Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

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Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  nero_design on Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:30 pm

I received an email from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority today to warn me that my PLB was due for re-registration.
You have to do this every couple of years to maintain accuracy on the government data base.

I bought mine in 2012 so I've renewed the registration several times since then... you just log into the website and click a button to renew.  There's no fee involved.  I'll be surprised if that doesn't chance some day.

What I didn't realize is that it's an offense not to do so.  And then. as I was reading those details, I discovered that it's also an offense to carry an EPIB with an expired battery.  And, even more interesting... it's an offense to have anyone other than the manufacturer change the battery (it comes up under Safety and Maintenance).

From Maritime Safety: "If the beacon battery was replaced or serviced by a non-certified service centre then the beacon is non-compliant for carriage requirements and there is a risk the beacon may not function correctly. ...when a beacon must be carried to comply with Commonwealth, State or Territory law, the law usually requires that the beacon meet a specified standard, and that standard usually specifies that all maintenance and repairs must be carried out by the manufacturer. In these cases this means that if the battery is changed by someone other than the manufacturer, the beacon automatically ceases to meet the required standard and the carriage of that beacon will not result in compliance with the law."

* It's an offense not to register your Beacon.
* It's an offense not to renew your Beacon registration.
* It's an offense not to maintain your Beacon by renewing an expired battery.
* It's an offense to change the battery yourself.  Only the manufacturer may do so.

Fortunately, the some PLB manufacturers have authorized locations where your battery can be changed.  I was expecting to have to send mine overseas but it turned out there's an authorized repair center just down the road from me here in Sydney for the ACR brand.

Here's the direct links the the Servicing and Registration FAQ pages from the Government.

http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/registration/index.asp#rego
http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/maintenance/servicing.asp


The only thing that didn't particularly impress me was the price of the battery replacement - which is $180 for my unit.
The cost of a band new PLB of the same type is $299.

Something about that doesn't seem particularly fair.
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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  Detectist on Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:13 pm

I've had to replace my battery too. I agree, I feel that the price differential between battery replacement and a new unit does not quite seem right. Sure they have to dispose of the battery but gees, with a 2nd battery replacement next I'd have to think about getting a new PLB.
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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  nero_design on Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:25 pm

Overseas folks are replacing their own batteries -- which might not be a good idea considering local laws.
Two Phillips-head screws and a $10 battery cluster.

Why on EARTH are locals charging $180 for this?  
It sure reeks of a scam.

(not my photographs).





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Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  AU10OZ on Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:43 am

This makes me think that my Inreach SE is not such a bad option. It has a $5.95 a month fee when not activated. You only activate it before you go on a trip from as little as $20 for each month active. The battery is rechargeable via your phone charger so no replacing battery. You can also send and receive text messages. (bluetooth to phone for easy typing) If you do have to activate the SOS function you can notify rescue of the particular problem, vehicle details etc and they can updated you with advice and ETA of help. It also has a track function that you can activate which uploads to a map that you can share with family. You can also make it so they can ping you to get your location if they are worried about you. You can set it so every text message you send shows your coordinates and has a link to an online map showing where you are. When you zoom in on the map it goes to satellite images and you can see what very tree you are standing next to. Obviously these functions would not suit every situation but they don't have to be used.

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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  Axtyr on Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:14 am

I can understand the need for properly maintained EPIRB/Locator beacon when you are on the water, but on land the regulations are overkill.

I emailed the company that replaces the batteries for my beacon about mid last year after I discovered the battery expiry date. So far I have not received any response from them. I will probably replace the batteries myself. I did renew the registration of my beacon without updating the expiry date and it was not rejected. After I set it off in an emergency then they can arrest and charge me.

Regards Axtyr.

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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  Minermike on Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:58 pm

If they find you alive ! [joke]
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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  4rd on Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:51 pm

my understanding after reading the beacons.amsa.gov.au site is that the penalties and legal requirements pertain to units used for carriage purposes (e.g. maritime) which includes EPIRB as they are meant to float and have stricter and enforceable requirements when used for carriage purposes.... so if you only use an EPIRB as a PLB, then I don't think it would be an issue from a 'penalty/compliance' perspective.

I purchased the ResQLink PLB+ in 2012 and it is now due for battery replacement, I will most likely be purchasing a brand new unit as they now have 10 year life spans for around $250 (KTI
Safety Alert PLB) compared to $180 for a 5 year battery replacement (or $360 eventually for 10 years and stuck with an older unit).
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Bush Safety

Post  sandy2010 on Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:29 pm

Many thanks for the info' Nero...... I was just about to have a go at replacing the batteries ( I'm surprised that there is no warning against this on the case).

Be lucky.

