Transceiver Review 2010 Update

Since we published the Transceiver Review 2010 we have received some feedback and a few questions. Thanks to all those who took the time to read it and those who commented. There are a few points raised that I would like to respond to or clarify.


“Off the back of this I’d just mention a little oddity that I’ve experienced with the Pieps Freeride – this only takes a single AA battery and the battery cover also forms the swtich. Out of a single packet of brand new duracell batteries one that didn’t fit properly – it looked fine and powered up, but a gentle knock would break the circuit so the beacon would keep powering off, which is not ideal. All the other batteries in the pack were fine.”

Facewest – This is not just an issue with the Freeride. The tolerances used in battery production are not very tight and battery dimensions can differ to the point where the battery contact spring tension can be affected. I have had the same issue with a Tracker 1. I solved mine by wedging the batteries in place with a tissue. Worth giving your tansceiver a couple of  taps with your hand to check your batteries fit OK.


“2010 Review> It is still possible to do effective multiple burials with the Tracker 1 it is just there are no features used to do it.

not strictly true. there is no masking based on transmit signature of victim beacons but it does have a special mode which can be used to mask the current strongest signal to locate secondary beacons. FW know this as they mention it on the TII review.”

Facewest – Completely true! I have edited the review to correct this mistake. Thanks PisteHors.
Review now reads  ‘It is still possible to do effective multiple burials with the Tracker 1, but more practice is required. The Tracker 1 allows you to shield a signal from your receiving transceiver by standing right next to it and using special mode, but there is no digital signal masking available. ‘


“I know tests performed with tranceivers lying on the ground in a park instead of buried under snow are only so much use, but it seemed to me that while the two performed equally well in a search for a single burial, when it came to a multiple burial search, the Pulse looked a lot less confusing. He appeared to have trouble picking up the next signal with the Tracker, and the idea of putting it back into normal search mode and having to ignore the found tranceiver while walking away from it seemed a bit odd (I’m not sure that that’s what BCA recommend?). ”

Facewest – Yes it can be more confusing trying to isolate a single signal from two or more being received, with the Tracker than the Barryvox. Essentially to have to filter out the signal you know about using your head rather than the transceiver. BCA’s argument is their research shows that there is a very high probability you will never have to do that so it is better to remove the potential confusion these features cause when they don’t work as well as they did in the video.
As for walking around in Special Mode,  it comes down to practise. This excerpt of an email from Bruce Edgerly, Vice President of BCA, suggests removing the Special Mode when you think you are closer the the second  signal than the first – ‘we do not advise walking around in special mode to look for other signals. It is best to plant your feet at the first victim’s location (uphill of the probe, since there will be people shoveling downhill of the probe). Then simply rotate the beacon 360 degrees in search of the next signal. Not too fast, since the search window in SP is narrowed. Once you pick up another signal, then move in that direction. Go back to Search mode (rather than SP) when you think you’re closer to the next beacon. This will then isolate the strongest (second) signal.’
Personally I prefer to remove the special mode before I move off but as along as you have a system that works for you that’s the most important thing.


“Great test and I am sure folk will appreciate it. Like you I have tested these transceivers and it’s pleasing to see that you like me think the DTS 2 is very good. I tell folk in MRT that the Pulse may be of value if a rescue party is hit as there could be multiple burials, but for companion ski rescue the DTS 2 is the one for me. I confess to thinking the movement sensor a bit controversial. A 1.5m burial with movement or a shallow burial with none – who has the best chance of survival? The 15minute window as described by ICAR is an optimum, very few folk in reality survive even 4 minutes of burial.

What’s the issue with the software upgrade now required for the Barryvox as folk are getting charged for it in Europe?”

Facewest – It’s best to update your software to the latest version to improve performance. This is currently possible for the Barryvox Pulse, Pieps DSP, Ortovox S1 and the Tracker 2. All the transceivers sold by Facewest are shipped with the latest software at time of shipping. Barryvox, Ortovox and Pieps supply the updating unit to us and then suggest a charge to the customer.  At Facewest if you buy your transceiver from us we will always update it for free and only ask £5 for the return postage. If you didn’t buy it from us then we charge £15 including postage. Update request here

Plus there is one error that I found all by myself.  I said – ‘Unfortunately when the F1 was designed there was an advantage to a transceiver having a long pulse with a decent gap between pulses, allowing the user enough time to compare pulses, now digital transceivers like a short pulse with a short-ish pulse interval so they can update their information more often, basically they can think faster than the user. The other problem with long pulses is that there is a greater chance of the pulses overlapping in multiple burials, which confuses digital processors in modern transceivers.’ and I suggested that the F1 pulse period and duration could be reduced to mitigate this problem.

Talking to Ortovox at ISPO this week I discovered that in 2007 they had in fact reduced the F1 pulse duration siginificantly to reduce the signal overlap problem, the signal period remains unchanged. So there is a pretty important difference between a Pre 2007 F1 and a newer one. You can find the year of manufacture of your F1 by looking inside the battery compartment. It was such an obvious improvement that Ortovox were way ahead of me on that one. The review has been edited to point out this difference in F1’s.

Keep the feedback and any questions coming.


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