Author Topic: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx  (Read 6187 times)

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Offline SFGary

A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« on: March 16, 2012, 06:58:14 pm »
I know the Garmin line best, but perhaps someone will add suggestions about DeLorme and Magellan.

The eTrex Legend HCx sounds like a good fit to me. Equipped with the City Navigator map set, it will take you through the 50 states and most of Canada. Buy the maps on DVD, not the preloaded SD card, and put them on the Mac for your trip planning and reloading the receiver with maps, routes, and waypoints. City Navigator does not include elevation data. The ACA maps show contour lines at large intervals, and their GPS waypoints include elevations in mountainous terrain. You could buy the Topo US 100K map set for full elevation coverage.

Having the Mac eliminates the need for huge map storage or waypoint storage in the GPSR. You will probably load maps every few weeks of riding. Other features of more expensive models: magnetic compass and barometric altimeter. The Legend shows your direction as soon as you start moving, but not when stopped. Its GPS altitude is less accurate than barometric, about +- 50 feet vs. +- 20 feet. Both are fine for cycling.

Use the free RoadTrip software to manage the maps, load them, take your daily tracks and waypoints, and plan routes.

Accessories you are likely to want: handlebar mount, 4 rechargeable AA batteries and an AC charger, MicroSD card (probably 2GB size), and card reader for the Mac if it does not have a slot. If you get a camera that uses AA batteries, it can share the charger and probably the card reader.

This unit does distance and speed, but not cadence nor heart rate. (The Edge series does, but it is not suited for touring, being specialized for training.) No temperature, either, but a keychain thermometer does as well.

I still use a bike computer beside the GPSR, mainly for cadence and as backup for distance. GPS eliminates the mental subtraction exercises that we all did when estimating the next turn.

GPS takes some practice to use well. Plan to spend an hour in an easy chair with receiver and owner's manual, then take it on local rides to see how it does on routes you know. A few hundred miles will give you a good idea of what it can and cannot do.

Finally, be sure to have paper maps and a keychain compass along. Electronics gets lost and broken too often to not have a backup. I think of the GPSR as an adjunct to the ACA maps. It is a good navigator, but lacks the cycling knowledge built into those maps.

Fred

Fred, thank you, you stopped me from an expensive mistake, I almost bought the Edge 800.  Are the Electronic Compass and the Barometric altitude features on the eTrex Vista HCx worth the extra $50? Also I bought all the maps I need for my ride, does the GPS date from ACA cost more?

For that matter why not the eTrex20/30. They seem to have a higher res screens with all the same features except for "Outdoor GPS" games and I can't see myself doing that...

Gary
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 07:05:13 pm by SFGary »

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2012, 08:01:20 pm »
I can give you one man's opinion on the compass and barometric altimeter. I replaced a GPSMAP 60C with a GPSMAP 60CS, which adds those features.

I find the compass useless. It uses a lot of battery power, has to be calibrated every time you change batteries because the batteries are somewhat magnetic, and it has to be held level to work. I leave it turned off. A $7 key-chain compass is better for biking. The GPSR gives your course accurately as soon as you start moving. When stopped, you need a compass, the sun, or the stars.

GPS elevation is noisy. Its reading jumps around by +- 30 to 200 feet, depending on the constellation of satellites. Its average over a few minutes, however, is accurate. The barometric altimeter gives a smooth, steady reading, but suffers long-term drift as the weather changes. With both available, the GPSR corrects the barometric reading for drift by using an average of the GPS elevation, gaining the best of both methods.

When I wonder how much climbing is left to the next pass, the barometric altimeter adds no value. I do find it useful when I record a track for transfer to the computer to make a profile of the ride. The profile is much smoother.

The better screen of the newer eTrex models sounds good. I cannot offer any experience there, however. You might find some comparison screen shots on the Internet. Garmin has proliferated their models to the point where it's hard to keep track of them, much less choose one without doing the research.

Fred

Offline SFGary

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 09:43:52 pm »
Hi Fred

Thanks for yr. post and the late reply. I forgot to turn on notification for replies n the forum...

Since I already own a car GPS, the 2595LMT and don't plan to go off-road, I thought I'll get a bike mount and an external battery and see if it works on the road. If it does not then I'll get one of the eTrex ones and based on yr. experience I'll skip the ones w/altimeter, compass features.

Gary

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2012, 09:57:53 pm »
Please post your experience with that GPSR on a bike. I think a lot of us wonder how well an auto receiver will do. Check its owner's manual for rain-proofing and vibration tolerance. Those big bright screens are wonderful, but add weight and power drain. Too much to be useful?

