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Old 04-03-2012, 14:28   #1
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1998 ACR EPIRB

Is my 1998, never used, still testing positive, ACR 406 Cat II, Class1 EPIRB junk? One post indicated that an EPIRB older than 12 years can not be ACR refirbed and certified. True? Any reliable work arounds? Hate to pitch a $600+ EPIRB.
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Old 04-03-2012, 15:23   #2
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

If you still own a 121.5 MHz EPIRB it is out dated.
From 1 February 2010 monitoring of the 121.5 MHz beacons has ceased.

The 406 MHz EPIRB are now the proper unites....> AMSA Beacons Information

Old EPIRB's - Groundspeak Forums

EPIRB Discard
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Old 04-03-2012, 15:34   #3
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

My 1986 206 epirb got replaced by the same thing you've got when the old ones went obsolete. I took the old one home and set it in the rafters in my barn and forgot about it. In the year '01 or '02, the rescue squad, sheriff dept, fire dept came down the road to the farm and wanted to know if a plane had crashed in the field - I said I didnt think so but you're welcome to take a look!They wondered around for awhile and a guy asked me, "You're a commercial fisherman arent you?" I said, yes - how'd you guess?
The signal is coming from an E-pirb registered to you!
"Oh shit!" Says I, "Did my boat sink at the dock?" "No, the signal is coming from this location!"
Then I remembered the old e-pirb in the barn! Went to find it and found it had fallen down and set itself off!!!! Same battery!!!!!
I wouldnt worry about it yet!
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Old 04-03-2012, 16:40   #4
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

Contact ACR, with some models they can replace the battery and re-certify it.
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Old 04-03-2012, 16:57   #5
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

Believe the batteries are all replacable but will set you back close to $300 to do so, btdt on a 10 year old epirb. The question is whether this one is a 406mhz unit or the obsolete 121.5. New units usually have a gps function so the CG can locate your exact location instantly if you set it off. Without the GPS, getting a fix can take some time. If you are in cold water, not a good thought.
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Old 04-03-2012, 20:31   #6
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

OK, the OP has stated it is a 406 beacon so that is not the question! The question is more like:
1. can the battery be replaced and re-certified &
2. is it worth it.

Answer:
1. don't know, ask ACR.
2. probably not.

The battery will have pasted it's use by date but typically the shelf life is derated by 50% so the battery will most likely still have a reasonable capacity. Depends a lot of the storage temperatures over the past 14 years. The transmitter will be OK if it self tests OK.

Personally I would put the money towards a new unit with a embedded GPS (maybe just a PLB) and keep the old one as is. Prices have dropped quite a lot - at least they have here anyway.

I assume there is no legal requirement in your part of the world otherwise the question wouldn't have arisen!
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Old 04-03-2012, 21:09   #7
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

I presume you have replaced the battery once already, as otherwise you have been living on borrowed time Before you do anything, grab the antenna and give it a firm wiggle. For ACR's of that era it has a good chance of snapping off in your hand. That should convince you to spring for a new unit. If it doesn't, ACR's policy is

Products that are 12 years and 1 month or older from date of manufacture will not be serviced by ACR or our Battery Replacement Centers.
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Old 04-03-2012, 23:56   #8
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

"If you still own a 121.5 MHz EPIRB it is out dated. From 1 February 2010 monitoring of the 121.5 MHz beacons has ceased."

G’day, Mates. This isn’t quite accurate in this part of the world (South Pacific). Yes, the 121.5 MHz EPIRBs are no longer being monitored by satellites. However, commercial airlines in the South Pacific are still monitoring the frequency and the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center is responding to an activated 121.5 MHz EPIRB. How do I know?

6 weeks ago, at 2 am, a helicopter should up in our anchorage in the Bay of Islands, were approximately 50 yachts were spending the night. Naturally, there was lots of confusion , as the helicopter hovered over the boats, with searchlights blaring. After failing to respond to my VHF calls on channel 16, I called the Rescue Coordination Center on Marine SSB and asked if they had any information on what was going on? They advised that the helicopter was responding to a 121.5 MHz EPIRB signal picked up by a commercial airliner. I tuned my ham radio to 121.5 MHz and sure enough there was the EPIRB transmission. The helicopter landed on the beach, commandeered a dinghy from a nearby cottage and proceeded to go boat to boast with a hand held radio frequency finder to pinpoint which boat it was coming from. They soon identified the boat, woke the skipper (who had no idea what was going on) and deactivated the EPIRB.

