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Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby globreal » Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:55 pm

UPDATE!

I now realize I should have called the GEOS ALLIANCE (the center that receives the SPOT 911transmissions) before starting this thread. But I admit my mistake.

Instead of the above suggestion, do this with your SPOT in a life-threatening emergency:

1. When you get to your trailhead, immediately turn the SPOT on for at least 30 minutes so the device can find the satellites and the satellites can find the SPOT. This is important.....especially if you are someone coming from the east coast to climb!

2. In a real life threatening emergency, turn on your SPOT and give it a few minutes to re-locate the satellites. This should happen quicker since you already helped it "find itself" earlier. Now, hit the 911 button and leave it on. Due to the nature of how the system works, it may take 20-30 minutes for GEOS ALLIANCE to get your coordinates. (It sounded like some of the satellites are not in a locked orbit but traveling around the earth and therefore this can add to a delayed receipt of your 911 SPOT message with coordinates.) They need your coordinates to know what County Sheriff to contact.

3. If you are in trees, in a couloir, or up next to a rock wall, the transmission may be blocked. So, it could be wise to move to an area where you have a totally clear view of the sky.

So, while it may be a good idea for SAR to know the device wasn't activated by accident, turning it off may actually delay the response time that they are notified.

Also, please leave a detailed trip itinerary with your family and friends. Where you are climbing, what TH, route, start time, expected return time. List who you are climbing with how to reach their next of kin. ADD TO THIS: YOUR SPOT USERNAME AND PASSWORD.

Please update your SPOT info online prior to each climb..where you are climbing, with whom, etc. Go to:
http://www.findmespot.com
Click on MY ACCOUNT.
Log in and then click on the My SPOT Devices tab.
Under Contact Details click on View/Edit
Scroll down to the SOS message bar and on the right side click Edit.
Click the check box if someone is borrowing your SPOT device.
In the window that says: Provide additional info if there is anything else we should know.....
Type in your details of your next climb.

I personally email my trip itinerary to my wife, daughter, and 3 other climbing friends. During my emergency, when I got to the Maroon Creek TH, the sheriff was already there with my trip itinerary printed out!

Hope this helps. (Again, I apologize for the premature post.)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."
~John 11:25

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby Dex » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:15 pm

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=35722&hilit=spot+vs+plb&start=12

http://14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=35722&start=12



"Do some research here. There is a world of difference between a SPOT device and an actual PLB from ACR/McMurdo/etc.
1) SPOT has a 400mw transmitter. ACR's have 6.4w and McMurdos have 4.3w. You have 10-15x the transmission power with an actual PLB. (i.e. enough to power through cloud cover or foliage or out of a canyon)"
Montani Semper Liberi
"Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous." Barry Ritholtz

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby GregMiller » Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:14 pm

Delorme inReach FTW: 7.5 W
http://www.delorme.com/media/Product_Information/inReach_Background_Information.pdf

(Note - power is relatively meaningless unless you're doing in-depth link budget analysis - a lot depends on the orbit of the satellite system (altitude and inclination), size/orientation of the receiver on the satellite, type/orientation of the antenna on the spot/inreach/plb, etc.)

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby Rarefied » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:19 pm

globreal wrote:It sounded like some of the satellites are not in a locked orbit but traveling around the earth ...

Yes, this is the main issue I was referring to above.

globreal wrote:If you are in trees, in a couloir, or up next to a rock wall, the transmission may be blocked. So, it could be wise to move to an area where you have a totally clear view of the sky.

This refers to what's called terrain shielding and is very good advice as doing so will strongly increase the odds of the unit being able to communicate with one of the "birds". Hopefully the injured party or someone with him can make that move if necessary.

Dex wrote:You have 10-15x the transmission power with an actual PLB. (i.e. enough to power through cloud cover or foliage or out of a canyon)"

The impact of changes in power levels in communication systems is a logarithmic function so the effective ratio is not as steep as the simple division makes it appear. Nonetheless, you've got the right idea -- the greater the power, the greater the chances of the signal overcoming various attenuation factors and ultimately making the trip.

GregMiller wrote:(Note - power is relatively meaningless unless you're doing in-depth link budget analysis - a lot depends on the orbit of the satellite system (altitude and inclination), size/orientation of the receiver on the satellite, type/orientation of the antenna on the spot/inreach/plb, etc.)

