Difference between analog and digital beacons?

Johnrodgers

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Nov 4, 2009
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Here is my chrisis, i just ordered an abs backpack shovel and probes but i held off on ordering the beacon. i didnt order it because the lady who was helping me told me that you could not get s.o.s beacons anymore, and this was the beacon that my best friend and his dad have and they are who i ride with. i am not familiar with beacons at all so i dont know if certain onces are compatible with eachother. the lady recomended the backcountry beacon to me, and clamed i should get a digital one, were as my friend and dads s.o.s are analog. i dont know the difference between digital and analog so if anyone could enlighten me on what i should do in terms of purchase and explain to me the diffference between the two i would really appreciate it, thanks in advance.
 

columbus

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Nov 8, 2009
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The SOS beacon is an old style analog beacon that will be much harder to search with and ill require a ton of practice to be an effective search tool. Get a digital beacon, newer the better. The BCA Tracker DTS has been pretty much the standard for digital beacons for a while and is very effective and proven but all the manufacturers (including BCA with the Tracker 2) are now offering newer beacons that are much more effective. By effective I mean longer range and ease of searching, especially with multiple burials. As for compatability, all beacons operating at 457 will work wih eachother. All beacons have been manufactured with this frequency for over 10 years.

If your buddies are using old SOS analog beacons, make extra sure they practice a lot, those beacons are reliable and have good range but are difficult to use, especially in a multiple burial situation.
 

rkbrkr

New member
Nov 29, 2007
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central montucky
my friend is picking me up one of the last sos beacons available tomorrow at a local store. and i already planned on practicing with it a lot. thanks for the info.
probly to late but FYI every body i've road with that did not have a tracker could not wait to get one as they are simple to use. but i guess as long as you know how to use the one you have and most importantly you have one! just thought i'd try to save you some hastle
 

MVR

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Feb 17, 2008
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Twisp, WA
No bad options these days, but...

my friend is picking me up one of the last sos beacons available tomorrow at a local store. and i already planned on practicing with it a lot. thanks for the info.
Unless you are a winter professional i.e. avalanche pro, ski patroller, guide, etc who uses the beacon and practices daily, you will never be as fast with the analog as you can become in a couple hours with the digital. And as the folks mentioned earlier, your digital will work fine with any beacon on the 457mhz frequency.

Be sure you couple your equipment and technology with solid avalanche training. Ideally a rider will have the training first, technology second. If you find yourself needing to use the beacon, the mistake has already been made.

While I am here, here are a couple facts to remember:

Statistically, 1 in 4 avalanche victims are killed by trauma (crushed, run into trees, rocks, off cliffs, etc.) the beacon will only be effective for 3 of 4 buried victims who would otherwise die of asphyxiation. I don't know about you, but I don't like those odds.

On an avalanche accident scene the average recreationist will find buried victims alive 42% of the time by RANDOM PROBING...think about that- RANDOM!...they will find the buried victim alive only 32% of the time with transceivers.(think probes are important to have???)
Keep in mind this is for the average recreationist or non-professional. For those folks that are pros in the field these numbers are far different(much higher percentage found sooner with transceiver)...the difference is in the user's ability and comfort level using transceivers in an emergency because of practice, practice, practice!

Didn't mean to be so long winded here...

be safe out there.
 

Johnrodgers

Member
Nov 4, 2009
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Penticton British Columbia
i have already bought a shovel and probes, and i am now just awaiting the arrival of the abs pack i ordered. i would purchase a digital beacon if that is what my group were using since i would want to have equipment to their standards. but i dont see the point in me investing in a digital beacon when the rest are using analog, i am simply putting more money into the safety of them then they are of me not that there is a problem with that but i just plan on becoming as proficient as possible with my analog model.
 

Ex-Member

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Mar 14, 2007
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Doesn't work that way, dude.

All beacons, whether analog or digital, transmit the same signal.

The difference between digital and analog lies in the receiver ("Search" mode).

A person using a digital beacon will find either an analog or digital beacon a LOT faster than someone without training/practice using an analog beacon will find either.

I'd question your buddies sometime. Toss a beacon out into the snow, then tell them to go find it. They don't do it in <10mins, i'd find new riding buddies. Or tell them to figure out how to use their beacons.
 
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KSH

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Mar 22, 2005
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i have already bought a shovel and probes, and i am now just awaiting the arrival of the abs pack i ordered. i would purchase a digital beacon if that is what my group were using since i would want to have equipment to their standards. but i dont see the point in me investing in a digital beacon when the rest are using analog, i am simply putting more money into the safety of them then they are of me not that there is a problem with that but i just plan on becoming as proficient as possible with my analog model.

