Argos Transmitters for Cetaceans

Argos Cetacean Units
RDW-660, RDW-640, and RDW-600 (top to bottom) tags for cetaceans


Model Dimensions L x D or
L x W x D (in, cm)
Weight (g) Operational Life (days)
3-byte message
Operational Life (days)
31-byte message
RDW-100 2.9 x 1.25 x 1.25
7.3 x 3.2 x 3.2
~50 150 n/a
RDW-600 5.5 x 0.75
14.0 x 1.9
102 150 50
RDW-605* 109
RDW-640 6.9 x 0.75
17.5 x 1.9
146 369 121
RDW-645* 153
RDW-660 8.3 x 0.75
21.1 x 1.9
180 570 188
RDW-665* 187

Operational life is based on Argos transmissions with 500 mW output, 45-second repetition rate, 3-byte (minimum) or 31- byte (maximum) message length, scheduled 24-hours per day; with 95% of time spent underwater, and temperatures of 10°C.

*The RDW-6X5 models include a pressure transducer.

Dimensions are primary tube diameter and length including black endcap but not the antenna or thread for mounting of user-supplied penetrating barb.

Key Features

  • These units operate through the Argos System. This satellite-based system provides global coverage and particularly good performance in the Polar Regions. Animal locations are calculated using the Doppler-shift in frequency of the transmitter's uplink transmission. (These units do not use GPS for location determination.)
  • RDW-6XX units are designed to deployed using an ARTS or similar deployment system for tagging cetaceans in the open ocean. Telonics does not supply the system but additional information can be found at ( The RDW-100 is designed to be deployed using a crossbow. Individual customers have designed their own systems as they are not commercially available.
  • Salt-water-switch (SWS) synchronizes Argos transmissions with surfacings and suppresses them while underwater to save energy. The SWS allows collection of dive data including length of dives, dive count, and percentage of time spent under water.
  • RDW-6X5 models include a pressure transducer; and can collect and transmit data such as depth of a dive, profile of a single dive, and percentage of time in user-defined depth layers. The sensor is accurate to within ±2 meters or ±1% of recorded depth, whichever is greater. These models can also support lunge/feeding detection, based on a combination of pressure and accelerometer data.
  • To increase data throughput, these units support a highly compressed data transmission called page data.
  • Can be programmed using Telonics Product Programmer (TPP). TPP makes it possible for users to program their own systems and simulate performance of the system prior to deployment.
    • On-board sensors can be activated or deactivated. Data collection regimes and schedules can be altered. Sensor data can be added or deleted from Argos transmissions.
    • Argos ID codes, transmission frequencies, transmission power levels, and transmission schedules can all be modified.
  • Argos transmissions can be duty-cycled (e.g. daily and seasonal cycles), and the number of Argos transmissions in a defined interval can also be limited (e.g. not more than 100 within 6 hours), to extend operational life. A real-time clock/calendar controls all timing functions.
  • Can be programmed to transmit only to specific satellites and/or only during times when satellites are predicted to be in view at a pre-selected location.
  • Data retrieved through Argos are processed using the Telonics Data Converter (TDC). TDC provides complete data decoding of Argos DS files, including location and sensor data, and provides for plotting of locations in Google Earth.
  • Units are designed and pressure tested to 1800m.
  • Powered by a primary battery, and can be turned on or off using a magnetic switch. When turned off, these units consume less than 12 µA.
  • Can be refurbished to their original condition at Telonics.

Specifications: Electronic and Packaging

ST-27 Specifications

Timing Accuracy6 min/year at 25° C
30 min/yr -20 to +40° C
47 min/yr -40 to +70° C
Available SensorsPressure sensor (optional)
3-axis accelerometer
Saltwater sensor
Argos Operating FrequencyARGOS Frequencies
401.6300MHz to 401.6800MHz in 1 kHz Steps
Brazilian SCD-1, Channels C1 to C9
401.6180MHz to 401.6220MHz in 500Hz Steps
Argos Frequency Stability± 0.5 ppm maximum from -30° to +70° C
± 2.0 ppm maximum from -40° to -30° C
Argos Initial Frequency Error± 0.5 ppm maximum at +23°C, ± 2° C
Argos Aging± 2.0 ppm maximum after 1 year
Argos RF Power OutStandard Power Version:
500mW (+27dBm) nominal into 50 Ω
If equipped: 300mW (+25dBm) and 1000mW (+30dBm) are additional choices, user selectable using TPP programming software
Argos Spurs and Harmonics<-40dBc minimum, -60dBc typical (Coherent Spurious)
<-50dBc minimum, -60dBc typical (Non-coherent spurious)

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Related Products

Legacy Products

This information on discontinued products is provided for individuals who are still using these older systems. Product descriptions may be time sensitive or even outdated. Please contact Telonics if you have questions.

Telonics supports these products as possible based on availability of parts, software, or other considerations; but no longer sells them new.

TCU-210 Argos system for Whales and Large Fish

Service Commitment

Since 1970, Telonics has built a reputation based on product quality, product support, service, and customer satisfaction. Telonics strives to produce the highest quality products, and to support those products accordingly.

Because of extreme conditions and the unpredictable nature associated with most telemetry applications, problems occasionally arise. Most problems can be resolved quickly. In all cases, we hope to be able to work in partnership with users to resolve problems to the user's satisfaction and to uphold our demonstrated commitment to excellence. If problems should arise, all products must be returned to our factory for failure analysis.

Warranty: Argos Systems

Telonics warrants its Argos products to be free from defects in material and workmanship for a period of one year from the date acquired. Telonics does not warrant batteries.

If a defect occurs, return the equipment to us within the proper time frame at the following address: TELONICS, 932 E. IMPALA AVENUE, MESA AZ USA 85204-6699. The customer shall arrange for and pay all shipping, insurance and related charges incurred in the shipment to and from Telonics under this warranty. Damage to any equipment resulting from misuse, accidents, unauthorized service, extreme conditions, or other causes, is excluded from this warranty. Telonics does not assume responsibility for loss or damage to equipment during shipment. Telonics does not assume responsibility for delays resulting from shipment on commercial or private carriers. We insure all equipment shipped from our facility and suggest that shipments to Telonics also be insured.

Upon the timely return to our facility, if defective, the product will be replaced or repaired at our discretion at no cost to the customer. This remedy is the exclusive remedy. This product is supplied without any further warranties or conditions, expressed or implied, including warranties of merchantability, quality or fitness for particular reason or those arising by laws, statutes or trade usage or course of dealing.

The entire risk, as to the results and performance of the product, is assumed by the customer. Neither Telonics, nor its suppliers, shall have any liability to the customer or any other person or entity for any indirect, incidental, special, or consequential damage whatsoever, regardless whether Telonics has been told of the possibility of such damages or that such damages might be foreseeable. Telonics has no responsibility or liability for the claims of any third party. The maximum aggregate to the customer, of Telonics and its suppliers, shall not exceed the amount paid by the customer for the product.