What is the full form of EPIRB

Frequently asked questions Emergency Transmitter EPIRB

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What is an EPIRB / distress transmitter?

EPIRB is the English abbreviation for: Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, which means in German for example: Emergency position marking transmitter = emergency transmitter / distress transmitter / distress beacon / emergency radio transmitter.

The transmitted signals are received by the global satellite system COSPAS-SARSAT, the position is determined and forwarded to ground stations. In addition, aircraft, ships and some land-based vehicles of the search and rescue services can record the signals and thus align themselves to the emergency position (so-called homing).

Are there different types of emergency transmitters?

Yes. There are two different types available in Germany:

Category I / Cat I: transmits on 121.5 and 406 MHz.
Emergency transmitter with automatic release (float free bracket) e.g. ACR Satellite2 406 # 2774 or ACR GlobalFix 406 # 2742 or ACR GlobalFix iPro 406 # 2846 or GME MT401FF

Category II / Cat II: transmits on 121.5 and 406 MHz.
Emergency transmitter that must be activated manually. ACR Satellite2 406, # 2775 or ACR GlobalFix 406 # 2744 or ACR GlobalFix iPro 406 # 2848 or ACR AquaFix 406 # 2797.4 or # 2797.2 ACR AeroFix 406 # 279924 or # 2799.2 GME MT 401 GME MT 410G ACCUSAT

With the 406 MHz emergency transmitters there are two different temperature ranges for the different sailing areas.

Class 1: Use of the device tested down to -40 ° C
Class 2: Use of the device tested down to -20 ° C.

ACR and GME only supply 406 MHz emergency transmitters as CLASS 2 (down to -20 ° C) as standard.

 What does automatic triggering mean float free?

All Category I (Cat I) emergency transmitters, including those from ACR and GME, have a wall bracket from which they are pushed out when the ship sinks to a depth of approx. 13ft (4 meters). A water pressure trigger cuts through a pin that releases the transmitter. A spring pushes the transmitter out of the holder even in unfavorable positions. The transmitter can now (if properly installed) float to the surface of the water (float free).

Can a German register his EPIRB emergency transmitter in the USA?

No. The American NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmosperic Authority) is the US authority that maintains the database for the US distress transmitters. Since around 1993, with the steadily increasing number of emergency transmitters, the NOAA decided to only register emergency transmitters under the following conditions:
1. The owner is a US citizen or US resident
2. The ship is registered in the USA.
If, for example, a German buys a 406 MHz emergency transmitter in the USA (with the US-S / N already programmed there), the buyer can no longer register this emergency transmitter (as it was until 1993) with NOAA in the USA. In this case, the emergency transmitter must be reprogrammed for the home country of the buyer and registered via the competent authority there.


Regularly asked questions about the GPS interface with the ACR-RapidFix406 and GyPSI-PLB 406 emergency transmitter

How can I "download" GPS data to the emergency transmitter?

You need a GPS device with a NMEA 0183 data output and a GPS interface cable. The cable with the optical interface is supplied by ACR Electronics. It must be connected to the NMEA 0183 interface on the GPS in accordance with the connection diagram in the manual for the ACR distress transmitter. Please also follow the instructions of the GPS manufacturer exactly. Switch on the GPS and wait until it has determined its location. The GPS must be set up so that the data is output in the NMEA 0183 format. Connect the GPS to the emergency transmitter using an interface cable. The ACR emergency transmitter "wakes up" several times per minute. As soon as the emergency transmitter determines that there are valid coordinates at the interface, these are "uploaded" to the emergency transmitter.

How long does it take for data from the GPS to be loaded into the emergency transmitter?

If the emergency transmitter is connected to a GPS that is working normally and has determined its position, the synchronization and the data download takes less than four minutes. Subsequent data corrections are made every 20 minutes. These corrections take less than 20 seconds. If the GPS is disconnected from the emergency transmitter in the meantime, the synchronization can again take up to a maximum of four minutes.

How do the GPS data get from the GPS to the emergency transmitter?

