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inReach SE: No tracking points, no messages went through today!
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Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: How Timely? on 07/19/2014 17:59:37 MDT Print View

On the topic of PLB issues, this might be worth a read:
http://blog.oplopanax.ca/2011/08/personal-locator-beacons-from-the-rescuer%E2%80%99s-perspective/


The main benefits I see of the satellite messengers are both the breadcrumb trail (in case you aren't able to activate the device, and to help ensure the GPS has a decent fix) and the messaging (to resolve any confusion that might happen, because There's Always Something).

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: How Timely? on 07/19/2014 18:18:32 MDT Print View

That's a good article.

--B.G.--

Jonathan Shefftz
(jshefftz1) - MLife

Locale: Western Mass.
Potential SAR Benefits of Two-Way Communication on 07/19/2014 18:32:25 MDT Print View

“Give me a break dude....I can't help but being a smart a$$ when I read stuff like this....”

Given such excerpts from the post by Kerry Wilson, that doesn't sound like a serious attempt at opening a constructive dialogue on the potential merits of two-way communication when calling in a backcountry emergency, but for anyone else who is potentially interested in the subject:

1. Just read SAR call-outs for an area that has strong cell reception (http://www.stowemountainrescue.org/mission-log) and imagine how much more difficult the mission would have been if the SAR team knew only the device’s registration information and GPS position, and if the SAR team was not able to communicate any advice (e.g., whether a lost party can be guided to the correct trail) or reassurance as to ETA, etc.

2. Imagine how the incident report posted by Jeremy B. would have played out if the party could have described its difficulty and exact position via a two-texting exchange.

3. As for knowing whether the emergency is for the device owner or another party, I can think of many hypothetical examples. But personally, back in March 2013, had I been on my original timeline (delayed for dropping off our little daughter – a frequent source of all sorts of delays!), my itinerary would have put me exactly on schedule (inadvertently of course) to be the one to come across an avalanche fatality in an otherwise deserted ravine. As it happened, another solo traveler arrived there first, and happened to be a physician who legally pronounced the victim dead (and also somehow had cell reception there, although I haven’t before). Had it been me, with only my NSP OEC and WEMT, I’m not sure what I would have done, but triggering the SPOT I had at the time would have entailed hours of worry for my family (with the added irony that they knew I was there scouting out routes for teaching an avalanche safety course for the next couple days). Even aside from that, with inReach I would have been able to communicate exactly where I was (i.e., Huntington Ravine Fan) without worrying about any possible GPS glitch, exactly what entities should be contacted (i.e., USFS Mt W avalanche ctr plus Mtn Rescue Service & Appalach Mtn Club Pinkham Notch Vis Ctr) so that they didn’t first waste time contacting NH F&G (which uniquely hands off SAR responsibilities to the avy ctr during winter & spring for its forecast region), who was in trouble (i.e., avalanched solo climber, possibly already dead), and what resources I had (i.e., none other than my own).

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Potential SAR Benefits of Two-Way Communication on 07/19/2014 19:10:04 MDT Print View

I also think there's a big difference between someone having a heart attack/stroke/head injury vs a person with a broken ankle who has shelter and 6 days of food. One requires some serious hustling on behalf of the SAR, the other could simply be someone sending in a horse or something.

It would be really, really nice to be able to communicate that difference.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Potential SAR Benefits of Two-Way Communication on 07/19/2014 19:20:17 MDT Print View

One week ago when I was out on the trail, I had some good chats with other backpackers on these topics, one-way versus two way, etc.

One important topic is this. How bad does the emergency need to be before you would hit the button, so to speak?

If you broke your leg and couldn't stand on it at all, then that would probably qualify. What if you had extreme pain from a suspected fracture, but you could slowly walk on it?

If you were a little bit lost, you could set up camp and then scout around to look for your trail. At what point would you give up and hit the button? Maybe when you had only a day's worth of food left?

The sooner that you hit the button, the more time that SAR will have to find you. But that means more time that your next-of-kin will be notified and worried. If you held off, then you might be able to self-rescue and the whole drama is over.

With two-way messaging, you could have a short but rational discussion with the sheriff's dispatcher for advice on what you should do. I think this would be good for a less-experienced hiker.

I submit that if you think these topics over in advance, you are less likely to get into the emergency situation in the first place.

--B.G.--

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: Re: Re: Potential SAR Benefits of Two-Way Communication on 08/09/2014 17:38:09 MDT Print View

This is just to add my agreement about the utility of two-way text communication and the utility of the trail of tracking points or other messages up to some emergent situation that may leave the traveler incapacitated. PLBs do neither of these things. Nor do they permit asking for a lower level of help from one's friends and relatives without calling out the cavalry.

My personal practice when setting out into the wild is to send a preset message from the inReach SE to my minders. I may send a number of these because they serve as manual tracking points and cost nothing extra on the Safety Plan. If I put myself into what I think is a risky situation I send a different preset message to warn my minders. When the riskiness is resolved successfully I send another of the initial preset so the minders, if any are paying attention, do not spring into action assuming my disability. They will know my approximate location from the warning message. And upon return to the trailhead (or whatever safe place marks the end of the outing), I send a back from the wild message.

Here is my current set of the three preset messages:

(1) "Into the wild or farther in. A series of this message should be ended with a Back from the Wild message."

