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#172242 - 11/22/12 12:36 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: TomD]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1733
Loc: Napa, CA
Gosh, I would imagine that the USFS would have an issue with you lighting of a flare in the Sierra in the summer. Talk about going from bad to worse!

And I am curious about some of the cellphone batttery life mentioned here. I get about three days out of my blackberry, if I leave it on all the time. I never take it backpacking, but if I did, I would only turn it on once or twice a day, perhaps when I might imagine there would be some kind of reception. The battery would last way more than a week at that rate.

But I am interested in these new phones that offer a GPS function that receives the satellite signal separate from cell phone reception. No, that won't help you as a signaling device, but it should allow you to use your phone as a GPS...and if it has a good camera as well, I can imagine taking a phone for the camera and GPS function.

And yeah...this may be derailing the original conversation...but what the heck. I started the thread!

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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#172243 - 11/22/12 01:16 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: balzaccom]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By balzaccom


And I am curious about some of the cellphone batttery life mentioned here. I get about three days out of my blackberry, if I leave it on all the time. I never take it backpacking, but if I did, I would only turn it on once or twice a day, perhaps when I might imagine there would be some kind of reception. The battery would last way more than a week at that rate.

But I am interested in these new phones that offer a GPS function that receives the satellite signal separate from cell phone reception. No, that won't help you as a signaling device, but it should allow you to use your phone as a GPS...and if it has a good camera as well, I can imagine taking a phone for the camera and GPS function.

And yeah...this may be derailing the original conversation...but what the heck. I started the thread!



I can turn off everything on the phone but the gps app and the gps feature - put it on airplane mode, dim the screen down to barely visible, and use the app killer many times a day to kill the random junk the phone starts up again when I'm not using the phone (this is darned annoying at work - the phone sits on my desk on the charger, and starts some thing up at random) - and it's dead within a day. Cold weather makes it die faster.

It is a crappy phone, and I know it, but it's what I have to work with right now. Folks who have iPhones have much better battery life than I do.

The GPS app actually works pretty well, though it is a royal pain. Takes too long to manipulate the controls and scroll around the map. If I don't remember to download all the map sections I need, I get a track on a blank screen. It is inaccurate quite a bit but I have found that many GPS units of all kinds can be.

I shudder to think what would happen if I had to rely on this for anything critical.

I still take the GPS even though I am supposed to be reviewing the app, and a nice 1:24000 map to boot.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#172244 - 11/22/12 01:42 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: balzaccom]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Finally relented and got a smartypants phone this summer--a RAZR Max Android. The standby time is at least a week, perhaps more. Importantly, advanced battery metering tells me every function's power consumption via time-use graphs. I can control most functions and features individually, presuming I can sift through the options (the menu system is up there with digcams in its complexity). No surprise, the display is the biggest power user.

Because there's no reason to keep it on all the time, I can easily envision it lasting a couple weeks between charges, but since it's not going to function as a phone most places I hike, it stays in the car most trips. Because I carry a solar charger on long trips for my headlamp and ipod, I can just as easily recharge a phone, should I choose to haul one.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#172275 - 11/23/12 01:07 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: billstephenson]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
The interesting thing is that your cell phone encodes your lat/long into every message string that it pings the tower with - the FBI had that put into every cell phone manufactured since when - geez 1996?. You cannot turn it off and it was designed so the Homeland security department can locate the exact postion of everyone with their cell phones turned on, all of the time.
Jim grin
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#172278 - 11/23/12 08:54 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: Jimshaw]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3573
Loc: Texas
Quote:
the exact postion of everyone with their cell phones turned on, all of the time.


Our city's "tri-cities dispatch" can click on an icon on their screens and give a policeman the position of a cell phone within a few feet, inside houses. 911 hangups are always answered with a visit. iPhone's "find my iphone" does it too. That's how I tell were my family is. grin
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#172284 - 11/23/12 11:57 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: Jimshaw]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1733
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By Jimshaw
The interesting thing is that your cell phone encodes your lat/long into every message string that it pings the tower with - the FBI had that put into every cell phone manufactured since when - geez 1996?. You cannot turn it off and it was designed so the Homeland security department can locate the exact postion of everyone with their cell phones turned on, all of the time.
Jim grin


Which, of course, doesn't make a d*mn bit of difference if you are out of cell phone range. No tower, no ping. So for hiking in the sierra, this is not a function that functions. smile
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#172291 - 11/23/12 02:53 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: billstephenson]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6404
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Bill, that app won't work if, as is quite common out here in the west, the last "ping" from my cell phone was while I was still on the road, at least an hour's drive from the trailhead! That's a common situation most places where I backpack. Unless I'm parked in an area where there's a high chance of a car burglary, my cell phone stays in my car.

