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avi beacon

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
They come in quite different prices. What's the difference?

I don't see the point of those all-in-one GPS or what not types (at least not pay extra for since I already have GPS and altimeter). Just plain vanila beacons.

But even simple beacon's cost vary quite a bit. So what am I paying the extra for?

What to look for in a BEACON?
post #2 of 58
Without getting technical, you're paying for easier and quicker fine and multiple search capabilities and usualy greater range. You may also be paying for extras such as digital compass, altimeter and movement sensors. Every beacon sends the same signal - the higher-end ones just recieve better/faster/longer/more accurately.

IMO - if you're just getting started you can't really go wrong with a DTS Tracker - it's very easy to use, durable and relatively cheap. I've had one for a decade and it still works as well as the day I got it. That said, the beacon I actually use out in the field is a Pulse Barryvox (for the reasons mentioned above).
post #3 of 58
It is surprising how many patrols prefer the simpler cheaper models. The best one is the one you know how to use, and practise with often.
post #4 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
The best one is the one you know how to use, and practise with often.
This is very true, but at this stage the OPer has never used any of them.
post #5 of 58
DTS tracker is a good beacon. Relatively easy to use, easy to learn to use. A great choice
post #6 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post
This is very true, but at this stage the OPer has never used any of them.
So this translate to "easy to learn and easy to remember".
post #7 of 58
I've had 4 different ones, and my current one is a Tracker DTS. As stated, it's probably the easiest to use.

What ever you get - PRACTICE!

You should be able to find (dig up) a single beacon on a slope the size of a football field in under 3 minutes. Timing is started with your probe and shovel in your pack. Dual beacon recoveries should be able to be performed in 8 minutes.

BackCountry Access has 2 excellent DVDs that one can purchase.

But.....

PRACTICE

PRACTICE

PRACTICE!

HB
post #8 of 58
Yeah - lot's of people bag on the DTS because it doesn't have the range of the S1, Pulse or the DSP, but it's sooo easy to use that it really negates the shorter range. I've had people who literally had never even seen a beacon before complete searches in - 5 minutes with a DTS.
post #9 of 58
post #10 of 58
In the interest of looking for an avi beacon, I have a question that may be a little more in depth.

I may be in a position to do some skiing where an avi beacon and shovel are necessary.........(See Rio's challenge in the Big Sky ESA thread)
I'm actually considering doing some video searching on avi training and Back country just in case this comes up.
So, If a person who is clueless and skis only occasionally in areas where avalanche possibilities are prevalent, is it enough to go with informed folks and proper gear, or is an Avi training class vital?
I'm not a chicken, but I'd like to be prepared as much as possible.
post #11 of 58
Cheaper beacons are slower and harder to use than the more expensive ones. The choice of which one to buy is a "no-brainer" if you ask me. Anyone buying the cheapest beacon that they can find doesn't really care about their partners lives I guess. Just saving $150 bucks!!
post #12 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
So, If a person who is clueless and skis only occasionally in areas where avalanche possibilities are prevalent, is it enough to go with informed folks and proper gear, or is an Avi training class vital?
I'm not a chicken, but I'd like to be prepared as much as possible.
Certainly mainly different opinions are possible on this, but my own opinion as an an Avy L1 instructor (for both NSP & AIARE) is:
1.Being inherently "a chicken" is probably the *best* attribute you can have for avy safety.
2. Avy L1 is best precisely for making you an informed and safe partner when accompanying more informed partners. (In other words, being a good lead decisionmaker requires more knowledge & skills than just L1.)
post #13 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz View Post
1.Being inherently "a chicken" is probably the *best* attribute you can have for avy safety.
great advice!!
for those who are looking, the BCA Tracker is on sale for $229 at mountaingear.com this weekend; as of yesterday there was also free shipping.
post #14 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz View Post
Certainly mainly different opinions are possible on this, but my own opinion as an an Avy L1 instructor (for both NSP & AIARE) is:
1.Being inherently "a chicken" is probably the *best* attribute you can have for avy safety.
2. Avy L1 is best precisely for making you an informed and safe partner when accompanying more informed partners. (In other words, being a good lead decisionmaker requires more knowledge & skills than just L1.)
Thanks, good advice........
This is definitely something I'm taking seriously.
Avy L1 is not something available in my area, but I'm keenly interested if the opportunity arises.
post #15 of 58
While way less experienced than he is, I'll echo what Jonathan said & others intimated.

