SPOT Satellite Messenger - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
Gadgets & Gizmos Discussion on the latest "toys" to enhance the adventure.

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post #1 of 21 Old 06-01-2016, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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SPOT Satellite Messenger

My favorite piece of monthly mail came yesterday ... the BassPro Sales Flyer.

Not only was the flyer bigger than usual, in it I found a great deal on the new Gen 3 SPOT Satellite Messenger. This device is normally $150, but there's a $75 mail-in rebate.

SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger Personal Tracker - Model SPOT-3 | Bass Pro Shops: The Best Hunting, Fishing, Camping & Outdoor Gear

I've had the Gen 2 SPOT Messenger for a number of years. I purchased it initially to use on a trip up to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska but continue to use it right up to today. There are still many places where you can't get cell service.

I use the Ram EZ-Mount Strap and the Ram SPOT cradle that allows me to quickly move it from motorcycle to motorcycle and among different positions. My SPOT came with an arm band holder as well.

The basic spot service is $149.99 a year for the basic services and their are some a la-cart add-on services.

I actually once used the Emergency Beacon on my Spot. I was in a group riding the Cherohalla Skyway and one of the guys in our group went head on with a Harley bagger coming the other way. Real bad scene. No cell service up there. First a ranger showed up in about thirty minutes and that got things going. Other than that, it's really a good tool to help your selected and designated family members and friends keep track of both your trip progress and whereabouts.

SPOT SATELLITE MESSENGER :: HOME PAGE

There are alternatives with different functions and features.

The Best Personal Locator Beacon and Satellite Messenger | OutdoorGearLab

Pros, cons, & my picks: PLB?s, satellite messengers, & phones
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post #2 of 21 Old 06-01-2016, 06:48 AM
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I am so happy that you start this thread. I have been looking at these, especially since I ride and camp alone so much. I am hopeful that other KLR riders will add to this thread and tell me more about their experiences with the SPOT and the ease of other family members keeping track of you while you are out riding.

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2009 Kawasaki KLR 650

always tinkering!
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-01-2016, 09:17 AM
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Wouldn't leave home without it, but have never had any intention of depending on it for the emergency function. I use it for tracking.

At the beginning of the day/ride I punch the "OK" button on my Spot3. About mid-day I punch it Again, and again at the end of the day/ride.

I have two custom messages. One says "I've stepped on my dick, call me" and the other says "There's no cell coverage here, everything is OK".

The best accessory for a Spot is a SpotWalla account. I have a trip set up that started when I got my first spot and doesn't end until 2020; it captures all my activity. I also set up trips to capture specific date ranges.

https://spotwalla.com

Tom

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ďI lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips.Ē -Philip Marlowe

ď'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.Ē -Napoleon Bonaparte


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post #4 of 21 Old 06-01-2016, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, it appears that the Bass Pro Shop rebate deal in my original post is only available to buyers in the States. However, Cabelas is offering a similar 50% off deal for our Canadian neighbors.

http://www.cabelas.ca/content/filema...te_Cabelas.pdf
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-01-2016, 10:31 PM
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Cool, another toy that I can sell to Cindy as a safety device. I think this is a great addition, especially since I just hop on and ride at the drop of a hat. I would like to hear about subscription options.

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post #6 of 21 Old 06-02-2016, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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There really arenít a lot of subscription options. Thereís a basic plan and then a couple a la cart add ons. The basic plan is $149.99 a year. The first time you subscribe thereís a $9.95 network fee too. You can subscribe at a monthly rate of $14.99/month, but you need a 12 month commitment. So thatís really only of any value if you only need the contract a little into the second year; like if you only needed the service for 18 months, the monthly total would add up to $270 and the annual would be $300.

Messenger Devices Service Plans

For the basic subscription you get unlimited messages in the categories. SOS, Help!, Check-in, Custom Message and Tracking. Thereís no per-message fee like some trackers charge. Messages are one way, only.

With the Gen 3 you can get Enhanced Tracking Features for +$49.95 a year (Enhanced) and +$149.99 (Extreme). Basic tracking pings your location every 10 minutes for up to 24 hours, before you have to reset. Enhanced tracking allows you to select ping rates ranging from every 5 minutes up to 60 minutes, continuous without reset. Extreme tracking pings you location every 2.5 minutes, also continuous without reset.

Honestly, Iím not sure what the benefits are of these enhanced tracking features. Iíve certainly never thought I needed more or less pings. However, the track thatís created by SPOT can be converted over to a .gpx file to services like Google Earth (and in ďtrackĒ form) so perhaps there people that are creating sophisticated tracks with the SPOT. On the longer periods between pings, perhaps travelers just donít want their tracking maps to show their route or maybe they want fewer tracking points on their spotwalla or spot adventures maps. I will say that the tracking pings are not communicated to those you have monitoring your progress so that probably isnít an issue.

