By Jack Trageser and P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff
It seems that as disc golf equipment technology evolves, much of the advances are slight, such as a disc that flies slightly faster or farther, or a basket that has chains that hang at different angles.
Even in the world of accessories, nearly all products hitting the market are manufactured versions of do-it-yourself gadgets, such as telescoping poles to retrieve discs.
The Disc Beeper is something entirely new and it solves a problem every disc golf encounters at some point — a lost disc. Despite the fact that numerous people have probably mused a concept such as this, nobody has every built it.
The Disc Beeper is a small electronic device with the diameter of about a quarter. It’s light (about six grams) and attaches to the bottom of a disc. When activated, it beeps at three-second intervals after a 45-second delay.
The current model is a permanent attachment to the disc, so it would not be allowed in PDGA-sanctioned events.
The following is a joint review by Rattling Chains writers Jack Trageser and P.J. Harmer.
Playing primarily on mountainous and heavily wooded courses allow many opportunities for lost discs, so I was naturally eager to test this product. After putting it through some trials, it does what it is supposed to do without any detrimental effects on the flight of the disc.
Attaching the Disc Beeper to the disc was pretty easy, with the most important aspect being the centering of the device on the disc. Since installing it is pretty much irreversible, I chose a disc that wasn’t a critical part of my starting lineup. The downside of that is I can’t share specifics about how it changes a disc’s flight characteristics as that would require having two identical discs. I didn’t notice anything obvious with the change of a flight though.
The Disc Beeper is simple. It has a single button and three types of beeps from which to choose. I chose the one that sounds like a cricket as it fits best into the natural surroundings.
To activate, you hit the button once to turn it on and another one to three times to cycle through the beep choices. Once you settle on a beep, you have a 45-second delay before it begins to beep at three-second intervals. This can also help slower throwers as a training device to release the disc within the 30-second limit set by the PDGA.
I tried to come up with challenging tests for the Beeper. I wanted to see how it performed in a noisy environment, in tall and thick vegetation and in an area where the disc could fly or roll down a steep slope. I also wanted it in a spot where the disc would fly so far and I’d have little idea where to start searching.
I first tested among the sand dunes next to the Pacific Ocean, south of Monterey, Calif. With wind blowing hard and waves that were crashing, it made hearing the beeper more of a challenge than on any course I’ve played. I repeatedly threw the disc into blind spots among the dunes. I then trudged in the general direction of the throw. Inevitably, I’d hear the beeping and be able to make my way to it.
I then took the disc to Ryan Ranch, a great course in the Monterey area. This choice was based on the fact that I’m not completely familiar with the course and would not automatically know where to search for a disc on each hole. It has enough elevation and rugged vegetation to lose a disc.
I played a regular round there, sometimes throwing the disc with the beeper on it for my real shot, and other times as a second disc. The beeper performed as it was supposed to.
One hole showed the real value of the beeper. It was a long, blind hole that required me to use my cherished ESP Nike. After throwing, I then threw the beeper disc. As I walked, I heard the disc beeping from more than 100 feet away. As I looked for the Nuke, I had the fear — we’ll call it separation anxiety — as I couldn’t immediately locate the disc. I eventually found it, but it made me realize another benefit of the Disc Beeper — eliminating that anxiety.
I took the Disc Beeper to Pinto Lake, home of the 2011 Pro Worlds finals. The first four and the final six holes are mountainous terrain. It was the upper holes, however, that would put the beeper to the test. These holes are nearly all long, wide open and flat. The fairways are carved out of tall natural grasses and scrub brush. If a disc flies in there, you won’t see it until you’re almost on top of it.
At this point, I was confident in finding the disc no matter where it went. So I launched it far into the rough on one of the holes and quickly turned around so I’d have little idea of where it went. As I walked down the fairway, I discovered a game within a game — follow the beeps! And each time, I found the disc.
The final spot was at DeLaveaga in Santa Cruz. I launched the disc off No. 27, the “Top of the World” hole. The intention was to send it as far as possible — over the basket, over the street behind it and over the parking lot, where trees and a steep ravine would hopefully swallow it up. The disc flew great and long and ended up about 700 feet away, next to the 20th hole. Alas, Disc Beeper removed all drama as I began hearing it once I hit the parking lot and had no problem finding it. Without the beeper, I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start the search.
A few other notes on Disc Beeper:
- The company’s website sells it for $19.99.
- You can also see videos on their website.
- The company said a beeper that can be switched from one disc to another is in the works.
- The battery that supplies the power charges via USB micro connection. This open connection could seemingly have issues with dust or moisture inside, but the Disc Beeper people have been pretty thorough with testing.
- The PDGA is in the process of evaluating the Disc Beeper for PDGA approval.
- The beeps, which can be heard from up to 200 feet, could cause a problem for other players teeing off on short holes, but in most cases the beeper won’t be needed on such holes.
- When the disc lands right-side-up on a flat surface, the beeping is noticeably quieter, but plenty loud enough to hear it from at least 50 feet.
There’s not, honestly, a lot I can add to Jack’s well-done review on this product.
My personal take is that this kind of a product can be a strong addition to any disc golfer’s arsenal.
The biggest thing I can note is that it needs to eventually be a product where people can switch the beeper from disc to disc. Without that ability, I find it hard to believe that disc golfers will go out and spend $100 to get five beepers for different discs.
The other reason behind that thought is if these can’t be used during sanctioned play, there needs to be a way to take them off a disc and not leave anything behind. If I am going to use the beeper, I want to have it on discs I throw. I don’t want to have a “Disc Beeper disc” and then have others. The cost-effectiveness of doing something like this would be quite bad.
I’ll be interested to watch how the PDGA goes with this as well. Though not super heavy, it does add weight to a disc and makes it a little different. If something like this is approved for play, what about things like stickers for the top of a disc and so forth? This could be a major step for what can be done to discs if this is eventually approved for competition.
In the end, this is a very cool product and I could see myself using it for casual play, especially when going to a new course. The beeper has a waterproof design and the battery charge lasts about 7-8 hours, which is easily enough for a couple of rounds. The $20 price tag isn’t much, especially if you will eventually be able to switch it from disc to disc. This kind of product will probably be suited more for the casual player (for now) as it will be nice when out throwing around.
Overall, the product was easy to use and worked as intended. The beep is loud enough so you can follow and find the disc. In the end, that’s what the product is supposed to do and it has delivered. I look forward to this product moving forward in production.
Disc Beeper on the Internet:
If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!