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So, Is Garmin Going To Fix the Colorado Compass Or Not?


Ratsneve
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Does it make sense and is it acceptable to the geocaching GPS gang that when you change out the batteries on your Colorado (Oregon? Any Others?) or perform other "unusual" tasks such as turning the unit ON or OFF the 2-axis electronic compass can or will read off by 90 or 180 degrees and in some cases stick there until the compass is calibrated--if you are using it?

 

If not acceptable does Garmin know it and are they trying to fix it and likely will one day? Is recalibrating these electronic compasses something all GPSr that have them frequently require?

 

Thank you.

Edited by Ratsneve
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They can make improvements via software. They've done it with other units. I think they worded it something like, "improved robustness of electronic compass."

 

I've always had calibration issues with any unit I've had a compass in going all the way back to the Meridian series. Once recalibrated they seemed to work fine for a bit.

Edited by yogazoo
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All Garmin compasses work this way. Always have.

Not entirely correct ...

 

Yes, you are always supposed to calibrate the compass whenever you change batteries, or move large distances, etc. However, just for the record, my Summit HC (and my old B&W Vista before that) ALWAYS give a "reasonable" accuracy whenever I swap batteries, move large distances, etc. Turning it off and on certainly doesn't seem to upset the compass in any way.

 

I do in fact carry out a calibration whenever I am going to use the compass to set bearing etc, but the fact is, my compass ALWAYS points North(ish), whether I do a calibration or not - I assume the calibration improves the accuracy, but even when uncalibrated, it works at least as well as my $5 el-cheapo back-up compass.

 

I have NEVER seen the flaky erratic compass performance that seems to be an issue with some of the later models, and I have certainly never seen it point 90 degrees or 180 degrees out - under any circumstances. (I am verity careful to hold it horizontally - many new users seem to not be aware of the importance of holding the unit horizontally to get the compass to function.)

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Yes, you are always supposed to calibrate the compass whenever you change batteries, or move large distances, etc. However, just for the record, my Summit HC (and my old B&W Vista before that) ALWAYS give a "reasonable" accuracy whenever I swap batteries, move large distances, etc. Turning it off and on certainly doesn't seem to upset the compass in any way.

 

I do in fact carry out a calibration whenever I am going to use the compass to set bearing etc, but the fact is, my compass ALWAYS points North(ish), whether I do a calibration or not - I assume the calibration improves the accuracy, but even when uncalibrated, it works at least as well as my $5 el-cheapo back-up compass.

 

I have NEVER seen the flaky erratic compass performance that seems to be an issue with some of the later models, and I have certainly never seen it point 90 degrees or 180 degrees out - under any circumstances. (I am verity careful to hold it horizontally - many new users seem to not be aware of the importance of holding the unit horizontally to get the compass to function.)

To be honest I find it strange that the CO electronic compass goes so far off base just because batteries are changed. There must be more Garmin can do on this subject. I will keep the issue open in my list.

 

Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

 

Thank you.

Edited by Ratsneve
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Magellans does the same thing. They all need to be calibrated on battery change. The delorme and the bushnel all have to be calibrated on battery change also.

But prior to calibration after battery change is the electronic compass off 90 to 180 degrees or do they stay reasonable close to North?

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When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

 

Thank you.

Routing . . . ON/OFF, don't own one, but I seem to recall that routing changes the indicator display.

 

Norm

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Magellans does the same thing. They all need to be calibrated on battery change. The delorme and the bushnel all have to be calibrated on battery change also.

But prior to calibration after battery change is the electronic compass off 90 to 180 degrees or do they stay reasonable close to North?

 

I can't honestly say becasue every time I go caching after I park the car the first thing I do is calibrate the compass. Its part of my routine. I would assume it should stay reasonably north but remeber with a two axis compass you have to be level for it to be accurate. If it is not level it can be any where.

 

Garmin really should have went with the 3 axis compass like the magellan. I can carry my explorist 600 any which way the directional won't change.

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Does it make sense and is it acceptable to the geocaching GPS gang that when you change out the batteries on your Colorado (Oregon? Any Others?) or perform other "unusual" tasks such as turning the unit ON or OFF the 2-axis electronic compass can or will read off by 90 or 180 degrees and in some cases stick there until the compass is calibrated--if you are using it?

 

If not acceptable does Garmin know it and are they trying to fix it and likely will one day? Is recalibrating these electronic compasses something all GPSr that have them frequently require?

 

Thank you.

