GPS/Communication Device Question

Cameras, GPS, headlamps, solar chargers....talk about it all here.
Post Reply
User avatar
ADVStrom14
Reactions:
Posts: 121
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:27 am
Hammock: HH Backpackr Classic
Tarp: HH Hex 30D
Suspension: Webbing, Dutch Bling
Insulation: Costco, fleece, HHSS
Contact:

GPS/Communication Device Question

#1

Post by ADVStrom14 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:52 pm

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance if this is a totally illogical idea as I am still learning about the Ham radio stuff and I admittedly have a long way to go....

I have been looking at the InReach Explorer device for the following:
#1) ability to "check in" with home base each night to ease the mind of the people I left behind.
2) SOS ability
3) Navigation ability

But the reviews on the IRE give me pause, saying:
- the service is inconsistent
- it has limited navigation ability
- the inability to load maps or otherwise work without an accompanying smart phone
- the screen is so small it is difficult to read the limited navigation that it does provide.

But that price is pretty steep for something that seems fairly limited on it's own.

So here is the main questions:

1) Should I just get a dedicated GPS device to use as a backup to my map and compass skills then maybe a dedicated SAT messaging device to check in at home?

2) Should I just get the InReach (and possibly just get the SE version without the navigation since it does have the ability to communicate with home and track my location just not navigate)

3) OR is it possible to have a handheld radio (I know you need a license) that I can take with me to contact the rangers who whoever if I do get in trouble? In a forested area like that, would that even be feasible? Would it be too heavy relative to the other devices I could use? Is that idea just dumb? :-)

I did post this similar information in the "GPS" question started by Scuba but I figured it could use it's own thread. Thanks!


I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. -E. B. White

User avatar
brianb2
Reactions:
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:47 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC
Hammock: DIY Double Layer
Tarp: DIY Asym or Winter
Suspension: Mule Tape and Becket
Insulation: DIY Integrated UQ

Re: GPS/Communication Device Question

#2

Post by brianb2 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:32 pm

I've been thinking through some of the same questions but haven't pulled the trigger on any of them yet. Currently I only have my phone. I use a GPS app on the phone to translate gps coordinates to a mapping application. Works great, but it doesn't allow me to communicate back to loved ones when out of cell range. I've narrowed my choices down to the SPOT and the InReach. SPOT because it's cheaper and likely all I'll ever need. InReach because it offers the two way communication options which are nice. I do enough solo trips that some type of personal location device seems like a good idea.

To answer your questions: 1) No, your phone does the same as a gps device and probably does a better job. A dedicated SAT messaging device is something totally different. If checking in at home is what you want then yes. 2) InReach satisfies your SAT message question, so if that's what you're after then it does both of the things you wanted in #1. 3) You could have a low band radio, but depending on terrain performance will vary. You'll still need something to tell you your gps location. Least successful of the three options if you're thinking backcountry.

Good luck. Curious to see which way you go.
Family motto - we may joke, but we don't judge.
Trail Name = Beans

User avatar
ADVStrom14
Reactions:
Posts: 121
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:27 am
Hammock: HH Backpackr Classic
Tarp: HH Hex 30D
Suspension: Webbing, Dutch Bling
Insulation: Costco, fleece, HHSS
Contact:

Re: GPS/Communication Device Question

#3

Post by ADVStrom14 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:56 pm

brianb2 wrote:You'll still need something to tell you your gps location. Least successful of the three options if you're thinking backcountry.

Good luck. Curious to see which way you go.
This is what I was thinking as well. I figured I would probably wind up with 2 devices anyway but that kind of defeats the purpose as I'd likely have more weight and as much, if not more, money invested by the time its over with. I have been doing some research tonight and I found this - http://cerberus.briartek.com/ - It's Cerberus which is a tracking system and two way communication system but does not have the nav features. It allows you to drop bread crumbs and stuff which translate to a GMap that your family or whoever you give the link to can access as well as allowing you to send text messages and emails, etc. via bluetooth connection. It acts as a concierge service to get help if you are in trouble but you do not connect with 911 directly as you may with inreach. So while it is not a nav system, it seems legit and you can actually rent one for 1-2 weeks with the messaging plans and all that included in the price. I like that concept because that will allow me to rent it and try it out to see if it will work and since I am really only concerned about this upcoming winter trip (for now) that gets me through that so I can do a little more research before the next big one. *Sigh*
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. -E. B. White

iamyendor
Reactions:
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:34 pm
Location: Splendora, TX
Hammock:
Tarp:
Suspension:
Insulation:

Re: GPS/Communication Device Question

#4

Post by iamyendor » Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:57 pm

Bought the inReach for its sat com ability. Works great when bluetooth paired with cell phone. Much easier to send texts that way. GPS function is just basic way point to way point nav. I'm still in the learning curve for the unit.

Took inReach along on paddle trip where cell coverage was nil or half a bar at best. Nice to send occassional texts to friends and family and see their reply come in from my texts.

Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

User avatar
Calait
Reactions:
Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:02 pm
Location: Central Texas
Hammock: ENO DoubleNest Set
Tarp:
Suspension:
Insulation: closed foam

Re: GPS/Communication Device Question

#5

Post by Calait » Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:16 am

iamyendor wrote:Bought the inReach for its sat com ability. Works great when bluetooth paired with cell phone. Much easier to send texts that way. GPS function is just basic way point to way point nav. I'm still in the learning curve for the unit.

Took inReach along on paddle trip where cell coverage was nil or half a bar at best. Nice to send occassional texts to friends and family and see their reply come in from my texts.
How did you keep batteries charged? I am considering biolyte stove and carrying charcoal to keep the stove burning till phone and batteries charged, that will be a nightly chore :( .
Any day in the outdoors is better than a day at work.

iamyendor
Reactions:
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:34 pm
Location: Splendora, TX
Hammock:
Tarp:
Suspension:
Insulation:

Re: GPS/Communication Device Question

#6

Post by iamyendor » Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:42 am

I took a power bank with solar panels built in. 10,000 mAH. Ending a three day trip, the battery was at 58% on my inReach.

viewtopic.php?p=9554#p9554

Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

User avatar
UncleMJM
Reactions:
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2015 11:16 pm
Location: College Station, TX
Hammock: Freebird
Tarp: UGQ SilPoly... soon
Suspension: webbing/whoopies...
Insulation: beer/pizza reserves

Re: GPS/Communication Device Question

#7

Post by UncleMJM » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:17 pm

The biolite stove is heavy, but fun. It will charge your devices but it is time consuming.

I've never used charcoal, but it needs the fire roaring for best charging. Part of what makes wood burning stoves attractive to me, is you don't have to carry any fuel. That offset some of the extra heaviness of the BioLite stove . Packing charcoal negates that advantage.

User avatar
BillyBob66
Reactions:
Posts: 717
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:43 am
Location: Tupelo, MS
Hammock: Claytor/JRB/HH/SB
Tarp: JRB 11X10
Suspension: CinchBuckle/WS/TriG
Insulation: HHSS,P.Pod,MWUQ,Yeti

Re: GPS/Communication Device Question

#8

Post by BillyBob66 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:11 pm

I got the Explorer over the SE, still not sure that was smart, still trying to figure all that out.

Since I already had at least 2 still functioning GPS devices, and lean towards paper map and compass anyway, I certainly did not need more GPS capability. My by far main concern was to get SOS and texting capabilities outside of phone signal range. But, both the SE and Explorer were on sale at REI when I bought mine, but the Explorer was on a bigger sale so that there was not a huge price difference, And if memory serves, there also did not seem to be a significant difference, if any, in size and weight (Y'all correct me if I'm wrong on that). So, after some head scratching, I said what the heck, a few $ more, and who knows that extra GPS might come in handy, so I got the Explorer.

