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#121497 - 01/26/08 01:59 AM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: Jeff]
SwampDonkey Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Hi Folks,

Since we are talking PLB's perhaps I could get your opinion on the older version I carry.

For about 9 years I have carried a MPR/NAT SATFIND-406, Pocket PLB Model L - 2000. I have never used it but do test it once-in-a-while using the test function.

Does anyone know if this older PLB is any good?



Concerning GlobalStar satellites in relation to Sat. Phones, I have had nothing but problems for over a year.

Edited by SwampDonkey (01/26/08 02:00 AM)
Edit Reason: Added info to brand ID.

#121512 - 01/26/08 11:41 AM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: ]
James_Van_Artsdalen Offline

Registered: 09/13/07
Posts: 449
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
Interestingly enough....to add a few cents to the convo, my Father bought a new 08 Camry. I was looking through the book and it's got a "Personal Locator Beacon" option you can add on at any time. It apparently ties into a few sensors on the car in the airbag system and goes on automatically if you crash or flip or the shocks loose compression (Off the road). Seems neat.

You might post more information on this if you get it. I could not find a reference on Toyota's web site.

Toyota has had GM's OnStar for a while under the name LexusLink. There's no PLB; the car has an integrated cell phone (you can't use it for making phone calls; it's for the car's use) and when the airbags deploy or other criteria are met it calls LexusLink/OnStar via that cell phone and sends event information including the most recent location from the Navigation/GPS system. Neat but no PLB - if there's no cell coverage too bad.

And before singing too many praises of foreign manufacturers over American:

The original OnStar scheme used an analog cell phone system for improved coverage. Then the FCC killed analog cell service in 2002, effective 1/1/2008 IIRC.

GM offers people with older GM cars an upgrade to a digital cell system so their safety gear works as it did when purchased.

Lexus told my mom to buy a new car, or they'd be willing to rip out the LexusLink system free (i.e., remove all of that safety gear).

#121521 - 01/26/08 04:22 PM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: Jeff]
Doug_Ritter Offline


Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1999
Originally Posted By: Jeff
At $169 many more people can have this security.

I know nothing about PLB technology, but have wanted one for while.

Is this unit as good as the ones that cost more money.

1. SPOT is NOT a PLB.

2. SPOT relies on GPS for position and cannot provide a position unless it gets a GPS location. It will now at least provide a distress alert, even without a location, assuming it gets through to the satellites.

3. A PLB has an alternate means of providing locaton (Doppler) and a far more powerful signal, plus a homing signal, hense it is a more robust distress signaling means.

4. There are a lot of other issues and reviewing the info on ETS will flush those out, including the issue of using the Globalstar SIMPLEX satellite network.

I think SPOT will save more lives overall, due to the wider distribution due to lower initial cost, but some lives will be lost due to selection of SPOT when a PLB would have been a better option. Unfortuntely, the consumer is not knowledgeable enough to distinguish between the two technologies and make an informed decison and most sellers also are ignorant, or don't care.
Doug Ritter
Equipped To SurviveŽ
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation

#121529 - 01/26/08 06:21 PM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: Doug_Ritter]
teacher Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/14/05
Posts: 860
Speaking of which; what is the lowest cost -real- PLB on the market right now?

#121532 - 01/26/08 09:11 PM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: teacher]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2037
Loc: NE Wisconsin
My advice would be to go with the ACR TerraFix 406 WITH THE ONBOARD GPS.

It is usually easy to tell which has the onboard GPS when ordering since most places have both the one without the onboard GPS and the one with the onboard GPS, and the later one is more expensive. The model without the onboard GPS is called GPS I - the I stands for "Interface". The model WITH the onboard GPS is called GPS I/O - the O stands for "Onboard" - it has both the GPS Interface and the Onboard GPS, thus the I/O.

