Given that I received a BCA Tracker2 avalanche beacon for Christmas, I was a little worried to hear the recent news that Jackson Hole Ski Patrol and Alpine Guides have alerted BCA to a problem with the device. The group found that occasionally the Tracker2 avalanche beacons will inadvertently switch into opticomm mode and stop transmitting.
Opticomm is a reprogramming mode used to download new software through the optical communication window on the front of the Tracker2 avalanche beacon. Normally, this mode is only activated by disconnecting and reconnecting one of the batteries while the Tracker2 is connected to BCA's reprogramming accessory. However, the Jackson Hole Ski Patrol and Alpine Guides found that this mode is instead being triggered by a buildup and discharge of static electricity.
In the past, the Tracker2 avalanche beacons have experienced reports of power interruption, where your unit will occasionally reboot itself. This power reboot is always accompanied by an audible beep and the avalanche beacon usually resets itself to the mode it was in before the reboot happened.
BCA does not believe the power reboot is a major concern, however, the company is currently trying to determine the extent of the opticomm mode problem and if it is significant enough to warrant a full recall (I personally think it is as your life somewhat depends on it!).
In the meantime, BCA is offering free software upgrades to the new Version 4 that supposedly provides additional safeguards against entering opticomm mode. To determine which software version you have, simply disconnect and reconnect one battery when the unit is off. After the display reads, "t2", the unit will then display the software version.
You want to see "r04", which you are likely to have only if your Tracker2 avalanche beacon was shipped since late December. As mine was shipped well before Christmas, I pretty much knew I was going to see the dreaded "r03". It looks like I will be sending my Tracker2 back to BCA.
If you do not have Version 4 software in your BCA Tracker2 avalanche beacon, you can contact BCA at firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 417-1345 to get an RMA number to send in your unit for upgrade.