SPOT Tracker for Beginners

heartheart San Francisco, CAMember
edited July 2014 in Beginner Questions
Folks - I bought a (heavily discounted, hurrah!) SPOT tracker for my upcoming swims this year and got a yearly subscription. The device is not intuitive and I was hoping the collective experience on the forum would help. I registered the little gizmo on the website. Now, how do I set up the nifty website where people can follow me? Does the device itself transmit the cute orange dots, or does my crew need to press on the gizmo periodically?


  • I want to know about this as well!
  • From what i read in the instructions. It pretty much a "set it" and "forget it", device. Once the SPOT is registered on the website, All you have to do is turn it on when you start your swim, and make sure it has a clear line of sight to the sky. The rest is pretty much done for you. I think there are some youtube videos for this also.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    I believe you can embed the map by iFrame on your own site. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited December 2013
    heart said:

    Now, how do I set up the nifty website where people can follow me?

    1. Log in to your account at
    2. Click the Share tab.
    3. Click Create Shared Page.
    4. Fill in details.
    5. Send your friends the URL to your unique tracking page.
    5a. Alternatively (as @Niek mentions), you can embed the tracking map in your personal website via an iframe tag. Directions are HERE.
    heart said:

    Does the device itself transmit the cute orange dots, or does my crew need to press on the gizmo periodically?

    Automatically, approximately every 10 minutes. I believe the latest SPOT Gen 3 may have a few additional options.
  • heartheart San Francisco, CAMember
    Thank you very much, guys! I'll take the thing for a test ride around town and report back if I encounter any problems.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    @heart don't know how your html skills are.
    Here is a more elaborate iFrame code with explanation:
    <div style="text-align: center;">
    <iframe frameborder="1" scrolling="yes" src="your link here" height="700" width="600"></iframe>

    div style="text-align: center;" ==>center can be replaced by left or right.
    frameborder="1" ==>means with a border around the frame.
    scrolling="yes" ==>means with scrollbar, useful if you want to make the map show smaller than the 600x700 pixels standard size. - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • heartheart San Francisco, CAMember
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    Anyone know how to make the Spot map page show you a scale? Drives me nuts watching someone and not being able to easily figure out how much further they have to go. - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited July 2014
    dc_in_sf said:

    Anyone know how to make the Spot map page show you a scale?

    I don't think that's a feature of the interface.

    Two possible work-arounds:

    - Pull up (or, sorry @dc_in_sf, -- which DO have scales -- in a separate browser window and set it to the same zoom level as the findmespot map.

    - Take the GPS coordinates from the findmespot map and plug them into a distance calculator, e.g., HERE.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    edited April 26

    Bumping this one up with some questions:

    --@heart, where'd you get yours discounted?

    --Anyone know the batteries it uses? I have restrictions where I'm located now. Basically, I can ship anything with lithium batteries IF and only if the batteries are pre-installed (think iPod) and not separate. We tried to buy a digital camera, but because the battery came in the box but wasn't pre-installed in the camera, the package got denied and sent back to Amazon.

    --Is there an option for less than a year subscription? Can you just subscribe while you're doing your swim(s)? (I checked online at and it looks like yearly or monthly (but paid for 12 months!) are the only options.) Figured I'd ask in case someone discovered a cheaper alternative.

    --Looks like what I (we) want is "tracking", thus there are five options available according to their website: SpotGen3, SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger, SPOT Hug, SPOT Personal Messenger, SPOT Connect. What's everyone here using?

    --Has anyone had any problems with "regional settings"? I ask because it seems everything is regionally restricted nowadays. I intend on buying one from a U.S. outlet (Amazon, probably). Will that mean I have to register from an ISP in the U.S.? I hate assuming so I'll ask this seemingly dumb question: If you buy and register one in the U.S., can you use it (and all the internet "following" functions) from outside the U.S.?

    I'm hoping beyond hope to arrange a fun swim in a very large lake here in Kyrgyzstan, and I'd love to use the Spot Tracker functions so my family and friends back in the states (and elsewhere?) can follow me.

    Cheers and thanks all!

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallMember

    Mike, have you check coverage in Kyrgyzstan? It may be in the area of degraded reception. The satellite coverage appears to be right on the limit, according to the map. Another product to look at is the DeLorme Inreach. We have both but the DeLorme has better satellite coverage over a wider area and also facility for 2 way texts and FB updates from the tracker.

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallMember

    The SPOT has lithium batteries which last for about one week of tracking. Our batteries have lasted a whole season of swims. (It won't work with alkaline.) The DeLorme is rechargeable. They both require 12 month contracts.

  • The "limited coverage" results from the satellite constellation (Globalstar) which relays your (usually) GPS position back to civilisation and the internet service provider. Looking at the coverage map, its optimised for land (where most people tend to be) and you do indeed have degraded performance near to the region where Kyrgyzstan is. But this degradation only seems to be in terms of ability to get a message back to base within the benchmark 20 minutes. There's stuff on the web about SPOT's poor performance, but this seems more to do with people not realising how cliffs, canyons and forests impact GPS reception. The coverage is ranked into 96% or better, and (I assume) 95.99% and lower, so they arent saying you'll never get a message through. Delorme would seem better a better choice as it uses Iridium, which has many more satellites than Globalstar.

  • pavlicovpavlicov NYCMember

    Is it possible to borrow a SPOT tracker from someone?

    I am doing 2 stages of 8Bridges swim (June 9-10) and Boston Lights (Aug 15) and I would like to set up SPOT tracker for my family and friends to follow. Is anyone in NYC who would lend me theirs? I don't want it for free. However, I am not very familiar with the technology.

    I hope to be able to embed the tracker on my wordpress blogsite.

  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member

    Thanks @KatieBun and @JimBoucher. I had not heard of DeLorme (looking that up now), and hadn't even thought about looking at the coverage maps. Hell, I may just stick to my Forerunner 310XT and upload the "picture" after the swim(s).

  • pavlicov said: Is it possible to borrow a SPOT tracker from someone?

    For a couple of swims like that, you'll have better luck with myathletelive, they do rentals of gps tracking devices.

    You can also setup a smartphone with garmin connect, or maybe it's garmin fit and activate the tracking feature, it will do the same. Though you'd want to check on cell phone reception there.

  • The SPOT maps are pretty horrible, I find on long swims when you zoom out to see the whole course you see so many markers that they obscure the actual course. I couldn't find a way to turn them off. Also as mentioned above the lack of a scale always seemed a bit ridiculous.

    However it is fairly straight forward to use the SPOT data to draw a map via the Google Maps JavaScript API.

    If you view source code on this page you can see a basic example of how to code it up:

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