Jun 28 2009

The Personal Locator Beacons

Published by under Miscellaneous

The club now has two state-of-the-art GME Accusat MT410G EPIRB GPS-equipped emergency personal locator beacons, courtesy  Elaine Day’s family for one, and Bendigo Valley Foundation for the other.
It all happened after Elaine announced her family’s offer at the mid-winter dinner on Wednesday (24/6), to be followed in a very timely manner the next day with Bendigo Valley Foundation’s letter, accepting our grant application, having already deposited the grant in our bank account.
Each of our beacons are EPIRB – Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, and the 406 MHz GPS-equipped model. Designed for marine operation also, they are waterproof, float the right way up, have larger batteries for more transmit power, and can even be water activated. The 406 beacon transmits quick bursts of digital data. This data identifies the transmission as legitimate and has a coded identification enabling rescue authorities who decode the digital message to identify the owner of the beacon.

The Rescue Beacons are very simple to operate. One just flicks open the aerial, it springs up, and 60 seconds later, begins transmitting.

The signal is received at RCCNZ (Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand) by two methods:

1.  To get a rapid response, and to maximise the signal, one must be in clear air and high enough to see a clear horizon in the East-north-easterly direction. It will then be received by  GEOS-11, a geostationary satellite stationed above the equator in the mid-Pacific.


2. If the beacon signal cannot be received by the GEO satellite, it will be relayed by the first LEO (low earth orbiting) satellite. In this case, a wait of over two hours is not unusual.

The rescue beacon is a full Mayday or distress alarm, and will be acted on as such. So if the activation is accidental, or the situation improves and is no longer a Mayday, we must do more than just turn the beacon off (done by reloading the aerial) – we must also contact the authorities and withdraw the Mayday by contacting RCCNZ (0508) 472 269. ASAP. (Put this number in your mobile.)

– Information culled and adapted from a website Ken referred me to. Thanks, Ken.  – Ian

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