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Is this normal for a Garmin Vista?

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I have a Legend and a friend just bought a Vista. When my friend and I were walking side by side towards a geocache my navigation page on my Legend showed the pointer pointing in the same direction with very little fluctuation. With my friends new Vista, with the compass turned on, the arrow on the Nav page was jumping all over the place. It would sometimes swing all the way around while we were walking in a straight line towards the cache. Once he turned off the compass, his Vista's Nav page behaved like my Legend.


Is this normal for a Vista? I was considering upgrading to the Vista to get the compass but it seemed like it was more of a hindrance than a help. We considered the possiblility of a metallic source interferring with the compass so we tried holding the Vista far away from our bodies as we moved. It made no difference. Still the arrow jumped all around? Vista owners, is this normal? What good is the compass?


We seemed to have the same problem when we stood still and just turned the Vista around in circles. Instead of re-orienting itself using the compass, the arrow seemed to bounce around alot. After several minutes, it still was bouncing around. Very annoying.

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Originally posted by GrnXnham:

We considered the possiblility of a metallic source interferring with the compass so we tried holding the Vista far away from our bodies as we moved. It made no difference.


Were you near power lines? In theory a AC magnetic field from them might confuse an electronic compass.

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I haven't had any problems with mine... the compass seems to work just as you'd expect--


I calibrated it once... it's been solid ever since.


I'd say you either need to calibrate or you have a defective unit-- or your buddy was wearing one of those magnetic bracelets icon_biggrin.gif


either way... not normal in my experience.

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You might be confusing the pointer arrow with the compass rose - something I do also.


Remember the arrow shows the bearing to the cache. The compass rose indicates the direction you are pointing the Vista, just like any magnetic compass. As you get closer to the cache, or pass it, the bearing arrow will react wildly. However, the compass rose will continue to point in the direction you are traveling even as you pass the "go to" cache location. That's because the rose orients to magnetic north always. (leaving aside effects of nearby metal) The rose will not turn unless you change the direction you are pointing the Vista.


That's why when you shut off navigation, and concentrated on the rose, everything was steady. Next time, with navigation on, look at the compass rose and you'll see it stays steady also.


Here's a hint when caching. Note the degrees you are traveling towards the cache. Then if you lose the satellites under heavy tree cover and the bearing arrow, you can continue to use the rose or digital degree display to travel to the cache, one of the nice features of a Vista.


Good luck



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It's important to remember that the magnetic sensor in the Vista is as sensitive to being level as any ordinary magnetic compass.

If you tilt it even slightly, the magnetic compass will deviate extensively from the correct heading.

I've mine set up so that it switches off already above 4 km/h. Thus it's not on when walking at an ordinary pace, since it's of no use then anyway.



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1) NEVER doubt Anders' advice on the Garmin Vista, never ever.

2) If Anders is ever wrong ... refer to rule #1


All joking aside ... when it comes to the Vista, Anders is da'man!



Co-founder of the "NC/VA GEO-HOG ASSOCIATION"

... when you absolutely have to find it first!

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The manual states to re calibrate the compass if the batteries are taken out, no exception. I have to remind myself to do this or I walk a very crooked line. Also, if level is the problem, the display will show that you need to hold it level on the navigation screen, I ran into that alot a couple of weeks ago.


It's not a sport unless there is something dead in the back of the truck when you get home.

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My experience with the Vista indicates that erroneous directions given by the magnetic compass are much more likely from the unit not being level, rather than from magnetic substances in the ground.

It's very touchy about being level. I haven't tried any, but I've been told that Magellan has a superior magnetic sensor in their units.

The Vista is at least as sensitive to not being level as my ordinary orienteering compasses. Being rather used to handling them, I don't have any real problem, but one must be aware of this.

Especially if you change between different types of batteries (dry cell, rechargeable), calibration may be important to obtain a good result.

Still, don't expect precision down to a degree or so. The compass must be rechecked now and then, since it may very well lead you a few degrees off. But that's the good thing about having it in a GPS, the positioning will correct for that, once you've moved a bit further.



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