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School Project - Arduino Personal Locator Beacon Answered

Hi All, I'm currently in Year 12, undertaking my major design project.

I have chosen to design and produce an emergency survival kit that comes with an in-built personal locator beacon. The personal locator beacon must have the capability of transmitting geolocation data to emergency services for atleast 72 hours. It must be able to work in remote areas.

I have purchased a range of parts in order to help create this project, of which, I will list below.

- Arduino Uno r3 Development Board

- Arduino compatible Long Range LoRa Shield

- Arduino Compatible GPS Receiver Module

- 2600mAg Metallic Power Bank

- 5/5.8GHz 5dBi Wireless Networking Antenna

I have been experimenting with Ardunio & Components for a while and now understand the basics. I have managed to get the GPS module to work and receive geolocation data. However, I have only been able to do this when the Arduino is plugged in and powered by a computer. For my project, I need to be able to send geolocation data to a specific source, whilst on the go, in remote areas.

I plan to power my components by using a portable power pack (similar to a portable phone charger), however, I am unsure of how to program the gps module to send geolocation data to the long range shield, which will then send the geolcationd data to emergency services (it can be a proof of concept but it needs to be communicated to something such as a cell phone or a radio frequency).

I would really appreciate any advice or information that can help me develop this project or point me in the right direction.

Kind Regards,



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1 year ago

You have two problems that I can see already.
1: EPIRB /EPIRS systems need to be registered as the frequencies used are not for public use.
With that comes quite strict regulations.
2: Communication.
Remote areas, in the worst sense are without any cell phone coverage and radio frequencies are basically useless as even within a single state you might have more than one dedicated frequency.
Here in AU, UHF channel 5 for example is allocated for emergency use only.

An EPRIP as the name suggest is for emergencies, cases where the person might still be able to activate it but not much more in terms of mobility.
You can rent them for relatively cheap money for your trip or buy one for $300-500 and have it serviced accordingly.
The later only makes sense if you do spend a lot of time in the great outdoors away from civilisation.
Anything on a private base could only utilise the normal mobile networks and free UHF/VHF frequencies.
Means you have severe limits in terms of range.
No emergency system would be of good use if the next cell tower is a few miles further than what your system is capable of.
And nothing would be worse than a real emergency where your system is unable to get any contact to emergency systems.
The only way would be utilise satellite phone connections but the required hardware and options in terms of "sim cards" are costly.

Depending on the country you might have a chance with public bands or those reserved for emergency services but this would be highly dependent on lacality and again subject to transmission quality.
For example a normal UHF radio for private use is limited to 4W or 5W depending on the country.
Commercial systems or those for emergency services start at 25W output power - because they need the reliability of power where the gain of the antenna and terrain would otherwise make communication impossible.
Still you can ask any cop or fireman out there and they will tell you there is enough blind spots in the system...

To prevent a huge disappointment later on I suggest you first check what you are allowed to in your region.
From there check what is available to make work with an Arduino.
Then check if it is feasable.
Meaning confirm that whatever you want to use would for example work in a deep canyon, remote wilderness or just 50 or 80km away from the next major road and town.
If you would be allowed to use the standard UHF/VHF frequencies for EPIRBS (sticking to all required standards of course) you might still have a chance.