PN-60w and SPOT Communicator: Question and Answer…

January 19, 2010

UPDATE 11/26/2010: Unfortunately tuning for FCC Certification resulted in a wireless range insufficient to support wireless mesh networking at an acceptable range. We have postponed this feature while we research alternate approaches to deliver the functionality. We apologize for this delay but need to be sure that our approach meets the expectations of users in the field.

Update: 2010/07/16 at 7:14 am

Good news… SPOT received their FCC certification paperwork last night so we are good to go with offering the PN-60 w SE for sale now with the SPOT unit to follow later in August when available.

As communicated in my blog posts, DeLorme customers who have signed up will be notified via email today with a link that will lead them to a total of $150 in savings for this combination product. We are doing this in part to thank many of you for your patience while we have been waiting for the SPOT cert to come through.

This way you can step up to the SE model with 16-GB of internal memory now and then later when available receive a SPOT unit shipped at our expense with a total savings amount that equals the cost of the SPOT unit when sold alone. It’s a great offer and only available for existing DeLorme customers as part of our loyalty program, especially given that supplies are genuinely limited (I know everyone always says this but it is true).

You can also call us at 800-561-5105 if you prefer over email and our East Coast call center opens at 9 AM this morning to help you.

Our supply of SE units is smaller than I had hoped but we do have more being produced now. Anyone who signed up to be notified will be eligible for this introductory offer through this summer and then we will need to see how inventories are looking and plan from there out.

We have recently received some very exciting news about this product combination, some involving a major tech celebrity who will be using it soon and others involving prestigious advance award notifications, which we hope will come to fruition. (Amazon has already named it one of the Top Tech Products of the Year.)

This is truly a fun and fascinating new product pairing based on my own experiences and we are all excited and feel like we are on the cusp of seeing the rewards of our labors. This has been one of those rare stretch projects where two teams (DeLorme plus SPOT) had to work together with a great deal of complex technologies and boil them all down into a product that many people will be able to enjoy.

So thanks again for your patience and I will continue to provide updates here so you know how supplies and timings are looking as we continue down the road.

p.s. I imagine Chip will make a post or two but he is getting ready to go on a private climb with the top editors of Backpacker who are eager to see it all work and report back from remote locations. We also are a sponsor of the Boy Scouts’ 100-year Jamboree and will have many people there running GPS and geocaching sessions. We also will be attending the Midwest Geobash this summer.

CMason
DeLorme Staff

PN-60w and SPOT Communicator: Question and Answer…
Published: Jan 19, 2010

There have been a lot of great questions posted since our announcement at CES: DeLorme and SPOT—Handheld GPS Meets Satellite Communication. I’ve gone through our blog, our forum, and a few other locations writing answers and providing more detail. Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of all the information, so I thought I’d bring the answers back here to our blog to keep everyone informed.

Differences between the PN-40, PN-60, and PN-60w…

  • All the devices in the PN-Series line are built with the same form factor so don’t worry about your existing mounts, batteries, cables, or other accessories—they’ll still work.
  • The PN-Series devices all use the same screen and the same GPS chipset so expect the same daylight readability and fast acquisition times.
  • The PN-60 and PN-60w have an ambient light sensor to control the screen backlight and help with power management.
  • The PN-60 and PN-60w have 3.5 GB of internal memory compared to the 500 MB in the 40.
  • A PN-60wse to be sold directly from DeLorme will offer 8.0 16.0 GB of internal memory.
  • Improvements have been made increasing processor speed and USB transfer rates.
  • The PN-60w is the only device with a wireless antenna and the ability to connect to the SPOT Communicator.

Power management improvements…

  • Considerable effort has gone into our power management update on the PN-60 and PN-60w.
  • Our tests have shown a 30% improvement when running two AA Energizer batteries in Normal mode with 14 hour test results and there’s still work to be done for our Power Saving mode.
  • In Power Saving mode, the ambient light sensor detects when there’s enough daylight or darkness to reduce the screen backlight.
  • In Power Saving mode, the accelerometer detects when the device has been stationary and the GPS can be stepped down or turned off.

