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#37908 - 06/24/14 02:53 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: GandC]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: GandC
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
With the recent events on Whitney, my wife is encouraging me to look into one of these devices again.

I like the looks of this:

http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/inreach-explorer.php

Does anyone know, does tracking points and intervals refer to what is posted on a website, or what is recorded on the device itself?



If I read it on the website correctly, it does both. I was just doing some reading on the screen edition In Reach.

I'm very tempted to go with the In Reach, but the monthly costs are very prohibiting.



I watched the video and in it you can see a place to change the 'Log Interval.' I would assume that changes the interval at which trackpoints as saved for a gpx file.

The cost is prohibitive for me too. If I bought one, it looks like it would cost me $700 for the first year ( The Recreation Plan + the cost of the device).
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#37909 - 06/24/14 02:57 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 252
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com


The cost is prohibitive for me too. If I bought one, it looks like it would cost me $700 for the first year ( The Recreation Plan + the cost of the device).


That's about the number I came up with as well. They do have the Freedom Plan that allows you to choose what months you want it active for, but I don't see that saving me a whole lot of money since I hike year round.
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One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#37910 - 06/24/14 03:03 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: GandC]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: GandC
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com


The cost is prohibitive for me too. If I bought one, it looks like it would cost me $700 for the first year ( The Recreation Plan + the cost of the device).


That's about the number I came up with as well. They do have the Freedom Plan that allows you to choose what months you want it active for, but I don't see that saving me a whole lot of money since I hike year round.


I came up with $615 for 6 months.
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#37913 - 06/24/14 03:58 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 551
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Originally Posted By: GandC
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com


The cost is prohibitive for me too. If I bought one, it looks like it would cost me $700 for the first year ( The Recreation Plan + the cost of the device).


That's about the number I came up with as well. They do have the Freedom Plan that allows you to choose what months you want it active for, but I don't see that saving me a whole lot of money since I hike year round.


I came up with $615 for 6 months.


I have an older model InReach, but the plan costs are the same. I use the "saftey" plan, so it is only $11.95/month. I could switch to the freedom plan for $14.95/month, but that will not save me any money if I am using it every month. Total plan costs per year for Safety Plan:
- Activation costs: $19.95
- Monthly costs: $11.95/month or $143.40/year
Total first years cost: $163.35 Plus "overage charges"
Since I have been on this plan for a couple of years my annual cost for the plan is $143.40/year.
Cost of equipment: $299.95 list. I bought my older unit from REI on sale for $50.00 off, plus 10% REI rebate. If you buy at full list from REI your cost is 10% less, or $269.96.
So, total first years cost (not including overages):
Activation: 19.95
Monthly cost: 11.95 or $143.40
Equipment cost: $269.96 (plus tax)
Total cost for first year: $433.30
There after annual cost is: $143.40

Overage costs: They do not need to be excessive, because:
- Pre-programmed messages are free. Send as many as you wish - no charge. Limitation is only 3 predefined messages. For example: Starting hike, All is OK, Finished Hike. Really, you do not need anymore, but you have the option to send custom messages as you like for the cost of: $.50 each. This is a bit understated because if you send it to three people you will be charged for 3 messages (could be 4 since you will also want to send it to to your map for others to see). Also, if you allow it, others can send you messages, which will also cost $.50 each. so you overage costs are primarily determined by your own usage. The tracking points cost $.10 each, but I set mine to drop a crumb every 30 minutes, so a long hike (10 hours) will only cost $2.00. Not too bad IMO.

Messages work best when used in conjunction with a smart phone. Better keyboard, better/bigger display, etc.....

In answer to the question about the map: You will have a web address for "Your" map. Pass out the address to anyone you like, and they can track your progress (provided they have access to the web). No charge.

While the first year's cost may seem high, thereafter it does not seem prohibitive to me.

