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Author Topic: 406 Training Beacon  (Read 5518 times)
Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« on: October 15, 2014, 06:55:55 PM »

Does anyone have a handle on any purpose built 406.XXX/121.775 training beacons?

Or any 406 only beacons?

Thanks!
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lordmonar
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2014, 07:15:49 PM »

Not that I know of.   I don't think they want any training transmitters on the 406 freq. I have not heard of any training freqs around the 406 like they do for 121.775
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PATRICK M. HARRIS, SMSgt, CAP
Pacific Region
Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 07:26:22 PM »

Not that I know of.   I don't think they want any training transmitters on the 406 freq. I have not heard of any training freqs around the 406 like they do for 121.775

Already had an initial conversation with AFRCC.  Looking for practice beacon, or suitable 406 beacon with no 121.5 transmission or easy removal of 121.5 transmitter.
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sardak
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Posts: 1,135

« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2014, 07:31:41 PM »

When wings were issued the Seimac No-Finds, each wing was supposed to have received a 406 practice beacon. The 406 message in the beacon is coded as a test beacon so the Cospas-Sarsat knows what it is. The homing signal is on 121.775. Our wing's is a Seimac S1210, which is actually an EPIRB.

The NOAA-Sarsat program office has guidelines for the use of 406 practice beacons. For beacon activation using a “test-coded” beacon or an operational beacon, approval must be validated by a national sponsor (USCG, USAF, or NOAA) and approved by NOAA by submitting a Request for 406 MHz Beacon Test form, located here: http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/Beacon%20Testing%20Policy.html

Mike
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Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2014, 07:49:41 PM »

Thanks, but.....

Looking for practice beacon, or suitable 406 beacon with no 121.5 transmission or easy removal of 121.5 transmitter.
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sardak
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Posts: 1,135

« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2014, 08:02:44 PM »

Quote
Looking for practice beacon, or suitable 406 beacon with no 121.5 transmission or easy removal of 121.5 transmitter.
The homing signal on the CAP 406 practice beacon is 121.775. Do you not want any VHF transmission, because your first message was "Does anyone have a handle on any purpose built 406.XXX/121.775 training beacons?"

Mike
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Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2014, 08:46:26 PM »

Quote
Looking for practice beacon, or suitable 406 beacon with no 121.5 transmission or easy removal of 121.5 transmitter.
The homing signal on the CAP 406 practice beacon is 121.775. Do you not want any VHF transmission, because your first message was "Does anyone have a handle on any purpose built 406.XXX/121.775 training beacons?"

Mike

Good question, looking for in order of priority:

1. Purpose built 406.XXX / 121.775 Practice Beacon

2. 406.XXX EPIRB/ELT with no 121.5 homer

3. 406.XXX EPIRB/ELT with easily disabled 121.5 homer.

Great to have would be an AC/DC power connection.

Thanks!
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lordmonar
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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2014, 08:51:34 PM »

Question.  What is the intended purpose of this beacon?
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PATRICK M. HARRIS, SMSgt, CAP
Pacific Region
Mission/Tow Pilot
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Posts: 414

« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2014, 08:52:56 PM »

To put it in my bathtub and watch it float and see how long it takes CAP to break down my door  :o

Oh a serious question on CAPTalk.  Ok...

We have had a number of 406 missions where there was either no homer or it was so weak that it could not be heard until you were on top of it.

The goal is to have a practice beacon that aircrews could practice DF'ing the 406.XXX signal only with no 121.775 homer.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 08:57:24 PM by Mission Pilot » Logged
sardak
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2014, 11:55:09 PM »

Quote
The goal is to have a practice beacon that aircrews could practice DF'ing the 406.XXX signal only with no 121.775 homer.
We need to be practice this everywhere for the reasons you mention.

Mike
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lordmonar
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2014, 11:57:57 PM »

If you can't find one with out a 121.775 beacon.....you just tell your crews not to turn on their ELPers and/or keep their Beckers on the 406.

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PATRICK M. HARRIS, SMSgt, CAP
Pacific Region
GrimReaper
Recruit

Posts: 27
Unit: GLR-MI-117

« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2014, 07:27:31 AM »

When I attended NESA this past summer,  they mentioned, they were placing a 406 training beacon for the the Advanced MAS course. 
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LTC Don
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Posts: 354
Unit: MER-NC-143

JoCo CAP
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2014, 10:07:42 AM »

This is something that hasn't been well-explained to the masses.  I thought the 406 signal was a short data burst every 90 seconds or so that isn't suitable for DF'ing and that was the purpose of the embedded, low-power 121.5 transmitter for short distance or near-location tracking.

