M SPOT2 Personal Locator Review and Extensive Field Test
by Alan Dixon and Amy Lauterbach
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As we reported at the Press Release of SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger (SPOT2) at the 2009 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, the folks at SPOT addressed many of our suggested improvements to the original SPOT1 in the Generation Two: SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger.
Now, after 80 days (750 hours) of field-testing of the new SPOT2 on three continents, we report improvement in three significant areas:
- Lighter and Smaller: 43% lighter (4.16 oz vs. 7.33 oz) and 45% smaller.
- Improved Reliability: 100% delivery of all OK messages for 80 days. Near 100% delivery of Tracking Point messages in “typical” mountain conditions, e.g. the Sierras and Andes. And daily delivery of ~90% (or better) Tracking Point messages in deep canyons or when bushwhacking (vegetation cover).
- Improved Operation: Dedicated button and status light for each function and safety covers for Help and SOS buttons make for intuitive operation and easily understood operational status.
In the field, the SPOT2 is easier to use and delivers a much higher proportion of Tracking Point messages than its predecessor. In addition, the Web-based software that supports SPOT is also better and now has a separate social networking site, SPOT Adventures, to share your adventures/data with others. In summary, the combination of the physical SPOT2 unit and supporting software is beginning to look more like a mature technology.
What impressed us most about the SPOT2 was its performance in a difficult transmission situation, a "typical" southern Utah canyon system. On a five-day slickrock canyon backpacking trip, the SPOT2 successfully delivered a daily average of ~90% of Tracking Point messages. Every OK message made it out. We saw similar message delivery performance on bushwhacking days in Alaska.
- Version Two of SPOT Delivers the Potential of their Technology
- Basic Specifications - SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger (SPOT2)
- SPOT2 Improvements Summary
- SPOT Concept of Operation - General Overview
- Field Test of SPOT2
- Message Delivery Reliability
- Battery Life
- Battery Life Lithium Claimed by SPOT
- Battery Life - BPL Field Testing
- Battery Life Lithium - BPL Field Testing
- Battery Life Alkaline - BPL Field Testing (not a Manufacturer approved use!)
- Mounting SPOT2 on a Backpack
- Protocols for Our Use - Use and Meaning of SPOT2 Messages
- Meaning of SPOT2 messages
- SPOT2 goes dead (no more messages)
- Suggestions for Improvement
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# PHOTOS: 5
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