Devices

Devices are essential in SpotWalla. Without a device, there are no locations. Without locations, there are no trips.

Topics covered:

Supported Devices

SpotWalla supports multiple devices, both satellite- and cellular-based devices.

Satellite Tracking Devices Smart Phone Applications
Garmin Satellite Trackers
All InReach devices and other satellite-based devices from Garmin
Bubbler GPS (Android)
SPOT Trackers
All SPOT tracking devices.
SWTracker (iOS)

Choosing the right device depends on where your travels will take you. If your travels are mostly within cellular coverage areas, then one of the smart phone applications will serve you well. But if you're a true globetrotter, a satellite-based tracker from Garmin or SPOT is what you need.

Creating a Device

If your device of choice is a Garmin or SPOT tracker, you will need to activate the device with them and subscribe to the tracking service that meets your needs.

To create a device go to the Device Manager and click the New Device button. To Update a trip, click the trip name and select Update from the menu.

You will see a screen similar to this:

Enter a short description of the device. If you're into anonymity, don't use your name in the description. The description will appear in message detail popups and other places that appear on public location pages you may have joined.

Choose the type of device from the Device Type list. If you're creating a device for a phone app, no more information is required. If you're creating a Garmin or SPOT device, additional information is required and will appear below the list after choosing the device type.

For instance, here's what you'll see for SPOT devices:

And here's what you'll see for Garmin devices:

The options for both devices are similar. SpotWalla has to periodically poll these devices for new location data. These options tell SpotWalla what it needs to know in order to do so.

  • Serial/ESN or IMEI Number - This value uniquely identifies your device. No other device has the same number. You'll find this value somewhere on the device itself (e.g. battery compartment) or in the paperwork that came with the device.
  • XML Feed ID or Raw KML Feed - You'll need to log into the SPOT or Garmin website for this value. For SPOT, you will create a new XML Feed. On the Garmin site, you can find the value on the MapShare pages.
  • Feed Password - This is not your SPOT or Garmin account password. This is a passowrd you can assign to the XML Feed (SPOT) or to access your Garmin MapShare page.

For more details on finding the last two bits of information, see these sections:

Creating a SPOT XML Feed - New SPOT Account Manager
Creating a SPOT XML Feed - Old SPOT Account Manager
Finding the Garmin Raw KML Feed URL

When you're finished, be sure to click the Create button.

Creating a SPOT XML Feed - New SPOT Account Manager

Step 1. Log Into Your SPOT Account

The first step is logging into your SPOT Account. After logging in you'll see these options toward the top of the page:

Step 2. Click the Settings & Billing option.

Scroll the list down and find the XML Feed section. Click the View/Edit button. On the next page you'll see a Create XML Feed button highlighted below. Click that button.

Step 3. XML Feed Options

When setting the feed options, use this as a guide:

Set the feed name to SpotWalla/SPOT Interface or any other name that identifies this feed as the one you're using for SpotWalla.

If you have multiple SPOT devices, you'll need to create an XML Feed for each device you want to use with SpotWalla. So in the Devices list, only choose the one you're setting up now.

For "Location Messages to Share" click the Select All option. Choosing all available location messages to share will ensure SpotWalla receives all available messages.

We recommend sharing locations from the last 7 days - the maximum number of days.

We recommend sharing message detail. If you've configured messages for your OK, Custom and Help messages in your SPOT account, enabling this option will allow the messages to flow into SpotWalla.

We recommand making your feed private and setting a password. Please do not use your SPOT Account password here. Something simple will do.

Step 4. Acquiring the Feed ID

After setting the appropriate options, click the Create button. You will be returned to the XML Feed page. The new feed will appear in the list. Something like this:

Click the View Details link (highlighted above) to expose the feed details. You will see the XML Feed ID (also highlighted above). Copy the XML Feed ID.

Now log into your SpotWalla account and update your device. Use the XML Feed ID and password in the fields highlighted below:

Creating a SPOT XML Feed

Step 1. Log Into Your SPOT Account

The first step is logging into your SPOT Account. After logging in you'll see these options toward the top of the page:

Step 2. Find the Create XML Feed Link

Click the XML Feed link. On the next page you'll see a Create XML Feed link highlighted below. Click that link.

Step 3. Feed Options

When setting the feed options, use this as a guide:

If you have multiple SPOT devices, you'll need to create an XML Feed for each one you want to use with SpotWalla. So in the Devices list, only choose the one you're setting up now.

Choose all available location messages to share. The other options are fine, although we recommend making the feed private and protecting it with a password.

