User Manual
406 MHz EPIRB //
Model No.: RLB-38
Product No.: 2874, 2875
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
ACR Electronics, Inc. // 5757 Ravenswood Road // Fort Lauderdale // FL // 33312-6645
Tel: +1 (954) 981-3333 // Fax: +1 (954) 983-5087 //
CAUTION: Before proceeding to install, test or use your new ACR
Electronics’ product, please read this Product Support Manual in its
If you have questions regarding the contents of the manual, please
contact our Technical Service Department at ACR Electronics, Inc.,
Telephone +1 (954) 981- 3333. Please be ready to provide the technician
with the page number you wish to discuss. If you have a question that is
not covered in the manual, please visit our website and access the
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section for further information or call
our Technical Service Department. The website address is If in the future you lose this manual, you may access
and print a replacement on the ACR website.
NOTE re: Applicable products
This manual supports all configurations of Satellite3 406™/ RLB-38
beacons. In addition to the part numbers listed on the cover page, other
configurations of these products are available, thus you may have
purchased a product configuration with a somewhat different part number.
As long as the first four digits are the same as one of the two part numbers
on the cover, this manual is applicable.
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Table of Contents
STEP ONE - REGISTERING YOUR BEACON ____________________________ 3
STEP TWO - HOW THE BEACON WORKS _____________________________ 6
STEP THREE - INSTALLING THE BEACON_____________________________ 15
STEP FOUR - MAINTAINING THE BEACON ___________________________ 20
APPENDIX B - THE COSPAS-SARSAT SYSTEM _________________________ 27
APPENDIX C - TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS __________________________ 28
APPENDIX D - WARRANTY, NOTICES _______________________________ 29
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Why is registration important?
As the owner of this 406 MHz beacon, it is mandatory that you register
it with the EPIRB national authority of your country: It is the law.
Please note that all 406 MHz beacons are required to have their registration
updated every two years by the owner.
Your unique ID code
programmed inside each EPIRB is
transmitted to Search and Rescue
(SAR). SAR forces use this code to pull
up your registration to find out valuable
information about who needs help.
All 406 MHz beacons transmit a Unique Identifier Number (UIN) when
activated. This UIN is programmed into the beacon based on the country in
which the beacon is registered, thus authorities are able to determine which
country’s database will have your registration information. SAR forces will
have information as to who you are as the owner of the beacon, the name
and type of vessel that you have, your homeport, and who to contact that
might know of your current situation - but only if your beacon has been
properly registered. Valuable search and rescue resources are wasted
every year responding to false alarms, and registering your beacon helps to
resolve false alarms quickly.
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What country should I register in?
Register your beacon with the EPIRB national authority of the country for
which the beacon was programmed, typically the country where purchased,
regardless of where you do your boating.
The beacon must be reprogrammed if you, as the owner, move or the
vessel sails under the flag of a different country than the one for which the
beacon was previously programmed. To verify the country for which a
beacon is programmed, see the label with the UIN (Unique Identification
Number) on the back of the unit. Units that do not have a country specified
on the UIN label are programmed for the United States.
How do I register?
Registration in the United States
The national authority that accepts registrations in the United States is the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Here are three ways to register:
The fastest and easiest way to register is online at
2. Faxing a registration is also acceptable. Fax the registration form to the fax
number on the top of the registration form.
NOTE: Do not confuse the registration form with the ACR Electronics
warranty card.
3. If online or fax registration is not available, mail the registration form with the
pre-addressed, postage paid envelope to:
SARSAT Beacon Registration NOAA
4231 Suitland Road
Suitland, MD 20746
All registration forms will be entered in the 406 MHz beacon registration
database within 48 hours of receipt. The information you provide on the
registration form is used for rescue purposes only.
A confirmation letter, a copy of the actual registration and a proof-ofregistration decal will be mailed to you within two weeks. When you receive
these documents, please check the information carefully with the
existing label on the unit, and then affix the decal to your beacon in the
area marked “BEACON DECAL HERE.” If you do not receive confirmation
back from NOAA in the expected timeframe, call toll free (888) 212-7283 for
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
Registration outside of the United States
In countries other than the United States, 406 MHz beacons are registered
with that country’s national authority at the time of purchase. The sales
agent should have assisted you in filling out the forms and sending them to
the country’s national authority. Alternatively, many countries allow online
registration in the International 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database
(IBRD) at
To verify that the unit is properly programmed for your country, view the UIN
label on the back of the unit. In the event that the beacon is not programmed
for your country, the sales agent (if properly equipped) can reprogram the
unit for the correct country.
Do I need a radio license?
In the United States, you may or may not need to obtain or update a radio
station license. Check the FCC’s website at or
call toll-free (888) 225-5322 (CALLFCC) for the latest information.
