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BigLarry

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Everything posted by BigLarry

  1. The Legend and Venture are missing sensors, which are available on the Vista models. The lack of a magnetic compass on the Legend and Venture will make them difficult for geocaching. When you stop moving to look at a heading, your indication will be wrong without a magnetic compass. The altimeter is very nice for determining position. When in remote areas with lots of hills. I find altitude is a great indicator of position, more useful than compass when used with a paper map - you just see where your altitude crosses the trail and you know exactly where you are on the paper map. You can get altitude from the satelites, but the error can be over 100', versus under 20' (a slow drift from air pressure changes) with the barometric altimeter, calibrated at the begining of the hike.
  2. The Vista is an excellent GPS. The higher resolution and more pixels in the B&W Vista compensates well for the lack of color that's on the color VistaCx. The two are about the same in terms of map readability. But I find my B&W Vista is much sharper, that also helps on other screens besides maps - like odometer, compass, waypoint lists,... You get expandable memory with the VistaCx, but I do fine with the 24 MB. I can store all street and topo maps for all of the S.F. Bay Area. It's all I need, and I swap out maps the once or twice a year I'm going elsewhere. The new SiRFIII chips, such as with the 60CSx, are much better receivers, but the Vista rarely looses signals anyway, usually only on the north side of very steep heavily wooded hills. The electronic compass on the Vista is very nice to have for geocaching, so the Vista can point to the cache when you're not moving. In software function, the Vista's got everything same as the 60CSx - altimeter, compass, tracking, maps. The Vista actually stores more waypoints and points per track than the 60CSx. I have three GPS units, including an eTrex Vista and the newer 60CSx. But I still primarily use the Vista for it's nice handheld size and ruggedness..... It's a great little unit that's way under-rated.
  3. BigLarry

    Sirf?

