Emergency beacon

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 18:27
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Hi all, anyone know if it is possible to refresh the life of these.. I've had it in my boat, for a few years, still like brand new, had an option to re register it for a further 2 years, which is just about to expire.
Thought I read some where about getting a new battery for them, or do you need to fork out another $350 for a new one..
We don't go out wide enough to be in the position that we "must" have it, but would be good to have in the car when going away, as another back up. It is the 406mhz, thought they were only for boats, being registered with the maritime services, but understand a lot of people use then in their vehicles also. Not to bad if it can be used for two purposes, though expensive outlay originally, to save a life, I guess not to bad, good value really..
Thanks Odog
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 18:54

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 18:54
You don't tell us which brand or model Odog.
I recently had our 7 year old GME GPS quipped PLB refurbished - new battery etc for another 7 years life. Cost $200. Their web site tells you how to go about it.

Registration of these devises is required for all uses, not just marine and multiple uses can be included.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 19:56

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 19:56
Thanks Peter, I'll check the brand, and check on line, got a feeling it's gme.. Cheers Odog
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 09:34

Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 09:34
looked at battery replacement for mine.
$200 for a new battery, $299 for a new epirb.
Chose the new epirb option.
Bill


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Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 10:04

Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 10:04
Just be aware that the reconditioned PLB that you get back (it is not actually the same one you send in) may come back with a new 7 year battery but doesn't come with the original 7 year warranty that a new item has. It is only a one year warranty.

So while a new PLB comes with a 7 year battery and 7 year warranty the refurbished second hand unit only comes with a 1 year warranty.

Given the small price difference between a refurbished unit and a new unit I would always go for a new unit - so out of date PLBs are in effect a through away item.

Garry
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 20:24

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 20:24
Hi Odog

I am in a very similar situation but keeping all my options open.

With cost of all units almost half compared to what they were almost 7 years, and big differences in the two units, I have asked our rep to give me full details by next week.

What I can tell you is this.

The current GME PLB's only have a 7 years battery life and when activated, will continually transmit a signal for 12 hours.

The GME EPIRB's on the other hand are only around $30 dearer, have a 10 year battery life, and when activated will transmit the signal for 24 hours, and in the event that it is used in a water situation, will float with the antenna in the upright position.

So if there is not a new GME PLB coming out with a 10 year battery life, I will most likely go for their EPIRB.



Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:08

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:08
Hi Stelhen, I think some types give rescuers an area to search, while others transmit a current exact (within reason) position, and continue to up date the coordinates, if your still moving.. Technology is always getting better, but you always seem to pay a premium for the latest eh... More stuff to pay for I guess.. Have to keep working.. Ha.. Cheers Odog
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:41

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:41
Hi Odog

Both of the GME units that I have just been talking about are GPS enabled that will continually transmit the accurate coordinates, even whit moving, and that was how the found that chap the other day up in Queensland.



Cheers


Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:52

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:52
Problem with the epirbs are they're big bulky suckers compared to the PLB's. The latter I can take on a walk if I need to.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 22:34

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 22:34
Hi Scott

Yes they are almost double the size, but I keep mine in a small bag along with my sat phone and other emergency gear, so that extra size would not be a real issue to me.

I am hoping that GME bring out an updated PLB with longer battery life, and if that is the case, will stick with the PLB, if not for the extra battery life and longer activation would go for the EPIRB.


Cheers


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Reply By: Ozi M - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 20:36

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 20:36
If you are on land then you could also have a look at the KTI SA2 PLB, they have a 10 year warranty and battery but they are not suitable if you are in a boat

Cost was $259 delivered
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Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:14

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:14
Think I'd like to have one I can use in both situations, makes better use for your buck.. I'll look into it, and see what works out best for our needs.. They seem to come down in price, then they invent something better, and the price goes up again.. Can't win... Cheers Odog
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Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:47

Saturday, Jun 11, 2016 at 21:47
Went thru this about 2 months ago. I had a non GPS epirb, decided to go down to Whitworths to see if the battery could be renewed. Because they are a water tight unit, they need to go back to factory to be refreshed & re-sealed. Cost ??? about the price of a new one....

Wound up getting a GPS enabled PLB for about $250 ..... with a GME freezer/drinks bag thrown in on the offer.

Got a free 406mhz epirb if someone wants one - just cost you a new battery......
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 10:19

Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 10:19
There are 2 separate issues.

Registration life, and battery life.

You have to re-register every 2 years. That is a marine safety thing.

However this is different to the the battery life. 7 years 10 years etc

You may be able to register it for another 2 years of the date on the PLB is still active.

