Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc [sp

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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby climberman » Thu 23 Sep, 2010 8:11 pm

Hi folks - is the GME 410G still the lightest of the GPS enabled PLBs ? Am tasked with getting one for my flyfishing club and looking to get one of these.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby jez_au » Thu 31 Mar, 2011 4:27 pm

I read all these posts at the start of the week, I hope I am not repeating anything here unnecessarily. Some people in this discussion with Spot Trackers mention them contacting their emergency contacts directly when 911/SOS has been activiated, others mention the distress signal has been forwarded onto AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority).

I emailed Spot Australia to validate the statement on their website (http://www.findmespot.net.au/What-is-Spot.html) that:

911 (EMERGENCY) [upon activation of]
Dispatch emergency responders to your exact location via the Australian Search and Rescue Regional Communication Centre.


There is no facility in Australia with this name. The phrase appears only on their Australian website, or websites quoting it.

Their response was:
from Holly Gibson <info@findmespot.net.au>
to
date Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 4:42 PM
subject Re: Spot 911 function

Hi Jeremy

When you push the SOS button, the details go directly via satellite to GEOS Search & Rescue in Texas USA. They handle all the Spot emergencies. They immediately see where in the world the Spot is located and if it is in Australia, it is handed over to the Australian Search & Rescue who handle the emergency the same way they would with an EPIRB. The Australian Search & Rescue and GEOS Search & Rescue have a memorandum of agreement to handle all Spot emergencies.

There have been several instances of Spot SOS's in Australia and they have all been handled perfectly.

Hope this helps.
Kind Regards

Holly Gibson | Office Administrator
Softrock Solutions Pty Ltd
PO Box 1477 Bibra Lake WA 6965 Australia
Phone: +61 8 9418 1411 Fax: +61 8 9418 1166
Mobile: +61 401 239 293
http://www.softrock.com.au | http://www.findmespot.net.au


Specifically, my enquiry was:
from
to info@findmespot.net.au
date Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 10:02 AM
subject Spot 911 function

Hi there, with the Spot Tracker, your website details that for Australia when activating the 911 Emergency function the Australian Search and Rescue Regional Communication Centre is contacted. I cant find any reference to an "Australian Search and Rescue Regional Communication Centre" except on your website or websites quoting your website. No facility with that name seems to exist.

Are you able to detail for me what process occurs when a 911 Emergency function is invoked on a Spot Tracker in Australia? Is the response the same or different to that of the activation of a PLB distress signal? Your website mentions a $345 per hour false alarm fee. Who is charging the $345 per hour and what services are they charging it for?

Thanks for your time
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Thu 31 Mar, 2011 5:33 pm

Thanks Jeremy,

It would be interesting to see statistics on accidental activations.

On the V1 Spot, there was little protection on the buttons - they were easy to accidentally engage, and I have heard of kids setting the things off just mucking about with them. The V2 device has much more robust button protection.

One of the reasons I never bought a V1 was this button issue.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby cams » Mon 25 Apr, 2011 5:36 pm

climberman wrote:Hi folks - is the GME 410G still the lightest of the GPS enabled PLBs ? Am tasked with getting one for my flyfishing club and looking to get one of these.


I was just looking at Johnny Appleseed this morning to see what options they have. Haven't read this entire thread to see if this one was mentioned yet.

http://www.ja-gps.com.au/Kannad/safelink-solo-plb-with-gps/

Can't complain with 165g. It's waterproof to 10m rather than 1m for the GME. Only downside I can see is 5 year battery shelf life as opposed to 7 years for the GME.

Anything else I've missed?
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ninjapuppet » Wed 04 May, 2011 5:53 pm

Our spot2 device malfunctioned during an overseas trip. They said they'll send us a replacement once they check it out. Anything electronic will have a chance of failure, but to fail on its first trip out? i'm not trusting spot2 anymore.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Wed 04 May, 2011 5:55 pm

No i've heard too many (WAY too many) instances where the SPOT2 failed to activate. This could be disasterous. Actually it's downright negligent of the company IMO.
Combined with the ongoing subscription to their service I think they are a total sham and will keep my PLB 10 times out of 10 over one of those!!
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Wed 04 May, 2011 9:52 pm

Really, this is the never-ending story.

If a PLB fails, no-one know where you are either. With a SPOT you at least get to test that it is working by sending Ok messages and tracking.

