The SPOT has worked well for me since I bought it last winter, very handy tool... especially when in places like this alone.
I found it works best when the logo is facing straight up, in a top box or tank bag. It has no problem sending through plastic or fabric.
Here's a partial SPOT track from a recent trip of mine, I didn't save it before it overlapped after 30 days....
So far - It's been fun - but I haven't been far enough back in the boonies to feel I have to rely on it. I've noticed that in tracking mode it is rather sensitive to any overhead obstructions such as trees. This is a downside to it in the NorthEast where the more interesting roads normally have a canopy of trees over them.
I found the registration process simple and painless - but the user web interface could use a few more options (that I'll comment on in the article..)
Good thing overall, strangely my wife had no interest in it at all.. wonder what that means?
I have been thinking about getting a Spot. Crunching the numbers, this is what it would cost getting the unit from Amazon:
Unit - $132
Basic satellite service subscription - $99.99 USD/yr
Tracking Upgrade Option - $49.99/yr USD
GEOS Search & Rescue Benefit - $7.95/yr
Total = 289.93
I was poking around ADVRider and saw this:
About fireeagle: For those don't have a Spot yet but have been thinking of it (as I have), now is the time for many of you. If you sign up with the fire eagle service (at fireeagle.yahoo.com) and visit their applications page, Spot is listed there of course. If you don't HAVE a Spot, you can get one at a discount. 150 bucks including two-day shipping. And you get a year of service free, including the 10 minute tracking dealie.
I jumped on the offer this morning after seeing it posted in Equipment forum. It's only going to be good through mid-September, and I decided not to wait. Now I just hope I don't have to deal with customer service at all.
Using this would bring the cost down to $157.95, a savings of $131.98...wow!
Pleasant Hill, CA
1971 R75/5 SWB, 2000 R1100R
BMWMOA, Central Cal, IBA, MFS Ridercoach, ECV.
I've spent the last week (thanks to ADVRider) researching the differences between SPOT's 911 feature and a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon). I came across tons of info...enough to steer me clear of the SPOT if Search & Rescue is of prime importance. When it comes to SAR, sort of good doesn't cut it in my books.
Thats after speaking to people at SPOT and Cospas-Sarsat.
The trouble with SPOT and GEOS as far as SAR is concerned is that they are privately run and contract out. Do you really want that type of reliability when it comes to your life?
So in other words you've read a 60 page thread on ADV for "a week", have no first-hand experience, yet you want to come in hear and declare the SPOT as being unfit for life and death situations... along with not listing any alternative product - in that price range.
I've been following the SPOT thread on ADV too, except I've been following and posting on it with first hand experience as a SPOT owner since the day they came out. At no time have I felt like I would be putting myself in danger by carrying a SPOT.
Not everyone can afford a PLB, plus I really like the tracking and OK message feature. While there are limitations, it's my opinion that having a SPOT is better than not having anything at all to call for help, and from my extensive first-hand experience I do trust the SPOT to summons help if needed from the very good track record I've seen with the tracking and OK messaging when used correctly.
I'm not going to be irresponsible and come in here and declare the SPOT the best tool for all 911 type emergencies for everyone, as you shouldn't do the same saying it's not- with second hand information. Do you believe everything you read on the web??
Being "The Global Rider" some people might actually listen to your opinion and not buy one, then not have it for an emergency when they need it, all because you read some intranet forums... I'd say educating people with your extensive knowledge about SPOT's possible limitations (something you must know with all your "research" to form such a absolute opinion), or maybe teaching others proper usage for best results would be more productive than just giving your negative opinion about a product that actually could save someone's life.
If any of you want to read this very extensive thread, with many postings by the SPOT engineers themselves, and become experts on the SPOT too, or maybe to decide for yourself if it's worth a measly $150 here ya' go....
This is just my little opinion, and it's worth exactly how much you paid for it.
BTW, when in 911 sending mode the SPOT sends messages every 5 minutes until it is turned off, not for an hour as you quoted...
Once activated, SPOT will acquire its exact coordinates from the GPS network, and send that location along with a distress message to a GEOS International Emergency Response Center every five minutes until cancelled. The Emergency Response Center notifies the appropriate emergency responders based on your location and personal information – which may include local police, highway patrol, the Coast Guard, our country’s embassy or consulate, or other emergency response or search and rescue teams – as well as notifying your emergency contact person(s) about the receipt of a distress signal.
