EPIRB battery changing

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The other post on EPIRBs reminded me. Does anyone know a place where I can change the battery on the ACR EPIRB without having to take out a second mortgage... /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif
 

William_H

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I am all ears on this post as I always thought that EPIRBS used lithium long life non rechargeable batteries. As Far As I Know rechargeable batteries in any from have a fair bit of natural discharge such that they need recharging or top up frequently. So not really suitable for an EPIRB where you need it ready for action at any time. Compared to some lithium batteries with shelf life of many years. olewill
 
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I don't think they are rechargeable, if I understood correctly they need replacing /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

ACR website specification states "Lithium 5 year replacement life (11 year useful life)".
 
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I've just taken out that second mortgage (€460) to have the batteries replaced in my McMurdo. It is outrageous and the McMurdo company will be the long-term losers from my business. They have me where they want me with these EPIRBS but I would under no circumstances buy a product from them again.

I am certain that it is possible to change the batteries but there could be reliability issues. I am an electronics engineer by training and spent a long time working in military electronics. I would not attempt to change my own batteries because there are so many ways that they could have booby-trapped the product by design or accident, making it essential to have some kind of mechanical or electrical tool to get it working. It is pretty near impossible to check that it is working properly even with a fully-equipped electronics lab so you would never be certain that it would put out the correct data strings once you had put it back together. It might all seem fine and the internal test might show OK but you could never know for sure unless you had knowledge that the internal test really does give a full-functional test and not simply an RF and battery test, for example. After all, you get no feedback - the internal test might just be a flashing xenon on a timer!?

It would be nice to hear from someone who has worked in the design labs but this probably isn't the right forum /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

jon

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Thanks Lemain that is just the sort of informed info this forum needs ! Are there any makes that allow the user to change the battery ? It does remind one of printers and replacement ink cartridges, the latter costing more in some cases than the former.
 

Gin

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I won't buy McMurdo either due to their refusal to recode their own PLB's for registration in other territories.

I've now got ACR and that is currently being recoded AND the unit has a self-test button which sends a test signal to a satellite to check that a proper stream is being emitted (ACR recommend a monthly test)- it also has a similar test facility for the on-board GPS but ACR say to test this only once in the battery's 5 year life as it is presumably a heavy drain

I shall be talking to ACR soon as I need other recoding to be done and I shall ask about battery replacement/costs
 
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Thanks for the responses everyone. It looks like I may just have to shell out /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif
 

tome

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That's one good reason why I bought a Jotron EPIRB also. The battery is due for replacement now so I'm just awaiting a price from Seateach. Doesn't seem 5 years since I bought it!
 

npf1

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I've got an ACR unit and its battery is now just out of date (the 5 year date). I searched high and low to find a dealer who would supply one for me to fit - they won't do it and claim to be not allowed to by ACR. They will fit a new battery for somewhere around £200 to £240!!!

I've since opened the unit to have a peek - it's a 9V lithium battery with standard connectors but it is a custom shape. I tracked down who I think is the manufacturer of the battery - they would also not supply one could make me a custom made batch!

I decided to keep the existing battery as it's well within the 11 year date and the battery manufacturer claims an 11 year life, but I have put a suitable 9V battery with connector, both from Maplins, and a screwfdriver in the grab bag. The Maplins battery is 30-40% smaller than the orginal but seems to be to be perfectly suitable for a good few extra hours should the ACR die prematurely. Swapping batteries is just a cse of undoing 4 screws. £12 at Maplins for the a little extra piece of mind seems OK to me and, in this case, I think I only have me to answer to as boat is not chartered.

