Announced earlier this year with a fanfare of publicity the Ortovox S1 looked like a breakthrough in avalanche transceiver functionality equivalent to the development of multi-antenna beacons in the late 1990s. The 499€ S1 was scheduled for the start of this winter season. However rumours have circulated on bulletin boards since the summer that Ortovox were having problems. Ortovox now say that an extended testing phase has put back release of the S1 to 2006/2007.
Single victim searches are not a particularly difficult problem. Both old analogue beacons and new digital models work well with advantages and disadvantages. The Star-Trek styled S1 appears to solve the hard problem of multiple victim searches, scanning for signals in the search area and displaying the locations and distance of victims on a PDA sized LCD screen. The searcher simple heads for the nearest beacon until it is located directly in the centre of the display. The unit then gives information about burial depth. The victim can then be marked and recovered while the searcher heads to the next victim.
The S1 offers a number of different functions including an electronic compass, temperature information and a clinometer.
Bucking the trend in digital beacons the S1 has eschewed multiple antennas and instead relies on a single antenna and some unspecified additional “sensors”. We contacted Ortovox earlier in the autumn for confirmation of the rumours but they declined to comment. Avalanche beacons of all types transmit on an international standard 457KHz signal. The duration and number of pulses per second as well as the bandwidth of the receiver is governed by a standard. However beacon manufacturers have had problems with interoperability in the past. The device that currently comes closest to the S1, the triple antenna Pieps DSP had an issue with “ghost” beacons being detected. Ortovox’s first foray into dual antenna digital beacons, the Ortovox X1 also met with a lot of criticism for being slow and giving confusing indications.
Posted by davidof
on Tuesday, 29 November, 2005 at 12:11 PM
We have recently spoken to Ortovox’s French rep about the S1. No firm news yet on when the S1 will be ready. However the display has been altered to only show beacons in front of the searcher rather than having a cross hair over the center of the search zone. It was felt that the 360 degree view was confusing and not necessary as a searcher would be entering the search site with the device switched on so would already have covered the ground behind him. This has the advantage of focussing the S1 antenna on the area in front of the search and probably gives greater range.
The device will only display three beacons within the search zone. It was felt that 4+ beacon searches are extremely rare and this lets the software concentrate on typical rescue scenarios.
Posted by davidof
on Thursday, 24 August, 2006 at 12:01 PM
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