EPIRB testing, definitely possible

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

3 Responses

  1. rxc says:

    This is one good reason to use the SPOT device, because you use it all the time and know when it is working and when it is not. Unlike the special EPIRB that is only used once, as a last resort device, and for which you just have to hope that the signal gets thru. I don’t say that they are not useful, but there is a line of thinking in engineering that special-purpose equipment that is dedicated to a last-ditch safety function, and which is manufactured to a very high standard/price, is better/more reliable than equipment that is used every day. I am not sure that I buy into that argument, having worked in an industry where such special-purpose equipment is treated as the holy of holies.
    Notwithstanding the testing issue (it is really hard to make meaningful statistical arguments about events that rarely happen, and when they happen, the conditions are rarely comparable) equipment that is used every day must be reliable, or else factories would not be able to make widjits reliable, or keep the electric power on.

  2. Rusty says:

    I recall hearing that some COSPAS-SARSAT ground stations could process (without triggering the SAR system) the EPIRB self-test message required by section 4.5.4 of C-S T.007 , and surveyors could call the facility to verify the operation of the EPIRB.
    It might be useful if the test message, when received by the ground station, could send an e-mail to the registered owner to indicate that their EPIRB test message was received.

  3. john doe says:

    Epirb testing can be done by any regular boater. What’s needed is a VHF scanner with a discriminator output and free Epirb-plotter software from here http://www.coaa.co.uk/epirbplotter.htm
    As you know when you press the “test” button on an Epirb, it actually transmits a test message on 406Mhz band. A normal scanner can hear this message, and provided the scanner has a discriminator output you can plug it into your PC audio input. The software then decodes the message.
    More info on discriminator output http://www.discriminator.nl/index-en.html
    Total cost for a person with suitable scanner: 0. If you need a scanner, you can get one from Radio Shack for less than 50 bucks.

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