Just wearing a beacon only goes so far. Without some form of appropriate safety & emergency training the benefits of wearing a beacon are limited. Not zero, but limited.

Just putting a beacon on does nothing to help you decide if a certain chunk of terrain is sensible to ski on a given day (even inbounds) - it does not make you think about the snow, or what is above you, and what is below you. It does not make you stop and think about the group you are skiing with and what kind of plan you should have for skiing as a group. It does not help you respond appropriately if someone else is in trouble. In fact, not having the right practiced instincts about getting out of transmit mode could confound a search...

I'm starting to believe that anyone doing much off piste skiing in the west should have some basic training which will help them decide - using their own informed judgement - where they want to ski on a given day, who they will ski with (if anyone) and what kind of group dynamics to seek out and consider carrying a range of appropriate gear. I've only had a basic class (few hours class and a day of field work) and it forever changed how I view snow and terrain.

I'm thinking a standardized half day intro to snow safety class offered by western ski areas on a regular basis could be a really smart thing. Because even a great patrol can't make every bit of inbounds fun and challenging terrain Disneyland safe.
post #16 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
Avy L1 is not something available in my area, but I'm keenly interested if the opportunity arises.
Go here:
http://www.nsp.org/nsp2002/edu_templ...ourse_schedule
. . . select Central Division, and see if any courses are available for "Avalanche Fundamentals and Rescue" or "Mtn. and Aval. Awareness" -- I don't see anything right now, but courses often are scheduled later in the season.
Also contact them here:
http://www.nspcentral.org/contact.php
. . . to see if anything might be in the works.
post #17 of 58
TC - if you're just skiing Big and the A-Z's at Big Sky, I wouldn't worry too much about really getting into snow science. Not that I'd discourage anybody either, but it's really not needed for that kind of thing. If you're curious - get Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. It's very thourough without being a complete geek/snoozefest like The Avalanche Handbook or something.


...and as far as avy classes are concerned - I think it'd be really cool if CPR classes were a part of every course. Lot's of people can find a beacon in .00006 seconds, but don't know the first thing about 1st aid. Finding a guy's beacon is only a small part of saving his life.
post #18 of 58
...and as far as avy classes are concerned - I think it'd be really cool if CPR classes were a part of every course. Lot's of people can find a beacon in .00006 seconds, but don't know the first thing about 1st aid. Finding a guy's beacon is only a small part of saving his life.[/quote]

This is so true. I think we should be teaching at least the need to carry a cpr mask and some sort of meaningfull first aid kit. Lots of people are dug up cyanotic and not breathing, but come back when the airway is cleared. This assuming that they were not mangled and broken on the way down. I've seen some pretty "experienced" BC skiers that didn't have enough first aid supplies in the group to deal with a ski cut on a dog.

I also want to endorse the tracker as the easiest unit to use. I currently own a couple and a Barryvox unit. I have had many trancievers and like the Tracker the best. BCA is an oustanding company that has done a lot to advance safety in Backcountry skiing. They were the first to develop multi-antenna units and more recently have published material on organised shoveling that speeds recovery and faciltates extrication. Their videos that I have seen are good and are helping get the word out.

