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FAQ about EPIRB & Personal Beacon

Q: What do EPIRBs do?

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) are distress radio beacons which transmit location information about ships directly to Search and Rescue forces letting them know that the owner is in grave and imminent danger.  Learn How A Rescue Works

Q: Where can I purchase a beacon?

Visit our Where To Buy dealer locator

Q: Will 406 MHz beacons work anywhere in the world?

Yes, 406 MHz beacons can be used anywhere in the world, including at both poles, just remember that you need a clear view of the sky (they will not work in buildings or caves, etc.)

Q: Is there a subscription fee for beacon registration or rescue service?

Beacon registration is free, should you ever have to activate your beacon, rescue is free in most parts of the world.

Q: What is the difference between a Category I and a Category II EPIRB?

The difference is in how the EPIRB is deployed. 

A Category I beacon automatically deploys when a vessel sinks. The beacon floats free at a depth of 1.5 to 3.0m (4.9 to 13.1ft). The EPIRB can be manually activated while in its bracket or manually removed and activated. 

A Category II beacon is manually deployed. The EPIRB will automatically activate when removed from its bracket and comes in contact with water, or when it is still in its bracket but a person has lifted the switch to the activation position.

- See more at: https://www.acrartex.com/products/catalog/epirbs-and-accessories/globalfix-pro/#sthash.bz6JXjnH.dpuf

What do EPIRBs do?
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) are distress radio beacons which transmit location information about ships directly to Search and Rescue forces letting them know that the owner is in grave and imminent danger.  Learn How A Rescue Works
 
Where can I purchase a beacon?
 
Will 406 MHz beacons work anywhere in the world?
Yes, 406 MHz beacons can be used anywhere in the world, including at both poles, just remember that you need a clear view of the sky (they will not work in buildings or caves, etc.)
 
Can I use my 406 MHz beacon anywhere in the world?
You should check the local regulations of any place you plan to visit with your beacon, some countries require you to have a radio licence and a few countries have restrictions on the use of beacons, however if it's a real emergency you should always activate your beacon
 
Is there a subscription fee for beacon registration or rescue service?
Beacon registration is free, should you ever have to activate your beacon, rescue is free in most parts of the world.
 
What is the difference between a Category I and a Category II EPIRB?
The difference is in how the EPIRB is deployed. 

A Category I beacon automatically deploys when a vessel sinks. The beacon floats free at a depth of 1.5 to 3.0m (4.9 to 13.1ft). The EPIRB can be manually activated while in its bracket or manually removed and activated. 

A Category II beacon is manually deployed. The EPIRB will automatically activate when removed from its bracket and comes in contact with water, or when it is still in its bracket but a person has lifted the switch to the activation position.

 
What is a UIN and where do I find it on the beacon so I can register my beacon?
A UIN is a Unique Identifier Number that is programmed into each beacon at the factory. The UIN number consists of 15 digit series of letters and numbers that make up the unique identity of the beacon. The UIN is on a white label on the exterior of the beacon. The UIN is also referred to as the Hex ID.

HEXID

 
Is it true that certain emergency beacons no longer work?
The 121.5MHz and 243 MHz beacons are no longer satellite detectable. The beacons may still function but the emergency satellite system will no longer detect the emergency signals from these frequencies. Please read the explanation of the phase out of the 121.5/243 MHz frequency from Cospas-Sarsat at http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/phaseout.html.

If you have a 121.5 MHz or 243 MHz beacon, you should upgrade to a new 406 MHz beacon.

 
What happens if I set off a false alert by mistake?
Don't panic, as long as it was a genuine mistake and not deliberate you have nothing to worry about, however you must turn off your Beacon and contact the emergency services as quickly as possible to let them know your transmissions are a False Alert.

