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Re: Spot Me questions
George #31168 05/01/13 04:32 PM
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Does anyone have experience with the SPOT 2 in Africa? Specifically in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia?

Re: Spot Me questions
tdtz #31184 05/01/13 10:12 PM
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I don't think there is any coverage there. Here's the current SPOT coverage map from their web site:

coverage map

I am sure the satellites are flying all over the world. But in order for the mobile units to work, the satellite overhead needs to relay signals and data back to the ground. I am guessing that those countries don't have any receiver facilities for the satellites to use.

Re: Spot Me questions
Steve C #31187 05/01/13 10:33 PM
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it does look like I have picked the three countries least likely to have spot coverage.

Re: Spot Me questions
tdtz #31217 05/03/13 05:39 PM
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Check the Delorme InReach. It uses the Iridium satellite network and claims 100% global coverage. They're comparably priced to the SPOT and, when paired with an iOS or Android phone will do two way text. As a standalone, it'll do three pre-programmed messages and emergency activation. A new model will do two way text without the need for pairing.

George


None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.
Re: Spot Me questions
George #31236 05/05/13 11:58 AM
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it turns out that my africa trip got postponed for a month or two, so I have time to go check out the delorme InReach. Thanks for the tip.

Re: Spot Me questions
tdtz #31241 05/05/13 11:57 PM
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I used my SPOT II today in Yosemite. It stopped working at the top of Vernal Falls, when I was at the base of the steep cliffs. It did not resume until 3 hours later on the drive home. I noticed a red light blinking when I was on the Valley floor.

Next time, I'll shut it off and restart it -- maybe that will get it working sooner.

Re: Spot Me questions
Steve C #31243 05/06/13 12:27 AM
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I had a SPOT for a very short period of time. I found that the unreliability of the device caused more angst than help (read: "It stopped tracking! Did she fall off a cliff??!!) After one particularly malfunction-caused hysteria spat, I threw the #$%^%$!! thing in the garbage. Yup -- I threw it in the garbage without removing the battery, disabling it, cancelling it....dumb$T that I can bee in a fit of anger.

Six months pass.

One morning, I receive a bunch of hysterical calls from the same folks who drove me to trash the SPOT, only THIS time, it was sending out mayday texts. Now for certain, I had surely fallen or jumped off a cliff, and the SPOT was confirming it AND getting me back for trashing it. We all surmised (after the hysteria died down) that the device was being crushed in a landfill, and the messages were the last gasp attempt to save us both. It could have been worse; at least it did not call 911.

I have since gone back to leaving plans, maps, return times, etc -- much more reliable.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Spot Me questions
Bee #31244 05/06/13 09:27 AM
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That's a funny story, Bee. If there had been a findmespot page set up, you could have viewed its location online. Would have been fun to see where it was calling from.

I'm making another run to Yosemite on Friday, so will pay attention to blinking red lights to see where and when it does that.

SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
Steve C #32919 08/25/13 02:46 PM
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An update to people looking for SPOT information...

Several people have reported that their SPOT signals have not been transmitted to their Spot Shared page, so friends and family have not been receiving any signals.

I have a JMT hiker friend, whose last signal appeared Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 11:03:33 AM (Pacific Daylight Time). No more signals have been received, until a single Check-In signal on Sunday, Aug 25, at 11:41 AM. (and no others in the past 3 hours). He's probably out there hiking and not realizing no signal is being received.

Another hiker reported (here) that no signal got out Friday or Saturday.

Calling Inyo N.F. rangers, I learned that they had heard from others reporting no Spot signal.

I'll be calling SPOT customer service when they open Monday morning to find out what I can.

Update, 8/25@15:20 I see a Track message from my unit at 14:48. Also at 14:51, a track signal from my JMT hiker friend.
Update, 8/25@15:53 It appears things are working again. My shared page is receiving signals from my unit, and our JMT hikers SPOT has sent 3 Tracking signals in the last 30 minutes, showing he is moving along in the Vidette Meadow area.

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
Steve C #32920 08/25/13 02:50 PM
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that would explain why we have not heard from friends that started on the JMT on 8/22. Their last transmission was Thursday. Thanks, Steve, for following up on this.


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. John Muir
Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
Steve C #32922 08/25/13 03:40 PM
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Thanks for the info! Please pass on what you hear from Spot tomorrow. I think I will be calling as well. Interesting to know that others are having issues as well.

If it's not obvious - I'm the other hiker that mentioned issues with spot. =)

None of my check in's or my tracking from yesterday showed up on my account page, let alone my shared page, or the emails/texts that should have gone out with my check ins. It's as if I never pushed any buttons while I was out on the trail (5 check ins on Friday, and tracking + 3 check ins on Saturday). I was able to get a 'test' message out yesterday evening from home, but haven't tried again since...

