PSA: Flaw in PIEPS DSP Sport & DSP Pro Avalanche Transceivers

PIEPS DSP Sport (left) & DSP Pro (right) avalanche transceivers

In case you haven’t seen the posts on Instagram or listened to our GEAR:30 podcast with Cody Townsend (around minute 58:00), a number of skiers and snowboarders have identified a flaw in the PIEPS DSP Sport Avalanche Transceiver and the DSP Pro Avalanche Transceiver.

These two particular transceivers have a push-button lock mechanism on the face of the transceiver that can accidentally be switched from “send” to “search,” potentially without the user knowing that their transceiver is no longer sending out a signal.

Ian McIntosh posted an explanation and demonstration of this on his Instagram. We’ve embedded it here, and it is definitely worth a watch.

Again, and to be clear: this issue is limited to the PIEPS DSP Sport and DSP Pro transceivers, due to those two transceiver’s button design.

The issue does not affect PIEPS’s other transceiver models and it does not affect Black Diamond’s transceivers (which use PIEPS technology).

PIEPS recently put out a statement on their Instagram (embedded below), stating that “If you have any concerns about your DSP Pro/Sport, please contact us. We will offer you an upgrade to the latest generation of our avalanche transceivers.”

People in the U.S. or Canada should email dsp@pieps.com, while those outside of the U.S. and Canada should email support@pieps.com.

Based on what we’ve seen, we would recommend that anyone who currently has the DSP Sport or DSP Pro immediately stop using it, contact PIEPS, and start using a different transceiver. We will update this post if / when we have new information to add.

16 comments on “PSA: Flaw in PIEPS DSP Sport & DSP Pro Avalanche Transceivers”

  1. So I have two DSP Pros that have the screen going black problem and was getting ready to request an RMA and saw the switch issue.
    Not sure what the outcome will be but looking at the units a temporary solution might be if someone came up with a 3D printed plastic clip that could snap on and fill the gaps on each side of the slide switch while in send. The backside has some deep recesses in it to hold the clip in place and if in the holster would be held in place. Just a thought for those of us that can’t afford to replace and need something to use until Pieps gets it figured out.

    • In addition to finalizing and shipping out our print buyer’s guide, getting the digital version of the guide prepared and posted on 10.21, putting on a live Speaker Series event (during a pandemic) on 10.20, and launching the new Blister Summit, we recorded a GEAR:30 podcast conversation about this topic on 10.21, published it on 10.23, waited a bit to see if Pieps would come out with a different statement or stance, then posted the above message on 10.29.

      • I’m glad you guys elaborated on Cody’s comments, they seemed a little vague in the podcast. BobK is obviously not who this PSA was directed toward if he was informed enough to consider this “late”.

  2. FYI this is the email you will get back from dsp@pieps.com:

    Thank you for your email. As a company of skiers, snowboarders, spilt boarders, ice climbers, and alpinists, we share your passion for the backcountry. Your safety is our top priority, and we are committed to addressing any concerns you may have regarding your DSP Pro or DSP Sport transceiver.

    We handle every Pieps Beacon inquiry on an individual basis. For Pieps North America, please file a warranty claim here so we can process your claim as quickly as possible. For Pieps Europe support, and all international requests outside of North America, please email support@pieps.com.

    For more than 45 years, Pieps has been the worldwide technology leader in avalanche transceivers. Our mission is to bring you state-of-the-art equipment and peace of mind. Thank you for taking us with you on your backcountry adventures and for your continued support.

    -Pieps Customer Service Team

    North America Pieps warranty link: https://warranty.bdel.com/CreateCase/StepOne

    Pieps Europe (international customers) warranty email address: support@pieps.com

  3. So PIEPS is looking to do the right thing and then vultures lawyers swoop in to try and bleed them out. God they are scum. I do have one of those models and I’m going to give PIEPS every option to make it right. I am sure they will.

  4. I had a Pieps sport that started having some black spots on the screen, it was still workable but I asked for a replacement and soon had a BD recon in my holster. BD has always been very responsive & helpful with any issues I’ve had with gear picked up from them, and I would be very surprised if they weren’t with these beacons as well.

  5. Heres the response I got from Pieps on November 3rd:

    thanks for your message.
    We have received several inquiries related to the security of the switch mechanism of the DSP Sport and DSP pro avalanche beacons. We have been in close contact and dialog with athletes and professionals on this issue since Nick McNutts accident in BC, Canada. In response to these requests we have performed significant additional testing on these beacons in used and new condition. The findings are simple and significant at the same time. The lock mechanism of the DSP Sport and DSP Pro is not in any way compromised due to design or production issues. Yet we all saw the Instagram posts over the last few days and the explanation is as simple. Avalanche beacons are products built for the extremes, still they need a certain amount of maintenance as all your outdoor gear does. The evidence suggesting the slider to be faulty by design was corroborated with a heavily damaged beacon. PIEPS encourages all users to inspect their beacons at least before and after the season for mechanical damage due to use or accidents. We urge you not to go out with a broken beacon as, like all beacons it can not guarantee its reliability and performance when broken. Nevertheless PIEPS, in close cooperation with the Black Diamond quality lab has done extensive research and testing on this particular beacons which we are happy to share.