USB transfer rate increase…

  • There is a 40% increase in the transfer rate between desktop and device. This will be important when moving large map packages to the device.
  • We have removed the Connect to Computer screen when first connecting the PN to the desktop.
  • The user will be able to place waypoint, geocache, track, and map files on the internal memory or the SD card without making changes to the computer connection.

SPOT Communicator features…

  • The final plastics for the SPOT Communicator are still being engineered. It will be about half the size of the PN-60w.
  • The SPOT Communicator runs on two e2 Lithium batteries.
  • The SPOT Communicator has a power button and an SOS button built into it for use without the PN-60w or in case the 60w is damaged or runs out of power.
  • All of the non-SOS features like Check In and Tracking are triggered by the PN-60w interface using the wireless connection.
  • Text messages for Check In, Help, and SOS are created using the virtual keyboard in the PN-60w interface.
  • The SPOT satellite messaging system is send only—from the device to the satellites to the SPOT back office. It is not possible to receive message receipt confirmation or replies.

DeLorme-SPOT vs. PLBs…

  • The DeLorme PN-60w and SPOT Communicator offer functionality not available in a Personal Locator Beacon; text messaging, multiple distribution lists, and tracking.
  • Use the DeLorme-SPOT system to send a 50-character Check In text message to let friends and family know details of your trip.
  • Send 50 characters of detail about your emergency should you need to request assistance.
  • Choose from your e-mail and text message distribution lists in the field; send a private message to your wife or an announcement to all of your geocaching friends.
  • Use the Tracking feature to send location updates to your SPOT Adventures page with a 10 minute interval so that your adventure followers can watch your progress in real time.

New features in the PN-60 and 60w firmware…

  • The PN-60 and 60w have a new icon based UI that people reading this blog have seen.
  • There is also a new Profile Page for viewing an elevation graph of your active or saved track file.
  • GPX files containing waypoints, geocaches, and tracks can be stored on the internal memory or the SD card.
  • The PN-60 and 60w have activity based settings so the user can view info fields and other configuration details for the activity they are doing. When their activity changes the user can choose a different activity setting to update info fields; think Hiking, Cycling, Geocaching, Hunting, Fishing.
  • There is a new button lock feature, an improved keyboard for text entry, and the screen will flip if you turn the device upside down… sweet.

Firmware updates for the PN-30 and PN-40…

  • We will continue to support all of the PN-Series devices and will release a 2.8 firmware update for the 30 and 40.
  • The 2.8 firmware update will deliver waypoint and track file management on the SD card.
  • This update will not include new features for the PN-60 and 60w, such as the UI update, Profile Page, or activity-based settings.
  • The 2.8 firmware update is available only with Topo USA 9.0—PN-40s and 30s with the 2.8 firmware update will not work with Topo USA 8.0 and earlier versions.

Fall firmware update for Wireless Mesh Networking…

UPDATE 11/26/2010: Unfortunately tuning for FCC Certification resulted in a wireless range insufficient to support wireless mesh networking at an acceptable range. We have postponed this feature while we research alternate approaches to deliver the functionality. We apologize for this delay but need to be sure that our approach meets the expectations of users in the field.

  • The PN-60w has a wireless antenna that uses an ultra-low power transmitter and can travel long distances.
  • Current tests show roughly one mile with a clear line of site, range decreases with more uneven terrain, and obstructed views.
  • The wireless protocol is 802.15.4 and is not compatible with home wireless solutions using 802.11.
  • Any PN-60w device can connect to others in the area and transfer waypoint, geocache, track, and route files along with location information and text messages.
  • Each device has a security feature allowing the user to join a network, deny someone access, or hide their device completely.
  • The wireless antenna can be turned off to save power.

