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PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety

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yellownugget
dryblower
Minermike
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detectoraid
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Post  nero_design Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:02 am

PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety Large

I spent over an hour on the phone yesterday with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority http://www.amsa.gov.au/ discussing PLB and EPIRB devices with the specialist there. I ended up buying one as a result of my conversation with them and my personal decision was based on the size and reliability of the unit I selected. I thought I'd share some of the information I unearthed in case it's of interest to others here.

An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) are treated as TWO different devices although they serve the same purpose. An EPIRB is the recommended device for BOATING and MARITIME applications and a PLB is the device recommended for HIKERS & BUSHWALKERS etc. The MAIN difference between the two devices is the size. A PLB is usually much smaller than most EPIRBs. If you wanted to use an EPIRB instead of a PLB whilst prospecting, it would not be appropriate but would still be useful as the same listening services will intercept the signal. Most of these devices around the world only have a 24 hour signal broadcasting capability. Most EPIRBs and PLBs used to operate on the 121.5mhz frequency in Australia but I note that this signal was replaced in 2009 with the 406mhz frequency. Research suggests that the 406mhz frequency is used as the main beacon by all the units shown below with an additional 121.5mhz 'homing capability' to assist pinpoint the person requiring assistance. The first and second PLBs shown below definitely use both frequencies.


PLBs for Prospecting
There are FOUR different PLBs for sale in Australia that are recommended by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. The devices MUST be kept upright when activated (hold it in place with rocks if you have to) and you will need to have a clear line of sight (ie: not particularly effective in a valley with steep, tall sides)... and I was advised that you should try to activate the unit as early on in the day as possible because there are few night-vision-equipped services in Australia for finding people after dark. This will give them the best part of the day to locate you.

They told me there were 2 instances (just this year) of the PLBs being activated to recover snakebite victims from the Blue Mountains by helicopter - with the response time to reach the person being an average of 110 minutes. The Emergency Serviced people handle up to 24,000 activations of the PLBs every year with between 2000 and 1400 per month. Many of these activations are FALSE which means the owner of the device activated it "just to see if someone would phone them".

They advised AGAINST buying PLBs on Ebay and online for the following reason: The US versions look just like the Australian versions but use Morse Code signals which are NO LONGER monitored by Australian Rescue Services. This makes them (and I quote) "Illegal to use in Australia" because they are "Not Monitored in Australia". The Morse Code signal was abandoned several years back but is still used in the USA.

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PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety 135504
GME MT410G
(1) GME MT410G - (price: rrp$345 - available locally for $299) This unit is made in Sydney, Australia and has an added benefit in that you can register the unit with your name, phone number and your likely intended use of the device. If you write down "Prospector/Bushwalker" for example, and your device is activated in the city, they will phone you to see if the activation is accidental before wasting resources. It has a GPS unit built in which is said to place your location within a 5km search radius with a HEX ID broadcast for 100 minutes that will show your position to 120 meters. This unit has the longest battery life (7 Years) and longest warranty (7 Years). This unit has a continuous strobe to assist in locating you. It is also the cheapest in Australia and was previously the smallest PLB. Online information shows this unit to have a 45Meter pinpointing feature which I found differed from what the Maritime Authority expert was telling me over the phone.

______________________________________________________________

PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety Acr-2880
ACR ResQ LINK
(2) ACR ResQ LINK - (price: rrp$499 - available locally for $399) This unit is the smallest PLB and also includes a GPS unit inside. At just 3.9 inches in length, it is easily worn in the shirt pocket. 5 year battery with Warranty. Like the GME MT410G, this unit has a continuous strobe to assist in locating you. Waterproof to 5 m. Typical performance is 30 hours with a battery that is designed to last 6 years after manufacture. This is the unit I purchased and I obtained it from https://www.whitworths.com.au

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PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety 440
McMurdo Fast Find 211
(3) McMurdo Fast Find 211 - 5 year battery with Warranty. Note that this model has a strobe that will only flash 47 times after activation. It does not continually strobe like the first two models do. Looks just like the KANNAD XS-4 (below).

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PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety Xs4
KANNAD XS-4 "Solo"
(4) KANNAD XS-4 "Solo" - (price: rrp$399) - 5 year battery with Warranty. Note that this model has a strobe that will only flash 47 times after activation. It does not continually strobe like the first two models do.



