/ Personal locator beacon Spot Gen3

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gilliesp 30 Dec 2019

A welcome Xmas present...I thought. Then I discovered why the device has a relatively low initial cost. "Plans" have to be subscribed to; the costs are flexible but whichever one selected they look like a good income for the company. I want a simple one button HELP I NEED RESCUED device. Can anyone disentangle the plethora of devices on offer and their operational costs for the user. I'd expect to pay £200+.

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MtnGeekUK 30 Dec 2019
In reply to gilliesp:

Suspect not. The justification from the company is paying for the continued maintanence of the infrastructure to support it.

If anyone did work out how to do it as you wanted, suspect the company would likely fall apart.

As an alternative, there are other companies out there where you can rent out one for a set period. May work out more cost effective for occasional use.

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tjin 30 Dec 2019
In reply to gilliesp:

A SPOT is not a PLB. It's a commercial communicator.

A proper 406mhz PLB only requires registration at the MCA at uses the same satellite systems as EPIRB (boats) and ELT (aircraft). Most maritime shops have them. (popular on lifevests). 

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gilliesp 30 Dec 2019
In reply to tjin:

I figured that out. Ukc did a survey highlighting five plb devices but I've not been able to relocate it. 

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supersteve 30 Dec 2019
In reply to gilliesp:

Having worked in marine safety for a number of year, what you need is one of these:

https://www.marinesuperstore.com/safety-beacons/plb-ais/ocean-signal-rescueme-plb1-with-gps-plb

Just register it online FOC then take it with you when you go on an adventure. If you get in trouble just switch it on and it automatically sends your location to the coastguard in Falmouth who then coordinate a rescue with local rescuers to you - anywhere in the world. All it needs is a clear view of the sky to pick up satellites for your GPS location i.e. it won't work caving. 

I got one originally for kayak fishing at sea but now take it with me hiking, skiing, climbing, etc as it's small, light and not location dependent. It's a single cosy up front then a cost every 7 years for the battery replacement. 

Simple. 

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drconline 30 Dec 2019
In reply to gilliesp:

Scottish Mountaineer mag did a mini-review recently and the only subscription-free model they mentioned was the McMurdo FastFind 220 at approx £200.

https://www.oroliamaritime.com/products/mcmurdo-fastfind-220/

It's a one-time only use unit so they get your money upfront for a single use.

There's also the caveat that there's a new unit coming early next year (2020) (the Fastfind ReturnLink) which gives you confirmation that the signal has been received. I assume it will be more expensive.

Hope that's useful.


Dave

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rogerwebb 30 Dec 2019
In reply to gilliesp:

A PLB will do what you want if you or someone you are with is conscious and can reach it.

A tracker will still help if you aren't conscious or can't reach it. 

PLBs just have an upfront cost, trackers always have a yearly plan. Either is better than neither. 

Post edited at 17:28
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gilliesp 30 Dec 2019
In reply to drconline:

That was the make I was after when my son cottoned on...a really good gesture. However,  I was waiting for the mcmurdo new model in 2020; it included another two-way function. Your article was the one of the ones I viewed I think.

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Wanderlust 30 Dec 2019
In reply to gilliesp:

> Ukc did a survey highlighting five plb devices but I've not been able to relocate it. 

Irony

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gilliesp 30 Dec 2019
In reply to Wanderlust:

Ha ha, well spotted. You are indeed a wit young man! 🤣

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gilliesp 15:17 Thu
In reply to gilliesp:

Can I add a wee sub- question? If a PLB has been triggered, in a genuine emergency,  can it be reset and hence reused? I have looked at this online but cannot find a definitive answer. Thanks for previous comments. A McMurdo looks like a possibility for me. 

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In reply to gilliesp:

Soon I'll be getting a Garmin Inreach Mini. It's tiny, has 2 way communications, uses IRIDIUM (the SPOT network isn't global!) about £250 and FINALLY offers flexible plans without an annual activation fee or mandatory subscription. It's a no brainer.

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deepsoup 15:36 Thu
In reply to gilliesp:

> Can I add a wee sub- question? If a PLB has been triggered, in a genuine emergency,  can it be reset and hence reused?

Yes, using it doesn't damage it in any way but you would need to send it back to the manufacturer to have a new battery put in.  (Just like you would in the much more likely event that it gets to the end of its shelf-life without incident.)

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ScraggyGoat 16:18 Thu
In reply to deepsoup:

Switching off a McMurdo fastfind 220, covered in the manual

https://www.oroliamaritime.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/FF220_lowres_issue_3.pdf

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deepsoup 16:47 Thu
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Yes, you can switch it on and switch it off again.  In an emergency you'd want to switch it on and have it working and transmitting a good strong signal until you're rescued (hopefully), so you'd be daft to carry one that doesn't have a fully charged battery.  That's why it will only allow you to test the GPS signal 10 times during the battery's lifetime.