Outside of the United States, contact your local authority for the
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How your beacon brings help
406 MHz beacons are a type of portable emergency equipment that
transmits a distress signal to search and rescue (SAR) organizations. The
purpose of these beacons is to aid SAR teams in tracking and locating ships
or individuals in jeopardy as rapidly as possible.
The 406 MHz frequency is a worldwide dedicated emergency frequency that
is detected by a special system of satellites called the Cospas-Sarsat
system. This satellite system was established by, and continues to be
supported by, its primary benefactors - the USA, Russia, Canada and
France. The Cospas-Sarsat system has saved over 23,500 lives - and
counting - since its inception. See Appendix G or the Cospas-Sarsat website
for more information about the system at
When a 406 MHz beacon is activated, the digital distress message is sent to
Cospas-Sarsat satellites and, in turn, the distress message is relayed to
SAR. The distress message contains important information about the
beacon and its owner. Additional information about the beacon is accessed
by SAR from the beacon registration database. At the same time the 406
MHz signal is activated, a 121.5 MHz signal is turned on. The 121.5 MHz
signal is used by SAR to home in on the beacon as they approach it.
The 406 MHz signal is detected by multiple satellites and from that
information the location of the beacon can be calculated. This data alone is
sufficient for SAR to find persons or ships in distress in a reasonable
timeframe. However, as a further enhancement, some beacons have a GPS
engine onboard. This feature allows the beacon to acquire current location
coordinates from an internal GPS receiver or download coordinates from an
external GPS receiver. The coordinates are added to the ID of the unit,
which is transmitted with the 406 signal. This enables the SAR authorities to
locate the beacon to an accuracy of 110 yards (100 m).
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Anatomy of your beacon
NOTE: When unpacking your beacon, it is recommended that you save the
original packaging for re-use when shipping the beacon for battery
replacement in the future.
// Activation switch with Witness Tab
The activation switch embodies a special, patented method of activating a
beacon. Refer to a subsequent section of this manual for how to activate the
// Optional External GPS interface
The external GPS Interface serves as the connection to the ship’s GPS
system. Use of this feature requires the purchase of an Optical GPS
interface Cable.
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Top View
Optional GPS
Test Switch
Switch Positions
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Category 1 – SeaShelter™3 Bracket
Release Unit
Optional GPS
Front cover
hook (detent)
Category 2 – QuickDraw™ Bracket
Antenna Hook
Water Sensor
Deactivation Magnet
Release Latch
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Activating your beacon
WARNING: This transmitter is authorized for use only during
situations of grave and imminent danger. Deliberate misuse may incur a
severe penalty.
Category I beacons are designed to be automatically deployed and
activated in the event of a sinking vessel. The beacon may also be hand
held on the deck of vessels, or floated in water and attached to a raft or life
vest with the lanyard provided.
Category II beacons are designed to be manually deployed from the
Two conditions must be met for a Category II beacon to automatically
// It must be out of its bracket
// It must be wet
NOTE: Either condition by itself will not automatically activate the beacon.
Category I and II beacons can always be manually activated in or out of
their bracket.
The beacon and bracket are designed to allow the user to perform periodic
testing while the beacon is in its bracket.
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Category I beacons-Automatic deployment and activation
If the vessel sinks, the HydroFix™ HRU frees the beacon from the bracket,
allowing it to float to the surface. Built-in sensors detect that the beacon is
no longer in its bracket and when continuity is created by water between
two of the top cap screws, an activation circuit is completed.
NOTE: Transmission of the 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz signals will not occur
until 100 seconds after activation.
Ejector Spring launches EPIRB
from the bracket allowing it to
float freely to the water surface.
HRU releases the rod
separating the front and
back cover of bracket at a
depth between 4-13 feet.
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Category I and II Beacons-Manual deployment and activation
Both Category I and II beacons can be manually deployed by removing the
beacon from the bracket.
Once removed, the beacon can be activated by placing it in water OR by
lifting the Activation Switch to a vertical position, sliding it toward the
antenna and pushing down to the opposite side of the beacon. Activating
the beacon in this manner breaks off the Activation Witness Tab and allows
the switch to properly seat, showing the “ ▌ “ symbol (ON).
A Category I or II beacon MANUALLY activates with the following sequence:
1.) Remove the beacon from its bracket
2.) Activation method one: Place beacon in water
3.) Activation method two:
// Lift the switch to a vertical position
// Slide the switch toward the antenna
// Push the switch down to the opposite side of the beacon (see
illustration below)
Category I and II Beacons-Manual Activation Without Deployment
The beacon can be manually activated while still in its bracket by placing the
Activation Switch in the ON position. Activation by this method overrides all
sensors and turns the beacon “ON.”
Push the main switch up
90 degrees, slide toward
antenna and all the way
down to activate.