Make your choices and take your chances. Each technology has its merits.

ninjapuppet, what actually went wrong with your Spot2?
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Thu 05 May, 2011 4:36 am

photohiker wrote:
If a PLB fails, no-one know where you are either. With a SPOT you at least get to test that it is working by sending Ok messages and tracking.




PLB's have built in testers as well.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ninjapuppet » Thu 05 May, 2011 7:28 am

photohiker wrote:ninjapuppet, what actually went wrong with your Spot2?


I really like the idea of spot2, and Ive actually never heard of any other spot 2 malfunctioning. But when ours friends did, it was a pain to call over to the US and UK to be directed over to india and be on the phone for over 45 minutes to have them keep denying it was a problem with their unit. It worked fine when we first bought it, but basically went kaput and died just before my trip. In the end, they have given us a unit which arrived yesterday and works great, but its getting sold on.

I dealt with GME last year in sydney directly, and got tops sevice from them.

Briefly outlined here in my recent trip to alaska
http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6507#p79547

On this particular trip, we had a satellite phone in our group but still carried the PLB just in case.
With PLBs, you can actually tell AMSA of your trip's intentions by filling out their online form, so they can narrow down your search if required. I find this step uneccesary but I do it anyway, usually before each major trip. Last year I filled out on the form that there were 5 of us going on a trip but only 4 eventually went. When we got rescued, they wouldnt just take our word for there being 4 people but went to great lengths to confirm the missing 5th person.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Thu 05 May, 2011 8:30 am

ILUVSWTAS wrote:
photohiker wrote:
If a PLB fails, no-one know where you are either. With a SPOT you at least get to test that it is working by sending Ok messages and tracking.




PLB's have built in testers as well.


In terms of confirmation that this particular PLB is functioning and can get a message out, no they do not. I believe you can arrange a test firing with AMSA though.

Apart from the crazy battery problems at Spot2's initial release, ninjapuppet's is the first failure I have heard of.
Even if I decided my Spot was not reliable enough and carried a PLB I'd probably take a Spot for tracking purposes anyway.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Thu 05 May, 2011 3:25 pm

I use my GPS for tracking.
There are other stories of SPOT failures on the forum. Do a search. :wink:

On one trip one party member had his, it successfully sent out 4 msg's but one was not recieved by the recipitents.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Thu 05 May, 2011 6:36 pm

ILUVSWTAS wrote:I use my GPS for tracking.


So do I. :) I was referring to the kind of tracking people at home do while I'm out enjoying myself. Spot is worth its entry price for this alone. Good as a PLB is, it just doesn't do this kind of operation.

On one trip one party member had his, it successfully sent out 4 msg's but one was not recieved by the recipitents.


So a Spot 'failure' is one out of 4 messages not getting through. Ok, now I understand what you're getting at with all these failures. Yes, that is true. I have had the odd 'Ok' signal not reach home. Wouldn't be more than 10%. For instance, in Scotland I sent one at breaking camp and one at making camp - 27 all up from memory, and just one didn't get through. Looking at the tracking, there is the odd tracking signal that doesn't get through - some are explainable and some aren't. In any case, if you fall off the map they know where to start looking. :D

When you press the emergency button it sends a message every 5 minutes until you cancel it or the battery runs out. I wonder how many have to get through before the emergency response realise there is an emergency?

Each device has its merits. Its not necessary to can one because it doesn't suit your needs.

Peace.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby Liamy77 » Thu 05 May, 2011 7:01 pm

i guess a sat phone with its 2-way capability is the best option.... but still has faillings...
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ninjapuppet » Thu 05 May, 2011 7:49 pm

Liamy77 wrote:i guess a sat phone with its 2-way capability is the best option.... but still has faillings...


haha. yea.

Except when we used our sat phone to call in a helicopter to take us down from Bevan Col in Mt Aspring, it cost us $1200 NZ.
Had we used our PLB - it would have been free (provided one of our members were seriously injured) :D
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Thu 05 May, 2011 8:13 pm

ninjapuppet wrote:it cost us $1200 NZ.


Jeepers. Why was that?
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ninjapuppet » Thu 05 May, 2011 8:55 pm

to land in Mt aspring national park, you need a permit from DOCS which costs $180.
cost for the small chopper was $800 but we had too much gear and 5 people so we needed the medium sized chopper which was just over a grand.