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EPIRBs and PLBs must be disposed of when their batteries are past their Use By date because if thrown out, the beacons will eventually be activated when crushed by landfill or compactors. The suggested method for disposal is to take them to Battery World. The cost of replacing the battery will be close to half the cost of the unit but in 5 to 7 years from now, the technology is expected to be even more advanced and more compact.

SATELLITE PHONES
Finally, I was told by same person (at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority) that Satellite Phones have come down in price in recent years and that these actually make a good alternative to EPIRBs and PLBs. If you are injured and need an evacuation, you simply DIAL 000 and then tell them the nature of your emergency. They'll then contact the appropriate department and send in a rescue. The other benefit of Sat Phones is that you can tell the operator the nature of your emergency... for example "Snakebite" would result in a doctor being on-board the helicopter. Some satellite phone now offer a Pre-Paid package option as well. I looked and still found them expensive compared to EPIRBs & PLBs but they can also be used to make calls to and from home etc or to maintain an internet connection.

A Sat Phone saved the life of a prospector I personally know who told me he'd had a stroke in remote WA whilst detecting and was only able to crawl to his vehicle where the phone was located... they Flying Doctor landed right next to his vehicle.


PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety ThurayaXT_2
Main two phones at the moment are the Thuraya XT Satellite Phone(Telstra?) which is the smallest and most rugged of the two: and is currently found on special for about $895 (rrp $1450) It is splash-proof and impact and dust resistant.

PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety 9555_handset
That leaves the most popular which is the Iridium Satellite Phone. The current model is called the Iridium 9555 and it retails for $1200 at the moment. This would have to be the workhorse of Sat Phones right now... although there's something curiously tough looking on the slightly older Kyocera SS-66K Phone (below)

PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety Iridium-ss-66k-in-hand

Costs are still high because of the extremely high cost of putting 16 satellites into Orbit and maintaining them there. I would imagine that these costs will continue to drop an Sat Phones used to be about $6,000 (some of the phone plans still cost that much!) but are now dropping to and below the $1000 range.
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Post  Flakmagnet Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:12 am

Marco,

As usual a through and interesting explanation.
I have always hoped - like most of us probably - that sat phones would become more affordable.
They seem like the best solution to communicating from the bush.

I would be interested in a follow-up on the unit you bought.

Thanks again for taking the time to inform.


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Post  Guest Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:38 am

Gday

While at the Perth 4wd and camping show I saw this sat phone on sale, its the Isatphone pro, they were doing it for $725. it can be used as a prepaid phone and the credit will stay on for I think he said two years, so you can just put credit on it when you want to go bush if you want and not have to worry about it getting taken off you before you go out again, have a look at this link for info on the handset.

http://www.satphone.com.au/?gclid=CPOap6qM36wCFYSFpAodfG6CqQ

Also you can apply for the government subsidy which may get you up to 50% of the purchase price.

Just wanted to add that this wasnt the company that was selling them, but I just used that site so you can read some information about the phone itself.

cheers

stayyerAU


Last edited by stayyerAU on Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:50 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add more information)

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Post  nuggets Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:03 am

Hi all,

I looked into both options also and ended up getting one of the PLB's. With the Sat phones you still have to be on a monthly plan of some sort so you are paying a monthly plan fee like your mobile phone even if you are not using it. So if you are a part timer like me just getting out on weekends and maybe one big trip a year the Sat phone gets a bit expensive around $800 for the phone and then so much per month to keep the phone activated. If you could buy the phone and then just pay as you use it somehow it would be my preferred option. I think even with the prepaid credit you still have to pay the monthly connection fee. Another option is renting a Sat phone as and when required if you are going on an extended trip.

Nuggets

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Post  All-AU Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:31 am

Hi all,

I would not be without one, never had it further away than arms reach.
Easy way to remember: Put it mentally to your wallet! On rare occasions you leave the house without your wallet. In the bush, a Sat-phone can't buy you anything but sure you’re live.

Iridium served me well in the past, best coverage.
http://www.n2yo.com/satellites/?c=15


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Post  All-AU Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:39 am

nuggets wrote:Hi all,

I looked into both options also and ended up getting one of the PLB's. With the Sat phones you still have to be on a monthly plan of some sort so you are paying a monthly plan fee like your mobile phone even if you are not using it. So if you are a part timer like me just getting out on weekends and maybe one big trip a year the Sat phone gets a bit expensive around $800 for the phone and then so much per month to keep the phone activated. If you could buy the phone and then just pay as you use it somehow it would be my preferred option. I think even with the prepaid credit you still have to pay the monthly connection fee. Another option is renting a Sat phone as and when required if you are going on an extended trip.