One disclaimer: Since I own an older model, I am not "positive" as to the operation of the SE model, but I "think" is know how it works. The Earthlink app on your smart phone also give you access to fairly good maps at no charge. For more information the REI web site is actually fairly good: http://www.rei.com/product/857610/delorme-inreach-se-2-way-satellite-communicator

One other important difference between the InReach and the SPOT: The InReach tells you if the message has been sent, or not. It does need to find a Satellite, so it may take a few minutes for the message to be sent, but when it is sent you will know it. No ambiguity.






Edited by John Sims (06/24/14 05:35 PM)
Edit Reason: Add comment on message sent status

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#37920 - 06/24/14 04:51 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7910
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Steve Chamberlin
Personally I don't carry any of these devices. My one experience using a SPOT mirrored Krishna's. On the JMT I had agreed to send an OK message every evening when I made camp. Several times the SPOT message didn't get though, making my family much more worried than if I hadn't carried the SPOT in the first place. When I later aborted my trip on day 15, I pressed the HELP (not SOS) button, which I had previously agreed with a friend would be my way of signaling an early exit. But my mother didn't know this, and when she started receiving emails every 5 minutes that said "HELP!" in all caps, she panicked and called the forest service, sheriff, and everyone else she could think of. It took me almost 24 hours to reach a phone, during which time she was worried sick. The experience convinced me that in some cases, poor communication is worse than no communication.

As I understand it, the advantage of a PLB is that when it comes to the all-important task of summoning an emergency team to save your life, it's far more likely to succeed than a SPOT or InReach. It uses a different, reportedly more reliable satellite network (COSPAS/SARSAT rather than Iridium or Globalstar), transmits to satellites with much stronger radio power (5 watts vs 1.6W on the InReach and 0.4W on the SPOT), and also emits a local area homing beacon at 121.5MHz in addition to the satellite signal. The ResQLink PLB even has a strobe light, weighs less than both InReach and SPOT, and costs less over 2-3 years when you factor in the subscription costs of the other two. Unless I'm missing something, the choice between these three seems like a no-brainer as the PLB is clearly best, unless you value messaging more highly than getting rescued in an emergency.

Steve: It takes some care to set up the Spot so people like your mom won't get the wrong ideas. On mine, I changed the help message to something that says "I am NOT asking for help, it is just a custom message." Spot has a custom message that can be pre-programmed, and it can be set to mean something too. I do NOT have spot send emails to people, except maybe one person. Your experience shows why.

Second, SPOT should be used more frequently during the day. Lithium batteries are NOT that expensive, and they last for nearly two weeks if you use the tracking mode. My son used mine like you, sending one message occasionally, and his experience was the same: he turned it on, sent a signal and turned it off. The units need to be left running AT LEAST 30 minutes to ensure a signal reaches a satellite. If there are any obstructions like high canyon walls, or trees in a forest, then leaving it on much longer (hours) is necessary.

For those worried about cost, the SPOT units withOUT tracking can be used. My "poor man's" tracking mode works: Use the Help button. It will send a tracking signal every 4 minutes for an hour, then quits. Using that several times a day shows people you are moving and doing fine.

I would not hesitate to use the SPOT with an emergency situation. It's tracking/bread crumbs mode is really useful, where a PLB can ONLY be used in an emergency. SPOT's signal will get out most places, and the SOS is sent every few minutes to ensure it goes out.

Edit: Adding this: The InReach advantage is the ability to send and receive messages. But with the added cost, you have to decide.

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#37921 - 06/24/14 05:37 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Steve C]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 252
Loc: SoCal
Steve, you seem to know your stuff regarding SPOT, so if you don't mind my asking:

Is there any reason not to use the "Help" button to customize another message that just says something completely unrelated to needing help? Like if I customized it to say "This is where I'll be spending the night." or something to that effect. Would that work, or would a help message be sent to someone other than the folks I have on the customized list when I push the help button?
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#37922 - 06/24/14 05:41 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: John Sims]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 144
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: John Sims
I have an older model InReach


I've never taken any electronics on my various solo trips over the years. As L Conn had expressed @ HST, he felt in more danger driving up to the E Sierra from LA than in the mountains. I almost always take the 395 from the 15, and I'm one of those guys way over straddling the right lane marker.

