May 29 2013

Beacon Review: Ortovox D3

The Ortovox D3

Note: Though discontinued this review is published for the benefit of those who are considering purchasing a used D3 beacon.

For those who just want a beacon that you simply turn on and follow the lights to the victim, the D3 is hard to pass up.

The D3 maintains the classic, integrated harness with the On switch, combined with a smart looking pouch to hold the beacon. It also has an elastic tether to the pouch. Switching to receive is done via the rotating knob and locking tab.

Audio Visual
Since this is a fully digital beacon, range is reduced a bit compared to other Ortovox models, but remains large enough for a 30m wide search strip. Three LEDs at the top indicate direction, plus a distance reading underneath. The audio beeps are the usual progression of more beeps per cycle as you get closer, and are loud and clear.

Pinpoint Search
When you are within 2m of the victim the directional LEDs turn off and just the distance is indicated, along with obvious audio beeps that increase in frequency as you get closer. A grid pattern is recommended for refining the pinpoint location.

Multiple signals are indicated with the LED under the distance display.

Multiple Burial
If the D3 detects more than one signal, a LED beneath the digits will light up. Prior to this you may notice distinctly different distance and direction readings on successive display cycles, with the same sort of timing hiccup other brands of digital beacons experience. When more than one signal is received inside a 10 meter radius, the multiple indicator LED will blink. The D3 was built before Ortovox had developed their signal marking function, so marking remains the domain of physically marking with a probe. This remains, even with more advanced technology, the most reliable marking method anyway. After locating the first victim, move at least 5 m away, and then resume the search based on the new strongest signal, or begin using a search methodology of your choice such as the Circle Method or Micro-Strip Search method.

For those who are looking to save money and obtain one of these on the used market you could do worse. The beauty of the D3 is how simple it is to operate. In the case of a single victim, it is significantly better than an old F1, especially in the hands of the average user who doesn’t practice much. In the case of multiple victims, you need to practice a lot to get good results so a more recent model such as the Ortovox’ 3+ is recommended.

MSRP: $289
Range: Best coupled – 45m, Worst coupled – 25m
2 AA batteries
Multiple Victim indicator

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