BCA releases new Tracker2 software to address potential malfunction

Posted on January 10th, 2011 by | 28 Comments
BCA has recently started shipping a new version of software for our Tracker2. The new software (version 4) addresses an issue discovered by the Jackson Hole ski patrol and alpine guides in a fleet of 182 beacons purchased in mid-November. Several of the Jackson Hole units have inadvertently entered our opticomm reprogramming mode. As a precautionary measure, we have replaced the Jackson fleet with version 4 units, which addresses this concern. We will analyze their original fleet to determine the extent of the problem. The Jackson Hole patrol and guides have been using Tracker beacons for ten years and tested Tracker2 samples last season. Their heavy usage patterns have enabled us to identify potential improvements early in the process and implement them in production. In this instance, they played a role in the recognition of a problem and alerted us about them. The problem the units experienced caused them to occasionally go into opticomm mode inadvertently. Opticomm is a programming mode which is used to download new software through our optical communication window on the front of the unit. When the Tracker2 is in opticomm mode, it does not transmit. Normally this mode is activated by disconnecting and reconnecting one of the batteries while the unit is attached to our opticomm reprogramming accessory. However, it appears that this mode is occasionally being triggered by a buildup and discharge of static electricity. Out of thousands of Tracker2′s shipped since production started last January, we have had reports of 10 units that have malfunctioned in this manner. We have received five other units that have shown similar symptoms, however, they have not been verified to have stopped transmitting. We are currently researching the extent of the issue and hope to make a conclusion shortly. If your Tracker2 occasionally reboots while it is off or in transmit mode, then it is experiencing a power interruption. This is always accompanied by an audible beep. (This should not be confused with the warning beeps that sound when the beacon is left in transmit or search mode for extended periods of time.) After a power interruption, the Tracker2 will usually return to the mode it was in: search, transmit, or off. While the issue of power interruption is not a major concern, we hope to determine if the issue of entering opticomm mode is significant enough to warrant a corrective action. In the meantime, we are offering free upgrades to our version 4 software. This software version provides additional safeguards against inadvertently entering opticomm mode. To determine if you already have version 4 software, disconnect and reconnect one battery while the unit is off. After displaying “t2,” the unit will then display the software version. If the display reads “r04,” then you have the most recent software. This software has been included in all Tracker2 units shipped since late December. We apologize for this complication and are working diligently to analyze and rectify the issue. If you would like to upgrade your Tracker2, please contact BCA at info@backcountryaccess.com or (303)417-1345 and we will provide you with a return authorization number. Thank you for your patience and support.
  • Fuzzer

    Way to be pro-active BCA! Really appreciate it!!

  • Lee Usher

    This is a great step.However, I am wondering about the T2/Pulse issue. As well as reports, I have witness several Pulse Beacons that will not pick up a T2 signal. Is there a prescription to resolve this important issue?

    Thanks

    • http://www.backcountryaccess.com Edge

      Good to hear from you, Lee. This question about T2/Pulse “incompatibility” is unrelated to the version 4 upgrade and also appears unfounded. Both BCA’s and Mammut’s engineers have analyzed the T2′s transmit signal and concluded it meets all the specs in the European standard. There is a good possibility it is related to signal overlap and the “delayed display” of the Pulse. This makes it quite easy to walk right past a transmitter. However, we will look at the specific T2 units when they arrive here from Canada, to make sure they’re transmitting up to snuff.

  • http://twistoflime.biz Chris

    Is there an option for software update that does not require sending the unit back to BCA? Being without the unit for more than about 2 days this time of year is unacceptable. And will BCA pay for round-trip shipping for updates?

    • Ryan

      Indeed, please set up local service centers for software updates like the other beacon manufactures do. We love our tracker II’s but will probably return and exchange them for something else if we can’t deal with this in a timely fashion.

      • http://www.backcountryaccess.com Edge

        We’ll have a few technicians on the road soon to do big fleet upgrades in the US and Canada. We’re setting them up with the gear this week. Where are you guys from? Maybe they can take care of you when they swing through. If not, no worries; we’ll e-mail you a UPS call tag, which means we pay for the shipping. We can turn them around in a day. info@backcountryaccess.com

        • Ryan

          Thanks for the response, I’m in Seattle and I am sure there are others here (and in other places) who would like to get there beacons upgraded. Perhaps you could collaborate with some of the local shops here to offer a midweek upgrade event?

          If that is not an option how long do you estimate turn around including shipping both ways to take?

          Thanks again for announcing this and being proactive about dealing with it.

          • bcaccess

            Ryan,

            We will have reps traveling around the country for T2 updates. We do not have a schedule yet because the trade show season is in full swing and the reps are attending the shows. When a rep is traveling to a specific area, we will announce it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/backcountryaccess). You can also send the beacon back to us directly for an upgrade. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

            North

  • Doug Almquist

    It’s great to see a manufacturer like BCA take on the expense of dealing with a rare problem like this. Thank you. This increases our trust in your products.