Data updates…

  • We are releasing worldwide high resolution aerial imagery for the PN-Series devices as a new NetLink subscription. This subscription will be available for PN-60 owners with Topo USA 9.0 as well as owners with previous PN-Series devices and earlier versions of Topo USA.
  • The resolution of this imagery varies throughout the world but will be equal or better than that currently offered in the Map Library subscription for the US.
  • We will release more information about the worldwide high resolution aerial imagery as development progresses.
  • Our 1:250k world vector maps will also be offered through NetLink for purchase in small coverage areas. This dataset will appear in Topo USA and on the PN-Series devices giving more detailed roads to international users.
  • For those familiar with DeLorme’s Atlas & Gazetteer series, we will be including the Gaz descriptions for Unique Natural Features, Family Outings, and Outdoor Activities so that people can search Topo USA or their PN devices for paragraph descriptions of interesting destinations.

Topo USA 9.0 updates…

  • Topo USA 9.0 will release with the PN-60 and PN-60w. It will also be sold as an upgrade for Topo USA 8.0 owners.
  • Topo USA 9.0 contains the 2.8 firmware update for PN-30 and PN-40 owners. This update will allow PN-30/40 owners to use the new Sync dialog.
  • There is a new Earthmate GPS Sync dialog in Topo USA 9.0 that uses a single button to update all files on the desktop and the device.
  • Hardcore Serious Tool users can still use one way send or receive to manage their GPS data.
  • A Geocaching.com Pocket Query sync feature in Topo USA 9.0 will allow users to send pocket queries directly to their PN during a sync update.
  • There are no data format changes in Topo USA 9.0 or the new GPS device; maps created with Topo USA 8.0 are still compatible with the new PN-60 and 60w.

XMap Service Pack…

  • XMap 7.0 will be updated to work with the PN-60/PN-60w and PN-30/PN-40 soon after the product releases.

NetLink and Map Library updates…

  • Existing Map Library subscriptions will transfer to the new Topo USA 9.0 release.
  • No changes to the current NetLink order process are planned based on the new world imagery and world vector map data.
  • Canadian PN-Series users are now able to view DeLorme street level vector maps, Canadian 1:50K topographic sheets, and will soon have high resolution world aerial imagery.

Pricing and Release Schedule…

  • The Earthmate PN-60 will retail for $399.
  • The Earthmate PN-60w will retail for $449.
  • The bundled PN-60w and SPOT Communicator will retail for $549.
  • The standard SPOT annual subscription costs $100 with Tracking and Messaging for roughly $50 each.
  • I’ve heard a few ways to look at the annual subscription… my favorite breaks it down to about $17 a month.
  • Unfortunately there will not be a trade-in program for existing PN-Series users to upgrade.
  • All components of this project, the PN-60w, SPOT Communicator, Topo USA 9.0, Worldwide Aerial Imagery, and DeLorme World Vectors are scheduled for a May 1st release.

Wow, I didn’t realize how many good questions were out there! I hope that everyone finds these details useful. Keep posting new questions and we’ll do our best to answer them. The design and development process are in full swing so there are new and exciting features coming on-line every day! Thanks for taking the time to read this update.

Take care,
Chip Noble
Team DeLorme

Update 01/31/10: Questions from Team Serious Tools…

The power users on the DeLorme Forum have been posting lots of good questions so I’ll answer here in the hopes that others will benefit from their inquiries…

