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Everything posted by toddm

  1. I have an older version of metroguide (v3 from 2001 or so) and I'm curious how much better the newer city navigator 8 software is and if it's worth upgrading to. The map size issue I've heard of in the past is not a big issue as I have large cards in both my cx units. I have run across places on trips and such that are obviously new developments or new hotels etc. where my older software does not have data on, but it's never really been a problem yet. (famous last words I know). Just curious if the newer maps have more detail, or other features available. Thanks in advance Todd
  2. Yep, as others have said pretty much just the barometer and electronic compass. The barometer is nice if you are in a place where seeing weather come in due to terrain is not easy, or if weather tends to come in quickly. I know watching the trend on my suunto watch has saved my butt a couple times on the trail from incoming bad weather. So if you use the function, it can be a pretty nice feature. As for as accurate altimeter readings, it's probably somewhat more accurate than the gps readings if you have a known benchmark to calibrate to every day. In some places I've been the gps altitudes are very good and in some places they have been really bad. Of course the barometer altitude is all out the window if you have a weather front come in too, so neither is perfect. As to the electronic compass, after testing my 76csx out quite a bit I pretty much consider their 2 axis electronic compass near useless for anything aside a very very general direction, such as "what way is east". The unit is way way too sensitive to tilt. They now have a "hold level" warning if you tilt the unit too much, but I can get as much as a 80 degree swing in the indicated heading by tilting up or down between the hold level warnings. Granted by the time the hold level warnings come on its obvious you are really tilting the unit, but even trying to be careful with the tilt it's not uncommon for me to see 20 degree swings in the indicated heading. The warning should either come on with less tilt, or they should have built in a bubble level similar to what suunto or other electronic compasses use. Better yet use a third axis compass that is not affected by tilting. For even rough navigation those kinds of errors are totally unacceptable. You can go buy a $15 budget mirror compass from silva or suunto etc. and be much better off than the electronic compass garmin has.
  3. The screen brightness issue is interesting. It could just be that the etrex series components are different. I know my 76csx at 100% brightness is about the same as my venture cx at about 20% of it's max setting. The other 60csx and 76csx units I've seen have been about the same with some variation but still none of them come even close to what the venture cx screen brightness is capable of. However I don't know that this is really an issue. Even the 76csx at half brightness is too bright at night, in full sunlight the color screens are easy to read with no backlight at all. I suppose in those times of the day at dawn dusk the extra bright backlight might come in handy. In addition before I had the venture cx to compare it to, I never though the 76csx needed a brighter backlight. I have a whole list of things I'd like to see garmin fix or add to the 76csx before a screen brightness improvement. It could also be that the extra unit power is going to the serif chip, or they are trying to improve runtime. Though I would guess their run times are listed without using any backlight at all, so that's probably not the case.
  4. Garmin has given me great customer service as well. It's one of the biggest factors that keeps me buying their products over the years. One thing they should address though is making a bit more room in their battery compartments. I also broke a spring in my 76csx and the reason is you really have to jam high capacity AA rechargeable batteries in there, which means you have to either pry them out with something, or beat on the unit with the battery door off to remove them. I suppose the rechargeable batteries are pushing the dimensions to get as much capacity as possible. There is enough of a battery length difference from a energizer rechargeable AA compared to a rayovac alkaline AA that you can easily see it just comparing the batteries next to each other. It may be they are keeping things tight to ensure battery contact with rough handling. I can remember having to put extra foam into my legend case to keep battery contact when I used it on the mountain bike.
  5. That's kind of what I figured, and frankly pathetic usability from garmin. The active log trick is interesting but useless if you need more than one trail on your gps. Running back to my labtop ever time I want to ride a new trail and upload an active log file is a joke. It just amazes me that one of the major features of a gps is to make trails you can come back to and use later, yet the actual ability to make a detailed tracklog and use it later on the GPS is so limited. 500 points might be enough for a short trail, but for a 30 mile mountain bike ride thats only one point every 100 meters or so, which preserves little to no trail detail. It's enough for general directional navigation but that's about it. The gps resolution is capable of so much more it's too bad it can't use it.
