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Important EPIRB Tip

At the Pacific Sail Expo I ran across the ACR rep. I had a pressing question/concern about the ACR RapidFix 406 Cat II EPIRB.

While preparing the boat in Tacoma, I hooked up the NMEA out from my Garmin 76Map handheld to get the EPIRB accepting co-ordinates. The way you tell it's working is that the self test is slightly different (an extra tone and flash of the LEDs) after the device has gotten co-ordinates.

Trouble is that there is no way to tell if it has gotten a subsequent update. You could very easily find yourself in the situation where the device is activated off the coast of Oregon and it reports you as sitting in Tacoma for example. Granted COSPAS/SARSAT will figure out that the co-ordinates are wrong, but that could add 10 to 15 minutes to the rescue time. Can I say brrr here?

I was thinking that no co-ordinates is a better failure state than wrong co-ordinates... The manual only cryptically refers to a section that mentions the only way to clear the latitude and longitude memory is to activate the device, but of course you should never activate it except in an emergency. That section was awfully clear.

The rep told me to get a household magnet and touch it to the plastic over top of the piece of metal visible above the engagement lever. This turns it very briefly "on" but not fully on. Then you can run a self test and it should complete the pattern for a self test without GPS data. You can then have it grab new data from the GPS and then the self test will indicate the prescence of GPS data.

The reason this was really important is that after I wired it to my handheld, I decided to get serious and wire it into the permanently installed Lowrance in the dash. This requires a heck of a lot more work but was the right thing to do on many levels. I was just concerned that I would not be able to figure out if it is working correctly or not and now I can...

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