An add-on that I donít think was available back when I first signed up is GEOS. Thatís a Search-And-Rescue benefit that provides up to $100,000. The annual fee is $17.99/year. Iím not sure what this is exactly. If this is an emergency evacuation benefit, that would be a good price. I had once signed up to Travel Guard (AIG Insurance) for their travel insurance including emergency evac and that ran about $80 for the month of travel. I actually may look into this a little more.

Thatís really it. The features of the GEN 3 really arenít that much better than my GEN 2, which is probably why theyíre throwing out such a good deal. Unlike the GEN 2, the GEN 3 detects movement and turns on/shuts off the device to save battery life. My experience was 2-3 days on 3 AAAs. Unlike the GEN 2, the GEN 3 has a USB power lead, so it can be hardwired or powered by an accessory outlet.
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-02-2016, 09:32 AM
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I have had all three generations. My Gen 1 flew off my bike up on Henness Pass. It wasn't in tracking mode at the time, so there was no way to figure out where it was. It was found a year later by a ranger and returned to me (anyone want a Gen 1?).

I replaced it with a Gen 2. They had some real quality control issues with the Gen 2 and I went through three of them before I got one that was solid. Unfortunately it fell off the bike up in Rancho Cordova and was run over several times before I could turn around a retrieve it. REI was obstinate in not honoring my claim that "I'm not satisfied with this item because it don't work no mo" and I had to buy a Gen 3.

What I have noticed is that battery life has improved steadily across the generations. I don't use the Lithium batteries, as I find it works just fine on alkalines. Lithium would give longer battery life, but alkaline, on the Gen 3, last a long time. I did a study on battery life on the Gen 2 but haven't done the same with the Gen 3.

My understanding of the tracking option is that it is related to battery life and building GPX files. The longer the interval on pings, the greater battery life is. Might be important if you are a kayaker going from Seattle to Panama non-stop. IONO.

More important is GPX tracks for hikers. For a hiker, a ping every hour may be sufficient. A 10 minute interval makes for a track and GPX file that has too much density, is a pain to edit and share. Again, IONO. Į\_(ツ)_/Į

Neither of the above is a concern to me, so I agree that the tracking options offer little to the average motorcyclist.

One thing to note about the subscription; it is set up to auto-renew on your credit card. That drives some people to bat-shit crazy rants, even though it is pretty clearly communicated when you sign up. If you don't want to renew you have to contact them within a short window before the renewal period to cancel. The BSC people rant that the SPOT customer service people are Machiavellian psychopaths. I've had a couple of occasions to speak with them and it was a most pleasant experience. They suspended my service when my Gen 1 flew away and have helped me convert to new units. I don't mind the auto-renew as my unit is in constant use. Also, there is no alternative; no subscription, SPOT is a paperweight.

Something to be aware of, though.

Tom

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ďI lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips.Ē -Philip Marlowe

ď'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.Ē -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-02-2016, 06:35 PM
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I've owned and used the Spot Gen 2 for years now. It's never let me down, though battery life with alkalines is noticeably decreased. I use lithium batteries as often as I can and have been happy with them.

I have 4 custom messages:

1. I'm doing fine and on the road (OK)
2. I'm stopping here for a moment (gas, hotel, etc)
3. Mechanical difficulties but I'm OK
4. I'm a motorcyclist who's likely been involved in an accident. Blood is O neg. Send help ASAP.

I've used all of them. The first 2 a lot, the 3rd 3 times and the last once.

But mainly I just use it to let my wife know where I am and to document my awesome rides.

Highly recommended.

I'm waiting for it to die so I can upgrade to the Gen 3. Die, SPOT, die!

I may add Tom's "stepped on my dick again" message. My friends would like that.

There are two rules for being successful in life.

Rule 1: Never tell others everything you know.
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-02-2016, 08:55 PM
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Dan, Thanks for the information. Are you paying the $150 a year? I am interested in what you and Tom think the total cost of subscriptions are per year. It seems like there are so many optional add on subscription features that you could be paying near $20-$25 a month for all fees and services.

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post #10 of 21 Old 06-02-2016, 09:01 PM
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OK, Jack, here's the deal with pricing: It's $99 annually for the basic service. That means the unit works, but only when you manually press the buttons every time you want it to send a message. I did that for a year because I'm a frugal KLR owner (is that redundant?).

I finally gave in and paid the extra $49 a year for tracking. That means I push the tracking button once and I'm done. The only other times I'll need to press any buttons are if I need assistance. I've found that $148 a year is a good deal for the peace of mind my family and friends receive.

There are two rules for being successful in life.

Rule 1: Never tell others everything you know.
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