Pieps DSP & DSP Advanced – Avalanche Beacon Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Avalanche Beacons

Avalanche Beacons

WildSnow Beacon Reviews Overview

[Update: As of the Fall 2011, the more expensive "Advanced" version has been discontinued, and a significantly less expensive "Tour" version has been introduced, which is essentially a single-button DSP. Also, firmware version 8.2 is now available, although the only new feature is searching for the new off-frequency TX600 transmit-only beacon (for dogs & gear).]

The Pieps DSP avalanche beacon combines a relatively simple user interface with a marking/masking feature for multiple burials. According to my tests it has the longest reliable range of any beacon with full directional indicators.

Interface and Controls

To switch the DSP to Transmit, depress and then slide the three-position switch on the front face of the beacon so that it’s flush with the housing. How to tell at a glance if the beacon is transmitting? With the latest harness design (new as of Fall 2008), look for a light flashing through the pouch’s mesh material.

To switch to Search, depress and then slide (realistically a two-handed maneuver) that same switch even farther, so that it protrudes from the other end of the housing. To revert to Transmit, bump the end of the switch.

Backcountry Skiing

Pieps DSP avalanche rescue beacon.

The search interface is relatively simple: two-digit LCD numerical display, five LCD directional indicators, and three buttons (arrayed vertically since Fall 2007, and with a triangular layout prior to that). One of the buttons plays no role whatsoever in searching: instead, it can check the frequency drift of other beacons, and on the DSP Advanced (which is otherwise identical to the DSP) it accesses navigational functions.

The firmware can be upgraded: latest version is 6.2 (as of Fall 2008). Keeping track of exactly what has changed with each version is confusing since the summaries from Pieps include changes that were already incorporated in prior firmware versions, and the only on-line summary is in German.

The DSP runs a sophisticated self-test upon start-up. Just be sure to keep the DSP away from another beacon during start-up, or else when it attempts to receive its own signal the amplification from an immediately adjacent antenna can cause the DSP to report an error. (The DSP will still function normally after this happens, but the error message, with the explanation available only at the Pieps website, not in the user manual, would be somewhat disconcerting if you don’t know the cause. This is also unlikely to occur in the field anyway, unless two users are huddled up against one another while powering on the DSP, and is something I’ve experienced only during testing when I’ve been holding multiple beacons, as opposed to turning on my beacon in the morning for an actual tour.)

How It Works: Initial Signal Acquisition > Secondary Search Phase > Pinpointing

Initial signal acquisition is via a combination of sound, one or two of five directional indicators, and distance readout.

The directional indicators disappear at 2.0 meters, and the distance readout goes down to a minimum of 0.1 meter. (Distance shown is not necessarily the actual distance to the victim, as is the case with all beacons.)

How It Works: Multiple Burials

The display shows between one and greater-than-three victim symbols. The DSP directional indicators and distance readout are displayed exclusively for the beacon with the strongest signal. Once that beacon is found, pressing a button marks/masks that beacon, and then the DSP focuses exclusively on the next-strongest signal.

Alternatively, the scan button shows the number of beacons within 5, 20, and 50 meters. The scan button also erases any previous markings/maskings.

How Well It Works: Initial Signal Acquisition > Secondary Search Phase > Pinpointing

DSP has the longest reliable fully directional range of any beacon on the market. What do I mean by reliable? I have run some range tests in which other beacons essentially matched the DSP when the beacons were positioned relative to each other (coupling) for the best signal. But in the opposite case the DSP has a very small range drop-off compared to other brands.

The third antenna eliminates all spikes and nulls in the pinpointing phase and the box size is small.

How Well It Works: Multiple Burials

DSP’s marking/masking has improved significantly over its many firmware versions, and now works reasonably well. The victim count is now generally reliable when searching from most modern beacons, although still not as reliable as its S1 and Pulse competition.

