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#175840 - 07/08/09 10:56 PM Canyons and PLBs
Polak187 Offline

Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 1403
Loc: Brooklyn, New York
I just got back from my trip down to Utah and managed to spend some time in tight canyons. I can use my map/compass pretty well but GPS is my primary nav tool. Just like every canyoneering book said no GPS signal in canyons for miles. That got me wonder... how would a PLB fare in such an environment? I'm all for walking a few steps (tired/injured) to get my signal but when I downloaded my waypoints I had 1.5 mile gaps.


#175842 - 07/08/09 11:26 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Polak187]

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852
what your into is like alot of our outdoor "hobbys". like my solo canoeing you just have to accept the risks or find something else to do..i would assume a PLB would need some open sky to get a fix--not much in that great photo--

#175844 - 07/08/09 11:31 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Polak187]
falcon5000 Offline

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 662
Question for you Matt, with the new GPS chip sets like the garmin etrex HCX for example, have you tried getting a location in the cannons to see if you can get a lock. The Fast Find 210 for example appears to have a better chip set and seems to acquire similar to my HCX, although I would like to see more test done if Doug gets the funding but I would probably venture to say if you can't get anything off a new gps set then the newer chip set plbs won't either. All the old PLBs more than likely not get one either. Now with Acr coming out with there new line, and the fast find 2x series and a possible Spot 2.0, I think the performance will get a lot better with time. In a canyon like that, depending on the walls, I wonder how high you would have to travel to get a fix. I know this will sound silly, but there are some divers that put a etrex in a otter box and attach a line to it and let it go to the surface to get a fix and then pull it back down, I wonder if you could do that with a small balloon and string, but you would have to carry around a small helium tank and hope that the wind doesn't get it.

I'm just trying to think of a way you could set off a PLB with a broken hip in a deep canyon and get a signal out. The rescue kite is definitely out. Hmmmm
Failure is not an option!
USMC Jungle Environmental Survival Training PI 1985

#175845 - 07/08/09 11:45 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Polak187]
Desperado Offline

Registered: 11/01/08
Posts: 1530
Loc: DFW, Texas
Remember the radio segement of the PLB will still be transmitting. That will allow for notification without GPS fix. Eventually a combination of triangulation, and the trip plan you left with friends and authorities will complement each other to aid in your location. You did leave a trip plan, right?
I do the things that I must, and really regret, are unfortunately necessary.


#175858 - 07/09/09 12:23 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Desperado]
Tyber Offline

Registered: 04/27/09
Posts: 299
Loc: ST. Paul MN
While I lived in Alaska doing SAR I used to joke that helium baloon with a long copper filiment on a spool, Much like a fishing line. would be a great way to extend the range of a radio or cellphone in case of such emergencies.

Perhaps this is an idea for the invetors on this list.

#175865 - 07/09/09 12:54 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Tyber]
HerbG Offline

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 142
The idea of using a hydrogen filled balloon to lift a wire antenna to extend radio range is neither far fetched nor new! It was used during and after World War 2 in the U.S. military's SCR-578 (Gibson Girl) emergency radio transmitter. The radio was packed as part of survival equipment in large aircraft and was intended to help in locating survivors of a crash. In addition to box kites, the radio kit included balloons, and hydrogen generators to raise a wire antenna. Probably not a practical idea for a backpacker but at least not completely impossible either.



#175868 - 07/09/09 01:08 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Polak187]
Doug_Ritter Offline


Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 2058
While you may not get a GPS location (and I have no idea how that will work with the latest high sensitivity GPS chips in the new PLBs), our experience in testing is that the 5-watt 406 MHz signal will get out, bouncing off the walls, and that a alert and Doppler location will be provided. Combined with a good trip plan left with your emergency contacts or in the Additional Information field on the NOAA registration site, that should suffice to get you rescued.
Doug Ritter
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation

#175884 - 07/09/09 08:33 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Matt, I'd love to know which GPS you're using and if it has a later generation high sensitivity chip like the Garmin H series.

#175885 - 07/09/09 08:49 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5338
My gut tells me that the new Garmin chipset (eg., GPSMAP 60CSx) would receive GPS signals bouncing down those walls.
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

#175887 - 07/09/09 09:36 PM Re: Canyons and PLBs [Re: Glock-A-Roo]
Polak187 Offline

Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 1403
Loc: Brooklyn, New York
I'm using Vista Cx taht is about 3 years old... I don't think it has the New chip in it but than again I got married in october and had two choose between new Garmin gps or new pack and I got a new pack.

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