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because they charge more to replace the battery pack, seals and test in nz than it costs to buy a new epirb

i think a friend paid $550? to get his old batteries replaced and i don't think the epirb even has a gps chip, he was annoyed when he went to pick it up and they sort of said they shouldn't have done the work without telling him it would cost more than buying a new and better(gps) unit  

some people do a diy battery replacement but you wouldn't bother if it wasn't a gps epirb



what GME  has to say about battery replacement


when its time for my gme mt410 will be opening as these kayakers have and may now ziplock mine in the pdf pocket if the sealing is suspect



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2 hours ago, strath said:

As new, never been wet or used in anger. 

It amazes me in this day and age to be told it is uneconomical to replace the battery.


That's pretty bad of them, it sends the wrong message. They should be promoting that this unit is old technology, that there are much better solutions AND that a certified battery change will cost the same as a new and better unit.  FYI, the MT403 doesn't have a GNSS (aka GPS) receiver.  Also, a large number of MT403's were recalled due to a design fault.

If you're not going off shore, or need Cat 1/2 then you might consider a PLB instead of a EPIRB.  All of our crew have PLBs in their life jackets.  We don't have a boat EPIRB.

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I was told $250 to replace the battery on my $500 PLB.

You can get PLB's with 7 yr battery life now for $450 if you shop around (or watch for specials). McMurdo I think the brand is that do 7 yrs.

The main difference is a PLB doesn't float upright by itself, an EPIRB does. With the type of sailing I do, a PLB worn on the person is far more valuable.

I probably shouldn't mention this bit, but the battery needs to last 48 hrs. If you aren't racing, I'm sure you can use an out of date unit for a while. Its still going to give a signal, just 6 hrs say, instead of 48 hrs. (I'm only doing Coastal / Gulf cruising) anything longer and I'd just get a new unit. But I'd replace your unit if it's not GPS enabled. That bit is a no brainer.

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afaik there are 3 differences design differences that differentiate between plb + epirb

1. epirb must float antenna up..........so is 2x? as large as plb to contain sufficient air volume....my gme mt410 is still pocket-able which is great as it can be carried in a lifejacket pocket or any jacket pocket when taken on land beyond phone coverage  

2. epirb must have 48hrs battery life on continuous transmit, plb 24hrs

3. epirb must have strobe


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Keep an eye on what country the EPIRB will be registered in, if you are looking for an internet deal. There are some very cheap name brand units available, but they would be registered in a third country, not NZ Marine Rescue Centre. Two countries I saw were the UK and Au, which aren't too bad. Guatamala might be a problem though. But if you activated it, and you are in a hurry to get rescued, you are adding a layer of logistics and bureaucracy before your signal gets to someone in NZ with the authority to launch a helo for you...

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4 hours ago, Sabre said:

Are they really produced market specific? I would have thought registering the epirb with beacons.org.nz would make where it came from irrelevant?

The are Country Specific, so they the right rescue centre get the alarm. Our Boat came with an Ozzie one and it could not be registered with MNZ as it alerts Ozzie if activated.

We brought a NZ one in the end but carry the Ozzie one as a backup. After a lot of emails, I managed to get the details updated of the Ozzie one so that they know who to contact if it goes off half way to Fiji. 

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the sats are monitored all over the world

the hex id is the easiest thing to receive and the 'emergency' is picked up by high-level sats. then passed on to the country of origin as determined by the country specific id

(so for a product with an oz number it goes to the oz emergency centre, they then look up their registration record and try to call the registered telephone number to check if it's a false trigger) 

hopefully by the time this initial warning has been passed on a modern epirb/plb has managed to determine an accurate lat/long, (this can take 30min? to determine as the epirb, unlike a navigation gps has no internal clock, so no almanac of sat positions on that day + time to determine a fast and accurate fix) this lat/long data is then also transmitted and hopefully quickly passed on to the country specified by the hex id 

you can imagine how slow things can get if 1 country can't find the hex code in their database, or find they need to telephone another country's emergency services and then keep relaying the info they get  from the receiving nation


  1. The transmitter is activated, either automatically in a crash or after sinking, or manually by survivors of an emergency situation.
  2. At least one satellite picks up the beacon's transmission.
  3. The satellites transfer the beacon's signal to their respective ground control stations.
  4. The ground stations process the signals and forward the data, including approximate location, to a national authority.
  5. The national authority forwards the data to a rescue authority
  6. The rescue authority uses its own receiving equipment afterwards to locate the beacon and commence its own rescue or recovery operations.

When one of the COSPAS-SARSAT satellites detects a beacon, the detection is passed to one of the program's approximately 30 Mission Control Centers, such as USMCC (in Suitland, Maryland), where the detected location and beacon details are used to determine which Rescue Coordination Center (for example, the U.S. Coast Guard's PACAREA RCC, in Alameda, California) to pass the alert to.[10]


  • A country code, which lets the worldwide COSPAS/SARSAT central authority identify the national authority responsible for the beacon.
  • Embedded 15-Hex ID or 15-hex transmitted distress message, for example, 2024F72524FFBFF The hex ID is printed or stamped on the outside of the beacon and is hard-coded into its firmware. The 15-hex ID can only be reprogrammed by certified distress radiobeacon technicians. The national authority uses this number to look up phone numbers and other contact information for the beacon. This is crucial to handle the large number of false alarms generated by beacons.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_position-indicating_radiobeacon_station
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WE just got a warrantee replacement of our EPIRB and OceanSignal could/was willing to  program it for whatever country we chose... New Zealand, Canada, or the USA.  BY the way... the ocean signal batteries are user replaceable on the E100G, and the new EPIRB1-Pro that ours was replaced with, They cost more originally but have 10-year/48Hr battery life, and $238 cost replacement, at leas this is what we found. (We are a Canadian registry boat in New Zealand)


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After looking at battery replacement costs for some time i thought stuff it. So replaced the  batteries myself. Pretty simple as designed to be user opened for decommissioning. Batteries easily obtained in NZ $52 each and there are 2. New O ring off the shelf $2. $106 total parts Old batteries were way out of date but were the same if not slightly higher voltage than the new ones.




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On 30/11/2020 at 3:37 PM, ex Elly said:

Thanks Rossd.  Where did you get the new batteries?


Simpower in Auck. They only had 3  at the time so maybe they  dont carry much stock, same brand and identical to original. Have safety vents in bottom And 50mm soldering tabs top and bottom 

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 A GME 403 the orange one,  is essentially obsolete- bravo on finding some cheap replacement batteries but one has to wonder how do you value life especially at sea?

Why would you not invest in a GPS capable EPIRB, Accuracy improves from 4 sq miles to often less than 100 metres which is comforting to know when you have hit the big red button WHILE stepping up into a life raft more especially so if you are treading water.

Plenty of time to ponder how much you saved on batteries for an obsolete EPIRB.


Someone on site found a brand new GPS EPIRB thru Jaycar for 320?

That's  really cheap, especially when you're swimming.

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