    Switch Performance Testing

    Testing has shown no change in switch resistance for used DSP beacons with heavy use.
    DSP beacons that have had their switch overridden (intentionally forced between modes without depressing the lock button), show a reduction in switch resistance which is further reduced after multiple cycles. The reduction in switch resistance due to override is variable, but not as severe as lock/switch mechanisms with visibly damaged lock buttons.
    Different lock mechanisms

    Comparative evaluations were also made between the DSP lock/switch mechanism and lock mechanisms currently on the market. The purpose of this evaluation was to compare the likelihood of interference with various switching mechanisms by determining the number of independent actions required to switch the designs evaluated on/off and between modes. While all mechanisms evaluated have strengths and weaknesses, and met the EN 300 718-1 standard, the DSP lock/switch mechanism as found to be comparable in terms of security to other lock designs on the market.

    Conclusions

    Perform beacon partner checks regularly when in avalanche terrain, ensure that your beacon is locked in the send mode, and carried in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendation.
    All beacons can be overridden and/or manually damaged. Never intentionally force a beacon power or mode switch between positions and retire your beacon immediately if it has been damaged.
    Inspect your beacon regularly for signs of wear or damage (see below).
    Contact the manufacturer if you have any questions regarding proper use or inspection results
    If you have any concerns, I can offer you a free of charge device service.
    Please use for that your device service form (https://my.pieps.com/de#deviceservice)
    Note in the comment field: “Free Device Service”

    When your device works well we will send it back to you if we find any issue we will let you know the further steps.

    If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen
    With kind regards

    Doris Resch
    Product Service
    _________________________
    Pieps GmbH
    Parkring 4, A-8403 Lebring
    T +43 3182 52556 – 30 I F +43 3182 52556 – 19
    resch.doris@pieps.com

  6. I have been unhappy with Pieps response that I file a warranty claim for a defective product. I encourage people to look at WildSnow’s review of this issue. https://www.wildsnow.com/28500/test-pieps-black-diamond-dsp-sport-beacon-avalanche/
    They suggest duct tape to hold the beacon in send mode. Yeah… Really!! That’s a wonderful endorsement of a product design, isn’t it?
    Lou Dawson also posted a 3D printer design for a clip to do the same job (see comments to the linked thread)
    I have bought many BD products in the past- skis, tele-bindings, clothing. I’m done until they step up on this one. And I think their athletes should speak up too. And the ski magazines. This is BS.
    I’ve skied the backcountry since the mid 70s in Colorado, have taught skiing, was National Ski Patrol, etc… this is unconscionable behavior IMHO.
    Boycott BD!

  7. In 2017 I bought two of the DSP sport beacons, one for me and one for my son. My son’s has a full crack on the lock button which is now totally non-functional. His unit has had about 10 days of use. Mine has way more use and no sign of a crack yet. I would upload a photo of the issue but can’t figure out how. The lock button has a living hinge design, the plastic flexes and provides the spring force to push a tab up into a detent on the slider which locks it in place. If the living hinge cracks, the spring force is reduced, reducing the efficacy of the lock. As the crack propagates, the button ultimately fails to lock the slider – this is the case with my son’s unit. The fracture on my son’s unit initiated on the outer surface and propagated inward, the crack is aligned with the direction of flexure during button actuation. If the crack had been initiated by forcing the slider without depressing the button, it would most likely show up on the side of the living hinge as it was forced to flex sideways, not on the outer top surface.
    I’m a mechanical engineer working in the medical device industry and this type of failure would absolutely drive a product recall – at least in my business.

    I appreciate that BD has done testing to see where the issue is coming from, but if the issue is an intermittent molding defect then how many units have they tested, when were they built, etc. The statement made below seems pretty categorical and my sample size of one seems to contradict their conclusions. My son’s life could have been lost due to this issue, so I’m pretty pissed, needless to say.

    I have filed claims on both units but doubt that mine will be replaced. There is no way I will continue using my beacon having seen what can happen. Like others here I will definitely carry a grudge unless something different is done by BD.

    “DSP beacons that have had their switch overridden (intentionally forced between modes without depressing the lock button), show a reduction in switch resistance which is further reduced after multiple cycles”
    “The lock mechanism of the DSP Sport and DSP Pro is not in any way compromised due to design or production issues”.

  8. I have had the same email reply from Peips. They are not offering an upgrade, just a free inspection and service. My unit is new and with low usage and no sign of cracks and wear. Puts the user in a tough situation now.

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