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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I like to post this reminder periodically as new folks are always coming on board. In many of the locations you wheel, you will not have cell signal to call someone if something goes wrong. Spot is a satellite device that will work even where cell doesnt. It tracks gps coordinates. You can also press a button to send messages. An "I am ok just late" message, or a "Stuck or brokedown but not in danger, please send help" - all the way up to a button which automatically signals a 911 line and will go directly to the sheriff/forest service etc to bring out the big rescue rigs and helicopters or medical artillery. It also sends an automated notice if the device itself is physically moved - ie a sign someone had to abandon the vehicle and set out on foot (the Spot will continue tracking even on foot).

It is also a little peace of mind for those at home - they can follow along and see where you are at from a mobile device or computer. My boyfriend went out on a run last nite and switched on the device. This is what I was able to see from home. It takes a second to load the satellite imagery, and you can pinch to zoom (or +/-) and see great detail and exact gps coordinates.

SPOT Shared Page
 

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Cool idea, but the sub price is too high.
 

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I use a similar device called inReach made by DeLorme. It's similar to the SPOT devices, with an oh sh*t button and online GPS breadcrumbs. Two additional things I appreciate about inReach is that it allows me to send and receive SMS messages via Satellite (it connects to my smartphone via bluetooth) and I can adjust the subscription plan seasonally so that I only pay for it in the months I am planning to use it. Latency is significant, 5 to 15 minutes per SMS, but it works very reliably. I have the old model without a screen, the newer ones combine the above functions with traditional hand held GPS functions. They aren't particularly cheap, but in the event that I actually need a rescue, it becomes priceless.
 

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I've heard both good and not-so-good stories about using Spot device, but the main deal breaker for me was a subscription fee.

I ended up with the ACR ResQLink 406:

I has much more powerful transmitter than Spot (5w vs 0.4w), uses both 406 MHz satellite signal and 121.5 MHz ground homing signal and works with international COSPAS/SARSAT search and rescue network.
You have to register it in NOAA and it is free of any kind of subscription fees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There are a number of devices - I hope folks play it safe and at least consider one of them. It could save your life-or someone else's.
 

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Just remember the 406mhz PLBs are not messaging gadgets like the spot and inReach! They are strictly an emergency distress beacon. Each unit is addressable and has your information in the system. They operate on the military's SARSAT system. It will send your ID and GPS location to the satellites, which they can also verify by triangulation. They also have a 121.5 ELT beacon for land and air radio direction finding. It doesn't text your wife or go to a corporate call center who calls the police. It goes to the MCC in Maryland and is relayed to the Air Force RCC. They will try to contact you by phone and check with your listed contacts to see if it was an accident. Absent very fast confirmation that it was accidental, they will be sending the calvary for you by land and air. It is not a toy. This is what is mounted in the back of a plane to go off in a crash, replacing the old 121.5 ELTs.
 

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I pay $50/month for a Inmarsat satellite phone. Includes like 10 minutes of "free" use a month and then $1 in North America after that. $2 or $2.50 overseas. Two year contract with the phone included. Haven't used it yet save for set up and messing around (calling the home phone and seeing how long it takes to bounce a signal to a satellite, to a ground station and back through the copper lines to the phone in my kitchen lol). I bought it primarily because I travel often for work and if there is ever a disaster the first thing to go down is the cell networks due to overload.
 
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