If you need a new one, I woudl get one with 10 year battery life and check the dates if you buy them in store. Some are significanlty 'fresher' than others.
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Reply By: Member - Terry W4 - Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 18:09

Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 18:09
Owen

Bought a marine EPIRB to put in my Prado because they are far superior than the PLBs people buy. It is a Kinetic Technology model SA1G.

Think I paid about $300 for it delivered. I also chose this model because it has an inbuilt GPS and the 'rescuers' can track me to within about 100 metres. Also as it has a long lanyard on it and also floats I can take it out fishing when on tour if I hire a boat.

Battery life is 10 years. I have 7.5 years to go. Not sure how much it costs to replace.

Aircraft also use the 406 EPIRB. In fact they were developed initially for aircraft when they operated on 121.5 and 243 MHz - analogue. I worked for the Civil Aviation Authority when the change was made and conducted a piloted education program relating to the change over.

Wouldn't go bush - even into the Brindies without one.



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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 08:08

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 08:08
Hmm
Terry, I am not sure why you say an EPIRB is better than a PLB for land use.

There are a number of reasons that they are better for marine use. ( floats upright, registered to a vessel not a person so you can change crews, automatic activation when immersed in water or the vessel sinks , 2 day lifetime when activated etc).

However while they will work for land use, they are actually not recommended.

Their large size means they may be stored at a hard to get location ( a PLB can and should be accessible to anyone in a vehicle in the event of a major accident) and they are not something you could take with for a walk or to get help.

But the biggest issue is that they need the antenna to be vertical to work properly and they actually use the water as a ground plane to reflect the signal upwards.. They are specifically designed to float this way, but are not designed to be stable this way on land due to the shape.

If you're in a car accident, you may not even get a choice to align the antenna vertically, even if you could find where you packed it.

PLB's have a different antenna system. They can work with the antenna in any direction, though vertical is still optimal. Set it off and you are away.

For occasional boat hire, surely a PLB would suffice if you are less than 2 miles from shore. If more than that, the boat should have an EPIRB by law anyway.

I am curious what makes you believe they are far superior for land use. Would you be kind enough to elaborate. I must be missing something.
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Reply By: Peter K20 - Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 22:36

Sunday, Jun 12, 2016 at 22:36
Hi Odog

Just check that the expiry is for the 2 yearly registration details only (this would be on a white sticker), The battery expiry date is written on the actual beacon.

There is no problem with taking your epirb bush in 4wd. If you can, update your beacon's registration details to include your vehicles details as well as boat. You can also add details about your planned trip as well

Even if you don't go "out wide" in the boat it still helps a lot if its registered. A lot of bands capsize within two miles of the coast, or their Epirbs accidentally transmit at home or on boat ramps when being washed (or stolen by kids)

Contact the manufacturer for the cost to replace the battery if it is out of date. They normally overhaul the unit as well.

As people have mentioned - if updating grab a GPS one, as it really does help take the "search" out of Search and Rescue.

If any assistance needed please see https://www.beacons.amsa.gov.au/ or call 180 406 406 during ACT working times (9-5)

I work in the centre and respond to all EPIRB/PLB alerts in Australia and can only encourage the use of GPS beacons and up to date registration. Had two beacons so far this shift, both solved quickly as they were registered. It can take many hours if they aren't

Cheers
Pete
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 08:39

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 08:39
Hi Pete,

You have just made a statement about checking the white sticker with the expiry details for the registration of the PLB OR EPIRB.

Are you aware that your department does not send out these stickers any more?

Back in April of this year, I received my 2 yearly reminder about the re registration and emergency contact list of people and phone numbers for my PLB which I completed online and thought that was it. In the past, the new replacement sticker would arrive within a few weeks and I would then place that over my old sticker.

Well not any more, as I got my PLB out to give it a test and realised that I had not received the new replacement sticker. Concerned that my email may not have been received by your department, I contacted them and spoke with a very friendly lady, who asked for mr beacon code, and confirmed that, yes my details were received, but they no longer send out the stickers any more.

So my question to you is, if you are a first time user and register your new beacon, how will we know that it is registered?



Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: Peter K20 - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 09:07

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 09:07
Hi Stephen

I did mention the white sticker as many still have them on their units and many will still be within date for another year. Many people make the mistake that the white sticker date was for the battery and dispose of perfectly good units.

Yep, I know the stickers are gone, I know that they used to have to spend a great number of resources just printing and mailing them out noting there are over 350 0000 registered beacons and that number is growing.

You can check your registration by using the email that you should have received, you can also elect to get a text sent to your phone when you register them. Those emails (printed copy or on phone) and texts can also be used to show water police when you are getting a check.

The main preference is that you register them online so you can log in and check your details are up to date, add pictures and trip plans as often as you like.

I hope that helps

Pete
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:05

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:05
Thanks for that Pete.

