Innovation and taking chances is what makes an award-winning product and the Pieps Micro Transceiver does both. It’s not only the smallest and lightest transceiver out there but Peips also did away with the search/transmit switch. The Micro is a game changer and now an award winner.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
They say ‘bigger is better’ and while this may be true for some things it sure isn’t the case with transceivers. If you can reduce the size and weight without having to compromise its functionality and capabilities, then it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. Case in point, the new Pieps Micro Transceiver. An aptly named transceiver from Pieps given that it’s the lightest and smallest three-antenna transceiver currently on the market.
For all the details keep reading and also watch the video review below.
The Pieps Micro Transceiver is very small and fits in your hand nicely.
Aside from it’s size, the Micro has another feature that’s sure to impress. Pieps uses a built in proximity sensor to automatically change the Micro from transmit to search as soon as it's removed from its harness or a pocket. While this is a very high-tech concept it does require some re-learning and just general acceptance that there is not a large search/transmit button to use. This automatic feature is designed to simplify things and allow the user to better focus on the rescue at hand. To revert the Micro back to transmit mode you simply press and hold the Mark button (it’s the only button on the face and it has the icon of a flag on it) for three seconds to “unlock” it from search mode. It then needs to be re-stowed in the harness in order for it to remain in search mode. There’s a small graphic to the right of the Mark button that illustrates this in case you forget while under pressure in a real-life search situation.
With a larger backlit display than most other transceivers, the Micro is very easy to read in any lighting condition or environment. If this wasn’t enough there is also a vibration-based warning which is triggered when a signal is first received in search mode. This adds to the audio and visual information to ensure you don’t miss any important information.
With a true circular range of 50 meters, the Micro has a high level of accuracy and if you are in a multiple burial situation there is also has a ‘flag’ function so that you can temporarily mask out the closest signal.
The Micro transceiver synchs with a Bluetooth app on your phone (for both Android and iOS) where you will be able to initiate a self-test of the Micro and also set various setting options. These options include a group check feature, turning vibration on/off, and setting the auto-revert time to either 60, 90, or 120 seconds. You can also update the Micro's firmware via the app so there is no need to send your Micro away or have to schedule a visit with your local authorized supplier.
In the event you get caught in a slide while searching the Micro has a built-in Auto-Revert function that will switch the transceiver from search to transmit after one minute without any motion. If this is too short of a time for your personal preference then you can change this with the Pieps mobile App to 90 or 120 seconds. Prior to the Micro automatically switching back to transmit mode you will be warned with a series of tones and the screen will display "AR" (for auto-revert) and shows a countdown from 30 on the display. To cancel the auto-revert simply move the transceiver or press the Mark button.
Below you can see the Auto-Revert sequence initiating as the display shows 'AR' for auto-revert.
If the Micro picks up more than one signal then multiple victim icons will be displayed along the bottom of the screen. You are able to mark the strongest signal once it is within five meters of the Micro. To do this simply press the Mark button and that signal will be hidden. The Micro will now show the next strongest signal and a box will appear around the first victim icon on the bottom of the screen. To unmark the signal you do have to turn the Micro off then on again.
The images below show the Micro picking up two signals and then once the first one is marked it locks onto the next strongest signal and shows the first icon with a box around it.
Micro / DSP Pro
Weight: 150g / 200g (25% lighter)
Dimensions: 102 x 71 x 18 mm / 4.3 x 2.3 x .9 in / 115 x 74 x 27mm / 4.5 x 2.9 x 1.1in
Range: 50m / 60m
Battery: 1 AA / 3AAA
Display: Micro is approximately 25% larger than the Pieps Sport/Pro
Battery Life: 200hrs / 400hrs
Search/Send: Auto / Manual switch
Read the full review of the Pieps DSP Pro Transceiver here.
Search instructions are printed on the back of the Micro in case you forget how to perform these steps under the stress of a real search.
The good, Pieps is taking a giant leap of faith by producing a transceiver with no transmit/search switch and leaving this to the infrared proximity sensor to control. This is a huge change, one that takes some time to get your brain used to and also have faith in. For some, it will be too big of a leap, for others the learning curve will be worth it. I for one have embraced this new technology although it is not without its challenges, more on this below.
The Micro transceiver’s vibration alerts for various functions are a welcome tactile addition, especially the most important one, being when the Micro first detects a signal in search more. During a search, anxiety may have the better of you so more alerts are a welcome addition. The Micro also vibrates when it is in the process of switching back to transmit mode from search mode, a welcome reassurance when you may have already holstered the transceiver and cannot confirm by simply looking at the screen.
The most obvious benefit of the Micro is its size and weight. It’s approximately 30% smaller than the BCA Tracker3, 60% smaller than the Pieps Sport and Pro versions and about 33% lighter than the BCA Tracker3 and 40% lighter than the Pieps Sport and Pro transceivers. At only 150 grams it’s ideal for skimo racers and weight conscious alpinists alike, although your average backcountry skier will appreciate these features as well. It’s amazing that the Micro still has all of the functionality that you require, given how small it actually is.
On the down side, the Micro's non-intuitive graphics for search and transmit mode could be improved. Two blinking dashes are displayed when the Micro is in search mode and a blinking X symbol when it’s transmitting, more descriptive images would be preferred. The only other issues have to do with the Proximity sensor and how it works in day-to-day situations. Example one: If you turn on the Micro while it’s still in the harness or the proximity sensor covered with anything then you will get an "E7" error reading, which is not intuitive as to what the issue is. Example two: You should have your trailhead transceiver check process dialed with the Micro as the auto switch functionality could confuse you. I personally prefer to wait until everyone else is in the group is transmitting then I perform a check of their transceiver with the Micro in search mode since it switches to this mode if you do not holster it right away after turning it on. Once complete I can then stow the Micro back into its harness, wait for it to switch over to transmit mode (this is confirmed with a few tones and a vibration). I then get this confirmed by another person’s transceiver checking that the Micro is in fact transmitting. If I am not the one checking that others are in transmit mode then I would turn on the Micro and immediately stow it in the holster and wait to be checked. If you then have to check that person’s transceiver is in transmit mode you will have to take the Micro out of the harness, let it switch to search and check that their transceiver is transmitting. Here’s where it gets tricky, you now need to hold the Mark button down for three seconds to unlock it (as it will auto lock into search mode) and once unlocked you can now re-stow the Micro. If you do not do this and just stow it away the Micro will continue to be in search mode. A small yellow/orange light on the side of the Micro will flash to alert you that it is in transmit mode. To put my mind at ease 100% I will typically ask someone to check me once more so that I know I am in fact in transmit mode.
Overall, I commend Pieps on their forward thinking and willingness to try and change the status quo. While not perfect I do think that this may be the future of transceiver design and functionality and once you use the Micro enough it will become second nature to you. Like any transceiver, familiarity is important and practice, practice, practice is the only way.
Price: $419CAN / $389.95US
Weight: 150g / 5.2oz (incl. batteries)
Dimensions: 102x71x18 mm / 4.3x2.3x 9 in
Frequency: 457 kHz (EN 300718)
Power Supply: 1 Alkaline AA
Battery Life: 200+ hr in send-mode
Maximum Range: 50m / 164ft
Colour: Yellow, Red, Blue
Warranty: 2 year extends to 5 years when registered.
|Ease of use 1.5/2
Quality / Price 2/2
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They are shipping with the newest software installed.