Nuggets

Hi Nuggets,

Go and talk to some Car/Camper rentals, their offers include rental Sat-phones. I would be surprised if they would not rent out just the phone for a weekend.

Cheers
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Post  Guest Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:56 am

I wouldn't waste my money on a sat phone, If you spend that much time out in whoop whoop be prepared and go and do a survival course. For same sort of money you wil get skills that will last... I have extensive military training and it is more valuable in these circumstances (apart from medivac situations where an epirb is handy)!

So here is a list of guys that offer these courses....

aussurvivalist.com/survivalcourses.htm

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Post  nero_design Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:30 am


I too find the Sat Phones a little rich in price for my liking though I'm looking at them later today to see what I can get. A PLB should do the trick if the worst case scenario comes to pass and it's a lot less expensive ($299-$399) for complete peace of mind. But regardless of any training you've had, it takes very little effort to snap a bone in your leg out there in the bush or to end up on the end of a snake's fangs... or to lose your water supply through some accident ...or even have a cooking-gas-related explosion. You might even come across someone else in dire straights like a car accident in the middle of nowhere. Makes you feel sorry for Aussie explorers like Burke & Wills who perished horribly without such luxuries.

I'd say a broken leg or a snake strike would be the main two likelihoods in this neck of the woods.

/as for survivalist courses, I don't doubt they'd be effective although everything you need to know can be obtained in the SAS Survivalist Handbook if you want to keep a mini-library on hand (it's one of the smallest books on the market). I suppose you could watch the Bear Grylls videos for added entertainment. I did my training in the Middle East many years ago around the time of the First Persian Gulf War and most of it is applicable to Australian conditions. Plenty of people with more experience than you or I still succumb to the elements each year. My problem is that I find it hard to recall some random information when I need it years later, or... and this is what I remind myself every day: As I get older, I get SLOWER whereas the snakes are just as fast every time I see them.
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Post  Guest Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:51 am

I have completed the SAS training and you need to experience more than a book to get your head around a lot of the skills you need... If you are relying on memory from something you read then it is nowhere near as good as recalling something you have done over and over again (as you are aware Nero). Nick Vroomans was the guy who baby sat Bear Grylls here for his northern australia episode..

Bear wasn't in the real SAS (22), just the SAS TA (21) and is a great actor but not much chop and full of absolute rubbish!!! Relying on him would be like relying on a willy wag tail* to lead you back to safety.

Having a knighted father and a lady as a mother wil get you everywhere in any of her majesty's sevices!

*
sacred-texts.com/aus/mla/mla13.htm

This is not the story I was looking for actually! There is an aboriginal myth that if you follow a willy wag tail it will lead you to your death...


Last edited by Dez on Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:26 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post  detectoraid Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:24 am

Curious as to why the Spot device is not in your review?

http://www.findmespot.com/en/
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Post  detectoraid Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:26 am

Curious as to why the Spot device is not in your review?

http://www.findmespot.com/en/
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Post  Guest Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:18 am

Continuing subsciption fees, if you don't register it then SOS won't work, water pressure can activate SOS, water will destroy instructions on back after a few hours, pretty much need to use internet exploiter to use "easily", useless is some areas, mixed reviews (apparent bad customer service and device), spot connect needs bluetooth access with ph.

Apart from that it seems ok!

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Post  dno Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:29 pm

If you buy a Satphone outright, you can use a Telstra sim in it as long as it's not a prepaid but it must have global roaming enabled for Sat calls.
The calls are billed back to your account. So this way you don't have to pay any extra monthly fee's if only used occasional.
Hope this might be of some help.

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Post  detectoraid Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:00 pm

Well Dez,
You got a few thing half right and a few thing totally wrong.
First the spot device and spot connect are a bit more that an ERB which is really just a 1 trick pony.
Yes the first generation models had week antennas, that has been addressed in the 2ed generation units
Yes they (and all others) will not connect when the satellite is not in "view" I.E. steep canyons heavy, canopy cover.
Yes it requires a subscription to work but you can add helicopter rescue insurance.
Yes the sticker on the back will come off. But the buttons are clearly marked and intuitive. But why would you buy one for marine use?
I have no idea how you came up with one button getting activated with water pressure.
It works fine with any web browser in fact IE is the "worst performer"
Spot connect is blue tooth.
And show me any device that has 100% positive reviews for the product and support.
In fact the device and service are highly rated by consumer reports.
I do agree with your assessment of constant honing of survival skills.
Thank you for you military service.
It's folks like you that let me sleep in peace.
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Post  sandy2010 Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:30 pm

nero.......Many thanks for your invaluable posting.

