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post #21 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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I checked the manual - yes it's one way. The solid lights tell you a fix was established and the message was sent.

In practice I've found it to be totally reliable.

You can send like 10,000 fixes on a set of batteries.


Simplex just means single frequency, not "one way". A standard VHF is simplex - you cannot talk and listen at the same time. Duplex means two frequencies are used so sending and receiving can happen at the same time.
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post #22 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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I picked up a SPOT this weekend. Going to test it out next. I like that family and friends can follow us especially on our trip up north to Mystic. I purchased the tracking feature so they can follow our adventure.

Its well worth the money with the EPIRB also on bopard for a different reason and use..

Dave


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post #23 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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I have had a SPOT since Christmas as well. My daughter bought it for me so she would be able to know if I am OK. My experience gives the following:
1. In the OK mode (not tracking) a single message is sent to up to 10 email/cell numbers. If you are withing cell system and list your own number you will get a message. An email gets the Long/Latt for position and a link to the map with a single spot mark. Cell phones only get the Long/Latt. Both get the canned message that says whatever you put in (mine says, "This is Joe's Spot and I am OK and am just checking in"

2. In the tracking mode it transmits every 10 minutes, BUT in practice the system seems to miss occasional transmissions, leaving a blank in your SPOT track.

3. The tracking map (my preferred use) is different than my Canadian friend Ric. My map is a SPOT specific Goggle Map very close. It only shows the last 50 messages (not even 24 hours) so as time passes the earlier spots disappear from your track. Here is a link to my SPOT track from 4 hours sailing last Saturday: SPOT Shared Page Also, you should note that the track only stays on-line for up to 1 week (7 days). So, unlike RIC's map on SV/Mystery my map would only show the last 50 spots if tracking.

The SPOT globe map shows many areas that have no coverage. I don't sail off shore so it is not a problem for me. And as to relying on the 911 feature, I don't see it as my prime help line. I sail the Central Chesapeake bay and VHF would be my first line of defense and Cell my second (The Bay has excellent cell coverage). I carry my SPOT and would activate it in case of an emergency (I will take any and all help in a real emergency).

Batteries, as someone else noted, the SPOT requires Lithium AA batteries but the manual says you may use regular AA in en emergency (seems like some chance is better than NO chance).

In the 5 months I have used the SPOT I have only used the OK messages and the Tracking service. BUT I assume that since my signal is getting through the HELP and the 911 would work as well.

Joe McCary,
Sailing on The Central Chesapeake Bay, West River, MD on my Catalina 27, Aelous II with my wife and friends.
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post #24 of 27 Old 05-27-2009 Thread Starter
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Brak—

From the SPOT user's guide:

Quote:
activate spotcastings mode:

Press and hold the OK√ button for more than 5 seconds. The green indicator will begin blinking every 3 seconds, and the SPOTteam members you have given access to your online account can view your progress. Your exact location is updated every 10 minutes for 24 hours. To continue tracking after 24 hours, you must activate the unit again. Once activated, the OK√ indicator light will blink green every 3 seconds, and turn solid green for 5 seconds when a SPOTcasting message is being sent. SPOTcheck must be inactive for SPOTcasting to be activated.
So, I'm not quite sure how the SPOT operated for THREE DAYS IN A ROW, without user intervention. Yes, the manual states that the SPOT will run in SPOTcasting mode for 14 days, but you still need to activate SPOTcasting mode every 24 hours for it to work.


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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.

Sailingdog

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post #25 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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We have owned a SPOT for somewhat more than a year. I originally purchased it last year for my daughter who, with 9 other teens, was sailing a Beneteau 50 from St. Martin to Trinadad over the course of a month--from early June to July. We subsequently used it for an extended cruise to the Keys on our own yacht.

The "I'm okay" function sends out 3 I'm Okay messenges at 10 minute intervals to ensure that at least one will be delivered to designated email addresses specified by the user.

The "Send Help" button sends ones position every 5 minutes for an hour until the message is deliver to specified email addresses or the alert is cancelled.

The "9-1-1" alert is sent every 5 minutes until the message is cancelled or power is depleted. With the "9-1-1" message, the Rescue Coordiantion Center closest to the position encoded in the message is notified.

If one signs up for the rescue service provided by Geos--a division of Blackwater that provides private security and rescue services to private contractors, the State Department employees, et al--Geos will arrange rescue with the RCC and, if necessary, mobilize private resources to effect a rescue and evacuation (see GEOS Search and Rescue (SPOT) ). This, of course, involves an extra charge.

In the "Tracking mode", a tracking message is sent every 10 minutes for 24 hours. With this, the users position is plotted on a Google Map that can be accessed via the web by anyone with the shared web address. (The following is a track of our afternoon sail this past Monday SPOT Shared Page ).

Following our daughter's trip, we loaned our SPOT to some friends that were bringing their Island Packet 38 from Nevis to the Tampa Bay area and we were able to follow their track for 10 days. When they arrived in the Tampa Bay area, I was able to follow their track from our boat well enough that I walked out to the breakwater to watch them as they sailed passed our yacht club at 10:00 PM two daze before Thanksgiving and was able to drive down to Twin Dolphins Marina to greet them as they arrived there (and split a nice bottle of wine!).

With the correct batteries, the SPOT operates for two weeks or better, 24/7.

There is a lot to recommend the SPOT as an adjunct to an GPIRB but it is not a substitute for one, and its cost for yearly service subscriptions, is substantially more than the cost of an GPIRB or PLB over the battery lives of those units.

FWIW...

s/v HyLyte

"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."

Last edited by svHyLyte; 05-27-2009 at 09:05 PM. Reason: Correct typo!
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post #26 of 27 Old 05-27-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Brak—

From the SPOT user's guide:

So, I'm not quite sure how the SPOT operated for THREE DAYS IN A ROW, without user intervention. Yes, the manual states that the SPOT will run in SPOTcasting mode for 14 days, but you still need to activate SPOTcasting mode every 24 hours for it to work.
I didn't say there was no "user intervention". I pressed the "ok" button occasionally to restart tracking (in fact, since I wasn't sure when it will stop sending, I just cycle spot on and off once or twice a day, and restart tracking).

However, it was in "tracking" mode all the time (except for whenever I was pushing buttons, I guess )
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post #27 of 27 Old 05-28-2009
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We also love our SPOT. We've been using it since we left Lake Champlain in October and are now in the Bahamas. Our family loves to know we're OK, and we turn on tracking for every hop we do so our blog followers can watch along. You can see our last hop here... SPOT Shared Page

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