And, of course, I never run that stretch at night - especially when the drunks are out between midnight and 2-3am. So, if I take off from OC around 4am, I can hit that stretch @ 5am, and it's just me, some truckers and maybe a few early-bird RVs.

However, ever since the Heng incident on Langley, when I followed the same route up 2 days later, but then went down to Miter, then over Crabtree, and then to Whitney, my wife has become a little more "involved".

My last trip on the PCT was typically uneventful, but then the trip down from Whitney was a little more interesting. Then the recent SAR events off the main trail got me to finally read this thread, and here I am.

I like the bread crumbs feature - considering that most of the recent incidents have been falls (and in my case since I do moderate x-c, that would be my most likely accident), it doesn't seem like anyone would be in any condition to activate a PLB.

The SPOT device seems to continue having critics, so I read with interest about the InReach communicator. Bottom line, I am joining the dark side, so my question is: which model, the good 'ole SE or something else?

http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/inreachse.php


Edited by Hobbes (06/24/14 05:42 PM)

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#37923 - 06/24/14 06:05 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Hobbes]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 551
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
Originally Posted By: John Sims
I have an older model InReach


I've never taken any electronics on my various solo trips over the years. As L Conn had expressed @ HST, he felt in more danger driving up to the E Sierra from LA than in the mountains. I almost always take the 395 from the 15, and I'm one of those guys way over straddling the right lane marker.

And, of course, I never run that stretch at night - especially when the drunks are out between midnight and 2-3am. So, if I take off from OC around 4am, I can hit that stretch @ 5am, and it's just me, some truckers and maybe a few early-bird RVs.

However, ever since the Heng incident on Langley, when I followed the same route up 2 days later, but then went down to Miter, then over Crabtree, and then to Whitney, my wife has become a little more "involved".

My last trip on the PCT was typically uneventful, but then the trip down from Whitney was a little more interesting. Then the recent SAR events off the main trail got me to finally read this thread, and here I am.

I like the bread crumbs feature - considering that most of the recent incidents have been falls (and in my case since I do moderate x-c, that would be my most likely accident), it doesn't seem like anyone would be in any condition to activate a PLB.

The SPOT device seems to continue having critics, so I read with interest about the InReach communicator. Bottom line, I am joining the dark side, so my question is: which model, the good 'ole SE or something else?

http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/inreachse.php


The InReach Canada web site has a good comparison of the two current InReach models (Explorer, and SE): http://www.inreachcanada.com/compare-devices

For me, the extra features of the Explorer are not worth the extra money. The trip planning I would prefer to do on the computer, the compass/accelerometer function, detailed logging I have on my iPhone, and the others features do not seem important to me or are otherwise available with the iPhone. My Older unit (I call it the brick) does the same as the SE, except that there is no display, so that you really need the iPhone for it to have the maps and messaging function. If I were purchasing new I would just go with the SE.

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#37925 - 06/24/14 07:50 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: GandC]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7910
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: GandC
Steve, you seem to know your stuff regarding SPOT, so if you don't mind my asking:

Is there any reason not to use the "Help" button to customize another message that just says something completely unrelated to needing help? Like if I customized it to say "This is where I'll be spending the night." or something to that effect. Would that work, or would a help message be sent to someone other than the folks I have on the customized list when I push the help button?

The Help, I think, still shows up as "Help" on the shared page. But SPOT also has a second "custom" button that shows "Custom Message" or something you can program. I just tell people that if I really need help, I'll use the SOS button.

It also has the OK/Check In button. Most people use that one to identify camping sites or trail junctions.

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#37927 - 06/24/14 07:57 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Steve C]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 252
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Steve C
[quote=GandC]The Help, I think, still shows up as "Help" on the shared page. But SPOT also has a second "custom" button that shows "Custom Message" or something you can program. I just tell people that if I really need help, I'll use the SOS button.

