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Old 17 Feb 2005
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EPIRB PLB so they know your there?!!

I have just bought a EPIRB PLB for possible rescue situations in the desert.you must pre register telephone numbers for the operator to ring when the beacon is activated...ok. question? are there companies that you can call to mount a rescue? let say in the desert?
that operate 24/7?? any ideas.... thank you carlo
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Old 18 Feb 2005
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Dont know what the process is in Africa, but in Australia the EPIRB is on 121.5mhz at present ( going to 400Mhz in a couple of years). When you set it off the signal is heard by over flying aircraft and also picked up by a Search and Rescue Satelite. The satelite passes are every few hours so pinpoiting the location takes some time.

When aircraft report a beacon the Aust SAR begins to find the source, using satelite info and SAR aircraft equipped with signal locating equipment.

There is a formal response to the beacons but you cannot tell whose beacon it is until it is found.

I expect Africa would quite different, but they have been genuine lifesavers/locators for pilots, yachties and hikers in Australia.

Your beacon calls a specific number does it?

Close to Antarctica and a long way from reality
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Old 20 Feb 2005
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Its a mcmudro fast find pluss it use both bands for air and sat, it also has a gps init that gives a pinpoint fix. the sat notifies uk coastgard they will only call 5 numbers!! if at sea they mount the full rescue but on land its another matter!! so the question is are there companies that mount full resues on demand ??? thank for data down under. c
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Old 24 Feb 2005
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When i was in southern africa we were using EPERBS and we had a commercial response company as one of the prime contacts. It was SOS International i think. We had a policy thru a charity organisation that i was working for. When the EPERB was set off they launched an air or land ambulance. It works, I know !

NOt sure if they do individuals but might be worth talking to them


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Old 27 Feb 2005
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Oh my goodness - there are a lot of errors in the information above.

1) Contemporary Emergency Personal Locator Beacons work on 406 MHz only. 121.5 MHz is generally reserved for aviation use only. There was a very early generation of personal beacons that worked on 121.5, but they were pretty clunky devices, sort of like the very first generation of 'brick' cell phones. I don't think they are sold anymore.

2) The beacons don't require an internal GPS. The location of the beacon is determined by triangulation (doppler shift) when the satellite passes overhead and picks up the signal from the beacon. Some beacons contain a GPS unit, to increase the precision of the location.

3) The satellite constellation that picks up the beacon signals (COSPAS-SARSAT) will report reception of a signal to the country in which the beacon is registered. It is then up to the appropriate organization in that country to take any subsequent action. Aviation signals are handled differently than personal beacon signals. You might want to determine which 3rd world countries even participate (meaning, have a functioning SAR infrastructure), before you spend your money...

4) In most cases, the cost of the rescue effort (assuming one is launched) is borne by the folks holding the beacon. There are exceptions, for example, if you are a member of REGA in Switzerland, or if the government of the country you need rescue in is particularly benevolent (e.g. Canada). If you choose to have a third party organization notified (e.g. a rescue organization other than one operated by the government of the country you are in when you get into trouble), then the cost of the rescue will be entirely to your own account.

Do the research first, before you buy one. This website is an excellent place to start: http://www.cospas-sarsat.org/MainPages/indexEnglish.htm

[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 27 February 2005).]
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Old 20 Mar 2005
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<for possible rescue situations in the desert>

If you mean Sahara, forget it unless you are very rich or very lucky. There is no 'coast guard-like' rescue service out there.
A sat phone is a much more functional rescue tool. It worked fast for me a couple of years ago where an EPIRB would have been bleeping useless.

Chris S

Author of Sahara Overland II and Adventure Motorcycling Handbook 5 - due April 2005

http://www.sahara-overland.com and http://www.adventure-motorcycling.com
This is NOT a handbook
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Old 18 Oct 2005
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Please understand also,
An accidental activation could set you back approx £20 000!!! This is the figure quoted to me by the U.K. coastguards for when I was diving for a living. In the Sahara, you would need a plane to fly over you within 70 miles approx if your epirb is transmitting on 121.5mhz.
Like Chris says, I think a phone would be far more suitable.
Regards, Nick.
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Old 19 Oct 2005
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Originally posted by PanEuropean:
Oh my goodness - there are a lot of errors in the information above.
Yes. And your post contains some too.

