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Old 21-05-2015, 12:43   #181
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Couple of things to add to the general confusion:

Someone mentioned way back on page ?? about how satellites are vulnerable to various things and how engineers are trying to find ways to make them more rugged. Has anyone seen Gravity and the massive effect a single satellite breakup has? No this is not sci fi but science reality. A cascade failure in space is a major incident just waiting to happen. There are currently so many objects in Low Earth Orbit that it is a simple matter of time before a small piece hits a larger piece at 17,000 miles/hour and sets of a chain reaction that basically brings the world as we know it to an end (ie no telecomms, no interweb, no Stripping Italian Housewives at 3am).

When that happens we'll all be hoping ET is listening in on the radio traffic. Of which 121.5MHz and 406MHz are both conveniently located and 121.5 is also the general aviation calling and distress channel like we wave huggers use Ch16.

And can someone clear up my confusion on what SSB is? Sub Sonic Biscuits? Semi Submersible Bananas? Safe Swimming Beaches? Super Supportive Brassiers? The mind boggles


Lastly, given the improvement in small solar cells and battery technology why are EPIRBS fitted with internal solar chargers to keep their battery power in tip top shape?


Keiron
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Old 21-05-2015, 12:47   #182
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

For me, the bottom line is: if you activate your EPIRB, SAR assets are more than likely going to come and save you, regardless of which homing signal they follow. There have still been a lot of vessels and crew lost at sea without a single ping from an EPIRB, and since some here are absolutely convinced that EPIRBs rarely, if ever, fail, then that leaves the strong possibility that people were caught off guard when disaster struck and they didn't have their EPIRB ready to be activated, or were confused about how to activate it, it looks like more people need to not just read the literature (which appears to be inaccurate in some cases) but take a good close look at it and figure it out.

State 5 seas at 3 am is not the best time to be figuring that stuff out.
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Old 21-05-2015, 15:07   #183
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

The self energizing Epirbs are mechanically switched. They float free from the base and pulling a pin/switch on the Epirb. There has been at least one case where an auto actuating Epirb has marked the loss of a boat with no survivors found. An elderly, experienced were attempting to sail from Hawaii to the Mainland. Well north of the islands, their Epirb was actuated. The CG found no trace of them or their boat but found the two self inflating life rafts that they carried in the vicinity of the Epirb, IIRC.
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Old 21-05-2015, 16:05   #184
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
For me, the bottom line is: if you activate your EPIRB, SAR assets are more than likely going to come and save you, regardless of which homing signal they follow. There have still been a lot of vessels and crew lost at sea without a single ping from an EPIRB, and since some here are absolutely convinced that EPIRBs rarely, if ever, fail, then that leaves the strong possibility that people were caught off guard when disaster struck and they didn't have their EPIRB ready to be activated, or were confused about how to activate it, it looks like more people need to not just read the literature (which appears to be inaccurate in some cases) but take a good close look at it and figure it out.

State 5 seas at 3 am is not the best time to be figuring that stuff out.
Spot on.
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Old 21-05-2015, 16:13   #185
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
A common problem is people think the "manual" units are activated by some switch. Most units have to be floating in the water to activate.

The "manual" part is removing the unit from the holder and putting it in the water. The rest is automatic.
this is what I'd like clarified. Is it correct that "most units have to be floating in water to activate"?

I'm more than happy to concede this as reality if that's really accurate, but from what I've seen locally here very few are sold that are water activated. And even fewer 'float free' units due to their cost (around $600).

Is it possible that of the vessels that sink without trace, with an epirb, have fully manual units but 'think' they are water activated?

How many people on this thread have 'water activated' epirbs?
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Old 21-05-2015, 19:51   #186
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
this is what I'd like clarified. Is it correct that "most units have to be floating in water to activate"?

I'm more than happy to concede this as reality if that's really accurate, but from what I've seen locally here very few are sold that are water activated. And even fewer 'float free' units due to their cost (around $600).

Is it possible that of the vessels that sink without trace, with an epirb, have fully manual units but 'think' they are water activated?

How many people on this thread have 'water activated' epirbs?
According to the ACR manual, both Cat I & II epirbs can be automatically activated by removing them from their brackets and floating them in water. This is done by the two screws first mentioned by Evans.

Cat I & II epirbs can also both be manually activated by operating the switch on the units themselves. So no, they do not have to be in water to be activated; it can also be done manually.

In addition, Cat I epirbs can be automatically deployed out of their brackets via hydrostatic release if they are submerged in a minimum of 4 feet of water. They are then designed to float to the surface (if unobstructed) and automatically activate via the two screws. I emphasize activation vs. deployment to avoid potential confusion.

AFAIK, PLB's and other epirbs sold for use on land can only be activated manually via a switch. They do not have the automatic water activation function.

