SPOT Revisited

by Dave Baker Monday, January 26th 2009

Last month I reviewed the SPOT Satellite Messenger in a blog entry titled “See SPOT”. In the review I reported that while using SPOT on the Arizona Trail, I experienced an 80% transmission success rate, speculating that the failed transmissions were due to hillsides or foliage blocking SPOT’s view of the sky.

Last week I attended the major trade show of the outdoor industry, the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, in Salt Lake City. I stopped by the SPOT booth and talked to Donnie Hatch of Spot, Inc. about the transmission success rate I had experienced using SPOT.

Donnie was instantly interested, and asked “How did you orient your SPOT during transmissions?” I told him that I typically propped my SPOT up in an upright position, assuming that the antenna was located at the top of the device.

Donnie then told me that SPOT’s antenna was located under the face of the device, below the SPOT logo. He went on to say that for best transmission results it is very important to set SPOT on its back, with the face of SPOT oriented skywards. Though this information is not currently available in the materials that are packaged with SPOT, a tech article about this topic is available online here.


Right (above);   wrong (below)



Comments (3) -

1/28/2009 2:19:00 PM #

I used the spot on a 5 day backpack and also missed some "spots".  I did lay the spot flat while its was transmitting.  I did not however, watch closely for the five second flash indicating a send.  Also I was not careful to make sure that there was no brush or tree cover to interfere with the transmission.  Another thing that is bugging me is the lack of info in the website on how to place multiple spots on a Google map.  I need to check with you Dave on how you did it.  Keep on Spotin'!


1/29/2009 5:17:52 PM #

Hi Dave

A Tucson friend tipped me off to your blog.  Nice start!  As frequent hikers, travelers, and new Tucsonians I'm glad to see you talking about interesting hikes and gear.  Keep up the good work.

- RL

Rich Luhr

1/30/2009 4:19:28 PM #


When we put together a Google Map showing multiple transmission locations along the Arizona Trail, we did not rely upon any feature that SPOT, Inc offers. Instead we used a feature called My Maps from Google. You'll find more information at this address --


The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!