Marine Electronics Forum

What's the point of a PLB?

Old 10-12-2015, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Kerry View Post

In the context of a marine environment and previous comments stating emphatically that PLB's "are designed for boating use" and "they most certainly are" does anybody see a conflict with the above TAC comments if there was some form of "user" incident involving a PLB being used in a marine (water) environemnt?
Really puts a PLB in a disclaimer mode when used "in water" so maybe manufacturers might need to review their wording??
I don't find it concerning because they only test for electrical performance and don't test environmental requirements, etc. to begin with. As it say on the Copass-Sarsat certificate, this environmental testing "is the responsibility of the national administration."

If you look at the EU type approval certificate, it specifically mention approval in marine environment.

Being a marine 406MHz Personel location Beacon (PLB) as detailed on sheet 2, and manufactured by:-

ACR Electronics, Inc.
5757 Ravenswood Road
Fort Lauderdale, Florida,
United States of America

IT IS THE OPINION OF QinetiQ NOTIFIED BODY THAT: The equipment detailed above meets with the
essential requirements of Directive 1999/5/EC, based upon the examination of the technical
construction file submitted on the authority of the individual named above, in accordance with the
conformity procedure defined in Annex IV of the Directive.
And further down:

Intended Use of the Equipment:
This opinion takes into account the intended use of the equipment which has been declared as follows: The ResQLink TM,PLB-375 is a personal COSPAS-SARSAT distress alerting beacon, the intended application is for voluntary use in Marine and Terestial applications
And has been type approved for both applications. If it was not ok for marine use, the EU would never have approved it as such.

Originally Posted by Kerry View Post
No not end of story, definately not approved in Australia (I suppose you could call us abroad ), not as a sole means of distress, PLB (of any make or model) is an individuals choice in addition to an EPIRB, no Epirb then a PLB does not meet approval to full fill the role.

So do you remember what the intial query was about? If a PLB is not type approved then how can it be fit for purpose
The reason why they are not approved in Australia/NZ is because PLBs programmed with the Australian/NZ country code "shall not transmit the letter 'P' in Morse code over the homing frequency of 121.5MHz". This is not permitted under Australian/NZ Standards. Why, I'm not sure. But the non approval in Australia only has to do with that morse code regulation. In the USA, the transmission of this code on the homing frequency is required by RTCM standards. This is the only reason why units purchased in USA are not supposed to be recoded with Aus/NZ codes and used in Australia.

PLB's are not type approved where EPIRB use is mandatory, AKA SOLAS vessel. For several reasons. They cannot autoeject with a hydrostatic release, cannot auto activate in water, etc. It doesn't have anything to do with being in a marine environment.

These PLBs are "type approved" for voluntary carriage on recreational vessels.
Old 10-12-2015, 03:09 PM
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What needs to happen here to remove the mostly selective and biased opinions is for the US Coast Guard to get their head out of the sand and bring into force clear cut guidelines as implemented in most responsible countries world wide. Some of the self justification and interpretations are clearly viewed with blinkers on. This discussion (PLB v Epirb) will continue, more lives will be lost while the US Coast Guard contnues to sit on their hands, spend mllions, absolutely millions on generally unsuccesssful or failed searches yet not enforce and clearly outline the carriage of a $300 bit of marine kit. Clearly the US is way behind in this regard but unable to admit it!
Old 10-13-2015, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by semperfifishing View Post
PLB... Example:ResQLink+™ PLB ACR 2881With three levels of integrated signal technology - GPS positioning, a powerful 406 MHz signal, and 121.5 MHz homing capability - the ResQLink+™ quickly and accurately relays your position to a worldwide network of search and rescue satellites. A built-in strobe light provides visibility during night rescues. Easy activation..flip the antenna..hit the on button. 30 hour battery220 self tests. and 12 GPs self testsNo subscription fees And if you ever have to use it for rescue ..Send the used unit to ACR with your story and ACR will send you a new one for free. PLB and EPIRB Survivor stories:
Thanks, Gil, that's what I was looking for.

Last edited by Auburn1; 10-18-2015 at 08:49 AM. Reason: clarify
Old 10-13-2015, 06:09 AM
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I think OP was basing his question on this language in the ACR Resqlink manual.

"Make sure the antenna is pointing towards the sky, out of the water. Beacon is not intended to operate in water. While the unit is waterproof, it must be above the water’s surface to function properly."
Old 10-13-2015, 02:04 PM
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I have the ACR ResQ Link (I'm in NZ).

I have practiced deploying it in water with a dummy unit borrowed from a friend who works in a boat shop. From this exercise I can confirm: -

- It has built-in bouyancy.
- In the water the antenna is easily deployed and the unit is easily activated
- It does not naturally float in the correct orientation
- But ... as depicted by SemperFi, if strapped to a lifejacket correctly it will point the antenna skyward when the user is in the water.
- It is easy enough to manually hold in the correct orientation if necessary.

Mine came with a separate strobe light/torch.

I strap the PLB and strobe and a floating portable VHF (GPS integrated) to my lifejacket when on the boat or the kayak. Easy.

I have the PLB registered to the boat's call sign with a note on the registration about my kayak, which has it's own call sign.

I don't have an EPRIB for the boat yet but it's on the to do list.

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