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Old 06-16-2018, 03:34 PM   #1
Rich Lockwood
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want to satilite texts in the adks

Hi, I currently have an old spot and would like to be able to receive texts in the adks away from cell coverage. I don't need other bells and whistles and don't have a smart phone.
Thanks,Turtle
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Old 06-16-2018, 06:11 PM   #2
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If you want to receive text messages via satellite communications, you have the choice between the Garmin's inReach (originally designed by Delorme) which has an established track-record and a brand new product from SPOT called SPOTX.

https://explore.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/

https://www.findmespot.com/spotx
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Old 06-17-2018, 09:16 AM   #3
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Great information, thanks. While we're on the general subject, someone told me that if you put your cell phone on "emergency" you can connect to the nearest 911 service via satellite and they can get your approximate location. Does anyone know if that's really true?
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Old 06-17-2018, 01:52 PM   #4
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… someone told me … you can connect to the nearest 911 service via satellite...
Look at the specifications of any modern smartphone and you won't find any support for satellite-based telecommunications. There is only one satellite-based thing it can do and that's receive signals from GPS satellites to calculate its location to (under ideal conditions) a circle of about 30 feet in diameter. It has no ability to transmit information via a satellite link.

When you call 911 with a mobile phone, the operator can determine your location using one or both of the following automated techniques:


Cell-tower triangulation.

Your phone connects to whichever cell-tower offers it the strongest signal. Typically, this is the tower closest to your location. Worst case, the operator knows you are somewhere near that tower. To narrow the field, the software they use can employ triangulation. Your phone's signal strength with other nearby towers is used to refine your position. However, if you're out in the boondocks, there may be only one nearby tower so triangulation cannot be used.


GPS geolocation.

Modern phones have GPS receivers that can (compared to cell-tower triangulation) pinpoint your location. The operator's software can be used to query your phone's GPS receiver and acquire your coordinates. What I'm not certain of is whether the phone's GPS receiver has to be on or if they can remotely turn it on. My guess it has to be on already and has established a "GPS fix" (i.e. it is already receiving data from multiple satellites and has determined your location).

Side note: if you leave any GPS receiver off for a long time, or you move from one location to another that is a great distance away, the moment the GPS is enabled it'll take longer than normal for it to establish a fix. The mathematical tables it uses to calculate the position of GPS satellites have become outdated and it must download an updated set from the GPS network.

A phone's "Emergency" mode is simply the ability to place a 911 call without requiring a subscriber plan for mobile services. A phone that is not on any plan can be used in Emergency mode. In addition, you can typically place the call without having to unlock the phone. The call goes through the cell network, just like any other call, except it's exclusively for contacting emergency services.
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Old 06-17-2018, 01:57 PM   #5
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Thanks for the information and clarification.
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Old 06-17-2018, 02:02 PM   #6
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I recently asked a contractor for the army who is an active combat field medic instructor how long it takes to get a GPS geolocation location from a phone in an emergency. He said it takes about a half hour, assuming the phone has been on on for some time and has an accurate internal location computed. The next time I meet with an DEC forest ranger I will ask them as well (unfortunately I just missed that opportunity this morning).
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Old 06-17-2018, 02:20 PM   #7
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if you put your cell phone on "emergency" you can connect to the nearest 911 service via satellite and they can get your approximate location. Does anyone know if that's really true?
Sounds like a misunderstanding - not satellite, competing carrier.

If you have a CDMA (verizon / sprint) phone, which is capable of using GSM frequencies (global compatible), it will use GSM signal for 911 call if CDMA is not available even though you can't place an ordinary call over GSM...

This also works the other way around to a more limited extent (GSM phones will use CDMA for emergency coms, but fewer older devices are capable of doing it).

The actual "Tower triangulation" takes a few minutes at most, it may take more time to go through dispatch. The network always knows which tower your device is on - it would't be able to route calls / sms if it did not.

The GPS location acquisition time will depend greatly. Unless the phone already has gps location tracking, it will take time to sync to satellites - can easily take half hour or more.
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Old 06-17-2018, 02:45 PM   #8
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… how long it takes to get a GPS geolocation location from a phone in an emergency. He said it takes about a half hour, assuming the phone has been on for some time and has an accurate internal location computed. ...
He's stating that ~30 minutes is the time it takes for a 911 operator to acquire GPS coordinates from the caller's phone?

