Spot Gen3

JenAJenA Member
edited June 2013 in General Discussion
Well, it seems that the next version of SPOT is out ( Well, it's out, but not out. Apparently, stores are selling it, but customer service won't answer any questions because they haven't launched it yet. They have only vague plans to launch "this summer".

Some features are swimmer friendly! Such as: "Tracking options let you choose the capture rate that best suits your movement: 2.5-, 5-, 10-, 30- or 60-minute increments". Others make me wonder: "With Motion Activated Tracking, SPOT Gen3 knows when you’re moving and when you stop to make camp; it stops sending tracking info until you start moving again."

It seems the motion tracking is based on vibration. I'm wondering if the vibration of a boat will be enough to keep SPOT logging. They've got an FAQ for this ( which says "SPOT Gen3 tracking is smarter than ever! A built in vibration sensor sends tracks only when you are moving. When the device is stationary for more than five minutes SPOT Gen3 will enter Suspended Track mode. SPOT Gen3 will automatically send, at least, one more track from your resting location. While at rest, SPOT Gen3 will not send tracks. Tracking will automatically resume after the vibration sensor detects the unit has begun moving again."

I suppose you could always tether it to a buoy and let it toss amongst the waves -- surely that would keep the vibration sensor going? I'm not sure that it's a good idea, though.

Does anyone know anything more about this?


  • I heard back from SPOT regarding their new Gen3 Spot device. Here are my questions and their responses:
    >How sensitive is the vibration detection? If the Gen3 were on a boat in calm waters, is the device going to turn itself off?

    NO - On a boat, it should never suspend unless it is in “dock mode”. No one but individuals tracking boats that are often docked in the water should use dock mode.

    It’s intention is to save batteries by not sending the same location over and over again once the unit senses it has stopped moving. It will still send a message or two to make sure that the last point is captured after it senses no vibration for 5 minutes. That means that depending on which tracking interval you have, you might never stop sending points for short stops.

    > Let's say I am in a strong current and barely making progress until the tide changes. Do I need to manually cause vibration in order to keep the device alive and tracking my points?

    It is a vibration sensor not a location sensor. We only use location to make determinations if in “dock mode.” No one but individuals tracking boats that are often docked in the water should use dock mode.

    It will keep vibrating and therefore keep sending your location on most small vehicles with a running motor. If it is on the person, it is unlikely they can be still enough long enough to meet the requirements of “no vibration”.

    > What's the radius the device uses to determine whether or not you have moved so the device turns itself back on?

    It is a vibration sensor not a location sensor. We only use location to make determinations if in “dock mode”.
  • I'm going out to get a spot today. I'm not thrilled about the 12 month contract. I noticed Delorme has a product for which you can suspend the contract when you don't need it. Anyone ever tried Delorme?
  • There's a danger of some confusion here and the answers back from the supplier don't help, in fact calling a SPOT a vibration sensor is weird!

    As far as I can see its just an update that seeks to maximise battery life so, a bit like your TV remote, it powers down into a kind of hibernate mode. It would seem that any vibration of the SPOT will cause it to wake up and transmit its position. I would imagine that a boat or even kayak would have enough vibration and movement to keep the unit out of hibernation if used to track a swimmer.

    Coincidentally, when waiting in an airport Lounge returning on Monday night from the Toreonos Marathon Swim we got talking to a private jet pilot who showed us one of these:

    He told me this is what he would have used if he'd had to ditch in the Atlantic. It pairs with a smartphone and links into the Iridium low-earth orbit constellation (I think SPOT uses Globalstar which is similar) and not only transmits position but also enables two-way text messaging emails and data services. We reckoned that this kind of beast, paired with a smartphone, would overcome the problems many people have when swimming out of reach of mobile phone base stations. Naturally you'd need a waterproof smartphone for total reliability but I am sure it would be great, and cheaper, for many of the EC boats too where the support crew want to get info back to fan-clubs etc.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member

    Just saw this online. If you buy a Spot Gen3 between now and 14 Sept for at least $149.95, you can get a rebate for 50% of the price. You can request the rebate (request must be postmarked) up to 30 Oct.

    Info here (link is a pdf)

  • JenAJenA Member

    @IronMike, I think they're moving inventory to make room for Gen4. My Gen3 just died (on a kayak, water ingression), and I'm going to wait until the new year to see what comes. Something fully waterproof, hopefully! :)

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    I plug the Gen3 into an external battery (I hate disposables), tape them together and put the whole thing in a waterproof case. No issues. I never really trust the o ring seals on so called waterproof electronics.


    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • JenAJenA Member

    That's really helpful, @david_barra. I'd considered something similar. What kind of external battery are you using? Capacity? And what kind of plastic case?

    It wasn't the O-ring that went on mine (my battery compartment was dry), but rather that flappy bit over the USB port.

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    The case is made by seal line, and the battery is a jackery. I'm pretty sure @evmo has a link to buy them on the "gear" thread image


    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    edited August 15

    For those who have bought Spot Gen3, can you tell me if the included batteries come already installed, or are they in a separate package in the box?

    I ask because I have restrictions for shipping where I am now, namely, only pre-installed lithium batteries can ship.

    (I wrote to the Spot people but they haven't answered this query yet.)

  • JenAJenA Member
    edited August 15

    @IronMike, this suggests batteries are included and require installation.

    I think I remember the packaging being impressively minimal, for what it's worth.

    Perhaps it varies by country, though?

  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member

    Yeah, the guys at the State Department mail room in VA will x-ray the box and if they see a package of batteries, they'll deny the package and send it back.

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember

    Mike don'you know anyone in America who can install the batteries and then send the package to you?

    IronMike - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • JenAJenA Member

    A smaller retailer might be willing to do it for you. (I'd imagine the request could be lost in a warehouse environment.)

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember

    jenA I think Mike works for the US goverment or likewise. He has family in the USA so a package send by detour to a relative and then to Farway-i-stan won't be that difficult.

    Might be expensive but that's different.

    IronMike - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

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