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Post  sandy2010 Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:37 pm

dno
Thanks for that info. you posted re: sim card......I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that were (are) not aware of the Telstra facility.
That's the beauty of a quality forum.......getting the right info. saves a lot of time and stress.

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Post  Guest Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:12 pm

detectoraid wrote:Well Dez,
You got a few thing half right and a few thing totally wrong.
First the spot device and spot connect are a bit more that an ERB which is really just a 1 trick pony.
Yes the first generation models had week antennas, that has been addressed in the 2ed generation units
Yes they (and all others) will not connect when the satellite is not in "view" I.E. steep canyons heavy, canopy cover.
Yes it requires a subscription to work but you can add helicopter rescue insurance.
Yes the sticker on the back will come off. But the buttons are clearly marked and intuitive. But why would you buy one for marine use?
I have no idea how you came up with one button getting activated with water pressure.
It works fine with any web browser in fact IE is the "worst performer"
Spot connect is blue tooth.
And show me any device that has 100% positive reviews for the product and support.
In fact the device and service are highly rated by consumer reports.
I do agree with your assessment of constant honing of survival skills.
Thank you for you military service.
It's folks like you that let me sleep in peace.

Yep, one trick pony is why I think that it isn't something bad to use a phone since most decent android phones have a gps that works in airplane mode (which saves battery power).

Heard the second gen ones can be 400 metres out, it could put you on one side of a ridge or other depending.

They advertised it as waterproof and one reviewer I read stated the first one the company gave him ended up dead after 3 mins in a glass of water, the company got back to him and said it was a prototype model and a few weeks later he tested the real one and it had the sos button activated due to water pressure (can't remember the depth). What if you were hiking and got dragged into flood waters or had to use a river to try get to better ground, could be a reason for it to be use it in water if that possibility arose.

Glad to hear it works on other browsers, I really don't like internet exploiter.

I have heard their emergency response people are good but if you have any other enquiry then they can drag their heels and that lead to some being frustrated, I do agree that you would be hard pressed finding 100% good reviews for any product with the amount of whingers (whiner for you our american friend) Razz

If you are going to walk about in shorts, thongs and a tshirt with no phone, water and wonder why you are freezing your a**e off when you get lost then really you have no one to blame but yourself, I grew up camping and always believed in you can never have enough of the RIGHT skills, supplies and the like.

I owe the military a lot, it gave me extra skills, a trade and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to use some of these skills for the betterment of people, it was a humbling experience for the most part!

Lastly, I would like to point out that I was in no way having a dig at you personaly. Regards

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Post  Minermike Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:25 pm

Thanks to everybody for this information, to us old dumb bastards !!!
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Post  Minermike Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:50 pm

Just to tell you another little story. A few months ago I was in Kynuna NW Q'land. My mate Peter who is over 80 has lived in the area for over 50 years. He can drive around in the bush in the dark and still know where he is going. One time we drove to his camp,in the dark , and got there at 11 p.m. So, back to the story, we drove from Kynuna to Middleton, about 150 kms. never saw anybody , many f****** gates. The road was a Shire graded road.When we came back about a week later, we could see from our tracks, that nobody had driven over sections of that track. So take plenty of water and tucker as we did, it could be a long wait.
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Post  nero_design Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:10 pm

I'm glad I wrote this material down for the forum and posted it because I suspected a few other people might want to consider getting a PLB but didn't know much about them. Much like myself actually. Our local detecting club brought in a guy last year to talk to us about EPIRBS and PLBs and most of us didn't quite understand what it was he was selling.

