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SPOT messenger



 
 
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  #1  
Old May 14th 08, 05:13 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 46
Default SPOT messenger

Having followed the discussions here on the SPOT messenger
(findmespot.com) I just bought one -- andhope never to need it of
course. While far from perfect, it seems like a very good aid should
search and rescue be needed. A few observations:

I had thought I might use it in OK mode to report my position more
frequently than the every 10 minutes in "track mode." At 120 kts,
that's every 20 nm, leaving as much as 1500 sq miles to search. Better
than those looking for Steve Fosset had, but still a lot. Of course,
the average will be less than 1500 sq miles. There is a 50% chance it
will be less than 400 sq miles.

Unfortunately, the OK mode and track mode cannot be used at the same
time. Also, it looks like the unit takes 20 minutes to send an OK
message -- sending it repeatedly at several minute intervals to
increase the probability of having a clear view of the sky. So track
mode's every 10 minutes is best for aviation use.

I also was a bit concerned that the unit could be in OK mode when I
really wanted tracking mode. You get either one by pressing the OK
button, momentarily to get OK mode and holding it for at least 5
seconds to get tracking mode. The problem is that, in both cases, the
indicator lights look the same: the power LED and the OK LED flash in
unison every 3 seconds! But there are two ways to distinguish between
the two that are not described in the manual:

1. When you hold the OK button to go into tracking mode, the OK LED
comes on constantly (not flashing) for 5 seconds and then starts the 3
second flash -- so it looks like it goes out after 5 seconds. Getting
to OK mode, you hit the OK button only momentarily and the OK LED
starts flashing every 3 seconds immediately.

2. In OK mode, the OK LED flashes in unison with the Power LED for
15-20 minutes, after which the OK transmissions are complete and only
the Power LED flashes. So, if you start tracking mode more than 20
minutes before starting your flight and check that both LED's are
still flashing when you get in the plane, you know you're in tracking
mode.

I also suggested to the company that they offer an aviation tracking
option that reports every minute instead of every 10 minutes, but was
told the unit takes 4 minutes to get each GPS fix. I guess that's how
it last so long on a set of batteries. I then suggested they offer an
every 4 minute tracking option and was told they will think about it.

Hoping this helps.

Martin
N56WT

Ads
  #2  
Old May 14th 08, 05:32 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Robert M. Gary
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,767
Default SPOT messenger

On May 14, 9:13*am, wrote:
Having followed the discussions here on the SPOT messenger
(findmespot.com) I just bought one -- andhope never to need it of
course. While far from perfect, it seems like a very good aid should
search and rescue be needed. A few observations:

I had thought I might use it in OK mode to report my position more
frequently than the every 10 minutes in "track mode." At 120 kts,
that's every 20 nm, leaving as much as 1500 sq miles to search. Better
than those looking for Steve Fosset had, but still a lot. Of course,
the average will be less than 1500 sq miles. There is a 50% chance it
will be less than 400 sq miles.


I have Spot because I travel to Mexico a lot. 400 sq miles may seem
like a pretty bad worse case scenario but I can tell you from having
partisipated in several S&R missions that we would have loved to have
narrowed the target down to 400 sq miles. I've been on many searches
that were many states. My first one was a plane that took off from
Iowa bound for Davis, CA. We must have spent hundrends of man hours
searching the track between Iowa and California. 400 sq miles would
have been wonderful.

-Robert
  #3  
Old May 14th 08, 05:57 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
NW_Pilot
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 88
Default SPOT messenger

I have been told by a firend that deals in Sat Phones that there will be an
Iridium based (True World Wide) device but will be 3 times the cost. and
have a key pad to enter text personal messages and your position will be on
display.


wrote in message
...
Having followed the discussions here on the SPOT messenger
(findmespot.com) I just bought one -- andhope never to need it of
course. While far from perfect, it seems like a very good aid should
search and rescue be needed. A few observations:

I had thought I might use it in OK mode to report my position more
frequently than the every 10 minutes in "track mode." At 120 kts,
that's every 20 nm, leaving as much as 1500 sq miles to search. Better
than those looking for Steve Fosset had, but still a lot. Of course,
the average will be less than 1500 sq miles. There is a 50% chance it
will be less than 400 sq miles.

