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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tools of the trade  |  Topic: State of the ELT locator market?
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Author Topic: State of the ELT locator market?  (Read 1465 times)
Mordecai
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,078
Unit: SI

« on: March 08, 2017, 01:59:30 PM »

Does anyone have a list of the current models available (or "available") and costs for DF gear for finding ELTs?
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Eclipse
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2017, 02:18:11 PM »

About the only game in town right now is the MK4 - my unit just bought one very recently fully-assembled
direct from the manufacturer.  When you buy direct from Foxhunt in Australia, the price is lower and you get more current firmware.

http://www.foxhunt.com.au/2m_sniffer/manual.htm

We paid $171 US shipped in Oct 2016



We also bought this handle / antenna from RDF. http://www.rdfantennas.com/


I whined discussed on here many times that the MK4 looks like a garage kit, but at some point
it bubbled up to the only thing readily available at a reasonable price that actually works.

You can also build the antenna out of PVC and tape measures - we look rag tag enough
without wandering around an airport with a science project, although I did tell my Comm guy
he was welcome to build one as a Cadet project.

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"Effort" does not equal "results".
The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by eclipse. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.

Майор Хаткевич
200,000th Post Author
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 6,075
Unit: GLR-IL-049

« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2017, 03:50:55 PM »

Realistically...how hard are these things to actually build? I mean...can't we basically 3d print a better looking unit, less the internals?
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jeders
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 2,008

« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2017, 04:00:59 PM »

Realistically...how hard are these things to actually build? I mean...can't we basically 3d print a better looking unit, less the internals?

The guy that makes them sells just the boards that you can put into your own housing.
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If you are confident in you abilities and experience, whether someone else is impressed is irrelevant. - Eclipse
Brad
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 776
Unit: MER-SC-020

« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2017, 06:29:03 PM »

The L-Tronics LL-16 "cheese block" Little LPer is still around, they are the standard at NESA:

http://www.ltronics.com/




There is also the Seimac ProFind DF-500P, but based on this forum topic, results are not the best: http://captalk.net/index.php?topic=5475.0
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Brad Lee
Maj, CAP
Assistant Director of Communications
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Eclipse
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2017, 06:51:05 PM »

The L-Tronics LL-16 "cheese block" Little LPer is still around, they are the standard at NESA:

http://www.ltronics.com/

These are excellent, and haven't been available since mid-2015.

As of May 2015:
"Our last production run of the LL-16 Little L-Per direction finder will soon be sold out, which is sooner than we had anticipated.

We are investigating our options to build another production run, but the lead time from selecting resources to finished product is going to be quite lengthly.   
We have established a waiting list for those interested in placing an order as well as for those wishing periodic updates on progress."


There is also the Seimac ProFind DF-500P, but based on this forum topic, results are not the best: http://captalk.net/index.php?topic=5475.0
To say the least.

Thankfully these are no longer in production.  The successor model made by MetOcean doesn't ship with CAP frequencies and
appears to be designed primary for use at sea, which is where all the 500Ps should be dumped.

The cheese block would be my first choice, followed closely by a vintage L-Per, but people are holding on to those with their cold dead fingers.
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N Harmon
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Posts: 776
Unit: GLR-MI-063

Monroe Composite Squadron
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2017, 12:03:59 PM »

I whined discussed on here many times that the MK4 looks like a garage kit, but at some point it bubbled up to the only thing readily available at a reasonable price that actually works.

The major problem with the MK4 is that it does not have an intuitive user interface. As a result, most users (myself included) have to refresh themselves on its operation every time they deploy it. But for the price, you really can't beat its effectiveness. In training novice and experts alike I found most people can locate a beacon faster with the MK4 than they can with any other finder.
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NATHAN A. HARMON, Capt, CAP
Monroe Composite Squadron
Spaceman3750
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Posts: 2,609

« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2017, 12:49:18 PM »

Is there a handheld scanner that can display signal strength like an L-Per in receive mode? That would be a big help just on its own.
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arajca
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 4,161

« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2017, 01:58:26 PM »

I whined discussed on here many times that the MK4 looks like a garage kit, but at some point it bubbled up to the only thing readily available at a reasonable price that actually works.

The major problem with the MK4 is that it does not have an intuitive user interface. As a result, most users (myself included) have to refresh themselves on its operation every time they deploy it. But for the price, you really can't beat its effectiveness. In training novice and experts alike I found most people can locate a beacon faster with the MK4 than they can with any other finder.
It can depend on how it's programmed (yes, you can program it in the field). Our is set with ELT freq on channel 1, Practice beacon on channel 2, and turns on in simple mode - you can only select channel 1 or 2, no other settings are available in simple mode.
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coudano
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Posts: 1,115

« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2017, 07:47:09 PM »

I actually spoke with LTRONICS today and it sounds like they are not making another run and that's going to be about all for them.  Also they are not doing repairs on L-PER anymore,  but I did grab the manual and the schematic so i'll be shopping for an electronics / RF tech.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2017, 08:43:37 PM »

Very unfortunate, and not something CAP should be learning about, nor responding to in a hap-hazard manner.

