Personal Locator Beacon - PLB

Discussion in 'Maps, GPS and Google Earth' started by 338winmag, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. 338winmag

    338winmag Well-Known Member

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    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
     
  2. Elk Addict

    Elk Addict Well-Known Member

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    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.
     

  3. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    Very timely topic.

    We just received our first shipment for the LRH Store.
     
  4. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  5. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  6. Elk Addict

    Elk Addict Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  7. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  8. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

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    So I poked around and found SPOT is using a group of LEO birds at 52 deg inclination. So they are horizon to horizon in less than 25 minutes. The complete cluster should provide constant coverage if your in the open. If you think about being in the bottom of a canyon and the satallite happen to flying directly over you might still only have a few minutes of good visability per pass. That is why the spot short message and multiple retries works. The "dumb" spot uses the older generation of satallites and the spot phone uses the newer higher bandwidth satallites.
     
  9. SidecarFlip

    SidecarFlip Well-Known Member

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    For skiing or remote access snowmachining, a PLB is a good investment. For remote hunting, IMO, it's a 'feel good' item.
     
  10. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    That fits my personal need and what I have in mind for the LRH Store product selection.

    Jacob Berger of Mule Creek Outfitting using my SPOT phone to call his wife.
     

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  11. Armed in Utah

    Armed in Utah Well-Known Member

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    When I drew my Utah Desert Sheep this year...I decided to buy the ACR unit...no annual contract.....peace of mind in your backpack...we are in remote Utah outback either hunting/hiking or on SxS machines alot...no cell coverage in most areas...after an ATV accident several years ago...a friend and I were first responders...accident victim really hurt bad.....took over two hours to get air med there...I believe the ACR unit could have saved a lot of time....
    http://www.acrartex.com/
     
  12. 1100 Remington Man

    1100 Remington Man Well-Known Member

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    I don't have a need for one for hunting, But that's just Me. If it makes you feel more secure go for it.
    Yes I have a 406 type ELT in the Plane I fly for work & it works very well. I had it go off one time shortly after we had it installed and before I could taxi in the Airforce had called the Airport for a crashed plane & our office in less than 5 minutes. I would not waste money on the old 121.5 type. Good & Safe Hunting.
     
  13. oldmossy

    oldmossy Well-Known Member

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    So what does a hunter need for a backcountry hunt where textn loved ones would b sufficient? Least expensive but reliable
     
  14. oldmossy

    oldmossy Well-Known Member

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    Just researched the spot sat. phone. looks like that may b what i need to go with. thanks Len