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  1. #1
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    New Ortovox Diract Avy Beacon

    Tested on the magic carpet slope at North America's premier skimo racing venue of Berkshire East (but embargoed until Feb 1 as per the loaner terms), behold, the new Ortovox Diract!
    https://beaconreviews.com/Specs_OrtovoxDiract.php
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  2. #2
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    The “Hey Siri, find my partner” generation will like it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow Skipper View Post
    The “Hey Siri, find my partner” generation will like it.
    Hah, good one! Although only one-way communication so far. (Maybe two-way capability will be added in the successor model...)
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  4. #4
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    It's worked for AED's, seems like it's worth a try for the user that doesn't practice with their beacon.
    When life gives you haters, make haterade.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfotex View Post
    It's worked for AED's, seems like it's worth a try for the user that doesn't practice with their beacon.
    Yeah honestly I think it's a great idea. Phenomenal.

    I practice with my beacon regularly, but i'm not a patroller nor an avy professional. I would LOVE subtle voice prompts that made sure I was doing the right thing. I ain't above receiving direction, especially if it means digging my buddies out in time.

    Curious to see how well this is implemented. Could be a serious improvement.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfotex View Post
    It's worked for AED's, seems like it's worth a try for the user that doesn't practice with their beacon.
    That's a really good point, I hadn't even thought about the connection with my AED practice!
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    [...]Curious to see how well this is implemented. Could be a serious improvement.
    I found the voice implementation to be excellent. Just a couple additional messages I would include. And plenty of time for Ortovox to change that before the public release. (And perhaps even after that too via firmware updates?)
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  8. #8
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    Finally an avy beacon with a rechargeable battery. Especially in light of the Shasta avalanche, Iíve never understood why more donít do that. Li-ions donít corrode, perform better at cold temperatures than alkaline, have way better capacity, and you can always make sure theyíre topped up before a tour. Yes eventually the battery will die and need to be replaced, which may mean replacing the entire beacon. But at the power draw required from an avy beacon, it will be many years before that happens and by then there are probably other reasons to replace the beacon.

  9. #9
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    This blows my mind, not in a good way:

    In this informal test, but over several trials, the Barryvox S always locked onto a consistent signal at roughly twice the range of the Diract.

  10. #10
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    Currently happy with my 3+. Am intrigue with newer technology. Not harm having a better transceiver, but having half range of barryvox is not good,

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CG_#3 View Post
    Currently happy with my 3+. Am intrigue with newer technology. Not harm having a better transceiver, but having half range of barryvox is not good,
    Isn't that like 60 vs 120 meters? That's a shitton, and makes a huge difference on a primary grid search.

  12. #12
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    Finally an avy beacon with a rechargeable battery.
    I am not a fan of rechargeable batteries.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/10527/skadi...n-transceiver/

    70 meters
    Mammut claims that the Barryvox S has a search range of 70 meters in standard search mode and up to 100 meters in the professional setting “Search+” mode option.
    Last edited by Bunion 2020; 02-06-2021 at 08:43 AM.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MakersTeleMark View Post
    This blows my mind, not in a good way:
    Yeah, the range was ... adequate. I suppose.
    Comprehensive range tests take me literally half a day, and I didn't have anywhere near that time to devote to this.
    On the magic carpet slope, I was getting uncomfortably close to the buried targets before I had a consistent signal from the Diract. Although my buddy's T3 seemed to be faring about the same.
    So I conducted a more formal range test in my backyard, but just the Barryvox S vs the Diract. I used a tape measure, but didn't record distances. Especially since the ratio was almost exactly 2x.
    The S locked on at the perfect distance. A longer range really wouldn't help the search. Once again, the Diract just seemed too close for my preferences by the time I got a consistent signal.
    Overall, I still think the Diract will be a great choice for many people. But if range is a high priority for you, look elsewhere ... with the caveat that such properties can sometimes be tweaked with firmware mods (and remember this had preproduction firmware).
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MakersTeleMark View Post
    Isn't that like 60 vs 120 meters? That's a shitton, and makes a huge difference on a primary grid search.
    More like divide by 2 for both of them.
    Steve has a zillion different range test results here:
    https://beaconreviews.com/ranges_receiving.php
    ... with the Pulse a pretty good proxy for the S.
    None of them match up perfectly with my preferred tests, but looking at the differential between the T3 vs the S will give you a pretty good feel for the Diract.
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    I am not a fan of rechargeable batteries.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/10527/skadi...n-transceiver/
    I think the technology has improved a little bit over the past half-century or so?
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  16. #16
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    Absolutely. But humans are human and being able to insert fresh batteries is a nice backup.

