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Possum Bill
11-01-2007, 18:57
I have a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx. This is the only GPS unit I've ever owned so I nothing to compare it to, but I haven't been very pleased so far.

For instance, a couple weeks ago I was in the Elk River, NC area, and I wanted to plot the unmarked trail that connects Elk River Falls to the A.T. This trail is quite overgrown and a little confusing at some points, and I wanted to map it out in order to email that GPS route to some buddies who were coming to the area for a weekend hike, so they could easily find the falls from the A.T.

Anyway, my unit lost connection so much that I was unable to map the route. At one point I was standing next to Elk River with a crystal-clear blue sky directly above me and I could not get a single satellite signal. This is not uncommon for my unit... I lose the signal constantly, and sometimes it's not even under heavy tree cover. I was on Unaka Mountain a few weeks ago and I couldn't get a signal anywere for the first couple of miles.

If this unit was all I had to depend on to bushwhack in an unknown area, or to hike somewhere at night, etc. then I'd be in a heap of trouble. It seems like it never works when I need it the most.

Is my unit possibly faulty, or is it common to lose signals this often?

Smile
11-01-2007, 19:02
I would contact the manufacturer and see what they say. They are supposed to hook up in lots of places, the one you describe on Unaka Mtn. seems like a problem with the unit perhaps. I hope this works out for you! :)

WalkingStick75
11-01-2007, 19:13
I had an e-trex too but found it didnt do well unless you held it in the open. I now use the 60csx and love it

ChinMusic
11-01-2007, 19:47
I had an e-trex too but found it didnt do well unless you held it in the open. I now use the 60csx and love it
I have an e-trex vista C and it is serviceable. But, I would get the 60csx if I were in the market today.

I just wish their software was more user-friendly.

Cuffs
11-01-2007, 19:56
I had an e-trex too but found it didnt do well unless you held it in the open. I now use the 60csx and love it

Im so jealous! I have a 76 CS, but dearly wanting an X model!!

rlharris
11-01-2007, 20:15
Sometimes the satellites are in the position to give you a fix.

I attended a CE course on GPS given by CESUNH a couple of years back and one of the things they taught us was that the number of satellites that were visible varied and that their distribution also varied from well-scattered to just overhead to all just above the horizon. All these factors affect the ability of the receiver to get a fix and the accuracy of that fix.

They also gave us a software program that let us find out the best days (and time of day) to get accurate fixes since most of those attending were interested in GPS for shooting lines, measuring fields or woodlots, etc -- not just plotting a path.

An aside: part of the program was an exercise in geocaching. The staff planted the caches and recorded the coordinates early in the morning. By the time we went into the field, the satellites had shifted enough that in more than one case the closest we could get to the cache was 50 feet. I think there were only three -- maybe four -- satellites visible for one of the caches and when we got close to the cache, the building blocked one of the satellites. Valuable lesson learned.

The Old Fhart
11-01-2007, 20:48
If you go to the Garmin site (http://www8.garmin.com/aboutGPS/) you will find this information:

Sources of GPS signal errors
Factors that can degrade the GPS signal and thus affect accuracy include the following:
*Ionosphere and troposphere delays The satellite signal slows as it passes through the atmosphere. The GPS system uses a built-in model that calculates an average amount of delay to partially correct for this type of error.
*Signal multipath This occurs when the GPS signal is reflected off objects such as tall buildings or large rock surfaces before it reaches the receiver. This increases the travel time of the signal, thereby causing errors.
*Receiver clock errors A receiver's built-in clock is not as accurate as the atomic clocks onboard the GPS satellites. Therefore, it may have very slight timing errors.
*Orbital errors Also known as ephemeris errors, these are inaccuracies of the satellite's reported location.
*Number of satellites visible The more satellites a GPS receiver can "see," the better the accuracy. Buildings, terrain, electronic interference, or sometimes even dense foliage can block signal reception, causing position errors or possibly no position reading at all. GPS units typically will not work indoors, underwater or underground.
*Satellite geometry/shading This refers to the relative position of the satellites at any given time. Ideal satellite geometry exists when the satellites are located at wide angles relative to each other. Poor geometry results when the satellites are located in a line or in a tight grouping.

buckowens
11-01-2007, 21:01
I am a big Garmin fan and have a Legend Cx. I have rarely had a major problem, but have noticed decreased performance in tree cover. Supposedly, the new Hcx series is supposed to address that very problem. I have not talked with anyone that has one, and am personally waiting on the prices to lower a bit.

