Outdoor Retailer 2016 — Pieps Micro for the Skimo Racer

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 10, 2016      
Pieps Micro, 102 x 71 x 18 mm.

The 3-antenna Pieps Micro, 102 x 71 x 18 mm, 150 g with battery.

The Pieps Micro avalanche beacon debuts as one of the smallest and lightest three antenna beacons on the market.

Stated features:

  • 3 antennas
  • Max circular receiving range, 40 m (131 ft)
  • Flagging function in case of multiple burials
  • Powered by 1 alkaline AA battery
  • Battery life: 200+ hours in send mode
  • Weight: 150 g (5.2 oz)
  • Dimensions: 102 x 71 x 18 mm (4.3 x 2.3 x .9 in)
  • The Pieps Micro only has an on/off switch and a button for flagging multiple burials. Search mode is initiated by light and movement. The idea is that you stash the Micro in your pocket or beacon chest harness and in the darkness it stays in transmit mode. In the event of an avalanche, you take it out and it automatically turns to search mode while you’re moving around in the daylight.

    For ski mountaineering races requiring a 3 antenna beacon, this could be the item. It has the same weight and range as the one-antenna Pieps Freeride but is a bit smaller.

    Nick Francis, President of USSMA (United States Ski Mountaineering Association), informed us that soon one or two antenna beacons will not be acceptable gear for skimo races. ISMF is implementing this new rule in Europe next season (2016/2017). USSMA will enforce it the season after (2017/2018).

    Available fall 2016, MSRP $390.


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    15 Responses to “Outdoor Retailer 2016 — Pieps Micro for the Skimo Racer”

    1. Jeremy C January 10th, 2016 10:36 am

      It is great that this has come from a leading manufacturer, otherwise it might have been discounted as not being a serious product. Unlike the rest of the skimo safety gear (probes, shovels), which are token items only to put a tick in a box (for example the 150g Merelli shovel, and 115g Arva probe), the beacons effectiveness can easily be tested.

      Hopefully this is the first of a series of lighter beacons from the main manufactures, as they play catch up. There does not seem to have been any real beacon innovation in the last 5 years, just some repackaging of existing technology.

    2. Jernej January 10th, 2016 12:05 pm

      This light sensitive search switch sounds like recipe for a serious problem.

    3. Alastair Brunton January 10th, 2016 1:01 pm

      Moonlight ski touring compatible?

    4. Nick January 10th, 2016 4:40 pm

      Switch to search on a bright day if worn under a thin translucent garment? Switch to transmit if your hand happens to block the light sensor on a dull day?

      Surely the weight of a switch isn’t that much more.

    5. Rachel Bellamy January 10th, 2016 5:05 pm

      we’re worried about having no control switch for instances at night time. Definitely curious to hear more about this though.

    6. b. fredlund January 10th, 2016 5:48 pm

      Definitely a lot a room for improvement in the size and weight of current beacons on the market,(!) but I agree, it seems silly not to include a basic switch or button to change between transmit and receive.

      In five years I hope we are able to integrate our smart phones devices, via software or internal hardware, to completely replace the avalanche transceivers we currently carry around.

    7. Ben Pritchett January 10th, 2016 10:01 pm

      I had the same question about how the sensor would work in the dark. Turns out the sensor isn’t actually a light sensor (not the visible part of the spectrum), it’s an Infrared proximity sensor that works the same in the dark or light. Pieps says it’s all good for night searching, with a backlit screen too.

    8. Wookie January 11th, 2016 1:33 am

      I guess the big question is: is this thing legit for recreational tourers? If your ski-racing boots don’t really work that well on a weekend hut trip, oh well, but this thing? Its a different story. We’re always trying to save weight and packing space – this seems like a good thing – but is this thing reliable in the same way a more standard beacon would be?

    9. Lisa Dawson January 11th, 2016 1:54 am

      Hi Ben,
      Thanks for the info about the infrared proximity sensor.

    10. Jason January 11th, 2016 10:40 am

      I wonder if the proximity sensor will be an effective way to go back to transmit in the case of getting hit by hangfire while searching for a victim.

    11. Charlie Hagedorn January 11th, 2016 12:13 pm

      Could a PIEPS engineer chime in about the utility of a light sensor over a toggle-to-receive button? One wouldn’t engineer that without a good rationale, but it’s hard to see how a light sensor is an improvement over a button/switch.

    12. Hacksaw January 11th, 2016 5:33 pm

      I’m really wondering about this light sensitive on/off “switch.” Is an actual on/off switch that heavy?

      Here’s a couple of things to think about….

      So, when I’m out touring and in “safe terrain,” and you strip off our jacket and vest; leaving you with just a t-neck and this transceiver out in the sun (because it’s strapped to my body). Will it go into “receive/search” mode and be making noise all the time (obviously when your within range of your partners) as you tour along?
      Also, when you get back to the car and take off your transceiver at the bar (remember, “on at the car, off at the bar”) will it start making noise in the bar as it goes into search? This could really happen a lot at the Explorers Club in Silverton….

      Remember folks, transceiver’s use more battery power in receive/search than it does in transmit/send. I can see a lot of folks with dead batteries with this transceiver; just like with the Trackers. I have seen more folks show up at an avy class with dead batteries with Trackers, because there is no “reminder” to turn it off after a day of touring.

    13. Wookie January 11th, 2016 10:43 pm

      Its logical extension of the one-button idea. If people in stress situations can’t work two buttons, then less buttons are better. No buttons is best. BCA made this their mantra and at least in the US, the market agrees. It makes sense that someone would try to improve on it.
      I think its a really good idea! In practice, there may be issues, but most of us have seen avi course participants running about with their beacons in send mode when they are supposed to be searching. I’m glad to see somebody applying original thinking to that problem. I for one would love to try it out.
      Tough sell though – most dont buy a beacon but every 5 to 10 years, and when you do, you don’t generally buy innovation – you buy standard due to the nature of the product and its use.

    14. Jason January 12th, 2016 10:03 am

      Hacksaw, it’s a proximity sensor, not a light sensor. As someone explained above it should detect that something is proximate to the sensor when it is in it’s holster or in a pocket.

      My question was whether it would go back to transmit mode if a user were holding it in there hand and then got buried in an avalanche. Is the proximity sensor sensitive enough to detect a layer of snow. Is there a reasonable expectation in that situation that the transceiver will not end up in a pocket of air that does not trip the sensor. Is it still an improvement over a manual button?

      In a digging scenario I’ll usually tuck my transceiver back in my pocket so it’s not swinging around while I’m digging. Would this cause it to start transmitting again possibly confusing a multiple victim rescue scenario?

    15. Stevo February 22nd, 2016 6:17 am

      That’s a solution looking for a problem, if ever I saw one! I doubt very much that this will be around for long. I suppose it’s just about acceptable so long as the default mode is ‘send’ – it’s unlikely to be easy to check what mode you’re in if buried under a metre or two of snow!

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