    • http://www.backcountryaccess.com Edge

      Thanks, Doug. This is precisely the kind of response we’re striving for. We’re taking this as a challenge to show superior customer service and to live up to our claim that we’re out to save lives, not just sell beacons.

  • brian york

    Hey Edge,
    My T2 kicks ass and I think it’s one of the best beacons on the market.
    Sorry to hear about the FEW problems with it, but way to step up and offer good solutions!
    BWY

    • http://www.backcountryaccess.com Edge

      Thanks, Bumpy. We can send somebody up to upgrade your fleet on site. Have you had any units “beeping” at you up there?

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  • Greg F.

    Every company has to respond to a challenge at some point. Its how the company responds that separates the good ones from the bad. Thanks for your service BCA, it increases my trust to see you stand behind your products.

  • gary v

    awesome response on upgrading the software T2 is still by fastest and most accurate out there

  • AndyD

    Will you have techs coming around the Crested Butte/Gunnison area?

    • bcaccess

      Andy,

      We will have reps traveling around the country for T2 updates. We do not have a schedule yet because the trade show season is in full swing and the reps are attending the shows. When a rep is traveling to a specific area, we will announce it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/backcountryaccess). You can also send the beacon back to us directly for an upgrade. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

      North

    • http://www.backcountryaccess.com Edge

      Andy, it’s best just to send it back here for the upgrade. We can turn it around in a day or two. At your convenience.

  • James G

    Any Chance your Techs are coming to Vancouver , B.C.?
    Sending products across the border usually incurs some duty and brokerage>
    Cheers
    And thank you for quick response to this issue.

    • http://backcountryclub.org Dave

      James,

      We’ve set up our Canadian distributors with the tools to update beacons, please get it touch with them by emailing dpaynton at columbiawireless dot ca.

      - BCA

    • http://www.backcountryaccess.com Edge

      James, our tech has already been through there, but you can get your upgrade through our distribution center in Winlaw (near Nelson). Just call our customer service folks (800-670-8735) to get a return authorization number.

  • http://provallone.com Joe Vallone

    Hey Bruce,

    How are things , Killing it here in La Grave, and as usual no one is here. Loving it!

    I just got word of this, And just checked my 2, Im on version 03, so what is gonna be the best way for me to get an update here in France?

    Marie the BCA rep from Grenoble was just here tonight at Didi’s shop delivering all the new beacons to the guides there, I hung out and showed some of the guys there the ins and outs of the 2 and we talked shop for a bit, They all just opened there new beacons out of the box about an hour ago before I came home and read this. I will find out if the new batch is affected here tomorrow, but what can I do to get mine updated ASAP, I have had no issues with it yet that I have been aware of in these regards, and it has been on and used everyday for about the past 5 weeks straight. I assume it’s working fine, but I also dont want to play the guessing game either,

    Hope things are well, and you guys are stepping up to the plate huge on this one with the Customer Service.

    Happy New Year,

    Joey

    • bcaccess

      Hey Joey,

      I believe that someone from customer service sent you the contact information for our European T2 upgrades. In case you need it again, here it is:

      email: info at more-hohensinn dot com

      phone: +43 6246 72150

      The service procedure will probably be slightly different, but you should still receive a return authorization number for the beacon you send in.

      Let us know if you have any other questions.

      North

  • Chris

    Edge,

    I’m considering buying a Tracker2. Is there a way to determine what version of SW is loaded before I buy the Tracker2 (i.e. without having to unpackage the beacon)?

    Thanks,

    Chris

    • bcaccess

      Chris,

      In order to determine the version of the software, the beacon needs to be unpacked. There is no way to determine the version by looking at the box or by looking at the front of the beacon. The directions are included in the main post. Hope this helps.

      North

  • Kokanee Kid

    Edge,

    Working at a backcountry ski cabin I have seen pretty much every beacon, from this years or from last century, go through our beacon basin during our guest orientation at the beginning of the week (3 guests find two beacons 1.5-2.5 meters deep).

    In previous years the Tracker DTS took the cake for the average beginner to intermediate users time to locate a buried unit (expert users take about equal time no matter what beacon they are familiar with).

    Nowadays however; the Tracker2 has replaced the DTS for fastest pinpoint time with said users. The large, illuminated display, quick computer, and (especialy) consistent behavior and read-out make the beacon quick and easy to get comfortable with and understand.

    Keep up your research-based design and your “keep it simple stupid” mentality and I’ll be a lifetime customer.

    Look forward to the future,

    Kokanee Kid

    • http://www.backcountryaccess.com Edge

      Thanks, Brock. That’s great feedback. We love the Kokanee!

  • Chris

    It is now a year since this recall was announced.  I was not aware of it, so had no reason to be searching for this information.  Recently I noticed that my batteries where very often dead not long after replacing new ones, and only since looking into this have come across this information.  When I asked TODAY in my local ski shop in Switzerland, they disagreed with me. I made them check the tracker’s that they had on the shelf – and they turned out to still be selling Tracker 2′s with r03 software.

    I think it’s important that this information is advertised in shops and a real effort is made to get distributors, shops and customers are made aware of this.

    Thanks for your efforts.

    Cheers
    Chris