PLBs

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Tech' started by Robin, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. Robin

    Robin Thru Hiker

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
    Mole likes this.
  2. SafetyThird

    SafetyThird Ultralighter

  3. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Thanks.
    Just wondered.
    Robin likes this.
  4. Ken T.

    Ken T. Ultralighter

    Mine does.
  5. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    OK. Just shelled out £179 (ouch) for the privilege of carrying another 116g (double ouch) in the form of a piece of equipment I hope never to use.

    Received it today and went on to register it at www.gov.uk/406beacon. Once I'd registered my data they took me to a page stating that due to "unprecedented demand" it would take "ten weeks or longer" to register my beacon. Fortunately, it still works without being registered.

    Funny how there were no anticipated delays from www.gov.uk when they took £240 off me yesterday for owning a car.

    There's also a manual registration form in the PLB box, so I figured it would be a good idea to send that in too, albeit with the same data, in case it's a quicker route to registration?
    JKM likes this.
  6. Robin

    Robin Thru Hiker

    Mine took quite a long time. My guess is it’s not very well resourced.
  7. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    Quite so. It's only life and death after all, not revenue.
    oreocereus likes this.
  8. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    Had an email last week:
    "We are entering registrations as quickly as possible but we have a current backlog, as such, the administrative side of returning confirmation and labels is also taking considerably longer at several months"
    After 4 months they were just getting around to registering it & could I check that they had input the right data​
  9. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

    Good thing they'll still send the choppers to come and get you. It's just that your next of kin won't be getting a phone call to ask what you were up to...
    dovidola likes this.
  10. SafetyThird

    SafetyThird Ultralighter

    Yes, I had a similar letter a week or two back. I think I registered mine mid-December
  11. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

    Speaking of PLBs, the Australian KTI PLB (mentioned on the Australian Hiker podcast) looks pretty good. It's not the lightest nor the smallest, though it isn't far at 140 gr, but it quite a bit cheaper at £142 plus reasonable postage and the battery lasts twice as long (10 years). Sadly, it can only be coded for Australia or New Zealand. That doesn't really make a difference in terms of SAR but it probably does in terms of complying with your national regulations.

    KTI-Safety-Alert-PLB.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
    edh likes this.
  12. Daymoth

    Daymoth Ultralighter

    I need to start thinking about one of this. I dont go solo a lot but still I think its worth having.

    What is the minimum minimum minimum I can get, just distress signal, no next of kin communication, but that will work worldwide? The PLB1?
  13. gixer

    gixer Thru Hiker

    Are the newer PLB's L5 compatible?

    If not, it might be worth waiting a while
    The new(ish) broadcom BCM47755 that's going to start being used in phones is supposedly going to bring GPS accuracy within a couple of feet.

    More important for us outdoors types, it's not going to be affected as much by mountains and buildings, also uses 50% less power.

    No idea how this affects communication, but for a PBS i'd want the most accurate position i could get to be sent to mountain rescue.

    So i wouldn't buy any GPS devices just yet, at least till we see how good the BCM47755 really is
    Daymoth likes this.
  14. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

    All PLBs do exactly the same thing and have one function only: broadcast a distress signal (along with a GPS position) that is picked up by a satellite and relayed to the relevant rescue services who will then come and get you. The rescue services will phone the contact you have listed in the registration form (next of kin or otherwise) in order to get additional information (size of party, activity, etc.)

    This works worldwide and there is no subscription, you just buy the unit, register and hope you never have to use it.
  15. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    If you feel the need buy one now; you might regret it when lying with a broken leg musing on the efficacy of positioning accuracy.....
    Balagan likes this.
  16. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    PLB's also transmit a homing signal that the parafin budgie will pick up so even if the GPS co-ordinates are a km out (or you've crawled that far) you will be found.
  17. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    I got the Ocean Signal PLB1 as it was the minimum I could find in terms of weight (116g). As @Balagan observes #39, they all do the same thing, as per his succinct explanation. There are different styles of case to address different requirements, for example floating cases and bigger cases for marine situations.

    Carried it for the first time last week in Scotland. Still unable to get my head round carrying weight I wasn't planning to use, I compensated by ditching a chocolate bar from the ration pack. Sorted.
    Chiseller likes this.
  18. Daymoth

    Daymoth Ultralighter

    I never plan to use my waterproofs either but the UK weather doesnt agree with my wishes! I hope I have more luck not using the PLB.
    cathyjc and JKM like this.
  19. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

    That also got me thinking. Going solo obviously makes a PLB more useful but surely it's more a matter of how much time you spend out of cell phone coverage rather than the size of your party as two or more useless cell phones are just as useless as one. Of course, in a group you may send someone out to some place with a signal but the time it takes to do that might make a difference.

    Why ditch it when you can eat it as you set off on the first day? ;)
    FOX160, WilliamC, edh and 1 other person like this.
  20. Ian Barton

    Ian Barton Trekker

  21. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

    The InReach Mini isn't a PLB: it has a rescue function but it is also a two-way text communication and GPS tracking device. As such, it uses the battery constantly and requires recharging. It is also tied to a subscription service.

    PLBs just lay dormant until you hit the button and they broadcast for at least 24 hours.
    dovidola likes this.
  22. oreocereus

    oreocereus Ultralighter

    How do you guys carry your PLBs/other devices? NZSAR always recommend carrying them on your person rather than your pack, primarily in case you get separated from your pack. Might be more of an issue in NZ where rivers are one of the biggest dangers, and the taught techniques for crossing rivers include ways to ditch your pack if something goes wrong.

    In any case never felt like I had a satisfactory way of carrying it on my person. Use running shorts 95% of the time, so no pockets, and even then pockets would be bulky and annoying.
  23. dovidola

    dovidola Section Hiker

    Bingo! Having applied to register my PLB back in April, I've just received an apologetic email from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency informing me that they got round to registering it today. Due to workload, however, the label they send out to stick on the PLB will be further delayed. Not that it serves very much of a purpose (the label that is, not the PLB) as far as I can see.
    Enzo likes this.
  24. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    I'm tempted my the mini in reach, be nice to have reliable comms for less than life threatening situations.
  25. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Ultralighter

    The reason I went with the DeLorme InReach over anything else...two reasons:

    Sending check-ins with a select handful of people who have my route and local emergency contact info. I don't have anyone at home who will miss me if I don't show up on time. Plus if something happens that prevents me from checking in, I have, at max, 16 hours before they send out the cavalry and they will know where to look.

    Two, the two-way texting also applies to emergency rescue so that when you send out the signal you can let them know EXACTLY what is happening so that they don't send out the entire army to save you from a broken toe. This was a consideration because I want to be considerate to potential rescuers and SAR services.
    Charles42, Robin, OwenM and 2 others like this.

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