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Thread: Satellite phone

  1. #1
    Registered User jagarra's Avatar
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    Satellite phone

    Sometimes when I am riding I see signs on the road that indicate no services for 150 miles. In many cases this may mean that on this route your handy cell will be of no use as "no service" will be displayed. So for riders who travel in the Western states where there are many no service areas I wonder how many are using a satellite phone, which model and plan.
    1994 R1100RS-(5/93)-,1974 R90/6 built 9/73,--1964 Triumph T100--1986 Concours

  2. #2
    FUKENGRUVEN SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    I do not have a satellite phone. I have to admit to being somewhat concerned at times when I know I'm a long way from help and have no phone coverage, but not concerned enough to get a satellite phone. I do use a SPOT tracker which allows me to ask for help from just about anywhere, and from knowing about two local examples of SPOT users being rescued from remote areas, I believe it works. SPOT also offers a service that allows a user to send a limited number of text messages over satellite; I do not recall if it allows receiving of texts. I do not have this service, but I believe it entails using a smart phone to send the text through the SPOT device. This may be a less expensive way of obtaining satellite communication ability. There are other tracking devices on the market that may offer similar or better communications. Worth pursuing.
    Kevin Huddy
    Tm Pterodactyl MT Outpost

  3. #3
    Spot or Garmin InReach. InReach is pricier but better. I'm cheap so I use Spot and the occasional prayer. I sold the SatPhone because I no longer travel THAT far out of the way and when I do, I can rent one. It was handy on a seven week solo trip through Alaska, Yukon, and NWT. Some places like Trans-Labrador the host .gov will loan you one.
    Lee A. Dickinson - Danielsville, GA USA
    MOA 80364 | RA 29650 | ABC 3480 | IBA 8914
    1992 R100RS - 1993 K1100RS - 2013 R1200GS

  4. #4
    Registered User RIDERR1150GSADV's Avatar
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    Maybe you could rent one for the time you may want one, it may be a less expensive than buying...
    I have had clients that brought them as I fished them in such remote areas in the Everglades that cell service was spotty at best. These customers ran multi billion dollar hedge funds etc..
    They tended to get very nervous if they couldn't call even hour on the hour, at least during weekdays... When the markets closed, they 'lost' the phones very quickly...
    MOA # 108516
    Current ride 2017 R1200RT White
    Past rides '04 R1150RT, '05 K1200LT, '06 R1150GSA

  5. #5
    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
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    I recall a solo trip I made in 1973, Ohio to Jasper National Park to Grand Canyon and home. After a week or so, I thought I would call home just to check in from the Icefields Parkway. Stopped at a park office for directions to a pay phone. "There are no phones in the park, but if it's an emergency we can use the shortwave radio." It's OK to be out of reach.
    Larry
    2006 R1200RT

  6. #6
    Since there is no cell coverage in much of the Texas' Big Bend where we live we got a sat-phone about ten years ago. Because the State of Texas subsidized sat-phones in cell deprived areas it was cheap - $15 per month for 300 minutes. (You just gotta love the big ranchers in the legislature.) We kept it for about a year. It worked somewhat well as a call out device. It was at best marginal on a good day at receiving calls and the voice mail feature was a joke. Sometimes they would come to the phone a week after the message was left - sometimes not at all. We had it with us on a trip to Alaska. Once into the Yukon we were too far north for reliable contact with the satellite(s) which were by then too far over the southern horizon. We even had similar trouble at Lowell, Idaho because of the sharp rise of the hillside to our south.

    Now this was ten or so years ago. Things might have changed since then. And there are more than one providers so we might have had the wrong one. As a phone for "normal" phone use it was pretty bad. As an emergency device to call for help it could have been useful provided we knew who/where/what number to call: which of course traveling by motorcycle we normally didn't and who knows where a "911" call would be routed. I do know that the adventure companies doing river trips and jeep type trips and aviation tours here in the Big Bend are equipped with sat-phones so they must have some merit in an emergency if you know who to call. But I am not sure one can be counted on when traveling to unfamiliar places. I think a Spot or similar device would be more reliable, and of course a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) would be even more reliable than that - or so I have been told.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  7. #7
    Registered User jagarra's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information. It seems the best players are either the Delorme and the Garmin for the device. They run about $280 for the low priced model and the Garmin goes for $400-450 depending on those models. Service is not too bad, $24.95 annual fees, you can go month to month as needed for $14.95 plus tax. Gives me an idea of cost and service options. I do like the availability of being able to activate as needed for 1 month at a time.

