Let’s get back to the Garmin InReach Mini 2. In part 1, I’ve given a general overview of how satellite messaging services works with the device in general. In this part, I’ll have a closer look at how to get started and how long it takes to activate a device.
Once you have the device in your hand and Internet connectivity is available, it can be activated in just a few minutes and the device can then be used immediately. To work, the device needs to be tied to a subscription. Garmin has several types of subscriptions. The cheapest yearly subscription includes unlimited preset messages and 10 outgoing or incoming self composed messages with up to 160 characters and costs around 15 euros per month. In addition there’s a 30 to 40 euro initial activation charge. More about that in a follow-up post.
To activate a subscription, one creates an account on Garmin’s ‘Explore’ website and then selects a subscription option. After supplying credit card details, the sign-up process then asks for the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) and authentication code from the device. The InReach Mini 2 supplies both numbers when it is switched-on the first time or after a factory reset. Once the numbers are typed in on the web page, it takes a minute before activation is confirmed. After that, activation is finalized by pressing the OK button on the InReach device. The device will then reach out to the next satellite it receives and checks if a subscription for its IMEI is active.
When I did this for the first time, I placed my device at a window with plenty of sky and horizon visible. Note that it’s not only the sky that counts but also the horizon, as quite often, satellites are very low over the horizon and hence, a clear view ‘up’ will not help. More about that also in a follow up post. However, even after 20 minutes, the registration procedure was still running. The manual said that registration should happen much quicker if a satellite can be picked up. So I went to the flat rooftop of my apartment building to get a full 360 degrees view of the sky and the horizon. Here, the device almost immediately found a satellite and activation finished in less than a minute. As it turned out later on, I have no satellite reception at that particular window in my apartment despite a good part of the sky and the horizon visible. At another window in my apartment, however, quickly sending and receiving messages is no problem at all. A bit of a mystery. More about that also in one of the next parts of this series.
Activating an InReach device and sending the first message can be done in 10 minutes with a clear view of the sky. So if you activate the device on the web and the device remains in the ‘Sending Activation’ state for more than 5 minutes, change your location and make sure as much of the sky and the horizon is visible.