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Emergency gps equipment

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Everyone,

On a recent ride with four friends in the forest I had a wreck. I caught a rut in between two whoops that shot me off the trail into the trees. With nowhere to go I attempted to recover and get back on the trail which I did manage to do but not before making contact with a tree. I glanced off the tree with my shoulder but unfortunately the toe of my boot caught the tree and spun my foot backwards, breaking my ankle. I had surgery last Tuesday resulting in seven screws and a titanium plate holding my ankle together, reset of four bones in my foot and reattaching ligaments.

The wreck occurred a few miles into the forest. Luckily it also happened about 300 yards from where my friends parked their trucks and off loaded that morning. They were able to load me into one of the trucks and my bike into another truck. My friend and I started out for the ER.

Here is where the problem comes into play. We were deep enough in the forest that we had no cell signal. Due to the heavy tree cover we were also unable to get gps signal on a traditional gps or our phones. We were lost in the woods, using only a dashboard compass we were able to get back to the highway but it took almost 40 mins of bouncing around on trails to do it. Not fun with a broken bone. Every bump and pothole brought on nausea inducing pain.

Here comes the question, what do you use or recommend as a resolution to the lack of data issue we encountered. I've been looking into the spot devices but they don't seem to be a total resolution to the issue. I'm looking for something that would allow our smart phones to connect and get data from the satellite network. The spot connect would have been ideal but is discontinued and I don't know if it would allow data downloads. When we were able to finally get gps signal on our phones we had no data so we couldn't download a map. The tomtom car gps never did acquire satellite signal.

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Yes there are satellite hot spots available. $150-$1000 plus monthly service and contract. Of course they will not work properly without clear line of site to communication satellites. These devices will connect any wi-fi enabled device via sat-fi at ridiculously slow rate for about $1 per min. Sat phone for about $500 same service as sat-fi and can usually tether a PC to them. You can of course spend more get more. Spot and Evac service are the most economical I think, $169 for spot $100/yr or more depending on pkg +$17.99 for Evac membership. A dash mount gps that is undercover of a vehicle roof and other obstructions such as trees will typically perform much better outside the vehicle. A decent handheld GPS device will outperform a typical automotive dash mount GPS.

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To use your phone as a GPS, you need to run one of the may apps that have you download maps ahead of time, to the area you're going to be in, so they're already on your phone. No cell signal needed. Most of todays phones GPS work independently of the cell signal.

 

For a dedicated GPS unit, I agree, a handheld unit like a Garmin 60cx with a high-sensitivity SiRF receiver is the only way to go for dense tree cover. Historically, it has been one of the most popular moto GPS.

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You would be very surprised to know that my Windows based phone (HTC 8X) with the downloaded free maps works very well with no cell service.  It finds fire roads and trails. My buddies all have IPhones that will not pickup a thing once out of cell range.

 

I carry a spot and one of our group has a new DeLorme that will text and receive through his phone via bluetooth.

The Spot is fairly inexpensive but limited in service. The DeLorme has far more capability but you pay dearly for it.

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A SPOT or PLB (personal locator beacon) will ease your fears and potentially save a life and give you peace of mind. .  Do a little google work for the differences of the two.  Basically, the units will send a signal to a satellite with your GPS location to the nearest search and rescue team.  The SPOT has nice features, like an option you can set up to ask for non emergency help... out of gas, ect..  The downfall is that the SPOT signal is of a lower wattage, I think .5 watts.  The PLB that I chose has a higher powered signal,. 5 full watts. This is the same system that is used on marine vessels and airplanes.  Government run system.  The real deal.  Both the spot and PLB provide a piece of mind for the injured/lost, ect. The PLB's are not to be used for a minor emergency.., remember, the local search and rescue team/Sheriff /state police or who ever will be summonsed to find you.  Kind of a big deal for them. They should only be called if there is danger of lost life or limb.  But nice piece of mind. The SPOT can be set up to notify friends/family th help for minor calls for help or to just check in saying that you are OK.

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Everyone,

On a recent ride with four friends in the forest I had a wreck. I caught a rut in between two whoops that shot me off the trail into the trees. With nowhere to go I attempted to recover and get back on the trail which I did manage to do but not before making contact with a tree. I glanced off the tree with my shoulder but unfortunately the toe of my boot caught the tree and spun my foot backwards, breaking my ankle. I had surgery last Tuesday resulting in seven screws and a titanium plate holding my ankle together, reset of four bones in my foot and reattaching ligaments.

The wreck occurred a few miles into the forest. Luckily it also happened about 300 yards from where my friends parked their trucks and off loaded that morning. They were able to load me into one of the trucks and my bike into another truck. My friend and I started out for the ER.

