ACR ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

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– Bjorn Sturmberg

Although it takes away from the committing nature of hard trips, carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is often the responsible thing to do. Particularly when scrambling with apprentice gibberologist or putting yourself in dicy situation in a remote location (for the uninitiated, ‘gibber’ is an old bushwalkers term for a tumbling rock, while a gibberologist is simple the person who — accidentally or deliberately — has sent the rock plummeting down!).

After a fair bit of research into what PLB I should purchase, I felt that the ACR ResQLink was the way to go.

This is a new model that abides by the (post Feb 2009) regulations of broadcasting on 406 MHz, rather than the old 121.5 MHz (Ref). The ACR ResQLink model comes with a GPS, which sends your location to rescuers with an accuracy of 120 m or better which is a serious advantage over non GPS beacons that have an accuracy of 5km (Ref). Whilst the ACR ResQLink + model provides additional buoyancy I dont believe this feature justifies the additional weight and size for uses where it can be reliably secured to ones pack or person.

Like most (possibly all?) PLBs the ResQLink can be used world wide with the Cospas-Sarsat System, although it is essential that you register it with the authorities in your home country. It is also wise to purchase your PLB from within your own country to make sure it meets local regulations and fine tunings!

Gold standard sizing – 1L waterbottle

ACR ResQLink technical specifications:

  • 153 g, 11.4 cm tall (the smallest PLB on the market at present)
  • GPS positioning, a powerful 406 MHz signal, and 121.5 MHz homing capability
  • GPS is 66-Channel (more than other models)
  • built-in LED strobe light
  • inherently buoyant
  • No Subscription Fees
  • Self-Test and GPS Test Features
  • Typical Performance 30 Hours
  • Non-Hazmat Battery
  • Made in the U.S.A.

PLB deployment mode (in practise)

Now it’s a little hard to say much more about how this little guy will work when all hell breaks loose, as this is impossible to test (and has thankfully yet to happen on its own accord). However the peace of mind it has offered and the knocks it has taken without issue suggests it will be close to me for some time to come.

The crunch:

  • Cost 4/5
  • Size, weight 4/5
  • Hard-wearing 4/5

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2 thoughts on “ACR ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

  1. Unfortunately there is a mistake on the instructions that are printed on the device itself. It says that you have to press the button for 1 second to activate or deactivate. While this is correct for activation, to deactivate you need to hold the button for 3 seconds.

    We recently had an unfortunate emergency and were unable to deactivate the PLB after the paramedics arrived. 3 seconds are a very long time if you’re loaded with adrenaline.

    I talked to the manufacturer about it and they promised to address this.

  2. ACR has a “survivors club” where you can register and tell your story if you used your ResQLink in an emergency and got rescued. They not only send you a T-shirt, but they also replace your used PLB with a brand new one for free.

    The fine prints are that it has to be a legitimate emergency situation and the PLB has to have been properly registered.

    While their conditions state they only replace one PLB per incident, they actually replaced both our PLBs that we had to use in a recent emergency.

    Note: usually only a single PLB should be activated per emergency, but the circumstances were unusual and the decision to activate both turned out to be the right call.

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