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Old 23-03-2015, 04:45   #1
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Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

I recently bought a McMurdo S10 AIS MOB device. For a knock-down price from an electronics guy here in the UK I've dealt with for a long time.

I was disappointed, when I got it, to see that there are only 2 1/2 years left on the battery life -- the device has apparently been on the shelf for a long time, and that's the reason, no doubt, for the big discount.

I wrote to my guy asking him about this, and he said that these batteries typically last for 10 years or more -- don't worry about it; just test it regularly. If it passes the test, then it's fit for service. Don't pay any attention to the expiration date.

What do you guys think? I guess it is logical that if the battery passes the test, it will work, no?

One answer to the question is why take chances with a potentially life and death device -- but you can't approach these things with a "cost is no object" attitude, because money is always limited (even for Bill Gates), and potential spending on safety is unlimited. We all take chances -- they just should be rational. What do you guys think?
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Old 23-03-2015, 04:57   #2
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

Expiration date of a battery is similar to a warranty period of an item. In other words, it's guaranteed to last at least that long, how much longer? That's the problem, maybe 10 yrs if stored in a cool dry place, maybe not.
I assume this is one of those send it back and we charge $$$ to change the battery?
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Old 23-03-2015, 05:01   #3
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

It may work if it tests OK, but for how many hours?
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Old 23-03-2015, 05:05   #4
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

What is the normal battery life expectancy straight from the factory and what's the battery replacement cost?

The problem with testing it regularly is that it uses up the battery. The test shows that it is currently working but gives no indication of how long it will work when you need it. I recently bought a PLB and the manual recommended only testing once a year.

Personally, would replace the battery when it expires. Better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 23-03-2015, 05:10   #5
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pirate Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

This is why after much deliberation on requirements/needs etc I decided to opt for the SPOT3.. there are others out there that offer more features such as e-mail but the basics off the SPOT3 are adequate for me..
1/ Transmits a regular signal giving position, speed. average course..
2/ Rate of transmission can be controlled from every 10secs upwards and it can be switched on and off.
3/ It has 3 fixed messages that can be sent by pressing the appropriate button..
(a) All
well.. more or less on schedule.
(b) Pan Pan... be aware we are in difficulty but capable of proceeding under our own steam.. no immeadiate assistance required.
(c) Mayday, Mayday..... we have abandoned ship..
After using (b) one can switch back to (a) to reassure folks on shore and rescue services as to status.


4/ You can be followed by anyone with internet access that you give your 'page' to.. from on a Smart Phone to a Computor..
Spare batteries are small, light, cheap and easy to carry/store in the grab bag.
Only minus for me is the dubious waterproof.. ie.. how long before seepage with repeated soaking.
But anything from a decent zip-lock solves that and its still useable..
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Old 23-03-2015, 05:17   #6
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

Just wrote a long reply and this *×÷% €£ tablet dumped it so here is the short version.

AFAIK, battery expiry date is 50% of manufacturers expected shelf life - certainly the case with aviation beacons but not sure with other beacons.

Storage conditions are sort of important although battery should be well sealed!

How long do you personally need it to work - some areas you will rescued inside say 6 hours but other areas, way much longer.

As with all last resort emergency equipment, you would look a bit silly if you needed the best when the chips are down but you only bought the worst.

Testing does shorten battery life, some manufacturers suggest monthly at the most, others yearly. Aviation units rate any test as one minute of use and after 60 minutes of accumulated use (testing), fail the unit on next test due to battery depletion.
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Old 23-03-2015, 05:30   #7
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

I'm with Boaty.... Except I have the DeLorme Inreach. I think of it as an enhancement over my VHF and cell phone. I'm a coastal sailor and spend 90% of my cruising time within cellular service. HYMMV

If you feel better with an EPIRB, I would think that "fresh" batteries would enhance that feeling.
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Old 23-03-2015, 05:31   #8
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

Yes, the problem is that battery replacement costs $150, and you're just not going to do it, because after 5 years, the unit will be obsolete. For a little more money than the battery costs, you will buy a a whole new and improved unit. Cynically, I think that the manufacturers count on this to sell more units.

