Monday, April 26, 2010

Splotter? Twot? Spacebook? Spottus Updates?

Some new news on the GPS front. Apparently, DeLorme and SPOT have announced a partnership that will allow freeform 48 character text messages to be sent wirelessly from a new DeLorme GPS device, the PN-60w, to a new SPOT device called a Satellite Communicator and then relayed through the GlobalStar satellite network. Assuming these messages could be delivered as emails, it would be easy to use them to update social networking accounts like Twitter or Facebook or to make blog posts. The new devices are scheduled for release in May 2010.

Info from

Another interesting item mention in the article linked above pertains to SPOT coverage. It says “SPOT is inherently limited to the region between 80 deg north and south latitude, although for practical purposes, this is really more like 70 deg north and south. This is because of the orbits that the Globalstar satellites are in.” For reference, Tierra Del Fuego is at about South 55 and Stockholm is at about North 59. That would mean, we should have coverage for the whole of our trip. But, it goes on to say “Of more importance is a problem due to the architecture of Globalstar. They use a ‘bent pipe’ system, which means that ground stations are required to relay transmissions.” The lack of ground stations in areas like Western Africa must account for those blackouts in coverage as seen on

There’s still time before our trip to see how these two devices work together and how coverage maps evolve. While it would be nice to send a mini-Twitter from the Moreno Glacier, my guess is that we’ll be able to find internet access fairly regularly and the current SPOT 2 Messenger would provide our current location to anyone interested. Plus, we can also send an OK message by email and route it to Facebook or the blog. Not sure the cost for the DeLorme GPS (+/- $500), the SPOT Communicator ($100?) plus an expected cost for messaging could be justified for freeform messages but it’s worth keeping an eye on.