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Old 14-04-2013, 19:29   #1
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EPIRBs with solar?

Why don't EPIRBs have a small solar panel on the top of them so when deployed they last longer than 24 hours?

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Simon
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Old 14-04-2013, 19:32   #2
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Why don't EPIRBs have a small solar panel on the top of them so when deployed they last longer than 24 hours?

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For what purposes , a proper Epirb is designed to have a 48 hour operating life.

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Old 14-04-2013, 19:38   #3
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

And all rescue attempts around the world happen within 48hours?
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Old 14-04-2013, 19:42   #4
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And all rescue attempts around the world happen within 48hours?
GMDSS is designed to have you rescued within 4 days except in very unusual places , carry a VHF in your grab bag, and use it occasionally to help guide rescuers that are close. Solar is useless in northern climes anyway.

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Old 14-04-2013, 19:45   #5
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

So if the Epirb lasts 2 days and the rescue is up to 4 how do they find you?
Should you take 2 with you and set the second off after 2 days?
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Old 14-04-2013, 19:48   #6
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

Yes, I think solar and/or hand crank would actually make a lot of sense. Also if the battery were faulty or went bad. And you wouldn't have to replace the battery every 5 years anymore.. 10-15 would be ok because of solar and hand crank ability. Another option would be to have one or more spare batteries.

To do this, open your epirb or plb, and measure the voltage of the battery. Once you can determine this, you know what sort of solar panel to use. Best to use a regulator, or at least a zener to prevent over voltage, but still allow charging during overcast.

Keep in mind the batteries provided probably are not rechargable, so you should have a switch to use your own power source in this case, not attempting to recharge it.

For hand crank, I use ultra capacitors for buffer, Then get a beefy hobby servo motor, or any kind of hand crank dynamo really, stepper motors work, rectify if needed and feed the ultra capacitor.
with a boost regulator (which can convert .3-5 volts to a steady 7.4 or whatever the epirb needs)

I do this for my own flashlights and stuff, but in theory it should work for an epirb hehe...

A better option:
Keep a rigged sailing sea kayak lashed to the deck with survival gear.. drogues (for surviving storms) and the ability to lie down inside and be fully enclosed and sleep, but still have good ventilation. Snorkel may be required to breath in high winds because of spray.

Now you can continue your voyage to destination in any event taking responsibility for your actions not putting someone else at risk to rescue you.
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Old 14-04-2013, 19:50   #7
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So if the Epirb lasts 2 days and the rescue is up to 4 how do they find you?
Should you take 2 with you and set the second off after 2 days?
Read up on the carriage and procedural requirements under GMDSS to see what you " should " do. In the absence of going that ( ie using a SART ) a handheld VHF is the best bet , after the 48 hours and seeing no rescue assets , then check briefly with your VHF for contact. ( turn of again then )

Remember epirbs , as opposed to Gpirbs arnt terribly accurate so you need something else to guide rescuers the final mile or two. Even better carry a sat phone and a VHF , !
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Old 14-04-2013, 20:05   #8
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Remember epirbs , as opposed to Gpirbs arnt terribly accurate so you need something else to guide rescuers the final mile or two. Even better carry a sat phone and a VHF , !
It is assumed your boat has sunk at this point (or else you would not be using the epirb)

so.. now you want to carry a sat phone and vhf in the liferaft? Obviously the vhf range will be a bit limited from so low down, and power to transmit seriously compromised (unless you plan on bringing a house battery)

The solar panel would be a more practical solution.
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Old 14-04-2013, 20:14   #9
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

The problem I see is having weather so bad nobody can go out and look for you or pick you up. That might last several days maybe a lot more. You don't want the eprib to die after just 4 days leaving you S.O.L. I'm sure the batteries in them are non-rechargable, as those type last a lot longer. I think best is to have extra batteries, maybe have one or two of them be rechargable from solar or hand crank.

frankly, you can't prepare for all possibilities, it would be good to know the stats to asses the risks. Just to add, it seems really bad weather is when you are more likely to need to use a liferaft.
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Old 14-04-2013, 20:39   #10
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

I have nothing to add regarding auxiliary power for epirbs, but I think that the modern GPIRB is what everyone is talking about. We call them EPIRBs out of habit, but practically every EPIRB and PLB sold these days includes a built-in GPS. Is there even an acronym for GPS-equipped PLB?

I wouldn't consider carrying any other kind.
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Old 15-04-2013, 03:44   #11
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

The fact is with a 48 hour TX ability , theres nothing to stop you , say TXing for 6-8 hours to ensure they get a lock, and then turning off for a bit and Txing again. Its not the recommended procedure and isn't necessary say within helicopter range, but in a remote corner of the ocean the technique has some value

The next generation SEND devices , using two way satellites comms is being discussed at the moment, no doubt reasonably soon it will an accepted standard and hence provide feedback to the user.

Im chuckling at using solar in say the North Sea!!!
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Old 15-04-2013, 05:26   #12
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

For the record, the 48 hours of Tx time is the guaranteed minimum time the 406 part of the signal will Tx under it operational worst case. It warm climes, the Tx will continue well past that until a certain battery voltage is reached (I forget the exact figure right now).

After that, the 406 transmitter shuts down (mainly to ensure no derogation of the frequency stability) but the 121.5 transmitter continues on to the very death of the battery.
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Old 15-04-2013, 05:35   #13
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

Adding solar makes a lot of sense. Just make sure that you abandon ship only on clear, calm and sunny days.
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Old 15-04-2013, 06:10   #14
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

Without greatly increasing the size of the typical EPIRB, I doubt that you could get a big enough solar panel on one to make a significant difference. Maybe, instead of running for 48 hours, it would run for 48 hours and 2 minutes.

I don't see it being worth the cost and complication.
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Old 15-04-2013, 06:17   #15
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Re: EPIRBs with solar?

Two Epirbs seems to be the solution. Both will be registered to your boat, so they will know it's the same "problem". If you're going to mess with solar, you will need a big enough one to cope, and you will have to have a plug - the latter thing not being a good thing in a wet liferaft. I know two epirbs sounds a bit over the top, but if you're going to the south pacific or other places where you're a long, long way from rescue, both in distance and in time, perhaps that's worth considering.
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