Incidentally, a marine electronics dealer told me that the only unit available with a user changeble battery is the McMurdo PLB.
 

prescott56

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mmmm, all very interesting. i am in the market for an epirb.
liked the sound of the Jotron with changeable batteries, but they are only 24hr and the units seems more expensive.
I think i will stick with ACR or GME.
Hopefully this epirb lark will have changed in the 3 years til battery replacement.
regards
 

tobble

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at the risk of being accused of cynicism, I suspect manufacturers hike up the battery replacement charge in order to reduce the price of the new unit, making it more competitive, and of course as soon as you shell out they have you by the short and curlies! an even more cynical view is that they charge what the hell they want because people will not put a price on 'safety'... IMHO
 

npf1

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one obvious thing to note is: if buying a new EPIRB, check the battery date before buying. I noticed some ACR units discounted at the weekend but the batteries had only 2 years left.
 
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[ QUOTE ]
I've now got ACR and that is currently being recoded AND the unit has a self-test button which sends a test signal to a satellite to check that a proper stream is being emitted (ACR recommend a monthly test)-

[/ QUOTE ]Maybe that is a generic requirement under the GMDSS specifcation - I would be interested to know. The question is, if the unit fails to send the wrong data stream, how do you know? My McMurdo simply flashes three times if it is OK and that leaves me with lots of no confidence as it could be done with a 555 timer IC - It almost certainly isn't, but you get my point.
 

leadersail

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Mc murdo request you check the unit 5 minutes either side of the hour, does the test button send a signal all the way to the satellite and back ?

I have some old life jackets self serviced and working from the 1970's.

I tested one of the batteries and left the light on.
Two days latter I gave up waiting for the battery to run out !

If battery technology from the 70's lasts for 30 to 40 years is there really any need to change Mc murdo after 5 years ?

Did you keep the old battery to run a test on it ?
 
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I didn't know about the five minutes thing - it isn't marked on the product and I don't know whether I ever knew that there was a required time. Surely it would be marked adjacent to the test button? I have no idea whether the signal goes there and back or whether it is a xenon on the end of a 555 timer.

I don't suppose that I will be given the old battery to check but here in the Med it can get very hot and it has been in hot countries quite a bit during the five years. Most things degrade very much faster in the heat which is why I am playing safe. I would not accept a solution that required me to fiddle around with changing batteries in an emergency - part of the rationale of having a GPS EPIRB is that my wife (or I) can set it off when terrified, half drowned, seasick, bleeding, etc. and help should come quite quickly. One does not work well under those circumstances (unless you have been trained to work under stress like that and few of us have been).

Looking at the McMurdo switchery, I think that there might be (probably is) a solid state switch controlling this thing, unlike life jacket lamps. In which case there will be leakage and the leakage can vary by a factor of a hundredfold between different batches of components so I would not bet on it lasting much longer than the rated time especially if used in the heat.
 

leadersail

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Mine is the Fast Find Plus and there is a label at the side of the button to say when the test should be done, the Fast Find plus has a sealed battery that comes off and the whole battery assembly is replaced, I am not sure if the old Battery has to be returned in order to get a new one.
Mine is due next year I think and I would have stretched it a couple of years but perhaps not now, following your concerns I will stick to the schedule.
Next year I will test the old battery and report how long it lasts, I may as well run it out if it is going back !
 

William_H

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Goodness Olewill is not just old but losing his marbles. yes it did say Change and I mis read it.
Back in my working days light aircraft were required with new legislation to carry EPIRB or SARBe or whatever you call it. One of the most popular was made by Narco of USA. It had 8 D sized copper top batteries. They were recommended to be changed every year.One in New guinea was still bleating after a week after a crash. (it was too difficult to get to the blighter to turn it off from auto activation.) As you can imagine buying your batteries from a super market was much cheaper. However most now days are much tinier and have the specialised lithium batteries.
Note my post of yesterday and the time limit on use of 121.5 mhz beacons that may dictate a new beacon rather than change batteries. olewill
 
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[ QUOTE ]
Note my post of yesterday and the time limit on use of 121.5 mhz beacons that may dictate a new beacon rather than change batteries.

[/ QUOTE ]
Thanks Olewill, this one's a 406Mhz, so I hope should still have a few more years in it!
 
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