Deliberate misuse or not notifying the proper authority may incur a severe penalty.   When you call be prepared to provide the following information: 

The beacon Unique Identifier Number (UIN) (15 Hex ID printed on the beacon),

  1. Date
  2. Time and duration of the false alert
  3. Location of the beacon at the time of the false alert
  4. Cause of the false alert

The primary contact point in the United States for the notification of False Alerts is the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (USAFRCC) the telephone number is 1-800-851-3051. However if you have an EPIRB you can contact the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in the following areas: Atlantic Ocean / Gulf of Mexico USCG Atlantic Area Command Center Tel: (757)398-6390 Pacific Ocean Area / USCG Area Command Center Tel: (510) 437-3700 USCG HQ Command Center Tel: (800) 323-7233. If you have an ELT as well as contacting the USAFRCC you might also want to contact your local Flight Service Station (FSS) on 1-800-WXBRIEF  (1-800-992-7433).    

 
What if I just want the cheapest EPIRB I can get…?
Of course, EPIRBs are life saving devices and we hope that you will choose the best EPIRB on the market today- the GlobalFix™ iPRO. However, ACR offers a full range of EPIRBs to meet everyone's needs. If you must have the least expensive EPIRB available, please look at ACR's Satellite3 406™.
 
Do I need a radio license?
For the latest information, in the United States you may contact the Federal Communication Commission at toll-free 1-888-CALLFCC or visit the website of the FCC.  Outside of the United States, contact your local authority for the requirements.

 

 
What is an MMSI number and how do I get it?
An MMSI number is a Maritime Mobile Service Identity number. It is a series of nine digits in the format MIDXXXXXX where MID = the country and XXXXXX = the digital code assigned to a given ship.

While the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) maintains the worldwide master list of MMSI, the FCC (Sea Tow and Boat US for some boats) give out assignments in the US.   In the USA, if you are traveling beyond US waters you will need to apply to the FCC for an MMSI. US residents sailing within US waters can get an MMSI from Boat US at http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/  or Sea Tow at http://www.seatow.com/boatingsafety/mmsiinfo.htm.

You should note that these numbers are not registered with the ITU, so if you are in distress in non-USA waters, the local rescue authorities will not be able to access your registration information. MMIS numbers are not programmed into USA beacons

 
Can I take my beacon with me on an aircraft?
You may wish to check with the airline about any restrictions or documentation that you may need to carry with the unit.   We suggest that you print a copy of the MSDS and bring it with you. We also recommend that you carry the Product Support Manual to explain what the unit is (MSDS sheets and Manuals can be found on the product web page).
 

Registration

How do I register my beacon?
406 MHz Beacons must be registered with the National Authority of the country you live in.

Step 1.  Visit our Registration database to find the appropriate National Authority

Step 2.  Register with your countries National Authority via Mail, Fax or for the fastest service register online.

Registration in the United States

The national authority that accepts beacon registrations in the United States is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Here are three easy ways to register:

1.) The fastest and easiest way to register is online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov .    Recommended method. Verify and validate information before submitting.

2.) Mail the registration form with the pre-addressed, postage paid envelope to:

SARSAT BEACON REGISTRATION
NOAA
NSOF, E/SPO53
1315 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Please print legibly.

3.) Faxing a registration is also acceptable. Fax the registration form to the Fax number on the bottom of the registration form. To reduce the possibility of erroneous entry please verify legibility of information and validate information on form to UIN on beacon before faxing. Please print legibly and in BLACK ink.

All registration forms will be entered in the 406 MHz beacon registration database within 48 hours of receipt. The information you provide on the registration form is used for rescue purposes only.

A confirmation letter, a copy of the actual registration and a proof-of-registration decal will be mailed to you within two weeks. When you receive these documents, please check the information carefully to ensure that the information provided on the label agrees with the information on the beacon and then affix the decal to your beacon in the area marked "BEACON DECAL HERE." If you do not receive confirmation from NOAA in the expected timeframe, or if the information on the label is incorrect call toll free 1-888-212-7283 for assistance.

Registration outside of the United States

In countries other than the United States, 406 MHz beacons are registered with that country's national authority at the time of purchase. The sales agent should have assisted you in filling out the forms and sending them to the country's national authority. Alternatively, visit our Registration database or many countries allow online registration in the International 406MHz Beacon Registration Database (IBRD) at www.406registration.com.

