Monday, September 28, 2009

Garmin. Get your house in order

Last Weeks Miles: 58 ( Total slacker. In my defense, it rained 4 days)
Last Weeks Road Kill: 0

First of all this rocks. It needed to be done and its funny:

Secondly, my Garmin 305 is beginning to try my patience. Its one of those 90/10 things. The device is 90% great. Its the remaining 10% that is beginning to make me nuts.

1.My biggest gripe is that the system will occasionally shut down while riding.
  • This apparently is due to vibration breaking the contact between the batteries and the circuit board. This is a common problem.
  • I have disassembled and followed the golden path laid down here.
  • This only worked for about three months. Its happening again. I moved the unit from my stem to my top tube to see if the lower vibration area will help, as I hate to crack it open again. I'll keep you posted.
2. Occasionally the unit will lock up or not power up. This issue can be seen by clicking here. To save you the click, here is the fix: "Press and hold the mode and lap/reset button simultaneously for roughly 5 seconds to reset the unit. ........, but after roughly 5 seconds, let go of that button combination and press the power button." If you check out the link above, you will see this has been a known issue since at least June 12th of last year. Way to jump right on that Garmin!

3. The 305 only allows 100 "waypoints/coursepoints", which makes it useless for long ride navigation. Disregarding the poor map display on both the device and in Garmin Training Center, in theory you can use to create maps/routes, which is an AWESOME tool. ( I'm sure there are other great tools, so don't take offense if I don't mention your website. Okay, take offense, I don't really care. ) With BRT create your own maps that can be uploaded to devices using TCX or GPX files. EXCEPT a typical map may have hundreds, if not thousands of waypoints. Its not a huge amount of data, as its only text, but its more than the Garmin 305 can handle. Its trivial in actual RAM. Upshot: To use a map created with BRT on your Garmin 305, you have to very manually and vary laboriously trim down the waypoints/coursepoints. It sucks and in some cases is not possible.

So, you would think that the Edge 705 , the latest version, would be better. Nope. Exactly the same.
Garmin is missing a huge boat here. The ability to create routes with BRT/Google/Open Maps is fantastic, but if I can't use it on my Garmin, I'll buy a $10 application for my iPhone ( which does mapping nicely) instead of upgrading to the Edge 705.

If somebody has a workaround, or an update for this, please let me know. I also see this:

Which indicates that it may be possible to have more turns or stops than that, up to 250, or up to 500 trackpoints. Not sure how this would work with BRT, but still not enough. For example, a common 60 mile ride I have has over 1,000 waypoints in BRT.

Anyhow, if I CAN't easily crate good maps on my PC and send them to the device, I am not upgrading to the 705 and will find a better alternative. There are several iPhone apps that provide good alternatives. These come with the typical iPhone downsides :
-Comparitively short battery life;
-Tend to stop or fail when phone rings. Poor multitasking.;
-Not water resistant ( depending on case).

-Evil C.

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