Here's a link for the ACR manual:

https://www.acrartex.com/media/1374784/y1-03-0242g.pdf
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Old 21-05-2015, 20:50   #187
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

I have been under the impression that all EPIRBS for boats are water activated. Maybe I am wrong but all I have looked at are that way. This is from the ACR GlobalFix iPRO user's manual:
Quote:
A Category I or II beacon MANUALLY activates with the following
sequence:
1.) Remove the beacon from its bracket
2.) Activation method one: Place beacon in water
3.) Activation method two:
// Lift the switch to a vertical position
// Slide the switch toward the antenna
// Push the switch down to the opposite side of the beacon (see
illustration below)
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Old 21-05-2015, 21:03   #188
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

[QUOTE=transmitterdan;1830614]I have been under the impression that all EPIRBS for boats are water activated. Maybe I am wrong but all I have looked at are that way. /QUOTE]

I do know there is a model, specifically designated for NZ and Australian flag vessels, which is manual switch activated only - no water contact studs.
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Old 21-05-2015, 21:45   #189
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

If my EPIRB activates because it is in the water then I have to assume I'm in the water too. There's no boat and no liferaft.

My chances of survival with or without an EPIRB are then so small that it's not worth discussing.

Time to talk to my girlfriend.

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Old 21-05-2015, 22:29   #190
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

There's a story on SA today about the near sinking of a J/130 90 miles off Newport after it struck a submerged object.

They issued a MayDay on an Iridium phone and VHF and activated their EPIRB. Rescue was quick (30 minutes) and correct (large dewatering pump from a nearby US Navy ship).

There's little doubt in my mind that an EPIRB alone would have meant a slower rescue and perhaps too small a pump to save the vessel.

And to the example of Rebel Heart. He had used his sat phone to talk to both the child's doctor and the CG immediately prior to the sat phone failure. When the EPIRB signal came in, a rescue was already in the planning stages.

If there had only been an EPIRB signal - without the previous sat phone calls -would the Air National Guard have been so quick to launch a C-130 to go 900 miles out to sea to parachute four paramedics and an inflatable boat?

Or would they have first sent a small jet to take a look. Or maybe just asked a nearby commercial ship to divert?

As I said, I've learned a lot from this post. It now seems quite fool hardy to only activate an EPIRB. Instead, a Sat phone, Ham/SSB radio, or Inreach should be used too - ideally before the MayDay so that SAR is already monitoring the situation when the EPIRB is activated.
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Old 21-05-2015, 22:41   #191
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Obviously if you have multiple means of communication you would use any and all of them. But the question is whether an EPIRB is no longer that useful to warrant carriage. Nothing in that story convinces me an EPIRB is useless. And an EPIRB is a dead simple device. Of all distress notification methods I think it has the least number of things that can go wrong.
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Old 22-05-2015, 02:49   #192
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
I have been under the impression that all EPIRBS for boats are water activated. Maybe I am wrong but all I have looked at are that way. This is from the ACR GlobalFix iPRO user's manual:
Well, that's incorrect.

I'm guessing that 'most' that are purchased are manual activated units. But, I'm still waiting to see what people on CF have. In Australia GME and KTI (Safety Alert) seem to sell the most epirbs. Both KTI models are entirely manual. Common GME models are also entirely manuel.

Now, is this the same everywhere else, I simply don't know. I'm open to hearing from others on how many people have a water activated unit. I have three units on my vessel. None are water activated. I also have the older ACR out in my shed and whilst it's hard to read as its been painted over at one stage, it's also entirely manuel.
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Old 22-05-2015, 02:51   #193
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
Obviously if you have multiple means of communication you would use any and all of them. But the question is whether an EPIRB is no longer that useful to warrant carriage. Nothing in that story convinces me an EPIRB is useless. And an EPIRB is a dead simple device. Of all distress notification methods I think it has the least number of things that can go wrong.
agreed.
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Old 22-05-2015, 03:00   #194
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
Obviously if you have multiple means of communication you would use any and all of them. But the question is whether an EPIRB is no longer that useful to warrant carriage. Nothing in that story convinces me an EPIRB is useless. And an EPIRB is a dead simple device. Of all distress notification methods I think it has the least number of things that can go wrong.
Indeed.

Job 1 is to get the distress signal through with your position by the most robust means possible, so that you can be as sure as you can be to get rescued.

Job 2 is to communicate, which could help you to avoid abandoning ship, because someone sends a dewatering pump, gives medical advice, etc.


Different systems are better or worse at these different jobs.


Rebel Heart was a failure of all of the two-way comms systems. Thank God he was not relying on these systems for Job 1, as the OP was suggesting.
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Old 22-05-2015, 05:22   #195
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Re: Are EPIRBs dead?

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Originally Posted by Rustic Charm View Post
Well, that's incorrect.

I'm guessing that 'most' that are purchased are manual activated units. But, I'm still waiting to see what people on CF have. In Australia GME and KTI (Safety Alert) seem to sell the most epirbs. Both KTI models are entirely manual. Common GME models are also entirely manuel.

Now, is this the same everywhere else, I simply don't know. I'm open to hearing from others on how many people have a water activated unit. I have three units on my vessel. None are water activated. I also have the older ACR out in my shed and whilst it's hard to read as its been painted over at one stage, it's also entirely manuel.
Here in the US I have not seen one of modern vintage without automatic water activation. I have been told that floating the unit in water is the best way to ensure the signal is maximized. I was told the antenna is designed for maximum radiation when it is just above the water. Whether this is true or not I cannot say. It sounds not quite right to me. But it does make sense that the EPIRB should not be inside the life raft for maximum signal. Humans and life raft material are good attenuators of RF at 400MHz.

I read once about a sad case where the captain was unaware of the water contacts. They kept the EPIRB inside the life raft thus it could not send a distress message.
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