To verify that the unit is properly programmed for your country, view the UIN label on the back of the unit. In the event that the beacon is not programmed for your country, the sales agent (if properly equipped) can reprogram the unit for the correct country.

What are my obligations with regard to registering and re-registering my beacon?
A beacon should be registered at the time of purchase or installation. The registration of a beacon is valid for 2 (two) years. The owner should re-register the beacon every two years.  If change of ownership occurs, the original owner must notify the authorities and de-register the beacon before the new owner can register.
Why is it so important for me to register my beacon?
Registering the EPIRB, ELT or Personal Locator Beacon is required by law in the United States and in most countries.  Registering is very important because should your beacon ever be activated, it is how Search and Rescue Teams will know who you are, and contacts provided may be able to supply information about your specific travel plans. In the absence of this information, it may take longer for a search-and-rescue operation to begin.
I tried to register my beacon but the authorities tell me that it needs a different ID number programmed in. Do I need to send this back to you?
This can be done by any Certified Battery/Service Center.  Please have your registration form and beacon available when contacting a Certified Battery Replacement Center for assistance.

Battery

Where do I take/send my unit for battery service?
Visit our Battery / Service Locator. Contact the battery/service station for instructions on how to send the beacon to them. Please contact the BRC for the cost for this service.

 

How do I know when the battery is due for replacement?
There is a battery expiration date label on every beacon.

Example Image: Battery Replacement Date is 07/2010

HEXID

Can I buy a battery from you and replace it myself?
No. The battery cannot be purchased. This is a life saving device and you need to have the tools, hardware and software to perform a battery replacement. Full functional testing is done on the unit, after the battery is replaced, to make sure that the unit will last another 5 years in the field.  The battery of any EPIRB, ELT or Personal Locator Beacon needs to be replaced by an ACR/Artex Certified Battery Replacement Center (BRC), where trained technicians will perform this service.
What will happen if I do not replace the battery every five years?
The chances of surviving a life threatening situation is greatly diminished if proper care and maintenance is not given to a beacon.
Do I have to replace the battery if the beacon goes off by mistake and why?
Yes, as this is a lifesaving device it should be diligently maintained to perform as specified. For this unit to transmit for the full 48 hours it will need a new battery as any inadvertent activation will deplete the existing battery.
Where do I dispose of a beacon battery?
For information about disposal of lithium batteries or products with lithium batteries in them, please contact your local waste management company.
Is there any special instruction for shipping a battery or a unit with the battery in it?
There may be, depending on the beacon that you have. Due to transportation regulations changes, some ACR & Artex products that contain lithium batteries may need to be shipped as Hazmat. Please visit the product page for your product and review the download tab for the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Is there a local service center where I can get my beacon serviced?

Testing

How do I know the beacon is working?
Perform a monthly self-test. If the test passes, the beacon is working. If self- test does not pass, take/send the beacon in for service.  If you want to know that your beacon signal is reaching the satellite system and your signal is being received back down to earth please check out our advanced testing service called 406Link.com.
How often should I carry out a Self Test?
The beacon owners' manual usually recommends the frequency of these tests; typical advice is once a month and/or before extended trips.  

Advanced Satellite Testing can be performed using our new service called 406Link.com

What is a GPS Self Test?
Newer GPS (sometimes referred to as GNSS) equipped beacons may also include an optional GPS Satellite Acquisition Self Test (not all GPS beacons have this ability), which tests the operation of the GPS Receiver and its ability to encode your location into the transmitted distress message. It is not uncommon for this test to only be permitted to be performed once or twice over the life of the battery (e.g. every couple of years), as this type of test can significantly reduce the battery life of the beacon.  For beacons installed in commercial craft there are often regulatory requirements that define how often these tests should be performed.    

GPS Testing with 406Link.com

Current ACR GlobalFix EPIRBs and older Model Personal Locator Beacons (AeroFix, TerraFix, AquaFix, MicroFix, ResQFix) have the ability to perform a GPS Test, however this GPS Test is not transmitted to the satellites, so if you have an account with 406Link.com your GPS Coordinates will not appear.