That leaves scores if not hundreds of aircraft with orphaned, mission critical equipment that has no simple replacement,
and no official replacement or even service house for the tools to prosecute what is still, at least rhetorically our primary mission.

Seems like someone should looking into this in a way that shows members what the plan is.

Although if CAP keeps losing charters like it has been the last few years, there will eventually be a closet in
Alabama with a bunch of these and no use for them.
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Nick
Seasoned Member

Posts: 473
Unit: SWR-TX-001

« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2017, 09:28:56 AM »

That leaves scores if not hundreds of aircraft with orphaned, mission critical equipment that has no simple replacement,
and no official replacement or even service house for the tools to prosecute what is still, at least rhetorically our primary mission.

Sounds like motivation to push that Becker upgrade program along. I've had an effectively dead L-Per in our aircraft for years.
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Nicholas McLarty, Lt Col, CAP
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etodd
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 854

« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2017, 01:49:06 PM »

Are there no handheld radios with a signal strength meter? Connect a yagi antenna and you would be good to go. (Maybe I'm missing something?)
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sardak
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Posts: 1,142

« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2017, 02:18:23 PM »

Quote
Are there no handheld radios with a signal strength meter? Connect a yagi antenna and you would be good to go. (Maybe I'm missing something?)
Yes, there are handheld radios that receive 121.5. A signal strength meter isn't necessary. The use of handheld receivers with or without a Yagi is a common method for finding beacons, particularly in close proximity to the beacon, and should be taught as part of UDF training. The problem is that these handhelds generally don't have the sensitivity of a purpose built DF unit, so often aren't good at longer ranges.

Quote
Sounds like motivation to push that Becker upgrade program along. I've had an effectively dead L-Per in our aircraft for years.
From page 25 of the minutes of the BoG meeting of 8-9 December 2014:
Maj Gen Vazquez talked about aircraft purchases and other issues. We are getting 21 aircraft. They are not going to have the ELT direction finders in them. We do not need to equip all our aircraft with them.

In 2015 I asked NHQ for the number of CAP aircraft equipped with 406 DF. Only about 2/3 of the aircraft had one.
> 222 Becker DF-517 (Beckers are built by RhoTheta)
> 143 RhoTheta RT-600
But the DF-517 can only receive one of the eleven 406 beacon frequencies, while the RT-600 can receive all of them. Five of the 11 frequencies are currently in use. A beacon transmits on only one frequency. And of course, there is no practical or relatively inexpensive ground 406 DF equipment.

The Second Generation Beacon (SGB) is in development internationally. One of the design goals was to remove the 121.5 MHz homing signal. USAF, USCG, NOAA and NASA backed this. The reasons were:
> the continuous 121.5 homing signal uses most of the beacon power and drives battery size
> the SGB needs power for other functions, but the beacon canít get bigger
> position accuracy doesn't require homing on 121.5 MHz
> if homing is needed, SAR can use 406 MHz DF. CAP and USCG were mentioned in this context.

Fortunately, the proposal to drop the 121.5 MHz homing signal was not accepted by the Cospas-Sarsat program. One of the reports stated:
Although the ultimate desire would be to remove 121.5 MHz from the homing equation, it is clear from the SAR response community that is currently not possible. There is currently little to no 406 MHz ground DF capabilities/tools available and several countries have stated that they currently cannot afford to transition their SAR units from 121.5 to 406 homing.

The new proposal is to make the 121.5 MHz signal intermittent (0.75 second on, 1.5 seconds off, repeating). Beacons with this pattern are being tested to determine if existing DF equipment can DF on the intermittent signal.

Mike
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etodd
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 854

« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2017, 02:26:16 PM »

Quote
Are there no handheld radios with a signal strength meter? Connect a yagi antenna and you would be good to go. (Maybe I'm missing something?)

The problem is that these handhelds generally don't have the sensitivity of a purpose built DF unit, so often aren't good at longer ranges.


I wasn't thinking in terms of aircraft. Once the Becker in the plane gets the ground team in the general area, it seems a good handheld with a very good yagi could do the trick on the ground pointing to the hangar.

A six element yagi like this should do the trick nicely:

http://www.sinclairtechnologies.com/catalog/product.aspx?id=2275
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 02:29:45 PM by etodd » Logged
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sardak
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,142

« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2017, 09:31:00 PM »

Quote
I wasn't thinking in terms of aircraft. Once the Becker in the plane gets the ground team in the general area, it seems a good handheld with a very good yagi could do the trick on the ground pointing to the hangar.
I wasn't thinking of the aircraft, either. Nationally, around 40% of CAP beacon missions don't utilize an aircraft, so the ground/UDF team has to find beacon on their own. Long range ground DFing is not a rare occurrence, and a Yagi is very helpful. At some point, as the ground/UDF team closes in on the beacon, a Yagi can become a problem due to size and/or excessive gain.

Mike
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AALTIS
Recruit

Posts: 29
Unit: MO-104

« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2017, 04:32:35 PM »

Word on the street is that L-Tronics is now for sale.  Perhaps someone would like to drop some change and buy them?
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Alan Altis, Captain
EMT/ B
MO Wing Group I
Emergency Services &
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