View Full Version : Garmin Oregon 450/550 & Dakota 20

12-03-2010, 22:08
Anyone want to contribute to a "lessons learned" thread about these devices?

I prefer to work almost exclusively from the memory card, so I wanted to limit this thread to only memory card models. Unless I specify otherwise, I'm talking about the memory card.

Tracks and waypoints
GPX tracks and waypoints are easily added simply by copying the files, which is nice when there's a LOT of files due to the limit of number of data points in each file. No need for Mapsource. If Mapsource is used, you have to open a track/waypoint file on Mapsource, send it to the memory card, open another track/waypoint file in Mapsouce and receive data from the memory card, open another track/waypoint file in Mapsource, etc. The underlined part is repeated to add all the files together--see why it's better to copy the files directly?

Multiple maps can be added to the device and viewed simultaneously or one at a time.

In Mapsource you can select grids to copy in one map, but you can also select a different map from the drop-down box and add more grids to copy to the memory card. You can use several maps. I had at least 5 maps loaded during my PCT hike.

If you download a map file that's supposed to be copied directly to the device, but still want to add other maps, I'll copy the bigger set of maps directly to the memory card, and the send the smaller map file to the gps device from within Mapsource.

I have an old copy of Garmin's US 100k Topo maps, but there's no way I'm paying for their 24k maps. I like free maps. Free maps are really good too. I usually get my maps from www.gpsfiledepot.com. The quality and features of their maps vary, so look around for your best fit...or use several maps. I've also downloaded a premade map file from www.openstreetmap.org. The premade map file is supposed to be copied directly to the memory card or gps device.

Street navigation
Some maps, including free maps, allow you to create street routes. This is useful for actually driving out to the trail head or helping your hitch get you to where you want to go.

I have not used City Navigator, but I assume it would work since routes on the free maps works. I'm assuming it's little more than a route-capable map with better streets, street names and points of interest.

Trip odometer
The trip odometer is not accurate, at least not straight out of the box. An update helps fix that, but it still may not be as accurate as a recorded track when viewed in Mapsource. The accuracy of the track recording can be increased, but the trip odometer cannot.

Camera (Oregon 550 only)
The camera does not work until the maps/pictures/waypoints/tracks have loaded. This makes getting a picture of quick and/or timid wildlife very difficult unless the gps is already on.

Halfmile's waypoints utilized all the capacity of my gps, so I couldn't save any new waypoints while out on the trail. Taking a picture was my workaround. Gps location information is recorded in the picture. Uploading the picture to a Google Picassa photo album shows the location where the picture was taken.

Screen protection
That plastic film screen protector that is on the screen when it's brand new really diminishes the screen view-ability. I was needlessly turning up the screen brightness and killing my battery life until I pulled off that film.

The slip case makes using the touchscreen very difficult. Taking off my slip case frequently to use the device eventually resulted in getting the slip case lost.

Power savings
Turn down the screen brightness, especially during the day. I'm not sure if all the screens are the same, but my screen is actually easier to see when in direct sunlight.

The screen brightness is adjusted by quickly pressing the power button.

Turn off the compass.

Turn off track recording.

Use the power saving mode.

Even better, use it in conjunction with maps so you can turn it on only long enough to write down your coordinates. This can allow a set of batteries to last for weeks.

12-17-2010, 03:30
About maps again...

The nice thing about combining multiple maps is that the features of different maps to be combined into a more useful maps. For example, I have one map with really good information about streets and POIs, and another map with 20 feet elevation lines. Loading both maps gives me streets, POIs and elevation lines. I don't have to choose because I can have it all.

The other thing is that I can turn off the map with elevation lines when I'm using my Garmin for street navigation.

01-10-2011, 22:32

That seems to cover this device very well. If it doesn't, it's a wiki, so eventually it will. There's no need for me to continue updating this thread.