New ACR Personal Locator Beacons including the AquaLink and SARLink models can perform GPS Self Tests that will actually transmit to your GPS Coordinates to the satellites and with 406Link.com pin point your location onto a map.   These tests are limited to 12 Tests for the PLB-350B Model over the 5 year life of the battery and 60 Tests for the PLB-350C.                                    

What should I do if I get a Self Test failure?
If you get a Self Test failure, first check the instructions in the user manual supplied with your Beacon, make sure you carried out the test correctly and that you have followed any instructions provided.  If you are sure your Beacon failed the self test then you should contact the beacon manufacturer or one of their appointed service agents for further advice and instructions.
Are there any Beacons that I can't test Through the Satellites?
Yes, in particular some older models of Beacons do not transmit a 406 MHz burst, so they cannot be tested in this way. In addition some current other manufacturers models of Beacon incorporate features (e.g. a rolled up one time only use antenna) that reduce their radiated power output during a Self Test and therefore these beacons do  not transmit a signal that is strong enough to reach the satellites.

Learn more at 406Link.com

How does the GPS Self Test feature work?
A lot of beacons on the market have the capability to do a GPS test, in which the beacon turns the GPS engine on, acquires GPS data and flashes a light to signify the test is completed.  

New Personal Locator beacon models from ACR have the ability to transmit this GPS location in a self test burst and pin point your exact location on a map using 406Link.com to ensure you that (1) your beacon is working perfectly and can reach the satellite system and (2) that your GPS is working perfectly.

How many Self Tests and GPS Test can I perform?
406 MHz beacons (Manufactured in 2010 or later) can perform 420 self tests over the 5 year life of the battery. The PLB-350C (Models: AquaLink View and SARLink View) can also perform 60 GPS Self Tests over the 5 year life of the battery. The PLB-350B (Models: AquaLink and SARLink) is limited to 12 GPS Self Tests over the 5 year life of the battery.

ACR beacons (Manufactured prior to 2010) can perform 340 self tests over the 5 year life of the battery. If you have a beacon from a manufacturer other than ACR, please refer to your beacon owner's manual or contact your beacon manufacturer for the number of budgeted self tests your beacon can perform over the 5 year life of the battery.   

Learn more about advanced satellite testing through the satellite system at 406Link.com    

Maintenance other than Battery

The date on my HydroFix™ Release Unit is not marked. What do I do?
The HydroFix™ should be marked by the owner at the time of installation with an indelible ink pen. The HydroFix™ Release Unit is good three years from the date of manufacture (which is imprinted on the bottom of the HydroFix?) or 2 years from the date of installation.

See the example below:  MFG.0611 means the HRU was made June (06) of 2011.  Thus this unit will need to be replaced 2 years from the date installed or in June of 2014.

HRU MFG Date

How do I get a replacement antenna for my Beacon?
Contact any Battery/Service Center for replacement.  Please have the beacon in hand and be prepared to provide the beacon model number and whether the unit is in warranty or out of warranty.         
How does one take care of a beacon?
Taking care of a beacon is quick and easy. Routine maintenance is part of having the beacon ready at all times.  Follow the maintenance recommendations in the Owner's Manual.

 



Simple Maintenance For Important Equipment

An ACR EPIRB is one of the most basic pieces of safety equipment on any boat cruising the great lakes, offshore or any large body of water. You are clearly one of the more responsible of boat operators if you own or are considering purchasing an ACR EPIRB. However, you also need to be a responsible EPIRB owner. While ACR's EPIRBs are designed to be highly reliable under the most demanding of circumstances, it is considered wise to test them regularly and to service them per the manufacturers recommendation.

In an emergency, you are relying on your ACR EPIRB to transmit an emergency signal capable of being heard by aircraft, which may be 100 miles or more away, and by satellites orbiting over 500 miles above the earth. There are three things you can do to make sure your ACR EPIRB will put out its life-saving warble when you need it: The first is to read the owners manual when you purchase the EPIRB, the second is to always make sure your batteries are "in date", and the third is to regularly conduct an operational test on the unit to make sure it is actually broadcasting.

