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#217568 - 02/20/11 05:31 AM Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: ireckon]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: ireckon
Originally Posted By: ZenEngineer
For a long time now I have wanted to do real world experiments to compare how each model performs in the field. The goal is to order 5-10 models (two of each), separate the family by a known distance (~500m?) and do double-blind testing.
Has anybody done that yet?
That's seems like a good idea. However, an issue I'm seeing is that some whistles may be preferable in certain environments, while others in different environments. For example, perhaps the higher frequency of a Fox 40 will cut through trees better, while a lower frequency of a Storm Whistle will sound louder on the open water. Perhaps a pea is preferable in certain environments. Who knows? Anyway, a comprehensive test in a wide array of different environments would be interesting to read.

{ Note: if planning a lot of testing, consider hearing protection. I've seen referee comments about ear-ringing attributed to whistle use. In an accompanying photo from the "2008 Part 2" test below, the tester was plugging both ears - good idea!}

This first "real-world test" was done by a SAR group in 2006 in the New Zealand Kaimai and Pirongia "bush"(forest) comparing 9 noise-making devices (including yelling).

2006 New Zealand SAR Group Whistle Test (Scroll down to "Whistles"

If you read the full article linked above, you'll see that the forest made a huge difference - the testers said that every one of these whistles were audible at 600+ meters in the open, but as low as 138 meters in the forest.

See the bar chart/table at the link above, but the highlights for me were:
Note that the NZ SAR result for the Storm whistle in forest ( 400 meters = 0.249 miles) is essentially identical to the 402 meters = 1/4 mile claimed by Storm for the Storm whistle in forest on the Storm Whistle FAQ

The Storm FAQ above claims 400 meters in forest, 800 meters over water. Since Storm cites 800 meters over open land for the (quieter) Windstorm, this suggests that range over open land is longest. This would be consistent with the Acme history page, which cites a range of 1 mile for the original Acme whistle in the initial (1883) testing by the London police.

That does highlight the importance of testing for the expected application. The best whistles for forest, desert and sea could well be different, and different frequencies are likely to be absorbed at different rates. Storm thinks their choice of 3150 Hz is particularly effective.

Another factor is the hearing of the listener - in this whistle test, the kids thought the Fox 40 was louder than the Nexus Whistle, the adult thought the Nexus whistle louder than the Fox 40. He speculated it could be due to his hearing loss in the high frequencies.

Another point touched on in other posts is the difficulty of blowing the whistle. If you are going to be blowing a whistle every five minutes in the hopes of being heard, for days, you want something that is easy to blow.

This 2008 Part I 15 whistle test tested measured decibels, not actual humans at range, {Though at the bottom it mentioned an unintended real-world verification of 1/4 mile range through forest} but did use both adult and child volunteers, and includes a rating of how hard the whistle was to blow. This test included the thin ACR (Blast's whistle) and JetScream, but not the Storm.

2008 Whistle Test Part 2 - 12 more items Although the followon test did include the Storm, the flat TOPS KNIVES whistle did best for loudness, at 123.6/117 dB for adult/child. The TOPS whistle also got a "very easy to blow" rating. Between the sound level, ease of blowing, and compactness, that one might be worth another look.

One contender in the 2008 Pt 2 test was an adult human yell: 110 dB try 1, 107 dB try 2, 104 dB try three - affected voice, larygnitis next morning. Get a whistle!


This August 2002 "Whistle Wise" Test in Backpacker Magazine said it included the real world tests you suggest: "search and rescue volunteers whistling systematically in different terrain", but alas the results were summarized to a few qualitative comments. The Storm and Windstorm took first and 2nd place for range, the Acme Thunderer 660 was top for ease of blowing, and they rated the Fox40 Mini well above the Classic Fox40 for ease of blowing by children.