Is this not the case?
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Donald A. Beckett, Lt Col, CAP
Commander
MER-NC-143
Gill Rob Wilson #1891
sardak
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2014, 10:45:54 AM »

The 406 signal is indeed a short, approximately 1/2 second burst, once every 50 seconds. The Becker/RhoTheta units in CAP aircraft can DF the signal, but the process is not as straightforward as DFing a continuous signal. The generally lower power 121.5 homing signal (it isn't lower on all beacons) has been a problem to locate in some instances and some beacons haven't transmitted the 121.5 signal, requiring the 406 DF. This is why we need to practice DFing just the 406 signal. Here is a CAP paper on 406/121.5 DF searches: http://www.capmembers.com/media/cms/Prosecuting_406_MHz_Distress_Beacon_DAE24A42EC69E.pdf

The Coast Guard has equipped all of its aircraft with Rockwell-Collins 406 DF units and swears by it. They have charts showing the lock range of the 406 signal for various altitudes, with a maximum range so far of 160 miles, from 25,000 feet, a bit out of CAP's altitude capability.

Unfortunately, this has led some in the US Government to push for the complete removal of the 121.5 homing signal from the second generation of 406 beacons (SGB). The specs for the SGB are currently in work, with a plan for SGBs to hit the market around 2018. This proposal has hit some opposition, but it is far from a dead issue.

This issue should not be confused with proposal to get rid of 121.5 MHz only ELTs in the US. This has been fought for years and hasn't been finalized, but it's close.

Mike
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Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2014, 10:46:51 AM »

The 406 beacon transmits a 406.XXX digital burst every 50 seconds and a patient aircrew with a Becker DF-517 or a Rho Theta RT-600 can utilize these bursts to home in on the beacon.

Note that the DF-517 can only receive the 406.025, 406.050 and 406.075 MHz beacons while the RT-600 can receive all of them.  Consequently, the IC needs to ask AFRCC for the beacon frequency and the 15-Hex ID.  This Hex ID can be identified by the DF-517 and RT-600 and confirmed by the aircrew.

Last year we had a number of 406 only beacons where we utilized the aircraft to find the beacon.

More info from NHQ here: http://www.capmembers.com/media/cms/Prosecuting_406_MHz_Distress_Beacon_DAE24A42EC69E.pdf
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Bayareaflyer 44
Member

Posts: 68
Unit: PCR-CA-096

« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2014, 11:17:56 AM »

MP - I can help you with this if you like.

Pointer Inc makes the Pointer Model 6000 Cadet practice beacon with the 121.775 homer.

Instead of making a home-made version of the 406.xxx, perhaps someone from CAP engages Pointer to build a similar 406.xxx/121.775 practice beacon that can have the 121.775 turned off or on based on the practice scenario?

Since the model 6000 Cadet is based off a recent production model, perhaps this proposed "Cadet" version is simply a variation of one of their existing models?

Just a thought...
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Earhart #2546
GRW     #3418
Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2014, 12:13:12 PM »

Since the model 6000 Cadet is based off a recent production model, perhaps this proposed "Cadet" version is simply a variation of one of their existing models?

Just a thought...

Great idea, I just sent them an email!
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rbrehm
Recruit

Posts: 8
Unit: SER-FL-044

« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2014, 05:25:25 PM »

I actually spoke with the owner of Pointer about this about 8 months ago. At that time, he said he had started working on a 406 training beacon, but it had been benched and he hadn't had time to work on it again. Hopefully it's a project that's still in the works.
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Robert Brehm II
SER-FL-044/DOS
Panzerbjorn
Seasoned Member

Posts: 277
Unit: MER-NC-048

« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2014, 07:38:00 PM »

I was able to work with 406 practice beacons at NESA this year, and I was delightfully surprised to find out they existed.  So, to answer the first question, yes, they do exist.

Next, the beacon transmitted both the 406 and 121.775 signals just like the real ones do.  The only difference is that the beacon did not transmit GPS coordinates embedded in the 406 signal.

Third, the 121.775 signal is SUPPOSED to be weak.  That's what saves the batteries and the real ones transmit GPS coordinates in the 406 signal.  So the idea is home in on the 406 signal and the GPS coordinates, and sniff it out the rest of the way on the 121.5/121.775 signal.

I truly wish I remembered the name of the company that made the beacons, but it's the same company that makes the EPIRBS.  Yellow base, clear top, antenna sticking out the top, approximately 8 or 9 inches high.
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Major
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sardak
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Posts: 1,135

« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2014, 08:00:54 PM »

Quote
I truly wish I remembered the name of the company that made the beacons, but it's the same company that makes the EPIRBS.  Yellow base, clear top, antenna sticking out the top, approximately 8 or 9 inches high.
Seimac. The name is in the third post of this thread. Seimac has since been bought out by ACR.

Quote
...and the real ones transmit GPS coordinates in the 406 signal.
Only 41% of 406 ELTs made in 2011 were GPS capable, 26% of EPIRBs and 98% of PLBs.

Mike
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Spaceman3750
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« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2014, 08:07:39 PM »

I sent an email to an MAS person who may be able to point you in the right direction.

Related to sardak's post though, regarding GPS capable ELTs, I have a question. When I was doing some research on ELTs for kit/experimental aircraft (because I was bored), I noticed that all of the GPS-capable ELTs that I could find took their GPS coordinates from the panel GPS or PFD. If you're in an accident, isn't the likelihood of that shiny PFD or GPS being INOP pretty high, therefore negating the value of the GPS feature?
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The moment any commander or staff member considers themselves a gatekeeper, instead of a facilitator, they have failed at their job.
I can't fix all of CAP's problems, but I can lead from the bottom by building my squadron as a center of excellence to serve as an example of what every unit can be.
Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2014, 08:15:39 PM »

Quote
I truly wish I remembered the name of the company that made the beacons, but it's the same company that makes the EPIRBS.  Yellow base, clear top, antenna sticking out the top, approximately 8 or 9 inches high.
Seimac. The name is in the third post of this thread. Seimac has since been bought out by ACR.

