Panbo

DeLorme inReach hand's-on #2, text me!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 1, 2011
DeLorme_inReach_web_portal_cPanbo.jpg

Following up on inReach hands-on #1 -- which attempted to be both an overview and a close look at its associated Android app Earthmate -- let's check out the Internet side of the system. The screen above is the user's web portal at explore.delorme.com, which DeLorme developed in partnership with GeoPro. Given that GeoPro builds its own pro-level Iridium handhelds, like its new $1,200 SHOUT Nano, it's no surprise that the portal let's you thoroughly view and manage inReach communications. It could even be used by, say, a fleet manager to keep an eye on multiple inReach units...

In fact, though GeoPro's own web application is not exactly the same as DeLorme's, you'll find more relevant detail at that link than on the current inReach sales pages. The inReach manual, download here, is pretty good but doesn't cover the web portal either. Don't be intimidated by what you see at GeoPro; the portal's many functions become clear once you start using the system, and the typical owner of a single inReach won't have to mess around with many if he or she doesn't want to. The minimum might be entering your emergency contacts and defining the three canned messages and associated contact list that the handheld can fire off by itself. Besides, DeLorme will no doubt improve the interface once feedback from thousands of users starts pouring in. (inReach is picking up electronics awards at a remarkable pace.)
   Perhaps more important, when you send a message to someone via inReach, their first interface with the system is simple and easy, as illustrated below. They get a peek at where you are on DeLorme cartography and a chance to text you back. Messages are confined to the Iridium 9602's short burst limit of 160 characters, but I've found that you can convey a fair amount of information within that limitation. Incidentally, if the recipient tries to reply to your message as though it were a normal email, they get back an email explaining (again) how they have to go to the DeLorme site below to reply. Nice!

DeLorme inReach reply to message page cPanbo.jpg

Plus you can use your portal to set up a share page that gives friends, family, and associates a lot more access to you and your inReach. As illustrated below, I've set up mine so that my people can not only locate me whenever they want, but can also initiate a text conversation. In either case, the Iridium system will then make three attempts to contact my inReach, twenty minutes apart. If it's on, its location will be automatically returned. If the Earthmate app on my phone is also connected, I'll get notified of an incoming message. Unfortunately the LEDs on the inReach will not let me know that it's holding texts, and the system stops trying to deliver them after an hour of not seeing the communicator, but those issues are fairly easily overcome if you simply send off a track point or message from Earthmate.
   At any rate, I think this is a really important aspect of the inReach and other Iridium 9602 systems. As much as boaters want to be able to reach out to folks ashore from time to time, those folks often want their beloved boater in reach even more. So let's test it. I'm not going offshore today, but I will be working on Gizmo the rest of the day (an oil change and installing a Simrad 4G radar top the list). Visit the Panbo inReach share page and give it a try.

DeLorme_inReach_share_map_cPanbo.jpg

Comments

Cool. I've already gotten two messages, and I replied to Georgia and San Francisco. And the inReach is exactly where shown on the share map. Gizmo is bow in on that dock, and the handheld is sitting on the stern rail.

Well, actually, only semi-cool. I checked my web portal and know I've actually received six messages, only two of which have gotten to the inReach. It did shut itself down for a bit, and I had to pull batteries (brand new Lithium Ultimates) to restart. I beginning to think that situation is related to a location request, which I also got at least one of.

Please keep trying messages and location requests, and especially for latter note it here in the comments. Thanks!

Posted by: Ben at December 1, 2011 1:19 PM | Reply

Just sent a location request. Request is apparently pending.

Posted by: Don Joyce at December 1, 2011 1:53 PM | Reply

Thanks, Don! I've received three location requests since I commented, plus messages from the Caribbean and Australia. I'm not sure that you will easily see a location request returned to the share page because the inReach hasn't moved Everything working fine, now at least.

I've just down Earthmate, so location requests should become automatic but I may not return messages quickly. Plus I'm going downward to change oil filters.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Don Joyce at December 1, 2011 2:19 PM | Reply

Ben, DeLorme has been very quiet on the subject of an API for their (or GeoPro's) system. Have you come across anything that enterprising developers can use to build custom apps?