Unfortunately, the OK mode and track mode cannot be used at the same
time. Also, it looks like the unit takes 20 minutes to send an OK
message -- sending it repeatedly at several minute intervals to
increase the probability of having a clear view of the sky. So track
mode's every 10 minutes is best for aviation use.

I also was a bit concerned that the unit could be in OK mode when I
really wanted tracking mode. You get either one by pressing the OK
button, momentarily to get OK mode and holding it for at least 5
seconds to get tracking mode. The problem is that, in both cases, the
indicator lights look the same: the power LED and the OK LED flash in
unison every 3 seconds! But there are two ways to distinguish between
the two that are not described in the manual:

1. When you hold the OK button to go into tracking mode, the OK LED
comes on constantly (not flashing) for 5 seconds and then starts the 3
second flash -- so it looks like it goes out after 5 seconds. Getting
to OK mode, you hit the OK button only momentarily and the OK LED
starts flashing every 3 seconds immediately.

2. In OK mode, the OK LED flashes in unison with the Power LED for
15-20 minutes, after which the OK transmissions are complete and only
the Power LED flashes. So, if you start tracking mode more than 20
minutes before starting your flight and check that both LED's are
still flashing when you get in the plane, you know you're in tracking
mode.

I also suggested to the company that they offer an aviation tracking
option that reports every minute instead of every 10 minutes, but was
told the unit takes 4 minutes to get each GPS fix. I guess that's how
it last so long on a set of batteries. I then suggested they offer an
every 4 minute tracking option and was told they will think about it.

Hoping this helps.

Martin
N56WT



  #4  
Old May 14th 08, 07:49 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Robert M. Gary
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,767
Default SPOT messenger

On May 14, 9:57*am, "NW_Pilot"
wrote:
I have been told by a firend that deals in Sat Phones that there will be an
Iridium based (True World Wide) device but will be 3 times the cost. and
have a key pad to enter text personal messages and your position will be on
display.


We already have Iridium based products that work well. The entire
point Spot is that its very inexpensive.
-Robert

  #5  
Old May 15th 08, 12:37 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Matt Herron Jr.
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 548
Default SPOT messenger

On May 14, 9:13 am, wrote:
snip
I also suggested to the company that they offer an aviation tracking
option that reports every minute instead of every 10 minutes, but was
told the unit takes 4 minutes to get each GPS fix. I guess that's how
it last so long on a set of batteries. I then suggested they offer an
every 4 minute tracking option and was told they will think about it.


Makes me wonder what is going on during that 4 minutes. are there
inaccuracies introduced by the fact that we are moving faster than a
hiker? how about the fact that we change altitude over that 4
minutes? Is it averaging a bunch of signals? Is it gathering
components of a single fix? Maybe it gets an instant fix, and then
waits for an opening to upload to the satellite? Has anyone ever
compared the spot time stamped location to an IGC trace temporally? In
other words, even though there is a lag in getting the fix from spot,
I wonder if the time it puts on the fix is accurate. If you flew over
some point of interest and pushed the OK button to mark it would you
get the right position 20 minutes later, or some random in between
position n minutes later?

Matt
  #6  
Old May 15th 08, 04:34 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Brian[_1_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 399
Default SPOT messenger

snip
I had thought I might use it in OK mode to report my position more
frequently than the every 10 minutes in "track mode." At 120 kts,
that's every 20 nm, leaving as much as 1500 sq miles to search. Better
than those looking for Steve Fosset had, but still a lot. Of course,
the average will be less than 1500 sq miles. There is a 50% chance it
will be less than 400 sq miles.

snip

Of course this assumes that the Spot does not survive the crash or can
not transmit after the crash. If it is still operable after the crash
then whit in 10 minutes It will report the your exact location.

Brian
  #7  
Old May 15th 08, 07:34 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Darryl Ramm
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,403
Default SPOT messenger

On May 14, 4:37 pm, "Matt Herron Jr." wrote:
On May 14, 9:13 am, wrote:
snip

I also suggested to the company that they offer an aviation tracking
option that reports every minute instead of every 10 minutes, but was
told the unit takes 4 minutes to get each GPS fix. I guess that's how
it last so long on a set of batteries. I then suggested they offer an
every 4 minute tracking option and was told they will think about it.


