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snoboy

Important - Beacon/battery incompatibilties!

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Slack battery manufacturing standards may be a killer.

 

Apparently several beacons on the market have battery compartments that allow batteries that are "in spec" but on the small side to shift to a position where the terminals are no longer contacting, and bingo - no working beacon anymore.

 

Ortovox has just issued a recall on all of their M2 beacons to address this problem. Read about it in this thread.

 

BCA has also acknowledged that it is an issue with some of the Trackers.

 

Be careful out there this winter... bigdrink.gif

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More info, cut and paste from telemarktips:

 

We're the PR firm for Ortovox and I've got some detail on the replacement program for M1 and M2 battery doors.

 

In cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Ortovox is announcing a recall for all M1 and M2 model avalanche transceivers.

 

It has been determined that a very sharp impact, beyond the EN300 standard, could result in the shutdown of an M1 or M2. Other Ortovox models are not subject to this recall.

 

Owners will NOT need to send their M1 or M2 back to Ortovox. To solve the problem, all that is required is a new battery door, which Ortovox will provide at no charge, with replacement instructions.

 

Ortovox dealers will have new doors in stock by September 15, or Ortovox will send any owner a free replacement door directly. Instructions on sending an email or faxed request for a replacement door can be found at www.ortovox.com (as of 9/2) or on a recorded announcement at 888-215-3131 (effective immediately). The call is free.

 

Ortovox asks that M1 and M2 owners please refrain from calling the main Ortovox number - everything they need can be found on the site or through the 888-215-3131.

 

Two things to note: a) No failures of this type have ever been reported in the field, under actual usage. Only two of over 100,000 Ortovox beacons have experienced a failure of this type b) There have been reports of similar problems with other beacon brands, although Ortovox has not documented this.

 

There are no current standards among battery manufacturers for length, width and/or diameter. In fact, a pretty wide range exists. Whatever brand of beacon one uses, careful inspection of battery fit should take place whenever batteries are replaced. In particular, all users should avoid batteries that have a concave surface on the negative pole, as opposed to a flat or slightly raised surface, both of which perform well in all impact tests.

 

I'l attempt to answer any questions that you post and I'll post any other relevant details as I get them.

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Got my new M2 battery door the other day, a couple of weeks after I requested it via their website. Looks the same but with the addition of a little rubber strip on the inside of the door and a foamlike vs. rubberlike gasket. Anyways, doesn't look like it'll make a huge difference, but I was happy enough with Ortovox's quick response. Thanks for the heads up Snoboy!

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I had another brand of beacon with this problem some years ago and fixed it with a piece of cardboard cut to fit inside the battery door.

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I know that my Tracker (2002?) has slight issues with some of the rechargeable AAAs I have. Last time I reloaded them they weren't all making good contact, then I exchanged two and they were in their sockets much more snugly; it seems to work fine and reliably now.

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Well, it seems to work fine for both giving a signal and searching. Does anyone know the reason they advise against rechargeables? If it's just because some rechargeables tend not to do well in the cold or lose their charge quickly then I don't care. I carry extras and it seems to work. I don't like buying batteries all the time.

 

Does anyone have more information about rechargeables in beacons?

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I do not know if this is why but I do know that rechargables tend to lower voltages. An alkaline battery will be strong of it's listed volts and slowly decline. A rechargable (nicad being the worse) will be weak of the posted voltage and stay fairly constant. I can't use nicads in the Microphones I run (similar electronic device to beacons) as the nicad 9 volts are actually 8.4 volt and you only get 1-2 hours of battery life before the transmitter frequency starts to vary from low voltage. With an alkaline the same mic gets 25-30 hours of life.

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Well, it seems to work fine for both giving a signal and searching. Does anyone know the reason they advise against rechargeables?

My understanding was because the battery life function on newer beacons is tuned to the profile of alkaline battery discharge and it will then give false readings with Li-Ions/Rechargeable which have flatter curves. The newer digital beacons will need some I/V regulation hardware anyways to not fry stuff.

