How to Use Solara Field Trackers 2100 or 2000

Basic Tracking Use is Simple

To use the Field Trackers 2100 or 2000 as a worldwide tracking device, there is really only one thing you need to know how to do:

Turn on the On/Off switch when you start your travels.

That's it. The screen appears, the Field Tracker will search for GPS satellites to get a position fix. Once there is a position fix, the Field Tracker 2100 or 2000 will look for an Iridium communications satellite and transmit its position. As long as there is a wide view of the sky so satellites are visible, it works.

Once it transmit's its position, the screen stays in a low-power sleep mode. The Field Tracker 2100 or 2000 will again obtain a GPS fix and transmit it after the time interval between transmissions has elapsed. It does this automatically without anyone needing to operate anything else, and does this while keeping the screen off to save battery power. If you wish to see the screen, you can turn it on by holding down any of the front buttons for several seconds.

Now the Tracker is sending it's position at a regular interval for as long as the switch is still on and there is power in the batteries (a fresh charge lasts over 2 weeks in warm temperatures when transmitting every 15 to 20 minutes).

There are many other things the Field Tracker can do to fine-tune operation and provide two-way text messaging. There are pre-formatted text messages, free-form text messages you can type in, there is an information display with position and movement information and how strong the satellite signals are, there is an archive list of the last 10 messages received, and a magnetic compass. The battery voltage and temperature of your unit can also be displayed. There are also settings you can use to customize unit operation, including time zone, transmit intervals in minutes or hours, and a power-saving mode to save battery life when you are not moving. To go into further detail on all of these functions, we invite you to look over a copy of the operator's manual (contact us for a copy). But for simply tracking with either the Field Tracker 2100 or 2000, all you have to remember is to turn on the switch.

Monitoring the Units from the Web Page is Simple

Open a web browser. Then go to:

http://www.solaradata.com/cgi-bin/mainProgram.cgi

Type in your user ID in the User ID box and the password in the Password box. Click on the "Log In" button.

After a few moments, the trail is on the screen. If you have more than one unit registered to your account, all the units that have transmitted positions within the last 2 weeks are shown on the screen. The trails are colour-coded to the names at the top of the screen so you can tell them apart.

To update the map positions, click "refresh" on the browser or check off the box at the top middle of the screen that says "Update Map every 5 Minutes". The Google Map can be resized by dragging the sides of the map image, and the other smaller windows can be click-dragged around the screen.

That's it. Now you can see where all of the units registered to your login ID are.

Just like in describing the Field Tracker unit, there are more things that can be done and seen on the web page. You can type in text to be sent as messages to any single Field Tracker or broadcast to all the units at once. You can change the map trail intervals to call up archived trails, call up the trails in tabular format, and see how many messages have been sent by all units so you can keep track of the use in the current month's subscription. There are tabs at the top of the page where you can select other functions, such as reviewing messages, answering Emergency Alerts, and setting the telephone numbers to call and email addresses to send messages to when different types of messages are received. To go into further detail on all of these functions, we invite you to look over a copy of the operator's manual (contact us for a copy). But for simply tracking either the Field Tracker 2100 or 2000, all you have to remember is to log in and refresh the screen.

Before Venturing Forth....

We at Solara strive for the highest level of reliability possible with the design, manufacturing and support for all of our products. Both the Field Tracker 2100 and 2000 are designed, tested, and built by Solara for easy portable use in the toughest, most extreme environments.

Solara recommends that our customers use our products as part of a larger plan to stay safe. Depending on any single technology as your sole source of safety is like putting all your eggs into one basket.

Depending on a single device type for your safety is a form of technology complacency. Technology complacency is when you put full authority for your safety and well-being into the expectation that whatever device you are using will work 100% and bring help quickly when you are in real trouble.

The fact is, no matter how well any signaling or communication device is designed and constructed, it is just good sense to follow the recommendations of the Search and Rescue (SAR) authority in the region where you will be traveling. It is said that when reviewing the cases of past rescues of even very experienced outdoor people who got into trouble, SAR personnel can almost always point to the "three strikes, then you're out" scenarios that occurred to put the person in peril. Often, the 'strikes" were totally out of the control of the person at risk. However, it was by good planning that the persons in peril had sufficient supplies to survive on their own, ensured other people were aware of their travel path before leaving, and so on. Although these may not prevent someone from getting into trouble in the first place, it increases the chance of survival and minimizes the time it takes rescuers to be alerted and find them.

Follow local best practices for back country travel

When everything works perfectly, satellite communications operates at an unprecedented level of speed and effectiveness. When signaling with the Field Tracker 2100 or 2000 by turning on the Emergency Alert switch, it is designed to send a precise GPS position with an Emergency Alert code as soon as an Iridium satellite is in view. This is generally within a minute, unless it takes a few more minutes for a satellite to come into view over a hill or mountain. So then, why does Solara recommend taking all the precautions that people always took even before we had these fantastic new satellite devices?

The reason: it's common sense. Solara's systems are built to work under the worst conditions but all things made by people are subject to breakdown of one kind or another. Although rare, a problem at a ground station, a freakishly strong solar flare affecting satellites, or other unforeseen technical problem can temporarily delay message delivery, longer if the problem is acute.

Using 2-way Communications to "Right-size" the SAR Response

But frankly, the chance of a message not making it through really is rare. But if the message is received, is it not simply a matter of coming to pick up the people in trouble?

Again, there is more to it than that. Once the message is relayed to the SAR authority in the area, plus any relevant information received by text from the person in peril, this is just the start of the actions needed to get assistance to a person.

Assuming the person in peril is able to signal what the problem is, and that the location is known, the right people to conduct the rescue need to be summoned. The response personnel dispatched will partly depend on the severity of the emergency and the best way to get the responders out within the time dictated by the severity of the emergency. For example, a canoeist that loses a paddle but has all his gear can pitch a tent and spend a night on an island, until a boater arrives with another paddle. But for acute, remote problems, it may be a professional military SAR team; for personnel near a town or road, it may be local police personnel or an ambulance team. A local charter helicopter company may be called into service if the military team is not available.

But what of the weather and other conditions at the time? If it is too dangerous to send out rescuers due to zero visibility, they may have to wait and watch for a break in the weather. This is where the common sense preparation comes in; having the correct gear to keep dry and warm to wait for rescue will increase the chances of a person in peril surviving until rescuers can arrive. Depending on the circumstances, it can be days.

Solara provides a sort of back-country, long-battery life "texting telephone service". Our job is to get your messages and data delivered as quickly as possible. The real work is done by the Search and Rescue people.

Most SAR organizations are formed of local volunteers, with limited funds but a lot of heart - these people care very much about the health and welfare of others, and the chronicles of SAR are filled with otherwise ordinary people conducting heroic acts in the interests of saving others. Unfortunately, some have also paid the ultimate price.

So, taking the time to properly prepare for your time out not only makes for a more enjoyable and productive experience, it increases your chances in the event of something going wrong. The SAR folks will also thank you for ensuring that if they are called, it's simply because of unforeseen things happening to an otherwise well-planned excursion, rather than being due to some obvious and preventable oversight.


©2007 Solara Remote Data Delivery Incorporated
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