(5 out of 5)
The ACR ResQFix 406 PLB with GPS – 2897 Capabilities and Features
The Resqfix 406 Mhz GPS Personal Locator Beacon derives part of its name from the fact that it’s a 406 MHZ PLB which means it has an extremely powerful broadcast of your distress signal along with your exact GPS coordinates. This article series includes a piece on exactly how a 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon works in coordination with the LEOSAR and GEOSAR satellite systems dedicated to search and rescue (find the link below).
With the ResQfix, your distress signal with GPS coordinates is sent out on 12 parallel channels as opposed to the one used in lesser beacons. The mandatory online registration process after purchasing this device is easy and this allows rescue personnel to know exactly who you are since every ACR signal has a unique signature to it.
The ResQFix 406 is 35% smaller and 25% lighter than the ACR Aquafix, its predecessor. So at 10 oz., it can be carried easily in a pocket, in a pack or on a life jacket. The holster it comes with makes it easier to put on a belt or use the lanyard so secure it elsewhere. These are especially nice features for soloist maritime explorers in kayaks or other small vessels. You can find smaller and lighter units, but they usually come with a yearly subscription price which ACR doesn’t charge.
Many users who took the time to write reviews of personal locator beacons were happy with the discreet size. Some did feel that the two-step process of deploying the antenna to reveal “ON/OFF" activation button and holding for 1 second might be better served by a one step button push but that hardly seems like a significant drawback in terms of operation. However, the fact that it has to be manually engaged by pressing a button could be a drawback in the event that you encountered something like the perfect storm whereby you couldn’t even free up your hands to use it. The traditional Class II EPIRBs (Emergency Positioning Indicator Radio Beacons) automatically activate when they become submersed in water. That is something to consider when deciding because in a situation where a rogue wave rolls the boat or it’s sinking for any other reason, you’d want immediate deployment of a beacon.
In a maritime disaster setting way off shore; a 24 hour battery life for sending a distress signal (that is an estimate for the most extreme weather conditions conceivable) isn’t as long as some people (perhaps the slightly neurotic ones) would like it to be. But the battery does exceed the required 24 hour operating life at -20°C (-4°F) with a typical operating life: 40 hours @ -20°C (-4°F), 8 hours @ -40°C (-40°F). The lithium batteries are guaranteed to work for five years but they can only be replaced by an ACR approved dealer. It floats of course.
The most important factor in recommending this PLB for maritime use is its success rate. There are many stories out there which tell the tale of this ACR PLB saving the lives of those who were forced to deploy it when they were in mortal danger. ACR PLB saves sailors lives in Coral Sea is one such story where a helicopter was dispatched in time to save a crew whose ship sunk and they bobbed precariously in inclement weather on the ocean surface.
ACR PLBs are used by the U.S. Coast Guard, NATO, and Arctic Explorers to drop a few names in order to reinforce their reliability and performance. 406 MHz technology has saved over 24,500 lives worldwide and ACR, as a world leader in rescue and survival technology is a huge part in making that so.