SPOT device vote of No Confidence

Mthuntr

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So I think I've stated before that I don't like the SPOT system and their terrible satellites. Last week we had SPOT devices both fail to send and fail to receive messages to each other. Our agency is mandated to use SPOTs because Garmin refused to sign some sort of agreement stating they would not work with certain Chinese communications companies (I believe this has something to do with some spying via cell phones). Any way we had a near emergency situation where an employee had overexerted himself and was ill. We got him feeling better and sent him back to camp. We were working alpine areas but SPOTs failed to send and receive messages. I sent 4 and coworker sent 3...he got his 7 hours AFTER I sent them and I still haven't received his. We even had them side by side in the open and I never got them.

Some of you know that I used to have the older SPOTS where you had "check-in" and "emergency" options only and had multiple failed check-in's without knowing. Thus why I bought a Delorme (preGarmin) and paid a premium to do my check-ins purely for peace of mind.

I VOTE "NO CONFIDENCE" in SPOT devices and plea to all of you (and your loved ones) to not use them and get a company to uses the much more reliable Iridium Satellite system!

EDIT: I hear that Zoleo might be an option as they also use the Iridium system.
 
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Sytes

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SPOT is crap, no doubt.
Same as you. I have the Delorme InReach iridium sat comm (now operated by Garmin). Awesome! Been in a tent with a buddy awed at the massive options the InReach had over the SPOT. He used mine to message his wife whereas his? Crap... hit / miss. Mine never had an issue.

He dumped his SPOT.

How's your fellow coworker? Recovering?

Would think with all the gov satellites out and about, we'd have a reasonable field use sat communications device for our field gov employees such as those used by our military/civilian spec ops use Sat phones, etc.
 

Mthuntr

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How's your fellow coworker? Recovering?
He's fine...we climbed too fast and too high for his body. He got in some simple sugars and water and had a good nap.

Would think with all the gov satellites out and about, we'd have a reasonable field use sat communications device for our field gov employees such as those used by our military/civilian spec ops use Sat phones, etc.
Our agency is completely lacking in true safety communications and I pointed it out years ago. We don't even get to piggyback on FS/BLM radio towers for emergencies (though sometimes when working with the FS they let us borrow radios).
 
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MTLabrador

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I’m still carrying an old Spot because I’ve been too cheap to upgrade to a Zoleo or InReach. This is some good motivation to do that.
 

Sytes

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We don't even get to piggyback on FS/BLM radio towers for emergencies
Utter disconnect between agencies. One would think we were dealing with different countries! How ridiculous!

What a disappointing factor. If I was to suggest, as I've done this before as a Steward who was getting little traction, I've written my congressmen (Daines and Tester at the time) about a federal employment issue. I knew it hit management as I actually received an immediate attempt to scold though that doesn't play out well with unions. That attempt scolding turned against them as I cc'd the management email to the congressman, that manager, his COC, my chapter president, and our union attorney. Daines and Tester already had the prior attempt to resolve emails.

Suddenly... instant support from the manager's boss and a quality hammering on that manager as his superiors let him take the fall...

This specific example you shared sure sounds like something a congressman or his/her aid would possibly shoot off an email asking the same... questions comments we're raising here. Gov management is required to respond.

How's your union? AFGE or? Or are you designated non bargaining? Seems odd your union isn't chewing ass over this lack of agency necessity for radio repeaters / other emergency based operations.

Glad to hear all is well though a valuable tool none the less to spark some change for fed employee safety.
 

Cheesehead

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Sorry to hear and good PSA. My Garmin inReach has been a great add to my kit.
 

406dn

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I've had a old Spot for quite a while now. Never needed it for an emergency and its always sent the ok message to my wife.

I ponder making a change but haven't done it.
 

Wallydeuce

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Thanks for the info. Too late for me to change as I leave tomorrow and I won't be too far out there. I've been on two scouting trips with no problems however, I'll be going with Garmin after my renewal is over with Spot.
 

Jason73

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Never had a problem with my spot. I guess I'll be watching it more closely. Thanks for the input!!
 

ILbowhntr

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Very happy with my I reach mini and flexibility Offered by their plans. Especially when hunting solo. Never had an issue, but I don’t have near the hours with it as folks who use them for work. I only use mine during hunting season.

Hopefully you can rally some support from people with influence..or enough voices to force the issue with key leaders…which may take a lot if it’s a govt agency.
 

BrokenChicken

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got Garmin InReach MINI last year, used it about 5 month during hunt/hiking seasons. very happy. while TEXTs may take a min or two to go out/receive when in dark timber or skys arent clear, but they all have always gone out / received pretty fast.
also like that during month when i only need it for worst case emergency, i can pick different plans from month to month.
 

TOGIE

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it was this tragic story in 2010 that prompted me to never consider spot devices. i was hitting peak baggin hard that summer so i followed these accidents closely. hard to say that he would've lived regardless. but still.

