messaging uplink. I understand anecdotally from users on this forum that GlobalStar has previously had a lot of issues with coverage - can anyone objectively enlighten as to the constellation refresh?


AnswerID: 295555

Follow Up By: John S (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 11:58

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 11:58
From SPOT's website

Q: Tell me more about the commercial satellites that SPOT uses.
A: SPOT uses the Globalstar simplex data network to transmit messages. This is a proven data network that is also supporting tens of thousands of commercial and industrial data modems sending millions of messages each month for asset tracking and remote management applications. The simplex data network signal path works differently than the Globalstar satellite phone signal path, providing significantly better reliability and message completion rates.

With any new system, there is always a learning curve for the monitoring company dealing with emergency services from other countries. My first suggestion would be call 000 for Oz - after all, who else would we call ourselves in an emergency. In Europe they use 112 for emergency calls - this is also available in Oz.

Help & 911 can be activated at the same time, so if needed you can have additional people contact 000. Since you can customise your messages for a trip, have something like - Help 'I need help because vehicle is diabled and/or injury requiring assistance. If you get an OK msg after this then its just vehicle. Note - we are moniting UHF channel XX for assistance', then send an OK msg.

Im sure that in the future there will be expansion on this system to notify of the situation with more detail.

At the end of the day - having this and an EPIRB is cheaper and more practical than HF & Sat phone. But being over prepared is never a bad thing when it comes to your family.

The more people use this system, the better the system will work. In a convoy situation, 2 vehicles can carry SPOT, if one sends for help, home base knows that vehicle failure has happened, if both send for help, then its life threatening, and can raise help.
FollowupID: 561581

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