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ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

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ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:12 pm

I'm looking at 2 products, and trying to determine which one I should get. The SPOT is cheaper, but has a yearly fee. I'm leaning more towards the PLB, but I have to admit I do not know much about these devices. I've read some information but I could still use some other opinions here.

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Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby GregMiller » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:31 pm

I've been looking at those classes of devices as well, and here's what I've heard the most: "Get a SPOT/InReach if you want to let people know your progress or text them. Get a PLB if you want to be rescued."

SPOT uses the Globalstar satellite network, which has mediocre coverage, resulting in a couple of times where users of this site have failed to get out a distress signal when actually in distress.
Delorme's InReach uses the Iridium satellite network, which has better coverage (including better Northern exposure), but also is mainly of use to let people casually know where you are.
Both of these, when you hit the "911" button, send a message through the satellite network (if it can reach it) with your gps coordinates. This goes to a coordination center at SPOT or Delorme, that then sends it out to your local SAR. Note - this position is all your rescuers have to work with - if you have to move, or its incorrect, that's not good for you.
EDIT (10/1/13) - Both keep transmitting your location, but you're still reliant on that getting to the satellites and back down. Also, the coordination center for both is run by the GEOS Alliance, which forwards info on to your local SAR.

PLBs (of the modern variety) when activated determine your GPS coordinates and transmit that on top 406 MHz signal to the SARSAT and COSPAS satellite networks - these are the ones that are relied upon by mariners and pilots everywhere. The signal and your coordinates again go to a coordination center which farms it out to your local SAR. However, your beacon is still transmitting its 406 MHz signal, which rescuers can home in on to find you, which is one of the major benefits. PLBs (as far as I have ascertained) tend to be more rugged, will take more abuse, and last longer before needing service. However, they're not designed to allow you to let people regularly know where you are and how you're doing.

Basically, if you want your wife/husband/kids/parents/friends to be able to watch your progress, get a SPOT/InReach. If you absolutely want to be found, get a PLB.
Last edited by GregMiller on Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Still Here
been scared and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'-- But I don't care! I'm still here!
Langston Hughes

Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:40 pm

Thanks for the reply. That's pretty much the jist of what I got from my research as well. I don't care much about people tracking me or whatever, I just want the device that will get me found. That's why I'm leaning towards the PLB.

Thanks again
Last edited by Somewhat of a Prick on Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby JB99 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:44 pm

Good summary below. I had a Spot for a year and sold it and bought a PLB. Personally I wanted to have a more reliable device for potential rescue than I cared about checking in, and check-ins built an expectation about when or where I should be that I didn't like as not checking in could cause unnecessary concern. With the PLB my family just knows that if I'm in a situation that I need it and am able to use it, I have it.

Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:55 pm

Thanks for more reviews.

This is the model I'm looking at:

http://www.amazon.com/ACR-PLB-375-ResQLink-Personal-Locating/dp/B006JXY0CQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1347911040&sr=1-1&keywords=acr+plb

Should I be looking at a different one? They have several.

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Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby GregMiller » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:09 pm

I'd been leaning towards a Delorme InReach myself (the iridium network is quite better than globalstar), but again, it's not the same thing as a PLB, so that'll be on my purchase list for next year.

Now, about the difference between all the satellite networks (because I'm bored at work).
Globalstar has 48 active satellites in a 52° inclination orbit (meaning that the highest latitude they pass directly over is somewhere just South of Edmonton).
Iridium has 66 active satellites in an 86.4° inclination orbit (meaning that they pass almost directly over both poles).

More satellites, plus a high inclination, means two things:
1) Better all around coverage (you have a better chance of getting a signal out sooner).
2) Better Northern coverage (meaning that if you're sitting on the North face of a mountain and set off your InReach on the Iridium network, you're more likely to get a signal out than a SPOT on the Globalstar network. OR, if you're sitting on the North Pole you have a better chance of getting a signal out sooner).

PLB's use two different satellite networks, GEOSAR and LEOSAR - the SAR mission is piggy backed onto a number of weather satellites. The Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites (of which there are 6) operate similarly to Iridium's, in a high-inclination polar orbit, and both receive the GPS coordinates encoded in the signal, and also use fancy maths to figure out where your transmitter is. The Geostationary (GEO) satellites (of which there are 5) just receive the encoded GPS signal. However, the GEO satellites have a constant view of at least the contiguous US, so you're typically more likely to get a signal out.
Additionally, the next capability they'll be adding is for the various navigational satellite constellations (GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO) to be used as receivers for the 406 MHz signals, resulting in an emergency signal being passed on that much faster.

Basically, PLB's are better, but only offer one-way communication. (sorry for the rambling, take from this what you will)
Still Here
been scared and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'-- But I don't care! I'm still here!
Langston Hughes


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Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby GregMiller » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:19 pm

Yes, that's the Delorme InReach. Based on satellite capabilities, I'd trust it before a SPOT, but it's newer on the market so there are yet to be the stories either way of it working or not when the s**t hit the fan.

ALSO: Apparently ACR offers a service where for either $39.95 or $59.95 (I can't tell the difference between the services) your self-test messages can be used to do the same sort of "Hey I'm here and I'm safe" thing that people use SPOT for. Definitely cheaper than a SPOT.
Still Here
been scared and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'-- But I don't care! I'm still here!
Langston Hughes

Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:21 pm

farcedude wrote:Yes, that's the Delorme InReach. Based on satellite capabilities, I'd trust it before a SPOT, but it's newer on the market so there are yet to be the stories either way of it working or not when the s**t hit the fan.

ALSO: Apparently ACR offers a service where for either $39.95 or $59.95 (I can't tell the difference between the services) your self-test messages can be used to do the same sort of "Hey I'm here and I'm safe" thing that people use SPOT for. Definitely cheaper than a SPOT.



Thanks.



I guess its between that and the ACR device I linked earlier. Decisions decisions....

Any other input is welcomed

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Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby Tango2Hotel » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:51 pm

A previous post on the delormme.....

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=33839

I have a delormme inreach and would be happy to field any questions.

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Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby HikeforTurns » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:08 pm

Anyone using the InReach on the iphone yet? I am pretty sure inreach is the way im going, just need to know how good the smartphone is for actual navigation. As in, for actual navigation, can I just leave the inreach in the top pocket of my pack and use my iphone while moving through the hills? Say if Im on a glacier trying to follow a preloaded route. Or would I be better off picking up the delorme earthmate PN-60w for navigation and communication with the inreach. I have to admit, the GPS unit looks like it is pretty inferior to the Garmin Oregon or Montana. Not to mention it would take about 30 minutes to type out a simple paragraph through the GPS unit with no qwerty keyboard.

Im kinda leaning towards getting the GPS unit as well, as I lost my Garmin Colorado 450t ](*,)

Thanks.

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Re: ACR PLB Vs. SPOT

Postby schrund » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:00 am

Here's an insightful discussion on the initial question: http://www.equipped.org/blog/?p=82
as well as a discussion on the Delorme inReach: http://www.equipped.org/blog/?p=356
We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams... as "wild". Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness".
-Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Chief

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