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Witness tab will break
once placed in the “ON”
When activating and deploying your beacon in an emergency, DO
// Hold or clutch the beacon or antenna
// Operate the beacon while hand held, if at all possible
// Turn the beacon off for any reason, including to save power
// Activate the beacon if you have any other means of self rescue
// Operate the beacon inside a life raft or under any other canopy or
// Tether the beacon to the bracket or vessel
When activating and deploying your beacon in an emergency, DO:
// Follow the steps to activate the beacon as described on the beacon or
in this manual
// Give clear view to the sky for best performance
// Take the EPIRB with you if abandoning ship, provided there is time to
get it
// Tether beacon, using the lanyard, to the life raft and let the beacon
float (if in a life raft)
// Keep EPIRB upright for best signal transmission, either by floating it,
resting it or holding it in this position
// Manually activate the beacon if it has not been automatically activated
Turning off the beacon
If your beacon was manually activated and you wish to deactivate, return
the thumb switch to the “OFF” position. If automatically activated and you
wish to deactivate, remove the beacon from the water and dry the unit or
place the beacon back into the release bracket. The beacon normally takes
up to 12 seconds to deactivate.
If deactivation should fail, remove the four screws holding the unit together
and unplug the battery to disable the unit. Return the beacon to ACR
Electronics for service.
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False alarms
To prevent false alarms, it is important to be aware of how your beacon can
be activated. An ACR 406 MHz EPIRB can be activated by two different
methods. Whether you have a Category I or Category II, these methods are
the same.
// When the beacon is out of its bracket and wet, the unit will start
// When the switch is moved to the “ON” position, in or out of the
bracket, the unit will start transmitting
Precautions to prevent false alarms
Do not mount or transport the beacon within 4.6 ft/1.4 m of a
magnetic source.
Do not store the beacon outside of its bracket if it can get wet.
Do not mount the EPIRB backwards in its bracket (lanyard roll must
face in).
Do not clean the beacon with a water hose and brush while out of
its bracket.
Should there be, for any reason, an inadvertent activation or false alarm, it
must be reported to the nearest search and rescue authorities. The
information that should be reported includes:
// The EPIRB 15-digit Unique Identifier Number (UIN)
// Time and date
// Duration and cause of activation
// Location of beacon at the time of activation
To report false alarms in the United States, contact any of the following:
US Region
Telephone Number
Atlantic Ocean / Gulf of Mexico
USCG Atlantic Area Command Center
(757) 398-6390
Pacific Ocean Area /
USCG Area Command Center
(510) 437-3700
USCG HQ Command Center
(800) 323-7233
To report false alarms outside of the USA, contact the national authority
where your beacon is registered.
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Marking battery and Hydrostatic Release Unit expiration dates
NOTE: It is the beacon owner’s responsibility to record the expiration dates
for both the beacon battery and the HydroFix™ hydrostatic release unit.
This information must appear on the product itself.
The left side of the battery housing indicates the battery expiry date. Space
is provided for the beacon owner to mark the date the beacon was placed
into service. The beacon should be serviced 5 years from the installation
date but no later than the battery expiry date.
The ACR HydroFix™ HRU has an expiration date of 2 years from the date
of installation or 4 years from the date manufactured, whichever comes
first. Upon installing your beacon or new HRU, permanently scratch the
new expiration date on the HRU date calendar as seen below.
Date of Installation Example:
Date of installation of New HRU or First
Installation of EPIRB including new
HRU: August 1, 2010.
This unit will need to be replaced in
August of 2012. Scratch off “AUG 8”
and “2011” on the HRU date calendar
Date of Manufacture Example:
On the bottom of the HRU a date of
manufacture is pin stamped: 0808.
This unit will need to be replaced in
August 2012. Scratch off “AUG 8” and
“2012” on the HRU date calendar
Mounting location
The selection of a mounting location will vary from vessel to vessel.
Beacons should be protected from outside influences while being readily
accessible at all times in the event of an emergency.
The location selected must be sufficiently rigid to support the weight of the
total installation.
Hazards to avoid when selecting a mounting location:
// Vibration
// Exposure to the elements
// Possibility of impact from hatches, gear, or personnel
// Harmful vapors
// Exhaust
// Harsh chemicals
// Locations that can be obscured by foreign articles on a temporary or
permanent basis.
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CAUTION: Category I brackets must be mounted free from
obstruction to allow the beacon to automatically float free from the vessel
in case of sinking. The SeaShelter3™ can be mounted on a vertical
surface with the beacon antenna pointing skyward or a horizontal surface
with the beacon face up. Avoid mounting locations that subject the
bracket to breaking waves. Avoid structures like dodgers or cabin tops
that could trap the beacon upon deployment.
CAUTION: Category II brackets must be mounted in a protected
location that is easily accessible should it be necessary to abandon ship.
The QuickDraw™ can be mounted on a vertical surface with the beacon
antenna pointing skyward or a horizontal surface with the beacon face
up. Avoid mounting locations that subject the bracket to breaking waves.
