The Border Patrol TC1, By Dog Expedition Systems is the first GPS based dog fence. The Border Patrol TC1 is made by Dog Expedition System, a sibling of DT systems – a maker of dog training collars, that is based here in Dallas. The Border Patrol is their first fence they have produced. The collar combines dog fence, remote training, and tracking capabilities in a single unit. By using GPS satellites instead of the regular RF or Wifi base stations the Border Patrol lets you have boundary areas up to 400 acres with impressive boundary stability.
The unit does have some significant drawbacks however. Despite being GPS based, you can still only have a circular field. The collar is huge, by far the biggest and heaviest of any dog fence, and is completely unsuitable for dogs under 30lbs. Also, despite the collar being built like a tank, the collar antenna looks fragile, and we don’t think it will be durable. Finally, the collar band is short only able to fit on neck circumferences of up to 20 inches.
Traditionally wireless fences have a base station that creates a circular boundary field. They usually have a pretty limited range. A top of the line Havahart wireless can do about 200 yards radius, but anything beyond 100 yards can be very unreliable with boundary lines that drift a lot from moment to moment.
Summary:Overall the technology on this is amazing. You get a wireless fence, that can do huge areas up to a 800 yard radius, that is over 400 acres, and still maintaining decent boundary accuracy. So this is great for people with large ranches. Also, this fence is a great option for people who are wanting a wireless fence but have lots of obstacles, barriers or a metal roof. Another plus, is that you get the tracking and remote training functionality. But, there are two really big drawbacks that I think are going to limit it’s use. First, the collar is too big and too heavy for most dogs. And second, the antenna design looks very fragile, and we suspect there will be durability issues. For areas under 2 and a half acres, if you want a wireless fence the Havahart Radial is probably the better way to go – in smaller yards it is more accurate and it is about half the price. But, for larger areas over 2 and a half acres, if you want to do wireless – the Dog Expedition Systems, Border Patrol TC1 is the way to go.
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The Transmitter is used to set up the fence, and also used when the collar is in remote mode or tracking mode. The collar has a nice color display. It feels very well built, and all the buttons have a nice tactile feel. After going through a setup and calibration process, you take the controller where you want the center of your containment circle and mark the point. Then you set, the boundary radius for the warning, the start of the correction and the end of the correction and you are ready to go.
What is remarkable about this system is how well it works. On average the boundary moves around plus minus three to four yards from moment to moment. Nowhere near as good as a wired fence which will only move around 10% of that amount. But, decent for a wireless fence. What is really remarkable, is that accuracy is maintained even when the system is at it’s full range. Even when the boundary is out at 800 yards, the accuracy is pretty much the same. With most wireless systems, accuracy deteriorates rapidly the bigger the boundary. This actually works at full range, so you could realistically fence in up to 400 acres. With the next best fence, the Havahart Radial, you would struggle to do more than 2 plus acres in real world conditions. The Border patrol also doesn’t have all the problems with the signal getting blocked by buildings or metal obstacles, since it is getting it’s location from GPS satellites in the sky rather than a base station in your house.
Transmitter Controls: The handheld transmitter for the Border Patrol TC1 is quite complex and offers a wide range of functionality. Each button on the unit is described below.
- Color LCD Screen- Displays Fence, Training, and Tracking/Mark information.
- Menu/Power Key- Powers the handheld transmitter unit ON/OFF and accesses Menu. Also acts as BACK button in certain menus.
- Mark Key- Accesses Mark menu to mark and find waypoints. Also acts as NEXT and END buttons in certain menus.
- Toggle Screen- Toggles between Fence and Training or Mark screens.
- Up/Down Key- Increases/decreases intensity level.
- Ping Key- Sends signal to collar unit for location and status updates.
- Enter Key- Selects menu item.
- RF Antenna- Aids in communication between transmitter and collar.
- Vibration Button- Applies Vibration only.
- Rise Button- Stimulation that gradually increases intensity level while button is pressed.
- Dog Selection Button- Selects desired collar when multiple collars are programmed to the handheld transmitter.
- Nick Button- Quick, split-second correction.
- Continuous Button- Continued correction stimulation while button is pressed. (8 second safety shutoff.
- Jump Button- User-programmed Jump correction level without changing default correction level.
A neat feature is that if the dog does break through the boundary, they can return without getting the correction. That is a first on a dog fence system. As well as helping you set up the fence, the controller can also be use with the collar as a remote trainer – meaning you can correct the dog if you are doing obedience or hunting training. It also has a tracking function, so if you are say hunting, you can track the position of the dog up to 2 miles away. The controller recharges using this port built into the side.
The Border Patrol collar is the weak point of the system. As you can see the collar receiver box is huge. It is much bigger and heavier than a standard wireless collar, weighing in at 10 ounces. This is 3 times heavier than the Havahart Radial collar. This is a problem for any dogs under 30 lbs, and will make the collar un-wearable. It is really not going to be comfortable on any dog under 40 lbs – and even then it will be bulky.
Collar Antenna The collar also has this antenna sticking out. We don’t like this design at all. It feels flimsy, and the way it is positioned, I can just see other dogs pulling it off. Or when a dog rolls on their back, I can see it snapping. We suspect lots of these are going to break.
Collar Band The collar band is also too short, and only does a maximum of 20 inches, so is going to be too small for very large dogs. Due to the way the antenna is integrated into the collar, replacing the collar band is not possible, but you may be able to use a collar extender.
Warning Beep & Vibration The collar has both a warning beep and a warning vibration mode. Most dog fences have a warning beep that is hard for humans to hear, but the warning beep is so soft and so high pitched, it is virtually inaudible. The vibration however works very well, and we would use the collar in vibration mode rather than beep.
Charging The collar recharges using a lithium ion battery. Other than that, there is only a single button that switched the unit on and off. The battery life is about 2 days and will charge in about 2 to 3 hours.
Correction Levels The collar has 50 correction levels, all set at the controller. But, once you set it up with the controller, the collar works independently – so you don’t need to keep the controller on. You can have up to five of these collars on a single system.
GPS Technology The unit has the regular limitations of GPS. Coverage is spotty where there is not a good line of sight to the sky. Where there is heavy tree cover, the unit doesn’t get a good signal, although with light tree cover we found no problems at all.
Carrying Case The system comes in this nice hard cover case, useful if you want to use the collar as a hunting collar and take it out on trips.
Tester It comes with this correction tester, that you clip onto the collar probes to test if the correction is working.
Boundary Flags And you get 50 boundary flags. These are the nice metal type, as opposed to the cheap plastic ones in most systems. Nice touch. But, you are probably going to need a lot more flags, 50 flags is only going to mark about half an acre and this system is designed for much bigger spaces.