Digital Beacons

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Transceiver Models


Digital transceivers are easier to use for beginners as they give a visual direction and distance indication to the user and do not rely on the user interpreting audio signals. However the search range is generally half that of an analogue transceiver and searching for multiple victims is generally be more difficult. First generation devices also had slower microprocessors which means that rescuers have to slow down to the speed of the beacon, something which requires discipline in a real rescue situation. Given these two important limitations they present an important advance for occasional skiers and snowboarders who are not well versed in search techniques.

NIC-Impex Arva 9000 digital avalanche tranceiver

Nic Impex ARVA 9000 showing distance to buried victim in meters

A further word of warning, digital transceivers should never be used in search mode in conjunction with a mobile phone, even if you are not currently making a call. Always turn nearby mobile phones off before starting the search. The audio output of a digital transceiver is not a representation of the analogue signal but gives an idea of the distance to the victim. Mobile phone circuitry can affect the frequency of beeps and the digital display, this may manifest itself in widely varying readings. An incident in Pra Loup in December 2000 has already been reported in which a member of the piste patrol died (see: News). Subsequent research by independent users and the FFME in France have confirmed these findings.

Further Informaiton

Getting to the Point - (PDF), discusses the problems pinpointing victims with digital beacons.

Categories: Snow Safety

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