In the end, it's a fairly complex system governed by power, all the aspects you mention and some others you didn't. While link analysis models how the system should perform, a user in the field is strictly dependent upon the real-world status of the system at the instant he "keys up". And ensuring he has a solid, clear view of the sky is about all he can contribute to the process. Fortunately, this is often all that is required of him in order to realize success.


globreal wrote:Hope this helps. (Again, I apologize for the premature post.)

Hardly necessary to apologize -- your heart was/is definitely in the right place. I strongly suspect you've helped several SPOT users more than you know.


R

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby shearmodulus » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:29 pm

Comparing the relative power of the transmitters can be a deceptive metric - it usually has more to do with the size of the receiver antenna.

Case in point - remember the first commercially available satellite dishes that used to grace homes that didn't get cable TV (like mine on the farm)? 18 feet diameter or so? Yeah... that's because the TV signals they pushed were much weaker, and therefore required a larger antenna to pick up the signal and reflect it to the LNB for decoding. Today you can get hundreds of channels of HD TV on a dish that is about 1/20th the size of the old ones because the signals the new satellites push is much, much stronger. (I used to sell the new style dishes when they first started coming out in 1994).

So comparing transmitter power levels is irrelevant unless you know the size of the receiver dishes. If the dishes are all the same size, then the power of the beacon matters. If not, the power to dish-size ratio is the more important factor.

Sorry - geeked out there for a minute.
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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby MountainHiker » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:03 pm

Last year on North Maroon when I activated my SPOT, it hadn’t been on. The people at SPOT called all the phone numbers associated with my account. My cell phone was with me and not getting a signal. Dorthe was at a function and separated from her phone when the call came in. That left Dorthe’s sister, who didn’t know where I was that weekend. The SPOT apparently got out the SOS ahead of having coordinates. When Dorthe’s sister was still on the phone with SPOT they told her the “search had been called off.” Dorthe’s sister (not a climber) took that to be a good thing, when in fact it was because SAR knew it was now a body recovery.

So the advice for turning on the SPOT beforehand is really big for SPOT knowing what SAR unit to call. In our case a cell phone higher on the mountain was critical for communication. There are a lot of places, like where I was when I activated the SPOT that don’t get cell phone signals. So the SPOT coordinates might be the only location clue available for SAR.
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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby MountainSlayer » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:26 pm

MountainHiker wrote:Last year on North Maroon when I activated my SPOT, it hadn’t been on. The people at SPOT called all the phone numbers associated with my account. My cell phone was with me and not getting a signal. Dorthe was at a function and separated from her phone when the call came in. That left Dorthe’s sister, who didn’t know where I was that weekend. The SPOT apparently got out the SOS ahead of having coordinates. When Dorthe’s sister was still on the phone with SPOT they told her the “search had been called off.” Dorthe’s sister (not a climber) took that to be a good thing, when in fact it was because SAR knew it was now a body recovery.

So the advice for turning on the SPOT beforehand is really big for SPOT knowing what SAR unit to call. In our case a cell phone higher on the mountain was critical for communication. There are a lot of places, like where I was when I activated the SPOT that don’t get cell phone signals. So the SPOT coordinates might be the only location clue available for SAR.



MountainHiker,

Can you clarify what you mean? I am especially confused when you mention SPOT stating the "search had been called off" and that they "knew it was now a body recovery," but it has been a long day so I am probably just slow.

Many thanks - Kris Venema

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby MountainHiker » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:18 pm

MountainSlayer wrote:
MountainHiker wrote:Last year on North Maroon when I activated my SPOT, it hadn’t been on. The people at SPOT called all the phone numbers associated with my account. My cell phone was with me and not getting a signal. Dorthe was at a function and separated from her phone when the call came in. That left Dorthe’s sister, who didn’t know where I was that weekend. The SPOT apparently got out the SOS ahead of having coordinates. When Dorthe’s sister was still on the phone with SPOT they told her the “search had been called off.” Dorthe’s sister (not a climber) took that to be a good thing, when in fact it was because SAR knew it was now a body recovery.