Avoid mounting locations that do not provide protection from harmful UV
rays of the sun. The bracket must be mounted facing inboard to avoid
being lost overboard due to impacts of breaking waves, personnel or
loose gear.
Visually inspect the area surrounding the mounting bracket installation site
for hidden hazards or obstacles that may have been overlooked during the
location selection. If there is any doubt as to the ready accessibility to the
beacon at all times or if any condition may appear to be questionable,
conduct a complete and thorough investigation before final approval of the
NOTE: When selecting the beacon bracket location, be sure to consider the
requirement for four screw holes to secure the bracket.
CAUTION: Keep this beacon a safe distance away from all
magnetic sources. Magnet safe distance is 4.6 ft or 1.4 m, including
the distance from stereo speakers.
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Category I bracket
The SeaShelter3™ Category I bracket has five pre-drilled screw holes to use
for securing the bracket to a flat surface. Remove the SeaShelter 3™ lid by
turning the spring loaded knob on the lid 1/4 turn counterclockwise and pull.
The lid will lift away from the top of the base and disengage at the bottom of
the base. The lid is tethered to the base to help prevent loss. Pull the
beacon with steady pressure from the bracket. It is not necessary to remove
the HydroFix™ Hydrostatic Release Unit (HRU) to mount the bracket using
four of the holes. For extreme conditions a fifth hole is available when the
HydroFix is removed and the ejector spring is deployed. The bracket can be
held in place to mark the placement of the screw holes or you can use the
mounting template provided. The use of #10 pan head stainless steel
fasteners (minimum of ½” long) and ½” washers (not included) is
recommended. Make sure that fasteners will not contact any wires or
plumbing before drilling pilot holes.
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Category II bracket
Category II brackets are designed to hold the beacon securely in place. The
beacon must be manually deployed. The bracket can be mounted on a
vertical flat surface with beacon antenna up or on a horizontal flat surface
facing skyward. This location must be easily accessible in order to manually
deploy the beacon or to perform the required maintenance and functionality
tests. Typical locations include near the helm station or just inside the
companionway door.
The QuickDraw™ Category II bracket has three pre-drilled screw holes to
use for securing the bracket to a flat surface. Remove the beacon from the
bracket. To do this while holding the assembly, press the “PUSH” lever to
release the beacon from the bracket. Pull the beacon forward and down to
remove. The bracket can be held in place to mark the holes. The use of #8
pan head stainless steel fasteners and washers (not included) is
recommended. Be sure to confirm that fasteners will not contact any wires
or plumbing before drilling pilot holes.
Push to Release
To reinstall the beacon inside the bracket, place
the antenna behind the top notch in the bracket.
The yellow lanyard roll faces the bracket and rests
in the concave part of the bracket. Snap the
beacon into place by pushing firmly at the bottom
of the beacon (on the ACR logo) until the snaps
engage the bottom of the beacon.
Top in First
Bottom in Second
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5. Installing the Optional optical GPS interface cable
The beacon is fitted with an
optical interface to connect with
an external Global Positioning
System (GPS) receiver that will
determine the latitude and
longitude of its position.
The black lead wire with white
stripes should be connected to
the output of the external GPS
receiver positive transmitter pin.
The black wire should be
connected to the negative pin.
If you have a Category I beacon and bracket, the connector is at the end of
the black lead wire plugs into the beacon via the bezel on the top of the
beacon. See the location of the GPS interface in previous figures (“Anatomy
of your beacon”, page 7 and “Top View”, page 8). It is important to seat the
connector completely in the bezel for an operational connection.
If you have a Category II beacon and bracket, your connector has two
extensions on it that must be aligned with the two notches on the Category II
beacon bezel. The connector is then gently inserted downward into place
and turned 90° to lock the connector into the bezel.
If the external GPS receiver is operational and the connection has been
correctly made to the optical interface, the green LED in the optical interface
will start flashing at activation.
NOTE: The baud rate output for your GPS receiver NMEA 0183 should be
4800 bps. If you are not sure if your receiver is NMEA 0183 compliant,
check the interface settings listed in your GPS manual. To optimize your
GPS interface feature, be sure that your GPS receiver is equipped with a
NMEA 0183 Version 1.5 or higher with GPGGA sentence enabled.
Consult your GPS receiver manual for the maximum cable length
acceptable for an external GPS connection to the beacon. Also see
Appendix A for information regarding the use and testing of your GPS
system in conjunction with the beacon.
Using the optical interface is not necessary for the beacon to function
properly; it will, however, enhance the beacon’s performance.