Chache
11-01-2007, 21:07
I got the 60 CSX also. I get reception inside my house. I was just in Utah hiking slot canyons and never lost signal. The new antennae is great. Amazon has a good price on them.

Tennessee Viking
11-01-2007, 22:53
I have a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx. This is the only GPS unit I've ever owned so I nothing to compare it to, but I haven't been very pleased so far.

For instance, a couple weeks ago I was in the Elk River, NC area, and I wanted to plot the unmarked trail that connects Elk River Falls to the A.T. This trail is quite overgrown and a little confusing at some points, and I wanted to map it out in order to email that GPS route to some buddies who were coming to the area for a weekend hike, so they could easily find the falls from the A.T.

Anyway, my unit lost connection so much that I was unable to map the route. At one point I was standing next to Elk River with a crystal-clear blue sky directly above me and I could not get a single satellite signal. This is not uncommon for my unit... I lose the signal constantly, and sometimes it's not even under heavy tree cover. I was on Unaka Mountain a few weeks ago and I couldn't get a signal anywere for the first couple of miles.

If this unit was all I had to depend on to bushwhack in an unknown area, or to hike somewhere at night, etc. then I'd be in a heap of trouble. It seems like it never works when I need it the most.

Is my unit possibly faulty, or is it common to lose signals this often?
Were you walking through the abandoned trail just past the falls, or the access trail that runs from the road at the river crossing to Jones Branch Hollow?

Anyway, that part of the Elk River is a known dead zone. One being that from Buck Mountain/Elk Park area to Boone, there is little or no cell coverage.

The Elk River gorge is very steep and has tons of exposed rock that reflects
signals.

I was at Mountaineer Falls a couple weeks ago, and I couldn't pick up any local TriCities stations; everything was coming out of Boone or Charlotte.

Being part of the TEHCC, Pisgah informed us that they will no longer maintain the trail along the cliffs. They will only maintain the forest trail from the parking area to the falls, and the forest road. We still use the access trail at Jones Branch Hollow to access the AT. But with it eroding into the river, we will have to move it or use the Sugar Hollow access.

If you never used the Sugar Hollow access, you cross Elk River and follow the forest road for a short walk. Once it starts going up hill above the open meadows, look left to see a unmarked trail. This trail leads back down to the river to the opposite side of the river flats, where the Elk River stile is located.

wrightsphoto
11-01-2007, 23:09
Yea that is common for that model.
Upgrade to the Garmin 60 CSx, you won't be dissapointed!
I have never lost reception, even inside buildings or caves.
It has the Helix antenna.
You can see from the previous post that everyone who uses them, love them !

Frosty
11-01-2007, 23:17
Im so jealous! I have a 76 CS, but dearly wanting an X model!!Hang in there, Cuffs. It is inevitable that there will be another leap in GPS technology. Wait for that.

The X'es have been out a couple years now. You wouldn't want to buy one just before the new stuff comes out. ('Cause I'll get a new one and tell you every week how glad I am that I waited and how wonderful my 60 CS y is.)

Dirtygaiters
11-02-2007, 02:45
GPS units are notoriously user-unfriendly, but that sounds like a broken GPS unit. The only place mine loses its signal is deep in canyons.

Possum Bill
11-02-2007, 08:43
GPS units are notoriously user-unfriendly, but that sounds like a broken GPS unit. The only place mine loses its signal is deep in canyons.

Yeah, Garmin sells is as their "trail" model so I would wish it would do much better.

I really appreciate all the info guys, but it seems there's still mixed opinions on whether it's faulty or not. I guess my best bet is to call Garmin and see what they have to say about it.

Thanks again!

KirkMcquest
11-02-2007, 08:56
I've got the garmin 76csx, its awsome. I even get signals indoors/under tree cover, etc..

Possum Bill
11-02-2007, 09:17
Were you walking through the abandoned trail just past the falls, or the access trail that runs from the road at the river crossing to Jones Branch Hollow?

Anyway, that part of the Elk River is a known dead zone. One being that from Buck Mountain/Elk Park area to Boone, there is little or no cell coverage.

The Elk River gorge is very steep and has tons of exposed rock that reflects
signals.

I was at Mountaineer Falls a couple weeks ago, and I couldn't pick up any local TriCities stations; everything was coming out of Boone or Charlotte.