Trekchic... If you are going backcountry skiing as part of an experienced group in moderate conditions, I think it can be "safe" to have a beacon strapped on and go. Beacons like the Tracker are so easy to use that you can learn it at the trail head. It will be unlikely that YOU will be forced to do a real search. You could be getting a probe and shovel ready ect... It is more important that you are aware that you are taking a risk and have some briefing on how to follow directions and what the broad plan is. I am not telling you skip an AVY 1 course. I am saying that 1 or 2 relative BC novices could ski as part of a group of 4-6 provided the others were experienced and familiar with the terrain and conditions you would find on the tour. Read "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" by Bruce Tremper so that you are not completely uninformed. I ussualy recomend reading it before taking an AVY 1 anyway.
post #19 of 58
As to the original question... what are the differences.... I believe that the analog beacons have more range but take more search skill....

Any beacon will send the same signal from the victim. So, the differences are in search modes. The digital beacons have smarter directional searches, including keeping track of mutiple burial victims.

I have both the Tracker and the DSP. The Tracker set the standard for two antenna beacons for visual tracking. The DSP has three antennas. DTS was supposed to come out with a three antenna beacon, but it is still has not been released yet.

So what is the big difference? Two antenna or three? I have been able to practice with the Tracker at the Crystal Mtn, WA ski resort practice range, where they have buried beacons in the snow, behind Campbell lodge. The first thing I noticed was that my Tracker took me in a semi-circle route to the target. This is because of the way radio signals radiate from target beacon depending on it's orientation.

When I got the DSP, I practiced in my back yard against the Tracker. The three antenna DSP took me on a more direct straight line route to the target.

My opinion is that the DSP allows for a somewhat quicker resolution. Stumbling around in the snow in a circular route can be done, but requires more patience and concentration.

You need to study and practice with your beacon because the target beacon can be sitting in a variety of different orientations giving a different directional signal.

Here is an interesting beacon review site: http://beaconreviews.com/transceivers/index.htm
post #20 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by DropCliffsNotBombs View Post
Cheaper beacons are slower and harder to use than the more expensive ones. The choice of which one to buy is a "no-brainer" if you ask me. Anyone buying the cheapest beacon that they can find doesn't really care about their partners lives I guess. Just saving $150 bucks!!

This is the sort of generalized crap that we see too much of here. I know patrols with really old simple systems, who practice often and are really solid with them. What they really like, is that when multiple signals are out there, they know how their familiar personal system responds, and don't have to make assumptions as to what the internal software is doing.

Or maybe they are just cheap and don't care about their partners. geeesh.
post #21 of 58
I'm not so sure that's "generalized crap". It certainly describes the reality in the "casual" user world. And possibly the professional universe as well.

It'd be interesting to see a solid shootout of seasoned analog users vs Pulse and S1 (esp w/ the claimed firmware update). I find it very hard to believe that even a well practiced individual using a pure analog beacon could beat a modestly practiced searcher with the Pulse or S1 in a wide range of scenarios (esp multiples). Or even a Tracker under many circumstances. However, I don't claim to be familiar with all the studies out there - so if you have any solid into to contradict my impression, I'm all ears.

I'm not placing any value judgements on someone's choice of beacon - especially if they are a pro & I know or can assume their knowledge and practice time are commensurate with their choice of transceiver. But when an average very non-pro schlub like me shows up, I'd pretty much hope & expect to see something like a Tracker, DSP, Pulse or S1. Not that these don't require practice - just that realistically, they demand less practice to achieve basic competence. And semi walk you through the paces on the fly...
post #22 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
I'm not so sure that's "generalized crap". It certainly describes the reality in the "casual" user world. ...
Reality being that an older beacon might be a fraction slower, for the new user, sure. If you claim an older unit shows a cheap disregard for peoples lives, no.

In my experience, we've seen that if one buries multiple tranceivers in various orientations, the fully automated units can start to give some weird results. Maybe they have improved recently, but I have seen unstable indications which no one but the software designers could really understand.

