View topic - Industry Standard - 2 way messaging device

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 10:41 am 
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Hey all,
I really want to get my hands on a 2 way messaging device for the new year and I am having a hard time picking one.

The reality is, I know there are preferences here but, from what I gather, ultimately, they all do really the same thing a little differently... (I may have just opened a can of worms by saying that.... haha)

Anyways, what I am trying to figure out is that is there an ''Industry'' standard out there. Do most outfitters use the same device and is there value to do so?

I'm thinking about this because I know the inreach can communicate to another inreach and this could be very useful if most people use the inreach. If I do work with an outfitter or other organizations it would make communication easier while I am out on a trip.

Thoughts?

thanks,

Marty

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 11:49 am 
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They all seem to work over the Iridium network, so that is the common link.

From the ones I have looked at they also all support SMS messaging which ends up a phone # as a text. At least with the inReach that works both ways - I can text individual phone #'s from the inReach and they can reply. That should bridge between different devices as well.

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 12:28 pm 
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There is no "industry standard", well maybe there was one when SPOT was pretty much the only game in town and that was a one-way only device.

InReach might be the new "standard" but there are quite a few on the market now. Even though these devices are now "common" I would guess that the number of paddlers that have them is just a tiny percentage.

FYI - Most systems do use Iridium but SPOT are still with Globalstar and from my experience using Globalstar Satellite phones I would be hesitant to use anything on the Globalstar network (it's an old bias which might no longer be valid).

Personally I have an InReach and will be sticking with it primarily because it's a complete stand alone system that will fit in a pocket. Many of the newer devices (Zoleo) need a phone or tablet as well for full functionality, that's fine if you are just texting from your campsite but near useless if you swim and lose your boat/gear where your phone is stored (the SOS might still function but the two-way communication won't).

The current InReach models from Garmin are not cheap to buy but they work very well. On the other hand the subscription fees for seasonal users are very reasonable for those that only need the device for a few weeks a couple of times per year.

It should also be noted that when Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos get their low earth satellite broadband systems up and running (Elon says 1 - 2 years) everything will change again.

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 1:32 pm 
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recped wrote:

It should also be noted that when Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos get their low earth satellite broadband systems up and running (Elon says 1 - 2 years) everything will change again.


Does this mean the inreach will not work anymore!? or will it be able to adapt....?

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 1:44 pm 
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PereExtreme wrote:
recped wrote:

It should also be noted that when Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos get their low earth satellite broadband systems up and running (Elon says 1 - 2 years) everything will change again.


Does this mean the inreach will not work anymore!? or will it be able to adapt....?


It would not affect the Iridium network that InReach uses in any way, it would simply offer many more choices and options for both users and the producers of the (future) devices.

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 1:55 pm 
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Starlink, the satellite broadband, will be satellite based Internet, so in theory, your cellphone will be able to connect to the Internet, at some point, worldwide. I’m not sure how it will all work, and if there will be equipment required. They recently got CRCT approval this month. For rural Canada, starlink maybe an excellent ISP option. Estimated at approximately 100 per month. Depending on where you canoe trip, this may open up communication options. I suspect coverage will be first for the lower latitudes of Canada before the far north.

Currently two way communicators will still work, but on their system.

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 2:21 pm 
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A quick reality check on Starlink - the ground stations for receiving are about the size of a current TV satellite dish. There is no expectation that Starlink will work for cell phone wifi. Stationary rural use will be the prime use and it will should be viable for RV use. It won't be a competitor to devices like inReach, Zoleo, SPOT, etc.

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 2:43 pm 
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We used a SPOT on a 15 day charity cycle tour from Toronto (Whitby) to New York City (Coney Island) a couple years ago, and I would not be excited to promote the system to anyone.

1. Battery life is about 2-3 days with the unit running from 07h00 - about 18h00 each day. If you need it running 24hrs, you will go through a lot of batteries.
2. Signal delay is bad. A cop came out to escort us into Albany NY as a publicity thing. He never found us until we were at our rest house for the night. When he did catch up to us, the signal still showed us on the trail way out of town still. Not really confidence-inspiring.
3. Related to above, message delay is bad. I would ping "mission control" (my wife) each morning to let her know we were hitting the trail and to activate our website/mapping/social media, but often she would not receive the message until after lunch. After three days of this, we switched to just texting her. If this were a low level call for help, we would be stranded for hours before receiving aid. If it were an SOS, we'd be dead. The sending unit was mounted on top of my panniers facing the sky, unobstructed, so it wasn't because it couldn't see the sky.
4. Subscription is too damn high for the service quality. IIRC, the unit cost us $200 and the subscription was another $200. $400 for a device that was used twice and barely functioned is too much. We cancelled the subscription immediately after our ride, and the unit is sitting on a shelf.
5. Trip sharing is shitty. If your purpose is to provide a "follow me" type experience with live updates to a website and followership, the SPOT has (had) no way to do that through them as an embedded window. We had to daisy-chain the GPS waypoints to a third-party mapping site, which would then display placemarkers, and in turn send the mapping to our live website in an embedded window. Even googlemaps has an "embed" code. We ended up tracking through this site. - Also, SPOT dumps your data after a year, so you better find someplace that will host/store it if you want to save it.
6. Canned messages to social media were junk. It was just a text line that flooded our feed and turned off followers/sponsors. We lost gobs of followers along our ride and afterwards the feedback was that the 30 or so messages a day, all alike with no information was a pain in their feed. I can't tell you how much this cost our campaign, but we won't make the mistake again.