    One more than one occasion my Garmin Edge 1000 has gone tits up in the middle of a bike ride, all I lost was the track of where I had been.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    Absolutely. But humans are human and being able to insert fresh batteries is a nice backup.

    One more than one occasion my Garmin Edge 1000 has gone tits up in the middle of a bike ride, all I lost was the track of where I had been.
    I agree that this is the one potential drawback that gave me pause over an internal rechargeable battery.
    But given that each outing is a trivial % of the total battery life, I'm thinking that if anything people will keep topping it off long before they need to.
    (And my understanding is that the potential "memory" problem from that is nowhere near as bad as it was with the earlier days of rechargeable batteries for consumer devices.)
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    Finally an avy beacon with a rechargeable battery.

    I am not a fan of rechargeable batteries.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/10527/skadi...n-transceiver/
    My experience with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is that they work great but in cold weather, they quickly lose charge whereas alkaline consistently lose charge over time. Across all my different cameras, camera lights, (also phones) they can stay at 90%+ for hours and then in <1hr quickly go from 75% to <20% to dead without me realizing it. The cold weather makes it significantly worse and I burn through batteries if they are not kept warm. It would need to be a significant amperage size battery for me to consider using it in the harsh conditions that beacons go through. At least you would always be (hopefully) fully charged at the beginning of the day, but requires a lot more checking than putting in fresh batteries a couple of times a season.

  19. #19
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    After going out yesterday and doing a couple different types of beacon drills with some friends who are newer backcountry users... the appeal of the Diract makes even more sense. The couple single burial practices we did on open flat slopes went fairly well, it was interesting to see which beacons were more user friendly for the noob users (my barrvox S was in the hands of the most inexperienced user, and she was the first to lock on and get close every time). For our last scenario we decided to do a multiple burial on a sparsely wooded ~20 degree slope. I've never been a "leader" in this type of scenario before, and even under no pressure with zero consequences trying to direct a group of inexperienced beacon users was extremely difficult. Having people yelling across a slope asking if it is the right time to begin probing or doing a microgrid was awful. For guides or people skiing with inexperienced partners I could see the appeal of the Diract instantly there. All you have to do is tell your clients to listen to their beacon. Obviously nothing beat practice for beginner users, but there are many scenarios I could see these being useful for.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vandeezy View Post
    My experience with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is that they work great but in cold weather, they quickly lose charge whereas alkaline consistently lose charge over time. Across all my different cameras, camera lights, (also phones) they can stay at 90%+ for hours and then in <1hr quickly go from 75% to <20% to dead without me realizing it. The cold weather makes it significantly worse and I burn through batteries if they are not kept warm. It would need to be a significant amperage size battery for me to consider using it in the harsh conditions that beacons go through. At least you would always be (hopefully) fully charged at the beginning of the day, but requires a lot more checking than putting in fresh batteries a couple of times a season.
    Per Energizer/Duracell, their alkaline batteries do the same thing (and at slightly warmer temperatures than a lithium ion). The main difference is we don't tend to use alkaline batteries in anything as demanding as a cell phone, light, camera, etc. Neither battery likes when you pull a lot of power from them when cold, but while a cell phone will happily pull 10W+ (which is what causes it to go from the 75% to 20%) in a short burst when it needs to, an avy transceiver would never get close to that (typically ~0.02W in send mode). Have you ever tried running alkaline batteries in a headlamp in the winter? It can't stay at full brightness for very long.

    As far as field replaceable batteries go, how many people do you think realistically carry extra batteries compared to a USB battery pack for charging a cell phone? I know personally I'd rather know it's always topped up than be able to quickly replace them if it tuns out they're low. Since I moved to headlamps with rechargeable batteries, I never leave for an adventure with anything less than 100% charge. It's just so easy to keep them topped up. There's no checking involved, when I get home from a trip everything gets plugged in. Camera, cell phone, headlamp, watch, and hopefully at some point avy transceiver.

    Also regarding the Garmin Edge, I think that's mostly just the amount of engineering effort that went into it. I've had my Edge Explore freeze up on me plenty of times, but I've never had anything similar happen with the inReach Mini. No matter the conditions, that has never failed on me. Same company, but different levels of consequence from failure.