Category I & II EPIRBs that transmit over 406.025 MHz and 121.5 MHz are required to have a more thorough self test feature. ACR's Satellite 406 TM EPIRB has a micro processor on board that will fire up the transmitter, oscillator, formulate a test signal, set off the strobe light and finally broadcast a live test transmission. The micro processor checks to see that all the operational elements test positive and then it gives confirming beeps and flashes. The micro processor will not give off the appropriate confirming beep or flash if any element fails to perform and the user should take the beacon to an authorized service station for evaluation.

Class A & B EPIRBs that transmit over 121.5 MHz and 243.0 MHz are required to have an LED light that will flash when the unit is turned on. Unfortunately, the LED does not tell you with absolute certainty that the unit is actually transmitting a signal capable of being heard by Search And Rescue aircraft and satellites. The only way to be certain is to test the beacon while it is operating.

Operational transmission testing of a Class A or B EPIRB may only be legally executed during the first five (5) minutes of every hour and only for three tone or one operational transmission second. During the first five (5) minutes of every hour you can verify that your EPIRB is actually transmitting by turning it "On" near an FM radio tuned to 99.5 MHz. Placing the EPIRB a few inches from the FM radio will allow it to receive the signal and broadcast the familiar "warble" through its speakers if the EPIRB is transmitting properly. Conduct this test only during the first five (5) minutes of each hour as indicated above!

Being a responsible boat owner includes being prepared for unforeseeable emergencies by carrying an ACR EPIRB on-board and having an emergency plan. Being a responsible EPIRB owner includes knowing how to work your ACR EPIRB and knowing that it will work. Please e-mail ACR for answers to questions or for information on other safety products manufactured by ACR Electronics, Inc.


 

EPIRB APPLICATION RECOMMENDATIONS

Model Racing Cruising Lakes,
 Inland Waters, Rivers, Bays
Coastal Offshore High Seas Land Use; Hiking, Mountaineering,
 Wilderness,
Snowmobile
        USCG/NOAA Definition  
        <50 NM >50NM  
        ACR Definition  
        <3 NM 3-20 NM >20 NM  
        ORC Category  
        2,3,4   0,1  
Mini B300™ILS x x   x      
SATELLITE2 406™
Category I
x x     x x  
SATELLITE2 406™
Category II
x x     x x  
RapidFix 406™
Category I
x x     x x  
RapidFix 406™
Category II
x x     x x  
GlobalFix 406™
Category I
x x     x x  
GlobalFix 406™
Category II
x x     x x  
GyPSI™ 406 PLB     x       x

++ Approved for this use in selected countries.