    I have the eTrex Vista, with the old receiver, and the new 60CSx with the SiRFIII receiver for months now. I carry them both and often compare tracks. They're usually right on top of each other. The new SiRFIII receiver is indeed MUCH better at getting a lock, almost without fail (only failed a couple times in cities with big buildings). The new SiRFIII receiver gets better reception by lower noise electronics and averaging a lot more signal, 200,000 times versus 10,000 times for instance. Although the reception is MUCH better the new SiRFIII, and generally gives much better tracks which is why I carry it, the old receivers weren't that bad. Although the new SiRFIII receivers are hands down much better, there's three mitigating issues for the old receivers on my Vista, which is why I still use it.: 1. The Vista doesn't really loose lock that often, only a few percent of the time, and only for a minute or two. The problems usually occur on north facing steep hills with thick trees. 2. When you get a good signal, which is most all the time, I get the same accuracy from both old and new receivers. 3. In places where the Vista is having intermittent reception, it is accurate at the points it receives. Whereas the new SiRFIII receiver always shows having reception and indicates fair accuracy, it's sometimes off course by 100s to 1000s of feet. I have numerous clear examples of this happening. So don't be so excited about getting reception, which may be worse than no reception if the GPS is lying to you to save face. Edit: I wanted to be clear that the 60CSx showing a big error in position (while falsly indicating a low error) only happens on very rare occasions in areas of weak signal. In general, the 60CSx is only slightly more accurate, but most importantly has much less drop-outs than the Vista.
  4. I use both Garmin MapSource Topo and NG TOPO! I find the MapSource Topo has the most features and the easiest to use. The data is vector based and can be transfered to the computer, making it very fast to use. It also has a lot more editing features for track point editing and other things. It's especially nice for quickly flipping between roads and Topo maps to find different points. You get all of the US for the same price as one state with NG. National Geographic is prettier, as it uses pictures of the USGS maps at 5 different scales. I use it mostly for making pretty maps to carry around or post for others. The inexpensive (~$25) 3D add-on is very worthwhile, and allows you to make very pretty 3D plots of your tracks, and do a motion simulation of your path through the mountains. NG also allows you to make a plot of your altitude versus distance from just the track information, and calculate net altitude gain, whereas Garmin needs the altitude from the GPS. I think NG is on the way out, as it's limited in capability, high prices, and many web based services like Motion Based are doing the same thing for near free with more features, like satellite images.
  5. I've read the account in detail out here in the West, and having gone to Oregon myself many times. As I read the accounts, I was thinking there's three points where a GPS would have saved Mr. Kim and his family. Many other things could have helped too. That's the nature of freak accidents. But I'm limiting this discussion to GPS value here. Mr. Kim only had a big low-detail Oregon map with him. He saw the short cut over the mountains after he missed his first exit. He didn't know the pass was difficult for 4-wheel drive in good weather. Worse, the main road turns off at a point and the wrong logging road is actually bigger and easily looks like the main road. The signs were probably obscured by the heavy snow at that time. Locals up in the hills said they turn around people all the time who go up that wrong road. Accounts from his wife indicate they never knew they were on the wrong road, even after a week of being stranded. Walking for help, after over a week of stranded without aid, seemed a good decision to me. But he went the wrong way because he was badly confused about his position. Worse, wrongly thinking he was near a place to get help, he went off the road into a chasm. I find it odd an editor at a tech magazine like CNET didn't have a GPS. I had two (Quest and 60CSx) with me when I went to Oregon, and my 60CSx had all the Oregon Topo and Street maps, which I flip between all the time in my bike trips. So I suspect he'd likely been helped by a GPS at three places: 1. Not missing the first intended exit over the mountains, allowing him to stay on a major road. 2. Not making a wrong turn on the very confusing logging road in the snow. 3. Going for help in a wrong direction because of being confused about his real position. A GPS will NOT help in one respect: A computer route or GPS would not have told Mr. Kim those local roads are trecherous traps at that time of year. By routing them over those nasty roads, the GPS could just as likely lead someone into trouble. Those roads have killed many others over the years. I think it's clear those roads need better warning signs at the entry off the main road.
  6. My 60CSx Marine menu only has four Alarms that can be turned on, with distances that can be set: Anchor Drag Off Course Deep Water Shallow Water I don't see a "Speed Filter" on the 60CSx setup menu for the marine icon.
  7. I have a watch that adjusts itself within milliseconds to the atomic clocks in Colorado via their radio wave transmisission. (Of course, I do have to set the time zone on the watch as it doesn't know my location like a GPS should. ) This watch will match my GPS exactly, flipping at the the same time as best I can tell (0.1 seconds?). In any case, there's no 14 second difference in the two times. Whatever time reference they use, they're synchronized.
  8. I can sit on top of an open hill with my Vista and 60CSx, both with good reception, and watch the 60CSx collect miles while the Vista is properly stopped. Also, at the end of a bike ride, the Vista will have the proper moving and rest time (as compared to my bike computer), but the 60CSx will improperly indicate a lot of the time that I was stopped as moving. The difference on a ride with 4 hour ride with 1 hour of breaks is typically another 15-20 minutes of "bonus" wandering with the 60CSx. Another difference is that the total climb indicated by the 60CSx data field is low by about 12-15%. I calibrated both the Vista and 60CSx on a steady climb (with no dips along the way). I accurately knew the elevation at the bottom and top from topo maps and other sources. Also, the barometric altimeters on the Vista and 60CSx agreed to within a couple feet on the 1100' climb (0.2% agreement!). But whereas my Vista and Motion Based both got 1100' climb, even using uploaded altitude data from the 60CSx, the indicated climb on the 60CSx itself was under 950', which is mathematically impossible. The 60CSx software needs some tweaks to recognize when it's not moving, and to adjust the total climb data. I waiting for the update.
  9. I use an eTrex Vista with the weaker receiver, and a 60CSx in my pack when travelling. I noted the eTrex Vista sometimes looses signal, especially on the north side of steep wooded hills. In these situations, the 60CSx keeps signal, and indicates a low error. Yet the 60 CSx track will sometimes wander even 100s of feet. So the 60 CSx may say it's getting signal and accuracy to make you happy, when in fact it's just doing a bold face lie. The GPS sitting a desk in an office could be one of the weak reception situations that has lots of wander.
  10. Yes, with MapSource on the computer, just swap over to the other set of maps and continue to select map regions using the tool. Then download all of them at the same time. On the GPS, you can hide or show each map set (Topo or City Nav) as you choose via a menu item in the map setup screen. You can only show one map set at a time. Streets take priority over Topo.
  11. Yea, it's true time zone boundaries change over time - like roads, POIs, and other data they're able to include in their map updates.
  12. That band is a good thing as it's saved my eTrex Vista in countless times it's been thrown off my bike. But the rubber got a bit ripped and became a little bit loose, especially where it'd ripped, after more than two years of hard wear. It ripped first where I'd lifted the flap for connecting the serial port. I had it fixed under Garmin's like-new repair for around $100. But I had other issues like a scratched and chipped screen, sticky buttons, and intermittent power off from a loose connection. So I figured it was time for a "refresh" anyway. For $100, I got my money's worth for two years of hard abuse.
  13. BigLarry

