Submitted: Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 16:58
ThreadID: 100109 Views:4850 Replies:8 FollowUps:31
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My mrs,and the dogs along with our 17' caravan are doing a trip around Aussie later in March and we are seeking the best,BUT not the most expensive EPIRB to take with us,
Can I get some sort of feedback and thought on the better EPIRB to take with us.We will also have UHF CB as well as 144MHz ham radio in the car,BUT feel that the EPIRB may be of use 'just in case'
feedback will be taken on board.

Thanks heaps.
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Reply By: Member - Rowdy6032 (WA) - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 17:17

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 17:17

We have had the GME MT410G with the GPS personal locator for about 5 years.

It is a good size to carry around in the vehicle and can be carried in your backpack.

They seem to be pretty common.

Cannot comment on how good they are as we have never had to use it.

According to the battery tester on the unit the battery is still ok and is supposed to last 7 years.

AnswerID: 503079

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 18:14

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 18:14
I too have had a GME MT410G ever since the change from analogue to digital was invoked.

A good compact unit and the GPS functionality gives added accuracy should you be in a life threatening situation.

There is no real debate required.
Ownership of one will give you the confidence for remote travel.


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Reply By: olcoolone - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 18:31

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 18:31
How can you have the best and it not be expensive?..... usually the best are expensive.

Do you mean you want one that works OK and and you don't want to pay the earth.

It's like using cheap and quality in the same sentence...... whats that old saying (Do you want cheap - Quality - Fast...... pick any two)

Good to see life to you is CHEAP!

The difference in price between a cheap one and an expensive one is a few hundred dollars.

The cheap one usually don't have GPS and with out GPS it takes longer for someone to find you plus it uses more resources.

There is a big difference between an EPIRB and a PLB....... I think you want a PLB.

PLB are Personal Location Beacons and EPIRB are Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon..... PLB's are used on land and EPIRB's are for sea, but both can be used for either..... the difference is in the design, function and how they work.

We use a GME MT410G and you can buy them for around the $350-$400 mark.

And when travelling don't think you mobile phone, UHF or VHF radio will be of any use in an emergency.

A satellite phone is good insurance.
AnswerID: 503086

Follow Up By: PeterWH - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 21:00

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 21:00
Thanks for the assistance.I have been waiting for a company to advise on a Satellite telephone,BUT that hasnt happened as yet ,,so which is the more safer way to go EPIRB or PBL
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 21:15

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 21:15
Two differently designed products that do a similar thing.

EPIRB ......Water proof, floats, floats vertically, can be water activated, has a more sturdy mounting system, larger in size, bigger battery capacity..... more designed for water based vessels.

PLB ..... Some are water proof, does not float vertically, can't be water activated, no mounting system, smaller in size, smaller battery capacity ...... more designed to be carried personally on water or land.

A lot of people on water vessels carry them in there safety jackets just in case something happens and they end up in the drink.

On land a PLB is preferred due to size.

EPIRB's and PLB's must be vertical for them to work efficiently due to antenna location.

In the olden days pre GPS enabled EPIRB's and PLB's they had to operate for hours and in some cases days before someone found you..... with GPS enabled ones your talking maybe 30 minutes if not quicker for someone to know your exact location.
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Reply By: K&FT - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 21:53

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 21:53
G'day Everyone,

We bought an EPIRB from BCF 12 months ago and registered it for land use with marine safety authority. I think it was around the $290 mark and I think they are on special at the moment at BCF.

The beauty of the EPIRB is that you can use it for either land or marine quite confidently.

AnswerID: 503106

Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 22:24

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 22:24

for our travels we use Spot Connect.

It has an SOS function but also has a Help button - need help but not an emergency, OK - we use this each night travelling to let family know we're OK and gives a link to Google Earth showing where we are, and there's an optional Track Me function which can follow you wherever you go.

They cost about $200.00 to buy and then it's $50.00 a year (something like that) to register. You then can register 10 email addresses to send your OK to and there are 2 contacts for emergencies.

They are waterproof and shockproof, measure about 80 x 60 x 30 mm thick (close to that). We only used ours to send OK every night and never had the batteries run out. It uses 2 AA Lithium something batteries.

Exploroz sell them in the Shop if you want to have a look.

Hoo roo,
AnswerID: 503109

Follow Up By: Cravenhaven - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 09:06

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 09:06
I agree that the SPOT messenger is the better way to go. It has a lot more facilities (as mentioned by eightymatey) yet retains the emergency signalling function that an EPIRB/PLB provides.
There was a good writeup about the spot vs epirb on this site some time back.
BTW the annual registration is $115 not $50.

