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View Full Version : ot - anybody use a prepaid satellite phone?



mattthemuppet
10-05-2014, 01:38 AM
Hi all,

The main area I MTB in now (umatilla national Forest) has no cell coverage and I tend to ride alone as I haven't found anyone to ride with yet since moving into the area. Today's ride took a bit longer than expected, at 4 1/2h plus an hour each way driving, largely because I rode it the wrong way round so spent 3h climbing :( anyway, Ingrid was having kittens and have me the nth degree when I got back, thinking that I'd been eaten by a bear or mountain lion. Even though i wrote down the exact route I was taking beforehand, I've been thinking about satellite phones. Old handsets aren't much on eBay ($20-40) which is within the realms of possibility, but the prepaid plans seem to have limited validity unless you shell out $500. No way I can afford $35/ month. Any ideas?

Obviously, I'll be doing my best to find some riding buddies too!

Rosco-P
10-05-2014, 02:06 AM
What did riders do before cell phones? Carry change, quit being such a "kitten".

Black Forest
10-05-2014, 02:47 AM
What are you riding?

John Stevenson
10-05-2014, 03:22 AM
What are you riding?

Nokia

Noitoen
10-05-2014, 05:26 AM
How about some 2 way radio set? I use to do the job long before cell phones.

A.K. Boomer
10-05-2014, 07:33 AM
What did riders do before cell phones? Carry change, quit being such a "kitten".


I agree - tell your woman "it is what it is" and there's nothing you can do about it, treasure the solitude, even if you end up dying out there it will be well worth it because at least you got to break free once in awhile... sure beats being interrupted the rest of your life during choice moments to remind you to bring home an extra gallon of milk...

I know people who won't go out of "range" because their too worried what might happen, what a disease...
Im always out of range, I don't own a celly, and that's the way it's going to stay. I ride way the hell out sometimes all by myself - after all these decades of doing it I really don't worry much about whether im coming back home or not, always seems to happen (even if sometimes I have problems and show up at 11:00 at night) and if some day it don't what a great way to go...

people are so far removed from survival these days, they never want to get cold - they never want to experience hunger, and they never want to venture out of "safety"... and in doing so they remove all the immediate reminders of what keeps us grounded, of what got us here in the first place, and when you do that you are actually out of range - in a far different way...

SirLesPatterson
10-05-2014, 08:22 AM
Similar with cameras. I like to enjoy "the show" but notice a lot of people never get out from behind the camera. They end up with 100 similar digital pictures they will never look at to help them remember what they didn't take time to enjoy while they were there.

tmarks11
10-05-2014, 10:10 AM
A few options:

1. Emergency Locator Beacon that back country hikers and climbers use, so in the event of an emergency they can call in the chopper. You can't call home, but you can call for help if you do get half eaten by a mountain lion (maybe we should talk about weapons as option #4, as that is a threat in WA). No annual fee, but can't call your wife either.
2. SPOT GEN3 messenger. Allows you to send location and message a group of friends one of three different messages ("I am OK", "I need (non life-threatening help", or a pre-programmed custom message). Also allows you to call in the choppers. $150 annual fee is cheaper than an iridium handset.

http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=102

3. SPOT connect. Everything on #2, plus can pair with a bluetooth phone for text messaging (41 characters per message), plus any of 14 pre-programmed 120 character messages. Price is 50 cents a message or 500 messages for $50, plus the $10 or 15/month subscription fee. This might work for you.

http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=116

EDIT: WARNING, lots of unhappy customers on Amazon, so this might NOT work for you...I guess you get what you pay for. This is only one-way comms, with no way to know if your message was received.

A better choice might be the Delorme InReach, which gives you two-way text messaging with an-on screen keyboard (no need for bluetooth pairing), and is $12/month (10 text messages plus $1.50 each additional), $25/month (40 text messages plus 50 cents each additional), $50/month (unlimited). Higher up-front cost.

http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/inreachse.php

flylo
10-05-2014, 10:56 AM
A lot of pilots use the Spot locator which your friends & family can track your progress if you choose or send an OK or Help message or an SOS. These are satellite based & service cost $99/year or $9.99/month.
Now the best part is I bought several on sale & if you want & I can find one(might take a day or two) I'll send it to you free. Go to findmespot.com it's like the orange locator but I think it's green. Let me know, Thanks!

