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SiliconFiend

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Everything posted by SiliconFiend

  1. I think the point that Anders was trying to make was that averaging can give you a false sense of better accuracy, when in fact just marking the waypoint at a time with an optimal satellite configuration can improve your accuracy much more.
  2. As Red90 said, this is the first handheld unit to use the same base software as the car units. I'm guessing it's an attempt to unify their software development (it's what I'd do if I were them). Obviously, the car units are lacking many of the features we expect in a handheld unit. And as dopoka said, in most product companies, the features and the timeline are set by marketing. The timeline was release for CES 2008, obviously, and missing that would have been a huge loss, if only because everyone expected something new from Garmin at CES. So, the timeline was fixed. When you have a list of features and a fixed timeline, engineers have to make compromises when the inevitable delays crop up. So, Garmin focused on the "glitzy" features (GPX file support, terrain shading, 3-D view, the new Wherigo games) and the older "standard" features went missing. It's the rational thing to do--most bang for your buck (or timeline in this case). A company like Magellan sacrifices quality instead to meet a (multiply-slipped) timeline. Yes, it would have been great to have all the features from the old handhelds and more, but sadly, reality intrudes. We can wish and hope and complain, but ultimately wait to see if Garmin makes the Colorados the "ultimate" geocaching GPS (there will always be some people who aren't satisfied). Quite a few people have enough trust in Garmin (and patience) to have bought them already, despite knowing their current shortfalls.
  3. I'm glad you're interested in the OpenStreetMap data (especially since the TIGER map data import just completed--now the entire US has fairly complete, although sometimes inaccurate street map data). As Red90 said, mkgmap is the way to go for now. Note that with that program, you'll get the street data, but it isn't routable. I'm working on a routable version. In a longer-term plan, we're looking at setting up some infrastructure to help with creating GPS maps, because downloading 3.6 GB (currently) of compressed data, cutting it up into appropriate-sized tiles and running it through the mkgmap processor is not something everyone can do (or really very many people are inclined to do). I'm not an expert on mkgmap, but I'm willing to help you get this working. Look at a Java tool called Osmosis for helping you slice up the Planet file into manageable chunks (you might want to start with a USA extract first, then use that smaller file to create your tiles). Also check out the mailing lists (probably dev@openstreetmap.org is the one you want) for other support.
  4. It's easy to open and get your GPS out, but you'd have to take the mount point on and off the rear screw hole every time you want to change to and from your mounts, unless you had a type of mount that gripped the sides or something. I'm thinking about creating something for my bike that could work with the super-strong belt clip on this case.
  5. There seems to be a dearth of information about the Foarm GPS cases, so I thought I'd write a proper review of the eTrex case, with photos. Front Left Right Construction The case is made from a texturized rubber over a black fabric backing. The case hinges at the top, and the bottom is secured by the lanyard. The lanyard passes through holes the top and bottom halves of the case. The two ends of the lanyard are sewn together and this end secures the bottom half. When the GPS is inserted into the case, the loose end of the lanyard is pulled through the holes in the top half to cinch the top half to the bottom. The lanyard is then secured from slipping by a pinch-type slide. A plastic clip slides on the loose end of the lanyard. On the rear, there is a steel belt clip. Impressions The texturized rubber seems very durable and doesn't add much to the size of the svelte eTrex GPS, although if your're accustomed to using it without any case, you might struggle somewhat with the extra thickness. My Vista HCx fits in snugly--even with the case open, it won't fall out when I hold it upside down. The fabric backing seems to give it good tear resistance. The case is not spongy--it's fairly rigid. It wouldn't necessarily absorb the force of a drop, but the rounded corners would help distribute the blow and so it seems to give good protection. It probably would help more with scratch & dent protection, and the GPS itself is probably tough enough to handle the shock from a drop. The texturizing makes the case very grippable. The clip on the lanyard is a nice touch and seems very durable. It has a feature on the tip of the clip latch which engages with the mating surface and keeps the clip from being pushed out to the side. The steel belt clip is strong spring and it's not likely to be falling off your belt. Note that after placing your GPS in the case, you will need to recalibrate the electronic compass (if your unit is equipped with one) due to the significant metal in the belt clip. One of the nicer aspects is that the window for the screen is completely open--it doesn't have a cheesy plastic cover to interfere with a screen protector or to get get scraped and impair the visibility. So, the case doesn't affect screen visibility at all. They provide two peel-and-stick screen protectors which are the size of the window. The protectors seem to be made of the same material as the excellent Invisible Shield product, but they don't cover the entire screen--just what you can see through the window. I already had an Invisible Shield fitted, so I didn't use the supplied screen protectors. I'll probably cut one up and use it for my watch. Usability The case doesn't interfere a lot with the user operation of the unit, but it does somewhat. The side buttons are largely unaffected. Probably the most noticeable is the click stick. The case causes the joystick to be somewhat recessed, so it's not as easy to operate with your thumb. It can still be done, but it's somewhat awkward. The upside to the recessed click stick is that you won't be accidentally marking waypoints anymore (if it's in your pocket or on your dash up against the windshield). The case makes it somewhat harder to wipe fingerprints off the screen, too. The screen protector picks up fingerprints easily, and needs wiping regularly. Out of the case, it's easy to wipe it off, but in the case, it's quite a bit harder. That's the trade-off for using a screen protector and window in the case instead of a plastic screen cover. The satellite reception seems to be completely unaffected by the case, in case anyone was worried about that. Availability As far as I know, the only place you can buy it is on Amazon (the manufacturer's web site directs you there). It runs about $17 + tax & shipping. It's listed on Amazon as a "Military-Grade" GPS case, but for some reason searching for "GPS Case" doesn't turn it up. Searching for "Foarm" will show you all their cases, though. I got the white case, but it looks like they currently only have a tan one. I would have preferred a black case, but it wasn't available. Verdict To sum up, I like the case. I'd trust it to protect my toy from a significant drop as well as the normal bangs and scratches from a geocaching outing. I'd probably give it 4 out of 5 (insert your favorite rating unit here), because I'd prefer a black case, and because of the slight interference to operation.
