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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-16-2010
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Saw this at Costco: Cheap MOB Device?

$60 for a small GPS (and digital compass) that looks like a stopwatch. The idea is that you press a button and then it will give you an arrow and distance back to the spot where you pushed the button. Apparently it is designed for idiots who never know where they parked their car and the like, but I thought it could make a really easy/cheap man overboard device.

Splash! Push button. Sail towards arrow in the fog and retrieve comrade. It even gives you distance so you can slow down and not drive over them at 7 knots and turn the into a shark-snack.

My reservations about the device are:
1: The website says "weather resistant". That means nothing to me except that it probably doesn't like weather. Especially the weather in which someone generally goes overboard. Judging by its shape it could be put in a small waterproof bag and still operated though.

2: The more serious concern I have is how fast does it start up and acquire satellites. It doesn't seem to have the battery life to leave on for ever (20hrs) though I guess that is probably 3-5 days of coastal sailing. I would think that you'd probably have the device off and turn it on when you heard the splash. If it takes as long as some GPSs to boot up and find sats the person might be a long way away from your waypoint.

Other than that, I think it could be really handy to have one of these in the cockpit. What do y'all think?
Bushnell - Backtrack

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Old 05-16-2010
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Better to aim a bit downwind of where the arrow is pointing.
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Old 05-16-2010
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It would have to already be on to work as a MOB device. I would think you could just get a handheld GPS and a car charger for not much more if you go simple. Or one with a basic chart used for less than this thing.

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Old 05-16-2010
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Old 05-16-2010
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if it is like a lot of "runners" electronics, depending on your location and satellite view they can take several minutes to "find" themselves...

Not so good in a MOB situation...
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Old 05-16-2010
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You would have to keep it always on to have GPS acquisition ready. I suppose if you can keep batteries fresh - it may work.

Many GPS units (handheld and, particularly, stationary) have an MOB button that will add an MOB waypoint and set a route back to that waypoint so you can see where the vessel should be going.

Still, a basic "go this way" device is a cool idea - simple is always good in situation where tension is already high.
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Old 05-16-2010
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The two problems with it are the battery life and not being waterproof as others have mentioned. Seems like a great device for hiking or something though (if you need it to find your car maybe you should just stay home?). I'd put the money into a handheld (that can be plugged into a 12v outlet at the helm) or fixed chartplotter with the MOB function, then you have the benefit of charting as well.
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I find that my GPS (Garmin eTrex or something) acquires satellites comparatively quickly if it is turned off and then turned on again right away. If you keep some spare batteries around on a charger, I think you could probably keep the thing running more or less continuously (maybe have crew swap their batteries out when they go on watch).
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Old 05-16-2010
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Might just work Medsailor....but Im with Jrd22...get the real deal then you know it will...as someones life is depending on it....whats that worth?..
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Old 05-16-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brak View Post
You would have to keep it always on to have GPS acquisition ready. I suppose if you can keep batteries fresh - it may work.

Many GPS units (handheld and, particularly, stationary) have an MOB button that will add an MOB waypoint and set a route back to that waypoint so you can see where the vessel should be going.

Still, a basic "go this way" device is a cool idea - simple is always good in situation where tension is already high.

This is kind of my thinking. Without playing with it I assume booting it up will take a while and there is always the obligatory button to accept liability that will need to be pressed. If it boots up and acquires instantly, then great, but I was figuring on having it on all the time. 20hrs per battery set isn't too bad. A set of rechargeable batteries and a solar charger wouldn't go astray...

I am aware of the MOB function on some handhelds. I don't own one, and haven't seen how easy they are to use, but I would doubt they are as easy to use as this device which appears to be marketed directly towards idiots.

The advantage of this device that I can see is the ease of operation by any crew member in a panic situation. Can you wife, or friend you just took out for a daysail use your handheld GPS and MOB function? It seems like an intro to this device could be part of the short sermonette on safety and head operation that guests get when they come aboard. Wish it was waterproof though...

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