  6. Hello all, Is there any way to access a track log that is longer than 500 points on a 76csx? I know I can take a long track log say 2000 points from a mountain bike ride and bring it into trackmaker etc. and use a tracklog reducer but a lot of detail is lost in the process. Is there any way to save a *gpx file to the SD card and then access that track on the gps? I tried putting a *.gpx tracklog on the card, but I can't seem to access that tracklog aside to see it's there or delete it. Is the only way to get more than 500 points from a track to break the large tracklog up into smaller chunks of 500 points? Which really gets annoying as you not only have to change tracks on the same trail, but you only get 20 of them so you can only get 3-4 long trails on the gps. So annoying, garmin really should try building in some memory card features, there's no reason why we should not be able to easily save and access waypoints, tracks, routes on the card without silly arbitrary limits on the number. Thanks in advance Todd
  7. One of our instructors used a 76cs in Antartica last year for field work and was very unimpressed with it's performance. However it was probably the mentioned LCD issue, not a true battery issue. It would be interesting to see if the non-color units fair better in extreme cold. I say this because thinking back I can remember him saying that other battery operated items they used in the field digital cameras etc. satalite phone, seemed to work acceptably but the GPS unit went blank within minutes, even when the units were kept in a coat until needed for measurements. On the other hand, I don't know what the enviornmental limits garmin lists on their gps's but I'd be willing to bet it's not -25F which was probably their average field work temps. I believe alkaline and Lithium non-rechargeable batteries do better than any rechargeable battery (nicad, nimh, or lion) so you might try a non-rechargeable lithium battery and see if that helps, if not I bet it's a screen issue not a battery issue.
  8. The custom field pages would be sweet, that is another thing I'd love to see. The user should be able to create a page similar to the Trip data page only with whatever fields they want to use, and they should bring back the option to put 3 data fields across so you can get more data on a screen as they do with the 76s. That way you can made a data/info page for hiking, or biking, or driving, etc. because going through and changing all the fields manually on the single page for different uses is just annoying. I think one of the biggest problems with the topos is not that they are old, because many topo's you buy at the USGS etc. are that old. It's just that if you are going to put all 24 states of topo data on 2 CD's they have to cut out a lot of detail, and even the good 100K topo maps are not that useful on a small scale.
  9. Things I don't like: While you can mess around with POI's it's a hassle, there's no reason Garmin could not make unlimited waypoints and store them on the card. In addition it's a further hassle if you have mixed waypoints and POI's esp. if you want to bring that data into arcgis etc. Also you can't create a POI in the field on the gps. With data cards now there's no reason to have any type of limits on the number of data points or waypoints in a route or track, or in general the number of waypoints, routes, and tracks etc. it all should be based on available or better yet user specified allocated memory to each feature. The compass, as someone else said some people love it, other's hate it, myself I think it's pretty well useless. Mine does not seem to be as bad with wanting constant re-calibration or just shutting off as some are reported to be. The real issue is the garmin electronic compass is way way too sensative to tilt, you can easily get massive error with just a slight amount of tilt in the unit, way before the "hold level" warning comes on. They should have used a 3rd axis stabilized compass. Also the night setting map background is not a true black, it's a dark blue, it would be a lot easier to read at night on a true black background, contrast would be improved. In addition I would like to be able to change the color of my routes on the map, you can do it with tracks, but not routes. This would be nice esp. for street nav because the default magenta route color is not that different from some of the major road colors, being able to set it to a contrasting color would be nice. I would also agree the garmin topo maps leave a LOT to be desired for certain places, it just depends on where you are, some places I go they are great, and others they are horrible. However their data for the most part is on par with 100K topo maps and usually gets the job done. It would be nice to see a state series with 24K data quality though. Also this is probalby nit picking but they could add a little more room in the battery compartment, alkaline batteries fit fine, but I notice my rechargeables fit VERY tight, in fact my 76csx is on it's way to garmin right now because one of the battery tabs broke. This is probably because the rechargeable battery companies are pushing the size limits as far as they can to try and tweak a little more volume for extra capacity. That said the runtime is good, signal performance is amazing, probably the best unit on the market right now for a reasonable price anyway. If they fixed or gave us everything we wouldn't buy the next model
  10. Often I use a brunton geo transit in the field, however it does cost more than most gps's and it's not really a great map compass. I have used a brunton 8099 but don't like it for a couple of reasons. First the rubber "bottom" has to be taken off so the baseplate can be used on a map. This is a pain cause then it's dangling from the compass lanyard, worse yet there are about 5 cards under the baseplate, that have info on them, also dangling from the lanyard. There is useful info on them, how to make height measurements, a transparent map scale etc. but again they are always in the way. Second back to the cards, one of the cards sits under the baseplate and is the "scale" for the inclination readings, so if the card is not perfectly square under the compass your inclination values are wrong. Also the rubber baseplate when attached to the compass interferes with opening the cover to do sightings etc. and there are no luminous markings on the dials. It's a nice compass and the cards have a lot of useful info and it's nice they stay in one package, but it's also annoying to have all that tied to the compass when you are trying to use it on a map. That said you could remove the rubber base and cards and all you'd loose is the inclination function, but for me that's a important function. I do like the circle over circle alignment it makes it super easy to take sightings and such. It's a compass I thought would be great untill I actually got it out in the field and used it. It's ergonomics are horrible. The ranger 530 looks like a nice unit, but again it's hard to tell till you start using it. The tried and true military verson is a great compass as well, the tritium dial is super nice at night.
