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Emergency beacon..?

Old 05-28-19, 08:01 AM
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83cannondale
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Emergency beacon..?

On rando events I seem to find myself riding alone pretty often so am wondering what is a good emergency beacon device? I've looked at the various SPOT devices, garmin, etc but am wondering what the rando community thinks about these? Any comments on the frequency of beacon, battery life, size and weight of device, cost of device, cost of subscription, using Ride with GPS, Strava, or other cell based beacons?

Thanks in advance -
t
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Old 05-28-19, 03:31 PM
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unterhausen
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I have a SPOT tracker, Gen III. The yearly charge is expensive. The benefit is that anyone with a link can find me and it takes very little effort on my part to keep it going. I have never needed to use the SOS feature. There are different ways of sending a custom message and you can set up the messages to say what you want. Usually, I just want to check in as okay. Probably should have one that means "send help"

The Garmin/Delorme device looks nice and you can change the message in real time. The SPOT requires access to the web.
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Old 05-28-19, 06:40 PM
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I am just curious, when you are doing rando events you usually are in cell range, is there that much of a concern? Or are you concerned when out of cell range in the Wisconsin driftless area? Or is this to keep a spouse from being overly concerned?

I leave next week for a solo five week bike tour, I might buy a sim card when I get there, I might not.

I never had such a device for my solo kayak trips on Lake Superior or canoeing on the Minnesota Canadian border. I did not have cell coverage in those locations.



At least I had a GPS when the fog got thick.

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Old 05-28-19, 08:02 PM
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unterhausen
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You'd be surprised how often randos get out of cell range. Last year I was trying to extract myself from a dnf and couldn't get cell for quite a large area. Ended up riding a long ways that I didn't have to. Not that my SPOT would really help with that, it's more for people who are lost in the woods.

On the navigation subject, I'm now downloading the maps for the area I'm riding in.

I think people should probably try rwgps or strava if they already subscribe to those services. A SPOT is easier and more reliable, but it does cost $200 a year.
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Old 05-28-19, 09:18 PM
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The RWGPS app has a live tracking thing in it but it needs mobile data. I don't usually have that on my phone so I haven't used it yet. There are some good chunks of Ontario that we ride through where there isn't reliable coverage either.
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Old 05-29-19, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I am just curious, when you are doing rando events you usually are in cell range, is there that much of a concern?
Cell access is much more spotty than you realize even in fairly densely populated areas (of the sort that rando rides would generally be done in). And there can be surprising dead zones.

Also, the different networks have different coverage/distribution. VZ is (was?) poor in VT (ATT is better).

Some networks work better in highly populated (T-Mobile and Sprint) and might not be very useful at all on a ride.
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Old 05-29-19, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
You'd be surprised how often randos get out of cell range. ...

On the navigation subject, I'm now downloading the maps for the area I'm riding in.
....
Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Cell access is much more spotty than you realize ....
I met the OP on a brevet earlier this month, so my comment on cell coverage was more oriented towards the areas close to us.

You are quite right on spotty cell coverage for some of the areas where cycling is good. In my bike touring travels I have found lots of places with no coverage. I was really surprised how much of Northern California along the coast had no coverage on one of my bike tours, I had Sprint and my touring buddy had ATT, yet we were using pay phones (remember them?) to make reservations at hostels and when I had wifi in restaurants I was using intenet calling (Google Voice) to make phone calls.

I am a retired Geological Engineer. I worked with maps almost every day of my professional career. I use a GPS for navigation, not a phone, I ALWAYS have the maps on my GPS for where I go. Plus I also have the maps on my smartphone as a backup.

***

A side note off topic, if you leave the country for a trip, I suggest having an internet phone capability. On my phone I use Google Voice (with Hangouts app and Hangouts Dialer), and before I had a smartphone I had Google Voice on my laptop computer. When in Hungary one of my credit cards stopped working and I called the credit card company using motel wifi and my laptop to talk to them. And when I was in Iceland and one of my cards stopped working I used Google Voice on a smartphone (with no sim card) on the hostel wifi to call my credit card company. And I can get voice mail messages e-mailed to me with a recording.
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Old 05-29-19, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I met the OP on a brevet earlier this month, so my comment on cell coverage was more oriented towards the areas close to us.
It can be spotty anywhere. Even if coverage is good, there might be no coverage were you need it.

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I was really surprised how much of Northern California along the coast had no coverage on one of my bike tours, I
I wouldn't be surprised at all (I would have expected it).

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Old 05-29-19, 02:00 PM
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I was also considering changing to google for cell. The place I couldn't get cell coverage apparently is only covered by sprint. I'm not sure if it would really help overall though
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Old 06-04-19, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post

Some networks work better in highly populated (T-Mobile and Sprint) and might not be very useful at all on a ride.
Yes, this. I have T-Mobile (and have for years) because I'm cheap. For most rides in the Driftless (WI/MN/IA), which is mostly where I ride, my phone is just a bad expensive camera.
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