Posted by: Marius Coomans at December 1, 2011 5:15 PM | Reply

I don't know anything about that, Marius, but BriarTek is saying that it will offer an open API to its Cerberus system. Which has a lot going for it -- like a USB rechargeable battery in the CerberLink handheld. I'm also testing that and will report fairly soon.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Marius Coomans at December 1, 2011 6:24 PM | Reply

So I shifted back to HQ a little after 4pm (twilight here!), but we got some good testing done today, and I'm up for more. I have turned off the "Location" feature on the share page, because I suspect that it's causing the few problems I had, but it's still possible to message me.

Posted by: Ben at December 1, 2011 6:49 PM | Reply

Well, I experienced some more gliches today so have shut down messaging on the share page. DeLorme is going to check out, update the inReach tommorrow, and we'll try again. A lot of the testing went very well, but there is a gremlin somewhere in the works...

Posted by: Ben at December 2, 2011 3:25 PM | Reply

Today my test inReach was updated with the firmware that's in the shipping models, it seems to be working better, and I'd like to try it again with messages from the field. Please come to the share page and try messaging again: http://goo.gl/UREo9

You might also see Gizmo take what may be her last spin of 2012...

Posted by: Ben at December 3, 2011 11:34 AM | Reply

Much better testing today. Only one of fifteen incoming messages failed to deliver; all outgoing messages got there, I think; and tracking worked fine, even when I changed the time interval, or shut down Earthmate and turned it over to inReach, or vice versa.

Better yet, I got a sense of what it's like using inReach underway and was quite pleased. I had it sitting in the helm window with the phone nearby, cradled and charging. With the $50/month "Expedition" subscription that DeLorme generously gave to beta testers, I have unlimited tracking to a share page; pretty easy two-way texting, with 120 messages included and extras at 25 cents each; and a sophisticated distress device. And while the phone is a nice interface, there's lots I can do with the inReach alone.

I did have a couple of glitches today, but I know DeLorme is working on them. I also learned that the inReach is designed to work with alternate power sources. A 12v base for use on boats is not yet in the works, but it is a great possibility.

I still think that inReach and the underlying Iridium 9602 modem are game changers.

Posted by: Ben at December 3, 2011 6:26 PM | Reply

Recently activated my InReach. Pretty impressive overall; only glitch I've found is that while the webpage lets you specify multiple contacts for each pre-set message, only the first email listed actually gets the message. Delorme says they are working on the issue.

Posted by: Lorca at December 3, 2011 7:44 PM | Reply

The API for BriarTek's CerberLink is available on the Cerberus website. We have several developers actively developing apps with the API now. http://cerberus.briartek.com/support

Posted by: Lew Crenshaw in reply to Ben at December 4, 2011 11:58 PM | Reply

Dear Ben, I have send you a message using the share page. Looking good. Good filtering of the database. Better as the SPOT share page. We are distributing the SPOT products in the Netherlands and we have a PN60W+SPOT communicator to show in the marine and outdoor market. Enjoying all of your reports and tests. Ciao, Reinier

Posted by: Reinier Zwolsman at December 6, 2011 4:47 AM | Reply

The DeLorme inReach just received the 2012 Backpacker magazine Editors' Choice Award and the decision was apparently based on serious testing by two editors. Impressive!

http://www.delorme.com/about/pressreleases/inreach_backpacker_award.htm

Posted by: Ben at March 8, 2012 11:32 AM | Reply

There's a new 1.5 version of inReach hardware that works with Apple iOS -- http://goo.gl/926us -- and the apps are up on iTunes. There's also a new version of the Android app that works with both hardware models, and a firmware update of inReach V1. All good! I've been beta testing 1.5 with an iPad and the whole system is lovely. More on Monday.

Posted by: Ben at May 18, 2012 10:47 AM | Reply

Hi Ben,
Just wanted to thank you for putting up this demo. I was able to see how it is supposed to work and share it with family a really big help. Even tried the messaging but I'm sure your inreach was off which doesn't matter because I was just demoing it.
Thanks again
Glen Maxwell
SV Avelinda, St. Augustine, FL

Posted by: Glen Maxwell at September 22, 2013 4:36 PM | Reply

My pleasure, Glen. I switched up to the inReach SE model now and you can see how it tracked my recent trip to view the America's Cup here:

https://share.delorme.com/BenEllisonPanbo

I haven't written about testing the SE yet, but it works well and is easily worth the extra $50. I did preview it here:

http://www.panbo.com/archives/2013/04/inreach_se_will_the_screen_do_it.html

PS I'll be testing the inReach SE some more later this week at the NMEA Conference in San Diego


Posted by: Ben in reply to Glen Maxwell at September 23, 2013 9:15 AM | Reply

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