Make sure you get the one with the onboard (internal) GPS receiver. If hell breaks loose, you're possibly severly injured or immoblized, and you're needing help, you simply do not want to be messing around with a seperate GPS and the associated pair of interconnecting cables (more on those later). Doug Ritter strongly recommends this too.

The MicoFix is a bit smaller and has the advantage of a one-button trigger, but the Aero/Aqua/Terra-Fix406 is still a GREAT unit and costs $100 less.

Put this $100 toward your Doug Ritter Mk3 "superknife" (I really like the Mk3).

Now as to the difference between the Aero/Aqua/Terra versions. The PLB unit itself is identical for each model - exactly the same. The AeroFix has a black holster case, the AeroFix's holster is blue, and the TerraFix's is green. Personally I wish the holster was a brighter color - maybe that neon green.

A more important differfence is that the AeroFix and AquaFix come with a GPS interface cable that has bare-wire ends, while the TerraFix comes with a GPS interface cable that has a 9-pin male serial connector that can connect to commonly available cables that connect to GPS units. The AeroFix and AquaFix also come with a small screw-in hook that allows you to hang it on a wall/bulkhead.

When made my own PLB purchase I didn't know about the interface cable difference. I bought the Aero version from Aeromedix.com - mostly to support a great company (Aeromedix has treated me real well). I was surprised and kind of disappointed to find that the AeroFix (and the AquaFix) only come with the bare wire hand-held GPS interface cable, so I had to order a separate 9-pin serial connector interface cable, which cost an additional $37 plus shipping (sigh). Yes, I bought the PLB with an integrated GPS, but I still wanted to be able to hook up my high sensivity GPSMAP 60CSx to it if necessary - if the PLB had a problem getting a GPS fix.

Had I read Doug's review more carefully ahead of time I'd have known that only the TerraFix comes with the 9-pin serial connector - he points that out very clearly at http://www.equipped.org/terrafix_406gps_plb.htm . My mistake.

The TerraFix's interface cable runs from an optical connector at the PLB to a 9-pin male serial connector. If you want to use the interface cable you'll need to make sure you have a cable that goes from your GPS to a 9-pin female serial connector. My 60CSx came with a USB cable, but not a serial cable, so I had to buy one too.

If you're going to be using the PLB in field - as opposed to connected the PLB to a plane or ship system - and might bring a hand held GPS along with you, then do get the TerraFix instead of the AeroFix or AquaFix. Otherwise the three units are identical except for holster color, the style of GPS connector interface cable, and that little hook.

Ken K.

#121534 - 01/26/08 09:18 PM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Delphi99 Offline

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 2
Spot calls itself the "first" satellite messenger.

Does anybody know, are other satellite messenger devices coming out soon?

#121562 - 01/27/08 02:02 AM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: Delphi99]
Doug_Ritter Offline


Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1999
"Soon" is a very relative word, but yes, others are working on devices that work with other comnmercial satellite systems. When they will arrive on the market is unknown.
Doug Ritter
Equipped To SurviveŽ
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation

#121751 - 01/28/08 07:11 PM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: Jeff]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1142
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Here is another thread from another site,
sounds like poor coverage, lengthy aquisition times, no try before
you buy, and no knowledge if your message was sent or not.


#123777 - 02/14/08 01:08 AM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: ]
Hikin_Jim Offline

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
For the record, a SPOT isn't a PLB. A PLB sends signals via 406 MHz to low earth orbit (among others) satellites and has a 121.5 MHz homing beacon.

A SPOT uses satellite phone technology, broadcasting in the L-band spectrum (1600 MHz range). A SPOT has no homing beacon.

I'm not saying the SPOT is horrible, but neither is it a true PLB.

Doug has written several pieces on the SPOT; you might want to check them out:
Adventures In Stoving

#292629 - 06/30/19 11:19 PM Re: Is this the best PLB for all of us ?? [Re: Jeff]
teacher Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/14/05
Posts: 860
Garmin, Garmin mini and a new (Garmin) plb in a gps device - will look up the name.

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