  11. Another one to watch for is I've seen where a rebate will require you to include the "original receipt" not a copy and the warranty for the product also specifically requires the original receipt not a copy. So in that case you could (if the company decided to be picky, most will accept a copy) be loosing your warranty for the rebate. Best to check with the company though if that's the wording of the rebate and the warranty. As everyone has said, keep good records, copies of the rebate you sent in, the receipt, who and when you talked to if you are trying to get something fixed etc. They also know that most stores will not accept a product for return if the UPC symbol is gone off the box. Which in part is a good thing, otherwise you'd have people buying stuff, filling out the rebate and returning it. But once you fill out the rebate, your only recourse is to send it in to the company for repair, it's a good idea to put off doing the rebate for awhile to make sure the product isn't defective, as long as the rebate has a good grace period. I also think this is why you see a lot of rebates now with very short time spans, a week or two tops. Also for those having problems it's usually much faster to get things done if you contact the company that makes the product, most farm out their rebate stuff to other companies, and getting ahold of and fixing issues with them is usually a headache. Rebates really are a joke, it would be interesting to see how many people rebates convince to purchase a product, and either don't send in the rebate, or their rebate isn't "verified" and they don't bother to correct it. Canon is horrible for this, the rebates take forever and many are stalled or listed with things missing or incorrectly filled out. I've never had too much hassle with rebates, and I honestly find them kinda fun, because with most it's 6-12 weeks before you get the rebate check, and by then I've totally forgot about the rebate and it's like getting a present in the mail
  12. As other's have said I've found that if you have direct sun shining on the unit, it's very easy to see the screen. However in brighter conditions and even overcast without sun directly on the screen it's hard to see even with the backlight on. A give and take I suppose but I have found I have to use the backlight a lot more with the color units than I did with the non color 76s I had, which really lowers the effective runtime.
  13. Nice to see they added the track function to the non-beta update. However disappointing that they did not address some of the more major problems, such as the WAAS and regaining satalite lock problems, I'm starting to think with multiple updates now and no fix for these major issues that the problem may not be fixable with firmware. I would think these issues would be a major priority to fix if they could. I like my 76csx overall, but I consider a gps unit that can't regain satalite lock without being power cycled defective.
  14. Yep, I've noticed that most of my nimh batteries (energizer, duracell, etc) if they are not used within a couple weeks of being charged they are pretty low in charge. As someone else said nimh loose around 1.5% of their charge a day, however this does not mean that in ~66 days they are empty, it's 1.5% of what's left per day, so 98.5% after day one, 1.5% of 98.5% the next day etc. However it still means that after 14 days best case you have about 80% of the total charge. That's assuming a perfect world it's probably closer to 70% in real life, about 50% after a month, about 30% after two months. Lion batteries are even worse, I've read anywhere from 3-5% a day, nimh and lion have better capacity, and lighter weight, and the ability to supply higher current, but nicad batteries were more tolerent of charging abuse, cold weather, and they held their charge longer. However they used toxic cadmium and just don't offer the run time we want. Certainly some cells and chargers are better than others, as others have said I've always seen good things about the powerEX cells On the plus side with 15 minute chargers out now for nimh cells it's no big deal to charge them up before needed them if they have sat around for more than a couple weeks. Using a 15 min rapid charger to top off batteries with say 95% of their charge left might be bad, I'm not sure how well the charger can pick up on the voltage drop, or more of a flattening with nihm, if the charge is already that high, probably depends on the charger. A lot of times if I know I'm going to need some AA's and they have been sitting around for a couple weeks instead of slapping them in the 15min charger I'll put them in a 8 hour charger for a couple hours to top them off. That said even with discharged cells I've seen those 15min chargers make nimh cells so hot you can't touch them, and this one even had a fan on it to keep them cool, and supposidly had thermal shut off if the battery got too hot, I'd hate to see what their idea of too hot was
  15. I myself while I love my legend because it's small, compact, and simple would not buy a etrex sized unit until they get the SiRF III or some other SiRF chip version in them. The reception is so superior in the SiRF units that it's not even funny. My 76csx crushes, my legend in reception. There's still places I take my legend due to the size but, it's actually annoying to use now because it won't read in a pack etc. or even in a pocket so everytime in the field I need a sample waypoint I have to pull it out of the pocket, let it lock, let the accuracy get to an acceptable level, then set a waypoint. I can definately see wanting a etrex sized unit, but wait for one with the SiRF chip.
  16. I prefer the 76 series because of the button placement, to me it's much easier to use the 76 model with one hand. With the buttons so low on the 60 series for me personally (read I know others that feel just the opposite) it was harder to hang onto the unit while manipulating them with one hand and it was more clumsy. I can cradle the center unit in one hand and use my thumb to press the needed buttons with the 60 series I always felt like I had to cradle the very bottom of the unit which seemed harder to do/hang onto or use two hands. The floating is alright, for me though all it would probably mean is I'd get the extra torchure of watching it float downstream/river faster than I could catch it, and that someone else would probably find a free gps along the shore That said it's an interesting rebate, $100 off is a lot this early after a new product is released. I wonder if the 76 sales are that much lower than the 60 (I have noticed the 60 seems more popular, I think a lot of people see "marine" with the 76 and figure it's not for them). If the rebate was off the 60/76 series I'd be worried they were already dumping stock to make way for new units. Function wise now in the "x" series they are almost identical if not identical, the 76 comes with a larger card, but memory is cheap. Before the x units the 76 had a better basemap and more built in non-expandable memory so it was a larger factor then.
  17. Actually I could easily see a multitude of users trying to access that feature thinking it has to do with other memory card functions, not just data transfer when hooked up to a PC, especially since it's a feature not covered in the manual. All the manual mentions are where the microSD card goes and that maps can magically be stored on it with a PC cable, and of course there's no instruction/manual suppliment for the new software versions and their features on the download page. As the units didn’t ship with any user memory card functions, it’s no wonder users are confused as to what these new menus do. Many devices have menus that access and allow users to interact with stored memory and memory card functions without being hooked up to a PC. You won't find any digital camera or PDA's locking up because you enter a memory card function. Heck you can use most digital cameras without even having a memory card in the camera, who would ever do that, that's crazy, and yet they thought of it and programmed their device correctly to handle it. Garmin is still trying to figure out how to properly implement a memory card system in a gps unit and that isn’t the customers fault. It's poor implementation on their part to not allow for termination of that screen without a power cycle. Not as unforgivable as their inability to recover a gps signal once lost, but along the same