The GPS sends the data as an electrical current through the cable to the optical interface, which consists of an infrared LED at the end of the cable and a sensor in the emergency transmitter. The interface converts the GPS data into infrared light. The signal is transmitted to the emergency transmitter through a transparent point on the head of the emergency transmitter. An infrared sensor in the emergency transmitter decodes the data. The optical transmission was chosen so that there are no plug connections on the emergency transmitter that could lead to leaks. This makes the ACR emergency transmitter even more robust and reliable.

How can I test whether the emergency transmitter has received the GPS data?

Briefly flip the switch up to the middle position (stop) and return it to the starting position. CAUTION: Do not flip the switch completely (the safety pin should not break!). When the emergency transmitter has received the GPS data, another beep will be heard about four seconds after the self-test has been completed, and the LED will also flash once. For details, see operating instructions for the ACR emergency transmitters.

Does my GPS device have to be specially set so that it can transmit data to the emergency transmitter?

In most cases: YES - It must be ensured that the data output is configured as NMEA 0183 and switched on as GGA NMEA. Please consult the manual of the GPS device.

Does my ACR distress transmitter need a special setting so that it can receive data?

NO - Nothing can be set on the ACR emergency transmitter. The ACR emergency transmitter automatically receives data if the interface cable is correctly connected to the ACR emergency transmitter and to the GPS and the GPS is correctly set (data output NMEA 0183, GGA format). In an emergency, the emergency transmitter transmits the coordinates immediately after switching on to the satellite system.

What is the maximum length of the GPS interface cable?

ACR Electronics recommends a maximum length of 400 ft, which is approximately 120 meters. The cable must have a cross-section of at least 24 AWG, which corresponds approximately to a cable cross-section of 0.6 mm². Please also consult the manual for the GPS device.

What happens if I connect the emergency transmitter to the GPS before the GPS itself has data?

The emergency transmitter works normally, but does not save or transmit any coordinates. The ACR distress transmitter will continuously "search" for GPS data. As soon as the GPS has determined data, this is taken over by the emergency transmitter.

How long will the GPS data stay in the emergency transmitter?

The distress transmitter retains the data indefinitely until one of the following happens:

The battery connection in the emergency transmitter is disconnected or

The emergency transmitter is switched on completely, at least once for a short time.

How much power is required to feed the infrared LED of the interface cable?

At least 3.3 volts DC and 2mA

Can I still connect the ACR distress transmitter to the NMEA 0183 output if other devices are already connected?

YES - At least 2 mA of current at 3.3 V direct current must be available at the emergency transmitter. Most GPS are able to supply several devices on the NMEA interface. For more information, consult the GPS manual.


Help & Advice:

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Emergency transmitters register in Germany

Shipping - water sports

The registration of an emergency transmitter for commercial shipping and water sports takes place centrally via the

FEDERAL NETWORK AGENCY (formerly Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications / RegTP)
Hamburg branch
Sachsenstrasse 12/14
20097 Hamburg
Tel: 040-23655-0
Fax: -182

For this purpose, a so-called frequency allocation must be applied for.

Direct links to the RegTP homepage:

Application for frequency allocation for use to operate a marine radio station on a ship that does not require radio equipment

Application for frequency allocation for use for the operation of a marine radio station on a ship that is subject to radio equipment

Land use
Emergency transmitters for use on land are not yet possible due to legal regulations that have not yet been met in Germany. (As of Oct 2008)

The use of personal emergency transmitters such as the ACR AeroFix 406 will hopefully soon be possible, we are trying to make arrangements for this with the Federal Aviation Office (LBA) or EASA. For mobile / portable emergency transmitters / ELT in the aviation sector, the question of approval has not yet been clarified. (As of Oct 2008)

Emergency transmitters / ELT are programmed in Germany with the "24-bit address" of the aircraft. This is identical to the so-called MODE S address and can accordingly be programmed into mobile emergency transmitters / ELT such as the ACR AeroFix 406 / AquaFix 406.