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Selected Q & A: purchasing items

Q:
When buying UPM-STD KIT you can use it to take control points for topographic surveys or you have to buy another different element.

A:
Purchase of Usage Plan is required to use the RTK Kit, $40 for one month or $190 for perpetual use. Usage of RTK rover requires a RTK base station. One needs to either
(1) have access to 3rd party Trimble/Leica VRS RTK base station for use with the Alpha RTK rover. Or
(2) if having some reference control point with known location within 10Km distance for doing topographic surveys, then one can setup a local RTK base using another set of UPM-Std Kit.

It is still unclear to me what the Usage Plan is for. Can you clarify:

With no Usage plan, will the UPM-STD kits work if setup as a local base and rover with a known control point?
Can a 3rd party or local RTK/NTRIP service be used in place of the Usage Plan?
Or is the Usage Plan required for the Alpha to function?

Thank You

Usage Plan is needed to activate Alpha RTK receiver as this blog Q&A #3 explains.

I think there is a lot of confusion and suspicion about this “Usage Plan.” People think
maybe it’s some sort of a subscription “correction service” but it’s not.

As I understand it, the “Usage Plan” is really more of a “Licensing Fee” to use the product.
An unfortunate marketing decision. Rather than incorporate the costs of development
into the price, they separately charge extra just to use the device. Their hope is to make the
hardware so cheap everyone will buy it, but then they’ll recoup some of the R&D fees through
this licensing (or Usage) fee. I kind of understand this, but dislike it none-the-less.

Without paying the “Usage Plan” the device will not work (or rather, I think it will work as a
standard low-accuracy GPS receiver, but not the high-accuracy RTK capability.)

I understand that many people are suspicious, and dislike the idea of a subscription service.
They would like to buy something, and truly feel they own it, and don’t have to spend any more
money. Many software packages (Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, etc.) are
now not really selling their software, they just license it on a monthly or yearly basis. And it’s not
popular for some end users. And there’s the feeling that buyers don’t really own the device, and
the company at any time can disable it through software, or a “glitch” will lose their registration
codes, and it’ll stop working. I’ve had many software packages where the registration somehow
got corrupt, and I had to pay again to get a new one.

I, as a potential customer, would have preferred that they would have included a free 1 month of Usage
with each purchase, so we can try it out, and see if it really works. There are absolutely ZERO
independent reviews or evaluations comparing the Alpha to the competition, so we’re all worried it’ll
be like the hundreds of other poorly implemented RTK products which have been introduced in the
last 2 years, which couldn’t get a Fixed solution no matter what we tried. That will make most buyers
wait until independent reviews are written, to see if it really works, and how it compares to the other
RTK Receivers.

Then after the free month of Usage, if it really works, we’d all be eager to buy the long-term usage plan

Correct me if the above is incorrect, but I’ve seen the Usage Fee explained many times, as simply what
a great value it is, without explaining what it is.

  • tj.

This Q&A #3 pretty much explains the spirit of the Usage Plan Model: https://www.polaris-gnss.com/blog/truth-be-told-about-alpha

Actually Trimble started subscription based model with their Catalyst product:
https://catalyst.trimble.com/howitworks.htm With Alpha, customers can buy the $190 Unlimited Usage Plan (perpetual license) and own it like a normal RTK receiver without further subscription. With Trimble Catalyst, after buying the $500 DA1 antenna, there are (1) $2,100 six months subscription or (2) $4,100 twelve months subscription options, seems no unlimited perpetual licensing option available. http://www.esri.com/~/media/Files/Pdfs/partners/hardware/trimble/Catalyst.pdf

The $995 Kickstarter RTK GPS burnt a big hole in pockets of many RTK enthusiasts back in 2013. This mostly has to blame the highly-profit-oriented crowd-funding sites and craving-for-story technology news outlets/reporters that hails wonders about novel new products and the prodigy founders, without verifying if it’s still something on the drawing board before reporting, or giving readers any hint the risks involved backing a project without proven working prototype. With such kind of bad experience floating around, it’s reasonable for customers to have doubts.

Like EMLID that builds products based on ublox NEO-M8T and RTKLIB, we are using SkyTraq’s new smaller size S1216F8-RTK module for making Alpha. SkyTraq’s larger size NS-HP-GL GPS/GLONASS RTK or NS-HP-BD GPS/Beidou RTK has been around for years and the RTK performance is quite usable for a single frequency RTK receiver. For survey customers that prefer using RTKLIB, post-processing using RTKLIB with Alpha is also possible.

If a customer has doubts, there is no hurry to buy; could always wait until others post online reviews.

Thank you TJ for the input. We made the explanation more clear.