    Selling a Garmin

    You can't do that. Garmin won't let you release or reuse the lock code on a new GPS. But you can buy more codes for a nominal fee. Call up Garmin, often they're sympathetic and help customers with a discount or something in such situations. Oh, and you might as well sell the Vista with the maps on it. It won't help you to erase them.
  14. I found it amazing the Garmin GPS software doesn't automatically set the time zone for you (at least as an option). After all, doesn't the GPS know where you are? It can figure out day/night. Why not time zone?
  15. Glad it worked out. For any problem with a Garmin GPS, the first response should always be to call Garmin. They're really great in their customer support. I also have had them repair things for me for free or a heavy discount, so I should have suggested calling them first.
  16. The knob that's shown screws into the back threaded hole of the GPS. You put the knob into the top hole on the plastic handlebar mount. Then clip in the bottom. The mount may be acceptable if road riding on smooth roads. For mountain biking, all my friends have had it fail on rough terrain and the inevitable accidents when mountain biking. The GPS flys off and the GPSMAP60 series is especially prone to having it's protruding antennae and buttons break. It's happened several times for me and my friends in just a few months of riding. I've seen some mountain bikers use tie wraps around the bottom of the 60CSx to help make sure the GPS stays on. Others jury rig a mount on the handlebar stem where it's more protected. But even if the mount is secure, the battery bounce (power off from vibration) has been a problem for some with the 60CSx. One friend just returned the 60CSx and instead got the eTrex VistaCx, which is much more rugged (no antenna to snap off and buttons to break, no battery bounce). He had major problems with the ruggedness of the 60CSx, but zero problems with the VistaCx. Only a rare drop out in signal because of the weaker receiver in the VistaCx. I personally just use my old B&W eTrex Vista on the bars - many crashes over three years and keeps on ticking. The VistaCx has the same software and screen pixels as the 60CSx, lower price, and more compact - only issue is lack of the superior SiRFIII receiver in the 60CSx. So for recording accurate tracks in poor reception (usually thick woods on steep north facing hills), I carry a second 60CSx carefully wrapped in my camelbak pack. But even in the pack I snapped off two buttons in a crash the first week I owned it. I now wrap it more carefully. Fortunately, Garmin has a very good customer service - they fixed it free even though I said it was my fault from a crash.
  17. You can't easily fix it yourself. If you're close to being under warranty, Garmin is generous in their waranty interpetation and will usually repair it free. If you're way out of warranty, you can get a "like new" repair for $135. (See here.) If your unit is old, the repair will refurbish a lot of things. I did this Garmin repair for my 2 year old eTrex Vista and it was indeed like new. The repair fixed several issues at once: badly scratched glass, sticky buttons, and worn out rubbber on the sides. It's perhaps 2/3 the cost of new, but gets you a like new unit. I've had a year of good use since, and it's working like new still. For the intense use I put it through on my handlebars, doing this repair every two years isn't that bad. You instead may want to just put the money into a new 60CSx or 60Cx. You're halfway there.
  18. The eTrex have a patch antennae that works much better when the screen is facing straight up at the sky. If you get a handlebar mount, this is the correct position, and you can use it while riding too. The handlebar mount also moves it away from your body, which will block satellite signal. Your overall reception will dramatically improve, and you can read your GPS while riding. Don't worry about the eTrex being damaged by your riding with it on the handlebars. I have an eTrex Vista on the handlebars for 3 years through all sorts of nasty mountain biking with frequent big hit through rock gardens and fast downhill. My frame has broken three times, as well as many, many crashes. The eTrex survived all fine, with just the normal wear and tear.
