- What do EPIRBs do?
- Where can I purchase a beacon?
- Will 406 MHz beacons work anywhere in the world?
- Can I use my 406 MHz beacon anywhere in the world?
- Is there a subscription fee for beacon registration or rescue service?
- What is the difference between a Category I and a Category II EPIRB?
- What is a UIN and where do I find it on the beacon so I can register my beacon?
- Is it true that certain emergency beacons no longer work?
- What happens if I set off a false alert by mistake?
- What if I just want the cheapest EPIRB I can get…?
- Do I need a radio license?
- What is an MMSI number and how do I get it?
- Can I take my beacon with me on an aircraft?
- How do I register my beacon?
- What are my obligations with regard to registering and re-registering my beacon?
- Why is it so important for me to register my beacon?
- I tried to register my beacon but the authorities tell me that it needs a different ID number programmed in. Do I need to send this back to you?
- Where do I take/send my unit for battery service?
- How do I know when the battery is due for replacement?
- Can I buy a battery from you and replace it myself?
- What will happen if I do not replace the battery every five years?
- Do I have to replace the battery if the beacon goes off by mistake and why?
- Where do I dispose of a beacon battery?
- Is there any special instruction for shipping a battery or a unit with the battery in it?
- Is there a local service center where I can get my beacon serviced?
- How do I know the beacon is working?
- How often should I carry out a Self Test?
- What is a GPS Self Test?
- What should I do if I get a Self Test failure?
- Are there any Beacons that I can't test Through the Satellites?
- How does the GPS Self Test feature work?
- How many Self Tests and GPS Test can I perform?
- The date on my HydroFix™ Release Unit is not marked. What do I do?
- How do I get a replacement antenna for my Beacon?
- How does one take care of a beacon?
Maintenance other than Battery
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) are distress radio beacons which transmit location information about ships directly to Search and Rescue forces letting them know that the owner is in grave and imminent danger. Learn How A Rescue Works
Yes, 406 MHz beacons can be used anywhere in the world, including at both poles, just remember that you need a clear view of the sky (they will not work in buildings or caves, etc.)
You should check the local regulations of any place you plan to visit with your beacon, some countries require you to have a radio licence and a few countries have restrictions on the use of beacons, however if it's a real emergency you should always activate your beacon
Beacon registration is free, should you ever have to activate your beacon, rescue is free in most parts of the world.
The difference is in how the EPIRB is deployed.
A Category I beacon automatically deploys when a vessel sinks. The beacon floats free at a depth of 1.5 to 3.0m (4.9 to 13.1ft). The EPIRB can be manually activated while in its bracket or manually removed and activated.
A Category II beacon is manually deployed. The EPIRB will automatically activate when removed from its bracket and comes in contact with water, or when it is still in its bracket but a person has lifted the switch to the activation position.
A UIN is a Unique Identifier Number that is programmed into each beacon at the factory. The UIN number consists of 15 digit series of letters and numbers that make up the unique identity of the beacon. The UIN is on a white label on the exterior of the beacon. The UIN is also referred to as the Hex ID.
The 121.5MHz and 243 MHz beacons are no longer satellite detectable. The beacons may still function but the emergency satellite system will no longer detect the emergency signals from these frequencies. Please read the explanation of the phase out of the 121.5/243 MHz frequency from Cospas-Sarsat at http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/phaseout.html.
If you have a 121.5 MHz or 243 MHz beacon, you should upgrade to a new 406 MHz beacon.
Don't panic, as long as it was a genuine mistake and not deliberate you have nothing to worry about, however you must turn off your Beacon and contact the emergency services as quickly as possible to let them know your transmissions are a False Alert.
Deliberate misuse or not notifying the proper authority may incur a severe penalty. When you call be prepared to provide the following information:
The beacon Unique Identifier Number (UIN) (15 Hex ID printed on the beacon),
- Time and duration of the false alert
- Location of the beacon at the time of the false alert
- Cause of the false alert
The primary contact point in the United States for the notification of False Alerts is the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (USAFRCC) the telephone number is 1-800-851-3051. However if you have an EPIRB you can contact the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in the following areas: Atlantic Ocean / Gulf of Mexico USCG Atlantic Area Command Center Tel: (757)398-6390 Pacific Ocean Area / USCG Area Command Center Tel: (510) 437-3700 USCG HQ Command Center Tel: (800) 323-7233. If you have an ELT as well as contacting the USAFRCC you might also want to contact your local Flight Service Station (FSS) on 1-800-WXBRIEF (1-800-992-7433).
