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Old 05-23-2018, 11:54 AM
flyboy1963's Avatar
flyboy1963 flyboy1963 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lake Country, B.C. Canada
Posts: 2,423
Default SPOT 2 way Satellite messenger vs InReach costs?

This just popped up on my email from Aircraft Spruce.( Canada)

so, about $350... plus $200 a year for a big orange.....blackberry? ;-)

I doubt anyone has one yet, but I really need a plain English explanation of how exactly this works.

It has a US cel number, but I can use it in will there be roaming charges if I text someone?....
or does it go to their satellite base on the moon ( Texas?) and then relayed thru the cel network to my desired contact.

I guess they had to do something to claw back the market share they are losing to InReach.
Perry Y.
RV-9a - SOLD!....
Lake Country, BC

Last edited by flyboy1963 : 08-02-2019 at 01:55 PM. Reason: expand scope of discussion
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Old 05-23-2018, 06:35 PM
Canadian_JOY Canadian_JOY is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,372

Perry - good questions. The new Spot-X is just like previous SPOT devices, but has a better user interface to support texting.

It's a satellite-based system rather than cellular, so no roaming fees will apply. You're always roaming. :-)

The US-based number is because SPOT is US-based in terms of their ground earth station infrastructure, so they have a block of phone numbers to use for SMS-based text messaging.

A text message sent from the SPOT will go up to the satellite, down to the ground earth station, then it will be patched into the US domestic phone service for forwarding to the destination phone number just as though it were a regular cellular SMS message. Except, of course, for those SOS messages which are handled in a different manner (one hopes) after they hit the ground earth station.

As for InReach, now that it's a Garmin company I'll be doing my best to avoid their product. I'm looking hard at this new SPOT X and am hoping there might be some better deals available at AirVenture this year.
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Old 05-23-2018, 06:52 PM
rvator51's Avatar
rvator51 rvator51 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Peoria, AZ
Posts: 1,054

its $250 at Aircraftspruce (US) and 200 a year for weekender subscription. Yhis actually doesnt sound too bad to me and is only about 50 a year than my spot subscription. Being able to do 30 text messages a month and unlimited tracking serms like a good deal to me. i do a lot of hiking and cycling where I am out alone and i am thinking its worth $2.50 a month more for the text messaging. Seems like you could also sent text messages while fly8mg if needed.

Thomas Velvick
Goodyear, AZ (KGYR)

2020 Donation sent.

N53KT RV-6a finished 2018, Flying
N7053L RV-4 Wife's RV
N56KT RV-4 Finishing
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:24 PM
Aviator Aviator is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Hixson, TN ( Chattanooga)
Posts: 72

I use InReach. Very affordable plans, can be turned off if you dont use it. Reactivate when you want.
Spot has a horrible reputation from what I read on the Off road motorcycle forums (ADV). Please do your research before you decide how to roll.
RV 10, still building.
Chattanooga, TN.
N724AR reserved
EAA # 706863. Chapter 150.
Exempt, but donated Jan 2018
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Old 05-23-2018, 11:28 PM
flyboy1963's Avatar
flyboy1963 flyboy1963 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lake Country, B.C. Canada
Posts: 2,423
Default actual user data needed!

to expand on Aviator's comment; my ol spot 1 and 2 seemed to eventually get a sat lock when out on the airport on the dash of my RV.

the Spot 3, for all it's gadgetry, has often failed to acquire sat lock. Perhaps 50% of the time.
on the windowsill of my house, with no obstruction of half the sky....never did connect. On the dash of my truck, same thing.

Last year we did an overnite survival shakedown; one of the guys setup his SPOT in a clearing, with some light trees spaced around the perimeter...certainly no rocks in the way. Failed to send an 'ok' message, as I recall, even after being on most of the morning.

so is the performance up to the hype? Am I gonna invest another 5 or $600 bucks? hmmmmmmm
Perry Y.
RV-9a - SOLD!....
Lake Country, BC

Last edited by flyboy1963 : 05-23-2018 at 11:29 PM. Reason: thread reference
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Old 05-24-2018, 09:45 AM
Canadian_JOY Canadian_JOY is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,372

By its very nature, SPOT has very little satellite link margin. Unlike a 406MHz ELT that broadcasts its 406 message at 5 watts, the SPOT transmits with a couple of hundred milliwatts. With this little power, vegetation attenuation can literally wipe your SPOT signal off the map.

