An update to my previous post on this issue: Backcountry Access has published instructions on how to do the RA (return authorization) on the Tracker 2, get the software update, and a minor hardware upgrade.
- Really awesome: they’re paying for shipping.
- Not awesome: not having a beacon for a few days.
- Suspicious: don’t think free shipping pertains to international customers. I’ll post an update if this is the case.
I was the equipment manager for the team for about 4 years, and responsible for purchasing and maintaining most of the gear. Some devices, however, were deemed to be “technology” because of their complexity. These included newer GPS units, and radios. We ended up striking a new committee to handle these and other technological issues.
Maintaining the radios turns out to be a full time task for one member of the team. He has to keep track of radio frequency use throughout the region, and once or twice a year he calls in all of the radios to reprogram them. The GPS units are also a task like this; someone has to keep the maps up to date, and make sure the units have the latest firmware.
With the arrival of ever more complex beacons, including those that have their own programming software, I wonder how often we’re going to be administering them. They used to be pure function, with very little overhead. Now, the newest units come with a large variety of operating modes with a multitude of settings. As a gear buyer and equipment manager I would find keeping track of a fleet of these units to be challenging at the very least.
There is an argument to be made to keep it simple.This is what I like about the BCA unit, even in light of this recent issue (which to be honest can be cleared up by turning the unit off then on again). BCA has kept the display simple and functional, using LEDs instead of cold-sensitive and fragile liquid crystal displays. There are no special modes, and they seem to have done their best to make the unit durable, and simple to use.