Being part of the TEHCC, Pisgah informed us that they will no longer maintain the trail along the cliffs. They will only maintain the forest trail from the parking area to the falls, and the forest road. We still use the access trail at Jones Branch Hollow to access the AT. But with it eroding into the river, we will have to move it or use the Sugar Hollow access.

If you never used the Sugar Hollow access, you cross Elk River and follow the forest road for a short walk. Once it starts going up hill above the open meadows, look left to see a unmarked trail. This trail leads back down to the river to the opposite side of the river flats, where the Elk River stile is located.


Ben,

I went past the falls and continued on that abandoned trail (following the edge of the river) until I came upon the road. I followed the road for a couple hundred yards and then I came upon a ford (where the road crossed the river). This is the opening where I was still trying to get a satellite connection with no luck. Anyway, from there I went through a small meadow and continued to follow the river until I found Jones Branch. From there I climbed up that unmarked trail until I ran into the AT.

No, I'm not familiar with the Sugar Hollow access, but isn't that much farther downstream from the falls? Seems like you would have to do spend a lot miles off the AT to get to the falls from that far down? And I also don't understand how and where you are talking about crossing Elk River?

Anyway, I saw a lot of erosion control matting on the banks of the river in that area, so I assumed that's way Pisgah no longer maintains the trail, or a flood washed it away. Regardless, it's a shame that there's not a maintained trail from the AT to Elk River Falls. It's such a fantastic waterfall and only a short distance from the AT at Jones Branch. I would guess that most AT hikers don't have a clue that they're that close to such an awesome waterfall. Even if we could just get a short maintained trail from the Jones Branch area to that access road would be great.

I'd be all for helping out if you guys decide to move it or whatever. Please let me know if something is decided upon, and I'll be happy to help!

faarside
11-02-2007, 14:22
This sometimes happens to me with my Garmin eTrex Legend; however, I have never completely lost mapping capability unless I was heavily tree-covered, or under a heavily overcast sky. Sat access and distrubution may or may not be an issue for you. I assume you have checked the satellite "availability" screen to see what sat's are available to you?

Possum Bill
11-02-2007, 15:24
This sometimes happens to me with my Garmin eTrex Legend; however, I have never completely lost mapping capability unless I was heavily tree-covered, or under a heavily overcast sky. Sat access and distrubution may or may not be an issue for you. I assume you have checked the satellite "availability" screen to see what sat's are available to you?

Yes... I refer to that screen all the time, and I look at it while holding the unit at different directions and angles in order to try to help it get a fix. In the example I was refering to the the other day on Elk River, I got a half signal (1/2 bar) on 1 satellite at about 2 p.m. with clear sky directly above me. No matter what I did, I couldn't get 3 satellites to connect.

Sly
11-02-2007, 15:36
I didn't bother reading every post but have you tried Garmin update? Perhaps your firmware is out of date. You need to download the WebUpdater and run it with your GPS hooked up to your computer.

Jim Lemire
11-02-2007, 15:52
Does not sound right. I have one. You should try going to the same place again in case the satellites happened to be walled off at peticular time.
I find caches in the woods all the time with mine.

Jim

johnny quest
11-02-2007, 16:25
ive owned 4 garmins over the years and ive never had that much trouble. the software update is a good first idea but i think youve got something wrong with your unit.

now, i did have one go flatline on me when i was geocaching near eglin air force base once. figured that was those black helicopters messing with me....

Chache
11-02-2007, 17:21
I didn't bother reading every post but have you tried Garmin update? Perhaps your firmware is out of date. You need to download the WebUpdater and run it with your GPS hooked up to your computer.
Best idea yet. Can't hurt

Toolshed
11-02-2007, 18:23
Possum, I owned an Etrex Vista for about 4 years before selling it and replacing with a 76CSx.

Even if you have mountains on either side of you, you should be able to get a fix on a bird directly over you at some point.

There are not really dead spots like there is with cellphone coverage, only obstacles close to you that block satellites that are not located directly above you.

The Etrex series has a decent internal patch antenna, but nothing like the Quad Helix that the 60 and 76 series comes with (Functionally similiar).
From what I understand with the Etrex Series, the best position is flat, whereas the 60 /76 should be held vertical That doesn't solve your problem, though.
I found my body would block the birds and I found that sometimes it was best to hod the Etrex in my hand to get the best reception.