I had a follow up conversation with the Rescue Coordination Center later in the morning to clarify if they will continue to respond to 121.5 MHz EPIRBs that are activated and picked up by commercial airliners and they confirmed they WILL. As an FYI, the ACR 406 EPIRBs also broadcast a 121.5 MHz signal to assist aircraft in locating a vessel in distress.
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:46   #9
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

Thank you all for your prompt and helpful replies. I will contact ACR but, based on the cost and your comments, I will probably buy a new unit.
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:28   #10
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I have a 406 ACR of a similar vintage. The battery has never been replaced and it tests fine. I plan to keep using it until it does not test okay. I plan on purchasing a 406 PLB which sell for half or less of an EPIRB. This will go in my ditch bag. As far as I can tell the 406 PLB does exactly what the EPIRB does for a lot less. I also object to paying for a battery replacement that is almost as expensive as the unit new.
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:40   #11
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick01541 View Post
I have a 406 ACR of a similar vintage. The battery has never been replaced and it tests fine. I plan to keep using it until it does not test okay. I plan on purchasing a 406 PLB which sell for half or less of an EPIRB. This will go in my ditch bag. As far as I can tell the 406 PLB does exactly what the EPIRB does for a lot less. I also object to paying for a battery replacement that is almost as expensive as the unit new.
Be aware that the self test does not give any status of the remaining battery capacity so while it may test satisfactory, you may not (probably won't) get the 48 hours life from it.

The two main differences between the EPRIB & PLB is that the PLB is only required to have 24 hours operational time (instead of the EPRIB's 48 hours) and a PLB doesn't have to float.
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:52   #12
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

PLB's and EPIRB's are not the same thing. Here's a good overview of the topic:

Distress radiobeacon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The principal differences are that EPIRB's are designed to self launch, self activate, and are designed to float while keeping its antenna in the air (UHF/VHF radio waves will not pass through water). With a PLB all of that needs to be done manually by the operator.

I worked as a liaison with the USCG JRC (Joint Rescue Center) in Honolulu and can tell you that the best insurance you can get that you will be found and rescued in the event of an emergency, is a 406 EPIRB. I can't understand why anyone who can afford a boat, fitted out and provisioned for cruising would choose to cut corners and not carry a registered and certified 406 EPIRB. Yes, it's not cheap, but how much are the lives of you and your passengers worth?
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:31   #13
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

Quote:
Originally Posted by prof_mariner View Post
PLB's and EPIRB's are not the same thing. Here's a good overview of the topic:

Distress radiobeacon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The principal differences are that EPIRB's are designed to self launch, self activate, and are designed to float while keeping its antenna in the air (UHF/VHF radio waves will not pass through water). With a PLB all of that needs to be done manually by the operator.

I worked as a liaison with the USCG JRC (Joint Rescue Center) in Honolulu and can tell you that the best insurance you can get that you will be found and rescued in the event of an emergency, is a 406 EPIRB. I can't understand why anyone who can afford a boat, fitted out and provisioned for cruising would choose to cut corners and not carry a registered and certified 406 EPIRB. Yes, it's not cheap, but how much are the lives of you and your passengers worth?
Apart from Rick01541, I am not aware of anyone on CF (recently) who thinks they are the same thing but for a lot of practicable reasons they quite similar. Each of us has to make their own judgement on what they use (unless of course one is operating in an area where there is a legal requirement to carry an EPRIB).

Your description of a certified EPRIB is not entirely correct, many are not self launching or self actuating.

Given your past, I assume you would agree that an EPRIB with an embedded GPS is by far the best option.

FWIW, my boat carries standard EPRIB to meet the local requirements and when off-shore, all crew carry a PLB (with GPS) attached to their lifejacket/harness when not below.

EDIT: Just read the wiki link and while giving a pretty good description, it does contain a few (minor) factual errors - not surprising really as it is a complex subject when it comes down to the small details.
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:48   #14
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

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Your description of a certified EPRIB is not entirely correct, many are not self launching or self actuating.
Actually my description was correct, it just wasn't entirely complete nor was it meant to be (thus my link to a wiki page that gave more detailed information). There are different categories of EPIRBs, some that are self launching, others that are not.

My point was twofold:

One, people who plan on venturing beyond the shores of home need to become educated on what safety equipment they will most benefit from. Tops on that list should be the 406 EPIRB.

Second, when those people plan a budget for their cruise at the very top of the list should be their safety equipment. Putting oneself at needless risk is not being frugal, it's just plain reckless.

Edit - You're right about the Wiki page, but the information is available elsewhere and people need to do their homework and become educated before setting out to sea.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:08   #15
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Re: 1998 ACR EPIRB

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Originally Posted by prof_mariner View Post
Actually my description was correct, it just wasn't entirely complete nor was it meant to be (thus my link to a wiki page that gave more detailed information). There are different categories of EPIRBs, some that are self launching, others that are not.
Thank you for clarifying; our different views here are possibly just semantics (or perhaps cultural)!
Quote:
Originally Posted by prof_mariner View Post
My point was twofold:

One, people who plan on venturing beyond the shores of home need to become educated on what safety equipment they will most benefit from. Tops on that list should be the 406 EPIRB.

Second, when those people plan a budget for their cruise at the very top of the list should be their safety equipment. Putting oneself at needless risk is not being frugal, it's just plain reckless.

Edit - You're right about the Wiki page, but the information is available elsewhere and people need to do their homework and become educated before setting out to sea.
I disagree that the EPRIB tops the list of safety equipment, to my mind it comes well down the list. It is essentially, a last ditch option that relies on outside help to rescue ones sorry butt. I place all the other on board items / procedures that the keeps one being self sufficient and out of harms way well above an EPRIB; but this is not the thread to expound on such aspects.

I agree that the well founded off shore crewed yacht should be carrying one though and as I said, I have several beacons on board!

I also agree with your second point.
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