This page at Acme discusses the points of:
  • How hard is the whistle to blow? (Blowrate) - important for endurance, weakened lungs
  • How loud is the whistle? (Blowsound) - certainly helpful in getting it heard
  • What frequencies do the whistle emit? (Blowtone) - likely a key factor in the effects of the "bush vs. open" results above.
This interesting plot at Acme points out the the output level of a whistle can actually decrease as you blow harder, at some levels, then increase as you blow harder yet.

"Shorty" says he tested the Storm, Windstorm, Fox 40, and the full Acme line, and found the Acme Tornado 635 plastic pealesss whistle to be the loudest, but he doesn't describe how he tested them. Acme's description does claim it is their loudest whistle, but comments that it requires hard blowing - not a good feature in a SAR whistle that you may need to blow for hours in a weakened condition.

Here's a five whistle test on Youtube - apparent loudness at 50 yards. The JetScream did best, but none of the other contenders were particularly loud. The Adventure medical Kits flat whistle did not do well here.



Edited by rafowell (02/20/11 05:39 AM)
Edit Reason: Added "in forest" qualifier
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#217577 - 02/20/11 01:44 PM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: rafowell]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4987
Loc: SOCAL
Excellent and the audio links to the various whistles clued me in as to why I don't like some of the Fox 40 line -- hearing loss.

I recently ordered a Fox 40 Classic to compare with my Fox 40 Sharx and Fox 40 mini from a DR PSP.

I wonder how much hearing loss a typical SAR member has. . .

Anyone know how the Sharx compares to the Storm?

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#217592 - 02/20/11 06:20 PM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: Russ]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Russ
...
Anyone know how the Sharx compares to the Storm?

The Fox Comparison Table of the Fox Whistles has the Sharx at 120 dB and the Storm whistle brochure claims 130 dB for the Storm.

Getting 130 dB out of the Storm may take some work, though. The 2008 Whistle Test Part 2 commented that, while the Storm was "easy to blow", it "required more airflow". The Storm results in that test were 120.6 dB adult average, 111.6 dB child average, 102.6 dB "tester with lung condition average".

Since that test rated other whistles "very easy to blow" vs. the Storm "easy to blow", it seems to me some other whistles might come out louder when blowing them for hours. Since the TOPS KNIVES whistle was rated "very easy to blow" and 123.6 dB adult average in the test above, and "field test 126 dB" on the TOPS site, it seems worth exploring.

One blowing tip for the Sharx is to wrap your lips around it, rather than pressing them against it.

Since the Fox Sharx did not come out until 2010, it was not in the 2008 test.

With the Sharx, I've seen several comments ( Amazon review , SOCAL Hiker Lady Review ) about ear pain/ringing, and recommendations to cover your ears when blowing them. (Something to consider with all of these loud whistles).


Edited by rafowell (02/20/11 06:48 PM)
Edit Reason: wasn't finished.
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

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#217594 - 02/20/11 06:53 PM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: rafowell]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4987
Loc: SOCAL
Originally Posted By: rafowell
. . . The Fox Comparison Table of the Fox Whistles has the Sharx at 120 dB and the Storm whistle brochure claims 130 dB for the Storm.
. . .
Yes, but my question on how the Sharx compares to the Storm was more about frequency than decibels. The Storm's 3150 Hz seems to be a good frequency.

Originally Posted By: rafowell
. . . With the Sharx, I've seen several comments ( Amazon review , SOCAL Hiker Lady Review ) about ear pain/ringing, and recommendations to cover your ears when blowing them. (Something to consider with all of these loud whistles).
Yep, I keep foam earplugs with the Sharx.

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#217610 - 02/20/11 09:43 PM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: Russ]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Russ
. . . Yes, but my question on how the Sharx compares to the Storm was more about frequency than decibels. The Storm's 3150 Hz seems to be a good frequency.


I don't own a Sharx, and I didn't find a sound recording of the Sharx on the Web. If someone can provide me either, I can analyze it. Alternatively, someone can do what I did for this post.