I am going to acquire two or three AIS MOB units. The state of the art is the new Ocean Signal MOB1 unit which is much more compact, works automatically, and has DSC besides AIS. But it costs more than $300. The S10 which I bought cost me only $180. It is manual, bulky, but a sturdy unit from a reputable manufacturer. I thought I would use this myself and buy one or two of the better ones for crew.

I am starting to think that it makes sense to keep it. The thing was in factory sealed packaging so never molested or tested.

I already carry a PLB (ACR ResQLink) in my life jacket, so it's also not like this is the only device I have.


MOB is a serious risk up here with the cold water -- if you lose someone overboard, minutes count. Up here at this latitude we are also likely to have a sea state which does not lend itself to easily spotting the victim. So I think these devices are really valuable.
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Old 23-03-2015, 05:38   #9
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Yes, the problem is that battery replacement costs $150, and you're just not going to do it, because after 5 years, the unit will be obsolete. For a little more money than the battery costs, you will buy a a whole new and improved unit. Cynically, I think that the manufacturers count on this to sell more units.
A couple of years ago I upgraded my EPIRB to a GPS version and just dumped my non-GPS version in the cupboard at home. As the battery on the old one was expired, I realised it was of no value to anyone and just threw it out, though not before making inoperable

Such a waste

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Old 23-03-2015, 05:38   #10
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pirate Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

Actually... if all shipping/boating switched to SPOT... AIS as we know it would be obsolete..
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Old 23-03-2015, 07:16   #11
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

That Ocean Signal MOB1 looks perfect. I would have bought those instead of the safelink R10s we purchased last year if it had been available. I cant see on the literature how it self activates, is it water activated? Ours are integrated into the lifejacket and as it inflates it pulls a cord which activates the R10. It works but if prefer water activation.
Note that it also says works with "suitable chart plotters". Make sure yours is suitable and will display as required, not all will. Our Raymarine does it well with a loud alarm and MOB marker.
We have 2 fitted to the lifejackets and the crew on watch share those lifejackets.
Definitely take back the one you have bought and buy the Ocean Signal MOB1. Nothing worse than taking your last breath in the freezing North Atlantic and wishing you wernt such a tightass to fork out for reliable batteries :P
Looking at it from a value point of view, a $180 item with 2 yrs sevice life is $90/yr
The MOBI at $300 for 7 years is $42/yr
No question.
Also there will be someone on fleabay willing to take it off your hands in 5 yrs for $240 bringing the cost of ownership down to $10/yr...
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Old 23-03-2015, 10:16   #12
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

My ACR EPIRB was new in 2009, I had the battery changed and the hydrostatic release changed in 2015, to the tune of almost $500.

I am in The Netherlands and the authorized service center gave me some blah-blah that the lithium battery had to be shipped from the US to The Netherlands.

About the SPOT...I had a crewman for an Atlantic crossing in 2009 and his wife didn't want him to go. She made him take a Safety-at-Sea course, buy a deep sea diver's suit for weather gear">foul weather gear and buy a SPOT.

The crewman thought it was a great idea to log our positions with our loved ones at home during the crossing, but he didn't read or understand the manual for the SPOT device.

Here is the tale of what happens with captains allow unauthorized devices on board: After finishing some minor repairs, getting the spinnaker pole jaws to work on Thursday, June 11th, we had nothing further to do than leave.
It took us a day and a half to reach the Southwest corner of Newfoundland called Cape Race. The southern shore of Newfoundland is high cliffs and no beaches. We were tacking into shore and then out again.

Always monitor Channel 16
Around 4pm under a strong south wind and cloudy skies, I noticed a black twin engine plane with yellow stripes on the wings flying over us.
What a pretty plane I thought.
When the plane circle around and headed directly toward us, I knew something was up. I wanted to point at our US flag, but realized that the flag was GONE!
The pole must have jumped out of its
holder. Where I had no idea.
I yelled into the cabin and asked Ben to turn on the VHF and talk to that plane. We should have had the VHF monitoring channel 16 all the time anyway. Ben spoke to the plane, who patched us through to the Canadian Coast Guard in Halifax.
It turned out that the Canadian Coast Guard had been searching for us since noon!

