goTenna – An Exceptionally Unique Off Grid Communication Tool ~ Review

goTenna allows users to communicate with one another through their smartphones to talk, text, and find their friends on a map, all without cellular service or Wi-Fi

By Justin Stakes

goTenna
goTenna
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

United States -(AmmoLand.com)- With so many app’s on the market offering “off grid communication,” it’s tough to find the one that’s perfect for hunters that want something more than a common walkie-talkie, or satellite phone.

goTenna is a small, pocket-sized communication tool that instantly turns your smartphone into a wireless communication device without the need of cellular or satellite service.

Whether you’re hunting alone, with a friend, or hiking in the wilderness, getting lost in the great outdoors can be an extremely harrowing experience for even the greatest of outdoorsmen. Albeit rare accidents happen to the best of them, and it is always better to be prepared, especially if you’re someone that tends to adventure alone.

While folks may shell out a whopping $500- $1,500 for a satellite phone, most of the time they just simply don’t work and last for only a few hours of use.

This is where goTenna comes in, at an affordable cost of $199 a pair, anyone can have an off-grid device that works as intended, whether you are hunting, camping or even going to a concert with your best friends.

“What goTenna intends to do is two very simple things with communication. One, is 160-character text messages. Two is we allow the sharing of locations and there’s two kinds of locations you can share. One is your own location via your own GPS, which we lock on through your phone. You can see that in your chat, the little X on the corner that lets you attach your location. Its great for letting people know exactly where you are, an actual dot on a map,” said Jorge Perdomo, co-founder and Vice President of goTenna.

goTenna works up to several miles around you, depending upon your surrounding environment and elevation.

I might not have been able to get much more than half a mile in the city, most likely due to so many radio signals, but once I was in the mountains and wilderness, the range extended from 5 to 25 miles depending on the elevation and the amount of obstacles in the way.

Running low on battery? Simply plug the goTenna into your phone or laptop and start charging immediately, you can also use it while it charges.

The device managed to charge in a mere 1 hour and 25 minutes, while only depleting 8% of the total charge from my laptop.

The best part of goTenna is that it’s a completely silent communication device, designed with hunters in mind. You can drop pins onto maps that you’ve downloaded and name them something such as a blood trail, base camp, kill spot, etc. You can share any location with your party members, drop waypoints for your own guidance, or simply message people in your hunting party to meet up.

GoTenna's Android and iOS app can sync with your phone's contact list or rely on an anonymous ID to send messages and location data.

goTenna
goTenna

goTenna Specifications:

  • 2-watt VHF radio (151-154 MHz)
  • Flash memory good for 100’s of messages
  • Rechargeable LiPo battery (20+ hours of continuous use)
  • Emergency beacon button in case phone dies or is lost
  • Bluetooth-LE data interface
  • Water-resistant and dust-tight

goTenna Features:

  • Easily send and receive text messages for free without cellular service or wifi
  • Share locations and save pins on detailed offline maps that you've downloaded
  • Automatic message retries and delivery confirmation
  • “Shout” and “emergency” broadcasts to anyone within range with a goTenna
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android systems

There are 3 different ways to communicate with another goTenna user. One is through a public broadcast or the “Shout” feature, which is sent out to anyone with a goTenna antenna that is in the immediate area. The second way is a “one-to-one” communication feature which is basically a privately encrypted message to say your girlfriend or hunting partner. The final and third communication feature is a “Private Group” chat in which you can send out a broadcast but only to a specific member or person in your hunting party.

goTenna was even created with people who might not be technically savvy in mind, so they may simply pick up the device, connect it and immediately use it upon connection.

goTenna could even be extremely useful for citizens in moments of extreme disaster such as Hurricane Sandy.

Overall Summary: goTenna is an extraordinarily convenient and silent communication tool that can be useful in multiple outdoor situations such as hunting, hiking, camping, concerts, state events, parks and more. Not to mention, the fact that it actually works as it was intended….something I can't really say for other “off grid communication tools.”

gotenna - app interface
gotenna – app interface

For more information on goTenna, visit www.gotenna.com.

Article by Justin Stakes
Copyright @ J. Stakes Photography

About the Author:

Justin Stakes is a Photographer and Journalist dealing with a variety of different subjects that interest and inspire his love for the great outdoors and more. Justin is an avid outdoor enthusiast and geek with a photographic style that is a mixture of photojournalism and fine art. He has won 3 Photo Show Competitions throughout his education and has even been exhibited in the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art.

  • 4 thoughts on “goTenna – An Exceptionally Unique Off Grid Communication Tool ~ Review

    1. Range is limited. For cost, a simple multiband radio set is the more affordable option. They operate on similar VHF frequencies with comparable range.

    2. They are nice and do work. There is one issue I have with device. You need to install the GoTenna application in advance. Duh, you might say, but hear me out. If I go camping with some friends they need to have that app already on their phone. Now what happens in a natural disaster that takes out cellphone and Internet service. I have my phone setup but I can’t not setup another GoTenna for my neighbor that I want to loan them. The apps are installed via online stores, Android and Apple. Its just something to think about. You may want a backup copy of the application on a USB thumbdrive.

      1. I’ve talked to the guy developing gotenna, and I brought up the issue of what to do when there’s no access to the app store. My idea was that they could enable a sharing feature inside the app, so that you could use Bluetooth, NFC or a battery-powered wifi router to send an installable file. 2nd device may need to enable third-party app installs, minor issue that is easily dealt with in settings. But they are not interested in making gotenna into a shtf capable device. It’s a money-making hipster toy, as far as they are concerned. My workaround involves installing AirDroid, along with the gotenna app. AirDroid is able to show all installed apps, a long-press on any of those will bring up the option to share via Bluetooth or NFC. Most phones should be able to work with BT. PS – using a netbook & battery-powered wifi router, helium balloon and fishing reel, I can hoist my cellphone up where it gets a signal, and using AirDroid allows the netbook to remote control the phone including monitoring what the cameras can see. AirDroid acts as a web server and creates a web page that any browser can use to send or receive texts, view GPS location, even using a USB Mike & headphones to dial out

    3. I’m a ham radio operator. I can use my radio equipment to talk in emergencies, HOWEVER, my family members are not hams, so how could I get in contact with them? I can see the answer could be gotenna. This looks quite intriguing. We go camping where cell activity can be sparse at best. this antenna system could keep us in touch. I’m really going to be looking at this.

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