With your unit, I would take it back to where you got it and have them do a bake-off with other similiar store units to see if it has an anomoly.
Good Luck
DarkSide

Dakota Dan
11-02-2007, 22:02
The trouble with a lot of older GPS units where they didn't do too good in mountainous terrain nor under tree-cover. I have an older unit that I found the only way to properly plot trails was to do it in the winter when the leaves are off and fasten it to either atop my head using my headlamp to fasten to or to my shoulder using my pack strap. However, I how have the eTrex Legend HCx unit and it receives as well as the 60Cx, and much much better than the older units. I got my at a 20% off sale and was well worth it.

Units with the "High-sensitivity receiver"
GPSMAP 60Cx , GPSMAP 60CSx , eTrex Vista HCx , eTrex Legend HCx

Sly
11-02-2007, 22:29
I'd try the firmware first. I have the Legend C and have had a couple updates. If that doesn't work, just bring it back. Here's the link to the WebUpdater (http://www8.garmin.com/support/download.jsp)

Here's a link that will let you know by email about new updates.

etrexvistacx-updates-subscribe@announcements.garmin.com (etrexvistacx-updates-subscribe@announcements.garmin.com)

After you send your blank email, you will receive an automated email to confirm you wish to join the notification list. This is done for your protection as well as ours. The confirmation email will contain instructions about what to do next, but, in a nutshell, all you will probably need to do is reply to the confirmation email with the normal "Reply" function of your email reading program.

Possum Bill
11-02-2007, 23:40
I'd try the firmware first. I have the Legend C and have had a couple updates. If that doesn't work, just bring it back. Here's the link to the WebUpdater (http://www8.garmin.com/support/download.jsp)

Here's a link that will let you know by email about new updates.

etrexvistacx-updates-subscribe@announcements.garmin.com

After you send your blank email, you will receive an automated email to confirm you wish to join the notification list. This is done for your protection as well as ours. The confirmation email will contain instructions about what to do next, but, in a nutshell, all you will probably need to do is reply to the confirmation email with the normal "Reply" function of your email reading program.


Okay, I downloaded and installed the Web Updater as you guys suggested, but as soon as I installed it, my computer would no longer recognize my GPS unit. I also tried to connect my unit to MapSource, and it would not recognize it there either. I couldn't find an uninstall for the Web Updater so I did a system restore, and once I got rid of the Web Updater my computer once again recognized my unit, and it loaded just fine in MapSource. I went through this process twice with the same results.

I appreciate all the info guys, but I guess I just need to contact Garmin. This is getting really frustrating.

Sly
11-02-2007, 23:54
Wow, that's weird. I don't know what to say. I think you can look on the download page and see if there were any updates for your softwre and GPS since the time you bought them. If they need one, the ones sitting on the self as a replacement probably need one too.

Garmin have a forum? You're probably better asking there. Or calling Garmin.

Dakota Dan
11-03-2007, 11:53
Make sure you have the latest updates for Mapsource as it relates to your computers OS. Garmin has dropped pre-XP OS updates, so don't try to load the newer updates on an older OS, such as Windows 98. The directions will explain.

Toolshed
11-03-2007, 13:15
Okay, I downloaded and installed the Web Updater as you guys suggested, but as soon as I installed it, my computer would no longer recognize my GPS unit. I also tried to connect my unit to MapSource, and it would not recognize it there either. I couldn't find an uninstall for the Web Updater so I did a system restore, and once I got rid of the Web Updater my computer once again recognized my unit, and it loaded just fine in MapSource. I went through this process twice with the same results.

I appreciate all the info guys, but I guess I just need to contact Garmin. This is getting really frustrating.

Possum, do you have an RS232 cable or USB with your Etrex C Version? it might be possible that Webupdater change the sys requirements to now expect a USB port. (or vice-a versa.) In fact, I am wiling to bet that might be the case.

CoyoteWhips
11-03-2007, 14:29
Having read this thread, I ran the updater on my Legend with the serial cable. Worked ok, though my os was already up-to-date.

Possum Bill
11-03-2007, 23:19
Possum, do you have an RS232 cable or USB with your Etrex C Version? it might be possible that Webupdater change the sys requirements to now expect a USB port. (or vice-a versa.) In fact, I am wiling to bet that might be the case.

I use USB to connect my unit. I also run XP, and MapSource is up-to-date as well.

Frosty
11-03-2007, 23:50
I use USB to connect my unit. I also run XP, and MapSource is up-to-date as well.Check with Garmin. The cable connector on my 60CS became loose and my computer would not recognize my GPS. I called Garmin about getting it fixed (I'd had it for over a year) and they replaced it free.