Basically, whatever you get, do some field testing first. This was a product I was excited about and really believed in both as a safety and promotional piece, and it thoroughly let me down on both fronts.


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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 5:37 pm 
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By way of comparison......

InReach

1 - Battery Life / At least 100 hours in tracking mode plus while the unit is on sending a few messages per day and checking for incoming messages 5 or 6 times per day.

2/3 - Signal delay? Weird, NEVER experienced such a thing with InReach, the only time tracking is delayed is if you hide under a rock or are in deep forest with a thick tree cover (same applies to sending/receiving messages).

4 - With InReach you can "suspend" your subscription at any time, your current monthly bill is prorated for the actual days of use, during "suspension you pay a flat $3.95 per month

5 - Garmin's Mapshare is not the greatest but people have no trouble following me and can display either Topo's or Sat imagery, and view messages posted to Mapshare. As long as you maintain your subscription (active or suspended) all your info is available permanently (you can control what shows on Mapshare by starting date so that users only see your recent activity).

6 - InReach has three pre-set messages you can send anytime (free) to multiple recipients including Mapshare, you can also create on the fly and post messages to Twitter or facebook just as you would for an sms message to anyone. One issue there is the message input screen is clunky and slow, there is an option to connect via bluetooth to a phone or tablet and use the keyboard in that device instead.

Sounds like SPOT is something to avoid (although I still like my old SPOT Generation 1 (no two-way or custom messages of course) best thing about that unit was the battery life......probably at least 1000 hours on a single pair of Lithium AA batteries.

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2020, 6:41 pm 
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Good comparison Ben, and yes, for the record, we were using regular AA Batteries, nothing fancy. With lithium or whatever there may have been a better longevity.

SPOT has long since dropped our tracklog, but here it is saved on Spotwalla - https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id ... howAll=yes it may be set to private - I'm not sure if you can see the composite track.

In the case of an outfitter where you may need records for legal actions (heaven help you if a client is hurt in the woods, delayed due to weather etc. and decides to sue) losing the tracklog could be disasterous. Also, the integrity of the data is key... looking at this track, the GPS skips are pretty consistently bad. Just zoom in and follow the line and you'll start seeing them. the skips aren't small local pings either - they are miles out of place, and in some cases there are hours between breadcrumbs. Syracuse to Chittenango is a good example... especially considering we were following the Erie canal there and the way points are a straight line across Syracuse and then a skip out of place when it finally did ping. Consider that we had a supporter sitting waiting to host us for the night and not able to see where we were... he was way pissed when we showed up. Poor guy had been trying to find us all afternoon. (we left the north end of Syracuse after lunch, and arrived at Chittenango after dinner - around 6 PM. That's how long it was between those updates.


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2020, 4:33 am 
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To the OP.....if you want the cadillac, get a sat phone. Expensive with fairly high user fees, but if you are looking for an "industry" standard, that is the one. MNR, Hydro, most of the big companies run sat phones. If you are injured and want an extraction, but don't want to activate an emergency beacon, the sat phone is the way to go.

Having said that, I switched to inreach a coupe of years ago, as I am no longer running large group trips. Your question about communicating with other devices is pretty much moot with the inreach. Mine pairs with my cell phone. Anyone that has my inreach number can text me, and I can text anyone else, even people with other devices. I can suspend my monthly charges for about 5 bucks a month.

There are other, cheaper devices becoming available that forgo any sort of pretence of being self contained; basically they are satellite broadcasters for your cell phone. Here is a review of one.
https://www.canoetripping.net/forums/fo ... post116480


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2020, 5:53 am 
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It doesn't seem that long ago when we hurling lines to suspend the antenna of our Spilsbury SBX-11A. Calling someone from HF to telephone was... interesting. Especially while waiting for your turn - listening to other's calls. Comically short and to-the-point messages - like when we asked a late arrival to bring "coat hangers and mustard."

Inreach for me now - worked a treat until I realized (to my dismay) that I had a cell signal strong enough for a call (Sylvia lake, AP).


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