  6. I'm assuming the GPX files are stored on the removable media, and the actual waypoints are stored in internal memory. The unit knows when new waypoints are loaded to internal memory, because the unit has to be up and running for that to happen. But when it's powered down, it has no knowledge of what changes have happened to the memory card. So it has to examine its contents on each boot up. You're probably right, but there are ways to optimize it. They could keep a list of files that were processed on the last startup and see if those files are still there or if they've changed (they could do it by name & timestamp or MD5 even). On the next startup, update the list and process any files that have changed or are new. I wouldn't be surprised to see that sort of optimization show up in a future firmware update. Could cut out a lot of the startup lag with a lot of caches loaded.
  7. I'm guessing there is some inherent limitation in the software (or maybe the hardware) used in the units with expandable memory. It just doesn't make sense to drastically re-engineer an older software platform when you've moved on to a newer, hopefully improved platform. It sucks, I know, but that's just the reality of product and/or software development. To be fair, Garmin is better than most at continuing to release software updates for units long after they're out of active production. 2025 segments is a lot of maps (at minimum, with Topo maps, that covers more area than you could likely drive in a day), and you could always swap cards...
  8. It will be interesting to see if you have success. IME, it is very difficult and requires a lot of manual work to get routing to work. It's tricky, but it is possible to automate it. OSM is particularly suited for this. I already had some success creating routable maps, but it was an XSLT sheet and it totally choked on even 10 MB of input data, which is a tiny area. Don't worry, once I get something working I'll post a notification here. Maybe we can get people to "cache & map" like they "cache in, trash out", and improve the OpenStreetMap data in the process.
  9. You could just create those features as a transparent map and they should show together with the topo map. If you're going to go to the trouble of collecting those GPS traces, consider contributing them to OpenStreetMap, too. Soon I'm hoping to be able to create routable Garmin maps from OSM data, so there's giving back for you. You can currently create non-routable Garmin maps using mkgmap.
  10. I've heard that the National Parks 24k Topo maps support auto-routing on the trails, which is kind of cool, if not terribly useful.
  11. I don't know why not. I have the GPSMAP 162/168 Tide Points (available free from Garmin) loaded in my HCx, and they work fine.
  12. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but the 'H' series units use the SiRF Star III chipset not the Garmin chip that is used in the Nuvi and the Colorado. The H series does not use the Sirf chipset. It was rumored to use a MediaTek chipset (based on boot-up messages on early firmware) but they might actually use Garmin's (also rumored) chip. There's also the possibility that different runs of the units have different chipsets (but the chipsets would have to be very similar in order for that to work). Maybe Garmin collaborated with MediaTek to create their own chipset?
  13. I understand the beta cycle better than most, as a previous paid gig, I did contract work. They said I have the reverse midas touch... for those that have never heard about the midas touch, everything he touched turned to gold... They said I could break an anvil! Ah, yes, I have that, too. Everything I touch turns to s***, then takes my gold.
  14. It don't think it really has much to do with battery strength. The issue is probably more with the metal in the batteries that affect how the magnetic flux sensor reads. The earth's magnetic field is very weak, so a small amount of metal can affect the sensor. So, each battery might have slight variations that could affect the compass. Even the same batteries (if you're using rechargables) could conceivably affect it depending on how they're installed (there could be small axial variations so if you rotate the battery in the slot it might skew it).
  15. WGS84 is both a datum and a spheroid, but it is weird to have a datum of "none". You always have a datum--you have to start somewhere... Also, everyone settle down. The Colorado firmware has some incomplete functions, but compare it to the Triton firmware! At least it's generally functional and doesn't lock up all the time just trying to do common tasks. Expect Garmin to continue improving the firmware.