That's hard to believe. It doesn't jibe with anything I've read about how the service is used by 911 operators. 30+ minutes is an order of magnitude longer than what it takes a phone to get a fix. I would be astounded to learn their software is responsible for introducing 90%+ of the 30 minute delay.

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… Unless the phone already has gps location tracking, it will take time to sync to satellites - can easily take half hour or more.
Maybe if you're at the bottom of a well but, in normal conditions, I've never experienced 30+ minutes to get a GPS fix (not with a 10 year-old Garmin GPS receiver nor with a 3 year-old smartphone). It's typically under a minute.

Many people have their phone's GPS service enabled (if not always, then often) so it keeps its ephemeris (the tables I mentioned) up to date and can acquire a fix ASAP (assuming you're not in a crevasse).
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Old 06-17-2018, 02:55 PM   #9
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He's stating that ~30 minutes is the time it takes for a 911 operator to acquire GPS coordinates from the caller's phone?
That's what he said, and I trust in all other cases he is experienced in such rescue matters (in combat situations for sure). I thought at the time maybe he misunderstood my question, perhaps it is the time to triangulate from several towers instead. MY 60CSX typically takes only a couple of minutes to lock on from a cold start, I have no idea what it takes for a cell phone. I will be sure to check with a ranger about the cell GPS question, who I expect to talk to soon.
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:03 PM   #10
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Maybe if you're at the bottom of a well but, in normal conditions, I've never experienced 30+ minutes to get a GPS fix (not with a 10 year-old Garmin GPS receiver nor with a 3 year-old smartphone). It's typically under a minute.

Many people have their phone's GPS service enabled (if not always, then often) so it keeps its ephemeris (the tables I mentioned) up to date and can acquire a fix ASAP (assuming you're not in a crevasse).
I've personally seen a number of (esp. older) "smart" phones that take at least 10 minutes to acquire gps signal and location fix from 'dead' cold start (no recent geo-sat table). In the same location a standalone gps receiver took about two minutes from cold start.
Those same phones will take a minute or two if they have data service and can download geo-sat database...

Many people don't know how to trigger gps geolocation or any other privacy controls on their phones, and many (if not most) phones have location service on by default.
Yes, many newer 'smartphones' will update "ephemeris" (geo-database) in background even if you turn off all location services...
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Old 06-18-2018, 09:56 AM   #11
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I just picked up the new Garmin InReach Mini. I haven't used it yet but it seems perfect for what I need it for. It's similar to the Spot in that you can have 3 preset messages to quickly send out. You can also set up other custom messages to quickly send out as well as type out your own specific message using the device (probably pretty slowly) or using your bluetooth connected smartphone to type up messages (if you had one). You can set it to send to phone numbers (text), email addresses, and even Facebook I think. People can also respond or send you individual message as well. It also has the SOS button if the scat hits the fan.

It doesn't have the maps and whatnot of the bigger InReach SE or Explorer but it can do basic navigation to waypoints (pointing with an arrow and showing the distance to the point). Again, I know you mentioned you don't have a smartphone, but if you did, when it's linked with Garmin's Earthmate app, it can show you your routes and your location on topo maps in the app.

I also went with Garmin because you can pay monthly, only the months you want to use it, instead of having a yearly subscription like Spot. I'm looking forward to trying out all the features next month when I activate it.
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Old 06-18-2018, 10:09 AM   #12
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I did some research to answer my own question:

"Does a phone's location service need to be enabled prior to making a 911 call or can a 911 operator enable it remotely?"

Answer: It has to be enabled prior to the call. However, it enables itself automatically when you place an emergency call (911). Having said that, the devil is in the details.

Android's version is called Emergency Location Service (ELS) and has been available since version 4 (KitKat). It uses everything at its disposal to determine your location: GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cell-tower proximity, sensors, etc (known collectively as Fused Location Service). Your coordinates are sent along with the phone call (either via HTTPS or SMS). Naturally, the mobile network operator and the 911 system have to support ELS for it to work (not a given).

https://crisisresponse.google.com/em...ocationservice

For iOS the story is a bit more complicated. Android-style ELS is called Advanced Mobile Location (AML) and is available in Europe since version 11.3.