In low population areas, there is no financial incentive to set up cell phone towers, except close to towns where there are enough subscribers to make it pay. In wilderness areas, of course, cell phone towers, to say nothing of the technology needed to put them there, are illegal.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172296 - 11/23/12 07:57 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: balzaccom]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3573
Loc: Texas
True. I was hiking in my favorite Texas desert last week and as usual, cell phone is not there. So, I check in with a local ham radio repeater (local means 90+ miles away) with a little radio lighter than my iPhone. I've never not made contact and the folks on the other end know to listen. The radio will do position reporting too but I usually turn that feature off as it gobbles battery.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#172302 - 11/23/12 10:39 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: OregonMouse]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3892
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By OM
Bill, that app won't work if, as is quite common out here in the west...


I completely understand that. There's lots of places it won't work here in the Ozarks too. If you already carry your phone, it's a handy tool to have in it, and it doesn't weigh anything extra. That's the best that can be said for it when it doesn't work.

When it does work, it could help save a life.

So, like I said, you have to weigh carrying one based on how effective it can be for you. If I were hiking where you are I probably wouldn't carry one, I'd carry a better camera instead.


_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#172345 - 11/25/12 04:08 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: billstephenson]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2757
Loc: California
I have taken my cell phone a few times and it was worthless (east side of the Sierra). I could not get anything, yet others could. I was told it was because I had AT&T and they have poor service in rural areas. In this case, does it matter who the carrier is for the "ping" thing? Will a non-AT&T tower pick up my phone? I suspect the reason I do not get service is that AT&T simply does not have an agreement in place with the local carriers. Or that I have a poor plan that limits my roaming capabilities.

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#172361 - 11/25/12 09:52 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: wandering_daisy]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3892
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
In this case, does it matter who the carrier is for the "ping" thing? Will a non-AT&T tower pick up my phone?


I'm not sure, but I would assume that yes, your phone is still being pinged for location, but refused a data connection for your use.

Jim Shaw is probably correct that our government made this a term in the contracts to use those radio frequencies. There are probably regulations for the "911" systems that require and depend on this arrangement, as well as spying capabilities. I'm pretty sure that all cell phones will connect with 911 if a connection is available, no contract required.

If I were hurt, and had a phone with me, I think it would be wise to turn it on regardless of rather I could place a call or not. A ping, as I understand it, requires very little bandwidth to work. Much less than a voice quality connection.

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#172367 - 11/26/12 08:55 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: billstephenson]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3573
Loc: Texas
All phones currently are "multi-band" and will work on all systems. If you've had your phone for it's contract period, go to your provider and have it "unlocked". You'll then be able to roam more freely and use simcards of other providers, overseas, etc. If locked, your phone will seek it's own providers systems first, regardless of what else is out there.
A cell tower is only good for about 30 miles radius else a problem called "phase error" creeps in. It's a digital vs. speed of light problem. I ran into this last week in the desert. At some point, no provider will have service due to distance with a digital phone. This is why ham radio works and cell won't...analog vs. digital.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#172373 - 11/26/12 12:55 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: wandering_daisy]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Yup, ATT's rural coverage is poor. Admittedly, they're all "poor" but Verizon is better in California, as I quickly discovered when we switched carriers.

It's in constant flux because they're always adding cell towers (I once worked on permitting for a couple dozen proposed Verizon towers in NW California). Contra the added coverage is increased traffic, which can make connecting difficult even within coverage. It takes bandwidth to watch all those videos!
Verizon coverage map

ATT Coverage map

Cheers,

Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
I have taken my cell phone a few times and it was worthless (east side of the Sierra). I could not get anything, yet others could. I was told it was because I had AT&T and they have poor service in rural areas. In this case, does it matter who the carrier is for the "ping" thing? Will a non-AT&T tower pick up my phone? I suspect the reason I do not get service is that AT&T simply does not have an agreement in place with the local carriers. Or that I have a poor plan that limits my roaming capabilities.
_________________________
--Rick

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#172391 - 11/27/12 01:31 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: Jimshaw]
llamero Offline
member

Registered: 10/29/12
Posts: 43
Loc: western Oregon
The Dept. of Homeland Security didn't exist in 1996. Not saying you're wrong about locations being tracked. Just saying DHS was created after 9-11.