All up was $1240 for a 10 minute flight, which would have taken us 2 days over rugged mountains.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby Liamy77 » Sat 07 May, 2011 3:07 am

can ya get a discount by hitting the PLB button when ya get the bill?!!! :lol: :shock: $1200...Ahh..ooh... chest-pain.... $12 *&%$#! hundred?!
a "bit" cheeky considering it coulda been free :roll: typical these days :roll:

hope you were ok in the end :wink:
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby tasadam » Sat 07 May, 2011 7:52 am

photohiker wrote:
ILUVSWTAS wrote:PLB's have built in testers as well.

In terms of confirmation that this particular PLB is functioning and can get a message out, no they do not.

Hi Michael. Just a question - Do you know exactly what test is performed when testing the 410G? Is it just battery or is there an internal circuit check as well?
Do you know this from GME or just because it doesn't actually transmit something that is received at the other end as per the SPOT?
I'm interested, that's all.

I can see that when the SPOT is used, it is proven that it is fully functional, whereas the PLB can only be proven 100% when you actually need it (unless you want to do a test firing through the appropriate channels).
But it would be interesting to hear from GME exactly what is tested when you do the self test - just the battery, light and beeper? I suspect there are other internal tests done, but I don't know either.
Anyone know anyone that works for GME?

As for the SPOT not always successful, wonder how many of those unsuccessful transmissions are due to battery power, being that these things are used regularly unlike the PLB that is only used once, but when a PLB is used it will transmit for a claimed 24 hours on its battery (I think that's the standard they must adhere to in order to be registered for use in Australia).

I have a GME MT410G, chosen because of the 7 year battery life. Like the first aid kit, it is carried in about the most accessible and least used area of the pack. Hopefully "never used".
I think I mentioned this once before, if you do have a PLB make sure you update your trip details before every walk. I do, and I screen capture the detail I type on that page & send it in an email to all my emergency contacts.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Sat 07 May, 2011 9:26 am

tasadam wrote:
photohiker wrote:
ILUVSWTAS wrote:PLB's have built in testers as well.

In terms of confirmation that this particular PLB is functioning and can get a message out, no they do not.

Hi Michael. Just a question - Do you know exactly what test is performed when testing the 410G? Is it just battery or is there an internal circuit check as well?
Do you know this from GME or just because it doesn't actually transmit something that is received at the other end as per the SPOT?
I'm interested, that's all.


Its an internal self-test and more rigorous than a simple battery check as I understand it. I would expect it to be as comprehensive as possible without actually transmitting anything. It may even be part of the standard. I do know from my original research on these devices that you can do a GPS test on the G model as well, but at the cost of battery life - GME reckons no more than one GPS test per year if I remember correctly.

tasadam wrote:I can see that when the SPOT is used, it is proven that it is fully functional, whereas the PLB can only be proven 100% when you actually need it (unless you want to do a test firing through the appropriate channels).
But it would be interesting to hear from GME exactly what is tested when you do the self test - just the battery, light and beeper? I suspect there are other internal tests done, but I don't know either.
Anyone know anyone that works for GME?


The manual I have for the 410G says:

comprehensive internal diagnostics with visual and audible operator feed-back . uHF test message (inverted synchronisation compatible with portable beacon testers) .
GPs satellite acquisition test (mt410G only)


Wonder what a 'portable beacon tester' is and how you get access to one?

tasadam wrote:As for the SPOT not always successful, wonder how many of those unsuccessful transmissions are due to battery power, being that these things are used regularly unlike the PLB that is only used once, but when a PLB is used it will transmit for a claimed 24 hours on its battery (I think that's the standard they must adhere to in order to be registered for use in Australia).


The SPOT lets you know when battery is low, so perhaps not. When in tracking mode a missed transmission could be as simple as a poor view of the sky. There are two things that can knock out the tracking communications: No GPS lock and No Sat lock, so when you are in the dark, dark, woods then you're out of luck. Same for when you throw your pack on the ground and sit on it :) If I chuck the Spot on the dash and go for a long drive it might miss a transmission or two even if we are on an open road. My take on this is those are genuine transmission failures, the message just didn't get out for whatever reason. Probably satellite communication problem, but who knows.

tasadam wrote:I have a GME MT410G, chosen because of the 7 year battery life. Like the first aid kit, it is carried in about the most accessible and least used area of the pack. Hopefully "never used".
I think I mentioned this once before, if you do have a PLB make sure you update your trip details before every walk. I do, and I screen capture the detail I type on that page & send it in an email to all my emergency contacts.


