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Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

 
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  #1  
Old 09-28-2013, 09:06 AM
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Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

The Personal Locator Beacon - PLB topic was brought up and even though never saw the need for one in our elk hunts in the past it is now a far reaching maybe. I am wondering if many others have purchased a PLB. Seeing the costs and the yearly subscriptions, and yes the unexpected can happen, is the cost of these things really that worthwhile. Anyone please chime in.

Thanks
338winmag
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2013, 12:43 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Montana
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

I use the Delorme Inreach, coupled with an Android device. It has the same emergency help features as most PLB's, but I like it because I can send and receive messages. It works pretty good, although in some areas I cannot get signal, like if I'm in a drainage with alot of timber.
I think it runs me about $10/month.
I also believe they now have a unit that does not require a smartphone sync to send/receive messages.
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  #3  
Old 09-28-2013, 02:29 PM
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

Very timely topic.

We just received our first shipment for the LRH Store.
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  #4  
Old 09-28-2013, 02:57 PM
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Location: Washington State
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

I first purchased a PLB 8 years ago and have tried to keep up on what's out there since. The most difficult environment for a PLB that I would be in was a marine environment and the need for it to be truly waterproof (many different standards here--buyer beware). I also wanted a unit that included integral GPS so that when the emergency signal was sent over the 406 MHz band to the COPASS-SARSAT satellites it would include a GPS position fix to quickly give rescue crews an exact location. In addition, most true PLB's also include a 121.5 MHz homing frequency.

I've followed the SPOTs from day 1 and even with their latest versions, I do not have the confidence in them that I do with a true PLB. A true PLB is a much more robust emergency device than SPOTs are. Be careful not to confuse the two types of devices.

I also do not know of a true PLB that requires and ongoing 'subscription' cost. There is no doubt that the ability to communicate, even cryptically, is welcome, as can (often to sometimes) be done with the SPOT type devices, but I have read too many accounts of these types, even the latest designs, of devices either completely failing or working so slowly as to be a failure in a situation where very timely assistance is required. Just do you research very carefully.

PLBs are registered through NOAA and they keep on file your personal information and you are asked to provide several phone numbers so that, in the event of a PLB activation, most of which are false activations, they can confirm the veracity of the situation before committing considerable resources to that situation. Typically before a trip of much duration, I'll go into the NOAA website and update my file with pertinent information as to where I'll be and what I'll be doing and include additional names/phone numbers of contacts of folks that can assist NOAA in the event that my PLB was activated.

The main take away here is that a true PLB is a much more robust emergency device than some other similar devices. Just gotta weigh what's important to you and make a good choice.
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:27 PM
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

We have a spot that is used for hunting some but mostly for river trips. I am still thinking about the new spot sat phone. It's pretty amazing that you can get a sat phone for $500 and a couple hundred bucks a year for minimal minutes. The $100 for a basic spot is hard to beat. It might not be my choice for a solo trip to alaska but for hunting/camping in the lower 48 it's a lot of functionality for a reasonable price.
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  #6  
Old 09-28-2013, 04:38 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Montana
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

In response to jmden, you're absolutely correct that a REAL PLB is probably more robust and reliable. If all you want is something for an emergency, then a PLB is the way to go.
If you want something to communicate with via satellite and track, then I think you have to go with a SPOT or inReach, or something similar (I've own and tested both devices mentioned).

To be blunt, I wouldn't trust the GPS communicators as a life saving device if I was in an area with dense forest or deep canyons. I cannot speak of the signal strength of the PLB's, as I've never had one.
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  #7  
Old 09-28-2013, 06:46 PM
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

The spots work in the grand canyon........... it's pretty deep. I guess I will do a bit of research and find what the orbit inclination angle for the satallites that spot uses. I would bit that it's usually a problem when your on a north facing slope.
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