Older analogue system = 121.5 + 243 MHz
New digital system = 406MHz and usually the 121.5 MHz homing transmitter.

The 121.5MHz signal is commonly used by rescue people to home in on the device. The rescue people may be in a plane, 4WD or on foot while homing in. So if you buying an EPIRB thingy check if it has the 121.5 MHz homing transmitter. The usefulness of the 121.5MHz signal will not cease in 2009.

--- The older analogue system had no identification of the unit calling.

With the newer digital system each unit has a unique identifier so the SAR can identify the unit. In principal the SAR can then contact the registered owner’s contacts who can check the planed location - this avoids the case of someone accidentally activating the unit while painting the boat for instance. Unfortunately less than 30% of units sold in North America have been registered.

Your EPIRB when activated contacts a satellite - that satellite contacts the next ground station - that may not be the UK ... could be Australia if it is going that way or Russia if going that way. Where it goes to from there I don't know. I certainly would not expect the UK coast guard to send a boat to the Sahara! :0 Nor mount rescue operations in another country.

-- I agree with Chris Scott - Sat Phone is a better option. In places that may not respond to an EPIRB, you can contact someone who does care. In any situation you can get help - even if that help is only verbal advice it can be a great help.
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 19 Oct 2005
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Ok, In Australia only digital 406mhz beacons will be detected by satellite from 1 Feb 2009. Analogue 121.5 mhz becons will not be recieved.

if you want some more info check

www.amsa.gov.au and click on the beacons link.

For those of you interested in beacons it may have some useful info for you.
Close to Antarctica and a long way from reality
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Old 20 Oct 2005
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as dated as the MT310 is, it certainly is not "clunky", but, as some of you note, there's no guarantee it would have helped in the sahara even though the Ozzie police were pleased to note that I was carrying one when travelling there. we carried it in Oz because of the prohibitive cost of sat phones. we then carried it in Africa on the off-chance that it would help, but, all the while, realising that we risked wasting valuable self-extraction time if we sat around waiting for someone to tell the Tchadian that there was a signal near the lake
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Old 10 Nov 2005
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Satellite phones are the way to go.

I work in the SW USA desert flying a lot of S.A.R. missions as a helicopter pilot for the US Gov't. Even while our a/c are equipped with an E.L.T. (Emergency Locator Transmitter), which would transmit on all the required emergency frequencies in the event of a crash with crew incapacitation, we still carry an Iridium Satellite telephone with us.

Sometimes you just need non-emergency help (run low on fuel, mechanical trouble, etc) but not an all-out expensive rescue effort. That's when the Sat phone comes in real handy. You can explain your exact problem to a human. The phones cover 100% of the earth.

You can rent those sat phones for about USD$40 / week. The calls are expensive at something like $5-6 per minute from landline to the Sat-phone, and about USD$3-4 for calls from the Sat-phone to a landline, but it's still cheap insurance.

Service is generally not available inside buildings, but this is a small inconvenience when you realize that you can use Iridium satellite phones anywhere, whether you're on the high seas, the Amazon jungle or at the South Pole. Having access to such an extensive global network will give you peace of mind as you venture out in your travels, the Iridium Phone a trusted lifeline to the world.

The voice quality can vary from excellent to very scratchy, depending on how many satellites it has to pass through.

They have an International SOS service also.

They have many other capabilities/services too numerous to mention here (Fax, SMS, Paging, etc.)
For more info go to:


(Of course, it goes with out saying that you should carry a GPS with you so you can give your exact location to the person you are calling.)

Ride safe...

[This message has been edited by gyuris (edited 18 November 2005).]
Ride On!

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