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Thread: SPOT vs. 406 EPIRB/PLB

  1. #1
    Clay
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    Question SPOT vs. 406 EPIRB/PLB

    From my experience from my trip to remote regions of the Yukon and Alaska..I preferred having the PLB along. I'd like to hear more opinions from those whom prefer SPOT.

  2. #2
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    A PLB means personal locator beacon?

    ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
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  3. #3
    Clay
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    Quote Originally Posted by Visian View Post
    A PLB means personal locator beacon?

    ian

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

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    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    I don't have a PLB, so why don't you start and tell us why you like it better, then let people chime in.

    I have a spot and can tell you it is cheaper, has tracking capabilities, has non emergency message capability, is smaller and lighter than PLB's I have seen.

    Mine is not so much for emergency rescue, although it would do that fine, it is to let the wife know I am alive and moving, for those times I am off alone riding. And if I was involved in an accident where I was not capable of activating a device, my location could still be tracked.

  5. #5
    Clay
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    Quote Originally Posted by pffog View Post
    I don't have a PLB, so why don't you start and tell us why you like it better, then let people chime in.

    I have a spot and can tell you it is cheaper, has tracking capabilities, has non emergency message capability, is smaller and lighter than PLB's I have seen.

    Mine is not so much for emergency rescue, although it would do that fine, it is to let the wife know I am alive and moving, for those times I am off alone riding. And if I was involved in an accident where I was not capable of activating a device, my location could still be tracked.
    http://www.acrelectronics.com/faqs/spotvs.aspx
    http://energyindustryphotos.com/a_gu...cator_beac.htm
    http://www.theaccessroad.com/08/spot...ger-vs-acr-plb

    ..bottom line what's your life worth in an emergency? Though this thread deals with PLB vs. SPOT opinions.. I deliberately excluded SAT phone as another resource...

  6. #6
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clay View Post
    From my experience from my trip to remote regions of the Yukon and Alaska..I preferred having the PLB along.
    Having done my homework, I plan to buy a PLB for an upcoming month-long tour into a remote area. I will also have a sat phone with me.

    I'm not interested in having someone track my progress. I want a device when I have a serious emergency. Plus other than the upfront cost, I like the fact that the service is free.

  7. #7
    Clay
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalRider View Post
    Having done my homework, I plan to buy a PLB for an upcoming month-long tour into a remote area. I will also have a sat phone with me.

    I'm not interested in having someone track my progress. I want a device when I have a serious emergency. Plus other than the upfront cost, I like the fact that the service is free.
    There is an optional service for the PLB which can do about the same thing as SPOT

    http://406link.com/

  8. #8
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    If I'm going to the true boonies, I'll be taking one of each, otherwise, Spot works fine for my purposes now.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

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  9. #9
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clay View Post
    There is an optional service for the PLB which can do about the same thing as SPOT.

    http://406link.com/
    But that uses up battery power. Even if it uses negligible power, that isn't a chance I'd like to take.

    The batteries in a PLB are not user replaceable. The unit has to be sent in for that.

  10. #10
    Clay
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalRider View Post
    But that uses up battery power. Even if it uses negligible power, that isn't a chance I'd like to take.

    The batteries in a PLB are not user replaceable. The unit has to be sent in for that.
    Correct..but the battery has to be replaced in 5yrs anyway..so why not enjoy the optional service..as I recall there is an limited number ( I think 400)of short text messages that can be sent before the unit shuts off that feature to save the battery.

  11. #11
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clay View Post
    Correct..but the battery has to be replaced in 5yrs anyway.
    But I'd sooner have it as fresh as it can be. The batteries actually have a shelf life of about 11 years, but to make sure they are serviceable, they change them every 5 years as you stated.

    Like my cell phone, I need it to work the next instant which is why it does not play music or take pics. I have a camera and radio for that.

  12. #12
    Ritalin Poster Boy rob nye's Avatar
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    Greetings,

    Decide what you want the unit to do.

    If you're looking for a true emergency response no matter what you need a 406 EPIRB which is pretty much the same as a PLB.

    That will get you help anywhere on the planet and get you fined if you activate it by mistake. It's what they carry on ship and planes.

    A SPOT tracker is a wonderful device for keeping family and friends informed as to your position and status. While it claims to offer emergency service when you send an SOS it goes to a private service who then relays your emergency to the authorities who then decide based on the information provided what to do about it. I have read horror stories of a SPOT response to an operator reported emergency to be 24hrs as they couldn't see the injured person from the road.