  • The 2.8 firmware update will be made available with a Cache Register update for existing users and will be made part of the Cache Register product that is available for new DeLorme geocachers.
  • The 2.8 firmware update for the PN-30/40 will work with waypoints, tracks, and maps created in Topo USA 8.0, users will just have to manually transfer the data by changing the Device Setup>Connect to Computer setting. Note that users will need to export their Draw layers as GPX files with Topo USA 8.0 then do the transfer. The Topo USA 9.0 Earthmate Sync dialog will do all of this automatically during the transfer.
  • DeLorme will be working with 3rd party developers to help update support for the new PN sync protocol. We want you all to be able to use your favorite data management packages with your new PN-60s and updated firmware.
  • NetLink will continue to work with older versions of Topo USA. There are improvements being made to the NetLink tab and new datasets being prepared as part of this release. Check your NetLink tab for the Canadian 1:50K Topographic Sheets that have already been added to the Map Library subscription.
  • The 2.8 firmware update will be part of the Topo USA 9.0 setup, the Cache Register update setup, and the XMap 7.0 service pack setup. There will not be any charge for the Cache Register update or the XMap service pack.
  • Topo USA 9.0 delivers updated topographic data, roads, trails, and the new DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer points with detailed descriptions for Unique Natural Features, Outdoor Adventures, and Family Outings.
  • The PN-60 delivers processor speed improvements, 3.5 GB of internal memory, an ambient light sensor and much improved battery performance and USB transfer rates.

More updates as the questions come in… For those interested in following the questions and answers in all the different locations… I check the following threads pretty regularly:

Take care,
Chip Noble
Team DeLorme


Firmware Updates…

December 6, 2009

There have been a few questions about our recent PN Pro firmware update, version 2.7. This update is intended for our professional XMap GIS users. It offers support for custom forms created in XMap that can be used to gather data in the field. Along with custom forms, the 2.7 firmware delivers the ability to save and open waypoints stored as GPX files on the SD card. The PN Pro user will also be able to save tracks to the SD card.

Storing waypoints and tracks on the SD card has caught the attention of many PN-40 owners who use Topo USA. I am writing this post to let all of you know that we are going to release a version 2.8 firmware update that delivers this same waypoint and track support on the SD card, as well as support for geocaches. You will be able to copy GPX files containing waypoints or tracks from Topo USA to your SD card and open them while you are out on the trail. You will also be able to save newly created waypoints and tracks while you’re out, for use later with the device or with your desktop software.

There is still a 1,000 waypoint or geocache limit for each GPX file and a track is still limited to 10,000 points with one active and one viewed; however, the size of the SD card you’re using is the only restriction for the number of files you can take with you! I’ve loaded every important waypoint and track file I’ve created over the years and have been thrilled with the ability to switch between Trek Across Maine cycling locations and Moosehead Lake upland spots. I’ve added waypoints to several different files during the same outing and have really enjoyed the added organization provided by separate files.

UPDATE: Please note that the following description references the standard attributes of a geocache. DeLorme does not support the Extended Attributes available in the 1.01 GPX format revision at this time. We are aware of the desire to identify caches with parking available or caches that are kid friendly and have added this to our customer feature request list.

So for those of you looking at the 2.7 firmware update, keep in mind that we did not deliver support for the geocaching.com GPX attributes or the ability to open a track file that has been saved to the SD card. These features will be made available with the 2.8 firmware update that is expected to release in the Spring. If you are interested in seeing waypoint support on the SD card before then, the 2.7 firmware can be used with Topo USA, even with geocaching pocket queries, so long as you import them into Topo USA then export the GPX file from the Draw tab and transfer it to the PN. This puts the geocache point in the correct format for the pre-2.8 firmware to recognize.

I hope this helps clarify the firmware schedule for PN owners with Topo USA now that the PN-Pro firmware update has been released. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thanks,
Chip Noble
Team DeLorme


PN-40 is top selling GPS in November on GPSTracklog.com

December 3, 2009

The Earthmate PN-40 finished in the top spot for sales in the Sport/Fitness category!

http://gpstracklog.com/2009/12/top-ten-gp-november-2009.html


DeLorme GPS Black Friday Deals

November 23, 2009

Visit this Web site to see all the latest Black Friday deals on DeLorme as well as other brands. As you’ll see, there are some smoking hot deals out there now for the upcoming weekend.

http://bestgpsdeals.net/delorme-gps-deals/591/


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 143 other followers