Yep. Same for Spot. I update the contact page with details of my trip and send a copy to my emergency contacts to remind them who they are and where I'll be.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby MartyGwynne » Mon 09 May, 2011 5:45 am

Thanks guys very interesting thread.
I have used a spot when doing a S&R in Victoria where Vicpol supplied us with them to test out their usefulness.
I am not sure of the results, but at times we were out of radio contact and assumed the spot was sending out tracking signals of our position, so this gave great feedback on what areas had been searched and when. I do not know how good they worked but the S&R boffins at the base were using them for the first time in anger. Good for us searchers if we got hurt or lost. (person was found safely). Had to carry it in top of pack.

I personally have purchased the GME 410G as the spot was in between getting better with spot 2 comming out and I wanted one now so went the PLB.
A friend of mine had a misshap on Fed Peak and pushed the 911 on his spot. Helicopter arrived and within 2 hrs back in Hobart. They had been using spot to track their progress over a few days and it still had enough power to send their 911 signal out and get them rescued.

So whatever type you have or want to get, is up to the individual.

My thoughts are as follows:
1) PLB is going to work best as the battery is the least likely to go flat due to other use.
2) Spot may go flat due to use and you would be wise to carry extra battery.
3) Sat phone will go flat like any phone with use.
I am not going to carry extra weight such as sat phone or extra batteries, but in a few years time hopefully there will be fantastic gadgets out there which will do the lot, weigh nothing, cost next to nothing, then I will get one when my PLB is near its use by date.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby Tofu_Imprint » Thu 26 May, 2011 5:19 pm

I would go a PLB just because the SPOT tracking function does not last long enough to suit my needs now, and definetely in the future. If it could track for 10 days plus and still function as a 911/000 device with enough battery it may be ok, but this is not realistic.

I am waiting on the KTI unit to come out unless I do any big trips in the mean-time.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby Liamy77 » Sat 28 May, 2011 4:28 am

Spot 2 takes AAA batteries for heavens sakes!!! - crikey 3 lithium AAAs dont take much to carry or change every few days....
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Sat 28 May, 2011 9:48 am

Liamy77 wrote:Spot 2 takes AAA batteries for heavens sakes!!! - crikey 3 lithium AAAs dont take much to carry or change every few days....


And they're lighter than regular alkalines: a whole 7 grams each, so that's 21g for a spare set.

A Spot2 with batteries, case, and a spare set of batteries weighs 160g. The perpetually unreleased KTI MiniSat 406 GPS is supposed to weigh 240g.

A Spot2 running 8 hours tracking per day with a spare set of batteries would easily go 10 days in my experience - probably get about 16 days. Of course, if the Spot was only being used like a PLB (emergency activation only) it would last for much longer - Spot claim 3 months per set of batteries.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby Tofu_Imprint » Sat 28 May, 2011 3:33 pm

I guess it depends on what you want. personally i'd prefer 5-10 years battery life from a PLB, what i was getting at was its not realistic to expect this from a spot unit :)
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby photohiker » Sat 28 May, 2011 10:02 pm

Tofu_Imprint wrote:I guess it depends on what you want.


Precisely.

personally i'd prefer 5-10 years battery life from a PLB, what i was getting at was its not realistic to expect this from a spot unit :)


No problem with that sentiment, but it doesn't explain this:

the SPOT tracking function does not last long enough to suit my needs now, and definetely in the future


PLB's don't have a tracking function!

:?
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Sun 29 May, 2011 4:45 am

photohiker wrote:
PLB's don't have a tracking function!

:?



No but GPS's do.
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby Liamy77 » Sun 29 May, 2011 5:42 am

show me the GPS with 5-10years per battery charge!?


that said i track with my GPS not my spot2..... couldn't justify the extra $ to subscribe to that feature..... :)

i have had 2 missed messages in the past but it was under HEAVY cover in a narrow valley and i dont believe a epirb woulda got a signal out from there either.....
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Sun 29 May, 2011 5:47 am

Quite right Liam, they dont have 5-10 years battery life, another good argument for the PLB over the spot. :wink:
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby Liamy77 » Sun 29 May, 2011 6:19 am

can all plbs be used more than once? or do they need a factory reset or similar?
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Re: Emergency Help Devices - EPIRB/PLB, Sat Phone, SPOT, etc

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Sun 29 May, 2011 6:22 am

Good question.
Im not sure but I think once they have been turned off they can be used again if needed.
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