MicroPLB™, Type GX

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MicroPLB™, Type GX

Microwave Monolithics $898


After a long wait, Microwave Monolithics’ personal locator beacons (PLBs) are being offered for sale to the general public. We bought ours before they were available to the general public, and thought they were a bargain at roughly $1,500. At $898 (other brand PLBs sell on eBay for between $500 and $650) they become affordable to all who might need them.

The first question is who should have a PLB? The answer is anyone who might get in trouble in an inaccessible place. (We don’t really need one in Manhattan.) It is obvious that when we are driving through the hills along the Great Silk Road in Central Asia, if we go off the road it is unlikely that we will be found. Ever! It is equally obvious that if you are a mountain climber, or a hiker, or a skier who goes off trail, or driving through the desert in the American Southwest, or anywhere that you could be trapped with nobody around, you are at risk and should have one.

The second question is why the MicroPLB™, Type GX? What makes this PLB worth the extra money? The answer is that it is a professional piece of equipment, and while we hope we never need to use ours, we are fully confident in its ability. For a start, it is so small that we can stick it in our pocket. The GX version, which has built-in GPS, measures 1.1″ x 2.4″ x 5.9″ and weighs about 10 ounces. The batteries, by the bye, are DOT approved, so there is no problem taking it on a commercial aircraft. At the end of its five-year service life, the batteries on the GX, should work for 48 hours minimum at an operating temperature range of ¯20°C to +55°C.

There is no warm-up time with this device, so the first burst comes rather quickly. Which brings up an interesting issue: If a PLB has not been activated for some time – somewhere between many months to years – the internal GPS almanac can become obsolete. So while it will work, the GPS receiver might be slow in acquiring its coordinates, taking up to twenty minutes to update itself. The MicroPLB™, Type GX, has a feature to allow you to update the internal almanac, which we do before taking any major trip. This helps assure that the exact coordinates go out on the first burst of the device.

Adding to the value is the fact that each unit is fully burned in, and individually tested throughout the entire temperature range. Finally, three actual burst are transmitted inside a Faraday cage, recorded, and archived. When this baby goes in your pocked you have a strong feeling that it is ready to go!

We consider the MicroPLB™, Type GX, to be a must-have device, and don’t go on trips without one in our pocket. If you travel outside high density population areas you should have one with you, too.

As a courtesy to our subscribers, Microwave Monolithics Incorporated has offered a special courtesy rebate of $25.00, valid through July 31, 2008. When you order the MicroPLB™, Type GX, to partake in this special event you will need to click optional message (a box will appear) and enter the phrase “AEGIS rebate” in that box just before finalizing the transaction (pay now). The $25.00 rebate will be credited back to your charge card within a few days.

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