It also has the OK/Check In button. Most people use that one to identify camping sites or trail junctions.


I guess what I'm really curious about is whether or not hitting the "help" button when I don't really need help will have authorities looking for me. I know that's the purpose of the SOS button, so I'm assuming the "help" button only alerts the folks I designate on the list, correct?

I think I'll just turn the thing on and give it a go in the back yard.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#37928 - 06/24/14 08:00 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: John Sims]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: John Sims

detailed logging I have on my iPhone,


How do you use your iPhone to log? Do you use it in conjunction with the Delorme?

Originally Posted By: GandC
I know that's the purpose of the SOS button, so I'm assuming the "help" button only alerts the folks I designate on the list, correct?


I believe the "help" button is for non-emergency help. It doesn't alert the authorities.
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#37929 - 06/24/14 08:23 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7910
Loc: Fresno, CA
The SPOT's SOS button is the only one that is monitored by the company. All the rest just go to those you set on the web page. In addition, I think you can say whether or not the help messages do or don't go on the shared (map) page.

It is curious, too, that SOS signals do NOT appear on the shared page. ...or so I am told, since I've never used it.

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#37930 - 06/24/14 08:26 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Steve C]
Steve Chamberlin Offline


Registered: 06/17/11
Posts: 55
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Second, SPOT should be used more frequently during the day. ... The units need to be left running AT LEAST 30 minutes to ensure a signal reaches a satellite. If there are any obstructions like high canyon walls, or trees in a forest, then leaving it on much longer (hours) is necessary.


I did leave the SPOT on for ~30 minutes or more at each campsite, but apparently that wasn't enough since some of the messages never got through. I think that's the big disadvantage of the SPOT - there's no feedback to tell you if your message was delivered. If the non-receipt of a message is going to make a family member nervous, that's no good. The InReach seems much nicer in that respect.

If you're going to fall unconscious or die, then I certainly agree leaving constant breadcrumbs is the only way to help SAR, since you won't be able to press the SOS button. I wonder how many accidents fall into that category, though, vs broken limbs, hypothermia, or other incidents where you would be able to press SOS. And if you're hiking with a partner, he can press SOS on his device even if you're unconscious. Maybe I'm way off, but I would guess that emergencies where there's nobody conscious who could press an SOS button are a small fraction of all backcountry emergencies. I'd be interested to see some statistics on this.

Focusing on those "SOS button emergencies", the most important thing to me is that my message actually gets through. The technical design of a PLB tells me it should be much more reliable at sending an SOS to the outside world. Now maybe it's a case where SPOT is 99% reliable for emergencies and a PLB is 99.9%, I don't know. But given my past experience with the SPOT I wouldn't trust it in a life-threatening situation. I don't mean to be preachy or denigrate other people's choices, but I view these devices like a fire extinguisher. The only factor that really matters is how well it works in an emergency situation. This is where I think a PLB shines above the alternatives.

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#37933 - 06/24/14 09:40 PM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 551
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Originally Posted By: John Sims

detailed logging I have on my iPhone,


How do you use your iPhone to log? Do you use it in conjunction with the Delorme?



Well, I do use it in conjunction with the InReach. They have an app - Earthmate. It is the app through which you set tracking interval, send/receive messages, view map, etc....

However, for other functions I also use other apps. I normally have at least two other apps running:
1. GPS4Cam - This app will keep track of your location/time, and sync with your photos to add Lat/Lon info into your photo exif file. I forget what the cost was. Perhaps $4.99 or less.
2. Sports Tracker. This app will log your time/speed/altitude every hour. Also has HR monitor available if you want to keep track of your Heart Rate. App is free. HR monitor not.
3. Another app that I like is ViewRanger. With it you can download maps and gpx tracks to your iPhone/Android. Good display of your track vs downloaded gpx track.
4 Many more apps available. They all seem to run fine together.

