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June 29th, 2020
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BCA Tracker2 Avalanche Transceiver Software Update Resolves Non-Conformity Issue

Avalanche transceiver manufacturer provides software update that allows device to conform to international standards in power-saving mode

Backcountry Access (BCA) is recommending that all owners of their Tracker2 avalanche transceiver send their device in for a software update. The update resolves an issue whereby the device, when in power-saving mode, does not conform to ETSI International Standard for avalanche transceivers, which could potentially result in the transceiver not being found by other transceivers in a search.

While there have been no known instances of a fatality or injury due to the issue, the software update is being recommended to owners of Tracker2 devices for their own safety.

BCA Tracker2 Software Update

The BCA Tracker2 avalanche transceiver features a power-saving mode that is activated when the device has not detected any input for 12 hours. The purpose of this mode is to save battery life when a user has forgotten to turn off their device at the end of the day. Typically, most users would not require their transceiver to be on, in send mode, for that length of time. When the Tracker2 enters power-saving mode, it will emit an audible beep every two minutes to indicate that it is in power-saving mode. 

In power-saving mode, it has been found that the Tracker2 transceiver pulse width and period can vary slightly from the ETSI International Standard. The risk is that the user who forgets to turn off their Tracker2 at the end of the day will continue to use the device in power-saving mode (say, the following day), without turning the device off and back on again, checking the battery level or performing a proper trailhead transceiver test—any of which would return the device to its normal transmit mode.

In that unlikely scenario, the transceiver would not operate within the specification of the ETSI standard, leading to the potential that the transceiver could not be found in an avalanche burial.

What is the ETSI International Standard for Avalanche Transceivers?

Basically, the ETSI International Standard exists to ensure that all models of avalanche transceiver, regardless of make, conform to a standard that allows them to be used interchangeably to locate a buried victim in an avalanche.

To do so, all transceivers need to operate at a certain frequency (457 kHz) and within a specified range of transmission frequency, cycle duration and pulse length.

How Does the Update Resolve the Issue?

The BCA Tracker2 software update brings the device into specification of the standard by lengthening the pulse width (the duration of each “beep”) and shortening the pulse period (the time between the start of each “beep) in the power-saving mode.

This is important for the safety of users, regardless of how unlikely it is that a user would accidentally use the device in power-saving mode.

How to Get the BCA Tracker2 Software Update

The BCA Tracker2 does not feature the ability to be updated by the user at home by any of the currently available methods of updating device software on more modern devices. It must be returned to the manufacturer.

To have your BCA Tracker2 software update performed, fill out the Tracker2 update request form on the BCA website.

You will receive an email with information on how to ship your device to the distributor in your country or region. BCA will pay for incoming and returning shipping costs, and the manufacturer states that your device will be returned within 10-14 business days form the date the unit is received.

 

The press release from BCA can be found below. For more information on the update, see the BCA website post.

 

– MS


Boulder, CO (June 29, 2020) – Backcountry Access, Inc. (BCA) has announced a software update specifically and exclusively for its Tracker2 avalanche transceivers. The company recommends that all Tracker2 owners take advantage of this update.
 
This software update improves functionality during power-saving mode. After 12 hours without user input, Tracker2 enters into power-saving mode and begins emitting an audible beep every two minutes to let you know you are in lower power mode. In power-saving mode, the Tracker2 transmit pulse can vary slightly from the international standard. All avalanche transceiver brands must operate on the same international standard to ensure interoperability.
 
To keep your transceiver out of power-saving mode, simply turn the transceiver off and on or check the battery power level at least once a day.  
 
In addition, BCA strongly recommends that all users follow best practices as described in the Tracker2 manual to ensure all transceivers are functioning properly before venturing into the backcountry. This includes a transceiver trailhead test every time you use your Tracker2, routinely checking that all transceivers in your party transmit and receive properly, and that your Tracker2 has sufficient battery power.
 
To obtain the Tracker2 software update, click the button below and fill out the software update request form.  Once your form is processed, you will receive an email with information on how to ship your Tracker2 to the distributor in your region. BCA will pay for incoming and return shipping on all units submitted for updates.
 
The software update is exclusively available for the BCA Tracker2 model of avalanche transceivers.