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#135931 - 07/07/10 03:29 AM McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I finally broke down and bought the McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon, even though my ACR Microfix has about a year and a half of battery life left.

I was amazed to find that the McMurdo Fastfind, compared to the ACR Microfix, is half the size, half the weight and half the price! I feel much better about carrying a 5.3-oz. brick instead of an 11-oz. brick!

Of course, if the technology of these gizmos improves as much in the next 3 years as they have in the past 3 years, I probably won't be using the Fastfind for the whole five years, either. What I'd like to see is some way to communicate to SAR the nature of the emergency.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#135934 - 07/07/10 11:07 AM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: OregonMouse]
Claus Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 56
Loc: Central Iowa
Radios. If you are on the water you can use a marine VHF radio. Not sure what frequency can be used for wilderness that is actually monitored by emergency responders. Alternatively you could become a licensed HAM radio operator and send maydays with it.

But I agree, ultimately it would be good to be able to send a text or voice message with the locator beacon. Otherwise, as they become cheaper their usefulness because of accidental and improper use will become less. Maybe implementing a flat fee of a $1,000 US dollars per button push would be a good idea to remind to people that sending out rescue teams to check on someone is a major undertaking .
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http://adventurelaus.blogspot.com

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#135943 - 07/07/10 04:57 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: Claus]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Problem: what to do with the old 11-oz. ACR Microfix PLB? I doubt that I can sell it, but does anyone have an idea where I can donate it? The battery expires in early 2013.

Re the radio--I doubt there's a 5-oz. radio--or satellite phone--around!


Edited by OregonMouse (07/07/10 04:59 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#135949 - 07/07/10 08:16 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: OregonMouse]
Dan Krabacher Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/01/10
Posts: 1
Where did you buy your Fastfind 210 and how much was it? I looked on the web but didn't find a retailer. I'm trying to decide between the Fastfind and the Spot Locator. Any thoughts? I need to decide in the next week.

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#135952 - 07/07/10 08:58 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: Dan Krabacher]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
REI, $299, free shipping. Backcountry.com also carries it, same price.

Both the McMurdo Fastfind and the SPOT II have been reviewed on Doug Ritter's "Equipped to Survive" website.

Which one you get depends on what you want it for. All I want is to keep my friends and family off my back by having a reliable source of help should I suffer a serious injury, even though I will probably never use it (an injury at my age would probably end my hiking career, and I don't want that, so I'm extra careful). A PLB uses the military/Coast Guard satellite system which is much more reliable. You also pre-register with the government (NOAA) so they already have your data and don't need to waste time researching your background if you push the button. However, you can't send messages with it. The SPOT II features tracking and "I'm OK" messages to your family. For many people, the tracking feature is the most important item, and they certainly should get the SPOT II. However, since SPOT uses a private satellite network from a company that has had financial problems (Globalstar), it is not considered as reliable if all you want is help in an emergency. It may take longer to get help because Globalstar has to contact the authorities which in turn have to try to trace your family to find out who you are. However, the reviews on the SPOT II indicate that most of the issues raised by the initial version have been resolved. The SPOT II with its annual subscription is more expensive. For a PLB, the initial purchase price covers it all for five years; registration with NOAA is free. Note, however, that if the technology advances as quickly is it has for the past two, the chances you'll keep either gizmo for the full warranty period are probably remote.

Note that per the US Government, the emergency has to be of the life-and-death kind. Water tasting bad or an injury in which you can self-evacuate (such as a sprained ankle) or a sick dog are not life-and-death emergencies. Pushing the button when it's not life-and-death can lead to a heavy fine and free board and room in a federal prison.


Edited by OregonMouse (07/08/10 12:41 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#135970 - 07/08/10 01:46 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: OregonMouse]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2801
Loc: NorCal
I'm intrigued and all, but when is somebody going to make one of these with user-replaceable batteries? How hard can that be?

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#135972 - 07/08/10 02:41 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: Rick_D]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
How hard? Mainly, you've got to make the thing absolutely foolproof, due to the liability considerations that come with a life-saving device. As an engineering feat, bombproof is easier than foolproof. Fools have infinite resources. grin

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#135973 - 07/08/10 03:20 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: aimless]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2801
Loc: NorCal
All it has to be is IPX7 and take common lithium cells. GPSs, digicams, flashlights, even SPOT meet these criteria today.

The problem with the permanent battery is it's wearing down from the day it's made, meaning that as time goes on the owner becomes "less safe" since broadcast time goes down commensurately. Prudently running a self-test mode, of course, speeds this process. Methinks better to begin each hiking season with a fresh set of batteries. I suspect the expen$ive factory battery swaps are just a part of the current business model, but somebody will eventually break the mold and the rest will have to follow. They're just consumer electronic widgets, after all.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#135980 - 07/08/10 08:04 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I still am looking for an organization to which to donate my old ACR MicroFix, with 2 1/2 years left on its battery life. Any suggestions?
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#136131 - 07/12/10 05:04 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: OregonMouse]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
I finally broke down and bought the McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon, even though my ACR Microfix has about a year and a half of battery life left.


Argh! Gear Envy! I'm heading into uncharted rockies in a week and a half and will still be carrying my 11 oz brick! smile

Must resist......
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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
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#136134 - 07/12/10 05:15 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: phat]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
It looks as though I'll be able to donate my ACR to a Boy Scout troop and get a tax deduction for it. The troop just happens to be where my grandkids live, although the oldest is not yet in Scouts. So it won't be a complete loss, and someone will get some use out of it.

I'm sure that in another 2-3 years, someone will come up with a 2-oz. PLB that not only tells SAR what your emergency is but also sings and dances!


Edited by OregonMouse (07/12/10 05:22 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#136154 - 07/12/10 11:18 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: OregonMouse]
DJ2 Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1347
Loc: Seattle, WA
I have about a year left on my ACR battery and plan to "downsize" too. If ACR was smart they'd make us an offer we can't refuse to buy whatever their latest product is.

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#136449 - 07/17/10 02:23 AM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: OregonMouse]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There are some tiny ham radios. Dryer knows all about them. He's done some posts about them somewhere here. Sat phones are heavy and really pricey, but you can rent them for about $40 a week.


Edited by TomD (07/17/10 02:25 AM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#136496 - 07/18/10 12:22 PM Re: McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon [Re: TomD]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Yeah, the ham posts and the notion of being able to get stuff out in many situations have me seriously looking at getting a ham license - in my case in particular I have a plethora of small internet capable devices. so It would probably be pretty easy for me to come up with something very very small capable of getting short emails out over packet radio - once I have the radio part figured out.

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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
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