Avalanche Transceivers and Electromagnetic Interference

The effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI) on the performance of avalanche transceivers has been a topic of interest at Powder Cloud for a few years. With the increased number of electronic gadgets people carry into the backcountry (now add smart rings to the list), it’s our responsibility to learn about EMI’s impact on our transceivers’ performance and learn how to mitigate it. 

Recently Black Diamonds QC Labs published “Electromagnetic Interference and Avalanche Transceivers.” The article provides a foundational understanding of EMI with spectrum analyzer graphics to help readers see how and why interference (or noise) from other electronic devices can degrade a transceiver’s performance. 

In the second half of the article, they review their test results completed at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. Various electronic devices ranging from smart watches and rings to electronic gloves to snowmobiles were tested, one at a time, to understand and quantify impacts on transceiver search. Finally they summarize poignant takeaways and guidelines—take off your heated gloves!—for us to follow.

I highly suggest reading QC Labs article along with Karl Klassen’s Avalanche Canada Blogs, “How to Mitigate Avalanche Transceiver Interference.” If you’re up for it, grab a friend and conduct your own informal tests. I recently did and now pay more attention to how I can mitigate interference. We’re also exploring many of the leading avalanche transceivers to understand if and how any proactively and positively help with EMI.

However, as fun and enlightening as these dorky topics are, please remember, it’s most important to do a proper tour plan, travel safely, and avoid the avalanche problems so you can make it back to the bar and have a beer with your mates.

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