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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 19:00

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 19:00
Sorry. It must be the Track Me that's $50.

FollowupID: 779802

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 22:48

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 22:48
You may consider a sat phone or HF, which are both duplex and thus you can at least get first aid help while waiting for rescue. An EPIRB and a PLB will not enable you to get first aid or just order a bit of fuel. All they do is send out an emergency call. No details and no way of receiving even a "we are coming" message. Zip.

There used to be a travellers net on 40 meters. And if that's not active you will always find someone to help on the HF ham bands. There is also the 4WD HF services provided by VKS737 and the like.

You can rent satellite phones.

AnswerID: 503114

Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 23:04

Monday, Jan 21, 2013 at 23:04
Yep,that's what a EPIRP does.It sends out a signal which means "I'm in serious trouble and need help"
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 07:59

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 07:59
So you get the Army, Navy and RAAF when all you need is a couple of litres of oil! That was my point. Apparently you cannot read. Very helpful post Dave - NOT.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 08:37

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 08:37
I was just thinking that maybe I misread you. Maybe you were not being facitious after all. I hope that you were in fact just agreeing with me.

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Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 09:49

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 09:49
Quite correct Phil,I was being facetious, as you apparently don't seem to understand the correct use of an EPIRP. If I press the button I do need all of the above. If you need someone to supply you with a litre of oil perhaps you should not be out there. Going bush means being totally self sufficient.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:11

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:11
I do not understand why you cannot comprehend my post. Who cares about the oil. Maybe they put a rock through their power cord from the generator to the fridge and they wanted a part sent out via Santa Clause. Mate!! It was purely an example of the shortcomings of "one way" devices. Maybe you should read the first few paragraphs of this post on another forum.

EPIRB Misuse

I worked for a while at the NDO in Canberra and there are twits out there who would call to get someone to even come and change the flat tyre.

I was just stating a shortcoming. How you read that as "ignorance" is beyond me.

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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:33

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:33
The statistics in the link by Phil look pretty good to me.

248,000 registered in Australia.

1,700 triggered

266 searches after confirmation/non confirmation

109 genuine emergencies.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:51

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:51
Hi Lyn

Wow!! 248,000 and just 109 genuine emergencies. I knew there were a lot but that is staggering. That's 0.00044% legit calls.

My point exactly.

Welcome to 2013

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:54

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:54
Ooops My error. BBBIIIGGG error. You can see who does my tax. Not moi.

That should have been 1700 calls. Meaning its 0.064%.

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:05

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:05
The way to prevent the frivolous use, or at least reduce it, would be to have a mandatory pre purchase instructional course.

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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:10

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:10
And of the 1700 triggered 84% were ELIMINATED when the registered owners were contacted BEFORE emergency crews were deployed

In the old days (122mhz) before registration was required a fair percentage of the calls triggered would have resulted in some sort of search.

I would not call that an abuse of the system.

FollowupID: 779755

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:36

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:36
Neither would I Lyn. I was looking at it in the light of remote areas travel. Where there isn't any mobile phone nor any internet access. It would be a bit hard to call the registered owner etc back in that situation.

But I digress. Both the EPIRB and PLB are "one way" traffic only. And in my case that is a big issue. I have an incurable cancer and have regular four weekly infusions. My doctors refused to give their approval for any remote areas, like the Canning, unless I could come up with a phone like system where they could actually discuss an issue should one arise. PLB's and EPIRBS were not acceptable.

Interesting point that is behind your post. I wonder how many of those "ELIMINATED" calls that you mentioned in your first sentence, were requesting assistance to "change the tyre". That is an example only Dave!! And as such could have been serviced via the caller using his/her mobile phone.

It doesn't really matter. I don't care. Just rambling on here waiting for the good old "dog's eye" to heat up. The "dead horse" is ready.

One advantage of the cancer is that I don't care about diet and eat what I want when I want. Lots of ice cream, sliced bananas, nuts, malt and strawberry flavouring. Calories - who cares.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:40

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:40
Shaker I hear you but don't agree. We all had to learn the rules of the road but thousand get regularly booked.

What is so hard to understand about the instructions that come with it. Okay!! It's not a "blokes thing" to read instructions. That is the main error. Not education. This type of "bloke" will sit up in class and either sleep or plan the next trip. Or sit in the back row and keep us all distracted with snoring.

