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  1. #1
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    Garmin Vista HCx suddenly turns off

    I've read up a bit on this issue on other forums, but would be interested in the reponses/replies here

    My Vista HCx seems to have developed the power-off-when-exposed-to-shaking bug. 2 weeks of offroad riding in the Alps posed no problem (using a handlebar mount), but yesterday the unit switched off at least 20 times during a road ride (using a home-made stem mount). I suspect it's something to do with high frequency vibration, as when I accidently dropped the unit the power remained on.

    Another 'new' bug is a repeating low battery messages, even though the batteries were fully charged. At the end of a 5:30 hour road ride, the battery indicator was still on full (I typically get about a week's worth of riding on this set of AAs when fully charged), yet I'd had the low charge message about 10 times.

    Does anybody have a fix? I know the obvious solution is to send the unit back under warranty (4 months left), but from what I gather the issue is the contact between the battery holder and the circuit board. I imagine a new unit under warranty will have the same (slight) design flaw and will be doomed to developing problems in the future. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance!
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    Last edited by eric; 08-24-2009 at 05:27 AM.

  2. #2
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    I would send it back under warranty. Unfortunately, I doubt Garmin has fixed the underlying problem. Mounting it on the handlebars puts a tremendous amount of shock and vibration into the unit.

  3. #3
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    #1 check for firmware updates. I have heard of power off or freezing issues due to a bug in firmware.

    #2 if the power off problem is due to the batteries falling out, you can put some foam inside the battery compartment to wedge them more securely. If that doesn't fix the problem, I have heard about DIY fixes (google it...but I think the answer could be found on the groundspeak forums). Alternatively, you could send it back.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies. I've goofed around a little bit with different fixes as suggestion, and this hasn't made any difference. Since Garmin has offered to at least consider it for warranty, I've sent it in today.

    Cheers!
    e

  5. #5
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    As Nate says, there can be issues with the GPS reporting wrong battery level; this was an issue with the 305 about three years back and solved with firmware.

    My first guess was battery bounce as well, but sound like you have tried to solve that. Again, as Nate says, there have been some bad solder connections internally that are easily solved if you have the tools, skills, and eyesight to solder tiny wires, I don't any longer.

    Good luck with Garmin, they do a great job of standing behing their products.
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  6. #6
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    your rechargable batterys may be getting old also.

  7. #7
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    The rechargable batteries are only a month old, so that must likely isn't the issue. Either way - by this time the Garmin distributor should have a look. Hopefully they'll have a fixed or replaced unit on its way within a couple of weeks.

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    Had a similar problem with low battery message. Net search turned up that some rechargeables seem to have lower voltage than is needed. Got some of Sanyo Eneloop cells and problem gone. If your HCx runs fine with alkalines (and the correct setting in system settings), you have bad cells.

  9. #9
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    Well....

    The local Garmin distributor (a marine nav. company) sent me a new unit which arrived yesterday. I haven't gotten further than setting everything back to metric units, but as far as I'm concerned thumbs up for Garmin service.

    Once I have more time behind the PC I'll see if I can get a new firmware update and it's back to business. I have heard reports of issues with the most recent firmware versions... anybody care to comment?

  10. #10
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    How are you mounting it on the bike? If you are using the Gamin mount, it puts a lot of stress on the battery cover which tends to shake the batteries loose. I've resorted to using a RAM mount which cradles the entire unit

  11. #11
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    I use the Garmin unit, but the battery cover was retrofitted with a bit of soft foam to stop any rattling. So far the new unit works perfectly, and I must admit its battery cover is a very tight fit.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by eric
    I've read up a bit on this issue on other forums, but would be interested in the reponses/replies here

    Does anybody have a fix? I know the obvious solution is to send the unit back under warranty (4 months left), but from what I gather the issue is the contact between the battery holder and the circuit board. I imagine a new unit under warranty will have the same (slight) design flaw and will be doomed to developing problems in the future. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance!
    -
    e
    I know for a fact what the problem is and I saw and fixed it on a number of devices. The battery compartment does not have a connector to the PCB, but it touches two pads on it mechanically.

    Due to vibration and different metals used in the contact, the connection will stop working under vibration. The only way to fix it is to open the unit, and solder small wires from the battery contact to the PCB. Plenty of space to do so, anyone can do it.

    The problem is you loose the warranty - the benifit you have a SAFE device!!!! I would rather fix it than keep replacing units under warranty.

    The nightmare is to do this on a HCx as you need to unglue the rubber to take it apart, and it's very hard but not impossible to put the unit back together. Tips: you have the rubber band - don't stretch it!!!! Underneath there is something like scotch tape - that will need to be repurchased and mounted. Underneath that is another sealing elastic soft rubber tape - SAVE it and reuse it!!!!!

    60 series are much easier to fix, as they use the screws and a gasket to put the unit together. EXTREMELY POOOOOOOOORRRR engineering, but still the best device on the market, which is just sad.

    Domi

    P.S. how hard can it be to show a bitmap on the screen Garmin??????????? it's the 21th century - we have great satellite imagery and your TOPO maps are not cutting it!!!!!!!! Wake up!!!!!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmalovic
    I know for a fact what the problem is and I saw and fixed it on a number of devices. The battery compartment does not have a connector to the PCB, but it touches two pads on it mechanically.

    Due to vibration and different metals used in the contact, the connection will stop working under vibration. The only way to fix it is to open the unit, and solder small wires from the battery contact to the PCB. Plenty of space to do so, anyone can do it.

    The problem is you loose the warranty - the benifit you have a SAFE device!!!! I would rather fix it than keep replacing units under warranty.

    The nightmare is to do this on a HCx as you need to unglue the rubber to take it apart, and it's very hard but not impossible to put the unit back together. Tips: you have the rubber band - don't stretch it!!!! Underneath there is something like scotch tape - that will need to be repurchased and mounted. Underneath that is another sealing elastic soft rubber tape - SAVE it and reuse it!!!!!

    60 series are much easier to fix, as they use the screws and a gasket to put the unit together. EXTREMELY POOOOOOOOORRRR engineering, but still the best device on the market, which is just sad.

    Domi

    P.S. how hard can it be to show a bitmap on the screen Garmin??????????? it's the 21th century - we have great satellite imagery and your TOPO maps are not cutting it!!!!!!!! Wake up!!!!!!
    Looks like you've been deluded into thinking that putting imagery on a GPS is the be all-end all mapping solution. That's just marketing. While it's useful for SOME applications, it is not the best solution in all cases. In my case, I have a great deal of mapping education as well as a bit of education in backcountry navigation. I find a topo map FAR more useful than an aerial photo.

    And don't blame Garmin for your ignorance of 3rd party options. You can get imagery on there. Costs $20. Look into MOAGU. It's cheaper than anything Garmin might develop, and basemaps are free, unlike delorme unless you spring for their expensive software.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk
    Looks like you've been deluded into thinking that putting imagery on a GPS is the be all-end all mapping solution. That's just marketing. While it's useful for SOME applications, it is not the best solution in all cases. In my case, I have a great deal of mapping education as well as a bit of education in backcountry navigation. I find a topo map FAR more useful than an aerial photo.

    And don't blame Garmin for your ignorance of 3rd party options. You can get imagery on there. Costs $20. Look into MOAGU. It's cheaper than anything Garmin might develop, and base maps are free, unlike delorme unless you spring for their expensive software.
    I know about the Mother Of All Garmin Utility, and I did not only want to refer to the satellite and orto photo imagery, but the TOPO maps as well. Topo maps are the main help in planning my trips, but since they are old, I sometimes use the satellite images to fine tune the tracks.

    Modern GPS units should support both vector and bitmap formats, with their strengths and weaknesses alike. I make my own vector maps when I need them, and MOAGU maps are EXTREMELY slow, as they trick the device into showing them.

    However, Garmin Oregon supports rasters, and it's a matter of time before it's reverse engineered

    http://www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/t...OPIC_ID=119670

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmalovic
    I know about the Mother Of All Garmin Utility, and I did not only want to refer to the satellite and orto photo imagery, but the TOPO maps as well. Topo maps are the main help in planning my trips, but since they are old, I sometimes use the satellite images to fine tune the tracks.

    Modern GPS units should support both vector and bitmap formats, with their strengths and weaknesses alike. I make my own vector maps when I need them, and MOAGU maps are EXTREMELY slow, as they trick the device into showing them.

    However, Garmin Oregon supports rasters, and it's a matter of time before it's reverse engineered

    http://www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/t...OPIC_ID=119670
    Where I live, topography doesn't exactly change every few years. A 50yr old topo map is typically going to work fine. I'm not using it to find services. The roads are helpful when I'm in a new area and cross an intersection I'm not expecting. You want to complain about topos not getting updated? Contact your congressman/senator. The USGS doesn't have the funding for the project anymore.

    What are you doing planning on the GPS, anyway? Isn't that better left to the computer? I use gps receivers all the time in my thesis that use imagery. There really isn't any information in there that I need for riding a bike. They really only serve as basemaps to let me know where I am relative to roads, rivers, and stuff like that.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk
    What are you doing planning on the GPS, anyway? Isn't that better left to the computer? I use gps receivers all the time in my thesis that use imagery. There really isn't any information in there that I need for riding a bike. They really only serve as basemaps to let me know where I am relative to roads, rivers, and stuff like that.
    Again, we differ in our use of the GPS technology. I live in Croatia (Europe) and our USGS version of maps, actually the old military maps are 40 years old. No the topography has not changed, but I care about another important aspect.