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Safety DOs and DON’Ts
On a routine basis aboard ship, DO NOT:
// Hold or carry the beacon by its antenna
// Mount the beacon in its bracket close to large structures or magnetic
// Tie the lanyard to the EPIRB bracket or any other structure
// Obscure the beacon by placing objects in front of it
On a routine basis aboard ship, DO:
// Mount the beacon in its bracket in an obvious location, so that all can
see it
// Mount the beacon in its bracket with the rolled lanyard facing inward
(facing the bracket)
// Follow the recommended maintenance schedule
// Perform a beacon Self-Test monthly
// Follow up with beacon service if Self-Test fails
Routine beacon maintenance
At least every ninety days, the float free mounting bracket and beacon
should be inspected for deterioration and/or residue buildup that may affect
the function of the beacon or automatic release. Part of the visual check
includes checking the antenna for tightness. Clean the beacon and the
mounting bracket to remove any residue buildups. It is recommended that
the beacon and mounting bracket be wiped with a damp cloth.
Carefully inspect the beacon case for any visible cracks. Cracks may admit
moisture, which could falsely activate the beacon or otherwise cause a
malfunction. Any cracks observed should immediately be referred to ACR
Service for evaluation. Call ACR Electronics Technical Service +1 (954)
Battery replacement
Battery replacement is due 5 years from date after the beacon placed into
service, or by expiry date on the beacon whichever is first. During each
inspection, check the time remaining until battery replacement is required.
The battery must also be replaced if the beacon has been activated for any
use other than the Self-Test.
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Always refer battery replacement and any other beacon service to a factory
at Battery replacement includes servicing the beacon
by replacing all o-rings, testing the water seal and the electrical properties
and doing a full functional test on the unit.
NOTE: There are no user serviceable items inside the beacon. Do not open
the beacon except to disable (in case of faulty or accidental activation).
Otherwise, always have the beacon serviced.
WARNING: Battery contains lithium
To avoid possible fire, explosion, leakage or burn hazard, do not open,
recharge, disassemble or heat beacon above +70º C (+158º F) or
These products contain lithium in the battery. Various beacons may or may
not require special shipping instructions due to the lithium batteries and
changes in shipping regulations. Shipping of hazardous materials requires
special handling and documentation. MSDS sheets, along with
In the case of the RLB-38, the product contains small batteries that are nonhazardous. However, regulations can change. Be advised that it is best to
verify the shipping requirements at the time you are preparing to ship the
Shore based maintenance for SOLAS vessels, (SBM) IMO
MSC/Circ. 1039
The Maritime Safety Committee has approved guidelines for shore-based
maintenance of satellite beacons, for the purpose of establishing
standardized procedures and minimum levels of service for the testing and
maintenance of satellite beacons. The first shore based maintenance on all
ACR EPIRBs is due at the date of the first battery replacement. Visit ACR’s
website at for organizations that perform shore based
Annual testing for SOLAS vessels, IMO MSC/Circ. 1040
SOLAS regulation IV/15.9 dictates annual testing of 406 MHz satellite
EPIRBs. Testing should be carried out using suitable test equipment
capable of performing the relevant measurements. All checks of electrical
parameters should be performed in the self-test mode, if possible. These
tests can be performed by certified ACR Battery Replacement Centers
(BRCs). Visit ACR’s website at for authorized ACR
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Changing ownership or contact information
As the owner of the beacon, it is your responsibility to advise the national
authority of any change in the information on the registration form. If you are
transferring the beacon to a new owner, you are required to inform the
national authority. You can do this by using their online database or by
letter, fax or telephone and informing the authority of the name and address
of the new owner.
The new owner of the beacon is required to provide the national authority
with all of the information requested on the registration form. This obligation
transfers to all subsequent owners. Registration forms for the United States
are available from NOAA by calling (888) 212-7283 (212-SAVE) or by
visiting the ACR website at Outside of the United States,
the new owner may contact his local authority for the necessary form(s).
Lost or stolen EPIRBs
If your EPIRB is lost or stolen, do the following immediately:
// Report to your local authorities that the EPIRB has been lost or stolen
// Contact NOAA at (888) 212-7283 (212-SAVE), or your national
authority, with the following information:
o Police department name
o Police department phone number
o Police case number
If your EPIRB were to be activated, the information you provided will be
forwarded to the appropriate search and rescue authorities who will ensure
that your EPIRB gets back to you. If someone attempts to register an EPIRB
reported as stolen, NOAA or your national authority will notify the
appropriate police department. Visit for more
Servicing the SeaShelter3™ and the HydroFix™ HRU
The SeaShelter3™ Category I bracket has two main
pieces, the lid and the base. To open the bracket, turn the
spring loaded knob counterclockwise 1/4 of a turn and
pull. The lid will lift away from the top of the base and
disengage from the detent at the bottom of the base. The
lid is tethered to the base to help prevent loss.
Brackets are a key part of the overall beacon system.
They hold a beacon ready for deployment while preventing
false alarms. Category I brackets also require replacement
NOTE: Whenever a beacon is returned for service, it
must be accompanied by the bracket.
of the Hydrostatic Release Unit every two years.
