SPOT Satellite Communicator Recalled

9:23 p.m. on April 6, 2011 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "SPOT Satellite Communicator Recalled"

Spot has issued a recall on the SPOT Satellite Communicator, which is bundled and sold exclusively with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w. Intended messages may not be transmitted when the SPOT Satellite Communicator is used at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Full article at

9:54 p.m. on April 8, 2011 (EDT)
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They do seem to be handling the recall well. I submitted my form late last week and was notified yesterday the RMA pkg is on it's way so I can return my device - then they will ship the new one. The process does take some time, so I'm glad I haven't got any big backcountry trips planned in the near term...

11:37 p.m. on April 8, 2011 (EDT)
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that's good news bheiser - I have heard a lot of horror stories about their customer service. I'm glad they're fixing their error.

9:12 a.m. on April 20, 2011 (EDT)
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This is the second time they've recalled a product. What is going on with this company? They don't seem to understand that safety and communication products like this need to be rigorously tested before entering the distribution channel....

9:13 a.m. on April 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Considering they are suppose to handle -13°F I'd say somebody really messed to have them die at 40°F.

So has anybody out there bought the SPOT Connect?

11:47 a.m. on April 20, 2011 (EDT)
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The idea of a small, FAILSAFE, messaging device using satellite comm. is attractive. This company has a poor track record when it comes to delivering a reliable product that does what it claims to do. I think their marketing has outstripped their research and development. Reports of failures do not seem to be rare.

12:24 p.m. on April 20, 2011 (EDT)
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I looked at the link you provided. First thing is that most of the people posting seem to believe that the SPOT and PLBs are magic, giving urban-like response. That is completely wrong. A lot of people also seem to believe that cell phones are magic and that GPSRs are also magic. Sorry, no, just the basic physics precludes instant response and guaranteed rescue. Several posters on the site claim that EPIRBs, PLBs, and ELTs will give immediate rescue, because, according to one of the posters, the US Air Force handles the whole thing. WRONG! The US Air Force does not run the SARSAT system, for one thing. And there are several agencies that are involved in SAR activities. Plus, no device is "FAILSAFE".

As a former pilot with a few thousand hours and having participated in SAR based on the ELT signals, it usually takes most of a day before enough information is gathered to narrow the search area, and longer than that to pinpoint the location (aircraft ELTs do not have GPS chips in them). Even with the newer PLBs and EPIRBs that include a GPS receiver in the unit, it can take a significant amount of time before a search can be organized. And if the area is remote and weather is bad, it can literally be weeks before SAR can get to you.

One of the posters makes a blanket claim that PLBs and EPIRBs have GPS chips in them (one of the older posts in 2009). This is incorrect. One PLB at that time did have a GPS chip in it and a couple others could be linked to a handheld GPSR. Even now (2011), not all PLBs and EPIRBs have GPS chips. Even those that do are subject to the limitations of GPS - canyon and canopy effects that block the signals, for example, and multipath that produces locations that can be a kilometer or more in error (same as with handheld GPS receivers).

If you read through that link, you might believe that no ELT, EPIRB, or PLB has ever had a flaw or a recall. Sorry, but that is not correct. Plus people have been known to forget to check the batteries. (as a former plane owner, we were required to do a check of the ELT in our planes on a regular schedule, following a prescribed procedure, plus change the battery on a specified schedule - something that is not required for EPIRBs or PLBs).

This is not to say that SPOT is perfect. Rather it is to say that ALL devices have limitations, and that none will guarantee rescue, much less instant rescue. None are a way for "calling a taxi or helicopter" when you get tired. This is of course the same as saying that calling 911 on your phone when your house is on fire will get the fire department there in time to save your house or that calling it when someone is injured will save their lives. It isn't magic and no system is perfect. All these widgets are for backup only. Your first responsibility is to BE PREPARED to handle emergencies yourself, and more than that, to BE PREPARED, TRAINED, and EXPERIENCED enough to AVOID the problems in the first place.

3:26 p.m. on April 20, 2011 (EDT)
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I agree that no device is perfect.

The inherent limitations of satellite acquisition of a GPS-based rescue device, while used on land (versus in the air) are well known which is why I think a SARLink PLB is the better choice. 

And for those budget conscious people,  the cost difference between the two is about $100 for year one and then the same after year 2 since you have to pay for the spot service each year

June 21, 2018
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