So the advice for turning on the SPOT beforehand is really big for SPOT knowing what SAR unit to call. In our case a cell phone higher on the mountain was critical for communication. There are a lot of places, like where I was when I activated the SPOT that don’t get cell phone signals. So the SPOT coordinates might be the only location clue available for SAR.



MountainHiker,

Can you clarify what you mean? I am especially confused when you mention SPOT stating the "search had been called off" and that they "knew it was now a body recovery," but it has been a long day so I am probably just slow.

Many thanks - Kris Venema


Sorry, here is the thread from that incident. My description is on page 3 of the thread.

https://14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=37597
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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby bob863 » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:08 am

I concur with globreal's latest post....

the only thing that I would add.....after you press the "911" button, STAY PUT.....the SPOT continues updating/sending it's position periodically
until the unit is turned off or the batteries die....wandering around will only confuse the SAR team

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby Dex » Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:58 am

Rarefied wrote:
Dex wrote:You have 10-15x the transmission power with an actual PLB. (i.e. enough to power through cloud cover or foliage or out of a canyon)"

The impact of changes in power levels in communication systems is a logarithmic function so the effective ratio is not as steep as the simple division makes it appear. Nonetheless, you've got the right idea -- the greater the power, the greater the chances of the signal overcoming various attenuation factors and ultimately making the trip.



I can't take credit for jsdratm's post who didn't take credit for jakdak's post.

jsdratm wrote:There was a similar discussion in Reddit's camping and hiking section and I thought I would share a nice informative post from a user named jakdak:

Do some research here. There is a world of difference between a SPOT device and an actual PLB from ACR/McMurdo/etc.
1) SPOT has a 400mw transmitter. ACR's have 6.4w and McMurdos have 4.3w. You have 10-15x the transmission power with an actual PLB. (i.e. enough to power through cloud cover or foliage or out of a canyon)
2) SPOT connects to Globalstars aging private satellite network. A PLB connects to the far superior government funded COSPAS-SARSAT network. (Basically Globalstar founded SPOT to find new uses for their existing sat phone satellite where the COSPAS-SARSAT network was specifically designed to handle maritime and aviation beacons- if you've ever used a Globalstar sat phone you'll know how spotty the transmissions can be (no pun intended))
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cospas-Sarsat
3) PLBs also have the ability to emit a homing signal which can be picked up by doppler radar. So even if you can't get a GPS lock you can still be found by SAR teams. (And SAR teams can home in on your signal in to pinpoint your location even during poor visibility conditions) SPOT does not have this.
4) When you hit the panic button, your signal is going directly to a Air Force run response coordination center that is already tied into response protocols and rescue teams. With SPOT your message is going to a call center at a private company that has been teetering on the edge of bankrupcy for most of its existence (and you are counting on them to relay your message to authorities)
http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/rcc.html
5) SPOT has a yearly fee. The PLBs do not. When you factor this in SPOT is actually more expensive over several years. The PLB manufacturers are competing solely on the strength of their devices and have experience in a wide range of personal, maritime, and aviation beacons. SPOT is using their device as a hook to get you to pay for their service. Globalstars main revenue stream is from phones and pagers- not from beacons.
6) SPOT has a history of product recalls and poor build quality.
So I repeat my statement that as an actual rescue beacon- SPOT comes up sorely lacking. SPOT pours an enormous amount of money into advertising- so much that most folks don't even realize that alternatives exist and are not aware of the vast technical differences between these devices.
If you are simply looking to send "I'm OK" messages- then SPOT may be a solution for you. (Though both ACR and McMurdo now have solutions that cover this- IMHO you are better off just carrying a satellite pager or phone if you really need to communicate out of the wilderness) However- If you are looking for the highest probability of a successful rescue when you activate the distress call- then I would personally much rather have a PLB than a SPOT.



Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, Inc.
http://www.rockymountainrescue.org/about_PLBs.php
"if you get a PLB, we strongly recommend that you purchase one that is COSPAS-SARSAT compliant, has a GPS, and transmits on both 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz."
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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby Rarefied » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:08 am

Dex wrote:I can't take credit for jsdratm's post who didn't take credit for jakdak's post.

Let the record show that full credit for citation of it is, indeed, more accurate. :-D

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Re: Sending a SPOT "911" PLEASE READ

Postby MountainSlayer » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:35 am

MountainHiker,

Many thanks, good sir. That is very helpful information.

Kris

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