Standing by,

Fred

Offline SFGary

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2012, 09:41:40 pm »
OK Fred, here's what I have so far to see if a Garmin car GPS 2595 LMT will work on a bike: I bought a RAM mount for my bike handlebar, a Jef Jones H Bar: http://www.mountguys.com/product_p/rap-274-1-ga52u.htm and a Gomadic battery for a Garmin 2450 (closest to the 2595:) ). I checked on the Garmin site for voltage, amps etc but there's precious little info. But if you look at the wall charger info you find that the same wall charge works for several models. So I went ahead and bought the Gomadic battery even though it was not for this model. It came in today and was half charged so I attached it to the Garmin and turned it on. Initially it goes into the charge model and eventually the Nav screen came on. Oddly enough I noticed in a different battery that if you toggle the power switch a couple of times the Nav screen comes on (read this on a GPS forum somewhere, can't explain it). The explanation accd to the Gomadic tech support is  that Garmin adds a resistor to the USB cable and somehow that allows their own car cigarette lighter charger to work. So these guys emulated that system. In any case it seems to work. I'll test it out on the road tomorrow, the mount is on the bike so I am all set. If it works then I'll get a waterproof soft case to take along on the trip. Interestingly, the RAM mount, since its designed to go on a motorcycle handlebar is way better and more solid than the fragile holder that comes with the Garmin GPS...more after the ride. Some pics to show the battery and the GPS plugged in

Offline andyweston

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2012, 05:51:36 pm »
apologies for listening in - about to ride in June - why Topo 100K not 25K? 100K is accurate enough?

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2012, 07:09:21 pm »
Gary, thanks for the progress report. Standing by for more.

Andy, both series maps are accurate, although dated. The 25K maps have more detail than we need for cycling, although great for hiking. Everything flies by quickly at bike speeds. Think of navigating a printed topo map covered with a sheet of cardboard that has a 1" x 2" hole in it.

In my opinion, buy the 100K and save the money, the multiple maps, and the memory needed for 25K. Unless, of course, you want some for hiking as well.

Fred

Offline andyweston

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2012, 06:33:51 pm »
Cheers Fred - what I wanted to hear - although wonder if my speed on the bike is as quick as you predict! -

Offline SFGary

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2012, 08:09:06 pm »
Hi Fred

It works! I attached the Garmin 2595LMT to the RAM mount on the bike and turned it on in the Golden Gate Park in SF. As soon as it was operational and I could see the location at the Velodrome in the park, I plugged in the Gomadic charger (both were fully charged btw.) The GPS went into data/charge mode and in about 30 seconds came back into Navigation mode. I put the Gomadic in the small handlebar bag (see pics) and rode down to the Great Highway along the beach. Except for the fact that the GPS screen is a bit washed out due to the bright sunlight, it was visible, working and the RAM mount held it firmly.

As you can see from the two pics that I could attach, the ext. battery (Gomadic brand) is in the bag, attached by its cable to the Garmin. I don't know how long it will last but I sort of estimate 2.5 hours for the GPS when it is fully charged and I would probably add another 2 -3 hours with the battery. More than enough for 6-8 hours on the road if used sparingly. What I did note was that I bent the USB connector on the cable when I tried to feel around in the back of the GPS for the USB port after it was on the bike, luckily it still works. So that is a bit fragile. I'll get a backup and maybe use a zip tie to hold it on the handlebar so the cable does not move around on a highway and break the USB connector.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2012, 10:19:13 pm »
All right! Please keep us in touch as you gain some experience with the rig on longer rides. Inquiring minds will want to know about weight and battery life.

I had a RAM mount for my GPS III+ back in the day. Heavy, but bomb-proof.

As you see, your photos did not come through. See Posting Images to Forum at the top of the General Discussion group for some things to check.

Fred

Offline SFGary

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2012, 10:51:45 pm »
Fred: Very strange! I can see them. Maybe its in a cache somewhere on my PC, I'll redo it

Modified with photobucket link: http://s1261.photobucket.com/albums/ii590/sfgary1/. Lets see if this worked  ::)
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 11:09:23 pm by SFGary »

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2012, 11:17:54 pm »
Yup. I clicked the link and reached your two-picture album. Thanks!

Fred

Offline mdxix

Re: A GPS question: Garmin eTrex Legend HCx
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2012, 08:20:00 pm »
I can see the two pictures on the forum page with the response.