"When I got to him he was breathing heavily and both his arms looked broken, both of our SPOT trackers malfunctioned at a terrible time,”

 

MTGomer

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They suck. When I first started hunting the unlimited the last thing I said to my wife half jokingly when I walked out the door “I’ll spot you tonight unless I get eaten by a grizzly bear “I spotted her. She did not receive it.

InReach has been quite reliable with the exception of last year they had about a 14 day period in September where their messages were not being received by AT&T customers. Thankfully most of my contacts are Verizon, but this caused issues for many people
 

SaskHunter

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I've been considering renewing my Spot for this fall and this thread confirms that I will NOT be doing that... I'd been putting off getting a Zoleo and figured I could just dust off the Spot but F that...
 

406dn

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To be fair to Spot, it would have been better journalism if the author of the article had contacted Spot for comment. It may well have been that the Chopper that had the hard landing was sent because of the signal. You can't expect to be taken off a mountain in thirty minutes, or less.

They could have a better confirmation that the signal was sent and received. I've sent over a hundred ok signals to my wife, all of them have gone thru.
 

TOGIE

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To be fair to Spot, it would have been better journalism if the author of the article had contacted Spot for comment. It may well have been that the Chopper that had the hard landing was sent because of the signal. You can't expect to be taken off a mountain in thirty minutes, or less.

They could have a better confirmation that the signal was sent and received. I've sent over a hundred ok signals to my wife, all of them have gone thru.

unfortunately the national guard chopper was dispatched several hours later after he hiked out and called the sheriff.

there are a lot of threads on the climbing and mountaineering forums that picked apart that accident. the partner of the deceased was able to confirm looking back at the SPOT data that data had stopped transmitting for some time before the incident occured.

the stories of SPOTs being in satellite deadzones are numerous on the mountaineering message boards it seems. this was just one of the few actually tragic stories. the national guard chopper clipping a rotor on a nearby peak enroute was just insult to injury.

it was a while ago, and perhaps stuff has improved, but i've heard enough to stear clear of SPOTs. if you want to ensure your SOS goes out you just need a no frills PLB.
 

406dn

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unfortunately the national guard chopper was dispatched several hours later after he hiked out and called the sheriff.

there are a lot of threads on the climbing and mountaineering forums that picked apart that accident. the partner of the deceased was able to confirm looking back at the SPOT data that data had stopped transmitting for some time before the incident occured.

the stories of SPOTs being in satellite deadzones are numerous on the mountaineering message boards it seems. this was just one of the few actually tragic stories. the national guard chopper clipping a rotor on a nearby peak enroute was just insult to injury.

it was a while ago, and perhaps stuff has improved, but i've heard enough to stear clear of SPOTs. if you want to ensure your SOS goes out you just need a no frills PLB.
That sucks. When you need some one to have your back, a mulligan isn't worth much.

They still should have had a comment or no comment from Spot in the article. If their service failed, they should have had to comment on it.
 

Mthuntr

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Update: We tested the SpotX to SpotX device communications again this week. No emergency but just a text stating "Parked Here". I turned my SpotX on (had receive settings at 30 minutes) and had it on the dash while we were working (not ideal but I can get satellite radio to work so I thought it would be ok). Nothing all day to the point it killed my battery sending/receiving and searching for gps signal. The signal part was probably my fault but being on the dash of a truck with near 360 views of the sky I had hoped it would be better than being in a dense forest. I hooked my SpotX to a battery pack to charge overnight on the hood of my truck in light canopy cover of lodgepole pine...finally at 2:07am I received the message almost 10 hours later.

The next day I used the Spot to message my sister from the same exposed hillside...round trip message sent was 9 minutes (pretty good for the Spot). With 10 minute send/receive timing my SpotX lasted approximately 37hours off the battery pack before warning of low battery (20%)

I will continue to advocate for use of Garmin device (possibly Zoleo but I have apprehensions of that brand without a phone 2 way communications is impossible)
 

Bambistew

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I used Spot one year, and luckily brought a sat phone along as well. I needed it. It seemed to not work at all unless you had good south exposure. I took it on a solo walk and was "missing" for 24hrs with the tracking due to the aspect of the mountains.

I've been using inreach for the last 5 years exclusively and have had zero issues with it. The only issue I have is the unit won't send messages to my phone some times, but they are in the unit itself. Its as reliable as a sat phone, or more so. I've had issues with sat phones not working for 30-60 min at a time, or really spotty for hours.
 

406dn

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Recently, I have been using my Spot device to send an okay message to my wife after completing dog training runs on horseback. I train in the middle of nowhere 20+miles from any sort of town by myself, most often. She has received all of them in a timely manner.

I looked into switching over to a Garmin as my Spot annual contract is about up. It looks like most of the Garmin devices are in short supply, if their website is an indication.

So...I'll stick with the Spot for one more year and after digging more fully into what Garmin offers, I make the switch next year.
 

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