EPIRB SPECIFICATIONS
Model EPIRB
Frequency
in MHz
GPS? Category
Deployment
Activation Satellite Detectable? Location Accuracy/
How long until SAR
knows about me?*
Size Weight
Accuracy Time
Mini B300™ ILS
#2766.6
121.5 No Manual Personal/
COB
Manual No RDF N/A 5.0x2.9x1.6in
(12.7x7.4x4.1cm)
7.6 oz
(215 g)
SATELLITE2 406™
Category I
#2774
121.5/406 No Auto/
Manual
HRU
PN 9367
Manual &
Water
Yes 2 nm 1 hr 4.5x5.2x8.2in
(11.4x13x20.8cm)
213 lbs
(1 kg)
SATELLITE2 406™
Category II
#2775
121.5/406 No Manual Manual &
Water
Yes 2 nm 1 hr 4.5x5.2x8.2in
(11.4x13x20.8cm)
213 lbs
(1 kg)
RapidFix™ 406
Category I
#2776
121.5/406 NMEA 
0183
Interface
Auto/
Manual
HRU
PN 9367
Manual &
Water
Yes .05 nm 5 min. 4.5x5.2x8.2in
(11.4x13x20.8cm)
213 lbs
(1 kg)
RapidFix™ 406
Category II
#2777
121.5/406 NMEA 
0183
Interface
Manual Manual &
Water
Yes .05 nm 5 min. 4.5x5.2x8.2in
(11.4x13x20.8cm)
213 lbs
(1 kg)
GlobalFix™ 406
Category I
#2742
121.5/406 Integral Auto/
Manual
HRU
PN 9367
Manual &
Water
Yes .05 nm 5 min. 17.5x6.25x5.5in
(44.5x15.9x14cm)
4.5 lbs
(2.0 kg)
GlobalFix™ 406
Category II
#2744
121.5/406 Integral Manual Manual &
Water
Yes .05 nm 5 min. 17.5x6.25x5.5in
(44.5x15.9x14cm)
4.5 lbs
(2.0 kg)
GyPSI™ 406 PLB
#2790
121.5/406 NMEA 
0183
Interface
Manual
PLB/
Personal
Manual Yes .05 nm 5 min. 1.9x6.5x3.8in
(4.8x16.5x9.6cm)
17.6 oz
(499 g)
EPIRB SPECIFICATIONS (continued)      
Model EPIRB
Frequency
in MHz
Material Waterproof Battery Type + Battery
Operational
Life
Certification Accessories
Mini B300™ ILS
#2766.6
121.5 Fiber reinforced polycarbonate
blend w/resin tougheners
to 33 ft
(10 m)
DL223A lithium
equivalent (5 year replacement life) user replaceable
24 hours @ 
-10°C (14°F)
Meets ETS 300 152
requirements; CE FCC Approved
PN 9321
Mounting
bracket
SATELLITE2 406™
Category I
#2774
121.5/406 High impact polycarbonate
blend
to 33 ft
(10 m)
Lithium (5 year replacement life) 48 hours @ 
-40°C (-40°F)
Approved by COSPAS-SARSAT, 
FCC, USCG;
Complies with 
GMDSS, European MED
PN 9367
Hydrostatic
bracket
SATELLITE2 406™
Category II
#2775
121.5/406 High impact polycarbonate
blend
to 33 ft
(10 m)
Lithium 
(5 year replacement life)
48 hours @ 
-40°C (-40°F)
Approved by COSPAS-SARSAT, 
FCC, USCG;
Complies with 
European MED
PN 9430
LowPro2
Mounting
Bracket
RapidFix™ 406
Category I
#2776
121.5/406 High impact polycarbonate
blend
to 33 ft
(10 m)
Lithium 
(5 year replacement life)
48 hours @ 
-40°C (-40°F)
Approved by COSPAS-SARSAT, 
FCC, USCG;
Complies with 
GMDSS, European MED
PN 9367
Hydrostatic
bracket
RapidFix™ 406
Category II
#2777
121.5/406 High impact polycarbonate
blend
to 33 ft
(10 m)
Lithium
(5 year replacement life)
48 hours @ 
-40°C (-40°F)
Approved by COSPAS-SARSAT, 
FCC, USCG;
Complies with 
European MED
PN 9430
LowPro2
Mounting
Bracket
GlobalFix™ 406
Category I
#2742
121.5/406 High impact polycarbonate
blend
to 33 ft
(10 m)
Lithium
(5 year replacement life)
48 hours @ 
-40°C (-40°F)
Approved by COSPAS-SARSAT, 
FCC, USCG;
Complies with 
GMDSS, European MED
PN 9367
Hydrostatic
bracket
GlobalFix™ 406
Category II
#2744
121.5/406 High impact polycarbonate
blend
to 33 ft
(10 m)
Lithium
(5 year replacement life)
48 hours @ 
-40°C (-40°F)
Approved by COSPAS-SARSAT, 
FCC, USCG;
Complies with 
European MED
PN 9430
LowPro2
Mounting
Bracket
GyPSI™ 406 PLB
#2790
121.5/406 Fiber reinforced polycarbonate
blend w/resin tougheners
to 3.3 ft
(1 m)
Lithium
(5 year replacement life)
Over 24 hrs 
@-40°C (-40°F)
Approved by
COSPAS-SARSAT;
pending FCC approval ++
PN 2266
Gear Pouch
* Accuracy and times are published by COSPAS--SARSAT.
† Mini B300™ILS is meant to be used with a Vecta2™ crew overboard system.
+ Batteries replaced at BRC, except where noted. Call 1-800-432-0227 for Battery Replacement Center (BRC) nearest you.
++ Approved for this use in selected countries.
Limited Warranty, all products:  5 years (Exception: Mini B300 1 year)

Which is the Right ACR GPS-EPIRB Product for You?

