Monday, 24 January 2011

Spot on

Finally. Now I got a device which sends signals into space. Despite the fact that I named it "Spock", it doesn't talk to aliens. Just to a satellite which orbits earth at an altitude of 1414 km. That's actually not bad: A device powered just by three AAA batteries with that range.

It's a Spot 2 Tracker. A little orange device with a GPS and the capability to link into the globalstar satellite network. Actually it doesn't do very much: Get the coordinates and broadcast them. That's it. No two-way communication >> just a one-way street. Attached to that data-burst is one of four flags depending on which button you pressed:

  • OK / Check in Message
  • Custom Message
  • HELP / I need assistance
  • SOS
These messages can be configured via internet so if I press the "Custom Message" button, it sends Martina an email that I'm done for the day and heading home (You can't configure where the SOS message is going >> it will always ends up at a rescue centre). In that mail will be a link which shows you from where the message came. Instead of an email the server can also send a SMS. And of course: you can link facebook and twitter as well. Pretty geeky.

Now to the downsides: This is not a PLB. If the Spot doesn't get a GPS fix your doomed ...or at least it can't tell anyone where you are. Also the uplink isn't that reliable. And finally it's not exactly cheap: The Spot is around 150 USD plus another 150 USD / year subscription fee. If you live in Oz add another 40 USD shipping.

So why bother and not just buy a cheap PLB? Yo can get the McMurdo Fast Find 210 for 250 USD! The storage life of the battery is 5 years and no additional fees or charges. Well here's the thing: A PLB is for emergencies only. You might know that you are ok and don't need help but here's a shocker: You're not alone on this planet and some of these people might care about you: They want to know too! Now it's just a button on the Spot.

If you want to have a super-reliable emergency beacon go for a PLB
If you just want to ease the minds of the loved ones while you're out in the bush* go for a Spot.
If you have too much money, buy both.

Just remember SAR is much more fun without the search - especially if you're the one to be rescued!

* = The Spot is quite pointless in Europe >> mobile coverage is really good: All the way up to the top of Mont-Blanc I had 3G and tweeted along the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment