Avalanche Transceiver Problems – some latest advice.

If you either own or plan to hire out an avalanche transceiver – then make sure you read the following carefully!  A couple of problems have come to light recently regarding battery compatibility and frequency drift in old transceiver units – both leading to failure in search situations….

Problems with New ‘Photo’ Batteries: apparently some new types of battery designed for use in digital cameras produce a higher power output, which can lead to avalanche transceivers failing to work in search mode (they do still transmit).  These same batteries can also damage LEDs in torches too.

The problem first came to light when an American ski tourer bought a set of Duracell Powerpix batteries on his way out skiing one morning and put them in his transceiver thinking “oh, these should last longer and are designed for electronic equipment”.  Luckily, he was a diligent skier and whilst doing transceiver checks before setting off, he noticed the transceiver would transmit but would not receive. Subsequent investigation by the manufacturers found that the batteries were the cause of the problem.

Our Advice: Don’t ever use specialist ‘camera batteries’ in your avalanche transceiver (or your torch for that matter) – stick to ‘regular’ long life batteries instead.


Frequency Drift in Older Model Transceivers – the transmission frequency of older analogue model transceivers such as the Ortovox F1, is known to change at cold temperatures, with age and by high impacts – to the extent that many modern units may be unable to detect them in search situations. (other old F1’s are usually still able to detect them, as can the DTS Tracker - but not the Ortovox M2 and X1, Mammut Baryvox or Peips DSP).

Our Advice: don’t hire or buy an old F1 transceiver (after all, you wouldn’t buy a 15 yr old computer to just save £50, or possibly your life!) If you’ve still got an F1, then maybe it’s time to upgrade to a newer model.

If you find yourself skiing in a group with someone who is wearing an old F1 transceiver, then be thorough about your transceiver checks each day and make sure your own unit can detect all transceivers being used.

 More information on this problem can be found on the DTS Tracker website: Full info here.

Mobile Phone Interference: whilst we’re on the subject, many people know about this one - but it’s not always mentioned in the literature supplied with transceivers, that mobile phones cause interference that can create ghost signals or sometimes even totally ‘jam up’ reception of avalanche transceivers.

Our Advice: we recommend you switch your phone off whenever you are wearing a transceiver and skiing off piste.  If you need to make a call, you can always stop somewhere safe and switch it on temporarily.

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