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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  nero_design on Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:43 am

4rd wrote:my understanding after reading the beacons.amsa.gov.au site is that the penalties and legal requirements pertain to units used for carriage purposes (e.g. maritime) which includes EPIRB as they are meant to float and have stricter and enforceable requirements when used for carriage purposes.... so if you only use an EPIRB as a PLB, then I don't think it would be an issue from a 'penalty/compliance' perspective.

I imagine Marine use would definitely have some tough regulations involved.  I'm not even confident that switching out a battery yourself or by some third-party battery company (eg Battery World) wouldn't trigger the unit in some manner.  

It appears to be both a Maritime and CASA regulation (Maritime relating to water and CASA relating to the Civil Aviation Authority for Land-Search Rescue).  All the PLB and EPIRB beacons are run and monitored by Maritime Authority.  I phoned them to set up my own beacon years ago and they told me that all the beacon signals are processed by the same satellites and the call to them comes from a US Government department when a beacon is triggered, regardless off the type of beacon or which country the owner resides in.  The Maritime Authority then attempts to contact the beacon owner and/or dispatched either ocean or land rescue to recover them.

"The Australian/New Zealand standard 4280.1 (EPIRB) and 4280.2 (PLB) states that beacons must be returned to the manufacturer or a manufacturer’s approved service centre when repairs or battery replacement are required."

"If the beacon battery was replaced or serviced by a non-certified service centre then the beacon is non-compliant for carriage requirements and there is a risk the beacon may not function correctly." (Bold emphasis with certain words was on the website)

From what I have read online today, it's "technically" not illegal to swap out your own battery. However, if you do, then you are entirely liable in the event that the beacon is accidentally triggered and in the event where the beacon fails to operate as required.  The bill for remote rescue and any medical attention could then be in the tens of thousands of dollars if they decided to sting you with it.  

Terms in usage including "required", "must", "liability", "mandatory" and even "compliance" are all used in the Government website wording and yet I see nothing in legislation making it lawfully enforceable other than to demand that users utilize authorized repair centers for battery replacement.  I could find no reference to fines, jail or penalty units in relation to this particular matter.  But one comment made on line caught my eye: "By regulation, they can not register a PLB/EPIRB if any maintenance was not handled by a certified agent. You know how inflexible some regulations are, some for good reasons to avoid errors."

There's a mention here about owner liability if the battery is expired or was replaced by unauthorized persons for both EPIRBs and PLBs:
https://www.fishingaustralia.tv/post/warning-unauthorised-battery-replacements-on-epirbs

Other than this, it's worth noting that if your life is at serious risk, it's worth having the peace of mind and reliability that you did everything to protect it.

But I don't like the price-gouging going on here.  There's no need for these stupid prices.  
If anything, it increases the chances that people will run around with dead batteries or no beacon.
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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  Nightjar on Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:59 am

Yes, don't get ripped off!
I contacted the Government Office about regulations regarding purchase of EPIRB/PLB.
At the time I owned a boat and they advised me if I purchased an EPIRB it could be registered for both land & sea.
I settled on purchasing a GME MT600G + GPS - 406MHZ - EPIRB.
As mentioned, re-register every 2 years and battery replacement after 10 years.
Contacted 3 suppliers and they were all adamant that I needed to purchase TWO units, one for land one for sea.
Downloaded the regulations that clearly stated ONE unit could purchased and registered for both land and sea.
Took this proof into a local supplier and he was not happy that I exposed their rort in front of other customers.
Walked out and bought the unit online $100.00 cheaper delivered to my door.




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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  joe82 on Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:09 am

hi all. im in the market for one so what do you guys suggest???

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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  au-fever on Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:36 am

I went through all the scenarios mentioned already as well a while back, with a plb I have I was notified that it was due for re registration but also the battery had expired so I was just going to change the battery myself, when I called the registration people I was informed that it was illegal to do the battery yourself and so on and I also knew that the cost of replacing it with the manufacture was nearly the price of a new one I re considered the value of the exercise.

At the end of the day you are far better just buying a new one, like mention earlier a Kti plb will set you back $250 or so and have a battery life span of ten years, so it will still probably outlast me as well, and anyway its smaller and more compact than the other one and more easily carried on my harness, I will just keep the other one as a backup as it still checks out ok with a battery test, and anyway if I am in the chit and activate it then I probably wouldn't give a fats rats clacker if they fined me for doing so.

As far as the cost of the battery replacement goes its a rip off and all their overcharging for doing the job will do is discourage people from maintaining their plb's and at the end of the day possibly put lives at risk.

cheers

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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  Koala-one on Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:16 pm

Seems a bit of a mine field, but I like a lot of others should carry one on our travels.

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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  Detectist on Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:28 am

Johnny Appleseed has the MT410G on special at present. May be others.
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Re: Bush Safety: PLB Beacons (Batteries + Registration)

Post  Koala-one on Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:23 am

Thanks

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