Frequently Asked Questions

What is an EPIRB?

EPIRB stands for ‘Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon’. EPIRB transmissions are monitored by the international organisation COSPAS-SARSAT using a constellation of satellites. On receipt of an alert from an EPIRB, the identity of the beacon is passed to the relevant national rescue coordination centre. For more information on the system please go to Cospas Sarsat webpage.

Why is the pouch permanently attached to the PLB1?

For Australia and New Zealand the regulations require that the PLB must float. Because of the small size of the rescueME PLB1, the pouch is used to provide buoyancy and must be permanently attached when supplied in those countries. If you require to remove the pouch for land based usage, cut the black cord leaving enough length to make a loop to re-attach the pouch or to tie a separate lanyard to.

What is the location accuracy of the rescueME PLB1?

The Cospas Sarsat system uses two methods of locating a beacon. The satellite system is designed to locate your beacon using the transmission alone.  The accuracy of this fix is approximately a 5 nautical mile radius, but is typically much better. The rescueME PLB1 has a built in GPS receiver which is used to encode the position in the transmission.  When the GPS has a reliable fix, usually within a few minutes, the accuracy is typically within 100 metres of your actual position can be achieved.

Do I need to register my EPIRB1 / PLB1?

It is recommended that you register your EPIRB1 / PLB1 with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.  AMSA are the Australian government department responsible to co-ordinate all distress beacon activations in the Australian Region This is a free service provided and could provide them with valuable information should the device be activated. REGISTER THEM ONLINE HERE

Why must I register my EPIRB or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)?

Registration is FREE.  Registering your beacon will speed up the rescue authorities attempt to rescue you, providing valuable information to help identify you and contact people who might aid in identification. It is very important to ensure your registration details are accurate.   REGISTER THEM ONLINE HERE

When I register my EPIRB or PLB is the 0 in the 15 digit HEX ID (UIN) the number 0, or the letter O?

The HEX ID consists of the numbers from 0 to 9 and the letters from A to F only. The character 0 is the number zero.

Can I carry a PLB on aircraft as luggage?

The Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 can be safely carried on board a passenger aircraft as either checked in or carry on luggage under section of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.  The lithium metal battery in the rescueME PLB1 contains less than 2g of lithium and have been tested in accordance with 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests.  Precautions should  be taken to prevent accidental activation if placed in checked in baggage.

Is the battery replaceable on the PLB1?

Yes, the battery will be replaceable after the expiry period or after the unit has been activated. The battery is not user replaceable and must be sent to an authorised service dealer for replacement. Please contact the distributor in your country for further information.

When should I replace my PLB1 battery?

Under normal circumstances the battery in the PLB1 should be replaced before the expiry date marked on the unit. If the unit has been activated in emergency or if the test indicator LED is flashing amber (orange) the battery must be replaced before it is used again to ensure the full 24 hours of operation in emergency. The typical lifetime of the PLB1 is greater than 24 hours, but this is under defined conditions of storage and test usage.  Do not assume that just because the activation was only for a short length of time the battery will not need exchanging.

Why is there an expiry date on my primary battery?

The lithium battery is designed to be use in an emergency. Unlike a rechargeable battery the amount of capacity and hence the operational life is known. The expiry date is based on the self discharge figures for the battery, taking worst case scenarios, thus ensuring the rated operational life is always achieved.

When testing the PLB, I get two green flashes. What does this mean?

The test indication is repeated. So for a battery which has been used for less than one hour, you will see single green flash, which is repeated after a short pause. If the battery has been used for over one hour, the indicator will change to an amber (orange) colour. Over two hours and the indicator will flash amber two or more times in a close group, which will be repeated after a short pause.

What is the advantage of a GPS vs NON GPS fitted EPIRB / PLB?

  • The GPS EPIRB / PLB not only provides the safety authorities with a more accurate position, but is also much quicker to pass the position through.
  • With a GPS fitted EPIRB /PLB the position is immediately relayed via COSPAS-SARSAT satellites on detection to the rescue authorities, saving valuable time in your rescue.
  • Non GPS EPIRBs rely on the passing overhead of more than 1 COSPAS-SARSAT satellite to triangulate the EPIRBs position. The delay in a suitable satellite passes may be the difference of life or death, especially in colder waters. Your position could take anywhere between 90 minutes to 5 hours compared to within 20 minutes with a GPS beacon. This is because for non-GPS beacons the satellite must pass overhead twice and successfully detect the beacon to confirm your position. It takes a satellite anywhere between 90 minutes to 5 hours to pass overhead again because they don’t follow the same path.

More info

Why is GPS best?

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) recommends Global Positioning System (GPS) beacons as they have the quickest and most accurate alerts.

