By: randosteve|Posted on: August 24, 2009|Posted in: Gear, Gear Reviews | 4 comments

A lot of transceivers come tethered to their harnesses with some bungee cord.
Sometime I want more flexibility with it, so I cut the bungee and
girth hitch it to the harness…so it can be removed.

I think one of the biggest advantages of owning an Ortovox S1 Avalanche Transceiver is the ability to walk down to your neighborhood backcountry skiing shop in the fall, pop it into the update box and ‘voila’…you have the latest and greatest fimware from the programming geeks in Germany, who are constantly finding ways to make the S1 beacon work better, faster and more seamlessly. Never mind having one of the most technologically advanced and easiest beacons to use for both single and multiple burials, the S1 is less likely to become obsolete from year to year as technology advances, since you can update it each season…easily. (Here’s a link to a list of shops where you can update your S1.  Give them a call first though.)


As of last week the latest firmware, version 1.2.3074, was loaded up on the Ortovox Update Center and is now ready for downloading. I went by the shop the other day and had my S1 updated and fiddled around with it a little to see if I could see any differences. Some of the improvements include:

s1-more-accurate-body-position-representation? Overall, the S1 version 1.2.3074 has increased speed. Meaning it take less time for the unit to receive, calculate, separate signals, and spit out information than in the past. While this one is hard to see, it should reduce the amount of times you get the “hand”, telling you to stop waving the S1 around and reduce overall search times.  The most important goal of an avalanche transceiver. “Dude…I’m coming!

? When in the course search mode, the updated software has much better visual and spatial representation, meaning that the ‘victim’ graphic on the LCD screen now better represents the actual victim’s location…in relation to both the vertical and horizontal lines…as well as compared to other ‘victims’ the unit might be picking up.  “Dude..I can see you!

s1-enhanced-beacon-test-mode? During the “Beacon Test” mode, the S1 now has increased sensitivity, so it doesn’t get confused when there are 8 stinky ski patrollers trying to pile out the door and have their transceivers checked at the same time.  “Dude…I got you!

? When there is a deep burial, the S1 now senses when you have passed over the ‘victim’ multiple times and jumps to the fine search mode at a greater distance than normal (up to 7 meters), which is much easier to use for a pin-point location than the course search mode. This is a nice feature…even though a 7 meter burial is most likely more of a coffin than a rescue I tried to simulate this situation, but hanging out the 2nd floor window while the transmitting beacon was on the ground outside just didn’t cut it.  “Dude…good luck!

Now you can lock the inclinometer while you are sighting it in.

? And for all you techy folks, the S1 software version 1.2.3074, now works 10X better as a inclinometer than in the past. You can now lock the readout while you are sighting it in, so the angle doesn’t change when you lift it back up to see what it says. Now…it works very much like a Suunto watch…if you are familiar with that.  “Dude…time to get SICK!

And no, Ortovox doesn’t pile all the extra bells and whistles into their beacons just for kicks. They wouldn’t be able to sell them in Europe if they did. Ortovox’s advanced technology uses all the info it gets from the compass, slope-meter, thermometer and three antennas…crunches the data, separates the different/multiple signals, and then gives you an accurate visual representation of the location of the ‘victims’. Consider investing in an S1 for this coming season…let’s hope it’s a good one!