I have a Spot X satellite transceiver that I use on most off-road trips. It can do the following:

  • Log my location every few minutes (usually every 30 minutes).
  • Send and receive short text messages (140 characters).
  • Send emergency SOS information to search and rescue authorities.

Here is some more info for friends and family.

Basic info

My satellite number: 254-543-7453

That “phone” number for my new satellite communicator thingy is essentially a normal phone number to send and receive texts like any other. (It cannot receive voice calls, though.)

PLEASE DO NOT TEXT TO IT OR RESPOND TO IT unless it is an emergency. I have a limited number of texts each month, then I get charged more.

It’s not a big deal, and in an emergency who cares, but this is not to be used like a normal cell phone texting conversation about how great our campfire beers taste.

I suggest adding that number as a new contact like “Mark Dawson Emergency Satellite” or such. I would not add it to my normal contact in your phone, but to create a new contact, that way you are less likely to accidentally text it. Also that way you’ll know / remember who it is if you do get a text from me (and your phone won’t block it as potentially spam).


If you do need to contact me in an emergency, you can text that number from your phone just like any other.

Messages are limited to 140 characters, so keep that in mind. Longer messages are truncated and broken into multiple messages, which are delivered in a random order. This can get confusing, so try to keep each text short: “Emergency, call asap. (and a brief description)” or something like that, and I will get to a place to make a cell phone call asap.

Messages do take a little bit of time to get through the system – and up to a satellite and back – so be patient. I will acknowledge as quickly as I can.

Non-emergency stuff

If you need to text me for non-emergencies, please use my normal cell phone number. I’ll get it when I get back to a service area.

I will use the “Check in” feature whenever I am out of cell phone range – probably once per day in the evenings, if I don’t have regular cell service. At the moment that just goes to Kari and her parents though, so I won’t bother everyone.

Fun stuff

I’m still figuring this out, but you should be able to see a trace of where I am on this map:

Not sure if that is only for my next trip or all trips, but it should work for now at least. If that isn’t working and you want to follow my trip, get in touch and I’ll figure it out for you.

Also, Kari and Shane, that’s where I am more accurately than the old system I used, so if you don’t hear from me by an appointed check-in time, that’s where to look.

Also each “Check in” text should include a link to a fun map. Put it in Satellite view and see what canyon I’m on the edge of.