(2) "Back from the wild"

(3) "Here I am! Another message should follow this one. If not, maybe you should worry about me."

I leave the SE on continuously when I am out and with a Bluetooth connection to my display device (a 5th gen iPod Touch, which displays position, track, and topo maps or aerial photos). The SE's battery charge declines about one percent per hour used this way. I carry a light weight recharging device, so I don't need to worry about running out of electrons. (Miller ML102 charger with one or more unprotected high capacity 18650 Li-ion cells. Charger weighs 45g, as does each 18650.) For day trips recharge has never been necessary. The iPod has a smaller capacity so needs topping up sooner than the SE, but uses little power.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Frequent Sync'ing Needed? on 09/14/2014 11:54:02 MDT Print View

I hadn't sent or received any messages in month plus; so I thought I'd send one to DeLorme just to assure that messages still came and went. I'd been using the SE's GPS via Bluetooth frequently, and that worked just fine.

After dispatching the test message, I watched the flashing red light of boredom for what seemed the rest of my life. Maybe what it needs is a sync; so I did that, installing a new sync app as requested. The firmware version remains the same, but now the test message to DeLorme flew quickly up to the heavens, and a couple of minutes later DeLorme's response came diving back to earth and was snagged by my SE.

Lesson: Make sure the Ir communication works either by using it or by testing it. If it doesn't, try sync'ing. A reset might work too. That's what I'd try in the field.

Reset: With power off, hold down arrow and x keys for 30 seconds, then power up.

Doug Green
(dougpgreen) - M

Locale: North Carolina Piedmont
comments from a former designer on 09/14/2014 15:31:19 MDT Print View

A very long time ago (4 career changes and more years than i'd like to admit) I used to be an engineer. I started out designing networking equipment and later managed a system testing group and later an R&D group. As a young engineer I once wrote a utility program to perform a task I had to repeat several times a day. I knew exactly what I was doing and the program only took around 300 lines of code, but it saved me about an hour or two a day. Other people heard I had written it and asked if they could use it. After a few months the program was up to 1500 lines of code to keep people from screwing it up and eating up my day answering questions. At some point so many people were using it that my boss asked that I make it bullet proof for general use by all the hardware R&D groups in the company. It ended up being around 3000 lines of code to account for making it easy to use, error checking, basically idiot proof. This was something for use by ENGINEERS. A well designed tech product will not require you to be an expert on the product, but there are IMO very few well designed products that are this technical. Engineers are notoriously bad at understanding and anticipating human behavior, and many companies don't want to make the investment that is needed to take a product from functional to usable to user friendly.

On testing of new releases of software... they should always be tested on previous versions of hardware if they are still supported. You always have to check that new code didn't break old function. But...sometimes when there is a rush to get it out (often because it fixes a problem or an important customer wants it) people make stupid judgement calls. Sometimes they skip testing, but more often run too small of a subset of a complete test. Testing is expensive. I remember one time an engineer made a two line code change and decided it wasn't significant enough to require complete regression test. Costs the company several million dollars in recalls and more than that in pissed off customers.(this was back when we had to replace a physical rom to change code). After that we tried to put roadblocks in place to prevent stupid judgement calls.

Dan Geiger
(strat) - M
Delorme power reset on 09/14/2014 17:14:50 MDT Print View

Thanks for that i put it in my notes on my itouch.Just got the Delorme explorer working very well paired with my itouch so far.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
inReach SE error message on 09/15/2014 22:09:23 MDT Print View

I normally just send a once a day OK message from my inReach SE, a holdover from using my SPOT. For my trip to the Winds last week I decided to bump up my plan to Recreation and send tracking points every 30 minutes. And also use that weather forecast tip that Manfred posted about. I got to camp on the second night and turned off tracking. Went to send an OK message and the device said something like "Your inReach has been damaged. You will not be able to send or receive messages. Contact inReach support." Yikes! I powered it off/on and it worked fine. (I sent custom messages to my wife to make sure she was getting them.) Even though my wife knows that no messages arriving doesn't mean anything, it still would have been pretty annoying not to be able to send them knowing she'd be worried. I might have considered cutting the trip short (but doubt I would actually do so). And since I was solo I probably wouldn't have gone off trail or deviated from my original itinerary. Which I had already done based on talking to people on the trail and hearing their recommendations of places to go. With tracking on, I felt I could just go where ever I wanted without letting my wife know I had changed my plans.

I haven't contacted inReach yet but will do so in the next couple of days to see what they have to say. Before getting the inReach, I had used a SPOT for years with great results. So I'm a little disappointed.

Dan Geiger
(strat) - M
Inreach failure on 09/16/2014 00:38:52 MDT Print View

Yours is the second unit to have this error i have seen reported this week.The other guy has sent his in .Did you do a reset or just on off fix?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Inreach failure on 09/16/2014 00:46:51 MDT Print View

Reported where?

--B.G.--

Dan Geiger
(strat) - M
reported where on 09/16/2014 01:14:23 MDT Print View

On 24 hour campfire under backpack hunting Iridium wifi thread

Edited by strat on 09/16/2014 01:18:26 MDT.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re: Inreach failure on 09/16/2014 08:10:18 MDT Print View

I just powered it on and off. I was really surprised by the wording of the error message. That it had been damaged, not that it malfunctioned. Like a preemptive "it's your fault, not ours!".