But I'll tell you what I did find out.
I'm talking solely about the 911 feature.
When it comes to Search & Rescue, there is nothing half way about it; you want it to work all the time and in an emergency, every second counts. In an emergency, I wouldn't want more people in the equation relaying messages than is absolutely necessary, because that costs time.
The service provided by SPOT may or may not be around tomorrow. Do you want to head out for a week on some remote tour and find out that SPOT or Globalstar went belly up the day after you were out of communications? I wouldn't and that won't be the issue with Cospas-Sarsat as it is government run and so is the maintenance of that system. Your taxes paid for that system...use it! Profits aren't a concern with them simply because profits and saving lives don't go hand in hand.
The SPOT uses the Globalstar sat-phone network to relay information and I've read enough about them (from someone in the sat-phone business and from users) to know that I don't want to rely on Globalstar.
The SPOT doesn't even have a failsafe against accidental activation of the 911 button...serious unit that it is. I have to wonder why all the airlines, shipping and cruise companies aren't running out to buy a SPOT and why the government hasn't approved the SPOT as a SAR device...simply because they're not even remotely in the same league.
But MOA members can make their own informed decisions....
If you want a background history of the system (it was interesting reading), go to the NOAA SARSAT link below and click on Background/History at the top left.
NOAA-SARSAT is a part of the international Cospas-Sarsat Program to which 38 nations and two independent SAR organizations belong to. To find out more about SARSAT please feel free to explore our website. We hope you enjoy your visit!
A discussion of SPOT versus PLB.
BTW, I have no interests or bias towards either system as I don't own any of them yet (and neither do I have to to make an informed decision), but I do know what I'll be buying when the time comes; a Personal Locator Beacon.
You mentioned product and price range. Not really a concern when life is at stake (I'm sure you'll think that way when you're in serious trouble), but here is something in that price range; the ACR Terrafix 406 ($475) which works out to the cost of a SPOT and 3 years subscription. After that, the PLB gets cheaper and you also have a unit with one purpose in mind. BTW, there are no annual fees with a PLB and registration with the government is free.
I'd never tell them or imply that.
What I am saying is, IF the 911 feature is of PRIME importance and the PRIMARY reason YOU are buying the unit, then I'd suggest getting something designated and accepted for that purpose.
I think it very irresponsible of the company to put that level of hope in buyers. Just read all the fine print on the GEOS site. SAR and fine print don't go together.
One of the great things about the SPOT is you're not simply spending a bunch of money for that unlikely emergency event. You are getting that functionality, but you also get the "help" and "OK" buttons. My family worries about me since I tend to take long trips to remote places all alone on my bike. With those two buttons I can let them know what's going on. I've even activated tracking so friends and family can see what I'm up to and where I am.
There is an additional benefit with the tracking feature that I think makes the SPOT BETTER than some other PLB. If I have tracking on and crash and can't get to my PLB, there is a "last known location" saved that will get the rescuers close to me (really, within maybe 15 minutes of my location). With the PLB only, if I can't activate it, it's no good.
Everyone needs to weigh the good and bad of each choice and go from there. I don't think the SPOT is a bad move; especially for someone who would be riding in the US, Canada, or Mexico. If you're going to run through remote Africa or Russia, look at getting a PLB AND a SPOT - or a PLB and Sat phone.
I'm not out treking across Africa or deep in the jungles of South America. I just sometimes ride alone in less than well traveled areas (sometimes out of cell phone coverage) and like having the peace of mind of knowing there is a much better chance that someone can get help to me if I should need it; whether it is an emergency or just a breakdown (sometimes the problem does not warrant a full scale SAR effort). My wife appreciates the peace of mind she gets when she gets my OK message telling her I'm still having fun whereever I am. She can then follow along at home using the tracking map at the end of the day. For me, this is the perfect device and well worth the price of admission.
Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.
Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!
I got the SPOT so my family and friends could track me. They really enjoy it. I will be trying it out in Iceland this month, hopefully just tracking not the 911 feature! It works well at a reasonable price and gives me backup for emergency calls if my Crackberry can't find service.