Alert timeDetected within minutesDetected within minutes
Time to provide locationUp to 20 minutes (assuming beacon is deployed correctly)Acquired between 90 minutes to 5 hours
PrecisionWithin 120 metresWithin 5 kilometres

For more information on how the beacon system works and how long it takes see how distress beacons work.

Do your satellite products work indoors?

No.  They are designed to be used outdoors with a clear view of the sky to be in direct view of the satellites.

Will the PLB1 / EPIRB1 work overseas?

Yes they will.  They will work anywhere in the world.  What you do have to remember is that the signal from the devices will be received quickly your rescue may take a long time.  If it took you a while to get there it will also take them some time to get there.

Can the PLB1 replace the EPIRB on a boat?

No. The requirement for a Vessel more than 2 nautical miles of the coastline is an EPIRB which are designed to transmit a distress signal in excess of 48 hours. A PLB does not meet this requirement.

I have a warranty issue with a SPOT or inReach.  What do I do?

Warranty for the SPOT and inReach are handled by Pivotel direct on 1300 882 448.

Does the SOS button on the SPOT / inReach and 9575 work in Australia?

Yes it does.  It is monitored in the US at the IERCC (international Emergency Rescue Co-ordination Center and then relayed to AMSA in Canberra.  AMSA are the government department responsible to co-ordinate all distress beacon activations in the Australian Region.  They will then task State and Territory authorities to attend to the SOS activation.  Up until Jan 2015 there has been 110 SOS rescue activations from these devices in Australia

What test modes does the MOB1 have?

  • There are three test modes on the MOB1; Functional, DSC and AIS/GPS.
  • The Functional test should be carried out once a month and will display the length of time the battery has been used for.  It will also apply a load to the battery to test that the battery is not faulty or has been discharged.  It carries out other functional tests on the electronic circuitry.  It does not test the GPS or make test transmissions.
  • The DSC test should be carried out no more than two times a year.  This test sends a single DSC transmission to the MMSI programmed into the MOB1, which will be displayed on the vessels DSC radio.  It does not send a Distress or Distress Relay call and the call does not contain the position.
  • The AIS test should be carried out no more than three times a year.  This test activates the GPS receiver and after the position is determined it makes an AIS transmission, which will display on a suitable AIS receiver or chartplotter.  The received AIS message will show the position determined by the MOB1 GPS receiver.  There is also a transmission of the AIS text message containing the words “MOB TEST”.  Note that this test must be done with the MOB1 in full view of the sky.  Without a valid position, the MOB1 will not transmit any AIS messages.
  • The limitation on the number of tests a year is to ensure that the battery will still have its full operational life at the expiry date of the battery.

Why does my MOB1 show red flashes if I try to programme the MMSI number?

  • If the unit fails to programme, showing the flashing red LED on completion, please try again. 
  • Turn the MOB1 on in programming mode again and retry.  There is no need to exit the programming screen on the programme. 
  • If the programming page is showing, simply press F10 again to commence the programming sequence again.

If you are having problems programming your MOB1, please check the following guidance:

  1. Make sure that your screen brightness is set to maximum, using the controls on the monitor or device.
  2. Ensure that you have commenced programming within 50 seconds of putting the MOB1 into programming mode.  Failure to do this will cause the MOB1 to have turned off before communication starts.  Note that once programming has commenced (The white box is flashing) the MOB1 should stay on until the programming sequence is completed.
  3. Ensure that the MOB1 is placed over the white square with the rubber programming adaptor firmly touching the screen and with the aperture in the rubber close to the centre of the white box.
  4. Avoid programming the MOB1 in bright ambient light conditions.  If necessary point the screen away from direct or bright sources of light such as sun through a window.  (In extreme circumstances, especially with older screens that have lost their brightness, place a thick cloth over the screen and MOB1 to block out the ambient light.)
  5. The MOB1 configuration software requires precise timing, which may be disrupted by other applications running at the same time, especially on slower computers.
  6. If you still encounter problems, try shutting down all un-necessary applications, including anti virus software.

Why should I carry a SART?

A SART is designed to aid the rescue authorities locate you in emergency. Although it is not a primary alerting device, like an EPIRB, it will guide the rescue craft to you by displaying a position and bearing line on the rescue craft’s radar.

Which DSC radios are compatible with the MOB1?

Ocean Signal recommends using one of the radios from the list below with the rescueME MOB1. The following class D DSC radios have been tested in cooperation with the manufacturer and confirmed to receive the Individual Distress Relay call.


  • Current models; M91, M323, M423, M506
  • Older models; M411, M421, M505, M603


  • RS90

Standard Horizon

  • GX1600E (Explorer)
  • Newer models are also likely to work but have not been tested.

Class A DSC radios have always been able to receive this call and all models are believed to be compatible.

This list is not exhaustive and will be added to as more compatible models are confirmed.

Ocean Signal welcomes enquiries from other manufacturers wishing to have their radios listed here.