Mike Nash
10-05-2014, 10:59 AM
A few options:


Nice research!

A.K. Boomer
10-05-2014, 11:27 AM
Similar with cameras. I like to enjoy "the show" but notice a lot of people never get out from behind the camera. They end up with 100 similar digital pictures they will never look at to help them remember what they didn't take time to enjoy while they were there.

Right on, and much of the reason behind this kind of detachment is due to the fact that many of these poor shallow souls are more-so concerned with bragging rights on FB and such then the actual "feeling" of what you should be there (wherever) for in the first place --- called "getting caught up in the moment" and quickly becoming a thing of the past...

danlb
10-05-2014, 11:36 AM
I've used sat phones as part of our Y2K emergency plan. Expensive and finicky. Keep in mind that they are pretty much line of sight devices. They do not work well inside buildings, canyons or dense forest.

The Spot locater is nice because it will send a signal periodically so that even if you are in dense cover there will be a "last known location" on their website. It's much faster for the search teams if they can start within 1/2 mile of where your body is.


Dan

mattthemuppet
10-06-2014, 12:29 PM
jeez, tough crowd :)

Tmarks - that was a fantastic help and much appreciated. I dimly remember reading about Spot a while back in a magazine, but completely forgot about it. Both the Spot and Delorme look like just what I'm after and the overall monthly cost is manageable - the Delorme looks slightly better in being able to buy months when needed, but Flylo's very generous offer would tip the balance to Spot. I'm looking into emergency locator beacons too. I'd also be interested to hear about the mountain lion threat - guns are off the table for various reasons but if there are any other things I can do to be safer, I'm all ears.

Flylo - thank you! PM on the way :)

Dan - that's my thinking too. When I was back in State College I used to go riding alone in the boonies, but there was enough cell coverage that I could call in junctions and changes of trail, so that my wife would have a single stretch of trail to give to search and rescue rather than the whole forest. Same principle here, just no cell reception!

All the rest - try looking at it from this perspective. You're a volunteer search and rescuer (they almost all are I believe) and you get a call in that a lone mountainbiker has gone missing in the mountains. Would you rather have:

a) a trail itinerary. Even limiting the search to 1/2 mile either side of the trail, that's around 40 square miles to search and around 2500ft+ altitude change, as well as dense forest and open ridge.

b) a trail itinerary and a last known location 2/3 of the way along, on open ridge. Search area is now 10-12 square miles, with an easy access point from one end.

Search and rescuers put their lives at risk (and sadly often lose them) to rescue people from remote places for all sorts of reasons. I think it's a basic responsibility (which I failed to take) to make their job as easy as possible if they need to do it. We're not talking about places where you can walk out in an hour and find a pay phone (carry change, har har!). This would have been anywhere between 5 and 8h to hike out, if not longer and that's assuming I was in fine fettle.

Another perspective - you're riding with a buddy, he falls and breaks his leg. You're 2-3h ride from the car and another hour or two from cell coverage, it's about 5pm. You have to choose between leaving him and potentially not getting back to him for another 6-8h, in the dark. Or you stay with him and you may both have to overnight before anyone comes out looking for you. that's assuming no complications. That's a decision you wouldn't have to make if you can call in.

I'm you'd all be weighing in if you heard about search and rescue spending a day and tens of thousands of dollars looking for a lone mountainbiker who got lost in the mountains. "what a waste of money", "what an idiot!", "should have been left to sink or swim" etc etc :D

Rosco-P
10-06-2014, 01:13 PM
[QUOTE=mattthemuppet;940837Another perspective - you're riding with a buddy, he falls and breaks his leg. You're 2-3h ride from the car and another hour or two from cell coverage, it's about 5pm. You have to choose between leaving him and potentially not getting back to him for another 6-8h, in the dark. Or you stay with him and you may both have to overnight before anyone comes out looking for you. that's assuming no complications. That's a decision you wouldn't have to make if you can call in.[/QUOTE]

Take some first aid classes. Then you'll know what to do and what not to do.