lines. Nothing you do with a properly programmed product short of something silly in test mode, which the customer should never using in the first place under any reason aside guided tech instruction, should require a power cycle to fix. Look at it this way, if you pressed play on your VCRor DVD player without a tape in it, would you expect to have to drag out your entertainment center and unplug and replug in the unit it before you could use it again? Yet why would anyone ever press play without a tape in there... If they can figure that out on a $75 vcr a $500 gps unit should be able to handle it. If you try and access your cdrom in your computer without a disc in it do you have to reboot it? I bet not. If you try to format that same non-existent disc in said drive do you have to reboot? I bet not. If you try and dial up a connection without your modem being plugged into the phone line do you have to reboot? Nope. Things are programmed against user error all the time, it’s the rule not the exception
  18. Hopefully you don't get the same canned response I get when I email them questions or recommendations, I also made several recommendations and had some other questions on if the memory card would become more functional for waypoints/routes etc. I've gotten the same one with a different name at the bottom 3-4 times now. I asked them if they had any new progress on the signal loss problem and got this simple canned response: It would be interesting to know what actually happened to my email, as I've yet to ever hear back from anyone actually repsonding to my questions/concerns. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Thank you for contacting Garmin International E-Mail Support. The highest complement a customer can give a company is to be concerned enough to offer suggestions for improvement of a product. We appreciate you comments & opinions regarding our products. I have forwarded your email to the design team as they are always interested on customer feedback. Many of the comments/suggestions we receive (such as yours) are often evaluated towards potential implementation into future GARMIN products or current unit software releases. We cannot guarantee that what you have suggested will be occur, however we do appreciate you passing along your opinions. If you have any further questions or concerns about this issue please contact me by replying to this E-Mail. For new issues or concerns you can contact Garmin Product Support at 1-800-800-1020 or via E-Mail. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  19. Heh, actually for my use on a 76csx a microSD (transflash) would be required and I think they are at a max of 1gig that I've seen, but no doubt higher capacity will come. I am actually looking to put higher resolution topo's on my 512 card for certain areas and I have a feeling that 512 meg is not going to seem like nearly as much once a person starts putting 24K topos on it.
  20. As other's have said more is usually better. Sure at some point it's overkill but it's hard to say longterm. For example I'm planning a trip that will hit ND, MT, WY, ID, UT, CO, NM, AZ and on a 512 meg card I was able to put topo and metroguide data for all the above states, and still have 100 meg left. That said had the 1 gig cards been available I'd have got one. You can always not use the space, but if you need it and don't have it you are out of luck. Also if you had say the national parks topo which has 24K maps on it and as I understand it they take up a lot of memory in comparison. If I wanted to I could fill up a 512meg card even a 1 gig card probably, but for most my uses so far the 512 is more than enough. It makes me wonder how I ever survived with just 8 meg in my legend. In fact I used it on a field trip the other day and was annoyed quickly by how little of the 4 days route of road and topo maps I could get into 8 meg. Also I'm hoping that now that large memory cards are the standard for gps units, that the mapping software will get better/more detailed. The topo maps could be a lot better and more detailed than they currently are. It also brings up an interesting point in that lets say you get a 2 gig card, I don't think they are available yet, but certainly sometime soon they will be. I would be willing to bet you could almost get metroguide and topo maps for all of the US on one.....so at some point I'd think the gps companies might worry about that as an issue, people buying large memory cards loading them up with maps for the whole of the US and selling them. Also on another front, if garmin gets their stuff together so you can store waypoints/routes/tracks etc. on the memory card directly, those things are probably not big memory hogs but thats a whole new type of functionality garmin users have not used yet, and is another allocation of memory space. Just think if your waypoints, tracks, routes etc. were only limited by memory card size. I also wonder if garmin is not saving this little tidbit of a feature for future models to replace the "x" series. As other's have said, if the price is reasonable, bigger is better. Better to have the space and not need it, than need it and not have it.
  21. Is there a simple (read free) way to convert a garmin mapsource route to a track? I could find tons of info on going the other way but very little and nothing that worked for me to go from a route/waypoints to a track. I don't mind having several routes, but the part I don't like is having 1000 waypoints to go with them. Thanks in advance.