I ride with two different groups, One group has all digital beacons the other is a mix of both but mostly analog.

Not that either group rides nasty stuff, but It's definitely in the back of my mind that I can find group two members faster than they can find me.
 

MVR

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Feb 17, 2008
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Twisp, WA
I have taught a lot of riders to use a digital beacon who already owned an analog beacon... they decide that they waisted their money on the analog after 10 minutes or less with the digital.

Just don't want to see people waste their money on a substandard piece of equipment...one extra minute on a search can mean the difference between life and death.
 

columbus

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Nov 8, 2009
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i have already bought a shovel and probes, and i am now just awaiting the arrival of the abs pack i ordered. i would purchase a digital beacon if that is what my group were using since i would want to have equipment to their standards. but i dont see the point in me investing in a digital beacon when the rest are using analog, i am simply putting more money into the safety of them then they are of me not that there is a problem with that but i just plan on becoming as proficient as possible with my analog model.
Judging by the picture of your avatar which I assume is your sled, you know what a good ride is. To compare beacons to sleds: An old SOS analog beacon is the equivalent of riding a 97 summit 670. It might get you there but it will take a lot longer and a lot more work. If your buddy is buried do you really want his life depending on outdated technology? More money? whats the price difference? $50-$100?? drop in the bucket bud
 

Chief

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Nov 26, 2007
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I've practiced with my digital beacon; taken avy courses that included both searches with and without a beacon; used the beacon training station at least once or twice a season for the last three or so seasons..

I can usually locate a buried beacon in less then 10 minutes in a fairly large area.

I took my wife, spending just 10 or 15 minutes explaining how to use the BCA tracker beacon to her in the truck, to the beacon training station and she found the target buried beacon in about 7 mintues... with an analog beacon neither she or I could have found it.. maybe ever..

BUY DIGITAL.. One of the newer three antenna models.. There is nothing else you want to take to the mountains.
 

RGM

Well-known member
Judging by the picture of your avatar which I assume is your sled, you know what a good ride is. To compare beacons to sleds: An old SOS analog beacon is the equivalent of riding a 97 summit 670. It might get you there but it will take a lot longer and a lot more work. If your buddy is buried do you really want his life depending on outdated technology? More money? whats the price difference? $50-$100?? drop in the bucket bud
^^^^^I find it amazing that you can still buy a new analog beacon. I will give you 50 bucks for your working analog beacon on a trade in for a Pieps DSP priced at 449.99 + shipping (difference of 399.00 in CDN $ + shipping). It time to retire those old beacons
 

mynewuseddoo

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May 28, 2009
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i would purchase a digital beacon if that is what my group were using since i would want to have equipment to their standards. but i dont see the point in me investing in a digital beacon when the rest are using analog, i am simply putting more money into the safety of them then they are of me not that there is a problem with that but i just plan on becoming as proficient as possible with my analog model.
If you were my riding buddy and I read that you were concerned about investing more money than I had in beacon then we wouldn't be riding buddies anymore, it sounds petty to say the least. You say afterward that "there isn't a problem with that" but obviuosly there is.......because you brought it up. Its like telling someone to pi$$ off but saying "with all due respect" before you tell them to pi$$ off, you still told them to pi$$ off. I'm sorry as I am a little late coming into this thread but what an ignorant attitude towards the safety of your normal and potential riding partners. I live in BC and I honestly hope I never run into you. I ride with a lot of different people in a lot of different areas and of course everyone I have ever met is all about practicing everyday of the week with their beacons to know them inside and out......come on buddy who are you fooling? We have avalanch training and do practice now and again but every ride? Who honestly takes an hour out of the day to do a big group practice session with the beacons to make sure everyone is fully up to snuff for the day? Not many and not anyone I have ever.......EVER run into on the hill.....EVER!!! GO DIGITAL and pull your head out of your bum sir!!! Welcome to the year 2010 we have learned through the advancement in technology that there are better ways of doing things. You may not have understood any of the previouse posts before you typed this and the digital beacon, its compatable with EVERY BEACON PRODUCED IN THE LAST TEN+ YEARS!!!!
 

