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SPOT Satellite Personal Messenger

Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
The first of my holiday presents to myself arrived (or rather, was picked up) this evening at my local REI.(Houston, Willowbrook)

spot.jpg


This little gadget has gotten a fair amount of notice in the motorcycle touring world. I've been scouring the net for reviews ever since it came out in the beginning of November.

From the manufacturer:

"SPOT. The World’s First Satellite Messenger.
With the SPOT Satellite Messenger, you and your loved one have peace of mind knowing help is always within reach. SPOT is the only device of its kind, using the GPS satellite network to acquire its coordinates, and then sending its location – with a link to Google Maps™ – and a pre-programmed message via a commercial satellite network. And unlike Personal Locator Beacons, SPOT does more than just call for help. Tracking your progress, checking in with loved ones, and non-emergency assistance are also available, all at the push of a button. And because it uses 100% satellite technology, SPOT works around the world – even where cell phones don't."


As a solo tourer, I know that my family worries about me all the time when I'm thousands of miles from home in the middle of nowhere. While cell coverage in the sticks improves every year, I still often find myself in places with no signal.

Because it uses a satellite network, the SPOT works where cell phones don't. With the press of a button, I can automagically notify my family and closest friends not only that I'm ok, but my exact coordinates.

Another button lets them know that I need help. Yet another button (to be pressed only in emergencies) calls 911, summoning Search and Rescue to my exact location.

SPOT also has a tracking function. When I enable it, people that I've given login information to can watch my progress on a map updated every 10 minutes.

Conventional PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) are more powerful and hardened, but basically exist just for emergencies. They can cost $500 and up. Satellite phones are also expensive and make no sense for me to carry around for day to day use.

The SPOTs extra communication features and economical entry cost ($149.95 +tax for the unit, ~$150/year for service) are an acceptable trade-off for beacon power to me. SPOT is waterproof.

The packaging was attractive, lithium batteries were included, and online account set up was super easy. I set the unit outside on my patio in clear view of the sky and pressed the "I'm OK" button. A few minutes later I had an email in my inbox with a link to my coordinates in Google Maps.

I'll do more extensive testing of the non-emergency features this month and report back with a more comprehensive review.

So far, I'm happy. Now, off to educate my parents and boyfriend....
 

Gilk51

2
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Jan 14, 2005
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Arlington, Texas
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Charles ("Chuck")
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Gibke
Interesting. I assume that you can set up what email addresses are used.

Looks like a reasonable investment for the way you will be using it.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Interesting. I assume that you can set up what email addresses are used.

Looks like a reasonable investment for the way you will be using it.
Yup. You can set up two different groups... One for the "I'm OK" message, and another group for the "Help!" message.

Also, you have the option of doing both email addys and phone numbers (which get sent a text message).
All set up is done through an online account.

I can see myself using this with tracking enabled on every ride... If I disappear, at least my family would be able to login and see my last known location.

On a tour, I'd probably check-in in the morning when I leave my hotel, midday at lunch, and then at night when I'm safe in lodging.

My boyfriend is an ex-LEO and a non-rider. He gets VERY worried. I think this will help give him a little peace of mind when I'm out riding.
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 29, 2003
Messages
1,639
Location
Dallas, TX
First Name
Charlie
Definitely looks interesting. I just picked up a Star-Traxx L series recently (old school technology compared to the SPOT), so I'll be interested to compare notes in Alpine later.
 

Squeaky

2
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Katy
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Nelson
If I'd known how reasonably priced this was, I'd have asked Santa for it. I think it's too late now...

(Santa likes to keep tabs on me when I'm out riding)
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2004
Messages
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Hippo town
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Daryl
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Tschoepe
Yup. You can set up two different groups... One for the "I'm OK" message, and another group for the "Help!" message.

Also, you have the option of doing both email addys and phone numbers (which get sent a text message).
All set up is done through an online account.

I can see myself using this with tracking enabled on every ride... If I disappear, at least my family would be able to login and see my last known location.

On a tour, I'd probably check-in in the morning when I leave my hotel, midday at lunch, and then at night when I'm safe in lodging.

My boyfriend is an ex-LEO and a non-rider. He gets VERY worried. I think this will help give him a little peace of mind when I'm out riding.
Pretty cool. Simplify Homeland Security's job as well! ;-)
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2003
Messages
1,361
Location
7600 feet up
Neat gadget. If I was doing a lot of cycle touring I'd probably get one too!

You'll need to do a long bike trip this summer and send us a daily "I am HERE!" link so we can track your progress from TWT!
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
876
Location
Frydek, Texas
I took my spot out for a ride last Saturday .
With analog cell service going away in the future this enables my wife to see where I have been.
I am also using it to record locations that I want to visit again , keeps my GPS from filling up with way-points.
I got mine from mountain technical
$20 off and free shipping.
 
R

Red Brown

Great multipurpose tool...can also be attached to my daughters car so I can see the route she takes to school :)

BTW, I saw the coverage map and the grey area is a non-reception zone. I thought the GPS technology is available on all points of the earth. The no-service area is near the mouth of the Amazon and bottom half of Africa. I guess they are referring to the non-GPS aspect of the device i.e. relaying the location to Google Maps.