In detail: When searching for modern beacons, undercounting by the DSP is extremely rare, but some ghosting is typical. Moreover, while all three signal separation beacons – i.e., DSP, S1, Pulse -– have more trouble with Ortovox F1 beacons because of their continuous carrier signal that is always on in between pulses, the DSP has considerably more difficulty with F1 beacons as compared to the S1 and Pulse.

The DSP is supposed to display a symbol for such a beacon to indicate possible lack of confidence in the information DSP displays. Nonetheless, often when searching for an F1 I just end up with three regular victim symbols instead of one “old beacon” symbol.

Pieps says the Scan feature provides a more accurate count, although I have still experienced some F1-induced ghosts in Scan mode. Even when searching for multiple modern beacons, I have experienced slowdowns and frustrations when attempting to mark/mask a found beacon.

Then again, the DSP search function has far fewer potential distractions and complications than the Pulse and S1, so as is often the case, it’s a matter of trade-offs and personal preference. Also, see our Pulse and S1 reviews for their range issues when searching for a second beacon after focusing in on the second beacon, a problem that seems to be a byproduct of their outstanding marking/masking reliability. By contrast, the DSP exhibits none of this problem.

Overall: To What Kind of Person Does This Beacon Appeal?

The DSP has wide appeal. For example, it is ski mountaineer Andrew McLean’s beacon of choice. For a single-burial search, it functions in a simple straightforward matter, and the marking/masking feature has improved significantly over the years. The range at which full directional indicators function is impressively reliable.

By contrast, in my opinion the DSP Advanced version is at best a pointless waste of additional dollars. I like to keep my barometric altimeter on my wristwatch, my compass on my sighting-mirror magnetic unit, and my thermometer in my snowpit kit. Constantly taking out my avalanche beacon to reference navigational functions has no appeal to me, and even strikes me as potentially dangerous (e.g., if a slide were to hit as the beacon were dangling about outside its harness).

Overall: What Thoughts Go Through My Mind If a Partner Has This Beacon

“I hope my partner has upgraded to a relatively recent software version.”

“I know my beacon has no potentially dangerous frequency drift, because my partner was able to check it at the trailhead.”

“My partner will pick up my signal from a long ways away, regardless of how he holds his beacon, and with full directional indicators.”

“My partner had better be prepared to deal with possible slowdowns, frustrations, and ghosting during a multiple-burial scenario, and be familiar with the scan feature to help resolve them.”

Note
A victim’s DSP (or Pieps Freeride) transmission can also be turned off by the Pieps iProbe, which is essentially a probe with a miniature search beacon in its tip. The iProbe can detect the signal from any beacon, and works the same way regardless of what beacon the searcher has, or even if the searcher has any beacon at all (though the “turn off” feature only works with a current Pieps beacon). More, for a guided party equipped entirely with the DSP (or Pieps Freeride), a guide with an iProbe could reliably turn off any located victim’s transmission so that the signal would now effectively be marked/masked for all other searchers too. (This feature is somewhat spooky to demonstrate: turn a DSP or Freeride to transmit, set up a bunch of people standing nearby with their beacons on search, press the mark/mask feature on the iProbe, then watch as all the other searchers’ beacons go silent.) If the iProbe is moved away from the target beacon, then the beacon will begin to transmit again.

Manual

Shop for Pieps DSP avalanche beacon.

WildSnow Beacon Reviews Intro and Index

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)

Comments

34 Responses to “Pieps DSP & DSP Advanced – Avalanche Beacon Review”

  1. Dongshow February 11th, 2009 12:11 pm

    That iProbe sounds like science fiction. And I agree with the useless of altimeters and such on a beacon. I like to strap the thing on and leave it alone till the day is over or something happens.

  2. Aaron February 11th, 2009 12:36 pm

    Does anyone have experience with getting the Pieps DSP firmware upgraded? Is it something that a local Pieps service center can do in the store while you wait or do they have to send the unit off somewhere?

  3. Jonathan Shefftz February 11th, 2009 2:06 pm

    Here’s the list of U.S. service centers:
    http://tinyurl.com/agyyqu
    I’ve always send mine off to Liberty Mountain for firmware upgrades. Comes with a nice printout from a thorough test too.
    Seems like something that can be done while you wait, although good to call ahead to ensure that someone is there who can do it.

  4. Nickd February 11th, 2009 10:30 pm

    “The DSP is supposed to display a symbol for such a beacon to indicate possible lack of confidence in the information DSP displays.” The symbol is that the buried victim icons flash. The DSP’s lack of confidence is due to the presence of a old beacon that’s emitting a continuous carrier. When the DSP senses that, the multiple buried victim icons flash (firmware 5.0 and above, I believe). When you see them flashing, you shouldn’t trust the multiple burial search. So you should make sure your touring partners all have modern beacons.

    the DSP has one unique – and potentially lifesaving – feature that you forgot to mention. It can measure the frequency (variation from 457 KHz) of another beacon. Once the DSP firmware upgraded to this, I found a number of older beacons that were way off. One old Ortovox was about 150 Hz off – once we saw this with the DSP, we played around and found that a search located that beacon about 10′ from where it physically was. It’s dangerous to blindly trust the calibration of older beacons, but before the DSP it wasn’t possible to test that in the field. Checking the frequency of a touring partner’s beacon might seem a little intrusive, but it will increase your confidence in their ability to find you if it comes to that. And only the DSP can do that, to my knowledge.

  5. Lou February 12th, 2009 7:28 am

    Nick, in his review Jonathan actually does mention the frequency check, but thanks for bringing it up as it’s a nice feature. Comments on these reviews are important, they form part of the whole.

  6. Jonathan Shefftz February 12th, 2009 7:37 am

    The review has two references to the frequency tester:
    “One of the buttons plays no role whatsoever in searching: instead, it can check the frequency drift of other beacons, and on the DSP Advanced (which is otherwise identical to the DSP) it accesses navigational functions.”
    “I know my beacon has no potentially dangerous frequency drift, because my partner was able to check it at the trailhead.”

    I originally had a parenthetical aside that didn’t make the final edit:
    “(In a large teaching fleet I have found many old F1 beacons so severely drifted as to be dysfunctional. I have yet to test any other beacon though that was significantly drifted.)”

    The feature is no longer unique, as the S1 tests for drift, transmission pulse length, and total cycle time (i.e., On + Off). The S1 just reports a pass/fail though: it will identify which test(s) didn’t pass, although it won’t show how close it was to passing.

    I’ve never had the DSP indicate an “old” beacon despite probably hundreds of searches for old F1 units.

  7. Al February 12th, 2009 10:27 am

    How easy is the product to read or do you need to ?

    something to consider with the “game boy” screens on some of these new beacons is the ability for an old coot with failing eye site to read the display

    my ski bud bought his new S1 wearing glasses BUT wearing contacts like he always does for skiing for which he which gives up reading ability ,late in the day in failing light … might as well just come and dig the body up in the am when the display is visable

  8. Jonathan Shefftz February 12th, 2009 12:20 pm

    In addition to beauty, I’d say legibility is in the eye of the beholder.
    But seriously, that is a good point. Any beacon that displays only directional indicators and a two-digit distance readout is generally quite easy to read. But when you start adding all sorts of little symbols, that could be difficult for some to read.

  9. Bryce February 12th, 2009 1:07 pm

    Lou suggested I chime in occasionally to let y’all know which products we carry, so here you go: We carry this beacon and you can call and ask for a 10 percent Wildsnow discount on the Pieps DSP.
    Like Jonathan, we think the Advanced is a waste of your money (and ours), so we don’t keep them in stock.

    Nickd (or anyone else) I’m curious which beacons you’ve tested that have drifted significantly besides the old F1? Has Ortovox fixed that drift problem in their newer beacons, or are they not old enough yet to tell?

    http://www.randogear.com

  10. Lou February 12th, 2009 1:43 pm

    Jonathan, I know a bit about radios and don’t see how frequency drift could cause the final pinpoint to be off so long as it hadn’t drifted so far the receiving beacon couldn’t detect it. Any ideas about that?

  11. Jonathan Shefftz February 12th, 2009 2:17 pm

    Depends on the extent of the drift.
    I conducted a range test this summer with a transmitting beacon that was spot on and one that was toward the edge of the acceptable +/-80 transmit standard. (The search standard is supposed to allow for finding a +/-100 beacon.)
    About half the models tested were unaffected by such target drift.
    The other half had significantly different range results.
    But of that half, about half did *better* with a drifted beacon!

    At the other end of the scale, I had one F1 that had drifted so much that I didn’t get any signal until I was about one meter away.

  12. Lou February 12th, 2009 2:23 pm

    BUT, does it just affect range, or accuracy of final pinpoint? Everything I know about radios says it would just affect the range so long as the signal could still be received.

  13. Nickd February 12th, 2009 5:25 pm

    1) @ Lou, Jonathan – I stand corrected. I clearly failed the “Where’s Waldo” test in the post relative to frequency test capability. To me, it’s such a revolutionary and valuable feature that I assumed it would get its own “How it Works” section – and when I didn’t see it there, I chimed in.

    2) @ Lou. “as long as the signal could be received” is exactly the point. Remember the DSP with the early firmware? You had to move the box very slowly for even basic functions to work correctly – particularly hard for people used to analog beacons. At ISSW 2006 we played with DSPs with the Pieps reps there, and the beacons were untrustworthy if you moved too fast – losing and picking up buried beacons (real and not-so-real) in a maddening way. I think that’s still a problem (even with 5.0 firmware) for a DSP when searching for another beacon that’s >100 Hz off. When we did a “my partner’s buried-speed” search for the 140Hz drifted beacon, it kept showing up and disappearing, and the search didn’t converge anywhere near where it was situated. When we slowed down our movement a lot – moving, counting to 5, then moving again – the DSP had more luck finding the drifted beacon. Point is that the DSP is more than a radio – it’s an analog signal processor underneath a slow digital computer underneath constantly improving (aka sometimes flaky) firmware, and all that stuff takes time.

    @ Bryce – I never really kept track of beacon drifts in any systematic way, but I do remember one of our old red Barryvoxes being about 30Hz off – just on the edge of being significant, as I understand it.

  14. Lou February 12th, 2009 5:48 pm

    Boy, this is another example of the beacon industry going the wrong way. They should be making beacons that don’t drift off frequency, not providing frequency test functions and trying to get people to understand all this tech stuff. Heck, most people don’t even access all the features in their cell phone, let alone frequency checking the whole group’s beacons every time they leave the trailhead.

    A beacon should just work, it should be waterproof to a meter or so, never brick, handle a 15 foot drop to cement with no damage, be easy to read even for those who are sight impaired to some degree, use lithium AA batteries, and be smaller than your camera. Till then, I call BS on a lot of this stuff.

    Also, I think at this point I’m glad I’m still using a Tracker and just being careful not to do a multiple burial (even though a Tracker can actually handle a multiple just fine if you know what you’re doing). And I really wonder how many people carrying these things practice enough to handle a multiple burial any better than just hacking their way through it. I’m always rusty on that myself — don’t see how I could stay up to speed without a Beacon Basin in my back yard.

  15. Jonathan Shefftz February 12th, 2009 6:53 pm

    The only significantly drifted beacons I’ve found have been very old F1 beacons, which were furthermore part of a course loaner fleet that probably sees its share inevitable abuse.
    So rest assured that the industry seems to have solved that problem, but given how many old F1 beacons are still out there, the tester functions on the DSP and S1 are highly valuable. (Sorry it wasn’t emphasized enough in the review, but striking the right balance between brevity and thoroughness is very difficult, especially for the beacons with additional or non-traditional features.)
    Unfortunately, the severely drifted beacons I found were sent back for replacement before I realized that I could run some interesting tests on them. (Hence my only tests were on +/-70 beacons.)
    The only tests I’ve seen on searching for out-of-spec beacons were put out before the current crop of models hit the market, plus they were searching for way off-spec targets.
    To reiterate, the spec for transmission is +/-80, and the spec for receive tolerance is +/-100 (i.e., a beacon at +/- 90 or +/-100 is officially no good, but another beacon is supposed to be able to receive such a signal).

  16. Nickd February 12th, 2009 6:57 pm

    Ouch. I thought this was a place to share detailed, hard-earned insights into backcountry gear. Silly me.

  17. Andrew_L February 12th, 2009 7:21 pm

    Lou,

    I totally agree with you. Complex functions and features may seem like a great idea in a practice session, but in a real-world emergency, panic is going to be the rule, not the exception. Simple, idiot-proof design should be the goal of top beacon makers–not an ever-expanding list of “improvements” that require the user to become a model-specific expert.

  18. Randonnee February 12th, 2009 8:07 pm

    It is great that folks like Jonathan are into this in-depth research, thanks. I am with Lou, I read about transceivers so that I may find the one that is easy to use, dependable, proven. I have an attitude of half-interest for a necessary somewhat useful gadget in regard to transceivers. When discussing transceiver use we are framing a scenario in which the primary focus and decision has failed- someone is buried by an avalanche. All of this transceiver bla bla is for a small statistical improvement in survival after blundering into an avalanche- this energy should be primarily directed at learning to stay out of an avalanche.

  19. Lou February 12th, 2009 8:26 pm

    Nick, I didn’t have any intention of coming down on anyone, just offering my opinion but perhaps I came on too strong… or do you refer to something else? Seems like we’re getting pretty detailed here.

    BTW, all, we do have to keep the brevity of the reviews but depend on the comments to really flesh things out. That’s the way of the blog, at least in terms of what I usually strive for (but don’t always accomplish.) Thus, I truly appreciate how Jonathan is ready and willing to go for it in the comments, and appreciate the points all of you bring up!

  20. Jonathan Shefftz February 13th, 2009 7:47 am

    “an ever-expanding list of “improvements” that require the user to become a model-specific expert”

    – This is indeed the reality for the new crop of models with additional features. Whenever I teach avalanche courses, and one student has yet another different beacon than the last student, I have to switch gears and provide a brief overview of the features/quirks, etc of that model.

    – Such beacons essentially substitutes model-specific familiarity for more general beacon searching skills. In other words, hand such a beacon with no prior explanation to a user highly skilled in resolving multiple-burial searches on a beacon that has no special features, and the user might be confused with manipulating the various buttons correctly as well as just figuring out in general what is going on. By contrast, a user familiar with that specific signal separation model can usually solve multiple-burial searches as if with x-ray vision. The analogy that comes to mind is the difference between a driver in an entirely unfamiliar city yet skilled with the latest vehicle GPS system versus a driver with a good map and a general sense of a city’s layout trying to navigate through an unfamiliar neighborhood.

    - The other downside, continuing the analogy, is when that GPS had incorrect data or loses a signal. Ooops, time to get out that old paper map again! Or rather, time to engage your own brain instead of relying on the beacon’s advanced features.

    - And as Randonnee reminds us, better to focus on avoiding getting caught in the first place, since even with the latest beacon, iProbe, shovel skills, Avalung, ABS pack, helicopter hovering overhead with flight paramedics, etc., getting entrained in an avalanche is still a life-threatening matter.

  21. Downhill Dave February 13th, 2009 12:16 pm

    Downward compatibility or the recognizing of all older beacons is an essential part of a high quality beacon. For Pieps to produce and sell a unit that does not recognize older analog beacons that operate with a constant pulse on/off is irresponsible. I would assume there existed an industry standard that all new beacon designs must receive all older style beacons, which were used as the standard old reliable by many many people. A great deal of people are still using them. Ghosting and the additional confusion that the DSP has with these analog beacons has to be an easy fix for Pieps with a simple reprogram and upgrade offered to its users. How many upgrades has the DSP had?

    Andrew McLain (Pieps DSP) like Chris Davenport (tracker) are paid to use the product or they are supported by the manufacturer/distributor. A biased opinion on what is the best choice is not one a buyer should take into consideration when choosing a product like an avalanche beacon. What works and what works best is how to make that choice. In field trials the DSP does not give the user the ability to quickly find a buried victim, if at all and the company acknowledges this problem. *The company also recognizes that the DSP can be turned off by a small weak magnet or radio transmission because of the magnetic switch they use inside the DSP*

    Like any tool the user must be practiced with it in the field for them to be effective with it, at least that is how it used to be. With the new digital technology and the added third antenna increasing accuracy and speed to a victim any user can out of the box operate these new beacons and quickly find one or more victims confidently and with next to no practice or explanation. We have to thank Tracker for bring simplicity to beacons 10 years ago when the produced the Tracker, but now the older technology has been left behind and these newer designs improve accuracy and ease of use 10 times over the older styles. Ironically, it is the Ortovox f1 Focus that is still winning the speed trials in the hands of a very practiced user. While analog still rules in many ways the new beacons that offer multiple burial solutions, incorporate 3 antennas and provide digital feedback to the user have improved a user’s speed and ability to locate a buried victims, but to allow a company to produce a beacon that continues to prove it is not ready and does not receive signals from all beacons on the market is just not ok. Pieps has always made great products and I as a regular backcountry skier expect more from my equipment then Pieps is offering the public with it’s DSP.

  22. jerimy February 13th, 2009 2:10 pm

    If you are interested in learning about why frequency drift can cause problems for a receiving beacon, I came across a very useful paper.

    http://www.backcountryaccess.com/english/research/documents/FreqDrift.pdf

    It does not explain all the details, but as en electrical engineer, most interesting is Figure 2. Basically, the wider the bandwidth, the better the receiving beacon can pick up the signal of a drifted beacon. The drawback is that it would also be more prone to interference from any device operating near the 457 kHz spectrum. A beacon with a steeper, more narrow bandwidth will only see a drifted beacon from a short distance if at all.

    The Tracker DTS has the widest bandwidth and would have the easiest time picking up a beacon that has drifted. (Noted that this paper is on the BCA website, but I am unsure if the authors had any reason to be biased.)

    The paper stated that they were unable to determine bandwidth of the Pieps DSP.

  23. Aaron February 13th, 2009 3:02 pm

    Following up on my earlier question about obtaining the firmware upgrade locally, I took my DSP to Oregon Mountain Community in Portland, OR yesterday. I called ahead and learned that they’d need about 30 minutes and $20 for the upgrade. However, when I arrived I was handed a slip of paper with Liberty Mountain’s mailing address on it. Looks like I’ll be mailing it in at the end of the season.

  24. Lou February 13th, 2009 3:16 pm

    So, tell me again why we even have brick-and-mortar shops?

  25. Jonathan Shefftz February 13th, 2009 4:14 pm

    “For Pieps to produce and sell a unit that does not recognize older analog beacons that operate with a constant pulse on/off is irresponsible.”
    – Just to clarify, the DSP will find a single F1 just fine. The F1′s constant carrier causes problems only with signal separation, so the DSP will have more problems correctly identifying the number of F1 beacons in a multi burial and then flagging them. (The F1 can also ghost in a single burial, possibly misleading a searcher from another party into thinking that more than one victim is buried.)
    - But, *all* signal separation beacons have more problems with the F1 in multiple burials, whether the DSP, Arva 3 Axes, Barryvox Pulse, or even Ortovox’s own S1. The DSP however is definitely adversely affected more than its competition by multiple F1 beacons.

    “*The company also recognizes that the DSP can be turned off by a small weak magnet or radio transmission because of the magnetic switch they use inside the DSP*”

    - Before this became known, previously I had noted that the ARVA 3 Axes turns to On/Transmit by inserting a little plastic piece with a magnet on its end. The beacon could therefore be turned to On/Transmit by placing any sufficiently strong magnet in close proximity to the insertion point. But the Transmit/Search switch is separate from the On switch.

    - I didn’t realize though that the DSP switch even though it looks mechanical is in fact magnetic.

    - So I took a couple magnetics from the fridge:
    – 18mm diameter x 4mm thick
    – 20mm diameter x 6mm thick
    . . . and tested all the beacons on the market (except for ARVA) by turning them to Transmit, then seeing if either magnet could affect the beacon.

    - Only the Pieps DSP was affected. Withing about 3cm, the smaller magnet consistently turned the DSP to Search, whereas the larger magnet turned to the DSP to Off. (And no, the larger magnet at a further distance did not turn the DSP to Search – it was always either no effect or turn to Off.) When each magnet was removed, the beacon returned to Transmit.

    - The question though is, would a magnetic-closure button be sufficiently strong to have the same effect? So I found a shop that next town over that has such a ridiculously equipped jacket, and I lent a friend my DSP, so should have results soon…

    - Speaking of shops, that’s a shame about OMC, especially since otherwise that’s such a great shop. (And is this the Aaron who’s friends with Jeff H? If so, congrats on the marriage, and great skiing with you back on October 31 last season when you just barely kept your streak going!)

  26. Lou February 13th, 2009 4:29 pm

    For what it’s worth, when I was visiting Andrew recently I layed the antenna of a Yeasu FT50 transceiver directly on the DSP and transmitted at full power, something like 5 watts! Nothing happened.

  27. Scott Webster February 24th, 2009 3:18 pm

    Just another data point:

    I get the E22 error when turning on my beacon practically every time, unless I’m very careful to get a long way away from any of my partners who already turned their beacons on. It also always shows up in the city where I assume there is a lot of interference. Every time I’ve done a “real test” (ensured no interefering devices nearby) it has not had an error, and it always works great transmitting and receiving, so hopefully there is no problem. It would be nice if Pieps was more clear about what is and isn’t an “ok” error. Maybe I’ll send it in during the summer.

    Also, I’ve seen the “old beacon” alert a few times, I think when a friend was using an older Ortovox M2. I think his frequency was ok though, just a high background signal?

  28. Sandy D December 7th, 2009 11:18 pm

    I’m surprised that I don’t see many comments regarding RANGE. I have a Tracker 1 and it only has 20 metres! The Pieps DSP has 50 and the Ortovox S1 has 60! Isn’t this kind of a big deal?

  29. Stephen January 27th, 2010 9:29 pm

    I recently had ” E22″ show up on the display during start up. Does anyone know what this means or where I can find out?

  30. Bryce January 27th, 2010 11:00 pm

    E22 means all the antennae are working properly, but there is interference from iron or electronic equipment. Sometimes it happens when you are too close to another beacon on startup.

    http://www.pieps.com/en/faqs-mainmenu-56.html#answer5

  31. Dave August 10th, 2010 3:29 am

    I’m currently going through a lot of research for a beacon purchase. I like the controls and layout of the pieps. Is the ghosting of it something to be concerned with for multiple burials compared to something like a pulse? No one I tour with would typically use anything with a analogue/ single antenna.

  32. Lou August 10th, 2010 9:00 am

    Hi Dave, no, it’s not a deal breaker. Tons of people use the Pieps and love it.

  33. Jonathan October 2nd, 2011 11:44 am

    Two updates I’ve now incorporated into the end of the review:
    - The latest firmware is version 8.2, which allows the DSP to find the new off-frequency TX600 transmit-only beacon (for dogs & gear).
    - The “Advanced” version of the DSP has now been discontinued.

  34. Chris December 8th, 2012 10:18 pm

    Does anyone know of a Colorado shop that does pieps firmware updates? I last got it done at the ute in aspen and am wondering if they still do it or if any front range shops can do it?

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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Backcountry skiing is a dangerous sport. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions or templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow its owners and contributors of any liability for use of said items for backcountry skiing or any other use.

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