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Pieps Powder BT/Black Diamond Recon BT Avalanche Transceiver Review

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Pieps Powder BT
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BD Recon BT

Summary: The Powder/Recon transceivers are updated versions of the Pieps DSP Sport transceiver. The DSP Sport is still being manufactured and sold, but the Powder/Recon costs only $20 more than the Sport.

The Powder/Recon are less feature-packed (and less expensive) versions of the Pieps Pro BT/Black Diamond Guide BT transceivers.

Naming Confusion: The Pieps Powder BT avalanche transceiver is identical to the Black Diamond Recon BT (Black Diamond has owned the Pieps company since 2012). The only differences are the colors: the Pieps Powder has a translucent blue case with a yellow switch and the Black Diamond Recon has a charcoal case with a dark blue switch. This website refers to these as the "Powder/Recon" transceivers.

Quick Review

The Powder/Recon transceivers are updated versions of the Pieps DSP Sport. The five-star rating is based on extensive testing of the Pieps Sport and on limited testing of the Powder/Recon.

The transceiver comparison does have a column for the Powder/Recon.

Summary

The following are some of the enhancements to both the Pro/Guide BT and Powder/Recon BT transceivers compared to the Pieps DSP Sport and Pieps DSP Pro transceivers:

  • The new transceivers can connect to the Pieps app on your phone using Bluetooth (aka "BT"). This unique feature makes it much easier to change the configuration settings such as whether you are using alkaline or lithium batteries, the time before the transceiver should auto-revert to transmit, whether group check should appear on start up, perform a device check, etc. You can also use the Pieps app to update these transceivers, turn multiple "BT" transceivers into a mobile beacon park, and more.
  • The new transceivers have a sliding Off/Send/Receive switch that is similar to the Pieps Sport and Pieps DSP Pro, except the new transceivers have a sliding "lock" that prevents the Off/Send/Receive switch from accidentally moving whereas the previous transceivers had a push button lock. This resolves the problem in the DSP Pro and Sport where the release tab might not secure the switch.

    Unfortunately, the new locking mechanism is not glove or mitten friendly and it often needs to be physically pushed to the right to fully engage.
  • The reception range of the new transceivers is purportedly improved when the transmitting and receiving antennas are in perpendicular alignment. In my testing, the ranges in this orientation were similar to previous DSP transceivers (i.e., outstanding).
  • The harnesses are similar to the Pieps Sport and Pieps DSP Pro, but they no longer have the clever design that caused a pull on the closure strap to extract the transceiver. I'm puzzled why they would remove this minor yet helpful feature.
  • You can update the transceiver's firmware using the Pieps app on your cell phone.
  • The transceivers now have a formal "group check" mode that is activated by pressing and holding the Flag button when CH is displayed during startup. You can enable/disable the prompt for the group check using the Pieps app.
  • The transceivers support lithium as well as alkaline batteries. Lithium batteries last much longer than alkaline batteries (with lithium batteries, the Pro/Guide can transmit for up to 600 hours which is the longest of any avalanche transceiver).

The review of the Pro/Guide BT lists the additional enhancements to those transceivers.

Conclusion

The Pieps Powder BT and Black Diamond Recon BT have excellent search ranges, simple user interfaces, and are easy to update. They are an excellent choice for both new and experienced backcountry travelers.

Steve's temporary debugging: brand and model are Pieps/BD and Powder/Recon.

Model:  Powder/Recon
Manufacture:  Pieps/BD
Retail Price:  $339.95
Score: 
Type:  Digital
Antennas:  3
Marking:  Yes
Updateable:  Yes
Owner's Manual:  Read It

Pros: Great range, simple controls, easy updates, excellent perpendicular reception range.
Cons: Nothing significant.