Makes me wonder what is going on during that 4 minutes. are there
inaccuracies introduced by the fact that we are moving faster than a
hiker? how about the fact that we change altitude over that 4
minutes? Is it averaging a bunch of signals? Is it gathering
components of a single fix? Maybe it gets an instant fix, and then
waits for an opening to upload to the satellite? Has anyone ever
compared the spot time stamped location to an IGC trace temporally? In
other words, even though there is a lag in getting the fix from spot,
I wonder if the time it puts on the fix is accurate. If you flew over
some point of interest and pushed the OK button to mark it would you
get the right position 20 minutes later, or some random in between
position n minutes later?

Matt


You are making assumptions from what Martin said. In track mode I
suspect it is sleeping, wakes up the GPS and then sends the location/
time (and it tries to resend it later as well, since it is simplex it
never knows it the message goes out). But it knows exactly the time
when it was exactly at some coordinate and tries to send that exact
info, possibly delayed up to ~10 mins. Who know what exactly it does
when you press OK, Help or 911. if I built it, it would wake up the
GPS and grab a new fix and send that location - why would you build it
any different? The very modern GPS chipset used definitly should not
take 4 mins to acquire a (warm) fix and I'd eat my hat if they have to
do a cold fix each time.

The SPOT does not "wait for an opening" to talk to Globalstar, it has
no idea where the Globalstar satelites are, it just sends blind, then
retransmits the same message later. It's pure simplex, there is no
"carrier detect", no handshake, no ACK. Nothing. The Globalstar
satellites are just dumb one-way bent pipe repeaters. Sometime being
simple is a beautiful thing.

And to Martin's earlier comment, OK etc. does not always take 20
minutes to send, it might take up to that (or may never successfully
send) but you can see that messages often go out quicker than this.
I'm missing the point of the argument used, I use tracking becasue it
is convenient and I don't want to press buttons, not because I think a
track position report is more likely to get out than an OK report.

BTW kind of a throw away comment but the circle of uncertainity for a
10 minute fix spot at reasonable fast cruise speed is about the same
order as for a SARSAT doppler located plain old 121.5 MHz ELT. (which
SARSAT service goes away next year) Of course if SAR is activated and
they can home your ELT then they can find you (or your corpse). If
SPOT survives they also find you or the corpse. The big issue with an
ELT is they just don't activate on impact frequently enough and nobody
know what the stats are for gliders ( ~12 percent for GA aircraft). At
least with a SPOT in track mode you are not relying on impact
activation and not at the mercy of the unit not being damaged and the
antennas able to see the sky after impact. If SPOT simply halved the
10 minute location transmit times (which I've also heard from other
sources they are looking at doing) the are of uncertainity drops a
lot. The other thing is I suspect a lot more crashes/landouts happen
when gliders are not cruising at high speed but scratching around low
in weak lift or close in on ridges etc. In those cases the area of
uncrtainty will be smaller. Previous flight trace fixes will often
allow some guessing by SAR groups on the indended flight path, speed,
etc. and that will often reduce the area of uncertainity as well.

Executive summary: go buy yourself a SPOT messenger!

Cheers


Darryl
  #8  
Old May 15th 08, 08:26 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Matt Herron Jr.
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 548
Default SPOT messenger

On May 14, 11:34*pm, Darryl Ramm wrote:
On May 14, 4:37 pm, "Matt Herron Jr." wrote:



On May 14, 9:13 am, wrote:
*snip


I also suggested to the company that they offer an aviation tracking
option that reports every minute instead of every 10 minutes, but was
told the unit takes 4 minutes to get each GPS fix. I guess that's how
it last so long on a set of batteries. I then suggested they offer an
every 4 minute tracking option and was told they will think about it.


Makes me wonder what is going on during that 4 minutes. are there
inaccuracies introduced by the fact that we are moving faster than a
hiker? *how about the fact that we change altitude over that 4
minutes? *Is it averaging a bunch of signals? *Is it gathering
components of a single fix? *Maybe it gets an instant fix, and then
waits for an opening to upload to the satellite? *Has anyone ever
compared the spot time stamped location to an IGC trace temporally? In
other words, even though there is a lag in getting the fix from spot,
I wonder if the time it puts on the fix is accurate. *If you flew over
some point of interest and pushed the OK button to mark it would you
get the right position 20 minutes later, or some random in between
position n minutes later?