Step 4. Acquiring the Feed ID

After setting the appropriate options, click the Create button and a popup window will appear like this one:

Copy the XML Feed ID from the dialog. If you set a feed password, take note of it. When setting up your device in SpotWalla enter these values for the XML Feed ID and Feed Password attributes.

Finding the Garmin Raw KML Feed URL

Step 1. Log Into Your Garmin Account

The first step is logging into your Garmin Explore Account. After logging in you'll see these options toward the top of the page:

Step 2. MapShare Settings

Click the Social link in the menu. On the next page you'll see your MapShare settings:

First, ensure that MapShare is enabled. You should see the green MapShare: On button. If MapShare isn't enalbed, enable it. We also recommend setting a password when enabling MapShare, but that's up to you. Click the MapShare Settings button to see the password and other options.

Step 3. The Raw KML Feed URL

Once MapShare is on, you will see a teeny-tiny Feeds link just to right of the MapShare URL. Click that link and you'll see this dialog:

Copy the Raw KML Data link. If you set a password on your MapShare page, make note of it. When configuring your device in SpotWalla set the Raw KML Feed and Feed Password attributes using these values.

Message Browsing

The Message Browser is an easy way to see your device's messages. There are two ways to access the browser. First, your devices are listed on the Dashboard. Click the number in the Messages column.

You can also find the message browser from the Device Manager. Find you device and click its name. Then select Browse Messages from the menu.

Depending on what you're using (laptop, phone, tablet) to browse messages, the browser will tailor the amount of information displayed. If you're on a laptop with a big screen, you'll see all information like this:

The fields displayed are:

  • # - The message number.
  • Date - The date the message was received in your chosen timezone.
  • Source - The type of device that produced the message.
  • Type - The message type.
  • Coordinates - The coordinates of the location in decimal format.
  • Speed - The speed at the time the message was sent. In most cases, speed is calculated and is not a reliable indicator of the actual speed. It is a reliable indicator of movement.
  • Heading - Like speed, this is a calculated value. The value is based on the angle from the previous location.
  • Message - Any message text sent with the message.
  • Picture - The picture associated with the message. If your device can submit pictures (e.g. Bubbler GPS and SWTracker), this is the picture. If your device cannot submit pictures, then you can add pictures by click the picture icon.
Secure Messages

If you have active secures for the device, messages/locations that fall within an active secure zone will have a red background.

Adding Pictures & Viewing Message Detail

To view the message detail and/or add a picture click either the message number (first field) or picture icon (last field). You'll see this...

To add a picture to the message, enter the links to the small and large pictures in the appropriate fields and click the Update button.

Secure Zones

Secure zones are circular regions of the map where you do not want to display your location in trips or location pages. Each zone is defined by a center location and a radius. There are two types of secure zones:

  1. Dynamic Zone - Every device has one and only one dynamic zone. This zone follows you. Its center is always on your last known location. You can adjust the radius to suit your needs. A dynamic zone is useful when you want to share your travels publicly, but don't necessarily want to expose your last known location. For instance, where you stopped for the evening or for lunch or just to keep people guessing on your next move.
  2. Static Zones - A device can have zero or more static zones. These zones have a static center and a radius. Static zones are useful to safeguard your home location, grandma's house, your place of work or any other region where anonymity is desired.

There are two ways to manage secure zones. First, from the Device Manager. Find your device and click its name. Choose Secure Zones from the menu. Second, from the device's Message Browser you can click the lock icon next to any message's coordinates. The secure zones page will appear and the coordinates you clicked on will prepopulate the form.

Device Manager
Message Browser

The secure zone management screen will look like this...

The tabs at the top, Static Zones and Dynamic Zone, are used to group your zones. Clicking either tab will display the zones of that type.

Since this device doesn't have any static secure zones defined, you just see the empty fields that are used to define a new static zone. The fields are:

  • Description - A short description of this zone (e.g. Home, Work).
  • Latitude - Used to define the center of this zone.
  • Longitude - Used to define the center of this zone.
  • Radius (Km) - The zone's radius in kilometers. One mile is about 1.6 kilometers.
  • Active - Indicates if the zone is active or not. A checkmark indicates active.
  • Delete> - For zones that exist, checking this box and clicking the Update Zones button will delete this zone.

All static zones will be displayed in the list. You can update any of them or check the box to delete a zone. Clicking the Update Zones button will apply any changes made.

The dynamic zone tab looks like this:

A device's dynamic zone cannot be deleted. You can update its description, radius and active status. By default, the dynamic zone is not active. To enable it, check the box next to Check to Acivate the Dynamic Zone and click the Update Zones button.

GPX Uploads
Uploading GPX data is a good way to archive data or fill in gaps of missing data. You can start the upload process from the Device Manager.