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:21

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:21
Education can work!
When radio licences where required for marine VHF, there wasn't the foul language that we have to endure over UHF.
I swear along with the best of them, but it is totally unnecessary & unacceptable over the radio!

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:31

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:31
Wasn''t it the big fines you got because you could be easily identified.

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Follow Up By: Pete K1 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:37

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:37
Hi. Only a small point in the Maths above is that unfortunately we believe there is at least 30% more beacons on top of the 248000 registered ones that are unregistered.
So when one of them goes off we can't make a call to quickly confirm that's it's accidental. Or get info that helps with a rescue.

As an example yesterday we received a detection for a beacon that was unregistered and without a position, it then took an hour before we received a position. 40 minutes later we had a helicopter sitting over the top of 4 guys in the Darwin mangroves that had overturned their boat and were being watched by a croc.

Had that beacon been registered (or been GPS equipped) we would have had information allowing us to respond earlier.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 13:30

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 13:30
And this supports the earlier post that recommended GPS enabled units.

One reason for our choice of satphone. I am not sure as the phone is in the car but I think that it's three keystrokes plus the email address to send the GPS location by email. And I have stored all the family email addresses.

I think that it would be a good idea with today's technology if the emergency organisations publicised an emergency email address.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 13:43

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 13:43

At the risk of going OT I have a question.

I am not trying to be smart here. No way. Just investigating a perceived shortfall with the "one way communication" type of device/beacon.

How could a detection for a beacon from an area which is out of mobile phone range be authenticated? Such as out in the Simpson Desert.

Maybe that is a grey area! Am i correct?

If so then you wouldn't know that all the "caller" just wanted was more fuel until the paramedics arrived. Maybe an enhancement for the future along the lines of the SPOT. What do you reckon?

Thanks mate. Ever in Canberra NDO? Answer via email at vk1dx@bigpond.net.au


PS: And for the "smart" types this is an example only. Not a discussion why he/she ran out of fuel.
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Follow Up By: Pete K1 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 14:00

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 14:00
The next generation of beacons under the cospas- sarsat system (epirbs) will allow the transmission of limited messages back - such as alert acknowledged - help on way.
With regard to your scenario we won't know until comms are established, so normally have to fly something out, try and gain comms. But even running out of petrol could become a distress scenario depending on what supplies and shelter is cartied. ie big difference to stopping on French line in August to Rig rd in February for passing traffic. So it's up to the individual to determine if they are in distress.
On the other side it can be hard to look for someone who is overdue, but doesn't use their beacon because they don't want to make a fuss ( happens). I haven't had someone run out of petrol, had a few bogged or broken though.

Always in Canberra :-) as I shiftworker at the rescue coord centre (Amsa)
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 14:18

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 14:18
Maybe we met. I put heaps of stuff in there from Russell and across the pond. Always enjoyed the stories over a cuppa. Anyway move on Phil.

Pete There are hundreds of scenarios we could conjour up but you answered my question nicely. Personally I need a full phone link back to my doctors. They have a device that can monitor my heart and vitals through a phone. And they can also adjust my little personal computer embeded in my chest. Simply amazing stuff. Three times I "carked it" and they fixed me up. Bye the way. I didn't see any "white lights" and MORE to the point I didn't see any "red ones".

I have some planning I have to do for a solo Canning Stock Route drive before a meeting tonight and I also better do some housework or the Minister for War and Finance will kill me. We have sat phone, ham radio and UHF so we should be fine.



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Reply By: Lyn W3 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 09:57

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 09:57
Anyone tried the inReach system which is now being sold by ExplorOz.

Delorme inReach

Saw it in the USA last year and it looked to have a lot of the answers but the subscription still seems high.
AnswerID: 503132

Reply By: Zebra400 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:45

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:45
Hi Peter

I see a few people who answered your question, have moved you on to other forms of emergency communication without answering your question.

You seem to be asking what is a fair price to pay for an EPIRB or PLB. I assume you have done some research so you have some idea of what you want to pay. From what you say, it sounds like you are looking for a PLB, as your trip around Australia appears to be on land. If cost is your primary concern, then perhaps you might want to also consider hiring one.

For assessing emergency solutions, there is no perfect answer to your question. Having been involved in 4WDing for many years, and travelled a lot of outback country, the feedback I can give you is that it is always nice to have an emergency tool that is 2 way. Having personally rung for assistance when are vehicle broke down 5 years ago, it was very calming for us to be able to talk to someone via HF radio to have ourselves recovered. In another situation, I also used HF to gain information of the nearest medical help, after a winching accident. That information was very helpful to me.

