Choosing an EPIRB

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 13:59

The Birds (WA)

Anyone able to recommend a particular model or type of EPIRB that would be suited to taking on the big lap around Australia. Mainly for in 4wd but also for hiking/fishing etc.

Dont want to spend a fortune unncessarily however we realise the importance of a gdecent EPIRB. Have looked at the 2 models below but unsure as to how good they are:

KTI mini SAT-ALERT RB3s $269
GME MT310 EPIRB for $235

They can be seen on the web link below

Site Link


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AnswerID: 246569   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 14:14

handy replied:

what ever you buy make sure its new type as the older ones are getting phased out in 2009. cheers
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AnswerID: 246571   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 14:20

Member -Signman replied:

I have a GME MT300 (unused/ not activated) for sale. Battery good til Apr. 2010. It's not the personnal size!!
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AnswerID: 246581   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 14:39

Member - Beatit (QLD) replied:

I have the KTI and carry it with me where ever I go (outdoors that is) I bought it 2 years ago knowing that it will be phased out BUT I liked its features (small, strobe light and replaceable battery). It will do me till they replace the network - as mentioned before I also haven't had to use it.

The strobe light was particularly of interest - just about every rescue i've heard about seemed to involve darkness.

Kind regards
A new way of life is emerging.
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FollowupID: 507423   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 18:57

Sand Man (SA) posted:

I also have the KTI Mini Sat RB3 and I still believe it is a good unit for the time being. These EPIRBS are compact and come with a carry strap and belt loop on the soft case.

The problem with the new 406Mhz units is that they are kind of like the mobile phone of yesteryear. They are BRICKS.

I would buy the KTI now and "trade it in" on the 406Mhz EPIRBS when a compact version at a reasonable price has been released sometime in the next two years.

Prestige have the KTI's, but they are also available from the ExplorOz Shop.

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!
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AnswerID: 246598   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 17:10

Member - Vincent A M (NSW) replied:

Have used for a real life/death situation the GME MT400 (406mhz) & worked well for the price have now upgraded to GPS epirp exact location type

Make sure its at least a Positioning Indicating will be to within 5klms a old analouge is about 20klms at best
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FollowupID: 507409   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 17:32

mike w (WA) posted:

Heard a funny story about the new GPS EPIRB. I was doing some training with a couple of the SAR managers from AMSA on the intro of some new position locating devices, anyhoo, there had been one of these set off, they obviously get the last known GPS position from the epirb in the signal, and have it pointed somewhere in the indian ocean(??) from memory. Alls good, however no luck finding it?? Whats wrong, couldnt trace the radio frequency. Turns out eventually they picked up the radio signal, but from somewhere on the US coast. Because the GPS takes regular positions and stores it, it also relies, like with all GPS, on a clear view of the sky. Guess where it had its last clear view of the sky and able to record a GPS location?? Yep, a very looong way from where the EPIRB had been set off (maliciuosly/ accidently).

Turns out the yacht had been transported to its new home by other means than that of its own.
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FollowupID: 507417   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 18:22

Mike Harding posted:

Excellent post Mike W.

And _exactly_ the sort of issue those of us who design these complex system wrestle with all the time - and frequently fail to foresee.

This is precisely the type of issue I try to highlight on this forum every time I see some "electronics expert" telling us "It will all be OK". Sometimes... it won't!

Mike Harding
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FollowupID: 507496   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 23:35

mike w (WA) posted:

Thanks Mike Harding,

As they say, It all good in theory, however when it comes to practice...

>And _exactly_ the sort of issue those of us who design these complex system wrestle with all the time - and frequently fail to foresee.

And thats just being human. Im a firm believer in hindsight, and would love to have access to it before the event occurred. I believe that sometimes the consumer fails to head 'manufacturers directions', which I am guilty of myself. Often these issues, IMO, can not always be implemented due to a whole myriad of constraints. A specific device is designed to do a specific job in a specific way as the manufacturer intended it. Unfortunately some males have been socialized to believe 'she'll be right' and work things out for themselves. I remember in the dive shop I once worked, we had a saying we used to use on customers who came back with the usual 'this doesnt do what I want it too.' Our reply..."RTFM my friend, RTFM"
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AnswerID: 246609   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 17:54

DIO replied:

Check this Link for some useful info re EPIRBs
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FollowupID: 507498   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 23:37

mike w (WA) posted:

I also highly recommend this one too:

Mike W
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AnswerID: 246617   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 18:24

Mike Harding replied:

As we're now close to the cut-off date for VHF EPIRBs I would suggest you go for a UHF device.

Mike Harding
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AnswerID: 246621   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 18:31

Mikee5 (QLD) replied:

As Handy says, the two you have chosen use a system that WILL be switched off soon and they will no longer function. You need one that use 406 Mhz. Do a search on this site, it has been covered previously.
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AnswerID: 246672   Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 22:31

Member - Scott M (NSW) replied:

Have a look at thread 30466 - Matt answered this question - however I know he won't mind me quoting him...

Member - MATT M (ACT) posted this followup
Well worth spending the extra money on a 406 EPIRB because of the increased accuracy and the fact that it can identify the owner. Sending all this information (position, registration number, etc) takes a few satellite passes but the distress signal goes out very quickly. The SAR people love them because they are able to make a phone call to the numbers you nominate when you register. This often knocks a false alarm on the head before expensive SAR assets are launched or allows them to get a more accurate picture of what they are dealng with (number of people, equipment/experience you have, medical conditions, etc).

I spent several years working for the US Coast Guard doing SAR and the policy was that they would 'launch' for a 406 EPIRB almost immediately, whereas they would wait for 'correlating SAR information', distress flares, overdue reports, visual sightings, etc before getting too serious about a 121.5 hit. Although one group of rather dull thieves stole thousands of dollars of gear from several fishing vessels in Norfolk and then drove several hundred miles to their home in Boston. They were very surprised when the cops knocked on their door for a chat. Hadn't realised that they had activated the EPIRB when they pulled it of its bracket and that we tracked them the whole way!

Also the 406MHz frequency is a dedicated SAR frequency whereas 121.5 has some other uses. Most (marine at least) 406 EPIRBS also have a 121.5 MHz homing beacon that on site SAR units will use to hone in on your position when on scene. One good piece of advice offered to me when using them in a 4WD is to keep them handy to the driver's position. Not much use to you when floating off down the river in your car or forming the centrepiece of a four wheel BBQ. Still, a $30,000 signal fire is probably a good start to any search and rescue.

The Beast
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AnswerID: 246778   Submitted: Thursday, Jun 14, 2007 at 14:33

The Birds (WA) replied:

Thanks to all of you who replied. It appears the 406Mhz is the way to go however Mike W's story was a bit of a concern ????

As we will really only be using it for the next year on the road the expiry date wasnt too much of a concern, hence the selected models. I guess I was kinda hoping the ones I selected would be ok due to being considerably cheaper aswell as a little more portable.

Common sense is telling me not to skimp on such an item and will now be hunting around for a 406Mhz type EPIRB.

Thanks again
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AnswerID: 246853   Submitted: Thursday, Jun 14, 2007 at 20:15

Member - Mike DID replied:

121.5 EPIRBs will not be useless after 2009 - it's just that they won't be picked by satellite. Commercial aircraft will still have the 2nd receiver monitoring 121.5.

If you want to have a good chance of being found by visual detection, get a separate Strobe that uses a high-intensity gas-discharge tube like in a flashgun. The KTI uses LEDs - better than nothing, but nowhere near the visibility of a proper strobe.
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