Frequently Asked Questions
for a glossary of
For Search and
Rescue teams and professionals,
to download the TracMe Locator Beacon Search Methods 1, 2, and 3.
The TracMe Locator Beacon (TLB)
A TracMe Locator Beacon is
designed to be worn by an individual to assist SAR teams in the rapid
location of the person should they become lost or hurt and unable to return
to their destination – it is a beacon which specifically emits a
signal to assist in locating a lost or incapacitated person -
hence the term Locator Beacon.
A TracMe Locator Beacon may be used with any activity on land, air, or in waterways. Some
situations require a satellite Personal Locator Beacon (satellite
PLB, or EPERB –
Electronic Positioning Emergency Radio Beacon)
to be carried by law. A TracMe non-satellite Locator Beacon is NOT a substitute
for satellite-based beacons in these situations.
TracMe was created since not all people need or can afford a
satellite-based PLB. On the other hand, there are some applications (such
as where a government requires the use of an satellite PLB) where only a satellite PLB will do, and TracMe
beacons DO NOT have a place in those
applications. The mission
of TracMe Beacons P/L is to save lives using TracMe and includes a
commitment to the safety of its users, awareness by search and rescue
agencies where it is introduced, and full and complete compliance with
TracMe Locator Beacon has been licensed by the United States Federal
Communications Commission as an FRS (Family Radio Service frequency) device, and the Australian Communications and Media
Authority. TracMe is fully trademarked and has been recognized by the U.S.
Patent Office and International Patent Agency with a patent pending.
The TracMe™ Locator
Beacon is fully
compliant in name and technical function using its
CB UHF Emergency Channel 5, 476.525 Australia,
FRS Ch.1 462.5625 USA & Canada, PMR Ch.8, 446.09375 Europe.
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What steps should be taken before activating a
TracMe Locator Beacon?
Before you are lost or
activate your TracMe Locator Beacon, your
Leaving behind a TracMe card
(found in the original TracMe
package) and your trip itinerary
with a roommate, spouse or family member. Let them know when you are
expected to return or receive a phone call from you at the trailhead after
your trip. If they don’t hear from you at the appointed time, they will
contact the local Law enforcement office’s office near your trail to
initiate a search.
At the trailhead, the Sheriff or
local law enforcement agency will know your general whereabouts from your
trip itinerary – and that you are carrying a TracMe Locator Beacon
since you have left a TracMe card on your dashboard (your TracMe dashboard
card is in the original package from the purchase of your beacon).
The local search and rescue group
will use their local signal equipment to track your Help….Emergency signal.
(CB UHF Emergency Channel 5, 476.525 Australia, FRS Ch.1 462.5625 USA &
Canada, PMR Ch.8, 446.09375 Europe).
Why use a TracMe Locator Beacon?
TracMe uses a simple
technology to close the gap of time between lost and found and between
affordability/availability. Satellite-based beacons can cost from 5 to 7 times
more than a TracMe and can be too expensive for most people to use.
The other important reason to
use a TracMe Locator
Beacon is to save hours and days of search
and rescue staff/volunteer time. If a search and rescue team knows that you have
a TracMe, they can determine your itinerary and whereabouts and quick narrow
down the area of their search as well as find you sooner because of the
“Help….Emergency” voice signal emitting from your TracMe
will quickly enable a search and rescue team to respond quickly to common lost
and found situation such as members of scouting/camping groups who wander away
and get lost. For day hikers, lost children or backpackers who have lost their
way, or skiers/winter sports enthusiasts who can't see/navigate in a blizzard
yet are near a resort or trail, a TracMe Locator Beacon can save
precious hours. And most important, it can save lives, especially if someone is
injured or in a bad weather situation which can threaten their health and
safety. It's that gap of time and affordability which the TracMe team hopes to
address in the safety of a user as well as a search and rescue team’s time and
resources spent in the recovery and rescue effort.
is the TracMe Locator Beacon
designed for one-time use?
The TracMe Locator Beacon is designed for
one-time use but not abuse. The search-and-rescue community has been concerned
about the potential increase in satellite-based (satellite PLB) beacons by the general
public and their potential for accidental notification and the significant cost
borne to the agencies responding to accidental calls. The TracMe is designed
for one-time use to discourage accidental activation or purposeful abuse. This
also ensures that during its 10-year useable life, the TracMe is not taken
outdoors with a partially discharged battery and is therefore always ready when
needed after performing the Self-Test function before each trip.
Also keep in mind that the TracMe Locator Beacons have a free replacement policy. If you activate your TracMe in a legitimate search and rescue situation, we’ll replace it for
free and hope that you share your success story with us. We want you to know
that your $150.00 gear investment will pay off for you when it really counts.
does the TracMe
Locator Beacon cost?
The manufacturer's suggested retail price is
Where can I buy a TracMe
TracMe Locator Beacons
will be available in the Summer of 2007 in the United States and Australia with
many outdoor and sports equipment retailers. TracMe.com will list retail
outlets; logon for updates.
Are search and
rescue agencies aware of the TracMe Locator Beacon?
Yes. They are
already aware of TracMe’s Ch1 trail radio signal technology – the same FRS/GMRS
frequency used in more than 100 million trail radios throughout the United
States, Australia and elsewhere in the world (CB
UHF Emergency Channel 5, 476.525 Australia, FRS Ch.1 462.5625 USA & Canada, PMR
Ch.8, 446.09375 Europe). TracMe
is notifying search and rescue groups through their professional associations,
advertising and editorial channels. Our team has begun a free Field Demo Kit
loan program so search and rescue teams can train using our equipment, can
download online information from TracMe.com to demonstrate direction finding
techniques using their own equipment, or use the techniques with common trail
radios from TracMe’s search and rescue resources section of TracMe.com.