Sort of like an expert photographer who shoots in RAW, with nothing automatic, a good beacon expert can sort it out multiple signals pretty fast with a simple unit. The beginner may be better off with the point and shoot.

Beacon location time is hopefully a pretty small part of the equation. We had a person dug out alive from 6 feet down last year because his partners had studied and practiced conveyor belt shovelling and CPR. A digging straight pit would have been too late.
post #23 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post
TC - if you're just skiing Big and the A-Z's at Big Sky, I wouldn't worry too much about really getting into snow science. Not that I'd discourage anybody either, but it's really not needed for that kind of thing. If you're curious - get Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. It's very thourough without being a complete geek/snoozefest like The Avalanche Handbook or something.


...and as far as avy classes are concerned - I think it'd be really cool if CPR classes were a part of every course. Lot's of people can find a beacon in .00006 seconds, but don't know the first thing about 1st aid. Finding a guy's beacon is only a small part of saving his life.
Thanks Jer.
Rio said something about Bridger, needing peeps, and a shovel.

Earlier I said I'm not chicken(perhaps not the right term for my intent), but after looking deeper into it and with all the huge dumps of snow we've seen, which bring avy danger, I think I'm going to add an -en to the end of my user name.
Trekchick-en
As stated earlier, fear is a good thing if it keeps you on your toes.

As for First Aid/CPR, that is something I have taken, as a part of my business and mine safety. Definitely a worth while thing for anyone to take the time to learn.
post #24 of 58
The Ridge would be about the same as Big and A-Z's - they're both inbounds areas that are controlled by patrol. Having the gear is required and it also helps if you are fairly proficient with it, but an avy class probably wouldn't be much help. The classes deal alot more with routefinding and snowpack analysis (not getting caught in the first place) and besides patrol I've never seen anybody digging a pit at Big Sky or Bridger Bowl.
post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
... but after looking deeper into it and with all the huge dumps of snow we've seen, which bring avy danger, I think I'm going to add an -en to the end of my user name...
I would not draw any conclusions at all about what the inbounds snow or hazard will be like in late March (at what I think is the time of that ESA) at two different resorts on the basis of some inbounds slide incidents early season thus far. Can't do it. (That is not meant in any way to minimize or show lack of respect for recent events.)
post #26 of 58
CTCook, I agree completely.
The conditions today in any given area will be completely different in March/April.
It does not negate the new awareness of avalanche dangers with recent activities.
I would much rather bone up on such things now, as opposed to waiting until the last minute and getting caught with my pants down.
post #27 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post
The Ridge would be about the same as Big and A-Z's - they're both inbounds areas that are controlled by patrol. Having the gear is required and it also helps if you are fairly proficient with it, but an avy class probably wouldn't be much help. The classes deal alot more with routefinding and snowpack analysis (not getting caught in the first place) and besides patrol I've never seen anybody digging a pit at Big Sky or Bridger Bowl.
Well we have changed our policies this year, only a beacon is required. No probe, shovel, or partner required but I would strongly advise them. With the new lift there is considerable new exsposures out there and we now have an open boundary policy so people can ski out of bounds on the ridge in any direction. Be carfull folks.

The new Schlassmans lift is very hard to control as it wind loads and is steep, 38 degrees on the ramp, to s**t that's really steep, (who knows). tight chutes and big cliffs pepper both sides of the ramp and Munday's bowl goes from 40+ to hardly holding snow at the top on the southern end, while Shlassmans bowl leads you to an unskiable pinch and cliffs. Don't miss the back door to the north. Maybe march or april will see enough snow to fill in, but with the constant avy control that may not ever happen.

You are right that few if any people dig pits inbounds.
post #28 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB View Post
...You are right that few if any people dig pits inbounds.
And inbounds their not digging pits is actually a good thing, not a bad thing.
post #29 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
And inbounds their not digging pits is actually a good thing, not a bad thing.
Well if you do dig a pit, filling it in is required.
post #30 of 58
Yeah it always happens.
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