 

Hi Ratsneve,

 

Just another data point: I have a Colorado 300, serial number 169053xxx, and so far, the compass seems to work fine and has never given me any false readings (at least not anything noticeable like 90 or 180 degrees). I just need to calibrate it after a battery change, and then regardless of how many times I turn it on or off after that, the compass continues to read accurately until that set of batteries goes dead.

 

When I calibrate, I try to do it away from electric/magnetic sources. So I don't ever do it in my car, because of all the electrical/electronics systems there, and also, since if you think about it, you're in a sort of partial Faraday cage, so even if there wasn't stuff *in* the car to mess you up, you might not accurately detect the magnetic field coming from *outside* the car. In the house, or outside, I also try to be as far from electro-magnetic sources as well. Then after I've calibrated, I do a sort of "sanity" check by holding the unit level and rotating it around a bit to see if the compass aligns itself appropriately. If it does, then it seems to hold those settings for the life of that set of batteries.

 

Finally, I have a theory about what might be causing problems for some people. Note that this is only a *theory* based on my own knowledge and experience. I've actually written software for calibrating two-axis electronic compasses before, and although I don't know if the one used in the Colorado is the same, the "spin around two times" method, which we also used, makes me suspect that it is at least similar.

 

Anyway, the method I used to calibrate a compass (using the recommendations of the part manufacturer), was to simply sample the readings for each axis and save away the max and min readings for each axis while the unit was being slowly turned two times. Then you just adjust these max and min readings so that they are centered around zero. For instance, if you got reading from 2 to 22, you would treat that as the range from -10 to +10. Also, you would scale the reading from the two axes so that they both would fall in the exact same range. Then later, when you are reading the compass to try to determine your heading, you just take your two measurements (one from each axis, and adjusted so they would fall between -10 and +10 in this example) and do a simple arctan calculation.

 

The reason I'm explaining this is that since it involves getting a max and min, skewing the range, and also scaling, I was thinking that if the voltage to the compass was not constant, it could throw off the readings. Numbers that were stored and calculated might be valid right after calibration, but might not yield valid results later. For instance, in my example, where the min and max were 2 and 22, respectively, what if later on, when the batteries are weaker, you only get readings in the range 2 to 15, or something like that? The numbers that were stored earlier for skewing these values to center them about zero, and for scaling them to make the two axes' readings consistent with each other, would no longer be valid.

 

The bottom line would be: How good is the voltage regulator in the Colorados for maintaining a constant voltage to the compass as the battery voltage changes over time?

 

With that in mind, I will also add that I am using Sanyo Eneloop batteries, so maybe they provide a more constant voltage? I have no idea if my theory (changing voltage affecting compass readings) is right, and I have no idea whatsoever as to which type (alkaline, NiMH, hybrid NiMH, etc.) or brand of batteries have what sort of profile as far as voltage variation goes. I just thought I'd throw this out there as a possibility.

 

Regards,

 

George

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Just another data point: I have a Colorado 300, serial number 169053xxx, and so far, the compass seems to work fine and has never given me any false readings (at least not anything noticeable like 90 or 180 degrees). I just need to calibrate it after a battery change, and then regardless of how many times I turn it on or off after that, the compass continues to read accurately until that set of batteries goes dead.

Hi George,

 

It sounds like you are saying that even after you replace the batteries but before you calibrate your 300 you never experience this 90 to 180 degrees off situation? ...That calibrating just gets the compass spot on regardless of what the voltage changes occurred from changing out the batteries? That should be the case with my 400t too since it is hardly any different from the 300. Unfortunately we cannot correlate s/n differences since the 300 and 400t use different ranges and nomenclature in the number. The 400t's start off with 18Z followed by a six digit number. Mine is 18Z030nnn.

 

I wonder if I only calibrate right after a fresh set of cells is installed and don't repeat the calibration until another fresh set of cells is installed if the compass will still go off on a tangent or remain very close to its calibrated direction? There is something else that throws off the compass besides changing batteries but I forget what it was I hear/read of?

Edited by Ratsneve
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The Garmin 2-axis electronic compasses are just flat out crap! I’ve several GPSr’s with them and none of them are worth turning on. I’ve had several Magellan Platinum’s and a eXplorist 600 with 3-axis electronic compasses and seldom ever had to calibrate. I would occasionally calibrate just because I thought I should.

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...snip...Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

 

Thank you.

 

From the compass page you can select Sight N Go from the options button to do what you are asking about. There are not any instructions in any Colorado literature that I can find but the instructions on how it works are in the 60CSX manual. I see it on my compass page now but I could swear that the Sight N Go was missing before I just calibrated my compass :o

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...snip...Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

 

Thank you.