Of course, EPIRBs are life saving devices and we hope that you will choose the best EPIRB on the market today- the GlobalFix™ iPRO. However, ACR offers a full range of EPIRBs to meet everyone's needs. If you must have the least expensive EPIRB available, please look at ACR's Satellite3 406™.
For the latest information, in the United States you may contact the Federal Communication Commission at toll-free 1-888-CALLFCC or visit the website of the FCC. Outside of the United States, contact your local authority for the requirements.
An MMSI number is a Maritime Mobile Service Identity number. It is a series of nine digits in the format MIDXXXXXX where MID = the country and XXXXXX = the digital code assigned to a given ship.
While the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) maintains the worldwide master list of MMSI, the FCC (Sea Tow and Boat US for some boats) give out assignments in the US. In the USA, if you are traveling beyond US waters you will need to apply to the FCC for an MMSI. US residents sailing within US waters can get an MMSI from Boat US at http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/ or Sea Tow at http://www.seatow.com/boatingsafety/mmsiinfo.htm.
You should note that these numbers are not registered with the ITU, so if you are in distress in non-USA waters, the local rescue authorities will not be able to access your registration information. MMIS numbers are not programmed into USA beacons
You may wish to check with the airline about any restrictions or documentation that you may need to carry with the unit. We suggest that you print a copy of the MSDS and bring it with you. We also recommend that you carry the Product Support Manual to explain what the unit is (MSDS sheets and Manuals can be found on the product web page).
406 MHz Beacons must be registered with the National Authority of the country you live in.
Step 1. Visit our Registration database to find the appropriate National Authority
Step 2. Register with your countries National Authority via Mail, Fax or for the fastest service register online.
Registration in the United States
The national authority that accepts beacon registrations in the
United States is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). Here are three easy ways to register:
1.) The fastest and easiest way to register is online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov . Recommended method. Verify and validate information before submitting.
2.) Mail the registration form with the pre-addressed, postage paid envelope to:
SARSAT BEACON REGISTRATION
1315 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Please print legibly.
3.) Faxing a registration is also acceptable. Fax the registration form to the Fax number on the bottom of the registration form. To reduce the possibility of erroneous entry please verify legibility of information and validate information on form to UIN on beacon before faxing. Please print legibly and in BLACK ink.
All registration forms will be entered in the 406 MHz beacon registration database within 48 hours of receipt. The information you provide on the registration form is used for rescue purposes only.
A confirmation letter, a copy of the actual registration and a proof-of-registration decal will be mailed to you within two weeks. When you receive these documents, please check the information carefully to ensure that the information provided on the label agrees with the information on the beacon and then affix the decal to your beacon in the area marked "BEACON DECAL HERE." If you do not receive confirmation from NOAA in the expected timeframe, or if the information on the label is incorrect call toll free 1-888-212-7283 for assistance.
Registration outside of the United States
In countries other than the United States, 406 MHz beacons are
registered with that country's national authority at the time of
purchase. The sales agent should have assisted you in filling out
the forms and sending them to the country's national authority.
Alternatively, visit our Registration database or many
countries allow online registration in the International 406MHz
Beacon Registration Database (IBRD) at www.406registration.com.
To verify that the unit is properly programmed for your country, view the UIN label on the back of the unit. In the event that the beacon is not programmed for your country, the sales agent (if properly equipped) can reprogram the unit for the correct country.
A beacon should be registered at the time of purchase or installation. The registration of a beacon is valid for 2 (two) years. The owner should re-register the beacon every two years. If change of ownership occurs, the original owner must notify the authorities and de-register the beacon before the new owner can register.
Registering the EPIRB, ELT or Personal Locator Beacon is required by law in the United States and in most countries. Registering is very important because should your beacon ever be activated, it is how Search and Rescue Teams will know who you are, and contacts provided may be able to supply information about your specific travel plans. In the absence of this information, it may take longer for a search-and-rescue operation to begin.
This can be done by any Certified Battery/Service Center. Please have your registration form and beacon available when contacting a Certified Battery Replacement Center for assistance.
Visit our Battery / Service Locator. Contact the battery/service station for instructions on how to send the beacon to them. Please contact the BRC for the cost for this service.
There is a battery expiration date label on every beacon.
