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SOTMR: Two-way Satellite Communications for Backpacking: Part 1 - Introduction
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jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re:Re:Re:Re: Drone Resupply on 03/24/2013 23:03:45 MDT Print View

Yeah, I was thinking helicopter - easier to land

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re: Re:Re:Re:Re: Drone Resupply on 03/24/2013 23:31:21 MDT Print View

Not sure why I am shifting to being serious on this point, but by "drone" I mean a hover or copter drone. The kind that are going to be everywhere in the future. The control systems are now good enough to make them autonomous.


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Drone Resupply on 03/25/2013 00:05:00 MDT Print View

There have been a number of documentaries about these. Really cool.

To be called a drone doesn't it have to be autonomous?

Advances in computer hardware and software, cameras,... is making these cheap and available to the masses, for example, backpackers.

Good for harrassing wildlife, probably not so good for ferrying supplies : )

Need to mount some sort of offensive weapon in addition to camera.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
More Fun with Drones on 03/26/2013 14:46:21 MDT Print View

Cool! Little drones would be just the thing for target practice. So much more fun than skeet. Bring 'em on!

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Sat Phones on 03/26/2013 17:01:01 MDT Print View

I had a Globalstar phone from 2005-2009, until their failed-amp problems got so bad that I wasn't able to make a connection even during predicted windows. I also had a 9600-baud Internet kit, which was useful when traveling by car outside of cell coverage.

I then switched to an Iridium phone. It has worked reliably whenever I've used it, including in areas with limited sky view. The contract price keeps creeping up ($55/mo. not including minutes), so I'm considering moving back to Globalstar when they become fully operational again.

I consider the sat phone to be a 1-pound penalty for my freedom. It's a business thing, and as long as I can check that my machines are running smoothly and thump them when they aren't, I can be away doing what I want. I also go solo, off-trail, year-round, and as long as my wife knows I can call if I'm in trouble, she doesn't worry about me. I don't consider that I'm 'chained to the grid'; instead, because I only use it to call out and it's turned off otherwise, nobody can bother me until I am ready to check in for a few minutes once a day. Since I don't have an Internet kit for it, I can't check my e-mail ("so sorry").

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: More on the DeLorme InReach SE on 03/31/2013 21:19:44 MDT Print View

DeLorme released all the specs for the inReach SE today:

"Now accepting pre-orders. Expected ship date is mid to late April"

And I've started a more appropriate discussion for this device:

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
One more - handheld ground-to-air radios on 10/22/2013 00:22:36 MDT Print View

For whitewater raft trips in the Grand Canyon, NPS recommends (PDF) satellite phones or handheld ground-to-air radio transceivers for emergency communications. With the radio, you raise a passing airplane on a monitored frequency, relay a brief message to the pilot, and the pilot passes the message onward. If you get a commercial airliner, the message might go you -> pilot -> LA, Denver, or Albuquerque ATC -> local sheriff -> NPS.

I rented a ground-to-air radio for a 1996 Grand Canyon trip, which never came out of it's Pelican box. No small sat phones back then.

Example: A Yaesu FTA-720 transceiver weighs 9.9 oz. (280 grams) with antenna, and costs about $300.

I don't know the legalities of using ground-to-air radios for emergency communications anywhere else. Also, not very useful if you backpack in areas with very little air traffic.

-- Rex

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: One more - handheld ground-to-air radios on 10/22/2013 00:49:59 MDT Print View

A little over twenty years ago, a ground-to-air transceiver saved some lives on Mount Whitney. Backpackers were in the summit hut one afternoon when it was struck by lightning, killing at least one outright. Others were severely injured and others only mildly burned. One survivor ran to get help. [Try running at 14,000 feet sometime and see how far you get.] He ran down to Trail Camp at 12,000 feet where some boy scouts had a transceiver. Once they understood the emergency, they transmitted a Mayday to an airliner passing overhead. The pilot got the message and radioed ahead to the tower at LAX, which telephoned the Inyo County Sheriff. The sheriff could not do much that afternoon, so they called the Air National Guard which flew a small helicopter up to the summit for rescue... that very afternoon. That is pretty impressive. They took the two severely injured people right then. At dawn the next morning, a large helicopter flew up to the summit and flew the rest of the party off.

It never would have happened without the scouts with the radio.


Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Full Globalstar satellite constellation operating on 10/30/2013 23:18:08 MDT Print View

As of August 28, 2013, a complete constellation of Globalstar second-generation satellites is fully operational:

This means Globalstar phones and Spot Global phones should work anytime you have a clear view of most of the sky, and you are in the Globalstar coverage area.

The problems with the old satellites did not affect Spot devices, and the new satellites will not improve Spot performance.

-- Rex