Monday, 24 January 2011

Spot on

Finally. Now I got a device which sends signals into space. Despite the fact that I named it "Spock", it doesn't talk to aliens. Just to a satellite which orbits earth at an altitude of 1414 km. That's actually not bad: A device powered just by three AAA batteries with that range.

It's a Spot 2 Tracker. A little orange device with a GPS and the capability to link into the globalstar satellite network. Actually it doesn't do very much: Get the coordinates and broadcast them. That's it. No two-way communication >> just a one-way street. Attached to that data-burst is one of four flags depending on which button you pressed:

  • OK / Check in Message
  • Custom Message
  • HELP / I need assistance
  • SOS
These messages can be configured via internet so if I press the "Custom Message" button, it sends Martina an email that I'm done for the day and heading home (You can't configure where the SOS message is going >> it will always ends up at a rescue centre). In that mail will be a link which shows you from where the message came. Instead of an email the server can also send a SMS. And of course: you can link facebook and twitter as well. Pretty geeky.

Now to the downsides: This is not a PLB. If the Spot doesn't get a GPS fix your doomed ...or at least it can't tell anyone where you are. Also the uplink isn't that reliable. And finally it's not exactly cheap: The Spot is around 150 USD plus another 150 USD / year subscription fee. If you live in Oz add another 40 USD shipping.

So why bother and not just buy a cheap PLB? Yo can get the McMurdo Fast Find 210 for 250 USD! The storage life of the battery is 5 years and no additional fees or charges. Well here's the thing: A PLB is for emergencies only. You might know that you are ok and don't need help but here's a shocker: You're not alone on this planet and some of these people might care about you: They want to know too! Now it's just a button on the Spot.

If you want to have a super-reliable emergency beacon go for a PLB
If you just want to ease the minds of the loved ones while you're out in the bush* go for a Spot.
If you have too much money, buy both.

Just remember SAR is much more fun without the search - especially if you're the one to be rescued!

* = The Spot is quite pointless in Europe >> mobile coverage is really good: All the way up to the top of Mont-Blanc I had 3G and tweeted along the way.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

On the Water

For months nothing happened in Melbourne in terms of nightcaching. Seriously: quiet as a cemetery is still an understatement. I am also not very keen on placing new nightcaches or organising a nightcaching-event. Why? Well it's still the kayak :o)

So I did place some cache and bookmarked them together with other watercaches. The next logic thing is to host a watercache-event and here it is:

Friendly Floatees in Albert Park Lake. We thought about having that event in the bay but then we chickened out and went for the safe option. On the other hand now everyone with a $15 kmart rubber dinghy can attend the event as well. That will be fun.

There is a BBQ are close-by but I want to have a look by myself if that is actually ok and not totally trashed before I put it on the eventpage. And I still have to figure out a way to keep the logbook on the lake.