Personal Locator Beacon or Satellite Communicator?

melensdad

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the only problem with mounting on the bike is if you depart the bike and need the SOS (which is the situation I'm most concerned with), you're out of luck. I keep mine in a jacket pocket and it seems to work well ... but your side by side test is very interesting. I view my Spot as an emergency communication device (SOS, etc.) ... the tracking is a nice to have addition but not the main reason I have it (even though I'm paying for the 5 min interval plan).
And we are in 100% agreement on this point.

I am very conflicted about the bike mount and would prefer it in my jacket pocket or hanging from my jacket in some manner.

There are slots on the top and the bottom of the SPOT X that would allow for Velcro attachment points. I may end up at a local seamstress with a strip of Velcro and have her sew it to my mesh jacket. Not sure about doing that on my other jackets. But it seems to me that wearing it on my left side at roughly collar bone level could be ideal (assuming I don't land on it)
 

MZ5

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I think I got lost somewhere. What’s the concern about leaving the bike? If you walk away, take it with you. If you’re concerned about crashing and having the bike’s GPS coordinates rather than your body’s transmitted… How much different do you think those two locations would be? What am I missing here?
 

670cc

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I think I got lost somewhere. What’s the concern about leaving the bike? If you walk away, take it with you. If you’re concerned about crashing and having the bike’s GPS coordinates rather than your body’s transmitted… How much different do you think those two locations would be? What am I missing here?
I may be totally wrong because I have not used Spot X, but I think you need to push the SOS button to activate an SOS request. If you have been ejected from the motorcycle and you are disabled, and the device was contained within the motorcycle, you probably can’t reach the button.
 

melensdad

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I may be totally wrong because I have not used Spot X, but I think you need to push the SOS button to activate an SOS request. If you have been ejected from the motorcycle and you are disabled, and the device was contained within the motorcycle, you probably can’t reach the button.
You are correct.

You need to push a button.

So if you slide into a tree and break a leg while the bike slides into a ditch you might have a problem getting to the SPOT.

__________

Pretty much thinking that if I am riding with my wife then the SPOT is going to be on the cradle. If I crash, my wife can probably get to the SPOT and signal for help.

If I am riding alone then it is likely that I'll carry it in a chest pocket. From my tests, a chest pocket carry will successfully transmit FEWER tracking points because the antenna is not reliably oriented to the sky, my body may block the signal, etc. Based on some test rides, it is clear that chest pocket carry will transmit SOME of the tracking points but not all.

__________

On a side note, both the SPOT X and the Garmin InReach Mini clearly state you need a clear view of the sky for reliable service. In a test, setting the SPOT X on my windowsill, I was able to transmit a check in message to my cell-phone. My home has 4' eves and the window in question has a large walnut tree and heavy woods directly outside, there is no view of the sky but the SPOT X was able to send out the message. I was surprised.
 

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I carry the SPOT on the bike and take my chances about the ability to send an SOS in favor of sending as many tracking points as possible. I found that if I mounted or carried the Spot too close to a phone or GPS it would sometimes not get a signal out successfully so I carry the SPOT flat on it's back in a tankbag on the RT, In the frunk bag of the NC and in a cradle mounted on one of the passenger grab handles of the Goldwing.
 
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MZ5

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You are correct.

You need to push a button.

So if you slide into a tree and break a leg while the bike slides into a ditch you might have a problem getting to the SPOT

Okay, yes, I see where you’re coming from now. Thanks for explaining.

FWIW, we generally have our guys mount them on the ATVs if they go out with ATVs (including the roll cage equipped machines), keep them in the pickup if they just have the pickup, and maybe take them with them if they’ll be away from a vehicle for a while. It’s not quite the same situation as you’re worried about, though ATV crashes have caused some of the most serious injuries over the years. They definitely won’t ‘cover’ you in all circumstances.
 

melensdad

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… I found that if I mounted or carried the Spot too close to a phone or GPS it would sometimes not get a signal out successfully so I carry the SPOT flat on it's back …
FWIW the SPOT X actually flashes a message on the screen to make sure the antenna is pointed straight up to the sky.

I’ve not noticed any issues with iPhone interference with the satellite signal. Mine either seems to connect almost instantly or it takes 3+ minutes. No rhyme or reason I can tell why it either connects nearly instantly or why there is a delay. I was under open skies today and experienced it both ways. Of course I have no clue where above the satellite was located.
 

melensdad

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Couple more observations.

The satellites move across the sky, from horizon to horizon. Near as I can tell the "check in" and "messages" take longer to send sometimes than others. I can only presume this is based on the location of the satellite when I hit the send button. Just guessing but if the satellite is higher in the sky I'm thinking the transmission is much faster than if it is lower in the sky. I've had some signals send, and then received back to my cell phone, in mere seconds. Others took 5+ minutes to send and another couple more to receive.

I've spend a few days riding in almost completely "open sky" with very minimal tree cover and mostly farm fields and suburban houses around me and the send/receive times seem to change from fast to slow to fast to slow over the course of travel. So I am thinking it must be related to the location of the satellite.
 

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Couple more observations.

The satellites move across the sky, from horizon to horizon. Near as I can tell the "check in" and "messages" take longer to send sometimes than others. I can only presume this is based on the location of the satellite when I hit the send button. Just guessing but if the satellite is higher in the sky I'm thinking the transmission is much faster than if it is lower in the sky. I've had some signals send, and then received back to my cell phone, in mere seconds. Others took 5+ minutes to send and another couple more to receive.