Click the Upload GPX Data button to start the upload process. You'll see:

Choose the device you want to use. Then click the Browse... button and find the GPX you want to upload and process. Now click the Upload button. When the file is finished processing you will see the results.

Email Notifications

Email notifications allow you to send an email to any number of people when your device produces a chosen message type. Each device has its own notifications. You can manage them by going to the Device Manager. Find your device and click its name. Choose Email Notifications from the menu.

The notifications page will look similar to this:

If the device has notifications, you will see them in a list. To update or delete an existing notification, click its name and select Update or Delete from the menu. To create a new one, click the Create a Notification button. You'll see this page:

Enter a description and choose the message type. The list of message types is tailored to the type of device. So if it's a SPOT device, you'll see Ok, Help and Custom message types.

Now enter one or more email addresses in the Send To field. Separate each email address with a comma.

The message you want to send is customizable using parameters. Before sending the email, SpotWalla will replace each parameter in the message with the information it represents. You can easily add parameters to the end of your message by clicking a parameter name from the list to right of the message.

Here's the list of available parameters:

Parameter Description
%batteryStatus% The battery status at the time the message was sent. Note that some devices do not report their battery status.
%latitude% The latitude coordinate of this message.
%longitude% The longitude coordinate of this message.
%messageDate% The date and time the message was sent in the user's chosen timezone.
%messageSource% The type of device that produced the message.
%messageText% The message text sent with the message.
%messageType% The type of message sent.
%privateTrips% A list of active private trips.
%publicTrips% A list of active public trips.

Here's a sample notification I send when sending an OK message from my SPOT device. I use OK messages to mark overnight stops.

I'm stopping for the night right here...

%privateTrips%

Please don't share that link with anyone. Love you.

The %privateTrips% parameter will be replaced with the list of active private trips and my loved ones will be able to click the link and see where I'm at.

You can choose to activate/disable a notification. Remember to click the Save or Update button at the bottom of the screen.

Downloads

You can download your device data in three formats - CSV, KML and GPX. From the Device Manager click the

The downloads screen will appear:

Choose the type of download and the device you want to use. If you want the download to honor active secure zones, ensure the Apply Active Secure Zones? checkbox is checked.

Now choose the start/end dates and click the Downloads button. Depending on your operating system, how it's configured and what options you've set, you will likely get an option to open or save the download file.

When you're finished downloading files you can click the Devices button to get you back to the Device Manager screen.

Using the Email Interface

The email interface allows anyone or anything to create messages for a device simply by sending an email message. For this to work, the message should be sent using plain text and contain the following fields at a minimum:

device key: <device key>
datetime: <datetime>
latitude: <latitude>
longitude: <longitude>

The following fields are optional:

message: <message>
type: <message type>
small url: <small pic URL>
large url: <large pic URL>
no-reply-on-success

Each field has a specific format and strict requirements:

Field Description
<device key>

The device key is a unique identifier of one of your devices. Your device keys are listed below:

Please Login

To see your device keys, please log into SpotWalla and visit this help page.

<datetime>

This is the message's date/time stamp and must be specified in your timezone. If you don't know what your timezone is, check your profile. SpotWalla does not adjust this time at all. Here's an example...

2013-02-01 13:05:00

The date part is in yyyy-MM-dd format. Be sure and zero-pad the month and day. The time part is in hh:mm:ss format. The hour is in 24-hour format. So 08 is 8AM and 20 is 8PM. Be sure and zero-pad all three components, if necessary.

<latitude>

<longitude>
The coordinates of this location. Must be specified in decimal format.
<message>
A short message about the location. No longer than 1024 characters. Must be on a single line.
<message type>
A one-character message type. Should be one of O = OK, T = Tracking, C = Custom and H = Help. The default is O.
<small pic URL>

<large pic URL>
If you're storing pictures somewhere and want to associate a small/large pic, use these elements to indicate where the pictures are stored. These URLs must start with either http:// or https://. However, https:// is preferred.
no-reply-on-success
By default the email interface replies to each message it receives in order to inform the sender if the location data was processed successfully or failed. The email interface will always reply if errors are present, but if you want to supress the reply when successful, simply include this command on its own line in the email.

Putting all of this together and assuming the device key is 9e8a-9z0ac-c23d, here's a sample email message:

device key: 9e8a-9z0ac-c23d
datetime: 2021-02-17 22:56:00
latitude: 35.12312
longitude: -95.23123
message: I was here.
type: O
small url: https://some.com/image1.jpg
large url: https://some.com/image2.jpg

All you have to do is send the email to new-messages@spotwalla.com. A reply will be sent indicating the success or failure of the message. When you gain confidence in the interface, you can include the no-reply-on-success command to suppress the reply when the request is successful.