Detectoraid: As for why I didn't cover any other models: The four models I mentioned were the only four recommended to me by A.M.S.A. Others may work fine but those were the ones they gave me information on. That "Spot" device looks VERY small and therefore quite useful. Contact the Australian Maritime Safety Authority http://www.amsa.gov.au/ and ask if in doubt.
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Post  dryblower Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:24 am

I do the same as DNO , 3g sim card in a sat phone , you will get billed to receive calls as well as make them , and it aint cheap, so keep it short !
Saves having a plan for an infrequently used sat phone .
The early Motorola 9505 had a charging problem , but the 9505a is ok .
DB

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Post  yellownugget Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:18 pm

thanks for those details nero and to everyone for the informative posts especially for those of us new to prospecting

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Post  nero_design Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:43 am

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PERSONAL BEACONS (PLB & EPIRB) & Sat Phones - Bush Safety Large

Ordered the PLB last week and it arrived (last week) within three days by courier. Nice and portable... extremely lightweight as well.

I've managed to cram quite a bit of equipment onto my pack and my detector kit. The trick is certainly in keeping as much metal as possible away from your coil. I also keep a current copy of various Miner's Rights and permits in a waterproof packet in a flap on my detector cover to access whenever necessary. Part of the reason is because if anyone is going to challenge me, I know it's handy and I won't accidentally leave them at home.

The PLB has an antenna that folds out when ready to deploy. It's extremely small (about the size of a large set of keys on a keyring) and it comes with a floating neoprene case. I've been told they don't float without the case but I'm not going swimming or boating with mine any time soon so I've removed the pouch so I could insert it into a different pouch on my detecting pack. The kit I've put together isn't particularly heavy and I've got pretty much everything I need at hand. I've also put together an identical kit for my wife to use so we don't need to rely on one another. it's probably overkill to what others might be using but I'm getting frustrated in having to make sure I've packed everything I need each time I go out (it's easy to misplace a radio or a cable lead etc) and this seems to be a way of keeping it all together and at hand in case anything is needed.

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Post  flying kiwi Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:23 pm

I have got a ACR PLB simmilar to yours Nero but must be the older model i keep it in the neoprene case which velcros quite nicely to the harness strap above the battery.

hope to never use it but does bring peice of mind and it aint no good to you back in the car.

another differece between EPERBS and PLBs are PLBs wont nessasarly float if you are on the water hence the neoprene case.
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Post  Beer Beeper Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:40 pm

nero_design, very good information, thank you.

1--How about carrying a Mobile Phone as well, if there is a signal from a tower near by. I read that someone was told a Mobile Phone that is turned-on interferes with a Minelab PI detectors performance. Does anyone know is that true.?

2--Do any of these other devices(PLB, GPS, GMRS or UHF 2-way radio, Sat Phone, etc.) while turned-on that a person can carry while detecting effect the Minelab PI SD/GP/GPX detectors adversely with any type of interference or performance loss.??



Last edited by Beer Beeper on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:46 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Flakmagnet Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:45 pm

beer beeper,

In answer to your last question,
yes.
A GPS can interfere with a PI and so can a cell phone
I don't know about a PLB.
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Post  Beer Beeper Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:50 pm

Thank you, if a GPS and Cell Phone(Mobile Phone) interferes(even though with no noticeable audible static but rather giving reduced performance) with a Minelab PI, then should we switch them OFF while detecting, or what should we do.??

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Post  Flakmagnet Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:33 pm

I switch off my phone when I turn the detector on and stash the gps high up on my back pack.
It seems to do well there with my body as a shield of sorts.
I do the same with the small radio I carry on occasion.
Not nearly as together as Nero Designs,
his sense of order and his artistic "take" on detecting and the gear we use
is the coolest I have seen.
(the only thing I would add to his kit shown above
would be one of those compressible fly mesh covers for over the head).
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Post  nero_design Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:38 pm

I turn off my phone when detecting because I tend to be in remote areas without good coverage in the goldfields. I usually turn my phone back on when I get into the reception range on the way home. I imagine a phone would cause some sort of broadcasting signal in terms of radio waves that would interfere with your detector.

I've usually had 2-way UHF radios turned on when detecting but always kept the device as far from the coil as possible. Same with the GPS units. In fact they all sit on the rear of my backpack behind the battery (see pic above)

A PLB will only broadcast and receive when activated. So you won't need to worry about that until you need to use it in an emergency. No doubt you'll turn off your detector by then.

If I'm using a larger coil and am wearing a knife on the front part of my body on my belt, i do have problems. The detector definitely reacts to the metal. That's one of the reasons why I attach my knife to the control box... so it will move in unison with the detector and coil.
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Post  Guest Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:50 pm

Nero I'm coming tecting with u.
u carry that much gear it must be obvious that u venture far and wide from your base.
we live in a different part of the world over here.
Water is parramount.

Regards
Oneday69

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