I've spend a few days riding in almost completely "open sky" with very minimal tree cover and mostly farm fields and suburban houses around me and the send/receive times seem to change from fast to slow to fast to slow over the course of travel. So I am thinking it must be related to the location of the satellite.
Yes, I believe you are correct. I was thinking the low earth orbit satellite system that picks up 406 MHz beacon signals was geostationary and always in the same relative positions in the sky but that was wrong. These satellites orbit the earth about every 102 minutes in polar orbits so there are times when the satellite cannot immediately relay transmit the signal to a ground station. In these instances the satellite stores the signal info and transmits it as soon as a ground station is in position to receive it. I’m thinking this accounts for the variables in time between signals being sent and recorded.
 
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melensdad

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It’s not supposed to work but it frequently does. Sitting on a table on a 2 story covered porch. 4’ from the edge of the covered porch. With a 4’ roof overhang above the porch. Light woods to the west and to the north. Obscured view of the sky. It still worked.

2 photos one from the west, one from the east. Showing the SPOT sitting on the table. Instructions clearly state it needs an unobstructed view of the sky.

I’ve had 1 failure. I hit the check in button while parked next to a 2 story brick building.

Mostly what I’ve learned is:
  1. It is reliable
  2. My family is annoyed with my toy. 3585C966-3A08-4F66-A8E7-F8D5B0B00BFA.jpeg4DABB2E1-657A-4124-8377-5C2292404A9A.jpeg
 

mudtrack

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I guess I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy. When I travel I mount a Garmin InReach Explorer on my bars. Downside is if I am separated from the bike I can't get to the SOS button. However I do take it off the mount and carry it in my pocket if I ride in difficult spots. I like being able to see the gps map display and compare with my Garmin Zumo.
(Belt and suspenders)
 

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melensdad

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I guess I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy. When I travel I mount a Garmin InReach Explorer on my bars. Downside is if I am separated from the bike I can't get to the SOS button. However I do take it off the mount and carry it in my pocket if I ride in difficult spots. I like being able to see the gps map display and compare with my Garmin Zumo.
(Belt and suspenders)
Actually as long as you are within bluetooth range of your Explorer you should be able to connect via your phone app and send the SOS from your phone. I suppose that means if you and your bike are separated you have to hope you both stop within 30' of each other.

------------------------- 0 ---------------------------​

I have been playing with carrying my SPOT X in the my pocket verses in the bike mount. I remounted the Ram Mount on my bike and also remounted my phone, which acts as my navigation.

At this point I am of the opinion that if:
  • I am riding alone IN REMOTE OR RURAL AREAS then the SPOT X should probably be pocket carried. Basically if I go south of my house the SPOT X goes into my pocket. We live southeast of the southern edge of Chicagoland, cell signal is bad at our home but worse in every direction south of us.
  • I am riding alone in a suburban commute area where there is cellular signal and traffic, the SPOT X can be bike mounted because the reality is if I go down then a passing car will probably call for an ambulance. This would basically include anywhere north of my property as I ride toward the suburban sprawl cell signals becomes reliable and traffic dramatically increases.
  • If I am riding with my wife (my usual riding partner) then I can put the SPOT X in the mount, if I can't get to the SOS button then she probably can.
 

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went for a ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday -- road about 6 hours. Kept the Spot Gen3 in the side pocket of my Klim Induction mesh jacket. The Spot Map shows that is starting tracking at 0745, the next pin was at 0753 (8 minutes), the next at 0803 (10 minute), then every 5 minutes the rest of the day. I wonder if there's some "initialization" that has to happen in the first few tracks. I start up the Spot was I'm getting my bike out of the garage and getting setup so it have time to acquire the satellites. I also hit the Track button while I'm getting ready. Then it's in my pocket and stays there until I'm taking a break and send my custom "interim" message. At 5 min tracking, some of the waypoints are 5 miles or so apart, but at least you can tell where I was heading, and this was all on-road riding.
 

melensdad

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went for a ride up to the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday -- road about 6 hours. Kept the Spot Gen3 in the side pocket of my Klim Induction mesh jacket. The Spot Map shows that is starting tracking at 0745, the next pin was at 0753 (8 minutes), the next at 0803 (10 minute), then every 5 minutes the rest of the day. I wonder if there's some "initialization" that has to happen in the first few tracks. I start up the Spot was I'm getting my bike out of the garage and getting setup so it have time to acquire the satellites. I also hit the Track button while I'm getting ready. Then it's in my pocket and stays there until I'm taking a break and send my custom "interim" message. At 5 min tracking, some of the waypoints are 5 miles or so apart, but at least you can tell where I was heading, and this was all on-road riding.
I have 10 minute tracking (thinking of changing my package to go to 5 minutes) but I've noticed a couple times where the spacing was not quite 10 minutes apart. I chalk it up to finding the satellite when I start up the unit.
 

melensdad

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FWIW, many of the early reviews (pre-Bluetooth model) had complaints about the keyboard.

I've been using the keyboard to send messages and have not had any of the issues from the early reviews.

Those of us old enough to remember the Blackberry and TREO devices remember their tiny keyboards, but also remember they were very very good. They had raised keys, with the keys farther from the center of the QWERTY keyboard were raised higher than those in the center, they were responsive and tactile. The SPOT X Bluetooth keyboard also has raised keys with rounded tops, but all are at the same level. So not as good as the TREO or Blackberry but apparently better than the original SPOT X keyboard with the complained about flat keys.

I actually find the rounded and raised keys on the SPOT X Bluetooth very easy to use, tactile enough and I'd rate it as pretty darn good. Blackberry and TREO had better keyboards, but those units cost a heck of a lot more and neither had waterproof keyboards, which is a hurdle that the SPOT X needed to pass.
 
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