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#172419 - 11/28/12 10:55 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: llamero]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I have used my cell phone on peaks in the Uintas. I didn't try on King's Peak, but that is because I learned my lesson on another one. Lesson that I learned: never call your wife while you are sitting on a peak. But, I do carry it in the off chance that I need to call, and I can climb a peak and hope to find service. Better than nothing.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#172480 - 11/29/12 10:51 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: finallyME]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6404
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Just today, a climber lost in a whiteout on Mt. Hood sat there posting on Facebook while waiting to be rescued. Article here.
Quote:
The climber wrote on his Wilderness Climbing Permit that he had a GPS with him but rescuers say it turned out to be an app on his cell phone---which eventually lost power. When rescuers reached the climber’s initial GPS coordinates, he was no longer there but when his phone battery died he could not update his location.
Sgt. Sean Collinson with Clackamas County Search and Rescue expressed concern with what he sees as an increasing dependence on technology by climbers on Mt. Hood.
"There seems to be more reliance on technology and less on training and experience," said Sgt. Collinson.
The lost climber, Kish, was also posting updates on his Facebook page while he waited to be rescued. Searchers say it would be better to keep the phone off and save the battery to help crews find him.


_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172481 - 11/29/12 11:51 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: OregonMouse]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
A similar story from three years ago-
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-...y-services.html
But, these kids were 10 and 12, not grownups on a mountain with a bad rep for killing people.

I thought Hood required climbers to carry one of these, but that law apparently never got passed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Locator_Unit


Edited by TomD (11/29/12 11:58 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#172482 - 11/30/12 12:50 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: TomD]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6404
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
No, all the mountain rescue groups were against requiring it. In the first place, those primitive locator units used on Mt. Hood are not very accurate. They require triangulation readings, often not possible. More important, the general feeling among the SAR folks is that people are going to get themselves into places they shouldn't be because they know they'll get rescued. Unfortunately this seems to be happening anyway. With the stormy weather the past two days, nobody had any business being up there on the mountain.


Edited by OregonMouse (11/30/12 12:55 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172487 - 11/30/12 01:12 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: Rick_D]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Piling on, but ATT just reclaimed it's perennial last place in Consumer Reports' ranking of mobile providers. Yay for them.

In a barely related note, I took the plunge on the Delorme Inreach gizmo during the black Friday frenzy--combining a heavy discount with a rebate deal Delorme has going. It makes the box cheap but even more than SPOT, it's the subscriptions that will bite you in the wallet.

I suspect it will give better coverage than SPOT because of using a larger sat network, but time will tell. The messaging functions are quite powerful and it lets you download Delorme maps to your mobile anywhere you're connected to the sat network (IIUC). Kind of a chunky thing, though--a black plastic half-pound lump.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#172493 - 11/30/12 03:46 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: Rick_D]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3892
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Wow! Cool cool

I'm excited to hear how it works for you. I think the message functions are pretty cool features on that device. I also want to hear about the app that comes with it. I'm guessing you use it to view maps and write messages.

I read over the specs very quickly, can you also receive a message with it? That would be really nice.

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#172502 - 12/01/12 12:46 AM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: llamero]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
llamero

I think the text should be in the telecommunications act of 1996, but I could be totally wrong - re the FBI and encoding the lat long of every cell phone sold after 2000. Correct me if I am wrong.

The technology to radio direction find was around for a long time prior to homeland security (like it was used during WWII). Almost as soon as digital microwave was approved for civilian phone use, there was people who wanted to know what people were saying and where they were located, and since those people were the government, they got what they wanted...

Its the higher microwave frequencies that carry less far than your typical analog ham signals that are maybe half or less of the frequency as a cell phone, that gives ham radios their range. [attenuation of radio signals is proportionate to the number of wavelengths from the source - twice the frequency has twice the attenuation] It is true that some digiital microwave radios lack the proper response time to wait for distant signals, however 30 miles is a typical maximum range set into the response expectations of the radios in microwave mode. Analog roaming tends to happen around 900 MHz which is a bit more flexible and far reaching than the 1800 MHz cell phone digital signal.

Jim grin


Edited by Jimshaw (12/01/12 12:48 AM)
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#172518 - 12/01/12 04:53 PM Re: When your cell phone works... [Re: billstephenson]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
I'll share whatever I figure out about both the gizmo and the app. For now, I'm not activating my account because it's "sit on my arse" season and there's little need to have a monthly bill for the ability to trigger rescues to my gear closet.

It's basically a little vessel to pour money into (3 levels of service with two billing schemes for two of them, plus possible overcharges). Speaking of vessels, the specs say the Inreach floats, FWIW.

I tested the PN60-SPOT system two seasons back and it was nice to have custom messaging. You can tell folks "I'm okay but on a different plan due to conditions" rather than just "I'm okay." Of course, tracking will show where you are, but not everybody reads maps equally well. I also like the ability to SOS with added information, such as delineating among being lost, sick, injured, trapped, etc. and especially if the emergency is for another party entirely.

Inreach receives texts but I can't find precise documentation, so won't comment further until I know more. Two-way comms is the biggest functional difference from SPOT, in addition to the offgrid map downloads.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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