DeLorme & Spot, who knew?

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

14 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    SPOT uses GlobalStar’s network (since GS owns SPOT). GS offers 35-character text messaging to their sat phones, and I’m guessing that’s the channel used for this service (and maybe for the SPOT-only messages, though being static perhaps they are further optimized in some way). The DeLorme blog doesn’t mention a character limit.

  2. Roger B says:

    Looks like around 62 characters (above message 51 plus 11 remaining)?

  3. When you have a SPOT account you can fill in 115 characters for the OK function and the HELP function.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    That’s true, Reinier, but it’s not related to how long a message the Spot messenger can actually send via satellite. We’re creating those 115 character messages on a web server. All spot has to send is unit ID, lat/long, and a code for which message to send. When that very short message gets to the FindMeSpot server then it becomes the longer message the recipients see. (Hope you follow)
    At any rate, I think Roger B correctly deduced that DeLorme is using Spot to send a 62 character message, plus unit ID and location, plus also some indication of who the message is going to (“Susan” in the screen shot). I’m guessing the messages go to a pre-defined list of emails and texting phones, just like the regular Spot, but I don’t know for sure.

  5. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Looking at engadget, which mentions a feature where the one transmitter will send the GPS locations of multiple people (I guess they are thinking hikers) in range, and be able to send twitter and face book messages (one way, you won’t be able to see comments coming back).
    Each hiker is a different unit ID, or sub unit ID? Clearly the maximum message size for sat is not an isue, perpahs they break up twitter and facebook messages into smaller pieces when transmitting and use virtual unit ID’s?
    There is also a reference for the hikers to be able to find each other. Since it’s only one way to the Sat, clearly that capability is between the products in the hands of the user. If so, might as well build in a MOB function, e.g. alarm if user is xxx feet away (calculated by GPS) and/or no longer transmitting (out of range, fell in the water, fell out of a tree, devoured by bear)

  6. Tom says:

    I think I see two way text messaging coming down the pipe. With dynamic data entry and transmission from this device, receiving a text messaging is not much of a leap. Global Star is upgrading their constellation in the next 18 months and may even be back in the phone business by then. Text messaging is such a money maker for cell companies with almost no impact on bandwidth, I can see GlobalStar developing that market with the GPS makers.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Doug Ritter dug up some more details, including the fact that the wireless link between handheld and Spot is “802.14.4” (ZigBee?)

  8. Adam says:

    Yeah, it’s Zigbee, so there won’t be any connecting to the phone in your pocket with this particular hardware.

  9. ANeblig says:

    Given GlobalStar/Spot’s poor performance in most ocean areas (including serious, hours long link outages), hikers and inland waterway boaters may find this useful, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone looking for reliable service on a voyage.

  10. Examples of poor performance in most ocean areas? The Dutch rowing guy who rowed solo from Fiji to New Guinea had no problems. Every message was being sent perfectly.

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    ANeblig may be a little confused. The performance of Globalstar phones and Spot messengers simply are not comparable. They may use the same satellites, but the task and equipment used are quite different.
    Even Spot, though, doesn’t claim global coverage like Iridium does. We saw that their coverage map seemed fairly accurate when FOB carried one across the Atlantic:
    The map suggests that Spot might work OK between Fiji and New Guinea, but there’s a huge hole between Fiji and the Americas.

  12. Dear Ben, that is correct according to the coverage of the SPOT satellites
    but most ocean areas is a large statement.

  13. ANeblig says:

    Nope, not confused. A former government investor/customer tired of hype in lieu of engineering.

  14. Nathan says:

    I have just read that there is possibly some concerns about the reliability in some remote locations. I am not suggesting I take what I read as true, it is that the manufactures and promoters must reaffirm its reliability.

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