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Can someone find me?


K7CJS
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Generally, no.

 

Garmin Rino's and some other ones I may not know about, have a built in FRS radio. These GPS' transmit the current location to another GPS of the same type (i.e. all the Rinos). But range is limited.

 

The majority of GPS's receive signals - they don't transmit.

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I have been beating around the woods for a lot of years and continue to do so now that I can receive senior discounts. My travels take me a lot of miles and across a number of jurisdictions. In California the County Sheriff is responsible for Search and Rescue. I create a route plan and leave it with my wife, relative, or somebody dependable. While I have a cellphone at least 90 percent of the locations I travel do not have service.

 

1. I suspect many of the locations you travel are located within a National Forest. Obtain a Forest Service map. From a Forest Service map I obtain the Township, Range, Section, a road number and the name of some geographic locations.

2. I go to my US Topo software and find the location I plan on traveling to and generate and few Lat/Long. You trip plan might go like this: Plan on traveling I-80 to Eagle Lakes off ramp. Travel to Indian Springs OHV Staging Area, from there take OHV route to the Meadow Lake Staging Area. Will take the 86 Road to the 07 Road, East to State Highway 89, and the to Truckee, returning by way of I-80 and Highway 20. (On this trip you have traveled in three S&R jurisdictions, Nevada County, Placer County, and Sierra County.) This a challenging route with at least five wench points, so you can break down or get hurt on it. Because I can I also included the Lat/Long for key points in the routes. S&R helicopters normally use Lat/Long; in addition the life flight helicopter use it. I print out a copy of the map and leave it with the wife.

 

The difficult attempts to contact come from family members trying to contact another on a trip. A typical call might be like this, my husband and his buddy are on a weeklong Jeep trip on a National Forest in Northern California. He needs to return home because of an emergency. If the guys lives in L.A. everything North of the Bakersfield is Northern California and there is a number of National Forest North of Bakersfield.

 

3. A good description of the vehicle, make, color, model, and license number will save time.

4. Other descriptive items help, a blue tent, and large black and white dog.

5. I leave my travel plan on extend trips with a couple of family members. Who knows something could have happen the family and I am needed back. I normally leave a printed copy of my travel plan at my wife’s place at the table, and e-mail it to a couple of relatives. This only works if you do it. Last year my brother, and his ten-year-old son made a trip into the woods. My brother fell, and rolled down a steep hill. He hung up in a tree, and it took his sometime to get back up the hill to the road edge. He knew that if he did not make it up that not only was he in trouble but his son was in trouble. He also realized that he had not made and sent to me a travel plan. In this day and age of e-mail it is an easy step to take.

6. A personnel locator beacon is a workable option. There is monthly subscription fee for the one I was looking at recently.

7. A lot of time I am returning home after dark, and I do not want to alarm the family. As soon as I have cellphone service I call and let them know my location, and I will be home in so many hours. The family knows this is my practice, and it saves them some stress.

8. If you are taking action on a fire in the woods, or have a medical emergency and somebody is going out to get cell phone service us you gps and write down a Lat/Long. An emergency dispatcher can put that information into a CAD and immediately pinpoint your location.

9. Geographic names are good, but when they are tied to a Lat/Long they are better. In California there are numerous, Humbug, Squirrel, Deer Creeks, and other common names.

 

There are times that my plans change in the woods, but it is better to have a good general idea, then no idea. Normally I have a CB in my vehicle because truckers, which includes loggers normally have one. I will also have my 530HCx in my pack.

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I live in the mountains and many of the caches are in remote areas. My partner wanted to know if I could be found by my GPS if I went out and didn't come back? Is my GPS tracable?

 

Not directly. Your GPS is a reciever of the signals generated by the GPS satalites.

 

That said. Some GPS units have radio transmitters that can be used to help find you. The Garmin Rhino for example.

 

Also while unlikely it's possible that the fact that all electronics generate some electromagnetic interference (fancy way to say they transmit a small signal that can interfere with other electronics) if someone knew how to pick that signal up and triangulate on it they could use it to find you if they were close enough to pick up that signal.

 

That all said. If you want someone to be able to find you, I'd make sure someone knows what caches you were going to visit that day. That would be far and away better than the remote chance that they can zero in on you using interfernce from your GPS or Cell Phone towers tracking your cell phone.

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Seriously one of the only real method that will work and people will find you is using spot. I swear by spot, I own one and have used to to track my position on google maps for my family to see. If I get into trouble though, I can press that button and search and rescue will be there in no time. Don't leave home without it because most of the places I go there is no cell service so its not even an option and its cheaper than a sat phone per minute rate on what I pay per year. I aslo have the $100,000 insurance for $7.95 a year that will cover rescue attempt costs if you are charged.

Edited by storm180
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As another option, ham radio may be very useful if you are already licensed or feel like studying to take the test. Most times, when there is no cell phone coverage a nice little 5 watt HT with the frequencies programmed into the radio for repeaters in the area will get you help if you need to put out a distress call.

 

It's a rare occasion when one can't key up a repeater for help. Due to the fact that you are high up in the mountains should give you a nice line of sight to some remote repeater. Granted there may not be any repeaters in the area you are hiking... but if there are, ham radio is a tried and true life saver :(

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I second SPOT. No exams, no licenses, no coverage issues and no HAM stigma. SPOT will work world wide, it’s easy and it’s cheap.