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To remove the expired HRU
When opening the SeaShelter3™ lid, note that the beacon is installed with
the lanyard face in. Pull the beacon with steady pressure from the bracket.
Do not get beacon wet while out of bracket. The HRU has a keying feature
that locks it to the bracket. If you view the HRU rod as the center of a clock,
a properly installed HRU will rest at the 7 o’clock position, as shown in the
picture above.
WARNING: The HRU holds down an ejection spring. The spring must
be held in place during the removal and installation of the HydroFix™ to
prevent injury.
Depress the top of the ejection spring. This will relieve pressure on the HRU
and allow it to be rotated counterclockwise to the 5 o’clock position. The
HRU is now free to be removed. Slowly relieve pressure from the ejection
spring and allow it to deploy.
WARNING: Discard the expired HRU. Failure to replace the entire
assembly may cause the bracket to malfunction.
WARNING: Be sure to use only ACR’s HydroFix™ HRU (ACR P/N
9490) in the SeaShelter3™. Use of unauthorized replacement parts will void
your warranty and may cause the bracket to malfunction.
Check the date of manufacture on the new HRU. Follow the instructions that
accompany the HydroFix™ for marking the next expiry date and for
selecting the correct rod adapter for the SeaShelter3™.
To install the new HRU
Apply pressure to the ejection spring and hold it flat against the bracket.
With your free hand place the new HRU into the key way in the 5 o’clock
position and rotate clockwise to the 7 o’clock position. Slowly remove
pressure from the ejection spring. The HRU should now be held in the 7
o’clock position with the pressure on the ejection spring.
Reinstall the beacon with lanyard face in. Beacon should fit snugly in the
bracket with the antenna captured by the bracket. Reinstall the lid by seating
the bottom of the lid to the detent on the base. Close the upper portion of
the lid so the HRU rod lines up with the spring loaded knob. With gentle
pressure, hold the lid while you turn the lock counterclockwise until it stops,
then clockwise until it stops. This should capture the HRU and snap the lid
into a locked position. Confirm that the lid is attached to the bottom of the
bracket and the HRU.
CAUTION: Do not force the lid closed. If the lid does not close easily,
check to see that the beacon is properly installed in the bracket and the
HydroFix™ is properly seated.
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Servicing the QuickDraw™
To remove a beacon from the Category II bracket, press the “PUSH” lever to
release the beacon from the bracket. The beacon will now be able to
forward and down out of the bracket.
It is not anticipated that the QuickDraw
cleaning or, rarely, replacement.
will require servicing other than
NOTE: Whenever a beacon is returned for service, it must be accompanied
by the bracket.
10. Self-Testing the beacon
The Satellite3 406™ beacon may be self-tested as is warranted, up to a
maximum of sixty times in the five-year life of the battery, or once per month
for the life of the battery. Self-Tests can be performed randomly, however,
ACR recommends that you perform the Self-Test on a once per month
schedule. Do not exceed sixty (60) Self-Test cycles limit in the five-year life
of the battery, to conserve the battery for emergency use.
The functional Self-Test is initiated by momentarily
lifting the Activation Switch to a vertical position and
holding it in this position for at least one second and at
most four seconds. A beep indicates the initiation of
the Self-Test sequence. Self-Test will check battery
capacity and perform four functional test sequences as
described below.
EEPROM Connect
Lock Circuit
Signal Strength
Locator Light
Beep, Green LED
Beep, Green LED
Beep, Green LED
Beep, Green LED, Strobe
Green LED
Test Stopped,
Test Stopped,
Test Stopped,
Test Stopped,
The last green LED indicates a successful test. If any of the individual tests
fail during Self-Test, there will be two beeps and a red LED flash at the end
of the Self-Test. Self-Test will discontinue at that point.
NOTE: The “beeps” are a very high-pitched tone that some people may not
be able to hear. You may count the green LED flashes.
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
How the external GPS interface works
The beacon is fitted with an optical interface to connect with an external
Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver that will determine the latitude
and longitude of its position. This data is transmitted to the emergency
system. When the beacon is coupled to a working external GPS receiver, it
immediately begins downloading data. Once valid position data has been
obtained, the beacon will attempt to update the positional data every 20
minutes. The Satellite3 406™ will store the last valid positional data for up to
4 hours, if it becomes unable to obtain new updated data. It will update this
data if and only if it receives new good positional data from the external
GPS receiver.
