Building a distress beacon

Hello all

For my next project I will try to build an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), which are basically distress beacons for maritime use transmitting on either the 406 MHz band or the 121 MHz band. Has anyone done any work similar to this? Basically I'm asking for general pointers on how to approach this, and your comments on the feasibility of the project.

Thanks!

The design of an EPIRB has to be certified by the USCG, THEN granted a type approval by the FCC.

Take a look at this page: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg5214/epirbs.asp

You have quite a task ahead of you, and for starters the Arduino is NOT a radio transmitter, so I am not sure where you plan to make it fit in this project.

The necessary certification by a test facility recognized by one of the COSPAS/SARSAT Partners will run you an easy five-figure sum by itself.

All things considered, I would have to rate the feasibility as very poor.

I'd say if you turn it on and the Coast Guard shows up, it's a success, certified or not. ]:slight_smile:

"it's a success,"
until one gets the bill for the Search & Rescue effort. Typically they start with phone calls, then start expanding the search.
I suppose one could limit testing to the first 5 minutes of every hour, I think that's the allotted test time.

CrossRoads:
"it's a success,"
until one gets the bill for the Search & Rescue effort. Typically they start with phone calls, then start expanding the search.
I suppose one could limit testing to the first 5 minutes of every hour, I think that's the allotted test time.

We're gonna need a bigger sarcasm emote...

We're gonna need a bigger sarcasm emote...

I don't think it's sarcasm, in testing the design/sketch you will need to activate the EPIRB and this could start an expensive full scale search & rescue operation. My concern would be falling into freezing cold water with a EPIRB at the top of the hour and thinking they will ignore me for the first five minutes before starting there search.

haha, so it's a no go then?

haha, so it's a no go then?

Well, for you, yes. Generally speaking, broad general "how do I do it" questions about very complex projects = it ain't gonna happen.

Well, for you, yes. Generally speaking, broad general "how do I do it" questions about very complex projects = it ain't gonna happen.

I might've sold myself a little short here. I have interfaced a gps with a microcontroller with success (although not an arduino), it's just the transmitting part that I havent got down just yet (since I know very little about communications). In my mind, once you have the data it should be simple to use a transmitter (GSM or whatever) to get the data wherever it's needed. Perhaps I was wrong?

Anyways, I'll research this properly and come back to it later! Thanks, guys

The problem has nothing to do with your abilities, it has to do with the regulatory process required to build and operate an EPIRB. Contact one of the COSPAS/SARSAT partners and inquire about their fees for the legally required testing process -I recommend that you place this call from a seated position. Unless this is a project that you want to invest tens of thousands of dollars into, then your only option is to break several federal laws, the penalties for which are rather severe.

it has to do with the regulatory process required to build and operate an EPIRB.

yeah, I read your link kinda discouraged me a little bit.

Anyways, now I'm thinking of buying a gsm module for sparkfun (like this one GSM/GPRS Module - SM5100B - CEL-09533 - SparkFun Electronics) and simply texting the position from the gps to a predetermined number. Thoughts?

That sounds like a very workable project.

I respect the fact that you are reaching for such interesting uses for your Arduino - it is this spirit that leads to great innovations.

IMHO this is the kind of project you should not even try to attempt as a beginner. You want to create some kind of safety deveice that must be able to operate under very harsh conditions. However as a beginner you might come to the conclusion that if it works once under your test conditions it will really work. But think about it: will your gsm transmitter work floating in rain in a rough sea? Will your gps pick up any signal during heavy rain? Will your box be sealed water tight? Is it really water tight after being exposed to salt water in the air for several month? It is water tight after temperature changes? Is it still operational
after falling to the floor?

My point is: if you want to build something like this for educational purposes. Go ahead there is a lot to learn. If you want to build it as a safety device - forget it.

That sounds like a very workable project.

Excellent, thanks.

if you want to build something like this for educational purposes

that's pretty much it

im kind of working on transmitting text over the 415 spectrum , although i have been told its not legal and it didnt really work anyway.

i was using a pre written morse code sketch, i acheived sending the morse based on the text from a serial input,
but the receiver heard too much interference and could only recognise a few letters.

i might pick it back up later, but if you were to want to do it, im sure its possible, just not legal, (apparently)