SEYA

RB
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
13,855
Location
Arlington, TX
First Name
Bill
It's kind of neat, but not for me. I like the whole "adventure" part of the ride, but maybe that's why I don't plan routes, or even know where I'm going most of the time. I usually have a general direction like "Utah" or something, but that's about as detailed as it gets with me.... lol
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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Huntsville
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Friday
It's kind of neat, but not for me. I like the whole "adventure" part of the ride, but maybe that's why I don't plan routes, or even know where I'm going most of the time. I usually have a general direction like "Utah" or something, but that's about as detailed as it gets with me.... lol
And that is the benefit of being a single guy that no one cares about losing... :lol2:











j/k ;-) For me, the big draw would simply being able to summon help in a life threatening situation. As much as I like adventure, I do want to come back alive so I can share my pics with you guys :trust:
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
876
Location
Frydek, Texas
I have ridden locations where there is no cell phone coverage, short of carrying a satellite phone the spot is my connection to the real world.
I guess it all depends on what a person calls adventure.
Laying on the side of the seldom traveled road, alone with a broke arm and your cell phone shows no service.
You hope someone comes along that can help you or can summon help. I myself do not want to depend on others to get me out my self induced trouble.
No smoke signs for me.
I will be prepared.
As far as it being a leash I have been on one every since I said I do 24 years ago.
.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
891
Location
Central Texas
Thanks Becca.

This is a gotta have for me too. In addition to lone riders, it would be great for any senior living alone out in the boonies. It much better than 911 cell because of the coordinates aspect.

It would be neat if it had a rip cord that attached to the bike and would send an emergency signal in the event of a spill where the rider was thrown clear of the bike and severely hurt. For this to work there would have to be an alert cancel procedure built into the device for those times when the rider was OK.

I like to ride the 3's in Leakey by myself, but there is always a chance of an accident and nobody around to offer help. There are many areas out there where cells are dead.

Where can you buy these things?

Becca you did good.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
REI and Cabela's carries them. You might want to call before going to the store to make sure they're in stock.

There are several places to buy them online, including from the manufacturer. LDdave mentioned an online place that sounds like a good deal.

I've seen lots of people talk about carrying them in jacket pockets, so if you're separated from your bike, it's still accessible. Of course then you always have the worry of breaking a rib on it during a crash.

Another option is inside a tank bag or non-metal hard luggage.

I'm not sure where I'm going to be carrying it yet, although I'm leaning toward jacket pocket.
 
Last edited:

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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:tab It would be cool if they worked like the ones on the Dakar bikes. These sense sudden deceleration. That sends a signal to the race coordinators. They then have the ability to talk to the rider through the system. Apparently, the speakers are LOUD so that the rider can even hear them if separated form the bike. When activated, the rider does not have to push any buttons to speak. He can yell from his location if he is immobilized. If there is no response from the rider, or another rider on scene, then rescue is dispatched to investigate. I guess it would be kind of like On-Star for bikes.

:tab While it is true that carrying it in a pocket might result in some broken ribs, it is equally true that the unit itself might be severely damaged in a slide or tumble. Also, unless the pockets zip close, I would not put much faith in the unit staying inside an exterior pocket in a get off.

:tab It is really cool to see technologies like this coming down to the price range where they are more readily accessible to the average person.
 
M

Mike in Clear Lake

Great multipurpose tool...can also be attached to my daughters car so I can see the route she takes to school :)

BTW, I saw the coverage map and the grey area is a non-reception zone. I thought the GPS technology is available on all points of the earth. The no-service area is near the mouth of the Amazon and bottom half of Africa. I guess they are referring to the non-GPS aspect of the device i.e. relaying the location to Google Maps.



SEYA

RB
I see they DON'T cover the one part of the world where I could really use this thing (non-riding) the most. Too bad for me.

Mike
 

Squeaky

2
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Mar 6, 2004
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Katy
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Rebecca
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Hardy, if you get that and the 800Gs around the same time, I'm sure a "learning session" can be worked out with a trade for a ride... :trust:
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2003
Messages
742
Location
Plano
I just picked one up last night at REI in Plano. Like it so far but I don't quite understand some of their statements about the Tracking service and allowing others see that information. They state that you can let friends and family login and see your tracks. But, it appears to me you are letting them login with your login ID and not only will they see the map but then they also have access to your account information including your credit card info. Also, they would have the chance to change your password or your message text. I'm not too keen on that!! Do they allow you to create child accounts so that others can login and "only" see your tracking info?

.
.
.
 

Squeaky

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Katy
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According to RB, that's coming (hopefully soon) since it's been the biggest complaint so far. As of now, she only gives the logon info to VERY close family & the SO.

We are hoping to test out the tracking this weekend if our plan to go for BBQ in Llano becomes a reality.
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
876
Location
Frydek, Texas
Used my spot the other day, It worked find in the saddlebag on the ST1100.
There is a thread on Adventure Rider with one of the spot folks commenting on some of the features and what is available in the future.
I made up a email account that I will use only for spot, with the reporting of I am OK so if others want to see where I am without filling up their e mail accounts.
Not quite as good as the 10 minute tracking but it will do for now.
 
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