Using the external GPS interface
Once a compatible, operating GPS receiver is connected to the Satellite3
406™, the beacon will store coordinate data for incorporation into the
emergency message. The coordinates are transmitted to the satellite when
the beacon is activated in an emergency. Coordinate data provides a more
accurate location to the Search and Rescue Authority and may lead to a
faster rescue. Since the last valid GPS position data may stay in the
memory for up to 4 hours, the user should take care to make sure that the
GPS position data stored is accurate. This can be accomplished by two
By always leaving a properly functioning external GPS receiver
connected to the beacon before activation, or…
By connecting a properly functioning external GPS receiver with a
valid position fix, and allowing sufficient time to acquire valid GPS position
Testing the external GPS interface
Connect the optical interface plug to the beacon bezel and allow sufficient
time for the GPS receiver to acquire valid GPS position data (usually less
than 1 minute; but it can take up to 20 minutes). Lift the thumb switch to the
vertical (Self-Test) position and release. Your beacon will confirm that it has
acquired valid GPS data by flashing an extra green LED at the end of a SelfTest.
Updating the external GPS position data
When the beacon is properly connected to a functioning and compatible
GPS receiver, GPS position data is automatically updated about every 20
minutes while valid GPS position data is present. The operator can force the
acquisition of new GPS position data by initiating a Self-Test with the
beacon connected to an external GPS receiver with a valid position fix. This
bypasses the normal, programmed, waiting time of 20 minutes for the
automatic update of GPS position data.
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
If no valid GPS position data is available, the beacon will keep the
previously stored GPS position data for up to 4 hours. In this case, call ACR
Customer Service at +1 (954) 981-3333 for instructions on how to reset the
beacon with the default message.
A new beacon is programmed with the GPS position data set to a default. If
the beacon should be activated, this default GPS position data indicates to
the satellite system that the beacon has no valid GPS position stored in
memory. Once a functioning and compatible external GPS receiver is
properly connected to the beacon, the default data will be replaced by valid
GPS position data, as described in the previous sections.
LED indication of GPS fix
When the beacon is activated and valid coordinates are acquired, the data
is included in the digital message of the next 406 MHz transmission. The
LED blinks green when GPS coordinates are sent.
If a time period of 4 hours passes without the internal GPS receiver being
able to update the last good set of navigational coordinates, the message
transmitted by the beacon will revert back to default data. At this point the
green LED will stop blinking and the red LED will flash. The internal GPS will
continue to seek coordinates and when successful the green LED will flash.
This new data will be transmitted in the next message burst and the green
LED will continue to flash.
Compatible GPS receivers
External GPS interface requirements: In order to be compatible with the
Satellite3 406™, an external GPS receiver must provide location information
according to the following requirements:
NMEA 0183, Version 1.5 or higher
Baud rate: 4800
Talker device identifier: GP (GPS Receiver)
Sentence format: GGA (GPS Fix Data)
For more information regarding external GPS device compatibility, please
visit the ACR website at
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
General overview
EPIRBs transmit to the satellite portion of the Cospas-Sarsat system. Cospas-Sarast
satellites are an international system that utilizes Russian Federation and United States’
low altitude, near-polar orbiting satellites (LEOSAR). These satellites assist in detecting
and locating activated 406 MHz satellite beacons.
Cospas-Sarsat satellites receive distress signals
from EPIRBs transmitting on the frequency of
406 MHz. The Cospas-Sarsat 406 MHz beacon
signal consists of a transmission of nonmodulated carriers followed by a digital message
format that provides identification data. The 406
MHz system uses satellite-borne equipment to
measure and store the Doppler-shifted frequency
along with the beacon’s digital data message and
time of measurement. This information is
transmitted in real time to an earth station called
the Local User Terminal (LUT), which may be
within the view of the satellite, as well as being stored for later transmission to other
The LUT processes the Doppler-shifted signal from the LEOSAR and determines the
location of the beacon, then the LUT relays the position of the distress to a Mission
Control Center (MCC) where the distress alert and location information is immediately
forwarded to an appropriate Rescue Coordination Center (RCC). The RCC dispatches
Search and Rescue (SAR) forces.
The addition of the GEOSAR satellite system greatly improves the reaction time for a
SAR event. This satellite system has no Doppler capabilities at 406 MHz, but will relay the
distress alert to any of the LUT stations. When there is GPS data included in the distress
message, SAR authorities instantly know your location to within 110 yards (100 m). This
speeds up the reaction time by not having to wait for one of the LEOSAR satellite to pass
overhead. Because most of the search and rescue forces presently are not equipped to
home in on the 406 MHz Satellite beacons signal, homing must be accomplished at 121.5
Once the 406 MHz signal is relayed through the LEOSAR and/or GEOSAR network, SAR
forces determine who is closest, and then proceed to the beacon using the 121.5 MHz
homing frequency.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
The GPS system is a satellite group that enables a GPS receiver to
determine its exact position to within 30 m (100 ft.) anywhere on
earth. With a minimum of 24 GPS satellites orbiting the earth at an
altitude of approximately 11,000 miles they provide users with
accurate information on position, velocity, and time anywhere in the
world and in all weather conditions. The GlobalFix™ iPRO stores
adds this data to its distress transmission, allowing search and
rescue forces to narrow the search to a very small area, thus
minimizing the resources required, and dramatically increasing
the effectiveness of the overall operation.
