Warning for all Avalanche Transceiver Users



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  • Warning for all Avalanche Transceiver Users

    I just got this email from National Ski Patrol. Just a heads up guys.

    Warning for all Avalanche Transceiver Users


    PIEPS GmbH of Austria, one of several manufacturers of avalanche rescue transceivers, has become aware of a potential issue involving carrying the PIEPS DSP avalanche transceiver in close proximity to the Motorola Model GP340 radio transceiver. Although the GP340 radio is a European version, it is very similar to the Motorola HT750 series used in North America.

    Avalanche rescue transceivers are extremely sensitive devices, and can be affected by the magnet found in a radio speaker. If the radio, or even a speaker-microphone, comes in close proximity with the avalanche transceiver, magnetic fields are present that can activate magnetic switches in the PIEPS DSP to turn it off or change it from transmit mode to search mode. This is NOT a Motorola radio issue-this is NOT a radio frequency issue-it doesn't matter if you are using VHF, UHF, or 800 MHz radios-it's a magnetism issue that apparently affects other transceiver brands and models as well.

    The manufacturers of avalanche rescue transceivers also caution users against wearing clothing containing permanent magnets (e.g. magnetic button closures, magnetic nametags) while operating avalanche rescue transceivers.

    The issue is being investigated and is of no immediate cause for alarm. It does not appear to affect transceivers that are carried according to the separation criteria already specified in the PIEPS DSP owner's manual (at least 15 cm [6"] from other devices while in "send" mode, and 1.5 m [approx. 5 feet] while in "search" mode).

    However, the situation should serve as a reminder for all users of avalanche transceivers to read their owner's manual, and observe the criteria specified for separation distance between their transceiver and other potential sources of magnetic interference, regardless of brand or model.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and dont have one, youll probably never need one again

  • #2
    BCA Tracker II software update:from their website http://backcountryaccess.com/blog/?p=2718
    BCA has recently started shipping a new version of software for our Tracker2. The new software (version 4) addresses an issue discovered by the Jackson Hole ski patrol and alpine guides in a fleet of 182 beacons purchased in mid-November. Several of the Jackson Hole units have inadvertently entered our opticomm reprogramming mode. As a precautionary measure, we have replaced the Jackson fleet with version 4 units, which addresses this concern. We will analyze their original fleet to determine the extent of the problem.
    The Jackson Hole patrol and guides have been using Tracker beacons for ten years and tested Tracker2 samples last season. Their heavy usage patterns have enabled us to identify potential improvements early in the process and implement them in production. In this instance, they played a role in the recognition of a problem and alerted us about them.
    The problem the units experienced caused them to occasionally go into opticomm mode inadvertently. Opticomm is a programming mode which is used to download new software through our optical communication window on the front of the unit. When the Tracker2 is in opticomm mode, it does not transmit. Normally this mode is activated by disconnecting and reconnecting one of the batteries while the unit is attached to our opticomm reprogramming accessory. However, it appears that this mode is occasionally being triggered by a buildup and discharge of static electricity.
    Out of thousands of Tracker2′s shipped since production started last January, we have had reports of 10 units that have malfunctioned in this manner. We have received five other units that have shown similar symptoms, however, they have not been verified to have stopped transmitting. We are currently researching the extent of the issue and hope to make a conclusion shortly.
    If your Tracker2 occasionally reboots while it is off or in transmit mode, then it is experiencing a power interruption. This is always accompanied by an audible beep. (This should not be confused with the warning beeps that sound when the beacon is left in transmit or search mode for extended periods of time.) After a power interruption, the Tracker2 will usually return to the mode it was in: search, transmit, or off. While the issue of power interruption is not a major concern, we hope to determine if the issue of entering opticomm mode is significant enough to warrant a corrective action. In the meantime, we are offering free upgrades to our version 4 software. This software version provides additional safeguards against inadvertently entering opticomm mode.
    To determine if you already have version 4 software, disconnect and reconnect one battery while the unit is off. After displaying t2, the unit will then display the software version. If the display reads r04, then you have the most recent software. This software has been included in all Tracker2 units shipped since late December.
    We apologize for this complication and are working diligently to analyze and rectify the issue. If you would like to upgrade your Tracker2, please contact BCA at info@backcountryaccess.com or (303)417-1345 and we will provide you with a return authorization number. Thank you for your patience and support.


    • #3
      Related to this: There is a growing body of recent evidence that indicates smart phones interfere with the beacon signal reception function on most avalanche transcievers. Riders should either turn their phones off or put them in airplane mode. This applies to someone searching for a beacon while their phone is running.

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