Tracker Avalanche Transceivers – All Models
Tracker3 Avalanche Transceivers
Tracker2 Avalanche Transceivers
Tracker DTS Avalanche Transceivers

 


 

TRACKER AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVERS – ALL MODELS

Why should I use an avalanche beacon?
Traveling in avalanche terrain has inherent risks due to the distance from organized assistance should an emergency occur. In the event of an avalanche burial, the only chance of survival is through “companion rescue,” or immediate recovery by a member of your own party. When no visual signs (i.e., exposed body parts) are evident, transceivers are the only proven effective way to locate a completely buried victim while he or she is still alive. Every one in your party should wear a beacon and know how to operate it.

Do I need to take an avalanche safety course to use my beacon?
Technically No. However, no avalanche beacon can save lives without a fully trained user. Practice frequently with your Tracker before going into the backcountry. Learn and understand the inherent dangers of backcountry travel. Become educated in avalanche hazard evaluation, route selection, and self-rescue. In addition to your beacon, always carry a probe and shovel – and always travel with a partner. A beacon may or may not save your life if you get caught in an avalanche. Your best option is to stay out of avalanche terrain in the first place. To take an on-snow avalanche course, see our avalanche educators page.

What makes the BCA Tracker the easiest to use avalanche transceiver?
The BCA Tracker is the easiest avalanche beacon to operate because of its rapid processor and simple user interface. A real-time, digital display shows both direction and distance with bright red LEDs (light emitting diodes). The distance is shown in meters and indicator lights display the direction at the top of the beacon. It’s easy to think of meters as “yards” and even easier to just make sure the numbers decrease as you are searching with your Tracker.  BCA Tracker avalanche transceivers do not require user interpretation. Instead, the beacon processes the information, filters extraneous data, then clearly shows a searcher the direction and distance to the buried victim. While the Tracker is easy to use, practice is essential for a successful companion rescue. Remember, locating the person is only the first step in rescuing an avalanche victim. Shoveling actually takes most of the time in any avalanche rescue.

Is the Tracker compatible with other avalanche transceivers?
Yes, the Tracker is compatible with any avalanche transceiver produced after 1996 using the 457kHz international frequency standard.

Does the Tracker meet international standards for avalanche transceivers?
The Tracker has been third-party tested (by TUV Product Service) to meet all the requirements of the European EN 300718 standard. This includes tests for durability, immersion, transmit power, receive range, and battery life.

How long will the battery power last in a Tracker?
Minimum 1 hour in search mode after 200 hours in transmit mode (approximately 250 hours in transmit only, or 50 hours in search only). This is the standard all beacons are required to pass for European approval.

What kind of batteries can I use in a Tracker?
Use AAA alkaline batteries only. Do not use rechargeable, lithium, Oxyride, PowerPix, or any other non-alkaline battery. These should be removed during long periods of inactivity, for example, during the summer.

Do cell phones affect the Tracker?
Yes, but only if the items are close to each other. Do not place cell phones, communication radios, GPS devices, digital cameras, or any other electronic equipment within 50 cm (20 inches) of your Tracker while performing a transceiver search. In search mode, irregular readings, decreased range and multiple burial indications can be caused by these and other sources of electrical interference, such as power lines, electrical storms, and electrical generating equipment. In transmit mode, keep your Tracker at least 20 cm (8 inches) from other electronic equipment or large metal objects.

How well does the Tracker avalanche transceiver perform in multiple burial situations?
Many certified mountain guides throughout the world have used the Tracker successfully to pass their rigorous multiple burial exams. In the U.S, the BCA Tracker holds the record for the fastest multiple avalanche burial search times ever recorded. Tracker avalanche transceivers are designed to simplify multiple burial situations. Once a signal is found, the Tracker directs the searcher to that signal. If a second transmitter is detected during the search, the Tracker stays on course and continues to guide the user toward the strongest signal. Once the first victim is located and uncovered, the transmitting beacon should be switched off and the search for the next buried individual should begin.

In multiple burial situations, it is important to concentrate avalanche rescue efforts on one victim at a time. Research indicates that if a person is rescued from an avalanche in under 15 minutes, the survival rate is 92%; if a person is recovered in less than 35 minutes, the survival rate drops to 35%.

If there are enough rescuers to locate and uncover multiple people simultaneously, locate the first victim, then begin another beacon signal search for the additional victims. The Tracker will always direct a searcher to the strongest signal in the area. In very rare cases (approximately 1% of complete burials) the victims might be in close proximity to one another (less than ten meters). In these rare instances, it can be helpful to use advanced techniques such as Signal Suppression and Big Picture or the Three Circle Method, which are explained in the all of our Tracker owner’s manuals For more information on multiple burials, see our research page.

Will cold weather affect the performance of the Tracker digital display?
No, cold weather will not affect the digital display on the Tracker avalanche transceiver. The LED display of the BCA Tracker avalanche transceiver increases in efficiency with decreasing temperature, unlike LCD displays, which can become sluggish in the cold.

