Summary: The Pieps iProbe is an electronic avalanche probe that provides visual and audible indicators when the tip of the probe nears a transmitting beacon. If you are searching for a Pieps DSP (any model) or a Pieps Freeride, the iProbe allows you to temporarily suppress the transmitting beacon so you can search for additional beacons.
Searching: The 2.25 meter (7 foot 5 inch) iProbe is comprised of five sections of slightly larger than normal carbon fiber tubing (approximately 13mm, or 1/2 inch, diameter) which have 1 cm markings. The iProbe assembles quickly and has a secure latch that is easy to operate while wearing gloves.
Unlike an avalanche transceiver, the iProbe should remain off until you are ready to begin probing. You turn on the electronic probe with a clockwise twist of a lever on one end of the handle. (If you inadvertently twist the lever counterclockwise, you will open the battery compartment. You can't drop the battery cap because it is tethered to the handle, but the battery can fall out.) A rhythmic chirp and light indicate that the unit is turned on.
When the tip of the iProbe is between 0.5 and 2.0 meters of a transmitting avalanche beacon (the actual distance varies significantly depending on the orientation between the iProbe and the transmitting beacon's antenna), the tone will change from a chirp to a beep. When the tip is within 20 cm to 50 cm (7 to 20 inches), the beep will change to a solid tone. This feature of the iProbe works regardless of the brand of avalanche transceiver worn by the victim.
Of course, you should still probe as you would with a normal probe, at 25 cm (10 inch) spacing, until you hit something. The advantage of the iProbe is that when you do hit something, you'll know whether you are close to an avalanche transmitter or mistakenly hitting something else (e.g., the ground, which should feel much firmer than a victim) or a branch (which can feel "boingy" like a human).
Multiple Burials: When the iProbe is within approximately 60 cm (24 inches) of a transmitting DSP, pressing a button on the iProbe's handle sends a signal to the transmitting beacon instructing it to stop transmitting. The iProbe's handle will emit a series of five beeps, a pause, five beeps, etc. long as it is suppressing the transmitting beacon. If you turn off the iProbe or move it more than 60 cm from the transmitter, the victim's transceiver will resume transmitting within approximately 5 seconds.
This is a unique concept in multiple-burial searches: the probe silences the transmitter when the victim is located so you can search for the next victim. It eliminates the need to use electronics to "suppress" (aka, "mark" or "flag") the victim's transceiver and reduces the challenges caused by signal overlap during multiple burials. Of course, it does rely on more electronics and requires that the victim has either a Pieps DSP transceiver. In worse case, even with dead batteries, the iProbe is the same as a traditional probe and in best case it allows flawless suppression of a transmitting beacon.
A small oddity that people may encounter when testing the iProbe is that once the probe is instructed to disable a transmitting beacon, the iProbe will continue to send the "disable" signal until the iProbe is reset or turned off. So if you use the iProbe to search for a second transceiver (without first resetting the iProbe), it will suppress that transceiver when it gets within approximately one meter rather than beeping. That is the proper function, because the iProbe should be left in the snow after disabling the first victim's transceiver so you use your traditional transceiver to search for the next victim. This slight confusion usually occurs when experimenting with the iProbe by moving the tip of the probe between transceivers on the surface of the snow.
Controls: The iProbe is turned on/off using a twist-dial. The iProbe should be turned off until you begin probing. Pressing a button on the handle instructs the victim's transceiver to stop transmitting. It is easy to quickly assemble the iProbe with a simple toss-and-pull.