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post #11 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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It can't be one way communication only because SPOT does give you a signal that the message has been received. I believe both lights stay on for a few seconds. I wish they stayed on longer because it's easy to miss the signal.

Again, I think it's a very useful tool.
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post #12 of 27 Old 05-27-2009 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brak View Post
I think this is not entirely true.

1) 121.5Mhz EPIRBs have been completely phased out afaik, and current EPIRBS produce no local signal of any kind. The SAR relies on the 406Mhz signal and, preferably, the GPS location sent with it.
Brak—

The 406 MHz EPIRBs still broadcast a 121.5 SART signal. From the ACR website on a GlobalFix 406 MHz EPIRB

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Transmits on 406 MHz (COSPAS-SARSAT) with your registered, unique, digitally-coded distress signal, and 121.5 MHz (SAR homing frequency)
Quote:
2) EPIRB signal registration with Coast Guard is not instantaneous. In fact, according to people that run Boston center that listens to EPIRB signals, it may take up to 12(!!) hours for them to get the signal. Don't ask me why, but thats what they say. Perhaps there is some handoff between the satellite network and their equipment.
That isn't much different from what happens at the SPOT messenger center when you push the 911 button.

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3) EPIRB coverage has its own gaps. On the other hand, Globalstar simplex network that is used by SPOT is in good shape and has no known issues.
The COSPAS/SARSAT network is a lot more reliable and has broader coverage than the Globalstar network, which has well-known satellite reliability problems.

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4) There is no way to know whether your EPIRB works until you actually use it, when it may be too late. As an engineer, I can't rely on any "self test". The only test of the device is actual activation and receipt of signal, end to end. SPOT is tested virtually all the time.
True, but modern manufacturing systems and field use of the EPIRBs means that they're pretty reliable.

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5) SPOT in tracking mode provides past history of your movement, as opposed to EPIRB which is essentially a single point. This may be very important in SAR because if they know where you've been they may have easier time finding where you are going.

So, personally, I think SPOT has a number of advantages over EPIRB. That said, I would prefer to have both for any offshore sailing - you never know what gives Locally SPOT is my choice.
Very true, but the SPOT Messenger doesn't have the proven field track record that the 406 MHz EPIRBs have yet.

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post #13 of 27 Old 05-27-2009 Thread Starter
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No, it does not acknowledge the message receipt AFAIK.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInMD View Post
It can't be one way communication only because SPOT does give you a signal that the message has been received. I believe both lights stay on for a few seconds. I wish they stayed on longer because it's easy to miss the signal.

Again, I think it's a very useful tool.

Sailingdog

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #14 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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We have a SPOT - we love it! We are taking our new to us Irwin Citation 34 home to Canada from Annapolis MD. We push it around noon and when we reach our destination. Or other times if we are near something cool - like the Statue of Liberty or half way through the C&D canal.

If you want to see what it looks like - look at our sailing blog at:

trip blog at: Mystery - the Trip Home

Rik and Linda
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post #15 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInMD View Post
It can't be one way communication only because SPOT does give you a signal that the message has been received. I believe both lights stay on for a few seconds. I wish they stayed on longer because it's easy to miss the signal.

Again, I think it's a very useful tool.
That signal is just a notification that SPOT is "no longer sending". It does not mean SPOT knows that message was received. In fact, SPOT will tell you that "message was sent" even if it actually was not. Simplex is "one way".
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post #16 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
No, it does not acknowledge the message receipt AFAIK.
I use my spot for backpacking all the time. I think the confusion may be that the SPOT does not let you know if a tracking messages has been successfully sent. However, it does let you know if an OK, HELP, etc... message has been sent. The corresponding light will continue to flash until the message has been sent. If I recall correctly 2 solid lights will indicate a transmission, and 2 alternating lights indicate a failure. However, even after a failure a the light will continue to flash until the message has been sent. No flashing means the message was successfully sent (unless you have turned on tracking mode in which case the light will always be flashing).

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post #17 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronOnTheHudson View Post
I use my spot for backpacking all the time. I think the confusion may be that the SPOT does not let you know if a tracking messages has been successfully sent. However, it does let you know if an OK, HELP, etc... message has been sent. The corresponding light will continue to flash until the message has been sent. If I recall correctly 2 solid lights will indicate a transmission, and 2 alternating lights indicate a failure. However, even after a failure a the light will continue to flash until the message has been sent. No flashing means the message was successfully sent (unless you have turned on tracking mode in which case the light will always be flashing).

SPOT does not know if a message was sent. There is *no* downlink from the satellite back to SPOT. It is a one-way communication, no matter what lights show.

Globalstar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - read about "simplex".
Simplex communication - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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post #18 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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I think the confusion may be int he terminology, SPOT can tell you it sent the message, but doe snot know if it was received by the satellites or any other systems on the other end. Of course I do not own one, so I am not sure, but I think that's what the diffrent people might be saying?

I am a gadget geek and think the spot is very cool and useful, however I fear that on a long trip, if we set up to send messages every so often so people know we are OK, I know I will drop it in the bilge, let all the batteries die, or some how break the system and freak the family out when we do not check in for a few days.

I am still pondering if it is better to tell them "We will be fine, don't worry" and not check in regularly, or check in, but risk a major panic attack due to an accident?

I am thinking to get one, but only send an OK message if we are long over due but still OK. Kinda halfway in between. Being over due is likely, breaking the thing is likely, but having both go wrong and start a panic is a bit less likely.

Any other thoughts on the psychological side of spots on long distance cruising?

Thanks
Bryan

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post #19 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IslanderGuy View Post
I am a gadget geek and think the spot is very cool and useful, however I fear that on a long trip, if we set up to send messages every so often so people know we are OK, I know I will drop it in the bilge, let all the batteries die, or some how break the system and freak the family out when we do not check in for a few days.
I had spot operate for 3 days in a row. I also used the same set of batteries to operate it intermittently (4-5 hours a day) for an entire sailing season, many weekends. According to manual with appropriate batteries it will work in tracking mode for 14 days, and I think that's about right.

On my boat I have a place under the hardtop where it sits clipped on a piece of webbing, so it's easily accessible but can't go AWOL and is out of the way.

I realize it's limitations but I think it's features are certainly worth more and overall no other device gives that much good functionality for such (relatively) small price.
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post #20 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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Dawg,

Nice write up, but there is one thing wrong with #1 in your case.

1. I'm OK
2. Help
3. 911—send help
4. Tracking update
I think it's a false statement.

Dennis
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Hey stuffit "Get a life"
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