    Of course, this is all just to say that there's nothing inherently wrong with lithium ion batteries. I'd obviously take a well-built alkaline battery powered device over a poorly built lithium ion device. But I'd prefer a well-built lithium ion device.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mackmgg View Post
    As far as field replaceable batteries go, how many people do you think realistically carry extra batteries compared to a USB battery pack for charging a cell phone?
    I carry spare batteries (AA and AAA) in case me or someone else needs them, pretty easy and light thing to throw in the repair kit.

    Regarding rechargeable beacons, what about hut trips, winter camping, etc? It's one thing if you can't get your solar panel to charge your GoPro (and even headlamp to some extent) but a beacon is too critical to have to worry about. I could get behind something that was rechargeable with battery back-up (but why add the weight?), but a beacon is too critical to have to wait for a charge or not be able to charge in the field.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by total_immortal View Post
    Regarding rechargeable beacons, what about hut trips, winter camping, etc? It's one thing if you can't get your solar panel to charge your GoPro (and even headlamp to some extent) but a beacon is too critical to have to worry about. I could get behind something that was rechargeable with battery back-up (but why add the weight?), but a beacon is too critical to have to wait for a charge or not be able to charge in the field.
    Would have to be really loooong hut trip for an initially fully charged Diract not to last the entire time.
    And if the trip was that long, those little backup rechargers like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005X1Y7I2/
    ... could do the trick if the sun wasn't strong enough.
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan S. View Post
    Would have to be really loooong hut trip for an initially fully charged Diract not to last the entire time.
    And if the trip was that long, those little backup rechargers like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005X1Y7I2/
    ... could do the trick if the sun wasn't strong enough.
    I don't want to derail this thread any further, but if you're in a situation with an extended beacon search at the end of 7 day hut trip and you haven't been able to charge your beacon because it's storming, you may wish you could just throw some AAAs in there when your beacon dies.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by total_immortal View Post
    I could get behind something that was rechargeable with battery back-up (but why add the weight?), but a beacon is too critical to have to wait for a charge or not be able to charge in the field.
    I think thatís definitely the best option. Replaceable rechargeable batteries just in case. My light uses a 14500 battery, which is a standard lithium ion rechargeable battery thatís the same form factor as a AA. If you really need to you can just put a AA in instead, but with a reduced battery life.

    Which is the other side of it, lithium ion batteries have far more capacity than alkaline. I donít think Ortovox has said anything about the battery life of this beacon, but if itís anything less than ďthe entire seasonĒ I would agree non-replaceable rechargeable batteries are worse than alkalines. But if itís 300+ hours send like most other beacons on the market, and you also can just top it up before each trip, thatís a win for me. If it ends up being something like 30 hours of send, Iíd definitely pass.

    With the pre-requisite that the current standard of 300+ hours of send time is the minimum acceptable battery life, I think Iíd rank my battery preference (in order) as:

    - USB rechargeable, but also replaceable batteries
    - USB rechargeable, not field replaceable
    - non-USB rechargeable, but accepts rechargeable batteries like NiMH or 14500/18650
    - alkaline only

    To get slightly more on topic (I donít know that this was really off-topic, seeing as this is the first modern beacon with an integrated rechargeable battery), the AED features also sound pretty useful. Reading that quote from the Uinta slide ďmy beacon, probe, and shovel were all in my backpack but I would of had no clue what to do firstĒ it seems like a beacon that talks to you would be pretty helpful. But hopefully not lure people into thinking they donít need avy training/practice because the beacon will just tell them what to do.

  25. #25
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    I agree that the battery discussion is totally on-topic. Really helpful too, really appreciate the feedback, thanks! All of this will be considered when Steve and I eventually write the full review once we have enough time with production units.

    I'll admit that my first reaction to the integrated rechargeable battery was along the lines of Say What?!?
    But thinking about it more, I'm starting to prefer it, especially given the trend of so many of my other electronics.

    I also asked Ortovox at the on-line kick-off mtg for the testers how the battery life compares to the min requirement of 200 hours in transmit followed by one hour in search.
    The answer was that the battery is optimized for cold temps and will vastly exceed the min requirement, although the latter was kind of a "don't quote me on that" thing (even though I just sort of did).
    For those stuck in the Northeast, check out the NE Rando Race Series and my avalanche course. (For other avalanche course providers anywhere, feel free to use any of my "homework" assignments for your own courses too.)

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