How do I test my avalanche beacon to make sure it’s functioning properly?
Before each use you should make sure your beacon is transmitting and receiving properly and that your digital display is lighting up correctly. The best way to conduct this is with your partner before you head out. This is commonly referred to as a “Trailhead Check.” We recommend that you take an avalanche course and learn how to do this.

If you own a fleet of Trackers, we suggest downloading our BCA Tracker Inspection Checklist and use it to check your fleet thoroughly on an annual basis.

Do I need to send my avalanche beacon in to be recalibrated?
BCA Tracker avalanche transceivers do not need to be calibration at any time. However if you happen to notice misleading signals or any other problems, send it in immediately as a precautionary measure. Please visit our warranty service page for a return authorization number. Generally, problems are usually physical, not electronic, and are related to trauma. But rest assured that the Tracker is the most robust and strongest beacon on the market!

What is a flux line?
Avalanche transceivers emit a signal in a so-called “electromagnetic flux pattern.” The shape is similar to the curves of an apple or onion, converging at both ends of the core. When searching with any beacon, you will often find yourself traveling on a curve rather than a straight line. This is because the beacon leads you along the curving “flux lines” or “field lines” of the transmitting beacon.

 


 

TRACKER3 AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVERS

When the Tracker3 is powered on,  what are the series of codes that show on the LED screen indicate?
See below for more detailed descriptions of each function.

“99” – or any two digit number indicates the battery power.

“tr” – transmit and sending out a signal.

“SE” – Search Mode (when the switch is turned to the search position)

SS – Signal Suppression (mode used to help solve complex multiple burials)

BP – Big Picture (mode used to help solve complex multiple burials)

Why does the Tracker3 have “auto revert”?

Auto-revert is beneficial when having to perform a search in a dangerous area where a second avalanche is still possible. If your T3 is in auto-revert and you are in search mode, it will revert back to transmit if it hasn’t moved for more than one minute. Even if you are moving, it will still revert back to transmit after five minutes. This means that if you get buried while searching, but you’re struggling to get an air pocket, the T3’s motion sensor won’t prevent it from eventually going back to transmit (T3 is the only transceiver on the market that offers this redundancy). Remember, you need to determine if the situation is safe for you before you begin any search! More likely, auto-revert will come in handy if you do a trailhead test at the beginning of your tour, but you forget to go back into transmit.

Auto revert mode will make the Tracker3 automatically revert to TR (transmit) if the device does not move for one minute-or if there is movement, but the searcher remains in search mode for more than five minutes. An alarm will sound 30 seconds before the unit returns to transmit mode. During this period, reverting to transmit can be avoided by pressing the Options button or moving the mode switch before the 30 second warning period has elapsed.  Auto Revert mode must be activated by the user every time the unit is turned on. Without auto-revert on, the unit can only be switched from search to transmit mode manually.

Auto revert mode is activated by holding down the Options button while turning on the device, in either transmit or search modes. Hold down the Options button until “Ar” is shown on the display.

What is signal suppression?
Signal Suppression mode suppresses the strongest signal and shows the searcher the second strongest signal, including directional arrows. Always stay in standard search mode when searching for the first transmitter. Once the first victim has been located and your fine search is complete, you are ready to use Signal Suppression.

Pressing the Options button until “SS” is shown on the display activates signal Suppression mode. To enter suppression mode, the Options button must be released before “BP” is displayed. The multiple victim icon will flash while in SS mode.

Suppression of the strongest signal will last for one minute, giving the searcher time to move away from the suppressed signal and lock on the other next transmitter. The Tracker3 will automatically default from suppression mode to standard search mode after one minute. When this happens, the multiple victim icons will stop flashing and the Tracker3 will isolate the strongest signal.

What is Big Picture Mode?
Big Picture mode is the closest thing to an analog beacon in the digital world. It displays distances and directions of all the beacons that are transmitting within range. With Big Picture mode, you can estimate how many beacons are in the search area along with their approximate direction. You can also perform a search in BP mode, but always remember to return to normal search mode during the fine search when you’re getting close tot the victim.

Hold down the Option button until “BP” flashes in the display to activate Big Picture mode. You must continue to hold down the Option button to stay in “BP” mode. Once the mode button is released, the T3 will automatically return to search mode.

Like all Tracker3 functions, Big Picture is a real-time function, so it updates instantaneously if you are moving.

Can the sound be muted?
The sounds in Search mode can be muted by pressing the Options button while switching from transmit to search mode. “LO” text will appear in the display and most sounds will be muted. Alternatively, covering the loud speaker can mute the sound.

Download the Tracker3 avalanche transceiver manual.
If you need more information or have other questions that were not addressed here, please check out the Tracker3 User Manual (pdf) or contact BCA.

 


 

TRACKER2 AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVERS

When the Tracker2 is powered on, what are the series of codes that show on the LED screen indicate?
See below for more detailed descriptions of each function.

