Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

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Northern Blue
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Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by Northern Blue » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:41 am

Popped in to the Durham branch of Cotswold Outdoor on Monday with my girlfriend, looking at clothing and I spotted a McMurdo Fastfind Ranger PLB in their sale cabinet, reduced from £229 to £55. On checking the battery expiry, it was late 2019, but a quick check online showed an official replacement for £80.
I confirmed with McMurdo last year, when I bought mine at full price, that the Ranger is exactly the same waterproof spec as the 220, only in a slightly more robust case for mountain use.

My girlfriend now has the Ranger for her sea kayak use, so it’s worth keeping your eyes open !

PlymouthDamo
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Re: Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by PlymouthDamo » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:27 pm

Lucky b********! That would have made my day. I'll have a look in my local store, but them having one is probably about as likely as me winning the lottery.

I managed to get a very cheap, new McMurdo FastFind Max G several years ago, but replacing the battery after 5 years cost me £100, and many shops were asking for a lot more. I then took the old one apart and found it contained 7 off-the-shelf Energizer AA Lithium batteries (cost £1 each) soldered in series. These had a use-by date of 2023, whereas McMurdo's battery was 2014.

I'm not going to do it, because I'd blow myself up trying to solder the lithium batteries, but I can't say a home-rebuild hasn't crossed my mind...

Chris Bolton
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Re: Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by Chris Bolton » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:02 pm

I wonder how long ago Cotswold took it off full price? I'd expect 5 years to expiry if buying at full price. Maybe it was in a box somewhere not on display.

I thought about changing the batteries myself, but I couldn't guarantee to reseal it (they fit a new cover and seals).
The £80 service I used did the following:
  • Light Pen interrogation for unique HEX identification
  • Battery changed, plus the Top Cover and Antenna Assembly
  • Counters for run time reset
  • Tests carried out to check 406, 121.5 and strobe functionality
  • Light Pen programming to ensure the unique HEX ID is still programmed
  • Water Test, to ensure the PLB does not leak with its new seals
It's not the kind of device you can test fully until you use if for real; if I'm going to carry it I want to be confident in it.

PlymouthDamo
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Re: Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by PlymouthDamo » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:13 pm

The temptation to try a home-rebuild is much more nagging with my model of PLB because the battery and the PLB are two separate sealed units which are just held together with a screw. To replace the battery, you simply buy a new one from a shop and swap it over yourself.

Don't worry - I value my eyebrows too much to pit my shoddy soldering skills against a bank of excitable lithium batteries.

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Re: Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by Mac50L » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:56 pm

I suspect the batteries are spot welded during manufacture, not soldered. Has anyone looked at RC model batteries? They come with a plug and if used, a socket would be wired into the device. I did this with my VHF as it uses lowish capacity NiMH batteries. It did come with a spare battery case so you could fit AA batteries for backup and a suitable RC model plane LiPo fitted in.

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Re: Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by andynormancx » Wed Sep 12, 2018 11:16 pm

I checked the Inverness store this afternoon, no luck...

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Re: Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by jmmoxon » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:28 am

Well, you are only getting one year instead of the initial 6, so cost is proportional. Seem to be selling for £175 online, although you need to check the battery life on those, but seems a fair price.

Mike
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Re: Cheap Fastfind PLB At Cotswold Outdoor

Post by G7AFM » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:51 am

You can buy batteries with solder tags already fitted for a couple of quid each.

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