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Thread: SPOT users

  1. #1
    My other ride is your mom
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    SPOT users

    I want to get some feedback from folks who are using SPOT devices on their endurance rides (or any ride worth using a SPOT on).

    I'm wondering what you've found to be a good mount option. It seems I could rig up something for the handlebars so that the antenea is always facing the sky, but I've also been trying it out on my camelback. What I'm running into is spotty (pun intended) tracking with the unit because the antenna is not pointed in the optimum up....sometimes this is ok, sometimes not....so i realize that this is not optimum from the directions and experience. I have had limited success with the unit on it's side, inside a mesh pocket on the back of my camelback and sometimes I am ok with this.

    For those folks who have had regular sucess with the SPOT....are you using a handlebar mount, a rigged up mount to keep it upright on your pack/shoulder strap, or other method....please elaborate.

  2. #2
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    I'm not familiar with any bikers using it, but there's a lot of discussion by hikers. The signal troubles you describe are VERY common. Hikers tend to keep it in their packs (where, I don't know, as I've never hiked with someone using one). The unit just seems to suffer from bad GPS reception. I don't think it uses one of the nicer GPS receivers like you find in the newer Garmins and others. I think it's crippled with an older receiver. I know that most people who have used it don't mess with it too much and when the thing can't get a signal, they just continue hiking and let it acquire a signal on its own.

    Since it has signal trouble, I doubt a h-bar mount would markedly improve things (I doubt anyone makes one yet, anyway). Probably, you need to stop for a break on treeless, south-facing slopes in hopes that the thing will do what it's supposed to.

    Curious...why is it that you use the SPOT and not a regular GPS and/or PLB or Sat phone?

  3. #3
    My other ride is your mom
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    I have a regular GPS (Edge 705) for everyday stuff.....for me the selling point was that SPOT is cheeper than a true PLB or a Sat phone and the benefit to me is that I have the potential option of calling out in an emergency where I don't have cell phone reception and that others can check up on me, even if only occasionally....the limitations inherent to the SPOT are fine by me. I've found the limitations to be more a function of the usage, rather than of the unit.

    My question was really directed at folks who have used it during multi day endurance rides....I've seen folks use them, just wondering what they found to be the optimum set up for it for more consistent tracking.

  4. #4
    Scott in Tucson
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    I'm starting to get a fair amount of experience with spots... like here for example:

    http://touridivde.org/leaderboard

    (40+ cyclists riding the same route at the same time!)

    I think people riding with them on their handlebars do get more points. Placed well in the pack (remembering that you hunch over when riding) seems to do fairly well, too. Some people bury them in their pack and get very infrequent points.

    The unit tries every 10 minutes to get a GPS lock. Inbetween it is shut off and is not tracking. I believe this is one of the biggest reasons it has trouble getting points. It's easier to get a lock if you already have a good estimate of position. People often get more frequent points when they are stopped.
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  5. #5
    My other ride is your mom
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    Thx Scott.....seeing some of the tracks by you/others in the past made me want to ask the question. I think (have not confirmed) that haste in the initial setup such as not letting the GPS lock up before the ride is contributing to part of the problem. I was keeping it on the ground, face up before the ride for 10 minutes or so as I was getting ready to ride...but this may not be enough time before I start riding. As you said...it's easier to get a lock once it has already done so at the onset of the ride.

  6. #6
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    Garmin Edge 705 for training / racing etc. Spot for communications and emergencies. The whole topic of emergencies belongs in another forum, so let's not go there. It is however really cool to hit the check-in button on the spot and have a text message go out to the people assigned. We just hit the button and through it back in the top of our camelbacks. Has worked great!
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fasterdonkey
    Garmin Edge 705 for training / racing etc. Spot for communications and emergencies. The whole topic of emergencies belongs in another forum, so let's not go there. It is however really cool to hit the check-in button on the spot and have a text message go out to the people assigned. We just hit the button and through it back in the top of our camelbacks. Has worked great!
    IMO, my family does not need to know exactly where in the forest I am. If they can't deal with it, it's their problem. I tell relevant people where I will be going before I leave, but that's the best they get. I don't like that with SPOT, those people you send your status to can send for SAR. Real nice when your only problem is your SPOT can't get a GPS signal. I would prefer a PLB for emergency preparedness.

  8. #8
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk
    IMO, my family does not need to know exactly where in the forest I am. If they can't deal with it, it's their problem. I tell relevant people where I will be going before I leave, but that's the best they get. I don't like that with SPOT, those people you send your status to can send for SAR. Real nice when your only problem is your SPOT can't get a GPS signal. I would prefer a PLB for emergency preparedness.
    SAR is only alerted if you push the "911" button. No one is going to come looking for you if you can't get signal. Point is, you can use a SPOT just like a PLB. You don't need to have it always tracking...
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  9. #9
    My other ride is your mom
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    Since there is not a SPOT or PLB forum.....I found the closest thing to it and posted my question.

    I've found that when I'm tracking north, I have a high success rate in terms of the unit getting a signal out on a regular basis. Much less so when I'm tracking south. This is all based on the unit lying at roughly a 45 degree angle to the horizontal, within a mesh pocket on my camelback. I've yet to rig up something so that the unit is horizontal with the horizon (on my shoulder strap), but am hoping for higher success rates with it this way....I could always mount it on the handlebar....but then again, if I really want to be sure it is tracking, I'll just lay it flat on the ground.

    Again....this is not a question of how to get it to work right....it's more a discussion of mounting options for better tracking on the go (i.e., not laying flat on the ground, stationary for 20 minutes).

  10. #10
    [NEC] No Excuses Campaign
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maadjurguer
    Since there is not a SPOT or PLB forum.....I found the closest thing to it and posted my question.

    I've found that when I'm tracking north, I have a high success rate in terms of the unit getting a signal out on a regular basis. Much less so when I'm tracking south. This is all based on the unit lying at roughly a 45 degree angle to the horizontal, within a mesh pocket on my camelback. I've yet to rig up something so that the unit is horizontal with the horizon (on my shoulder strap), but am hoping for higher success rates with it this way....I could always mount it on the handlebar....but then again, if I really want to be sure it is tracking, I'll just lay it flat on the ground.

    Again....this is not a question of how to get it to work right....it's more a discussion of mounting options for better tracking on the go (i.e., not laying flat on the ground, stationary for 20 minutes).
    I've used my SPOT on many, many off-road motorcycle trips, SOCAL, Baja, Nevada without missing a beat. It was originally mounted to my front fender but moved to my mesh pocket in my camelback. Reason? what happens if the bike goes over a cliff and you, or your friends, can't get to it? IMO, SPOT should be used as a" need assistance/emergency" locator first and a tracker second.
    I used zip ties to hold it to the fender. if you really want it on the bike, maybe try zip tieing it to the stem?
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