Here is where the problem comes into play. We were deep enough in the forest that we had no cell signal. Due to the heavy tree cover we were also unable to get gps signal on a traditional gps or our phones. We were lost in the woods, using only a dashboard compass we were able to get back to the highway but it took almost 40 mins of bouncing around on trails to do it. Not fun with a broken bone. Every bump and pothole brought on nausea inducing pain.

1- Here comes the question, what do you use or recommend as a resolution to the lack of data issue we encountered.

2- I've been looking into the spot devices but they don't seem to be a total resolution to the issue. I'm looking for something that would allow our smart phones to connect and get data from the satellite network. The spot connect would have been ideal but is discontinued and I don't know if it would allow data downloads.

3- When we were able to finally get gps signal on our phones we had no data so we couldn't download a map.

4- The tomtom car gps never did acquire satellite signal.

 

1- load maps, and apps, before you go out to the woods. the phone's gps antenna will work completely on it's own, without cellular data/signal, without wifi, and without any other stuff needed. apps like backcountrynavigator, maverick, oruxmaps, locus, osmand and similar will do everything you need as far as tracking, navigation, and getting back to civilization. i would almost bet that the phones in question were set to use 'google services', 'wifi or wireless', and lastly 'gps' in their Location Services. unfortunately most smartphonese will try to use cellular and wifi for location wayyy too often, instead of just using the gps antenna. why, i have no idea. setting it to "gps only" will make triangulation happen very quickly, and have one of those apps loaded and a statewide vector map of where you plan to travel will be a good idea for finding your way out again. i use locus.

2- might be best to all of you pitch in and rent a sat phone. having two-way communication is a good idea, or at least the SPoT for emergency services. 

3- yes, the old "i don't have a map for this area" thing. it applies to garmins, magellans, delormes, tomtoms, and yes, smartphones. the entire USA can be downloaded for free, in vector format,  which is free to download here http://download.mapsforge.org/maps/north-america/us/   or you can use the same garmin maps (unlocked only, boo drm!) that garmin does, on your smartphone. it's a really good idea to also download satellite imagery and/or topo maps of areas that are remote, in case a bridge is out, or a road impassible. those are also free downloads. 

4- lol that's not surprising. wether it's a brand new car with the $4000 'nav package' or a $800 standalone gps, they all have their quirks. i haven't seen this error on my old/cheap smartphone though. weird. 

it might be best for you to all go in and rent a sat phone for a month, if possible. satellite data TO your smartphones won't do much good when you really need to get in touch with emergency services, but a SPoT or similar tracker will. 

 

it would be interesting if you were to check your smartphone's Location Settings. I would bet it shows "google services" and "wifi or networks". 

 

post up what you decide of using for emergency communcations. there is always more for us to learn. 🙂

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Phone has GPS, radios (cellular/wifi/BT), and a great screen.  Not very useful for communicating that position without service.  I carry it anyways, but it's usually in airplane-mode in my pack.

 

Radio has far better coverage than a phone, can generally hit a repeater/network in the woods.  A couple places I ride there's repeaters right in the forest, so that's nice.  (Colorado-wide talkgroup extends south into NM, covers most of the CO front range, up into Wyoming, and one node up in Montana carries the TG.  Pretty good coverage area.)

Has a GPS built-in, has the ability to route that data to the network, but few networks are set up to handle that data.  I can still pull up lat/long on the device.

 

Handheld receiver has maps, runs off 2xAA batteries (or sled/bike), durable/waterproof.  Knows where I am, and with the map data onboard I can usually figure out what's a good way out of wherever I am.  I do carry a map/compass in my fieldbook too, and find I use the compass a lot with the GPS.

 

PLB's for when I really :censored: up.  5 watt radio with GPS that pings through the COSPAS-SARSAT network to Air Force's Rescue Command Center, who will then coordinate with local sheriff/SAR/whatever.  I trust it more than a SPOT, more of a professional rescue tool (same system marine EPIRB's and aircraft ELT's use), doesn't offer the features SPOT/InReach has like texting/facebooking/"OK"-messaging. 

 

I carry all these when I ride, along with extra batteries for radio and GPS. 

 

DSC02350-L.jpg

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Delorme InReach hands down, love mine

Yeah it's the only way to go. I just turn it on and sync with phone and use the app to read it like a normal gps. Best of all you can get a response back to know if someone's coming.

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In Reach all the way - two way communication to tell rescue what you need for what type of situation.  Plus you can text/email two way with wives, GF or Mom on a trip to the puckerbrush.  

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