Matt


You are making assumptions from what Martin said. In track mode I
suspect it is sleeping, wakes up the GPS and then sends the location/
time (and it tries to resend it later as well, since it is simplex it
never knows it the message goes out). But it knows exactly the time
when it was exactly at some coordinate and tries to send that exact
info, possibly delayed up to ~10 mins. Who know what exactly it does
when you press OK, Help or 911. if I built it, it would wake up the
GPS and grab a new fix and send that location - why would you build it
any different? The very modern GPS chipset used *definitly should not
take 4 mins to acquire a (warm) fix and I'd eat my hat if they have to
do a cold fix each time.

The SPOT does not "wait for an opening" to talk to Globalstar, it has
no idea where the Globalstar satelites are, it just sends blind, then
retransmits the same message later. It's pure simplex, there is no
"carrier detect", no handshake, no ACK. Nothing. *The Globalstar
satellites are just dumb one-way bent pipe repeaters. Sometime being
simple is a beautiful thing.

And to Martin's earlier comment, OK etc. does not always take 20
minutes to send, it might take up to that (or may never successfully
send) but you can see that messages often go out quicker than this.
I'm missing the point of the argument used, I use tracking becasue it
is convenient and I don't want to press buttons, not because I think a
track position report is more likely to get out than an OK report.

BTW kind of a throw away comment but the circle of uncertainity for a
10 minute fix spot at reasonable fast cruise speed is about the same
order as for a SARSAT doppler located plain old 121.5 MHz ELT. (which
SARSAT service goes away next year) Of course if SAR is activated and
they can home your ELT then they can find you (or your corpse). If
SPOT survives they also find you or the corpse. The big issue with an
ELT is they just don't activate on impact frequently enough and nobody
know what the stats are for gliders ( ~12 percent for GA aircraft). At
least with a SPOT in track mode you are not relying on impact
activation and not at the mercy of the unit not being damaged and the
antennas able to see the sky after impact. If SPOT simply halved the
10 minute location transmit times (which I've also heard from other
sources they are looking at doing) the are of uncertainity drops a
lot. The other thing is I suspect a lot more crashes/landouts happen
when gliders are not cruising at high speed but scratching around low
in weak lift or close in on ridges etc. In those cases the area of
uncrtainty will be smaller. Previous flight trace fixes will often
allow some guessing by SAR groups on the indended flight path, speed,
etc. and that will often reduce the area of uncertainity as well.

Executive summary: go buy yourself a SPOT messenger!

Cheers

Darryl


Good summary Darryl, thanks. I agree with your search area opinions
as well. I assume it makes more sense to have the spot attached to
the chute rather than the plane for pretty much all situations.

Matt
  #9  
Old May 15th 08, 04:19 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Robert M. Gary
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,767
Default SPOT messenger

On May 14, 11:34*pm, Darryl Ramm wrote:
On May 14, 4:37 pm, "Matt Herron Jr." wrote:


The SPOT does not "wait for an opening" to talk to Globalstar, it has
no idea where the Globalstar satelites are, it just sends blind, then
retransmits the same message later. It's pure simplex, there is no
"carrier detect", no handshake, no ACK. Nothing. *The Globalstar
satellites are just dumb one-way bent pipe repeaters. Sometime being
simple is a beautiful thing.


I always assumed the 20 minute thing was put into the SPOT system
because sat time is expensive.

Executive summary: go buy yourself a SPOT messenger!


I did and I love it! I'm just waiting for them to create a public side
to findmespot.com so I can share my tracks. Right now you have to give
out the admin password to your account (which includes your credit
card on file, etc) for people to see your tracks.

-Robert
  #10  
Old May 15th 08, 05:05 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring,rec.aviation.piloting
Eric Greenwell
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,096
Default SPOT messenger

Robert M. Gary wrote:

I did and I love it! I'm just waiting for them to create a public side
to findmespot.com so I can share my tracks. Right now you have to give
out the admin password to your account (which includes your credit
card on file, etc) for people to see your tracks.


They've done that already, and it works well. Take another look at the
site to see how you can create public pages.

--
Eric Greenwell - Washington State, USA
* Change "netto" to "net" to email me directly

* Updated! "Transponders in Sailplanes" http://tinyurl.com/y739x4
* New Jan '08 - sections on Mode S, TPAS, ADS-B, Flarm, more

* "A Guide to Self-launching Sailplane Operation" at www.motorglider.org
 




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