Example Image: Battery Replacement Date is 07/2010
No. The battery cannot be purchased. This is a life saving device and you need to have the tools, hardware and software to perform a battery replacement. Full functional testing is done on the unit, after the battery is replaced, to make sure that the unit will last another 5 years in the field. The battery of any EPIRB, ELT or Personal Locator Beacon needs to be replaced by an ACR/Artex Certified Battery Replacement Center (BRC), where trained technicians will perform this service.
The chances of surviving a life threatening situation is greatly diminished if proper care and maintenance is not given to a beacon.
Yes, as this is a lifesaving device it should be diligently maintained to perform as specified. For this unit to transmit for the full 48 hours it will need a new battery as any inadvertent activation will deplete the existing battery.
For information about disposal of lithium batteries or products with lithium batteries in them, please contact your local waste management company.
There may be, depending on the beacon that you have. Due to transportation regulations changes, some ACR & Artex products that contain lithium batteries may need to be shipped as Hazmat. Please visit the product page for your product and review the download tab for the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Find a battery/service center here.
Perform a monthly self-test. If the test passes, the beacon is working. If self- test does not pass, take/send the beacon in for service. If you want to know that your beacon signal is reaching the satellite system and your signal is being received back down to earth please check out our advanced testing service called 406Link.com.
The beacon owners' manual usually recommends the frequency of these tests; typical advice is once a month and/or before extended trips.
Advanced Satellite Testing can be performed using our new service called 406Link.com
Newer GPS (sometimes referred to as GNSS) equipped beacons may also include an optional GPS Satellite Acquisition Self Test (not all GPS beacons have this ability), which tests the operation of the GPS Receiver and its ability to encode your location into the transmitted distress message. It is not uncommon for this test to only be permitted to be performed once or twice over the life of the battery (e.g. every couple of years), as this type of test can significantly reduce the battery life of the beacon. For beacons installed in commercial craft there are often regulatory requirements that define how often these tests should be performed.
GPS Testing with 406Link.com
Current ACR GlobalFix EPIRBs and older Model Personal Locator Beacons (AeroFix, TerraFix, AquaFix, MicroFix, ResQFix) have the ability to perform a GPS Test, however this GPS Test is not transmitted to the satellites, so if you have an account with 406Link.com your GPS Coordinates will not appear.
New ACR Personal Locator Beacons including the AquaLink and SARLink models can perform GPS Self Tests that will actually transmit to your GPS Coordinates to the satellites and with 406Link.com pin point your location onto a map. These tests are limited to 12 Tests for the PLB-350B Model over the 5 year life of the battery and 60 Tests for the PLB-350C.
If you get a Self Test failure, first check the instructions in the user manual supplied with your Beacon, make sure you carried out the test correctly and that you have followed any instructions provided. If you are sure your Beacon failed the self test then you should contact the beacon manufacturer or one of their appointed service agents for further advice and instructions.
Yes, in particular some older models of Beacons do not transmit a 406 MHz burst, so they cannot be tested in this way. In addition some current other manufacturers models of Beacon incorporate features (e.g. a rolled up one time only use antenna) that reduce their radiated power output during a Self Test and therefore these beacons do not transmit a signal that is strong enough to reach the satellites.
Learn more at 406Link.com
A lot of beacons on the market have the capability to do a GPS test, in which the beacon turns the GPS engine on, acquires GPS data and flashes a light to signify the test is completed.
New Personal Locator beacon models from ACR have the ability to transmit this GPS location in a self test burst and pin point your exact location on a map using 406Link.com to ensure you that (1) your beacon is working perfectly and can reach the satellite system and (2) that your GPS is working perfectly.
|EPIRB/PLB||Normal Self-Tests||GPS Tests|
|AquaLink View PLB||420||60|
|GlobalFix Pro EPIRB||420||1|
|GlobalFix iPro EPIRB||420||1|
Learn more about advanced satellite testing through the satellite system at 406Link.com
Maintenance other than Battery
The HydroFix™ should be marked by the owner at the time of installation with an indelible ink pen. The HydroFix™ Release Unit is good three years from the date of manufacture (which is imprinted on the bottom of the HydroFix?) or 2 years from the date of installation.
See the example below: MFG.0611 means the HRU was made June (06) of 2011. Thus this unit will need to be replaced 2 years from the date installed or in June of 2014.
Contact any Battery/Service Center for replacement. Please have the beacon in hand and be prepared to provide the beacon model number and whether the unit is in warranty or out of warranty.
Taking care of a beacon is quick and easy. Routine maintenance is part of having the beacon ready at all times. Follow the maintenance recommendations in the Owner's Manual.