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  1. #1
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Spot Messenger - hand held satellite safety device

    This is an unsolicited review.

    http://international.findmespot.com/

    I've had mine for a couple months and feel totally comfortable recommending it to people who photograph off the beaten path. While it's still a new-ish (about a year old) first generation product and will certainly be improved in the future, it has enough life saving and peace of mind features that it goes with me every time I head out.

    What it does is fix your location with GPS then sends one of three messages, each of which you can customize yourself, by e-mail to your computer at home and to other people you want. The e-mail contains a link to Google Maps where your location is highlighted on a map, satellite image, or relief map. The three message options are;

    OK - Mine says, "I'm OK. Here I am, or where I'm changing direction."

    HELP - Mine says, "Myself or someone I've encountered is in a non life threatening emergency. Send family or friends immediately"

    911 - Mine says, "Myself or someone I've encountered is in a serious life threatening emergency. Send rescuers immediately."

    Both the Help and 911 messages are sent every ten minutes until it's turned off. The help message goes to the computers you send the OK's to, and the 911 message goes to the closest emergency responders to your location...pretty much anywhere on Earth. If the 911 is activated a person will phone your spouse, or whoever is your primary contact person and keep them informed of the rescue.

    There is also a tracking feature (for a little extra money) where if you hold down the OK button for five seconds, it'll send a message every ten minutes for twenty four hours, and put them on a single Google Map.

    Where I live on BC's north coast it has no problems sending out messages if I'm in an open area, but has trouble under the mature rain forest canopy. This really isn't a big concern for me though because even if I fall into a ravine and don't return home, my wife can call the RCMP with my last known location and direction of travel, instead of saying something like, "He's somewhere on the south side of the Seven Sisters Mountain Range".

    It is slightly annoying having to wait and watch the blinking LED's to be sure a message got out, and am pretty sure it'll emit a beep on later versions so you don't have to keep your eyes on it. It has indicated an OK message was sent (by the OK LED staying on for five seconds) from some pretty marginal locations which never actually did get to our computer, which is a tad disconcerting, but your last known location should put rescuers hot on your trail instead of having to start from the trailhead.

    Today the driving conditions were snowy, slushy, rutty and gross. The lake I went photographing to is out of cell phone range, so to let my wife know I made it there I sent an OK as soon as I arrived. Before getting the SPOT messenger she would have waited all day not knowing if I had rolled into the ditch driving out there. This is the most important reason I carry one, because it gives her peace of mind which then allows me to range further afield with a clear conscience, knowing she knows where I am and that all is well.

    They go for around $150.00 US (there are rebates available I think) and the basic subscription for satellite communication goes for $99.99 for a year. Money well spent me-thinks

    Murray
    Last edited by MurrayMinchin; 11-23-2008 at 07:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    _________________________________________
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  2. #2
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Here's one the Google Maps sent to our computer today. The satellite image resolution sucks because we're so low on everybody's priority list, which is fine by me! Try the 'terrain' feature - it's the best.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...UTF8&z=12&om=1


    Murray
    Last edited by MurrayMinchin; 11-23-2008 at 07:22 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    _________________________________________
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  3. #3
    johnnywalker's Avatar
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    Neat Murray. Pretty cheap for some peace of mind. Two questions though: What is Dubose, and what are those straight lines in the background of the valley?
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

  4. #4
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Dubose is a spot on the railway, not a community of any kind.

    The lines? Not sure, but that area was clear cut back in the nasty 'good old days' of the sixties and seventies, then the re-gen got nailed by spruce bud worms, so it might have been cut for some sort of research project. Then again, it could be UFO landing strips

    Murray
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  5. #5
    johnnywalker's Avatar
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    I thought it might have something to do with mining rather than forestry - those guys like straight lines. In the absence of any other evidence, I'll go with the UFO's.
    So this thing is supposed to work anywhere in the world providing you can get GPS coordinates? And it works by email, so you can send the message to someone you know who is nearby. Do you know how easy is it to change the message recipient?
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

  6. #6
    Poohblah's Avatar
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    All I can say about where you live is: Wowwww...

  7. #7
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Here's a map showing coverage;

    http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=1200

    The OK message needs a GPS fix, but the HELP and 911 will both be sent without one. Changing messages for each trip is easy if you want, and changing who gets them should be pretty easy too, but I've never tried.

    Poohblah...shhhhhhhhhhhhhh...keep your voice down man...we like lots of space unoccupied by crowds!

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  8. #8
    bobwysiwyg's Avatar
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    Well, if you go anywhere that a device of this sort would be useful, those prices are pretty reasonable to my way of thinking.
    WYSIWYG - At least that's my goal.

    Portfolio-http://apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=25518

  9. #9
    wiltw's Avatar
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    Pratical Sailor did a test of this product in Sept 2008. Some concerns about the product are its reliance upon a third-party message relay center. There was about 10 minute delay from the time 'check in' was pressed until a text message was received on a cell phone. They had failures during drop tests, in a unit with only a 1 yr. warranty, so for sailing purposes, it is less than ideal. There is an annual $100 service fee, too.

  10. #10
    johnnywalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poohblah View Post
    All I can say about where you live is: Wowwww...
    Murray lives in one of the most rugged and beautiful parts of this province, for sure.
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

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