Trenchmaster

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Nov 26, 2007
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The last responce was a little over the top in my opinion, the SOS will work fine for anyone willing to learn how to use it. When the Tracker first came out our group did a practice session with our beacons. The SOS found the signal first every time as the range was much better. The Tracker was for sure faster once the signal was located but the SOS still got the job done. I still use my SOS as I am comfortable with it. I let the wife or kid use the Tracker as it is easier, but to say that using the SOS is putting your riding buddies life in danger is complete BS !!!
 

mynewuseddoo

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Then what is the ultimate point of purchasing something which is not as easy to use or can't locate a victim as quickly, especialy for someone who has no experience with a beacon to begin with. My over the topness was directed at his attitude of him putting more money into his riding buddies safety than he felt they were putting into his. That is just a terrible thing to say and a terrible attitude towards safety.....anyone dissagree? I work in an industry where safety is everyone concern and his comment flipped a switch. I hope he reads my comments and has a change of heart. Trenchmaster I know that the SOS will "get the job done", a shovel will dig a ditch but a back hoe will dig it faster and more efficiently......see where I'm going with this.
 

mynewuseddoo

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Oh sorry one more thing. I never said anywhere that using an SOS beacon would put anyones life in danger, not sure where you read that. Something is better than nothing but something better.....well...
 
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backcountryislife

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GO DIGITAL and pull your head out of your bum sir!!! Welcome to the year 2010


Yeah, that.

Saying you don't want to spend more on them than they did on you is the most idiotic & selfish statement that I have ever heard when it comes to avy safety.

I've invested TONS of $$ & time into avy safety FOR EVERYONE ELSE as well as myself. I just traded in my digital beacon for one that works even better in a multiple situation, how does that help ME? It doesn't. This isn't a selfish sport & avy safety should be the least selfish part of the sport.

They shouldn't even allow those junk beacons to be sold anymore. You can claim that with enough practice you can find someone, but with 1/4 the practice on a newer beacon... most of us CAN FIND THEM WHILE THEY'RE STILL ALIVE! Btw, I've been dealing with beacons since the f1, then the M1, M2.... I've used (and thought I was fast with) the old beacons, they're great to buy as antiques to put on the wall, that's about it.
 

backcountryislife

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On an avalanche accident scene the average recreationist will find buried victims alive 42% of the time by RANDOM PROBING...think about that- RANDOM!...they will find the buried victim alive only 32% of the time with transceivers.(think probes are important to have???)
Keep in mind this is for the average recreationist or non-professional. For those folks that are pros in the field these numbers are far different(much higher percentage found sooner with transceiver)...the difference is in the user's ability and comfort level using transceivers in an emergency because of practice, practice, practice!
Mvr,

I'm curious how old those numbers are, or more realistically, mow far back that data spreads?

The reason I ask is that I believe that it goes right to the point of this conversation, that with the newer beacons I believe the average time should be going down significantly from what it was with analog, so the further back the data spread on those numbers, the less accurate it would be.

Not meant as an argument, just curious, but I sure hope that these days we're all faster than that. (ten years ago though, those numbers would make sense to me)
 

Trenchmaster

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Oh sorry one more thing. I never said anywhere that using an SOS beacon would put anyones life in danger, not sure where you read that.




No you did not actually say using the SOS would put your riding buddies life in danger. I re-read your post and that was still the overall message that I got from what you said. Some of the other comments on this thread seem to agree with you. " They should'nt even allow those junk beacons to be sold anymore " A few years ago we buried a beacon about a 100 yards away and started to search. The guy with the Tracker walked around in circles for five minutes and never did get a signal, I found the signal right away with my SOS and found the buried beacon in a few minutes. When we found the signal and got close enough for the Tracker to work it was faster for sure, but which one was better? Maybe the newer ones have more range.
 
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backcountryislife

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Maybe the newer ones have more range.
bingo.



a little tidbit about the sos from beaconreviews.com http://beaconreviews.com/transceivers/Specifications.asp#SOS_F1-ND

"The sales information for the SOS F1-ND touts it as a digital beacon, but the only thing digital about this beacon are the LED lights. The sales pitch also implies you can follow the lights, but that is not true unless you know how to line-up the transceiver with the flux lines. Bottom line: this is a single-antenna analog beacon.
Summary: Other than the "digital" marketing, the SOS F1 is very similar to the Ortovox F1.

Controls: The SOS turns on by twisting a 90° bayonet plug similar to many of the Ortovox transceivers. You enable transmit or receive (search) modes by moving a slide switch."


Is it better than searching with a soup can in your hand... of course. Does it compare to the technology & ease of the CURRENT digital beacons... not even close. Yes, with a ton of time invested, you could likely keep up with me on my first search with my S1, a pieps dsp or a pulse. After that person has spent a fraction of the time though... they're going to be faster which means my buddy is more likely to be alive.


OP, be glad you've got an airbag... cause I wouldn't leave my life in the hands of your buddies!!!!
 
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