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Garmin power button woes

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Topic description says it all!


Earlier this year, we had a day's work ruined by my co-workers eTrex20J GPS unit failing due to saltwater ingress at the power button just before we arrived near our dive site after a 3 hour boat ride (therefore 3 hours back, with no data collected). I chalked this up to possible unit abuse, and not knowing how old the unit was.


Also recently, I've made friends with a guy that runs a de-mining operation. When I asked him about what GPSrs they use, he said that they use Oregons and eTrex 30's. He loves that they are bomb proof (something he would know about) except for the power buttons that crack, let water in and eventually give out. I chalked this up to his crew taking the units bushwhacking through jungles, crawling through caves, digging up bombs and all the other hardcore things that these guys do.


Then just the other day, I thought my power button on my eTrex 20 felt mushy. I didn't think much of it: I take care great care with my GPSr, it lives in a small pouch unless I'm looking at it, I keep it safe from saltwater spray, rinse it off when it does get wet, that sort of stuff. I assumed it still had years of life in it. Then today, after closer inspection, I find a crack in the rubber power button! Now, I've had mine for 4 or 5 years, and I don't feel like my particular unit owes me anything, but since I'm looking at another GPS unit (cost of Garmin repair plus shipping here is nearly the price of a new eTrex20), I can't help but feel a bit of trepidation about Garmin and their power buttons woes.


Are there any Garmin units that don't have that soft rubber button on the side of the case? Is there anything I can do to increase the lifespan of said button (on a new unit). I'd hate to drop $200 on a new unit to be facing the same problem a few years down the line.


It seems as though Garmin is the only real name in the game. Magellan units seem older and I have heard about their unreliability, and Delorme is Garmin now, so that's likely a no go. Am I missing some underdog out there?

Edited by awdemuth
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Garmin 78 series. The power button is with the rest of the buttons on that unit, not on the side. Identical to the 62 series firmware wise. Floats in the water but rarely gets mentioned.


I didn't know that this existed. It looks like all the buttons are semi-rigid (the kind that extreme use wears away the print but the buttons still work). Is this the case?

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We've both carried a 60csx since '06, uncovered on a belt, when red fishing (those good spots), when caving, and wading everything from creeks to bogs.

A quick wipe down and we're good again.

Other than wearing the "print" off some of the buttons, we've yet to have issues.

The only time they aren't on a belt, they're clamped to a pack strap, still exposed.

These have the soft rubber buttons on the front (with on/off on top) exposed to all weather conditions. Winter too. :)


Maybe just me, but I'd think if it's salt or weather, an "in a pouch" GPSr would fare better (since you say you do wipe it down after use).


Do you use DEET?

We had a blue etrex legend melted by DEET. It has buttons on the side (with a toggle in front).

Apparently DEET on my hands melted and softened/deformed the button rubber more than stock.

Still sorta worked if you knew which buttons did what.

Luckily Zagg had a very-generous return policy, as the screen shield melted into a dime-sized glob. :laughing:

The other legend's still used as a spare.


If the 60cxs ever die, at least one of us will get a 64s, of similar style, but functions a bit more modern. :)

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Early on, I became aware of DEET's blind hatred for plastics. At the young age of 6, I found it especially hated the plastic screen of the digital Transformers watch that I just I bought with my own money.


Due to the longstanding grudge between myself and DEET, I rarely feel like I need DEET, and when I do need DEET, there isn't any available, so I doubt that's it :) I use sunscreen occasionally, though I never thought it would kill plastics - something to keep in mind. I doubt the de-mining crew uses either of those two. The locals don't seem to mind mosquitoes and are quite dark so they never use sunscreen, though I doubt the crew religiously cleans their GPS gear - I feel like people often think that ruggedized gear doesn't need maintenance or cleaning.


I have a ton of trust in the older Garmins. I loved my yellow eTrex until I sold it to upgrade to the eTrex legend. I feel like these eTrex's were bulletproof by simplicity, I gave my Legend to a buddy (who still uses it to this day) as an introduction to Geocaching when I bought my eTrex 20. I still have my Foretrex and take it backwoods because it's so small. I'd love the 60CSx because I remember salivating over the 60 series when it was released, but it behooves me to buy a brand new and current offering. I can get partial reimbursement, but only on brand spankin' new equipment or manufacturer authorized repair service. It's unfortunate, because after dealing with a color screen, I'm longing for the daylight readability of my Legend. I suppose I should have asked if there were any new Garmin units with different, hopefully better buttons. :)


Pressing the button too hard can wear them out from the inside. I've replaced the rubber strip by buying second hand ones (for etrex 20) from an ebay seller in Russia.


It seems like this may be the case, though I don't think I press too hard, nor do I have long fingernails to create a concentrated pressure point. The button looks great until you press it, then it splits right around the embossed power circle as it deforms to press the internal switch. It's the exact same thing that happened to my co-workers GPS. I know I'm speculating here, but it seems like that embossing creates a weak point - the smooth "back" button gets pressed far more often in my usage and is on located on the shoulder of the unit which gets more abrasion while sliding in and out of its pouch.


Coleeda, you mention a strip to repair this the eTrex 20/30? I haven't seen just the strip available on eBay, always a complete front half housing replacement for about $60 from probably the same Russian seller - not cheap enough justify the effort. If you have a link to the strip, I'm interested in a cheap DIY repair so I can relegate this eTrex 20 to Geocaching only duties (I'm skeptical about my abilities to repair a waterproof device and have it remain dependably waterproof).


I found out that another project has a 78 series. I'll see what hoops I have to jump through to borrow it for a day (why can't research institutions just work together?)

Edited by awdemuth
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60 CSx, 3-62S, 64S.....no problems with power buttons.

On two of my 62's the rubber covering is literally coming off.....the 62 my wife uses is O.K.

I think its my sweaty, salty hands.


As a follow up, since it first came out there have been tons of threads about faulty 62 cases, buttons, rubber, etc.

I have 3 62S and 1-64S .....I love everything but the case, the rubber deteriorates way too fast.

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