The SPOT
Now about that SPOT device that The Mate had brought along...
Skylark had a brand new correctly registered EPIRB in our ditch bag. The Mate’s wife after realizing she couldn’t stop her husband from fulfilling his life’s ambition, insisting that he take the “Safety at Sea” course, buy the deep sea diver’s suit and demanded that he buy this new contraption called “SPOT”.
This electronic device is essentially a GPS with the capability of transmitting the position of the device to a satellite. Once the satellite receives the signal from the SPOT, it sends a signal to a terrestrial base that sends out an email to a predetermined list of 10 email addresses.
There are three buttons on the device.
Button number “1”, sends a prepared text message, “We are OK and we are here.” giving the
latitude and longitude. Button number “2” sends the message “We are NOT OK and we are here.” The message doesn’t say what is NOT OK. One could be out of fuel, out of beer, whatever. Button number “3” says, “We are here and we need HELP”.
Well, around noon on June 12th, The Mate who had assumed duties as communications officer, downloading weather reports and graphics, sending and receiving emails, using the SPOT device to send OK signals with our position so our families and friends could follow our progress on Google Earth, decided that since it was cloudy, the Iridium phone wasn’t going to be able to send and receive emails. So he pushed button number 2 thinking that would mean that our families would not be getting an email from us. The Mate didn’t read the manual for the SPOT.
When his twin brother sitting in his office in Cincinnati, Ohio, received the “We are NOT OK and we are here.” message, and took a look with Google Earth at the SPOT reported position, he saw that the latitude/longitude position put us right on the rocks of the south coast of Newfoundland.
The twin brother called the Canadian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard officer in Halifax took the call and after listening to the twin, the officer said that he had no reports or EPIRB signals from any ships in that location. How did the twin know that his brother was in trouble. The twin explained that he had the “Help” message from the SPOT device and from the location given, Skylark was on the rocks near Cape Race. The officer explained that a search and rescue operation costs upwards of 125,000.00 loonies.
The twin said, “Do a search!”
Luckily for us, the SPOT device was so new to the market that the Canadian Coast Guard had never heard of such a thing. We weren’t going to be charged with a false EPIRB signal. But in the meantime, my wife and all the rest of the SPOT message recipients had been receiving the back and forth emails between the twin and the Canadians.

Under the Doghouse
My German wife was furious. She had been against the renovation of an old US boat. She had been against me being away for almost three months that the final renovation and crossing was taking. She was sure that SHE was going to have to personally cover the 125,000.00 Canadian dollars that the search and rescue operation cost.
She didn’t communicate with me until I reached The Netherlands a month later. She was still mad four years later.
No bill has ever arrived.
I was ready to keel haul The Mate.
OK, he was a scatterbrained artist, who never had a pot to piss in.
OK. That I had to go against his wife’s wishes and loan him the money for his airfares, feed and water him so he could live his life-long dream, but not being aware of the operation of a non-essential piece of equipment that caused an unnecessary search operation was unforgivable. I was the captain. I was responsible for the safety of the crew, the ship and liable for any misuse or mistakes. Luckily there was no cat o’ nine tails on board.

excerpt from "Renovating a Sailboat and Crossing the Atlantic" by George DuBose available on Amazon ISBN-13: 978-0988923485
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Old 23-03-2015, 10:17   #13
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

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Actually... if all shipping/boating switched to SPOT... AIS as we know it would be obsolete..
AIS is sort of required by the government for certain vessels.
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Old 23-03-2015, 10:47   #14
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

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Actually... if all shipping/boating switched to SPOT... AIS as we know it would be obsolete..
Spot would be a bit useless unless everyone also has internet connection everywhere


Or did you mean having Spot keeping constant watch?

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Old 23-03-2015, 10:52   #15
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Re: Battery Expiration in Rescue Beacons

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What do you guys think? I guess it is logical that if the battery passes the test, it will work, no?
No, I'm afraid that's not the case. The issue is not expiration, or any kind of sudden failure. The problem is that, as the battery ages, it's available charge/power drops. That means that, in an emergency, the functional lifetime drops.

So they set the 5 year limit to give you a reasonable lifetime in an emergency. I think it is about half the time you get when new. Every year after that, it drops further.

Definitely send it in after 5 years and get a new battery. My PLB is going in this year.
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