Quote
...and the real ones transmit GPS coordinates in the 406 signal.
Only 41% of 406 ELTs made in 2011 were GPS capable, 26% of EPIRBs and 98% of PLBs.

Mike

Thanks, sent an email to ACR ARTEX.
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a2capt
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« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2014, 08:40:09 PM »

On that data capture from the panel, that's why the data is buffered. Unless your in a rocket sled, where you were 3 seconds ago vs. now is not going to make that much of a difference with regard to finding you.
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Spaceman3750
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Posts: 2,605

« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2014, 09:22:05 PM »

On that data capture from the panel, that's why the data is buffered. Unless your in a rocket sled, where you were 3 seconds ago vs. now is not going to make that much of a difference with regard to finding you.

I guess I was thinking along a different lines. In reality, GPS data is being pushed constantly. I was thinking along the lines of the ELT saying "Oops, we crashed, better go get the GPS coordinates from the dead Garmin!"
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The moment any commander or staff member considers themselves a gatekeeper, instead of a facilitator, they have failed at their job.
I can't fix all of CAP's problems, but I can lead from the bottom by building my squadron as a center of excellence to serve as an example of what every unit can be.
Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2014, 09:32:30 PM »

Ok back to my request :)

Look for suggestions in order of priority:

1. Purpose built 406.XXX / 121.775 Practice Beacon

2. 406.XXX EPIRB/ELT with no 121.5 homer

3. 406.XXX EPIRB/ELT with easily disabled 121.5 homer.

Great to have would be an AC/DC power connection.

Thanks!
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sardak
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,135

« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2014, 11:40:53 PM »

Quote
Quote
On that data capture from the panel, that's why the data is buffered. Unless you're in a rocket sled, where you were 3 seconds ago vs. now is not going to make that much of a difference with regard to finding you.
I guess I was thinking along a different lines. In reality, GPS data is being pushed constantly. I was thinking along the lines of the ELT saying "Oops, we crashed, better go get the GPS coordinates from the dead Garmin!"
Correct, the ELT is just getting the coordinates from the aircraft GPS and storing them, so it sends the last set of stored coordinates. More important to know is this, taken directly from Cospas-Sarsat Specification C/S T.001 "Specification for Cospas-Sarsat 406 MHz Distress Beacons":

If, after providing valid data, the navigation input fails or is not available, the beacon message shall retain the last valid position for 4 hours (+/-5 min) after the last valid position data input. After 4 hours the encoded position shall be set to the default values specified in Annex A. The default values in Annex A are a non-existent position, since 0,0 is a real location.

Mike
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Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 414

« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2014, 08:26:43 PM »

I had a email conversation with Pointer.  They are considering a 406/121.775 practice beacon.

I suggested a switch to turn off the 121.775 homer, having no GPS coordinates in the signal to reduce the cost, and having the 406 signal on one of three frequencies: 406.025, 406.050 and 406.075 for compatibility with the DF-517.

I suggested 406 guts of Pointer 8000 crammed into Pointer 6000  ;D

No timeline given.
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Bayareaflyer 44
Member

Posts: 68
Unit: PCR-CA-096

« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2014, 08:36:04 PM »

That's great news!

You know what would really be sweet?  Not like this could happen, but still would be cool if there was some kind of upgrade program where one could send in an old Cadet 6K to be upgraded to whatever they come up with.

Again, just dreaming, since they probably would lay everything out on a single PCB, and there would be no chance of tying in the old 121.775 PCB - but, still one can wish...   8)
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Earhart #2546
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Panzerbjorn
Seasoned Member

Posts: 277
Unit: MER-NC-048

« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2014, 10:57:42 PM »

That's great news!

You know what would really be sweet?  Not like this could happen, but still would be cool if there was some kind of upgrade program where one could send in an old Cadet 6K to be upgraded to whatever they come up with.

Again, just dreaming, since they probably would lay everything out on a single PCB, and there would be no chance of tying in the old 121.775 PCB - but, still one can wish...   8)

You mean like how you can take an iPad 2 in for it to be upgraded to an iPad Air 2?  Oh wait.....;)
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Major
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2014, 12:34:36 AM »

That's great news!

You know what would really be sweet?  Not like this could happen, but still would be cool if there was some kind of upgrade program where one could send in an old Cadet 6K to be upgraded to whatever they come up with.

Again, just dreaming, since they probably would lay everything out on a single PCB, and there would be no chance of tying in the old 121.775 PCB - but, still one can wish...   8)

You mean like how you can take an iPad 2 in for it to be upgraded to an iPad Air 2?  Oh wait.....;)

Yeah, might be a bit more then a firmware update! >:D
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Eclipse
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« Reply #30 on: October 21, 2014, 12:57:39 AM »

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