Injured friend, no signal, stabilize, leave with supplies, signaling instructions (water, flashlight, etc.) and go for help.

If you have all these fears, then you're a fool if you ride in remote areas by yourself.

Paul Alciatore
10-06-2014, 01:18 PM
Cell phone service providers supply free emergency calls. Do the satellite providers do this too? Perhaps all you need is a used phone and an emergency only contract.

And petition the cell companies to get service there.

Guido
10-06-2014, 01:28 PM
Ditto: Rosco-P

Aircraft style ELT's are available for public purchase/use, probably weigh 30 oz. at most. j

A.K. Boomer
10-06-2014, 01:30 PM
Oh boy here goes the big scare tactic and how we all owe it to be responsible --- when I go I NEVER tell anyone "where" as it's just another occurrence - and it's in about 360 degree's of direction so nobody has a clue, even if family or friends find out something is aloof it would already most likely be days or maybe even weeks lol so -- with no real means of having any kind of a clue as to what direction and multiple days being past it's not as much as search and rescue as it's a low priority dead body recovery effort - and incidentally iv done both for others out here including solo kayaking some whitewater so no big whoop - and wasn't all that "dangerous" either - that part again is completely up to you - you put in your trench time for others and that's that, hopefully you never need it but you don't change your life in case you might,

as far as a buddy breaking his leg that really would not be all that big of a deal - just wrap it up for protection and tow him back - there's always something to tow with - even barb wire from a fence or some of the cloths your wearing or break his chain and use it,,, - too many people trying to sell flat tire insurance in this world... iv had to stuff my rear tire full of hay one time to get home - but I got home, iv had to tow another guy for many miles - big kid too - when he stripped out his freewheel, we got back well after dark
I will always find a way - and if I don't there will be a little smirk on my face when I kack-out about something finally getting me...
Ideally if im going to go I hope I have to claw my way back to my car or house with a blood trail - maybe make it just to the front door stoop or to the rear wheel so everyone goes Ahhhwwww - he almost had it too. lol
so much fear out there - how did we ever get here to begin with? surely not by todays attitudes or everyone would have died all petrified and coiled up in their sleeping bags...

it's just funny to me how people try to avoid certain types of death just so they can have the guarantee of writing their name with their own poop on some nursing home wall ------------ and spelling it wrong, just a little perspective for you that's all :-)

mattthemuppet
10-06-2014, 01:57 PM
Take some first aid classes. Then you'll know what to do and what not to do.

Injured friend, no signal, stabilize, leave with supplies, signaling instructions (water, flashlight, etc.) and go for help.

If you have all these fears, then you're a fool if you ride in remote areas by yourself.

blimey, touch harsh there old chap. I have taken 1st aid classes (although a refresher wouldn't hurt), I carry a first aid kit, emergency supplies, a high powered (or long lasting, depending on need) light, tools and parts to fix anything that breaks (bar a frame, I guess). I have been in situations where I have needed those things. Given the remoteness of my rides, extra precautions are not unwarranted. I'm not sure how you're taking these precautions to be fears and feel the need to call me a fool as a result? You were, I believe, the one who just told me to carry some spare change, as if that's a reasonable solution?


Cell phone service providers supply free emergency calls. Do the satellite providers do this too? Perhaps all you need is a used phone and an emergency only contract.

And petition the cell companies to get service there.

there was occasionally emergency signal, on the high points, but I'd rather not rely on it in case it's either not present or I'm not able to get to those points when I need it.