As an FYI, conifers suck up more signal than deciduous trees. Also, especially for you, Perry, keep in mind SPOT is "line of sight" to the satellite. Put some granite between you and the satellite and you're not going to get a message through.

With this in mind, get out from under the trees, and get up the side of a hill to improve your messaging capability with SPOT. Frankly, the same applies to InReach, too.
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Old 05-24-2018, 10:30 AM
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chrispratt chrispratt is offline
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 764
Default Works well for me

I have the original SPOT messenger. It's never failed to send a position message for me. I use it every time I fly. I press the "OK" button at every landing so that I can check that it is working. Usually shows my position within about 20 feet. On longer flights I use the tracking feature and it works fine.

Just my experience that it is doing it's job as advertised.

Chris Pratt (2021 VAF DUES PAID)
RV-8 Flying, 850+hours
Lycoming O-360-A1A, Hartzell CS
52F (Northwest Regional, Aero Valley, Whatever, TX)
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Old 05-24-2018, 11:03 AM
Low Pass's Avatar
Low Pass Low Pass is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Houston
Posts: 2,040

First of all, I'm glad to see some competition with the portable sat devices. I've personally been an Inreach user for a little over a year. Probably have close to 300 hours of time in the field on my Inreach. In that time it's proven to match specs on battery life and performance. Links very easily with my smartphone. As far as reliability, I've had to do a soft reset once. Likely because I (as usual) start pushing buttons before the device boots up totally.

A very technically savvy friend of mine saw my Inreach on a trip recently and decided he wanted to get one. Seeing the new Spot X on the market, he did some pretty thorough comparisons and ultimately went with the Inreach. His thoughts:

"...after reading all of the support horror stories for Spot, the newness of this new device (zero reviews), reports that previous Spot devices only had a .4W transmitter (hence the better battery life) vs 1.6W on the Garmin, the fact that Garmin uses Iridium and Spot does not, and the fact that Garmin is much more likely to be around for the long term, and the price reduction to $375 for the Explorer version, I decided the better part of valor was to go with the tried and true, but somewhat more expensive option."


Last edited by Low Pass : 05-24-2018 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 05-24-2018, 02:31 PM
Janekom's Avatar
Janekom Janekom is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: South Africa
Posts: 842

On the other side of the world here in South Africa, In am one of the Spot dealers and I am using it wherever I fly. It has really done great here in our part of the world.
Jan Hanekom
South Africa
Approved Person nr 325
RV10 - ZU-XOX - (Flying)
RV7A - ZU-JRV - (Flying)
RV10 - ZU-JVR - (Written off)
RV7 - ZU-LOL - (Flying)
RV10 - ZU-RVI - (Flying)
RV7A - ZU-MER (Bought back)
RV7A - ZU-JAD (Sold Flying)
Dues paid for 2021 WITH A SMILE
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Old 05-24-2018, 02:52 PM
Ron B. Ron B. is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Posts: 2,488

I just used mine on a road trip from Nova Scotia to Florida to pick up a kit. I had concerns that while at a hotel at night the trailer with it's contents might take a walk. I installed a PVC electrical box on top of the trailer and dropped the SPOT in it. It tracked the entire trip along with many hits at the same location while in a motel. In the motel roam, I would just check the SPOT location on my phone and if it had not moved I was quite sure it was still just outside. Trip went well and I did not need to track the trailer's location in the morning.
I was impressed with it's service. I use it most times while flying and unless the batteries are week , I get a track on my account when I check after I return.
Thanks Ron
RV-14 Flying
AirCam flying
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