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Do GPS units wear out?


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I am new to geocaching, so I bought a used gps unit. It's an etrex vista (the old version.) The first time I took it out, it seemed to do ok. But now (2 weeks later) it can't seem to find any sattelites most of the time. Did I mess something up? Or is it just old and worn out?

 

Thanks in advance for your help!!

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The unit doesn't have the greatest reception. You should get a lock OK under a clear sky but will have trouble under a leaf canopy.

 

To help, first turn it on well before you plan to use it. For instance turn it on when you leave your house and put the unit on your dashboard so it gets a good lock. Next be sure to keep it held flat, face up to the sky AT ALL TIMES.

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After new batteries and a half hour in the yard, I was able to mark my home coordinates. But by the time I got "home" typed in, I lost the signal completely. I have not been able to get a signal in trees at all...nearly got lost last week while cacheing...couldn't get a signal to point me back to the car. Does anyone else have this unit? Is it working for you?

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Oh, yeah...this unit also thinks it is December '94, according to the calendar. That changes sometimes, but it doesn't upgrade to a current date, even with good satellite reception. The calendar doesn't really matter to me, but maybe indicates a deeper problem??

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Oh, yeah...this unit also thinks it is December '94, according to the calendar. That changes sometimes, but it doesn't upgrade to a current date, even with good satellite reception. The calendar doesn't really matter to me, but maybe indicates a deeper problem??

 

If the date is updated when having satellite reception but is lost when turning off the unit, it means that the internal lithium cell that keeps the clock and satellite constellation data is totally discharged.

 

This button batery is not easily replaceable, as you have to open your GPS unit.

 

Regards,

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Hmmm. Let's try the "secret master reset", as we appear to have little to lose.

 

This is achieved by

 

simultaneously holding down the "Page, "Enter" and "Find" buttons while powering up. You have to hold all buttons in for about (5 to 7 seconds? 10 seconds? until reboot?), and you DON'T get the warning message, but when the machine finally restarts, it is fully reset.

 

It may take many minutes (or another .5 hour outside again) to get good lock again but a google search suggests this has worked for others in a similar situation. Others have suggested that leaving WAAS off on this model can help it avoid this problem situation in the future, but nothing is confirmed.

Edited by fratermus
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Oh, yeah...this unit also thinks it is December '94, according to the calendar. That changes sometimes, but it doesn't upgrade to a current date, even with good satellite reception. The calendar doesn't really matter to me, but maybe indicates a deeper problem??

 

If the date is updated when having satellite reception but is lost when turning off the unit, it means that the internal lithium cell that keeps the clock and satellite constellation data is totally discharged.

 

This button batery is not easily replaceable, as you have to open your GPS unit.

 

Regards,

This is typically the only thing in a GPS that will "wear out".

 

Some of the older Garmins (like the GPS 45 in the early 1990s) were dry nitrogen filled to facilitate achieving their waterproofing rating, these units would degrade over time in terms of waterproofness. Newer waterproof Garmins just use aggressive rubber gasketing to my knowledge - the Oregon is definately not dry nitrogen filled.

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Well, the "secret reset" seems to have helped, at least some anyway. Thanks for that trick! The calendar is fixed, and it seems to pick up sattelites quicker now. I took it out for a short walk today to try it--still lose reception under tree cover but I guess I can blame that on older technology. Are newer units better under trees? I live in Minnesota, lots of trees here!! I'm sure I will upgrade at some point, after I'm completely hooked! :)

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Yay! Glad it helped. I was reading some more and some folks say that a later firmware may also help keep the problem away.

 

Keeping sat lock under tree cover is not so much a new v. old thing as it is a normal chip v. high-sensitivity chip thing.* High Sensitivity chips do a much better job getting/keeping lock in challenging GPS situations.

 

There is a Vista H version now, for example, and the H in there stands for High Sensitivity.

 

frater mus

 

*Although the market seems to be moving to HS chips almost by default.

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