Ditto: Rosco-P

Aircraft style ELT's are available for public purchase/use, probably weigh 30 oz. at most. j

as above, ELT is on the list


Oh boy here goes the big scare tactic and how we all owe it to be responsible --- when I go I NEVER tell anyone "where" as it's just another occurrence...

that's fair 'nuff and I don't have a beef with anyone who takes that approach providing it doesn't endanger anyone trying to find you, I just have a different perspective. Young family, couple of small kids - dying out in the hills holds no romance for me (note to RoscoP, that is not a fear of mine, just to be clear) :)

flylo
10-06-2014, 01:57 PM
The FAA is not going to monitor the old freq, the new ones cost a bunch & with the false alarms I'd choose a Spot any day. For $99/yr or $10/month it's cheap insurance & I like the "I'm OK button" if you have someone worrying.


Ditto: Rosco-P

Aircraft style ELT's are available for public purchase/use, probably weigh 30 oz. at most. j

A.K. Boomer
10-06-2014, 02:05 PM
that's fair 'nuff and I don't have a beef with anyone who takes that approach providing it doesn't endanger anyone trying to find you, I just have a different perspective. Young family, couple of small kids - dying out in the hills holds no romance for me (note to RoscoP, that is not a fear of mine, just to be clear) :)


And that's fair enough too, if I had little bambino's depending on me at home I would be changing my tune somewhat about some of this stuff also...
My main thing im trying to get across is it's not a one size fits all type situation...

I know some pretty responsible "reckless" people i guess you could add...

flylo
10-06-2014, 02:24 PM
Better to have it & not need it than the other way around:p

A.K. Boomer
10-06-2014, 02:28 PM
Depends how you want to die :p

Royldean
10-06-2014, 03:15 PM
Funny..... Dying out in the forest under the stars doesn't frighten me at all.... But getting wrapped around my lathe spindle (or being brained by something that got knocked out of the chuck at high RPM) DO scare the crap out of me.

Better sell my lathe and take up video games.

mattthemuppet
10-06-2014, 03:58 PM
My main thing im trying to get across is it's not a one size fits all type situation...

couldn't agree with you more. I totally get the whole disappear into the wilderness thing, I just have to balance that with the whole "wife letting me take 1/2 the weekend off for spiritual fulfillment and not leaving her a widow with 2 young kids" thing. If having a couple of extra things stuck in my camelbak means she's happy to let me wander around on my own in the mountains, then that's what I'll do :)


Better to have it & not need it than the other way around:p

isn't that the general motto of all machinist forums?!

flylo
10-06-2014, 04:34 PM
I love to bear hunt but don't care to die as bear bait.

mattthemuppet
10-20-2014, 12:40 PM
got the Spot from flylo just in time for another great ride, the same route as before but in the other direction. The Spot worked a treat and Ingrid was still sanguine when I got back after 5 1/2h riding, 7 1/2h total (took a couple of unintended diversions..) as she could that I was still moving and checking in periodically. I even managed to get Basic Tracking for free with a coupon code, so just over $100 for a years worth of stress free riding was well worth the money, thanks Flylo!

Here are some pics:
http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3597_zps97c33dba.jpg
http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3600_zps2c380c70.jpg
http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3598_zpsf9fc08fd.jpg
http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3603_zps38f65a1c.jpg

mattthemuppet
10-20-2014, 12:44 PM
this was the ridge I was on for the previous pictures http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3607_zps51e3c450.jpg
http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3605_zps9239a02b.jpg
http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3606_zps91772963.jpg
and the map Ingrid could see - the close together bits were the slog out of the valley (2h? It was around 8 miles)
http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/Route_zps358f3bab.png

thanks again Flylo!

Seastar
10-20-2014, 01:01 PM
Great pictures and a great thread.
Glad the spot is working for you.
I ride alone away from my cabin in the Superior National Forrest.
It looks like the pictures you posted, maybe wilder.
I ride a four wheeler. At 83 the bikes don't appeal to me.
I never thought about some one needing to find me.
I do have a two way radio system at my cabin and hand held portables we carry while riding.
I get about a 15 mile range to the portables and 25/30 to the mobiles installed in my cars.
I'm a two way radio manufacturer so I know what to do with them.
Bill

flylo
10-20-2014, 01:25 PM
That's great! I'm glad to give you wife some peace of mind. I always told mine the troopers or rangers would call if trouble happened. Boy was she glad to see me a few time :rolleyes: Please send the code for free tracking as flying to Alaska with an old friend may be my last great adventure . He's old, I'm crippled, what a pair, what an adventure, we'll see what spring brings.