What is the transmission range of the unit?
This depends on a number of things
including the terrain, but mainly it depends on the antenna used on the rescue
team’s receiver. The standard antenna on an UHF CB, FRS or PMR radio will
give approximately 1000 yds (1km) range on the ground in light forest, and around
4-8 ml (6-12km) from the air. Using a high gain directional antenna, as is used with
direction finding equipment the range is generally extended by a factor of 2 or
How does water affect the TracMe unit?
It is designed to float and is
submersible to 3 feet/1meter. This ensures that the unit is not immediately lost
if inadvertently dropped into water. In its activated state, the unit will
float with the antenna pointing upward and will operate as long as it is not
How is the TracMe Locator Beacon
activated? Is it manually activated? If so, what if
the person requiring assistance is unconscious?
Activating the TracMe Beacon is a manual, one handed operation. Future
development of the TracMe Beacon may allow remote activation if the person is
Who will listen out or monitor the CB frequency?
The simple answer is that the frequency does not need to be monitored at
all. It requires the person to be
reported as missing first.
TracMe's only function is to speed up the location process; the alerting
function must still be done manually. This is what sets it aside from satellite PLBs as being suitable for use by the general public and minimizes
Is a license required to use the TracMe Locator Beacon?
No licence is required for the TracMe
Beacon, as the UHF CB frequencies in Australia, FRS in USA & Canada and PMR in
Europe have been designated for license free use by the general public.
Will the TracMe Locator Beacon replace the function of the
current 121.5 mHz or the 406 mHz distress beacons?
Absolutely NOT. These distress beacons (or satellite PLBs) operate by sending a
signal to a satellite which relays this to a central search and rescue
office. When activated, a satellite PLB will automatically instigate an
international search and rescue effort. This makes satellite PLBs suitable
mainly for use by shipping and aircraft, and unsuitable for use in
general outdoor activities by the public. The way in which the TracMe Locator Beacon operates makes it far more affordable, and
suitable for use by the general public. Because satellite PLBs need to transmit
to a satellite they are 5 to 10 times more expensive than a TracMe Locator Beacon.
CB – Citizen’s Band – a set
radio frequencies used in a Citizen’s Band radio. These radios were popular in
the U.S. in the 1970s are widely used in the trucking/transportation industry
EPERB -- Electronic
Positioning Emergency Radio Beacon. This signal links to a satellite.
satellite PLB – Emergency
Positioning-Indicating Radio Beacon. This signal links to a satellite.
FCC – Federal Communications
Commission – a regulatory agency of the United States Government.
FRS – Family Radio Service
gHz – gigahertz
The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
is a land-mobile UHF radio service in the United States available for
short-distance two-way communications to facilitate the activities of an adult
individual and his or her immediate family members, including a spouse,
children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and in-laws.
GPS – global
positioning system is a radio navigation system that allows land, sea, and
airborne users to determine their exact location.
Twenty-four satellites (21 active, 3 spare) are in
orbit at 10,600 miles above the earth. The satellites are spaced so that from
any point on earth, four satellites will be above the horizon. Each satellite
contains a computer, an atomic clock, and a radio. With an understanding of its
own orbit and the clock, the satellite continually broadcasts its changing
position and time. (Once a day, each satellite checks its own sense of time and
position with a ground station and makes any minor correction.) On the ground,
any GPS receiver contains a computer that "triangulates" its own position by
getting bearings from three of the four satellites. The result is provided in
the form of a geographic position - longitude and latitude - to, for most
receivers, within a few meters.
Km – Kilometer
M – meter
mHz – megahertz – the unique
measurement level of a radio frequency. Similar to the different music radio
frequency, there are assigned radio frequencies organized by government agencies
for different types of radio communication.
MLB – Mountain Locator Beacon; it typically uses a 121.5 mHz frequency and
beacons will transmit between 1 to 2 days.
MLU – Mountain Locator Unit;
the same or similar to a mountain locator beacon. For more information, visit
the Mountain Locator unit definition on Wikipedia.com.
PLB – Personal Locator Beacon
PLU – Personal Locator Unit
Private Mobile Radio
RDF – radio direction
finding. There is a range of sensitivity and sophistication in radio direction
finding equipment. More expensive equipment can possibly enable a faster search
since the equipment can distinguish more detail in the strength and location of
a radio frequency when it is tracked. There are RDF orienteering competitions
with radio enthusiasts using a variety of RDF equipment to challenge tracking
SAR – search and rescue. This community of people can be the first to respond
but are often called after a law enforcement authority receives a call that
someone is missing. Search and rescue teams are typically notified and
mobilized to conduct a field search. In Australia and the U.S., law enforcement
agencies notify full-time search and rescue teams (usually responding to urban
areas); in more remote areas many are specially trained volunteers. All work to
keep their skills at a professional level with regular technical training and
UHF - The UHF (ultrahigh
frequency) range of the radio spectrum is the
band extending from 300 MHz to 3
GHz. The wavelengths corresponding to these limit frequencies are 1 meter
and 10 centimeters. The UHF band is extensively used for
satellite communication and broadcasting, in
cellular telephone and paging systems, and by third-generation (3G)
wireless services. Channels and subbands within the UHF portion of the radio
spectrum are allocated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
(Source for more information: WhatIs.com)