On my iMac, I downloaded the freeware "FFT Analyzer", which plots a frequency response of whatever the iMac microphone "hears".

From the sound samples in my previous post, and some whistles I have, I make the peak energy frequencies: (many of these are "multitone" whistles):
  • 1700,2300 Hz for the Fastex 72 x 20 x 15 mm and 7g whistle from this Youtube recording
  • 2200 Hz for the Acme Thunderer 58.5 (from web recording)
  • 2700 Hz for the Storm (mine)
  • 2800 Hz for the ACR flat whistle (main tone)(mine)
  • 3100 Hz for my "cheap aluminum keychain cylinder REI whistle"(mine)
  • 3500 Hz for the Acme Tornado 636 from this web recording.
  • 3650 Hz for the Fox Rescue Howler (loudest tone)(mine)
  • 4300 Hz for Fox 40 Classic (from web recording)
Since I didn't get the expected 3150 Hz from the Storm, I'm not sure what is going on here. Could be my software/microphone, could be the unit, don't know.

I also found this nice German survival whistle frequency test {link through Google Translate} on the web (with no Storm or Sharx, alas) indicating a peak for the Fox 40 Classic in the 3200-4000 Hz range, a bit different than my results.

It does seem that the Fox frequencies are on the high side, and the NZ results suggest that low frequencies are better for forest penetration.


Edited by rafowell (02/20/11 09:44 PM)
Edit Reason: missing parenthesis
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

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#217619 - 02/20/11 11:32 PM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: rafowell]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4987
Loc: SOCAL
rafowell, agree with the Fox 40 mini being on the high side; the Sharx has a lower pitch but just how much lower. I may buy a Storm just to compare it to the Fox 40 Sharx, Fox 40 Classic, Fox 40 Mini and Atwood SS whistle on my keyring.

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#217620 - 02/20/11 11:38 PM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: Jeanette_Isabelle]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2731
Loc: Alberta, Canada
The ACR seems interesting; I'd like to try one, since the form factor is very handy. I have a bunch of the Fox 40 minis and they're okay as backup whistles, but aren't quite as loud as I'd like, and I prefer a lower pitch. I carry a Storm when I really need to make noise.

I'm surprised at the good reviews of the JetScream. I bought one and it's not loud at all -- very disappointed. Maybe I got a dud?


Edited by dougwalkabout (02/20/11 11:39 PM)

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#217624 - 02/20/11 11:58 PM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: dougwalkabout]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4987
Loc: SOCAL
For me it's all about pitch. I can't hear some whistles with high ratings. The Fox 40 Mini that some love just seems anemic to me.

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#217626 - 02/21/11 12:12 AM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: Russ]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6693
Loc: southern Cal
[quote=Russ
I wonder how much hearing loss a typical SAR member has. . .
[/quote]

At the quoted decibel levels, hearing protection is definitely called for. That poses some interesting problems, like hearing the much fainter response.........


Edited by hikermor (02/21/11 02:43 AM)
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#217627 - 02/21/11 12:13 AM Re: Discussion of Survival Whistle Tests [Re: Russ]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1383
Rafowell made a good point in one of his posts (which I pasted below.) People have to keep in mind that there is no best whistle for every application/environment and that every person hears sounds and frequencies differently. What you think is the best whistle for your hearing does not necessarily mean it will be for SAR when they are searching for you. I carry Fox 40 Classic whistles and do not fret that it may not be the best whistle for my hearing or my environment, otherwise I would be carrying a dozen different whistles around just in case..

That does highlight the importance of testing for the expected application. The best whistles for forest, desert and sea could well be different, and different frequencies are likely to be absorbed at different rates. Storm thinks their choice of 3150 Hz is particularly effective.

Another factor is the hearing of the listener - in this whistle test, the kids thought the Fox 40 was louder than the Nexus Whistle, the adult thought the Nexus whistle louder than the Fox 40. He speculated it could be due to his hearing loss in the high frequencies.


_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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