mattthemuppet
10-20-2014, 01:56 PM
Great pictures and a great thread.
Glad the spot is working for you.
I ride alone away from my cabin in the Superior National Forrest.
It looks like the pictures you posted, maybe wilder.
I ride a four wheeler. At 83 the bikes don't appeal to me.
I never thought about some one needing to find me.
I do have a two way radio system at my cabin and hand held portables we carry while riding.
I get about a 15 mile range to the portables and 25/30 to the mobiles installed in my cars.
I'm a two way radio manufacturer so I know what to do with them.
Bill

Thanks Bill, it's stunning out there and very different from what I was used to in central PA. It doesn't look especially hilly, but the valleys are very deep and steep - I certainly wished I was on something motorised on the climb out! My outdoors mojo tank is full again for another week or two and the wife is happy, so a win all round :)


That's great! I'm glad to give you wife some peace of mind. I always told mine the troopers or rangers would call if trouble happened. Boy was she glad to see me a few time :rolleyes: Please send the code for free tracking as flying to Alaska with an old friend may be my last great adventure . He's old, I'm crippled, what a pair, what an adventure, we'll see what spring brings.

Yep, she was still a little edgy about me being out there alone, but it really reassured her to see that I was still okay and moving, however slowly!

As for the free tracking, it's either ARTRACKSPOT or PCFTRACKSPOT, I can't remember which but I know I tried one, it didn't work then I tried the other one and it did :) Sends out a message every 10min when it can see the sky (shouldn't be a problem in your case!), so it helped fill in the blanks when other messages didn't go through. Not every message arrived, but between the tracking and the change of trail/ I'm OK messages she got a decent picture. Sounds like you'll be having a hell of an adventure next year!

flylo
10-20-2014, 02:08 PM
I hope so as we were packed & ready when my buddy broke his leg 3 years ago, last year I was sick all year, this year my wife but she had her last surgery (hopefully) last week. Gotta finish that bucket list. :cool::p

capperbar
10-20-2014, 05:12 PM
Matt,
Tried Table rock from bluewood or tiger canyon yet? Skyline?
Sav

mattthemuppet
10-20-2014, 05:18 PM
fingers crossed Flylo!

Sav, nope, I haven't done those yet, although I was looking at my map (dangerous!) and wondering about the trails around bluewood. Any tips? All I've done so far have been the Umatilla rim a couple of times, the South Fork and up to Cub Saddle and the North fork ride (in both directions). hopefully there's time to get a couple more rides in before snow/ice starts shutting down the hills.

flylo
11-03-2014, 12:34 PM
Spot is selling sat phones for $499 with a $250 rebate so !/2 price if anyone is interested & looks like $300 a year for usage. Just thought some of you world adventurers might like to know. I saw it here http://www.longrangehunting.com/store/spot-global-phone.html

mattthemuppet
11-03-2014, 02:49 PM
Spot is selling sat phones for $499 with a $250 rebate so !/2 price if anyone is interested & looks like $300 a year for usage. Just thought some of you world adventurers might like to know. I saw it here http://www.longrangehunting.com/store/spot-global-phone.html

thanks for the heads up Flylo!


Matt,
Tried Table rock from bluewood or tiger canyon yet? Skyline?
Sav

I don't know if I did that one yesterday, but I tried a ride up from Touchet Corral sno park yesterday. I had planned on climbing up to the fireroad to Godmans spring (?) then hitting the Middle Point Ridge trail, but I wasn't fully prepared for the snow on the ground up there and took a bail out 1/2 way through back down to the car. Absolutely stunning views, just wish I could have spent more time appreciating them!

http://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/middlepointridge_zps0ad82d92.jpghttp://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3617_zps02174495.jpghttp://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/IMG_3614_zpsc7f84c90.jpghttp://i1349.photobucket.com/albums/p752/mattthemuppet/Riding%20pics/towardsBlueheadskiarea_zps4030740e.jpg