McMurdo selected u-blox GPS for Fast Find PLB

McMurdo selected u-blox GPS for Fast Find PLB
u-blox, a leading provider of GPS and GSM technology, has announced yesterday that McMurdo, a large provider of emergency location beacons, has chosen u-blox as its supplier of embedded GPS receivers for its newest FAST FIND personal location beacon (PLB).

The Fast Find 210 weight is 150 g with dimensions of 34 x 47 x 106 mm and it costs $299 with no subscription fee. This product was launched in February 2009 and has already been approved for sales in Europe and the US by federal standards. This type of beacon is typically used for boating or flying and for extreme sports and outdoor adventures.

McMurdo integrated a 50 channels u-blox LEA-5A GPS receiver module featuring u-blox SuperSense technology that combines high-sensitivity for optimal reception in difficult environments with low power consumption.

PLB technology
Like other PLB Fast Find has two radio transmitters which start transmitting when the beacon is activated. One transmitter operates at 406 MHz which transmits alerts via COSPAS SARSAT satellites. The other operates at 121.5 MHz which transmits a signal which can be received by over-flying aircraft and Search and Rescue homing receivers.

Traditionally (i.e. without GPS) ground stations track the satellites and process the distress signals to obtain a location of the distress. With an integrated GPS the location of the distress is quicker and much more accurate (the 406 MHz signal allows to locate the distress within a 2km radius). With the lowering cost of the chipsets, GPS is becoming a must have for PLB devices.

Wednesday, May 27th 2009

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