 

From the compass page you can select Sight N Go from the options button to do what you are asking about. There are not any instructions in any Colorado literature that I can find but the instructions on how it works are in the 60CSX manual. I see it on my compass page now but I could swear that the Sight N Go was missing before I just calibrated my compass :o

I'll check it out. Thanks. I don't remember using Sight N Go before but I must have. I actually thought I was going to some waypoint I'd set? Things are very sketchy now. It certainly sounds like we need a new and thicker Colorado manual one of these days.

Edited by Ratsneve
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Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

Oh, course pointer? It should be in the options menu on the compass page.

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To be honest I find it strange that the CO electronic compass goes so far off base just because batteries are changed. There must be more Garmin can do on this subject. I will keep the issue open in my list.

 

Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

 

Thank you.

 

Sounds like you are referring to glide path. It's an option you should be able to change from the compass screen.

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To be honest I find it strange that the CO electronic compass goes so far off base just because batteries are changed. There must be more Garmin can do on this subject. I will keep the issue open in my list.

 

Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

 

Thank you.

 

Sounds like you are referring to glide path. It's an option you should be able to change from the compass screen.

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Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

Oh, course pointer? It should be in the options menu on the compass page.

That's funny. This led me to Compass | Options | Sight 'N Go | Lock Direction | Set Course and low-and-behold...there is the compass decked out to look/function like an aircraft navigation VOR (VHF Omni Range).

 

Does anyone know why there is a "0.25 mi" just outside the compass wheel in the upper right? Its value does not change--or at least I have never seen any other value there. I wonder if it might be the distance between the dots to estimate how far off course you are?

 

Thanks. Now...how do I get rid of it if I want to revert back to a normal looking compass? Seriously, I couldn't figure out how to revert back.

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Just another data point: I have a Colorado 300, serial number 169053xxx, and so far, the compass seems to work fine and has never given me any false readings (at least not anything noticeable like 90 or 180 degrees). I just need to calibrate it after a battery change, and then regardless of how many times I turn it on or off after that, the compass continues to read accurately until that set of batteries goes dead.

Hi George,

 

It sounds like you are saying that even after you replace the batteries but before you calibrate your 300 you never experience this 90 to 180 degrees off situation? ...That calibrating just gets the compass spot on regardless of what the voltage changes occurred from changing out the batteries?

 

No. Sorry if my wording made it sound that way, but what I meant is that I always calibrate the unit immediately after a battery change, but then once I do, I don't find it necessary to do it again until my next battery change. And, during this period, I do not experience any 90 or 180 degree off situations. I always calibrate immediately after a battery change, because I figure if Garmin says in its manual to do so, and everyone in this forum seems to concur that it's a good idea, then it seems like the prudent thing to do.

 

George

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Another quick compass question on the CO 400t... When I was playing around with my first unit the red compass arrow had a section that would break out moving off left or right. I was intrigued with this presentation as it reminded me of an aircraft VOR. With my first replacement now (I'm not hoping for any others) I've been unable to get the compass arrow to function this way. What was that mode--How do I get it back should I prefer it?

Oh, course pointer? It should be in the options menu on the compass page.

That's funny. This led me to Compass | Options | Sight 'N Go | Lock Direction | Set Course and low-and-behold...there is the compass decked out to look/function like an aircraft navigation VOR (VHF Omni Range).

 

Does anyone know why there is a "0.25 mi" just outside the compass wheel in the upper right? Its value does not change--or at least I have never seen any other value there. I wonder if it might be the distance between the dots to estimate how far off course you are?

 

Thanks. Now...how do I get rid of it if I want to revert back to a normal looking compass? Seriously, I couldn't figure out how to revert back.

Compass | Options | Bearing pointer. That's how you switch to the regular looking compass.

 

Compass | Options | Course pointer. That's how you switch to the VOR-looking compass. You don't need to use Sight 'N Go to get it.

 

0.25 mi is the distance between dots on the CDI (course deviation indicator). You can change that by simply zooming in or out.

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No. Sorry if my wording made it sound that way, but what I meant is that I always calibrate the unit immediately after a battery change, but then once I do, I don't find it necessary to do it again until my next battery change. And, during this period, I do not experience any 90 or 180 degree off situations. I always calibrate immediately after a battery change, because I figure if Garmin says in its manual to do so, and everyone in this forum seems to concur that it's a good idea, then it seems like the prudent thing to do.

 

George

I understood and wasn't questioning the need to recalibrate after a battery change. What I was trying to learn was whether after the batteries are changed and before recalibration if you experience/see errors of 90 to 180 degrees or not? It sounded like you didn't and if that is true then maybe Garmin still needs to tighten up something in the software if these wild errors could be eliminated? (If I'm beta testing Garmin's Colorado at my expense I'm going to be anal about it.)