All of these devices by Delorme have a learning curve, sometimes steep. I started out with a Garmin $100 GPS, a gift. No maps, but still handy just to set or go to way points, easy to use though it started malfunctioning fairly often after about a year. Then I got a Delorme PN20 GPS, got a bunch of wonderful maps downloaded for free( Delorme Topos that came with the Top 7 computer software, the superior USGS topos and satellite photo downloaded maybe 1st $100 worth were free, never fully used it up.) Now I entered the world of using the computer software that came with it to ether view where i had been on topos on my home computer, or to plot routes and way points on the hone computer and transfer to my hand held GPS device. Wonderful!. Years later, after it died on me, I got a Delorme PN60, which was a big improvement as far as GPS function(much better at getting signals in tough spots, much faster, good compass and altimeter built in, bateries lasted way longer ) but it proved to be more complicated to use than my PN20 and way more difficult to get it to work with the Topo 10(?) computer software. I never could get it to work quite right with the software. Plus now I was using a MAC home computer, and the Topo software would not work with that. So, I found myself using it less and less.

Then I got the iHikeGPS app for my iPhone and that was the end of all of that. It works as good or better than my Delormes ever did, I could download a needed map in the field if I had a phone signal, it was very intuitive to use, touch screen, just better in every way except battery. I could take plenty of alkaline batteries if needed for the Delorme, but I would need some sort of charger or something for the iPhone app for long hikes. And desktop software is available for my MAC.

So now I have had the InReach Explorer for a few months. It works very well for the MAIN reason I got it for. I have used it several times for texting, making sure not to use the phone app in order to make sure that no phone signal was being used. Has worked every time so far, sends my text and coordinates and a link which shows a map of my location. Though sometimes it takes quite a while for the text to go through, but no hurry. And I can receive texts if desired. So that part is A+, though obviously I have not tested the SOS/send in the cavalry option. Also, if not using the phone app, typing a text is a big chore, but I just use the pre-loaded texts anyway.

Using it as a GPS(without the Earthmate phone app) is pretty darn basic, no maps, tiny screen, cumbersome typing, (almost miserable). But, technically, it is a GPS, so you can follow a track or go to (or mark) a waypoint, etc and the rechargeable battery really seems to last a long time. And maybe it will get better if I keep practicing. A royal PITA compared to my iHikeGPS(plus no maps!) or a dedicated GPS with maps , but again, it’s reason for existence and being toted is the communication. If you use paper maps and compass mostly any way, you do have a very basic GPS with a long lasting battery, maybe just for back up or emergency. For example, if you were lost and having a real hard time figuring out where you were on your paper maps, and assuming you are capable of finding/reading coordinates on your paper maps, the GPS will give you the coordinates and then you can find them on the map. You will now know just as well where you are on the map as you would with the very best GPS. But not near as fast as a GPS with maps, but probably still worth having. Especially you don’t have to pay too much extra for it. Also, if you are using another GPS and only need the communication, you now have redundant, basic GPS in case you lose or break the original, batteries go dead, or the main GPS just malfunctions(YES, it happens!).

Also, you can use the smart phone app, Earthmate, and with that combo the GPS user friendliness improves my a factor of 3 or 4 or 10. You can send texts or type waypoint names using your smart phone keyboard instead of the miserable system on the inReach, and you have the Delorme topo maps, which are better than nothing but no match for USGS Topos. So, especially if you were going to take your smart phone with you anyway for whatever reason, you will now have a fairly functional modern GPS with maps and easy to use interface for typing. And, you can save a lot of phone battery by not turning it on except maybe every 30 minutes to an hour more, just when you really need it. In fact, if you have the inReach Explorer tracking say every 5 minutes( or 2, whatever), but leave your phone off until you take a break in 30 minutes or so, all of those tracking points will be be downloaded to your phone when you turn it on. Then you can look at things on the map for a few minutes and turn it back off. That will save a lot of phone battery.

I seem to have a few USGS topo maps on my Delorme Earthmate app. But for the life of me I do not know how they got there. However, this must mean it can be done, if I can figure out how to do it again I will add more maps. I find those maps much more useful than the ones that come with the Earthmate app. Still, the maps that come with it are much better than nothing.

Hope that helps. I’m still working on using this device a a GPS. Seems to me as long as you don’t have to pay too much extra for it, it is worth having, especially if you are going to take your phone with you anyway, then it becomes a pretty fair and easy to use GPS with maps.
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

Post Reply

Return to “Electronics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest