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Etrex Vista Setup

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My wife was nice enough to upgrade my GPSr for Christmas from a basic Sportrak to an eTrex Vista. Now I have so many options I'm not sure what my most efficient set up should be. For instance, Altimeter: auto calibration on or off? I use my Vista for trail running and hiking in the mountains as well as caching. Also some of the more useful customizable settings on the compas page and trip computer page. I've heard keep compass turned off when caching. I'd like to hear how some of you have you GPSr's set up.



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I keep my compass on, but being that it's magnetic, there are times I have to turn it off. Some of the hills here are iron rich and can do weird things to a compass.


Some other settings I have on my Vista:



log - on

wrap when full

record - auto

interval - normal



GPS - normal

WAAS - disabled

Altimeter - auto calibrate



Backlight timeout - 1 minute

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WAAS will provide a few more feet of acuracy if you can track them I believe there's only 2 satellites right now in the southern hemisphere. So unless you live south or have a pretty open view, it takes too long to tune in and get a lock (at least in my experience). The few extra feet is just not worth the effort. WASS also uses more battery energy.


Also, you might want to set the track points to the maximum, 10,000, to extend the amount of info.


I use Metroguide and Topo maps loaded into the unit.


Good luck. It's a good product. Give your wife a kiss B)



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You have 2 separate displays on the navagation screen - one for the big compass, and one for the small compass. Each can be separately customized. On the small compass screen, you have the ability to show your current lat/lon position, with you distance at the top, and of course, the navagation pointer in the middle. It's pretty much all you need on one screen.

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I leave my compass off for the most part. It's a big ol' battery hog. I also leave WAAS off as I've only rarely seen it engage, and all that extra number crunching has to have a negative impact on battery life. I've loaded 24K Topo, US Topo, and Metroguide maps - you can select any one of these for display via the "Setup Map" option on the Map screen. I leave the backlight set to "Always on" - it never fails that while I'm concentrating on that tiny screen in the dark trying to get my old-man eyes to focus that the blasted thing goes dark when set to auto-off. It's a quick button press to shut it off. Since I'm starting to see more caches with compass headings included in stages I've set the bearing displays for "degrees" instead of "NWSE".


Oh, and make sure to download the latest firmware from the Garmin site. While in my 2 years of experience not every firmware release has been wonderful, there have been many improvements made to the unit over time.


When you replace the batteries be sure to pull them out from the bottom of the unit, not at the top where the spring-like clip resides. I broke that clip once changing the batteries.


If you start experiencing weird shut-downs, black screens, or black lines on the screen, tighten up the battery contacts. Improving the connection between the Vista and its batteries is a well-known cure for pretty much anything that ails it, and it's a lot cheaper than the flat $165 they quoted to fix it out of warranty.


Mine's still going strong after 400+ caches - I love the thing!

Edited by ZingerHead
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One of the earlier posts said that WAAS reception depended on longtitude....it is actually latitude (how far North of the equator you are). Here in Central Texas I can usually get a good read on a WAAS satellite about 30 to 40% of the time (I seem to recall it is number 35 or 37 on the Vista).


The settings on my Vista are similar to those shared below. I leave the compass on because that's the compass that I use; it is one of the main reasons I paid for a Vista, so I might as well use it.


I'm very pleased with mine. Happy caching.

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I have my legend set up compass on, WASS enabled.. maybe im lucky i seem to hit wass alot.

My Trip Computer is set up

to course




sunrise time of day

sunset off course


all other junk is factory i think


oh yeah backlight never off less i tell it to.. helps me anyway

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