Thesedays, we travel with a SPOT unit, HF radio & Sat phone. SPOT is great for letting our friends follow our trip. It has an emergency button which will call in emergency services if we activate it. This function is similar to an EPRIB. The biggest downside with SPOT & EPRIBs are that they are one way. i.e. you activate it, but you have no idea what is being done to rescue you until help arrives - this could be 4 hours or it could be 48 hours - you don't know - you just have to wait, while your stress levels increase with time.

The other issue to think about is, is my situation really an emergency? OR am I activating my emergency device because I have no other way of communicating with someone else. As the stats show, there has been a lot of activations for incidence that were not considered "an emergency". A good example was when are 4WD broke down in far west SA. We used our HF to organise a recovery vehicle from Nullarbor. Had we seen anyone for a couple of days, and had run out of food & water, and with the temperature in the high 30's each day, we might then consider it an emergency. But if we only had SPOT, would have we hit the SOS button because we had no other form of communication.

For peace of mind, I personally think that a communication device that allows you to talk to someone else, is of far greater benefit. HF radios cost a lot of money but are cheap to run. Sat Phones are reasonably priced, but you will have ongoing costs to continue with them. However, the advantage of a 2 way device is that the person you speak to may be able to give you helpful advice, and also lower your level of stress. Also, if medical assistance is needed quickly, communicating via HF or Sat phone may get the medical people (such as RFDS) to you much quicker than SPOT or an EPIRB, as the medical assistance wont be organised until the emergency response people arrived at your location & assess the situation.

Someone mentioned inReach. This is similar to SPOT but has the added advantage of 2 way text messaging. One issue with text messaging is that you are reliant on the person your are texting, is available to text you back. You dont know why that havent texted back if you havent heard from them. The advantage of a voice call is that you know very quickly if the person you call is able to talk to you. They may also offer some help which you hadn't thought of.

You also mention UHF. This has a limited use in an emergency situation. You will know that you are dependent on line of site to another user.Repeaters can help here, but there will be many times in the outback when this is not an option. Carrying 2 hand held UHF radios are good for personal communication where you recovery is away from your vehicle.

I finish off by saying there is no one perfect solution. Having more than one form of effective outbback communication is the key to outback travel. The biggest issue I would face (when in an emergency situation) is assessing whether my situation is really an emergency, or am I just using the emergency tools I have because that is all I have.

AnswerID: 503136

Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:12

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:12
Hi Laurie. I like to think that a good rule of thumb when assessing the emergency is:
1 broken leg.Drag yourself out.
2 broken legs.Press the button.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 at 11:39

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 at 11:39
David, disagree ....

1 broken leg. I'd press the button if I was in a remote location...
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Follow Up By: Zebra400 - Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 at 05:30

Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 at 05:30
Guys, this is exactly one of my points. Both of you have a different opinion as to what is an emergency. Now if you had an HF or Sat phone for 2 way comms, then you might have found that by talking to someone, there may be a different solution than calling in the big guns to rescue you.

FollowupID: 779917

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 at 21:16

Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 at 21:16
Zebra, I agree people have different opinions - I was only responding to the example posed by David.

Frankly, half way along the AB or CSR I aint driving out with a broken leg. Air lift with a RFDS is the best option. Whether we Sat call, HF, or epirb, ... whatever is more effective. However the 'big guns' would tell you this is the correct option...
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Reply By: Lyn W3 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:42

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 12:42
Just thinking that a 4G Smart Phone App would be the way to go.

Come on you tech's on the group, how about it?
AnswerID: 503139

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 14:37

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 14:37
Don't know who fare you have traveled out side the city mile but I hate to tell you 4G is only available in major cities and what happens when you our of mobile phone range ?
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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 19:35

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2013 at 19:35
I was thinking more along the lines of a Satellite iPhone app.

Satellite iPhone app

which you could then possibly connect to one of the SOS apps available.

SOS Emergency app
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 at 09:35

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 at 09:35
The first app needs a satellite phone and it has to be active, all your doing is using the satellite phone as a modem..... satellite data rates are very expensive. This app is more designed for sending and receiving data and surfing the net looking for ebay bargains.

The second app uses the mobile network so you would have to be in a mobile phone coverage area for it to work.

The thing with a EPIRB or PLB is they are basic, simple and quick to use..... and battery being flat and electronics failure is very low.

I would sooner spend the $400 for a good beacon with GPS then putting my life in the hands of something inferior....... I value my life and I don't thing it's worth messing with cheaper products.
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