 

 

http://www.findmespot.com/Home.aspx

 

I'm not knocking SPOT as it looks pretty slick. The problem with it is that you have no live communication using voice. All you can do is press the button and hope someone responds. At least with a radio, you can speak with someone directly and advise them of the situation and what they can expect when they arrive. That way they can come properly prepared. I'm not saying ham radio is 100% effective but used in combination with other tools like SPOT it can be extremely beneficial.

 

Also, what's the deal with the ham stigma?? Do you have a problem with ham radio operators?

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Umm, nope. It's a good technology. It's just all the HAM operators I have known over the years have always been a bit off. Infatuated might be a better word. Ugly yard antennas, cars covered in radio gear, things like that. Everything was an excuse to use radio equipment whether or not it was appropriate/convenient. One guy was always downloading pictures via the radio (don't ask me how that works) and all I could think was "you ever hear of e-mail."”

 

I just think that SPOT is likely the best solution for the average person looking for one solution.

Edited by ryleyinstl
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I second SPOT. No exams, no licenses, no coverage issues and no HAM stigma. SPOT will work world wide, it’s easy and it’s cheap.

 

 

http://www.findmespot.com/Home.aspx

 

I'm not knocking SPOT as it looks pretty slick. The problem with it is that you have no live communication using voice. All you can do is press the button and hope someone responds. At least with a radio, you can speak with someone directly and advise them of the situation and what they can expect when they arrive. That way they can come properly prepared. I'm not saying ham radio is 100% effective but used in combination with other tools like SPOT it can be extremely beneficial.

 

Also, what's the deal with the ham stigma?? Do you have a problem with ham radio operators?

 

There is no way to communicate via voice but on SPOT's end there is a lot which happens. Besides for alerting search and rescue, the people at spot will contact your family and friends and notify them of your situation and work as a two way communicator between your family and search and rescue. They will also inquire on what activity you were doing like hiking/ hunting / etc to give additional info to search and resuce. Regardless of the situation most emergency responders will come equipped for just about any situation. Plus know that the people at spot are working behind the scenes with my family and search and resuce give me piece of mind.

 

Plus you are 100% Guranteed to get rescued. There is not I hope I get rescued but you will with spot. As long as you pressed the emergency button, search and rescue will show up without a doubt. The people at spot work on your rescue untl they get the OK that people have arrived on the scene.

 

I think ham radio is a good idea but it is not a mainline solutions for most people.

Edited by storm180
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It's not Spot OR Ham radio....they, of course, are two totally different "cats". Each complimenting the other, and each having it's own place.

After you've sent out an emergency signal by Spot, and when the SAR personnel get to you, you'll probably find that they have been communicating amongst themselves by, or have been directed by, a portable Ham radio operator/station. Having access to both is just another insurance policy.

 

Hiking or snowmobiling less than ten miles from my home, my cell phone won't get out, my ham radio HT won't get out, but Spot will...... Having to call SAR less than 10 miles from home would be embarassing, but probably better than having your spot in the gene pool eliminated.

 

I GPS a lot of trails and quite often also carry an APRS Ham radio rig with me where anyone (wife) can see where I am at any time on aprs.fi. Trying to track someone that way, it's easy to see really quickly that there are lots of places where radio signals just won't get out, even in areas with quite a few repeaters. Deep canyons, high mountains, and thick forests can be real "signal stoppers".

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If all you want is the ability to be rescued, you'd be better off with a "PLB" (Personal Locator Beacon). This beacon sends a signal to orbiting satellites which in turn relay it directly to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

 

With SPOT you are using a commercial service with a different coordination center who then passes along your information to rescuers.

 

Be sure to check out the comparison between PLBs and SPOT here. Also the PLB FAQ. And a review of SPOT.

 

PLBs cost more and don't have a monthly fee, but can only send out an emergency message, and are coordinated by the government. SPOT is cheaper, but has a monthly fee, and can send routine messages in addition to an emergency message, and is coordinated by a commercial satellite phone company (Globalstar). Some folks have also mentioned that Globalstar is presently having trouble with their aging satellites and thus coverage issues.

Edited by Team Yeti
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Plus you are 100% Guranteed to get rescued.

 

I beg to differ. First of all, you're not assured of getting a signal if you're under canopy. Second, check out what some SAR folks have to say about the SPOT here.

 

Sounds like an isolated incident. If it was a 911 hit on spot search and rescue should consider the emergency life threatning. Sounds to me search and rescue broke their standard operating procedure. It appears they ignored the distress beacon until someone called 911 on a phone. It does not say how long after the beacon was pressed and how long it took the called to get a signal on his phone to call 911. I would assume by hitting the 911 beacon that search and rescue would have come to the coords listed regardless of what could be wrong. I mean thats what I pay for. I have read other stories of it working just fine, this is the first story I read that was not positive.

 

Once activated, SPOT will acquire its exact coordinates from the GPS network, and send that location along with a distress message to a GEOS International Emergency Response Center every five minutes until cancelled. So even under tree cover you might get a signal out if you can move even a few inches. I have never been in a place where my gps hasn't gotten a signal so I guess I am good.

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