Equipped To Survive Foundation, Inc. Equipped To Survive Foundation
406 MHz GPS Enabled
Emergency Beacon Evaluation
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red pin NOTE: The Equipped To Survive Foundation conducted a second evaluation of 406 MHz Location Protocol (GPS enabled) Emergency (Distress) Beacons (EPIRBs and PLBs) in July, 2005. Click here to go to the Second 406 MHz Location Protocol Distress Beacon Evlauation Report.

Please support Equipped To Survive with a tax-deductible donationIn December 2003 and January 2004 the Equipped To Survive Foundation conducted a series of laboratory and real-world performance tests of 406 MHz Location Protocol (GPS enabled) Emergency (Distress) Beacons (EPIRBs and PLBs) in an effort to determine how these beacons would perform in real-world conditions. This evaluation was primarily concerned with the self-locating performance of these beacons in real-world conditions, as well as other lesser issues, and not the beacons' performance vis-à-vis COSPAS-SARSAT or other regulatory standards, per se.

red pin NOTE: McMurdo Ltd. have issued a number of Advisories and Press Releases related to this evaluation and report. Click here to review these documents.

red pin ETS Foundation Commended by NBSAC - The Equipped To Survive Foundation has been commended by the National Boating Safety Advisory Council in a resolution presented by Vice-Commandant of the Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Terry Cross. ETS Foundation, BoatUS Foundation and West Marine have been recognized for their efforts that identified the deficiencies in GPS performance of some McMurdo emergency beacons as reported on Equipped To Survive (below).

red pinBetter Standards Will Make Better Emergency Beacons - Equipped to Survive Foundation's Doug Ritter has been very active working to promote changes in standards to ensure better 406 MHz emergency beacons in the future. Click here to read his Status Report on these efforts and to see how you can help.

The Full 220-page Evaluation Report in PDF format (9.83 MB)

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Evaluation Summary Report

Background to the Evaluation
Evaluation Limitations and Considerations
Summary of Results
Baseline Results Summary Table
Maritime Results Summary Table
Inland Results Summary Table
Evaluation Sponsors

Background & Supporting Information

Field Test Development, Conduct, and Methodology
How the COSPAS-SARSAT System Works
Advantages of Location Protocol ("Self-Locating" or "GPS-enabled") Beacons
How GPS Works and GPS Limitations
Accuracy Limitations of GPS in Location Protocol Beacons
EPIRB vs. PLB - What are the differences?
External vs. Integral GPS - What difference does it make?
Manufacturers' Sales Materials for Beacons Tested (4 MB PDF download)
Introduction of Personal Locator Beacons in the U.S.
The Ultimate Personal Locator Beacon FAQ
What is the Equipped To Survive Foundation?
Who is Doug Ritter?

Supporting Reports

Key West Location Protocol Beacon Test Report submitted to COSPAS-SARSAT
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U.S. Coast Guard Fastfind Test Plan and Report
(PDF format - Opens a new browser window)
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McMurdo Documents

McMurdo Ltd. Advisory to Dealers - April 16, 2004
McMurdo Ltd. Press Release - April 19, 2004
McMurdo Ltd. Advisory to Dealers - May 4, 2004
McMurdo Ltd. Upgrade Notice - May 11, 2004
McMurdo Ltd. Manufacturer's Bulletin - June 30, 2004
McMurdo Ltd. Press Release on their test results - July 07, 2004
McMurdo Ltd. Report referenced in above press release - September 14, 2004

Equipped To Survive Foundation Press Release

ETS Foundation Press Release in Response to McMurdo's Test Results Announcement - July 13, 2004

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Executive Director: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
URL: http://www.equipped.org/406_beacon_test_toc.htm
First Published: April 19, 2004
Revision: 10 November 11, 2005
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