    I wonder if our roadside assistance provider can be contacted by text?
    1994 R1100RS-(5/93)-,1974 R90/6 built 9/73,--1964 Triumph T100--1986 Concours

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jagarra View Post
    Thanks for the information. It seems the best players are either the Delorme and the Garmin for the device.
    Garmin bought InReach from Delorme. The only Delorme devices are remaining stock. You might find a deal.
    Lee A. Dickinson - Danielsville, GA USA
    MOA 80364 | RA 29650 | ABC 3480 | IBA 8914
    1992 R100RS - 1993 K1100RS - 2013 R1200GS

  9. #9
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    I've had the Delorme inReach SE for just over a year now. I highly recommend it. If you're thinking this is the way you want to go...buy one now. Garmin bought Delorme and the same unit in a repackaged case is $100 more.

    I looked at the SPOT and inReach devices closely. SPOT allowed only one-way communication and there were a lot of reports of people thinking they'd sent a text out and it never was received by the other party. The Delorme inReach allows two-way texting and had a higher satisfaction rate of the communication actually getting received.

    Things may have changed by now, but at the time SPOT had annual plans, whereas the inReach had monthly plans. In the end, that comes out cheaper, even if the initial cost is higher for the inReach. I will turn off my inReach service in November and pick it back up again in April or when I do my first trip out of the area.

    The Delorme inReach SE has a nice feature. With the purchase, you get a free subscription to an app called Earthmate. With Earthmate, you can download detailed topographical maps or NOAA charts and some others. In other words, you could use this for boating as well as motorcycling and hiking. We took the inReach SE along on a hike in Idaho and was able to see not only our trail on the large screen of a smartphone, but also the track of where we were on that trail. I'm not sure if that's available on SPOT or not.

    BTW, I would not get the more expensive inReach Explorer model. The screen is too tiny to see much of where you are. Stick to the tracking of the SE model and use the Earthmate app to see where you are.

    As for roadside assistance, you can reach anyone you can text. Depending on the service plan, you can get unlimited "canned" texts that you set up on your account using a computer. Custom texts have a small minimal charge. You can also press the SOS button and that goes directly to a call center that's underground in Texas where they will send help. And of course, your exact location is known using one of these devices.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  10. #10
    Registered User jagarra's Avatar
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    Daboo,

    thanks for the info, is this software only available with the SE model. As far as a price difference, it is about $10.00 on Amazon, Cabela's has the explorer model on sale for $250.00. I haven't found out about the screen sizes between the units, may wander over to Cabela's and see if they have both models in stock, nice to be able to hold the units and check them over.

    Question about charging, will an standard Iphone charger work via the USB cable provided? If so then I can charge using a standard charger and also charge while riding if need be.
    1994 R1100RS-(5/93)-,1974 R90/6 built 9/73,--1964 Triumph T100--1986 Concours

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jagarra View Post
    Daboo,

    thanks for the info, is this software only available with the SE model. As far as a price difference, it is about $10.00 on Amazon, Cabela's has the explorer model on sale for $250.00. I haven't found out about the screen sizes between the units, may wander over to Cabela's and see if they have both models in stock, nice to be able to hold the units and check them over.

    Question about charging, will an standard Iphone charger work via the USB cable provided? If so then I can charge using a standard charger and also charge while riding if need be.
    The Earthmate software should be available for either model. If there's only a $10 difference in the two models, it doesn't make any difference which you get. There used to be about $100, and that's why I didn't think it was worth it. The device itself is about the size of the old small walkie-talkies. The screen is big enough to do what you need to do, but it isn't something I'd plan a trip on. Hence, the Earthmate software.

    As for charging, it uses a standard micro-USB cable, if I have the terminology correct. You'll find it'll run for many days though without needing to be charged. I wired in a USB outlet on my bike up front so I could charge that, my phone, etc. USB seems to be pretty standard.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  12. #12
    Go with the inreach. Wife and I use it when backcountry riding - gets service everywhere. You can send quick canned messages or more detailed messages you input from the machine's keyboard or your smartphone's better keyboard via bluetooth.

    You can email or text anyone anyplace. Does a heck of a lot for $25USD a month.

    You are out in a canyon and you get hurt - you send an emergency message via Spot - you don't know if anyone got it.

    You are out in a canyon and you get hurt - you pop off the inreach and a couple of minutes later someone messages you asking what the problem is and what help you need.

  13. #13
    Kindly curmudgeon W7lej1's Avatar
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    I'm a little late to the party but...

    Another vote for the Inreach. In addition to using the "trail of crumbs" feature for my dear wife whenever I go riding, I carry it with me whenever I go traipsing off through the woods or fields looking for critters. And the last camping trip of the season we went to a "remote" campground way up to the north end of Priest Lake, ID, where cell coverage stopped probably 15 miles back. Sent a text message to our son who was coming up later with his family to let him know where to find us. I haven't had to use the SOS feature, knock on wood, but I'm a big fan of this particular gadget.

    Marty
    Marty in Spokane Valley, WA

    '79 R65 - the rolling running project bike
    '08 R12RT - "new scoot"

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