Post edited at 16:50
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Medleysdad 17:13 Thu
In reply to gilliesp:

InReach mini is the way to go with different options for usage.  You can even just pay for a month.  And you can use it to message friends and family with pre-set messages as well as having an SOS emergency button.  Perfect to stop people worrying if you are running late or having to find a phone box or a mobile signal in a valley! 

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Alan Breck 18:33 Thu
In reply to gilliesp:

With doing a lot of my bumbling on my tod I use a PLB. Battery replaced and OK until I think 2026.

Never been convinced by the SPOT type. Cost is something that adds up over time plus there have been problems including this one: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/hill_talk/spot_messenger_why_would_you-495308

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syv_k 18:51 Thu
In reply to deepsoup:

> Yes, using it doesn't damage it in any way but you would need to send it back to the manufacturer to have a new battery put in.  (Just like you would in the much more likely event that it gets to the end of its shelf-life without incident.)

With some of them (ResQLink is one) if you set it off in anger you can send it back with the story of how you nearly died, and it goes in their hall of fame and you get a new one for free.

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Frank R. 01:06 Fri
In reply to gilliesp:

I wouldn't really compare sat messenger (Spot/Garmin/...) with a PLB - both serve somewhat different purposes. 

PLB is "only" rescue. Activate and wait. Great and optimised for that. For emergency, life threatening situations, it's great. But a lot of situations you might get into are more nuanced - which is where a two-way comms can be really helpful.

For example, we had a casualty in our group at a somewhat remote trip (at a dodgy national border, no cell service, SAR possible from two countries with no clear jurisdiction who would get there since the access was much easier from the exact other side of the border). Communicative casualty, fortunately, and finally able to extract him under own power (with some difficulties) to area with cell coverage and possibility of medical evacuation by car. We discussed using the Spot we had (which functions somewhat like a PLB, that it is not a two-way channel, you just send an SOS signal via sats), but decided not to in the end. It was just easier to extract him ourselves than wait at the place for help that could take a very long time without knowledge when and what would come. I guess it would be the same with a PLB, since you can't communicate with the SAR via PLB. If it was a two-way device (InReach/SpotX/Sat phone), a much better rescue could have been provided. PLBs and SOS type devices are great for the last resort situations, but a two-way SAT device can be more helpful with communicating the exact needs of a more nuanced rescue...

If you are put off by the SAT plans and prices, there are flexible plans for some devices (more for the Garmin, I think) that you can activate just for the trip (1 month). There are even other operators with different service plans, that you can look up. It's somewhat like virtual mobile provides. IIRC there is a German one for Garmin that offers different pricing and payment options, that might be more suitable for only occasional use.

Post edited at 01:07
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deepsoup 05:50 Fri
In reply to syv_k:

> .. send it back with the story of how you nearly died..

Cool.  But under the circumstances I really wouldn't begrudge them the money to service the thing.

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innes 07:48 Fri
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> Soon I'll be getting a Garmin Inreach Mini. 

Can you give us an idea of what the subscription, or temporary activation, costs would work out as?  Say over a year when you activate it for 3 months over winter, and again for a month or so in the summer?

I looked into this briefly but found the information confusing wrt to the “occasional use” contract.  

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galpinos 09:35 Fri
99ster 10:39 Fri
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> Soon I'll be getting a Garmin Inreach Mini. It's tiny, has 2 way communications, uses IRIDIUM (the SPOT network isn't global!) about £250 and FINALLY offers flexible plans without an annual activation fee or mandatory subscription. It's a no brainer.

I got one last year - brilliant piece of kit.  As you say - it is a total 'no brainer'!

Andy Kirkpatrick review:  https://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/blog/view/garmin-inreach-mini

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In reply to innes:

You just pay the monthly fee whenever you want to use it. There is no longer an 'activation' fee or any mandatory annual plan. The cheapest plan is about £15, so 4 months maybe £60ish? 

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innes 13:44 Fri
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

> You just pay the monthly fee whenever you want to use it. There is no longer an 'activation' fee or any mandatory annual plan. The cheapest plan is about £15, so 4 months maybe £60ish? 

Ah, good knowledge.  Thank you!

It was the Activation Fee and the Mandatory parts that I recall when I last looked into this.  They all added up and I can remember thinking the Sum was too much.

Good to hear the price may have come down.  I might have to look into this again.

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rogerwebb 15:03 Fri
In reply to innes:

If you don't need the device 12 months of the year the inreach seems a better buy, especially if you are going to wild places. If you use a device several times a week, running off road and going on the hill the spot still works out cheaper over the year. At least it does after you contact them to say you are going to cancel your contract and buy an inreach and they knock a mere 33% off.

There is a capable new spot device that is perhaps easier to use than the inreach but it is quite a bit bigger. 

As far as Scotland is concerned there seem to be no issues with satellite coverage with the Spot. 

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gilliesp 18:48 Fri
In reply to gilliesp:

Thanks all for info and advice. Some lengthy detailed gen....much appreciated. It's make my mind up time...

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