  19. Trip & Waypoint Manager is just the base Mapsource software for those who didn't buy any maps. It allows you work with, and to upload and download waypoints, routes, and tracks. That's all. You don't need the Trip & Waypoint Manager if you already have Mapsource working with your CN8. Updating may just give you a newer or older Mapsource version. Your maps won't be affected by the version of Mapsource you load. You select which map set to show and use separately via an option box in Mapsource. Go to Garmin and update your Mapsource software any time you want. It's free and worth updating from time to time. They added some nice track editing features recently. There's a "Check for sofware update" button under the Help Menu that updates automatically.
  20. Yep, they did the same thing for me when I repaired my 60CSx after cracking off a couple buttons in a fall when brand new. Even though I admitted it was my fault, they fixed the GPS for free and added the free swag of the Topo maps, a carry case (so it wouldn't happen again), another SD card,... What a company! I also already had the Topo maps, so I gave them to a friend. Considering they're $68 new on Amazon, and not protected so you can copy from a friend at will (if you're willing to break the law), you may not be able to get a $50 price. We'll see. That Garmin is giving out so many Topo maps for free, I suspect something much better and new is coming soon (with a copy protect this time). The Topo has not been updated in many years, with data that's decades old. It's only useful because the mountains, streams, and lakes don't move too fast. But the 160' contour resolution and trail and name accuracy could use some major improvement. I'd buy a new improved version in an instant.
  21. It's just Amazon trying to offer their customers different options. In this case, you get to choose the price you prefer to pay - your choice really. (I've noted this before, I think Amazon just put the same product in their system twice by accident.)
  22. Yes, I upgraded to CN8 a month or two ago. The map sets are smaller than CN7, but larger than my City Select v6. The "upgrade" has much less points of interest, which is a disappointment. But some roads were improved a little, and the exit signs now reflect properly.
  23. Garmin's new color screens are perfect and work great in sunlight with a nice back light as well. I'd agree that the more sun shining on it, the better they look. The colors remain bright and delightful, not faded, in the brightest sun. It's amazing. The color scheme can be changed, but the default behavior changes from a pleasing yellow background to a very dark blue background automatically at sunset, and back at sunrise. The high quality of Garmin's color screens also make me wonder why cell phones and other portable devices don't use this fabulous technology that's available. How much more could these screens be these days? Garmin sells the whole Vista Cx for around $200, the cost of a cell phone.
  24. I've found the eTrex line to be one of the most rugged of Garmin's line. Others like the 60C and 60CSx die in weeks on the handlebars of my bike, whereas the eTrex Vista has lated 3 years with many, many tumbles in the trees and rocks and down the road. If you like your old eTrex, you can get it refurbished at Garmin to like-new condition for $59. See here. I did this repair for my eTrex Vista and indeed it was like new (in fact, I think it really was new, just without the markup). The screen scratches were removed, the rubber side was restored, and the sticky buttons worked great again. If you want to upgrade a little to something with a better screen and a little memory for maps, the eTrex Legend might be good - around $140. The Foretrex works like your eTrex, but on your wrist. Its screen is smaller and not much advantage overall. See Garmin's Comparsion charts here: http://www.garmin.com/outdoor/compare.jsp
  25. BigLarry

    garmin 60csx

    Several GPS units, and especially the 60CSx, will shut off intermittently from high vibration. This is because the battery looses contact very briefly when it's bounced. Even a momentary loss of power will cause the GPS to turn off. The problem is called "battery bounce". It can be improved or fixed by: 1. Use of name brand batterries that fit better in the compartment (do not use discount or store batteries) 2. Put extra paper behind the cover so it fits very tight. 3. Place flexible foam behind the electrical contacts so they have more pressure on the battery. It's also possible that some internal connection went bad and causing intermittent connection. If the above doesn't work, contact Garmin for repair.
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