I thought I'd share some of what was presented last night re: Spidertracks equipment capabilities. Some of it was news to me.
a) I can set my Spidertracks account no notify anyone I choose via text that I have landed or departed based upon accelerating or decelerating through a predetermined ground speed. That is, I can choose any speed between 10 and 50 knots to trigger an automated text message that I have taken off (when the Spider accelerates past the defined speed) or landed (when the Spider drops below the defined speed). This message happens automatically and is sent to up to 250 designated recipients of my choice. This is an exciting feature that I was unaware of until last night. I'll use it for sure.
b) I can pre-write 4 text messages and choose to send any of those 4 by pressing the message button once, twice three times, or four times to send the corresponding message. These messages have individual recipient lists of up to 250 recipients each. They can use common recipients or be directed to different users depending on the message. One idea shared last night was to reserve one for closing a flight plan when I'm out of radio range. Pretty slick idea. Whether FSS will accept an email message remains to be determined.
c) The S3 Spider has plainly visible status lights that include a power indicator and an indicator to confirm satellite reception. Better yet the operator buttons that send messages all have lights that will confirm the message has been sent through the Iridium satellites.
d) The S3 is Spiderwatch ready when you buy it. I found this out the hard way. When you power it up if automatically has you on an active watch. The user must push a button to terminate the watch prior to powering the unit down. If the user forgets his contacts list people will get a message that he's in trouble. I didn't recognize that my new Spider was set to active watch and sure enough my wife got the message. Fortunately I was home when she got it. I had tested the new Spider in the truck and was unaware of the procedure. Lesson learned. I can choose to disable the active watch via my computer. And cooler yet, I can choose to activate the watch from the Spider while in flight. The point of the watch service is that I do not have to push a button to say I'm involved in an emergency. If the Spider loses power and I didn't terminate the watch my contacts will be notified of trouble and of my location, speed, heading, and altitude of last contact. When anyone views your track on a computer or smart phone they can identify whether Spiderwatch is active or not by the color of the tracking dots.
e) All the new S2 Spiders have Bluetooth built in. The service package is not operating yet but it will be activated soon. For a 1-time fee of $250 the S2 will serve to send and receive text messages through your cell phone from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world via Iridium. That has some great potential for a lot of pilots. For now the S3 does not have Bluetooth capability but it was hinted that it's coming and it should be able to be retrofitted into my S3.
The new S2 comes with a keypad. When I bought mine I did not purchase what was at that time an accessory keypad. That Spider has served as a passive tracker only. With a small plug-in accessory pad with three buttons I can use all the functions I've described for no extra charge. I'll be getting one soon. The S3 has the keypad built in even though the unit is smaller and lighter.