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Quick question: How many people have actually had to put their avy beacon to use to save themselves, or their partners?

 

Good on you all for carrying them. Just wondering how often they've gotten used...or if people mainly view them only as a precaution, and never (thankfully) had to put them to the test.

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I do not know if this is why but I do know that rechargables tend to lower voltages. An alkaline battery will be strong of it's listed volts and slowly decline. A rechargable (nicad being the worse) will be weak of the posted voltage and stay fairly constant. I can't use nicads in the Microphones I run (similar electronic device to beacons) as the nicad 9 volts are actually 8.4 volt and you only get 1-2 hours of battery life before the transmitter frequency starts to vary from low voltage. With an alkaline the same mic gets 25-30 hours of life.
Nickel-Cadmium don't hold enough charge for a beacon and don't handle cold well. Nickel-Metal-Hydride, on the other hand are rechargeables that handle cold remarkably well and last much longer. In cameras they perform better than alkaline in cold conditions.

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It has nothing to do with cold performance/voltage and everything to do with discharge curves. read cj001f's post above. :tup:

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snoboy is right, too. if you use rechargeable batteries in your beacon, you'll get a high battery-life indicator for almost the entire life of the battery, then it will suddenly fail. What this means is that if your beacon has a percentage-type indicator when you turn it on, it will read 95% or something similarly high for a LONG time, then all of a sudden you'll run out of juice. NOT what you want to have happen with a beacon.

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I too was having the problem with my ~'03 Tracker; I would be skinning or skiing and all of sudden I would hear it beep as the beacon turned itself on and off. Scary.

 

I called BCA, sent it back and they sent me a new one, no questions asked. I appreciate the good service but it appears this may be a larger problem.

 

Ian

---

Recent NW ski pics @ www.mackieimages.com

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The rechargeable batteries hold their charge at a consistent level, until they take a sharp dive as they lose their charge. It's not recommended to use them in beacons for that reason; both Bruce from BCA and Marcus from Ortovox have told me that in regard to their beacons.

 

I've appreciated my dealings w/ Ortovox, and feel good about their product. I had an issue with some of the earlier Trackers 8 or so years ago (normally functioning, new beacons with new batteries several times showing really weak ranges, like 10-15' at pre-tour tests in open air), and asked Bruce about it. He got defensive, denied that I had seen what I had seen, and I got into it with him until he allowed that occasionally their antennae, which would normally dampen some signals (random electrical waves or frequencies to, filtered to keep it from clouding the beacon signal it was meant to pick up) would "over-dampen" due to excessive signals in the immediate area, causing the very short range. He said this interference could be generated by electricity in the air from imminent or potential weather, for example. So, rather than telling me that right away, I had to spend an hour getting to the bottom of it, being accused of lying, slandering etc. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and haven't used them since, although I'm sure they've sorted out the issue and I'm happy to ski with partners who use them (as long as they test fine pre-tour).

Edited by crazy_t

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I was told by someone more in touch with the industry than I, that Digital Camera Batteries (EG Duracell Power Pix) were also not recommended for beacons. Has anyone else heard this? I can make some educated guesses as to why, but does anyone have the scientific low down?

 

I'm currently content to burn through a handful of Alkaline batteries each year.

 

-r

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I know what you mean but I also would prefer to use recharges in my beacon....although I do not. So if you recharge often is there still a worry about the performance of the beacon?

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I was told by someone more in touch with the industry than I, that Digital Camera Batteries (EG Duracell Power Pix) were also not recommended for beacons. Has anyone else heard this? I can make some educated guesses as to why, but does anyone have the scientific low down?

 

I'm currently content to burn through a handful of Alkaline batteries each year.

 

-r

 

It's my understanding that the way Nickel Metal Hydride batteries work isn't compatible with the "battery life remaining" feature on beacons. It will show high, until the very end of it's life when it will just die. Someone else might have better info though.

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