ETA: I was also able to get a test message out Thursday night before I left - So I had a similar 'black out' period to some other folks it seems.

Last edited by tif; 08/25/13 03:43 PM.
Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
tif #32924 08/25/13 04:10 PM
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My DELORME "InReach" is working fine (uses Iridium Sat system). Could be a problem with the Satelite system Spot uses.

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
John Sims #32925 08/25/13 04:13 PM
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That's what I was thinking... something up with the satellite system.

Randomly - the Garmin GPS watch I was wearing lost satellite signal 2 times yesterday on my way down the main trail. My husband has never had an issue with it in the ~8 months he's had it. Probably just coincidence, but who knows.

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
tif #32926 08/25/13 05:02 PM
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We also have not heard from a hiker who was on the JMT.

Last findmespot report was from Lake Marjorie on Thursday.

He is a very experienced (if not older) JMT hiker, but the lack of a findmespot report had us worried. We also contacted the local ranger station / sheriff and they also suspected findmespot had issues.

Sounds like a syntax error by findmespot. You would think they were sophisticated enough to notify people instead of causing panic.

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
alterboy1975 #32932 08/25/13 07:05 PM
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we finally heard from our hikers via SPOT today at 5pm. They are at 1000 Island Lake.


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. John Muir
Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
alterboy1975 #32933 08/25/13 07:06 PM
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I have contacted Brad Horton, the So Cal Spot rep, and talked with him on the phone. He's checking into the problem, I hope to hear back from him Monday.

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
Steve C #32934 08/25/13 07:24 PM
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Thanks! I'm anxious to find out what happened. (and so are the people who were worried about me on my solo hike the past two days...)

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
tif #32945 08/26/13 11:30 AM
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I just got off the phone with Spot customer support and there was a server crash that caused the issues. The good thing to know is that any SOS activations go straight to law enforcement/ SAR and not through their servers - so emergency rescues would have been summoned if needed. It was only tracking and check-in/custom messages that were affected.

I asked if they could please post something publicly to let folks know about the issue since there are a lot of people 'home' watching folks out in the field and thinking there are issues when it was Spot's server crash that is causing messages to not get through.

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
tif #32948 08/26/13 03:11 PM
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tif, thanks for passing that along. I heard from Brad Horton ("hortuna" here) from SPOT, and he related that it was a software upgrade gone bad -- the upgrade failed, and the system was dead for two days.

My understanding is that it was the link between the satellite receiver system on the ground, and the web service that updates SPOT Shared pages (and that also sends email/cell phone messages) that failed.

A different system takes the 911/SOS calls and transmits to SAR people, so at least that was not down. In fact Brad said there were several rescues in operation in N.America over the weekend based on the SPOT signals, during the time the website link was down.

> I asked if they could please post something publicly to let folks know about the issue since there are a lot of people 'home' watching folks out in the field and thinking there are issues when it was Spot's server crash that is causing messages to not get through.

That is a very good suggestion, and I think my contact also brought that up within the company. It would be good if the FindMeSpot website AND their weekend customer support phone message (saying they are closed) would have an updated message. They definitely need to make the "System is down" information available.

Re: SPOT Satellite Messenger Problems
Steve C #32949 08/26/13 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C
tif, thanks for passing that along. I heard from Brad Horton ("hortuna" here) from SPOT, and he related that it was a software upgrade gone bad -- the upgrade failed, and the system was dead for two days.

My understanding is that it was the link between the satellite receiver system on the ground, and the web service that updates SPOT Shared pages (and that also sends email/cell phone messages) that failed.

A different system takes the 911/SOS calls and transmits to SAR people, so at least that was not down. In fact Brad said there were several rescues in operation in N.America over the weekend based on the SPOT signals, during the time the website link was down.

> I asked if they could please post something publicly to let folks know about the issue since there are a lot of people 'home' watching folks out in the field and thinking there are issues when it was Spot's server crash that is causing messages to not get through.

That is a very good suggestion, and I think my contact also brought that up within the company. It would be good if the FindMeSpot website AND their weekend customer support phone message (saying they are closed) would have an updated message. They definitely need to make the "System is down" information available.


Unfortunately they still haven't posted anything publicly on their main site, facebook, or twitter. They didn't even respond to questions folks posted on their FB page about tracks/check-ins not coming through, and the worry it was causing. (One woman was asking who to call since she hasn't gotten a check in in 2 days).

I'm guessing they don't want the bad press, especially with a new product launching right now. They absolutely need to make a system down notification so people watching/waiting for tracks or check in's don't panic. That panic could lead to hundreds of false missing persons/SAR reports being filed and lots of resources being wasted and/or misdirected.

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