If you have an EPIRB, you need to read this
Just ran across this today.
Obviously (most) everyone knows about the upcoming switch to digital TV signals next month, but I'd never heard that EPIRB signals must go digital, as well (I assume the switch-overs are related...but even if not, this still seems critical):
I'm anything but an expert in this kind of thing...perhaps others who know more can help explain it better. I haven't looked at my handheld unit yet, but I imagine the specifications decal on it will say what kind of signal it transmits -- to know if it's still usable (and legal to use).
In any case, it seems only wise to check your EPIRB to make sure it's still going to do what you bought it for.
Don't get hung up on the term "digital". If you have a 406 beacon (EPRIB or PLB) the satellites will pick up the signal. The article is somewhat confusing, but the main point is that the satellites will no longer pick up the older beacon's that transmit on 121.5 or 243.0 Here is NOAA's SARSAT website. http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/ It should answer any questions you might have.
HC130 is 100% correct
The 121.5 had way to may false signals and where not easy to pinpoint from long distance, so the 406 signal will help them get a great start in the right direction and hone in. I understand the 406 also transmitts a 121 signal which works better at close range pin pointing locations. If they miss you by 100 yards and you can not manualy signal them you could be in trouble again. So remember the other required signaling devices.
I can not justify the 406 cost yet, but kept my 121 EPIRB in case what I read is correct. Flag, mirror and whistel attached to my life vest!
Safty first, fishing second!