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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

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avatar Personal Locator Beacon
June 27, 2009 03:37PM
http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/emerbcns.html

PLBs are portable units that operate much the same as EPIRBs or ELTs. These beacons are designed to be carried by an individual person instead of on a boat or aircraft. Unlike ELTs and some EPIRBs, they can only be activated manually and operate exclusively on 406 MHz. And like EPIRBs and ELTs all PLBs also have a built-in, low-power homing beacon that transmits on 121.5 MHz. This allows rescue forces to home in on a beacon once the 406 MHz satellite system has gotten them "in the ballpark" (about 2-3 miles).Some newer PLBs also allow GPS units to be integrated into the distress signal.This GPS-encoded position dramatically improves the location accuracy down to the 100-meter level…that’s roughly the size of a football field!

In the United States, PLBs are now authorized for nationwide use. This authorization was granted by the FCC beginning July 1st, 2003. (Check out the ‘What’s New @ SARSAT’ for more information on this recent development.)

Prior to July 1st, 2003 only residents of Alaska had been able to use PLBs. The Alaska PLB Program was set up to test the capabilities of PLBs and their potential impact on SAR resources. Since March of 1995, the experiment proved very successful and helped save nearly 400 lives while generating only a few false alerts. The success of the Alaska PLB program undoubtedly paved the way for nationwide usage of these devices.

If you need to register a 406 MHz PLB, you can now register online or you may download a beacon registration form from the registration website and then fax the form to us at: (301) 568-8649. For any other registration questions, please call us at: 1-888-212-SAVE (7283).



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 27, 2009 03:51PM
I've written about PLB's on this forum before, but that was before the software upgrade.

If you are out of cell phone range, this is the best way to get emergency help.

One note, there are some older type PLB's that work on 121.5MHz only and do not support the 406MHz
frequency. These are essentially worthless. Be sure to get the newer type.

Interesting review of the SPOT device which can be used for non-emergencies also.

http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/News_Spot_PLB-Plus.htm
avatar Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 27, 2009 04:42PM
Quote
RobE

One note, there are some older type PLB's that work on 121.5MHz only and do not support the 406MHz
frequency. These are essentially worthless.

Can you elaborate? The 121.5 frequency is for ELT use and overflying aircraft often monitor this frequency. Is it a line of sight restriction on this frequency that is the issue making them less useful?


Good SPOT article. I need to learn more about that device.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 28, 2009 02:57AM
Quote
RobE
One note, there are some older type PLB's that work on 121.5MHz only and do not support the 406MHz
frequency. These are essentially worthless.

Why would 121.5 be worthless?
avatar Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 28, 2009 07:03AM
Quote
eeek
Quote
RobE
One note, there are some older type PLB's that work on 121.5MHz only and do not support the 406MHz
frequency. These are essentially worthless.

Why would 121.5 be worthless?

See http://safetyisno1.blogspot.com/2009/01/termination-of-1215-monitoring-for.html

Jim



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/2009 07:20AM by tomdisco.
avatar Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 27, 2009 04:30PM
I guess my snobberish attitude appreciates the last paragraph in the SPOT article:

"However, no matter how good and how inexpensive personal emergency location devices become,
and no matter how rapidly emergency responders can get to the site of an incident, it remains the
responsibility of each individual going into the outdoors to be properly equipped, properly trained,
and to avoid accidents and incidents. There is risk in everything in life, and no electronic widget is
going to completely remove that risk or guarantee life and limb."

My ding on all the stuff is that I don't like the false sense of security I think people
will have if they have something like this.

I'll repeat what I said in the other thread. If I was doing some particularily "hairy" such as the
Sierra High Route solo... I'd seriously consider carrying a Sat. Phone. If/When I do it ... I
doubt I'll carry anything other that a GPS.. I'm just saying...
avatar Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 27, 2009 06:54PM
bill-e-q,

If "particlarly hairy" is your qualifier for carrying a SAT phone then you need one every time you and the chicken crosses a log.

Jim
avatar Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 27, 2009 08:07PM
Ok... that was a good one.

tongue sticking out smiley

I'm outta here for a week.. Enjoy the silence!

Chickon Boo going on an outing...
Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 27, 2009 09:14PM
I don't have a PLB or Spot, but from what I've heard, that Spot device is no better than a GPS. Thus, if you fall down a hill into some brush (or if you hurt yourself in some deep canyon (ie-Yosemite), you may not get signal.

Really, if you feel you need a something like this, I would think a PLB would be the way to go, but then again, I could be talking out of my a$$
avatar Re: Personal Locator Beacon
June 28, 2009 07:25AM
Just less money for gas. I wouldn't invest in it.

If you get in trouble in the middle of nowhere, stay with your vehicle.

If you are hiking, make sure someone knows, in general, where you are planning to be. That way hopefully you won't have to cut off your arm with a pocket knife.

Last week I called my sister from Devils Postpile, which has horrible cell phone coverage if any at all. I used the pay phone by the ranger station, and a credit card. The bill for a one-minute call was $11.37. But at least someone knew where I was.
Re: Personal Locator Beacon
July 07, 2009 04:56PM
Sorry for the delay in my response. I've been "off-grid" for a while.

PLBs are satellite radios, which sometimes have built-in GPS. (You want the ones with
the GPS also.) Yes, they must have a clear view of the sky to work properly, similar
to a GPS. The difference is that a GPS needs 4-5 satellites to work correctly, and a
PLB talks to a single satellite.

The older type of PLBs relied on 121.5MHZ exclusively to contact satellites. This is now done
on the 406MHz band only. Just make sure that the 406MHz mode is supported. The older
radios have been discontinued, but be careful about buying a used or discontinued PLB.

This is a different feature than the use of 121.5MHz by searchers in aircraft.

I think these are good for backpacking, and are a good supplement for Wilderness First Aid training.
In fact, I'd rate WFA as a higher priority. Having a PLB is no guarantee of a timely rescue. In fact,
if you are in the wilderness, and need to use a PLB, the rescue is hours or days away. WFA is
intended for situations where help / rescue is more than 30 minutes away.
Re: Personal Locator Beacon
July 07, 2009 06:01PM
I own a spot. I have the spotcast service activated. While it is on it sends your location to the satellite every 15 min. or so. If you were to fall off a cliff or be attacked by a bear before you could press the help button it would be possible for your family or friends to look online and see where you were. You can send an all OK message at predetermined times. If you don't send the OK message or don't return home they would know to check on you. The OK and Non-emergency help message can also be sent to email and cellphone text messages. The 911 emergency help message goes to the email and cell phone text and also the command center. The personal on duty determine your location and alert whomever is in charge of emergency rescue where ever you are.

With the spotcast service on your friends and family can track you on your trip. They will see your track marks displayed on Google Maps. This can be fun for those who can't go along.
Re: Personal Locator Beacon
July 08, 2009 03:53PM
Missing Hiker: Joshua David Gunther
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