  16. There has been no overreaction!! The odometer of the HCX had big problems. - And the newest firmware still has problems. now it shows to much kilometers - but the calculation has been improved - still not corrected Have some patience. Garmin has shown that they're willing to work on the problem. It may take a few iterations, but the most recent firmware has gone a long way to fix it. Don't forget that the eTrex H series may be competing with the Colorado for developers' time.
  17. Sorry if I was harsh. There's been a lot of hype and overreaction about issues with the Vista HCx, when it's a very good unit that is a great choice for a lot of people. Certainly the chips are different and the GPS chipset firmware will necessarily be different, too. I'm guessing the vendor's reference implementation firmware was much better for Sirf than for the MediaTek (or whatever chip they're actually using now), so now Garmin's having to go back and fix it, which is likely not trivial. The signal analysis is probably done by DSP, which would be controlled by software (most likely that's what the GPS chipset software is--DSP code).
  18. The issues were with the odometer not reading at slow speeds. I think the current firmware on the HCX still won't read below 1.1mph. This normally isn't a big deal but if you are using detailed topos then you could be climbing steep mountains and going very slow. There also seems to be an issue with max speed being glitchy. Some people have done hikes where their max speed was reported as high a 90mph. So maybe you can check this stuff out. It's very possible that the Colorado could be using a newer version of the chip that addresses all of those issues. I was thinking that is was a hardware issue all along. I was watching the odometer this morning and I don't remember seeing any issues even at slow speeds, but I really wasn't looking for trouble either. I'll have to do a comparison between my 60cs and the Colorado tomorrow. GO$Rs TrailGators is misinformed (and widely spreading that misinformation). It's almost certainly not a hardware issue. The newest Vista HCx chipset update (2.6) fixed the slow speed threshold. I've seen speeds of 0.7 km/h reported, which is excruciatingly slow. The odometer bug was all tied up with the speed threshold, and now it almost seems like Garmin overdid it and the odometer is overreporting distance now. It seems to be a matter of fine-tuning anyway. The max speed issue was one person's report, and the circumstances surrounding it are not fully known. There are still some outstanding issues with the HCx such as correctly reporting total elevation change, but Garmin has a long history of fixing firmware bugs, so I'm confident these issues will be resolved.
  19. I got mine at Costco in a set of 8 AA and 4 AAA and some weird C and D sleeves (which I will never use) and a 4 bay charger for I think around $20. That didn't seem too expensive to me, but I didn't shop around at all. --Marky Hey, if you're not going to use those "weird sleeves", send them to me.
  20. Yes, but with the GPX file support, that's almost a moot point. If you're that into caching, you'll likely be a premium member and will be using GSAK to manage your GPX files. True, we don't yet know for sure how many caches it will hold, but it's probably more a function of memory than of some artificial limit. For "normal" usage of waypoints (to mark something of interest to you, one point at a time), 1000 is a lot. A GPS file has 500 caches. GSAK has a steep learning curve and it flat out doesn't do things the way I like. i'd rather load my GPXs straight to the GPS and load it up and skip GSAK. No muss no fuss. According to what Anders wrote earlier, you can just drop the GPX files onto the Colorado and you're set. No need for GSAK. I think he also said it supports multiple files, so there ya go. 500 at a time is 6 files for the 3000 caches you mentioned.
  21. I'm not confused. I was talking about Metroguide Europe, which has 2367 maps, and altogether takes slightly over 2 MB. I deselected a few map segments to get it below the 2 GB limit (but it was still over 2025 map segments). It successfully loaded to the microSD card and displayed on the GPS, but it had weird problems as I described above. Once I reduced the map segments down to 2017 (I tried 2022 as well), it worked fine. It's probably a structural issue with the number of map segments, so I wouldn't count on a firmware update to help you. A "Topo NT" might help, though--compressed and with larger segments. Although there's probably a practical limit to the number of entities in a single map segment, too, so that might not be possible (Way more topo contours than roads for a given area, except maybe Kansas ). The Colorado series seems to have much more horsepower for drawing maps so those practical limits are probably much higher for it.
  22. I think your experience with the flaky batteries makes that test less than authoritative... Probably some power blips caused those outliers in your speed & distance.
  23. I'd rather have the rechargable... Good batteries are expensive these days! And you can buy spares (the Motorola cell batteries) very cheaply on eBay. Why does everyone like the special batteries? I want everything to run on rechargable AAs (or AAAs)! If I'm traveling, I want to take 1 charger, not 7. Plus, then I can pull batteries out of one device to power another, in case of emergency. Standards are a good thing. Edit: botched the quote nesting.
  24. I don't know about that. I tried loading more than 2025 map segments on my Vista HCx via a card reader. It took the maps and displayed them, but it acted funny. It wouldn't route--claimed no roads at destination or something strange like that. Trying to find cities revealed strange names, incomplete indexes, etc. It occasionally failed to re-draw when scrolling. Once I dropped the map segments to below 2025 (I think I used 2017), it worked great.
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