Question for Garmin Etrex users

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Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby Walst » Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:18 pm

Hi people, I recently bought a second-hand Etrex 30 to use as my bike computer, but I'm a little lost as to how to use the thing. It doesn't seem to be the most intuitive bit of kit I've ever purchased. I'm hoping some of you who are familiar with the Etrex or Garmin in general can give me a little basic direction. As a disclaimer I should say I am a complete GPS newbie - never used a car sat nav or anything like that.

Basically I would like to map out bicycle routes (maybe on the PC) for Perth and then be able to follow them on my device. The default maps don't give any detail, so I'm assuming I need to download some maps.'

There's also a slot for a micro SD card - am I to assume this is required to store downloaded maps or is there room already on the device to store them?

Cheers in advance
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by BNA » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:51 pm

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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:51 pm

Welcome to the GPS world.

For your desires, it's not going to be steps 1, 2 and 3, and explained in a few lines on a forum. But it's not that difficult.

For a start with the aim of cycling, you should at least do the following.

*** Read the instruction manual ***

Then,

1) Download Garmin's BaseCamp (along with its MapInstall and MapManager softwares) on your Mac/PC and have it linked to your eTrex with supplied USB cable.
2) Download Routable OSM (Opene Street Map) bicycle map data for your area of interest from <http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl>. Just load your limited area. Greedy requests will draw a big file that takes a long time to download (slowish free server).
3) Install downloaded map both into BaseCamp as well as on your eTrex30 (1.7GB should be enough storage within the unit for most without microSD supplement).

For riding guidance, you'll need to preset a route/track and then upload it onto your eTrex. This can best done through your BaseCamp software. I would suggest that you consult the user manual as well as the numerous Youtube video clips on these and related matters.

Hope this can help you get started. Feel free to come back and ask any specific question.

PS. For a brand new unit, you should also install Garmin's WebUpdater app and upgrade the firmware of your GPSr unit to the latest. Garmin regularly releases new firmwares on their new units, typically with worthwhile fixes and improvements.
Last edited by sogood on Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby Walst » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:52 pm

Cheers sogood, that's a great start.

I've downloaded the BaseCamp but where do I find the MapInstall and MapManager software? I found a link to the Mac downloads here http://www8.garmin.com/support/agree.jsp?id=3825 but I use Windows 7. Any ideas?
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:27 pm

Try this.
http://www8.garmin.com/support/mappingsw.jsp

Window's procedure may a little different but I can see BaseCamp and MapInstall available. I don't know whether Window's BaseCamp or MapInstall also acts as the MapManager (as on the Mac).
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby mitzikatzi » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:29 pm

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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:32 pm

Just a comment on MapSource. It's a bit of a legacy software. Garmin seemed to be focused on BaseCamp these days.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby il padrone » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:27 am

sogood wrote:Welcome to the GPS world.

For your desires, it's not going to be steps 1, 2 and 3, and explained in a few lines on a forum. But it's not that difficult.

For a start with the aim of cycling, you should at least do the following.

*** Read the instruction manual ***


Garmin's 'instruction manuals' are the worst sort of technical instructions I have ever seen. They are full of user jargon that is assumed as common knowledge and give little real detail or instruction in plain simple English. Worse than useless !! :x

You do need to install a map to use. I had a look at some free maps to download but they were really lacking in detail so I paid the $$$ for the Garmin Australia 1:100,000 map on a micro-SD card, and use that for all my navigation. It can be zoomed in to a high degree and contains all minor roads and tracks with street names. The map can be bought on a micro-SD card (mailed to you) or as a downloadable file that you load into the GPS memory. I now also have the Europe City Navigator Map loaded in this manner too.

I have not messed about at all with pre-loading routes on the GPS. I just want an accurate map on my screen and then I will plan the route on paper and retain the flexibility to follow my nose at times and just know where I am and where I need to go.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Thu Jul 11, 2013 8:25 am

Well, not much choice but to reference those manuals and that's how I use them, as reference on specific functions. Their quick start guide are decent for noobs though.

Garmin's maps are road limited. OSM has specific cycling infrastructure mapped in, and free. You should take a look again. They have even more cycling data for Europe. Further, one can add in topo overlays to these OSM maps and can be handy for bike route planning. I don't like Garmin's annual upgrade model and device number restriction. Gets too expensive. Of course, they are good for cars and one is not obliged to upgrade.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby Walst » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:23 pm

Cheers for all the tips fellas and I may take il padrone's advice and get the Garmin Europe map before heading over to the UK later this year. In the meantime, what size micro sd card should I fork out for?
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby HappyHumber » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:32 pm

Fairly happy Etrex30 user here as well. They're a cheap, quite universal unit at a portion of the cost of the Bike specific ones.

I just bought an SD card from Woolies when I saw them in the stationery section. 2 or 4gb should be fine. I've still got plenty of headroom on mine with OSM Australia, AUS & NZ Garmin maps etc.

I agree - the factory doco is really lacking for those people new to the gadgets. It's more "what?" than "how?" that tripped me up for a while. The Aukadia link provided earlier made some concepts eventually click a lot better for me personally. I now realise what aspects of etrex software are genuinely irritating vs. just my lack of knowledge just frustrating me ;)

Great battery life on these suckers though. I rotate rechargeable AAs in and out of mine.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:44 pm

Walst wrote:Cheers for all the tips fellas and I may take il padrone's advice and get the Garmin Europe map before heading over to the UK later this year. In the meantime, what size micro sd card should I fork out for?

My suggestion is don't bother with Garmin's European map. Just use OSM's dedicated cycling map, for free.
http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby il padrone » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:49 pm

HappyHumber wrote:Fairly happy Etrex30 user here as well. They're a cheap, quite universal unit at a portion of the cost of the Bike specific ones....

......Great battery life on these suckers though. I rotate rechargeable AAs in and out of mine.

Battery life is the real plus with the eTrex. 25-30hrs is pretty much the norm - once I got over 50hrs. I don't even bother with rechargeables, just use AA lithiums and they give the maximum life. Generally readily available* at any store or roadhouse and easy to carry 6-10 in your handlebar bag giving you up to 2 weeks life on the road.


*An interesting thing while touring Italy - they have the usual batteries on sale in supermarkets, but most of the time I could not get lithium batteries, only alkaline.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby HappyHumber » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:35 pm

il padrone wrote:*An interesting thing while touring Italy - they have the usual batteries on sale in supermarkets, but most of the time I could not get lithium batteries, only alkaline.


I rotate NiMH rechargeables, and have kept a pair of new alkalines as 2nd contingency on the couple of longer Audax rides I've done to date with mine. Worth noting to with the difference between these two that there is a specific system setting you chose to specify which you are running; either Alkaline or NiMH.

I think the only really difference this makes is the relative accuracy of the level indicator. I did read somewhere the basic, lower level chemistry of the NiMH prevents as an accurate reading as for traditional alkalines as the battery drains. Specifiying NiMH in these settings compensates somehow.

Incidentally - one of the first things I customised on the trip computer screen was to include the battery level indicator.

Whether the Alkaline setting is analagous to being used with Lithiums, I don't know.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby il padrone » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:43 pm

When using lithiums the low battery warning comes up and you'd better act on it fast - the unit will switch off in about 15-20 mins. Using alkaline, after the low battery warning you'll still get another 8-12hrs :)
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:35 am

Long live eTrex! But I dislike their toggle button interface. Oregon is my new love with a touch screen, almost as good as an iPhone.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby Walst » Mon Jul 15, 2013 5:23 pm

So I used the open map for Perth on Sunday and it worked a treat. Recorded my route as I went along and managed to view average speeds, top speeds and all sorts of interesting info. Only thing is - and this is an Etrex 101 question - how do I work out how far I have traveled? For the life of me I can't seem to see this basic function. Is this something you have to preset before taking off on a trip?
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:21 pm

Excellent job! Glad you are being sucked into data overload. Next you'll be on Strava!

For distance travelled, try to clear your old track log and start new when you commence your trip. These GPS by default would record non-stop (a good reason for outback application) so you'll need to define your desired track segment. Otherwise, appropriately define your display screen to display your odometer.
Last edited by sogood on Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby mitzikatzi » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:59 pm

Walst wrote:..snip..- how do I work out how far I have traveled? For the life of me I can't seem to see this basic function. Is this something you have to preset before taking off on a trip?


reset the "trip computer" before you leave
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby Walst » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:10 am

sogood wrote:Excellent job! Glad you are being sucked into data overload. Next you'll be on Strava!

For distance travelled, try to clear your old track log and start new when you commence your trip. These GPS by default would record non-stop (a good reason for outback application) so you'll need to define your desired track segment. Otherwise, appropriately define your display screen to display your odometer.


Ahh that's what was wrong. The trip computer was set on "Stopwatch", so I changed it to "Recreational". This thing is bringing me a lot more joy than I imagined it would. :D
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Re: Question for Garmin Etrex users

Postby sogood » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:16 am

Walst wrote:Ahh that's what was wrong. The trip computer was set on "Stopwatch", so I changed it to "Recreational". This thing is bringing me a lot more joy than I imagined it would. :D

Yes, we all love data! :mrgreen:
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