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
Beacon size (without antenna)
17.7 H X 10.67 W X 9.09 D cm (6.97 X 4.2 X 3.58 in)
Beacon weight
581 g (20.49 oz)
Beacon material
High impact UV resistant polymer
ACR-Treuse™ (high visibility yellow)
Tested to 10 min @10 m (33 ft), exceeds RTCM
Category I: Automatic hydrostatic release
Category II: Manual
Operational life
48 hours minimum @-20º C (-4º F) (Class 2)
Battery type and
replacement interval
5 years from date beacon placed in service,
or after use in an emergency not to exceed battery
Operating temperatures
-20º C to +55º C (-4º F to +131º F) (Class 2)
Storage temperatures
-30º C to +70º C (-22º F to +158º F) (Class 2)
406.037 MHz
Power output
Digital message format
Standard location protocol (for the USA; Beacon can
be reprogrammed at a service center to other coded
formats, and to national location protocol)
121.5 MHz
Power output
25 mW PEP
Modulation type
AM (3K20A3X)
Light color
Output power
1 cd (effective candela)
Flash rate
20-30/ min
360º visibility
SeaShelter3™ Category I Mounting bracket, ACR
P/N 9501
QuickDraw™ Category II Mounting bracket, ACR
P/N 9507
HydroFix™ universal hydrostatic release (HRU)
kit, ACR P/N 9490
Optional External GPS Optical Interface Cable for
Category I Mounting bracket, ACR P/N 9388.1
Optional External GPS Optical Interface Cable for
Category II Mounting bracket, ACR P/N 9388
COSPAS-SARSAT certificate #189
NOTE: For complete information regarding beacon type approvals, please visit ACR’s
website at
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
Limited Warranty
This product is warranted against factory defects in material and workmanship for a
period of 1 (one) year* from date of purchase or receipt as a gift. During the warranty
period ACR Electronics, Inc. will repair or, at its option, replace the unit at no cost to
you for labor, materials and return transportation from ACR. For further assistance,
please contact our Technical Service Department at ACR Electronics, Inc., 5757
Ravenswood Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312-6645. Email: [email protected],
Fax: +1 (954) 983-5087, Telephone: +1 (954) 981- 3333.
This warranty does not apply if the product has been damaged by accident or
misuse, or as a result of service or modification performed by an unauthorized
factory. Except as otherwise expressly stated in the previous paragraph, THE
PRODUCT. The Company shall not be liable for consequential or special damages.
To place the warranty in effect, register online at or return the
attached card within 10 days.
*Five years for the following products: EPIRB, PLB, S-VDR, SSAS.
ACR Electronics diligently works to provide a high quality Product Support Manual,
however, despite best efforts, information is subject to change without notice, and
omissions and inaccuracies are possible. ACR cannot accept liability for manual
contents. To ensure that you have the most recent version of the Product Support
Manual, please visit the ACR website at
©2009 by ACR Electronics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part
is permitted only with permission of ACR Electronics, Inc.
Ongoing product improvements may change product specifications without notice.
Trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
ACR Electronics hereby declares that the following product is in conformity with Council Directive
96/98/EC of 20 December 1996 on Marine Equipment (MED) last amended by Commission Directive
2010/68/EU of 22 October 2010, and has been type examined as described in this Declaration. In
accordance with the Directive, the product will be marked with the MED Mark of Conformity as follows:
yy = Last two digits of the year in which the mark is affixed
406 MHz (COSPAS-SARSAT) Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)
MED Item A.1/5.6
Trade Name: Satellite3 406TM
Model: RLB-38
Notified Body:
Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH), Notified Body No. 0735
Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 78, 20359 Hamburg, Germany
EC Type Examination (Module B) Certificate No.: BSH/4612/5061677/10
EC Quality System (Module D) Certificate No.: BSH/4613/05103/2218/12
Regulations and
IMO Resolution A.662(16)
IMO Resolution A.694(17)
IMO Resolution A.696(17)
IMO Resolution A.810(19)
IMO MSC/Circ.862
ETSI EN 300 066 V1.3.1 (2001-01)
ACR Electronics Inc.
5757 Ravenswood Road
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
ITU-R M.633-2 (05/00)
ITU-R M.690-1 (10/95)
C/S T.001 (Nov. 2007)
C/S T.007 (Nov. 2007)
IEC 61097-2, Ed. 3.0, 2008-01
IEC 60945, 4th Ed., 2002-08, incl. Corr.1, 2008
Signed on behalf of ACR Electronics Inc.
Document RLB-38-005
Thomas J. Pack
December 10, 2011
Director, New Product Development
This Declaration complies withISO/IEC
ACR Electronics, Inc. is registered by NQA to ISO 9001:2008
Y1-03-0250 Rev. D
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