Elsewhere in the world (i.e. US), Apple provides Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) which uses Wi-Fi and cell-tower triangulation to determine your position (not GPS). As of iOS 12 (scheduled to be released this fall), HELO, in the US, will also use your phone's GPS receiver. As with Android's ELS, the network operator and the 911 system have to support it.

https://9to5mac.com/2018/06/18/ios-1...generation-911



FWIW, in my neck of the woods (Canada) the CRTC (re: your FCC) has mandated the implementation of Next-Generation 911 (NG911) by the end of 2020. The system will be able to support text messaging, images, and videos, etc. Similar efforts are underway in the US.

https://mobilesyrup.com/2018/03/26/c...-911-services/


Quote:
Originally Posted by timberghost View Post
I've personally seen a number of (esp. older) "smart" phones that take at least 10 minutes to acquire gps signal and location fix from 'dead' cold start (no recent geo-sat table).
According to GPS documentation, an unassisted cold-start does indeed take several minutes (~12) to download required data from the GPS satellite system. However, based on how people use their phones on a daily basis, that should be a very rare occurrence. If you use any form of navigation app (finding the closest Starbucks or checking traffic on a map), it'll exercise your GPS. Plus there's A-GPS (more about that in a second).

Quote:
Those same phones will take a minute or two if they have data service and can download geo-sat database...
Assisted-GPS (A-GPS) downloads needed data via (if available) Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. This is much faster than downloading from the satellite network.

FWIW, I don't have a data plan so A-GPS isn't available for my phone when I'm hiking. Time to fix is still fast because of the reasons I mentioned earlier.

Quote:
... many newer 'smartphones' will update "ephemeris" (geo-database) in background even if you turn off all location services...
Even when location service is off? I'd like to learn more about it. Do you have a reference for this?
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 06-18-2018 at 12:19 PM.. Reason: Typo
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:24 PM   #13
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thanks, the inreach mini is on the top of my list. please keep me updated
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:27 PM   #14
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I forgot to include this link to a pretty detailed review on the InReach Mini

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2018/05/...th-review.html
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Old 06-18-2018, 04:01 PM   #15
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Even when location service is off? I'd like to learn more about it. Do you have a reference for this?
No, I do not. It was about a year ago, the underworld post on which I saw the info is long gone.
I did follow the steps and was able to see same results, namely on a rooted android device deleting / renaming / or manually inserting outdated database - it magically had updated geo-database file in only a few hours. This was while all user controls for location services were set to off.
IDK if it was a feature of Android OS or if there was some underlying tracking service buried in it.

I do know that any iOS device that uses apple security will indeed track the phones location, even if user turns off location services - the apps won't be able to access location info, but it will be there and updated.
Perhaps Android is doing same now.
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Old 06-18-2018, 11:03 PM   #16
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@timberghost

Wouldn't this just be due to A-GPS? It uses Wi-Fi or cellular data to acquire GPS almanac and ephemerides. Even if location services are off, A-GPS could periodically download data to be ready for when services are enabled (i.e.to minimize TTFF, Time To First Fix).


As for tracking the phone's location, that can be done (and is done) without the aid of GPS. Cell-tower proximity and Wi-Fi usage provide a rough estimate of the phone's position. It's typically used to geolocate the phone to tailor your search experience (show restaurants in your area and not in another city or state).
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:08 PM   #17
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Delorme Inreach and Inreach Explorer(recently acquired by Garmin) offer two-way satellite-based texting and SOS capabilities as well as regular GPS duties (map, waypoints, tracking). It is expensive to buy and requires a monthly fee, but I don't know of any other GPS product that offers similar capabilities.

I own one and used it during a recent trip into Alaska's wilderness (north of the Brooks Range). The thing worked perfectly and I was even able to get weather updates (a recently-added feature to the Inreach). The thing has also served me well on many a trip into remote parts of Canada and of course for all of my trips in the ADK's.

I highly recommend it if you want an all-in-one GPS/communicator device.
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:58 PM   #18
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Question

can the inreach mini receive spontaneous texts from a flip phone? Some reviews say texts have to be in response to a location ping, text message sent or clicking on a link which a flip phone can't do.
Thanks, Turtle
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Old 06-19-2018, 04:14 PM   #19
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From this support page, it looks like the message does include a link to view the location on a map, but you can reply to the message using your phone like any other normal text message and it will go through to the InReach Mini. So you might have to send 1 initial message so the person can reply? But then they should be able to send you as many texts as they want. You also might be able to give them your InReach contact info but I don't see any info on that and I haven't tested it out yet.

https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?fa...egion_messages
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Old 06-19-2018, 04:18 PM   #20
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My other research says the text from home would be an international call on a cell phone. That would probably be a deal breaker.
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