I just wish more people would take the time out and take their safety seriously and buy a PLB or EPIRB.

I think of the case a few weeks ago where a man nearly 80 went missing in the northern Flinders Ranges. Hundreds of man hours involved and to this very day, his body has never been found and most likely never will. Just hope he died a very quick death, and did not have to suffer for days in pain. If he had a PLB, there would have been a positive outcome.


Cheers and thanks.



Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:47

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:47
LOL thanks for the Stephen. I renewed about 3 weeks ago and have been telling my wife to keep a look out for the letter with the sticker.

......"Are you sure we haven't received a letter from AMSA with a sticker in it. - We must have got by now...."

...."no. stop asking. I will tell you when we get it..."

It is hard to find on the website. Boats and planes need to keep a copy of the reciept on them but not PLB.


I love this from the website.....the new systen is easier.. Easier for who?


The reason for this change is because Australian beacon owners have brought to AMSA’s attention a number of issues relating to stickers. As a result, AMSA will move to an easier and more mobile method of proving beacon registration.

As vessel and aircraft owners are still required by law to provide proof of beacon registration if asked by authorities, you must use one of the following alternative methods from 15th September 2015:

Email registration
Carry a printed copy of your email registration confirmation

SMS registration
Save your SMS registration confirmation in your phone

Post printed registration
If you don’t have an email address or mobile phone, request a copy of your registration confirmation be sent to you by post and carry it with you when using your vessel or aircraft.

Mobile beacon system
Owners and inspectors will be able to enter the beacon’s HEX ID into a new beacon system on their mobile device to confirm whether the beacon is registered. Further details will follow closer to September 2015.


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Reply By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 06:38

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 06:38
I already have a Isatphone which sends accurate GPS position info.
Excluding things like battery life, what benefit would I gain by having a PLB as well?
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 08:25

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 08:25
Hi Malcom
Is that a silly question or what or are you ignorant about the dangers of remote travel?

In the event of a serious event that could involve injury, you may not be in a fit mind or others travelling with you may not know how to use the sat phone.

First of all you have to turn in your sat phone, Aquire a signal then know what procedure is required to send a text message, and who to send the message to.
The GPS data is not sent automaticly, and if the data is sent via a text message, does the person at the other end know where you are or who to contact to get help? What happens if the message that you send as a text message is not answered for many hours after because the person at the other end has a flat battery, or their phone is turned off, or they simply do not here the message come in?

With a PLB or EPIRB, it ia a very simple matter of releasing the antenna, and everthing else happens automaticly. The signal transmitted from your emergency beacon is picked up by dedicated satellites and the information is immediately picked up in Canberra. Because every beacon has its own unique code, they know who you are, and the names and phone numbers of 3 people that you nominated when you register the unit.

The response team will know where you are and to get things moving straight away. From the question that you have just asked, you do not take seriously the lives of you travelling companions seriously, or you are a fool to think that because you have a sat phone, you are safe and help with be automaticly sent.

How many times have I said here on forum posts, with the cheap costs of buying a PLB or ELPIRB, they should be compulsory to every vehicle that heads into remote areas.



Stephen
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 09:04

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 09:04
No need to be smart mate, it was a serious question and even if I had all the answers it does not hurt to reiterate them and help others. Your vehemence does not help with this.

The Isatphone can dial 000, sending gps co-ords is easy enough.
Yes it does require some degree of coherence on the part of the sender but 000 will respond even if no verbal coherence is observed. Your unit also requires activation so maybe not a huge difference in actual operator (sender) functionality.

All other info mentioned noted and thanks for that.

Malcom
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:24

Monday, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:24
Hi Malcom

I am not being smart, but just stating honest facts.

Yes you can dial 000 but the operator on the other end will not know where you are if you can not read out your for co ordinates, let alone where you are from a set of numbers. It's bad enough hearing reports from 000 operators in built up areas, let alone in remote areas, where they have no idea that you are not in a street, or where your nearest police station is.

For less than $250 the GPS enabled PLS are the cheapest insurance policy anyone can have, and it costs you nothing to keep it ongoing, as registration is free.

And here is another situation where our sat phones are useless......you car gets swamped and your phone is dropped into water, it is dead, while on the other hand, your in the water with your PLB, just release the antenna and it is all taken care of.

There was a case a few years ago, where a fishing boat was swamped well out to sea off the Queensland coast. Of the three men on board the boat, the only man saved was the only one with a GPS enabled EPIRB. As the unit continually transmits your co ordinates , he was located more than 10 kilometres from where the boat went down, while his mates were never found.

Do yourself a favour and go out an buy a PLB for the peace of mind for your loved ones.



Cheers


Stephen




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