“99” – or any two digit number indicates the battery power.

“tr” – transmit and sending out a signal.

“SE” – Search Mode (when the search tab is pulled out).

“SP” – Special Mode shows when the black SP button is held down.

Why does the Tracker2 have “auto revert” (AR) and “non revert” (NR) options?

The auto-revert function will revert your Tracker2 back into transmit mode after 5 minutes of searching (Tracker2 does not include the motion-sensing features of Tracker3, so does not revert in the absence of motion).  In all versions of the Tracker2 except 1997-98 and 1998-99, the default mode is non-revert. To engage auto-revert on modern Tracker2 beacons, you must press the Options button while turning the Tracker on, until the display flashes “Ar”; otherwise it will remain in non-revert mode.

The auto-revert function will revert your Tracker back into transmit mode after 5 minutes of searching. This is beneficial when having to perform a search in a dangerous area where a second avalanche is still possible. But remember: you need to determine if the situation is safe for you before you begin any search! More likely, auto-revert will come in handy if you do a trailhead test at the beginning of your tour, but you forget to go back into transmit.

What is Special mode (SP)?
Special (SP) mode enables the Tracker to display the distance and direction of signals other than those of the closest beacon. It also reduces the Tracker’s search ‘”window” to the center three directional lights, enabling the searcher to mask out beacon 1 to differentiate it from beacon 2. The Tracker2 acts like a spotlight with narrowed vision: approximately 75 degrees in front and in back of the searching beacon. The 75-degree angle corresponds to the Tracker’s center three lights. SP mode is used to determine approximately what direction and distance to go to get closer to beacon 2. Once you are closer, always switch back to Search (SE) mode. Remember, SP mode can be susceptible to the same hang-ups as beacons with marking features.

To use SP mode, hold the Tracker steady at the lowest possible distance reading. Switch the Tracker to SP mode, then rotate (do not sweep) the Tracker slowly until another signal is detected (beacon2), most likely with a larger distance reading. If the Tracker is rotated more than about 40 degrees away from the signal of beacon 1, that signal will disappear, allowing you to focus on the signal form beacon 2. However, it is possible to capture more than one signal in SP mode. If no other signal is captured in SP mode and you suspect victims are nearby, stand up and try again at chest height. If still no signal is detected, take three steps back and repeat (or revert to SE mode and use the three circle method).

Download the Tracker2 avalanche transceiver manual.
If you need more information or have other questions that were not addressed here, please check out the Tracker2 User Manual (pdf) or contact BCA.

 


 

TRACKER DTS AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVERS

When the Tracker DTS is powered on what are the series of codes that show on the LED screen indicate? See below for more detailed descriptions of each function.

“99”     – or any two digit number indicates the battery power.

“nr”     – Non Revert

“tr”      – transmit and sending out a signal.

“SE”     – Search Mode (when the red button is held down)

“SP”     – Special Mode shows when the black SP button is held down.

Why does the Tracker DTS have “auto revert” (AR) and “non revert” (NR) options?
The auto-revert function will revert your Tracker DTS back into transmit mode after 5 minutes of searching (Tracker DTS does not include the motion-sensing features of Tracker3, so does not revert in the absence of motion).  In all versions of the Tracker DTS, except 1997-98 and 1998-99, the default mode is non-revert. To engage auto-revert on all modern Tracker DTS and Tracker2 beacons, you must press the Options button while turning the Tracker on, until the display flashes “Ar”; otherwise it will remain in non-revert mode.

The auto-revert function will revert your Tracker back into transmit mode after 5 minutes of searching. This is beneficial when having to perform a search in a dangerous area where a second avalanche is still possible. But remember: you need to determine if the situation is safe for you before you begin any search! More likely, auto-revert will come in handy if you do a trailhead test at the beginning of your tour, but you forget to go back into transmit.

What is Special mode (SP)?
Special (SP) mode is an advanced feature designed to assist expert searchers in specialized multiple burial situations. In standard search (SE) mode, the Tracker2 only displays the strongest signal (the Tracker DTS shows the strongest signal once you’re within about ten meters of it; outside that range, it shows all signals). In SP mode, however, the Tracker will display all signals, regardless of their strength–providing they are within Special mode’s reduced search window. In special mode, the search area is reduced from 180 degrees–front and back–to about 75 degrees: signals will only be displayed if they are captured within the center three directional lights. Think of Special mode as a spotlight that only detects signals within its narrow beam.

Special mode is designed for so-called “special case” multiple burials, which are extremely rare. These include multiple burials in which the victims are buried so close (less than 5-10 meters) so their signals are difficult to differentiate-and where there are enough rescuers available so some can start shoveling with the best beacon searcher moves on to the next victim. Special mode is primarily designed for use by professional guides.

Download the Tracker DTS avalanche transceiver manual.
If you need more information or have other questions that were not addressed here, please check out the Tracker DTS User Manual (pdf) or contact BCA.