RapidFix™ 406 - Benefit of speed

GlobalFix™ 406 - Benefit of simplicity

The RapidFix™ 406 and GlobalFix™ 406 are the next generation of 406 MHz EPIRB. Because they transmit your LAT/LON coordinates to SAR forces, they add a whole new dimension to the satellite-aided search and rescue system. The RapidFix™ 406 is connected to your onboard navigation electronics through an NMEA 0183 interface and provides a position fix within seconds of being activated. The GlobalFix™ 406 has an internal GPS receiver that initializes within minutes. Both save precious time when it matters most.

Both 406 MHz EPIRBs use GEOSAR satellites that are in geostationary high-earth orbit and can instantly relay emergency transmissions. With your location known from the moment the first signal is received–a matter of seconds with the RapidFix™ 406 or a matter of minutes with the GlobalFix™ 406–your signal can be quickly routed to the closest appropriate rescue agency.

A GPS-enabled EPIRB eliminates the waiting time required for the traditional low-earth orbiting LEOSAR satellites to obtain a fix. On average, the waiting time is about 46 minutes. Those extra minutes can be critical in saving lives, particularly in the case of a medical emergency or a rescue in frigid waters. In a recent test off the coast of Miami, a GPS-encoded signal was routed through GEOSAR and the USMCC to the appropriate SAR facility in less than 2 minutes. Rescue craft were launched within 10 minutes. Conceivably, in a near-shore situation, help could be on the scene in the time it previously took for a LEOSAR to obtain a fix. That's significant progress in the lifesaving process.

A Choice of Technologies

The RapidFix™ 406 connects to an active NMEA 0183 data source (your vessel's primary GPS), and updates its current position data every twenty minutes. You can initiate a self-test to confirm it has current position data. From the moment you turn your GPS on at the dock until you need the RapidFix™ 406 in an emergency, the RapidFix™ 406 is ready to transmit LAT/LON coordinates along with your UIN within seconds of activation. It is best to choose a mounting location in an area convenient for routing the interface cable. RapidFix™ 406 can be used with a hand-held GPS.

The GlobalFix™ 406 is completely self-contained. Upon activation, it transmits the 406 MHz signal as any 406 EPIRB does and will continue to do so as long as the EPIRB is on. Its amazing internal 12-channel parallel GPS engine begins acquiring coordinates. It is capable of a cold start initialization within 1.5 minutes; this time lapse is even less in ideal conditions. GPS signals can be difficult to acquire during a cold boot, especially in less than ideal conditions. The GlobalFix™ 406 will try to gain a position fix for 15 minutes, then will conserve battery power for 20 minutes, then will begin trying again and will keep trying intermittently until it gets a fix. GlobalFix™ 406 incorporates the latest in GPS technology. There are none better. Once acquired, GlobalFix™ 406 incorporates your coordinates in the 406 MHz signal. It is convenient to store in a life raft or emergency gear bag. Just turn it on in an emergency. There is no installation or set-up necessary.

Both the RapidFix™ 406 and GlobalFix™ 406 are available in either Category I, automatically deployable, or Category II, manually deployable, models. They are equipped with a self-test feature that confirms operation as well as battery condition and GPS position data. The units are self-buoyant and need no flotation collar.

The bottom line on the pair is that now you have a choice of options to fit your particular needs. The RapidFix™ 406 has the benefit of speed in getting your coordinates out, hence it is the fastest EPIRB on the planet. The GlobalFix™ 406 has the benefit of simplicity. It is compact and needs no electrical installation.