  22. It is intersting that many new gagets with nice LCD screens are having serious scratching problems. The ipod nano for instance seems to be much softer and easier to scratch than my old ipod screen. In fact I put a scratch in the screen with a microfiber cleaning cloth, never seen that happen before. I think it's as others have said, it's a way to promote overpriced screen protectors and cases, which profit margins no doubt are huge on. While I agree that it's certainly worth the $10-20 to get a case and a screen protector for a $400 gps unit, I find it extremly unlikely that these companies are unable to find a material that is more scratch resistant than the stuff they are using. Some of these products can be looked at wrong and scratched. I have old cell phones and calculators that were tossed around and abused and never really ended up scratched badly. That said I've been using heavy duty clear packaging tape for years on LCD screens, it may not be quite as durable as the helicopter blade cover stuff, but I've almost never had a scratch get through the tape, and it's more clear than a lot of the screen protectors I've seen. It's a little fussy to put on, but if you do it right, it's nearly impossible to tell its there, and $5 will buy you a lifetime supply. I've also heard very good things about the novus line of scratch removal products, I believe they make 3 grades that you can get in a kit as well. I can remember when Oakley sunglasses first came out they were the standard for ease of scratching, everyone complained about them, but a lot of these new LCD screens make my oakleys those look almost scratch proof. It would be interesting to see how say a quartz or mineral crystal glass would affect pricing and durability of smaller LCD screen covers. Scratch resistance would be much much greater, but cost for larger screen covers might be high, and impact resistance may suffer over a larger surface area, but mineral crystal covers are still the material of choice for high end watch glass covers that have to endura harsh enviornments. I suppose weight could be an issue, it would no doubt add some weight.
  23. That is unfortunate, I had hoped they would add more data card features/functionality not take them away.
  24. Interesting that they still have not addressed the units inability to regain satelite lock after loosing it without powering the unit off/on, this should have been one of the highest priority fixes as soon as it was discovered. I wonder if it's a hardware issue, that is not fixable with firmware or if they are just having problems finding a good fix. It's good they addressed some of the issues we have talked about but there's still a lot left to do.
  25. Oddly enough after doing a hard reset and doing a dozen or so long term tests with auto calibrate on, I have yet to be able to get the "----" I used to get to repeat itself. Odd for sure, and I doubt it's a fix the problem will probably eventally return. However at least temporarily on my unit it seems to have fixed the issue, before it would happen every time within 15 minutes of starting logging. I also wonder about the accuracy of the altimeter itself. Case in point I'm currently about 12 hours into a altimeter tracking session. I set my Suunto vector at 910' and the same for my 76csx and have been letting them run in the house overnight. The Suunto admittedly has only 10' incriments but it's max recorded elevation is 910, and min is 900. So even if you figure 5' either way from those values it's a max swing of 20' The garmin has had a min. value of 887' and a max value of 943' for a 12 hour swing of almost 60'. 3x the error/change of the suunto unit. The odd part is the pressures indicated by both units are nearly identical, but over time it seems as if the 76csx creeps upward. I'm wondering if the auto calibration ends up with a increasing error over time due to rounding up etc. So I'm going to run a similar test to see if the same trend happens with auto calibration off. For giggles I did several compass tests, I took 10 sight and go headings of a landmark, making sure to keep my position the same each time, and doing a compass calibration between each measurement. I figured this would compound the possible error of tilt during calibration and taking the measurement. I tried as best I could go keep the unit level during the calibration and the sight n go measurements, but I was not overly anal about it, I eyeballed it as level and took a measurement just as you'd have to in the field. It was also over level ground so I did not have to tilt the unit to make the measurements. My reference heading on the landmark was taken with a brunton geotransit, admittedly overkill for the comparison but easily capable of sub 1 degree measurements. 10 sightings were taken, Average was 278 degrees, but ranged from 277.0 - 278.5 degrees. I also did this test with a brunton 8099 and came up with an average of 277.5 Magnetic declination was selected for both units so the gps given heading should be indentical to the reference heading, as I set the declination on the brunton to that which the garmin used. The average for 10 tests using the garmin sight and go was 271 degrees, the max value being 278 and the min value being 267. Not horrible, but still a swing of 11 degrees with the average being 6-7 degrees off of the true magnetic value. This to me is not acceptable for any kind of navigation or triangulation use. Especially when a $40 brunton sighting compass spanks it. I could actually get closer values say +/- 2 degrees with my suunto advizor by just holding it at waist level and trying to center my body toward the landmark and making sure the suunto was level, and it has no sighting feature at all. What worries me most about the above is not so much the 10 degree swing, although even +/- 5 degrees is a pretty poor error value for a compass., is that the average is no where near the correct value. If the average was at least correct a person could take 4-5 sightings if you had to and could average them out, but it does not appear that is a accurate option either.
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