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Thanks. Now...how do I get rid of it if I want to revert back to a normal looking compass? Seriously, I couldn't figure out how to revert back.

Compass | Options | Bearing pointer. That's how you switch to the regular looking compass.

 

Compass | Options | Course pointer. That's how you switch to the VOR-looking compass. You don't need to use Sight 'N Go to get it.

 

0.25 mi is the distance between dots on the CDI (course deviation indicator). You can change that by simply zooming in or out.

From the default compass (bearing pointer) I cannot get the course pointer (VOR) until I initiate a Sight 'N Go first. And this sets up a Sight 'N Go waypoint and course. I have to clear the course and delete the waypoint before the compass will revert completely (CDI disappears) and the compass is once again back to the default. I'll play with this more on the next trip. I wonder if anyone uses this type compass while driving a route? And I wonder how well it works at walking speed with the 2-axis electronic compass turned on?

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No. Sorry if my wording made it sound that way, but what I meant is that I always calibrate the unit immediately after a battery change, but then once I do, I don't find it necessary to do it again until my next battery change. And, during this period, I do not experience any 90 or 180 degree off situations. I always calibrate immediately after a battery change, because I figure if Garmin says in its manual to do so, and everyone in this forum seems to concur that it's a good idea, then it seems like the prudent thing to do.

 

George

I understood and wasn't questioning the need to recalibrate after a battery change. What I was trying to learn was whether after the batteries are changed and before recalibration if you experience/see errors of 90 to 180 degrees or not? It sounded like you didn't and if that is true then maybe Garmin still needs to tighten up something in the software if these wild errors could be eliminated? (If I'm beta testing Garmin's Colorado at my expense I'm going to be anal about it.)

 

Hi Ratsneve,

 

Okay, I think I understand what you were asking now. To answer your question -- I have never even had an opportunity to witness an error of 90 to 180 degrees of error prior to a recalibration, because out of habit, I *always* recalibrate immediately upon inserting new batteries. I figure it needs to be done for every battery change, so why not take care of it right away so that later I'm not out doing geocaching or whatever, and should the compass start acting up (which, BTW, has not happened to me yet), I won't have to wonder to myself whether I had remembered to recalibrate on this set of batteries or not. Yes, I'm very anal about these things, too... :ph34r:

 

George

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Found it and turned it off since I never needed it on my GPS V and have not seen need now.

 

Used the Colorado now on a number of cache outings with no troubles or complaint. That is till this last weekend. Went out and got 18 along a road in a canyon with power lines following it. The first few were not in the canyon and I got them with no trouble. Once in the canyon the distance to cache worked fine but the pointer would not point to the cache. Hard to zero in that way. Not sure if turning off compass will help or if it was the power lines. Do know now back in town it is working fine.

 

Its a mystery.

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Found it and turned it off since I never needed it on my GPS V and have not seen need now.

 

Used the Colorado now on a number of cache outings with no troubles or complaint. That is till this last weekend. Went out and got 18 along a road in a canyon with power lines following it. The first few were not in the canyon and I got them with no trouble. Once in the canyon the distance to cache worked fine but the pointer would not point to the cache. Hard to zero in that way. Not sure if turning off compass will help or if it was the power lines. Do know now back in town it is working fine.

 

Its a mystery.

 

Not a mystery, gps signals get bounced in a canyon. Can also happen in valleys or on hillsides.

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Found it and turned it off since I never needed it on my GPS V and have not seen need now.

 

Used the Colorado now on a number of cache outings with no troubles or complaint. That is till this last weekend. Went out and got 18 along a road in a canyon with power lines following it. The first few were not in the canyon and I got them with no trouble. Once in the canyon the distance to cache worked fine but the pointer would not point to the cache. Hard to zero in that way. Not sure if turning off compass will help or if it was the power lines. Do know now back in town it is working fine.

 

Its a mystery.

 

Not a mystery, gps signals get bounced in a canyon. Can also happen in valleys or on hillsides.

 

Signal seemed to be getting in fine as the distance from cache seemed to be accurate. Just could not get arrow to point towards cache. It was fixed in one direction no matter where I went. First time I had to walk a slow circle to find the distance getting shorter so I would know what way to walk.

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I was in a small canyon a few weeks ago and there were several caches along the way. A few times my colorado had be climbing the side of the hill. The needle was spinning in all sorts of directions. I hate to admit but my better half with her 60CSx had better accuracy than my colorado in the canyon. She insisited it was in another direction and she was right and found it. Had several instances of this happening.

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