ACR's ResQFix Personal Locator Beacon is 35 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than its previous AquaFix model and yet purportedly performs better. This is not so trivial when you consider that this six-inch-high unit is meant to acquire a fast GPS fix in tough conditions (like from its float bag next to you in a rough sea), transmit that position and your ID via 406 MHz to the search-and-rescue satellite system, and also send out a 121.5-MHz signal that rescuers can home in on (note that your own yacht could use that homing signal, too—see “Man Overboard”).
My confidence in this complicated technology was bolstered when I visited ACR's factory last year and saw both its elaborate GPS simulation facility, used to fine-tune the PLB's receiver, and its extensive testing routines. The $750 ResQFix, which uses a five-year lithium battery and is waterproof to 33 feet, also has its own circuitry, battery power/voltage, and GPS acquisition testing built in. Note that PLBs like this are also carried by small aircraft pilots and others who venture into wilderness, watery or otherwise.
This article originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.