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#37940 - 06/25/14 07:09 AM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: John Sims]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 144
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: John Sims


For me, the extra features of the Explorer are not worth the extra money. The trip planning I would prefer to do on the computer, the compass/accelerometer function, detailed logging I have on my iPhone, and the others features do not seem important to me or are otherwise available with the iPhone. My Older unit (I call it the brick) does the same as the SE, except that there is no display, so that you really need the iPhone for it to have the maps and messaging function. If I were purchasing new I would just go with the SE.



Got it - ordered the SE.

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#37944 - 06/25/14 08:17 AM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Hobbes]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
John,

In order to use these apps, I assume you can't put your phone in airplane mode, correct?

I've found that my iPhone is pretty much useless for tracking, since he batteries run out so fast if it isn't in airplane mode. I miss my android phone. It actually tracked well and had decent battery life. I used to put it in airplane mode, then turn on the GPS.

Originally Posted By: Hobbes

Got it - ordered the SE.

Please let us know your experience with it. Since we're somewhat local to each other, I would love to check it out in person sometime, if we happen to be interested in doing the same hike at some point. I'm also very interested in your UL gear.
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#37948 - 06/25/14 08:29 AM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 252
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
I've found that my iPhone is pretty much useless for tracking, since he batteries run out so fast if it isn't in airplane mode. I miss my android phone. It actually tracked well and had decent battery life. I used to put it in airplane mode, then turn on the GPS.


Check out the Bad Elf for the iPhone. I've used it for years, but it won't work with the iPhones stock moving map. You have to use it with another mapping app for it to work in airplane mode.

It even works in the cockpits of some airplanes. I used Bad Elf with my iPad for a long time with pretty great success.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#37951 - 06/25/14 09:24 AM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
britonwhit(ney) Offline


Registered: 03/06/14
Posts: 79
Loc: UK
I've got the SE and am impressed so far.

Re airplane mode - iOS will let you run bluetooth with airplane mode on, in which case I think the iphone (i've only done it with an ipad) will use the GPS signal from the inreach. That said, I don't plan to take a smartphone, I found the onscreen keyboard on the SE was easy enough to use, and you can pre-write an unlimited number of messages on your PC first and download them to the device.

The cost struck me as very reasonable for the way I use it - $25/year subscription (on the "freedom" plan) plus $15 per month each month I need it (basically 3 months for ski touring and one for hiking). No activation fee on this pricing plan.

For my hike this summer, since I'm with friends and kids, I'll probably take the all-you-can-eat $65 package for a month and send/receive unlimited messages. This makes it $135/year, or $85 if I just take 4 months basic usage.

You can configure the tracking point interval from every 10 mins to every 4 hours (or off entirely). It also only sends a tracking point if its moved >100m so effectively goes into a low power/sleep mode at night.

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#37954 - 06/25/14 09:50 AM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Steve C]
Chicagocwright Offline


Registered: 09/05/12
Posts: 172
Loc: Alaska
I'm confused by the HELP and SOS buttons. Why have a design that includes both?

What would a non-emergency HELP situation be? I can't imagine a scenario where I am in the wilderness yelling HELP when it is not an emergency!

I understand the process to customize it and tell people you will use HELP differently but why was it designed that way in the first place?

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#37955 - 06/25/14 10:03 AM Re: PLB / SPOT / Delorme / Sat Phone [Re: Chicagocwright]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: Chicagocwright
I'm confused by the HELP and SOS buttons. Why have a design that includes both?


Source: http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=102
SOS: Use this function In the event of a life threatening or other critical emergency to notify emergency services of your GPS location and that you need assistance. The GEOS International Emergency Response Center alerts the appropriate agencies worldwide for example contacting 9-1-1 responders in North America and 1-1-2 responders in Europe.

Help: In the event of a non-life threatening emergency, you can use this function to notify your personal contacts that you need assistance. Additional SPOT Assist services can be purchased and programmed to your Help button as well. When activated with SPOT Assist, the Help button will notify professional services either on the land or water. SPOT has partnered with national service providers to offer non-life threatening assistance.


Edited by 63ChevyII.com (06/25/14 10:04 AM)
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