Satellite-detectable Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are proving to be valuable emergency life-saving devices for outdoor activities of all kinds. A dramatic increase in PLB registrations in the U.S. last year indicates a growing popularity and consumer interest in these rescue beacons, especially among campers, hikers, climbers, hunters, snowmobiles, skiers and boaters.
Used extensively by the U.S. Coast Guard, NATO Special Forces and Arctic explorers, Personal Locator Beacons are now available to the public since an FCC waiver ruling went into effect in July 2003 approving their sale for land use in the contiguous U.S. PLBs perform the same function as an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) but are smaller and lighter: most weigh less than a pound and will fit in a jacket pocket. Advances in PLB technology have made transmission, location and rescue faster than ever before.
ACR Electronics, Inc. has introduced the FCC-approved TerraFix™ 406 GPS PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), designed to provide outdoor enthusiasts with the smallest and most functional PLB available in the world. About the size of a small handheld GPS, the TerraFix can be activated in an emergency to transmit your position to both orbiting satellites and on a Search and Rescue homing frequency.
ACR has developed two models– the TerraFix™ 406 GPS I and the TerraFix™ 406 GPS I/O.
Both of these new models provide users the ability to broadcast critical GPS coordinates, providing Search and Rescue crews with exact latitude and longitude, thereby increasing emergency response speed by pinpointing positioning within 100 meters (110 yards).
The TerraFix™ 406 GPS I can interface with an external GPS, while the TerraFix™ 406 GPS I/O features its own internal GPS, along with the standard interface cable connection to an external GPS to acquire and transmit coordinates. This allows GPS latitude/longitude coordinates to be added to the emergency transmission, providing an accurate location to search and rescue crews who can receive the message in as little as three minutes.
Without the GPS data added to the transmission, the position accuracy is about 2.6 miles, and it can take up to an hour for the satellites to determine the Doppler shift of your signal and determine your location.
Each TerraFix 406 GPS unit is registered, and thus transmits a 5 watt unique digitally coded distress signal on 406 MHz frequency to the orbiting COSPAS-SARSAT satellite systems. The TerraFix 406 also simultaneously transmits a signal on the 121.5 MHz (SAR homing frequency).
More reliable than typical communications devices such as emergency two-way radios, cellular phones or satellite phones, the ACR TerraFix™ 406 GPS PLB works at
-20? C, is waterproof up to 5 meters (16.5 ft) and is powered by a non-hazardous 5-year lithium battery, so it is capable of continual transmission for over 24 hours.
A Personal Locator Beacon is a satellite-signaling device of last resort, for use when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted and where the situation is grave and imminent and the loss of life, limb, eyesight or valuable property will occur without assistance. All beacons must be registered following purchase– a simple and quick process, now with a web-base internet filing option. Owners are encouraged to update their profile each time they travel and expect to carry their PLB, providing S&R teams with accurate information to aid them in case of a rescue mission. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages the registration database in the U.S. for all PLBs.
To learn more about the TerraFix 406 Personal Locator Beacons, or to find a dealer near you, visit www.acrelectronics.com or contact the ACR Customer Service Department at 954-981-3333. They’ve been making life savings devices for over 50 years. Apollo 13 astronauts used ACR flashlights as their only source of light as they barely survived that doomed mission.