    A EPIRB transmits on two frequencies, one is the 406mhz for the satellites and the other is a UHF for search and rescue when they get close. By international treaty every 406 signal is investigated and tracked until the unit is found or in some sad cases stops transmitting. I know of a rescue operation commenced for a few buddies where their EPIRB signal lasted less than 60 seconds.

    So if you're really going far off the beaten path you should at a minimum carry a PLB and as far as I'm concerned the only one to carry is one made by ACR. Your next decision is how to communicate with friends and family which can be by SPOT or rented sat phone. I'd carry a 406 EPIRB and a sat phone with a SPOT tracker being carried only if I had it installed on the bike anyway, i.e. I wouldn't purchase a SPOT tracker as a safety device for a dangerous trip.

    EDIT: While we're on the topic no rescue system is perfect and you best be prepared to face it on your own. It's a long story but about 25 years ago I was in trouble off Atlantic City and while not in grave danger after four hours of searching the USCG finally told me to activate our EPRIB. Imagine our joy when we heard USCG Cape May, Fire Island, Baltimore and a few others all report they didn't get jack for a signal.

  13. #13
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robnye View Post
    If you're looking for a true emergency response no matter what you need a 406 EPIRB which is pretty much the same as a PLB.
    Same system, except carting an EPIRP with you isn't very convenient. Thats why they made PLBs.

    Quote Originally Posted by robnye View Post
    A EPIRB transmits on two frequencies, one is the 406mhz for the satellites and the other is a UHF for search and rescue when they get close.

    So if you're really going far off the beaten path you should at a minimum carry a PLB and as far as I'm concerned the only one to carry is one made by ACR.
    A PLB transmits a VHF of 121.5 MHz which is used for homing. The output is a mere 50 mW ?? 3 dB which is all that is needed for rescue to locate you those last few hundred meters.

    Its not the "only one". Microwave Monolithics makes on that is more compact and has a 48 hour transmit time.

  14. #14
    Clay
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalRider View Post
    Same system, except carting an EPIRP with you isn't very convenient. Thats why they made PLBs.



    A PLB transmits a VHF of 121.5 MHz which is used for homing. The output is a mere 50 mW ?? 3 dB which is all that is needed for rescue to locate you those last few hundred meters.

    Its not the "only one". Microwave Monolithics makes on that is more compact and has a 48 hour transmit time.
    Correct concerning the size as well as the 'homing' VHF freg..another major diff. is that EPIRBS are registered to marine vessel/ship/boat and ELT's are registered to aircraft/rotorcraft/balloons/air ships. Where as the PLB is registered to the person.

    Still want to hear more about SPOT as their choice..just to keep the spirit of this thread..
    Last edited by Clay; 04-13-2011 at 04:41 PM.

  15. #15
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    Spot/plb

    I carry both.

    The SPOT is purely for friends/family to have an idea of where I am. Since I have this bad habit of making my trips into impromptu excursions to wherever looks interesting at the time, it is wonderful for it's purpose. It is also kinda nice to compare to the GPS track when I get back. I have no idea how well the check-in messaging works since it has never been set up. Nice toy, but not what I am willing to risk life and limb on.

    The SAR activator is an ACR Aqua-Link (think that is the model). It goes on the bikes, in the boat, in the backpack, etc. I just feel a lot better knowing that it is being responded to by professionals than Sally Sue at the call center.

    The thinking goes like this: IF USAF responds to an ELT/PLB they have some experience and expertise available to understand the format of the received GPS location. They also have access to RDF's to pinpoint the secondary signal. I can 100% guarantee that local authorities DO NOT understand the possibilities of 'scrambling' a LAT-LONG set of numbers. I have brought this up with a few sheriffs, fire chiefs, etc in rural locations and they are not even aware that LAT-LONG can be expressed in different formats. Sorry, but I don't really want to be laying there leaking bodily fluids while Bubba searches 20 miles away because the person answering the emergency phone number in that county wrote down a period instead of a colon. Or can't use the internet well enough to go to my SPOT page.

    Overkill? Maybe, but I am pretty sure I am getting low on my account balance of 'miracle escapes' from bad circumstances due to my life long addiction to adrenalin.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention that the SPOT can be 'loaned' to somebody else so their family/friends can track their trip if you are not using it. Or, so I have heard - I would never consider testing the limits of their service agreement.
    Last edited by HuskyVarmit; 04-14-2011 at 02:55 AM. Reason: forgot something
    The Original Husky Varmit - AKA Old Texan
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