SPOT satellitte messenger

Has anyone tried this yet? Looks like a useful little gizmo…

I have one
It is better than I expected. Performance is great.

Been wondering
about the spot. Have you used the tracking function?

My wife wishes I had one.


– Last Updated: Jan-31-08 2:48 PM EST –

I also have one and agree that it works great.
I have the tracking function and like it. It is also useful in the car, as I can know where my spouse is on a trip. When my son starts driving, the Spot will be in the car.

It was suggested that I not get the
tracking function.

I ordered my unit from Aqua-Adventures and spoke with Jen Kleck about it before I purcahsed it. She had taken one with her to the UK for the BCU Level 5 Coach Assessment she did.

Jen told me that the tracking function’s sending of an ok message every 10 minutes was just too much in relation to the speed we usually kayak at. The maps get too cluttered. Since you can send an unlimited amount of OK messages from the basic subscription, she suggested that would be better for our purposes. I took her advice and saved the $50. Using the OK message, I find that I can send waypoints on my trips that are usually accurate to a couple of feet.

Private satellite network?
I read somewhere that SPOT uses a private satellite network that has been limping along in bankruptcy for a few years.

I’m concerned about relying too heavily on a bankrupt system. But then… I flew United all the time and never crashed.

Has anyone heard about this?

I read
somewhere that the spot uses the same sat network that the common Sat phones were using.

is this the only company that makes them? This is amazing stuff.

Tracking function
I’ve seen the SPOT mentioned on a couple of homebuilt aircrft boards. The tracking function seems to be a big plus for those folks – it gives friends an easy way to know when to meet them at the airport, and would narrow the search area if there was an accident. It seems like a way to compensate for the lack of low-altitude radar coverage in many areas.

For many people who kayak remote areas, the decision will be between an EPIRB (very bulky), a small Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or a device like the SPOT.

A reasonable question is to ask yourself why are you purchasing such a device? Is it for rescue when all else fails, or is it to have a nifty device that tracks your progress for friends? It’s a compromise. You give up the non-emergency tracking with the PLB but you get a less robust emergency system if you get a SPOT (read the review below, for example if the unit cannot get a GPS fix, the SPOT sends NO message. In a PLB, if the GPS fails, then your position is still determined by doppler shift. The PLB also broadcasts a homing beacon to help rescuers to find you. The SPOT does not. A true PLB is also much more bombproof in construction and submersion rating).

FWIW, I looked at these devices and purchased an ACR ResQFix PLB. YMMV. That said, a true PLB really comes into its own on very remote trips and expeditions (where there is no VHF or cell reception). On a very remote trip I rent a satellite phone to send text messages or voice back home, to give status.

Here’s an interesting review on the SPOT; .

Greg Stamer

Problems with SPOT
I have read a lot of complaints lately(lack of coverage, especially in cover, for one and length of wait for a signal for another)on a couple of other forums. I suggest that you thoroughly research it first.

Questions for the owners
1. What do you need at the receiving end?

2. Would the “Help” or the “911” button be easily pushed by accident?

3. What kind of batteries does it take?

They filed Chap 11 in 2002
and successfully came out of it in 2003. To answer someone else’s question about the satellites they use, they do use the same satellites that the Globalstar sat phones use. There are problems with the duplex (two way commumication)function of those satellites, but the simplex function (one way communication)has been working perfectly and is used to track the movement of ships and shipping containers.

If you are an extreme kayaker when it comes to locations in the world that you paddle, I agree with Gregg that a PLB would probably be a better choice. But I paddle mostly in the US - occasional jaunts to Mexico and Canada- and for those areas, this addition to my VHF and signal kit is an economical additional back-up with the ability to save waypoints and send messages that I’m ok to my wife.

It does send 911 without GPS
From a follow-up to the article you posted:

“While SPOT expects that if the unit does not get a GPS fix it is unlikely to successfully transmit to the Globalstar satellites, they have decided that in any case, they will transmit even if they don’t get a GPS location in Help and 911 modes.”

Which boards?
I’d like to read some of the complaints, can you tell me which boards you saw them on?



can be found at

You will not push the buttons accidentally, although you could confuse one button with another if your vision was compromised and you forgot the layout. The buttons are placed intelligently so that once you understand, you know where they are. Review this if you place it in a position on your PFD where you can’t easily read the buttons.

It takes Lithium AA size batteries easily available.

For a 911, you don’t need anything.

The help and ok functions send your custom message to phone numbers (as text message) or email as you choose. You can modify the recipeints and messages over the web.

By including your own phone or email, you can easily test it yourself before a trip - an advantage. The email message contains a link to google maps, so that the recipient need only click on the link to see exactly where the message was sent from.

The track mode and ok message are good, since even if you cannot for some reason transmit a help or 911, at least there is a trail of where you have been. It is waterproof and floats (I know).

It works inside my cars when placed on the dash - don’t know about other places in the car. It does not work inside my home.

The OK transmit is good to let your spouse know if you change plans and are taking a side trip, or staying later than planned.

OK, Tnx, Sold
Who has the best price?

They are being sold for
$159 or $169. Don’t know anybody discounting them yet.

I bought mine from Aqua Adventures in San Diego because

  1. The owner, Jen Kleck, is a friend and I buy most of my gear from her.
  2. She was the one who first told me about it.


Same reason
I bought mine from Penguin Paddlers in California for the same reason. I have found it a lot cheaper to buy everything from a paddling store that knows me and stands behind the products. I initially lost quite a bit of money by looking for the best deals on equipment that either was defective or not suitable for me.