Pieps Transceiver Problems - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-22-2009   #1
Matty's Avatar
Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 223
Pieps Transceiver Problems

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.
Mike Laney Dick Woolf
National Avalanche Program Director National Telecom Advisor

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Old 01-23-2009   #2
mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: '92
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 418
The same holds true for other transceivers and electronic devices. I've been told to never carry an ipod while b/c skiing and to have cell phones powered off.
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Old 01-23-2009   #3
Durango, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 428
I've also read several reports on the Teton Gravity forums confirming that cell phones and iPods do interfere w/ the Pieps DSP when powered on.
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Old 01-23-2009   #4
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 13
During mountain rescue's avalanche awareness class last weekend, we experimented with cell phones turned on and got results that were off by 5 feet or so. turn the phone off and it goes right to the target. really interesting to see how sensitive these recievers really are.
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Old 02-03-2009   #5
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 172
good update, thanks for the info.
Best idea is to chuck the cell phone in the river. If you are using an ipod or mp3 player while b/c with your friends then get a life.
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Old 02-05-2009   #6
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East Jordan, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 29
I have an upgraded Pieps DSP and have had nothing but good luck. I will say that I've been thrown off by the marking feature a few times though. I thought this might have been resolved with the upgrade, but apparently it wasn't. First of all, if you thoroughly read the instruction manual you'll notice that analog beacons can show up as multiple victims on the DSP's screen. The manual also states that if you experience difficulties marking(by pressing the flag button for three seconds)the first time, try again. Just a few things that are good to know if you ever happen to stumble upon a multiple burial situation(of course involving another party since you ski one at a time and clear the runout). After doing some beacon drills and a rescue scenario recently I realized how little glitchey things like this can result in confusion and lost time if you don't know why you're seeing what you're seeing.
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