GPS Personal Locator Beacons

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  • GPS Personal Locator Beacons
  • Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    Does anyone have one for when they’re out riding/hiking/climbing?

    The GF and I are going to get one – in the NZ backcountry we might be 8 hours ride from the road and then a 2 hour drive from cell phone reception so it’s kind of silly to be out without one, given her habit of riding her bike off the nearest cliff.

    We’re faintly aware that there are differing systems but don’t know where to start. It would have to be suitable to use in NZ, UK and Asia.

    Sorry for the basic questions but aside from kicking off with a google search it’s difficult to find what the basic argument is for the various systems.

    406 MHz – basic SAR – cry for help.

    SPOT/inReach – more features and some 2-way messaging but has monthly/yearly rental in addition to up-front cost.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distress_radiobeacon#Alternative_technologies

    longmover
    Member

    We use SPOT trackers at work, I have luckily never had to use one in anger though. From what I recall the website is fairly easy to use for monitoring and set up and the unit is fairly simple to use.

    As above we use the SPOT trackers and monitoring and set up is easy. I would recommend the standard button variety over the ones that bluetooth to a phone as we have a couple and have never got them to work consistently.

    Premier Icon NZCol
    Subscriber

    Just be very careful, the bush here is very dense and we also have an interesting azimuth quite often, both of which defeat Spots here. I have personally used one for a few years, well three actually with two failures, and they are OK. I carry a beacon now as it offers a much better system in my view for this part of the world specifically. The Spot is OK but expensive, patchy and utterly useless in NZ bush which is most of it. I found the yellow brick worked better in bush as it has a much bigger antenna. For sheer help though a new digital beacon will work much more effectively. We used Spots for SAR but have given up relying on them. The new digital beacons are very small and light and they seem to work better even in tight gullies, I’ve certainly rescued a couple of people from places where our Spots were not visible.

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    Cheers Col, that’s some great info. I’d heard that some/one of the systems are much better in NZ but didn’t know what ones!

    Premier Icon NZCol
    Subscriber

    Depends if you want tracking or just peace of mind really. I had 2 Spot failures on units that were lightly used. The tracking is nice but in reality the cell coverage here is pretty good in the most part. Have a look at http://www.aviationsafety.co.nz as they do some good deals on epirbs and are the Spot dealer. Spot is also 120 us per annum for tracking and service on top of the unit.

    boblo
    Member

    I have a SPOT for use when mountaineering. The standard sub for year 2 is €99 pa. It’s another ~€99 for tracking which I don’t bother with. The ‘I’m alright, just checking in’ message is handy if you’re offline for a few days. Not sure if they are easily available in the UK?

    I got mine from eBay Singapore for about £100. Mine is first gen, needs a good view of the sky and a few minutes to warm up from off.

    Greybeard
    Member

    I have PLB that I use for sea kayaking and would take on a remote bike trip if I did one:

    http://www.mcmurdomarine.com/en/products/plb/fast-find-220

    They are now legal to use on land in the UK, don’t know about NZ.

    Lower running cost but different functionality to Spot. There is no subscription, but it needs to be sent back to the manufacturer for battery replacement after 5 years. It’s sealed, you only open it if you want to send a distress signal; there’s no routine tracking like the Spot. You can do a test without unsealing it, checking that the GPS works and that it’s still functioning; it warns not to do more than 60 over the 5 years so that there’s enough battery left for emergencies.

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    I have a family connection to Sartech (I used to work for them for a while too)

    Give them a call, they’ll sort you out.

    Dave

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    The sending messages functionality would be of very little use tbh. The tracking would be of some peace of mind but realistically I’m unlikely to be going up big hills or far off the beaten track on my own.

    So yeah, it’s really the core functionality of “help me I’m broken” that we want the PLB to perform.

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