    Believe it or not, I still live in a free country where one can roam freely. If I end up on someones property, or their back yard, out in the boonies, I will not get shot at, I will be offered a shot of their moonshine . Kind of different from the US, I know both countries.

    I use my topo maps to plan a potential ride through some god forsaken places, on the hiking paths (OK to do BTW in many places here), tractor paths and such. When I get to riding, I will many times get to places where there's no longer a usable passage. We carry our bikes many times, and a successful ride is the one you come out of bloody, from the thorns and such. I will then check the track in GE, where I see more details from time to time.

    When you are in situations like this one, with the very simple vector Topo map of Croatia plus one track that I am supposed to follow, I VERY much need the TOPO map to check alternative routes, other passages that are maybe there, maybe not. I do carry a pocket PC device with OziCE and the topo maps, so I am covered. I also built my own transparent Garmin vector maps that just add additional roads and paths to the existing map, but I would VERY much like a simple thing - for garmin to support the USGS type maps if I need them. Make a converter from Ozi, only show those maps in north orientation, have a few prerecorded zoom levels, and it's simpler to show than drawing all the vectors on the screen.

    I don't know what the fuss is about a simple request that many customers, that should always be right are asking for?

    Domi

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmalovic
    Again, we differ in our use of the GPS technology. I live in Croatia (Europe) and our USGS version of maps, actually the old military maps are 40 years old. No the topography has not changed, but I care about another important aspect.

    Believe it or not, I still live in a free country where one can roam freely. If I end up on someones property, or their back yard, out in the boonies, I will not get shot at, I will be offered a shot of their moonshine . Kind of different from the US, I know both countries.

    I use my topo maps to plan a potential ride through some god forsaken places, on the hiking paths (OK to do BTW in many places here), tractor paths and such. When I get to riding, I will many times get to places where there's no longer a usable passage. We carry our bikes many times, and a successful ride is the one you come out of bloody, from the thorns and such. I will then check the track in GE, where I see more details from time to time.

    When you are in situations like this one, with the very simple vector Topo map of Croatia plus one track that I am supposed to follow, I VERY much need the TOPO map to check alternative routes, other passages that are maybe there, maybe not. I do carry a pocket PC device with OziCE and the topo maps, so I am covered. I also built my own transparent Garmin vector maps that just add additional roads and paths to the existing map, but I would VERY much like a simple thing - for garmin to support the USGS type maps if I need them. Make a converter from Ozi, only show those maps in north orientation, have a few prerecorded zoom levels, and it's simpler to show than drawing all the vectors on the screen.

    I don't know what the fuss is about a simple request that many customers, that should always be right are asking for?

    Domi
    Current survey GPS technology is exactly a PocketPC (Windows Mobile) device (with some serious ruggedizing and a few extra features, but it still uses the same OS and the same processors and the same memory). Lots of GPS receivers available for your device that can plug into an expansion port or even use a Bluetooth connection. Only difference from there is the software. Regardless, you already own at least most of the tech to do exactly what you want. Not sure why you ALSO want Garmin to support a proprietary version of that.

    Oh, and by the way, the customer NEVER should have been right in the first place. Too many f'n idiots abusing that privilege and taking advantage of the system anymore.

    I also find vector graphics to be much easier to use on more restricted hardware, like the consumer grade stuff. Vector graphics are much simpler and quicker to draw. Now a 10ft contour is just insane, but a more reasonable 20-50ft contour is going to draw faster than a raster where each cell has its own value.

    In this country, you probably won't get shot at unless you end up in Texas or someone's illegal pot farm somewhere. Even in TX, places you're likely to get shot from trespassing usually have some obvious signs of trouble. Usually very tall barbed wire fences, razor wire coils, prominent "No Trespassing" signs, etc. Many places have the potential for being accidentally shot during hunting season, though.

    Also, I'm not sure what you mean by USGS type maps. Here in the US, the USGS initially produced all of our topo maps. That's all. Various imagery these days is primarily handled by private companies, except for a lot of the multispectral stuff, which primarily comes from NASA. Current GIS software can generate contours from a DEM (as it seems you already know), so there's really no need even for the USGS to be in the business of updating their old maps. Only problem now is that since so many smaller agencies are responsible for their own data, it's a little tougher to handle larger geographic areas. Some stuff is held and produced (and freely distributed) by small private landholders.

    Anyway, my point about planning is that it's sooo much better to plan your route on the PC where you have more screen real estate to see what's around. Me, I have a 28" widescreen AND a 15" monitor specifically for being able to see large portions of maps at high zoom levels. I couldn't imagine trying to plan a route directly on my GPS. That screen is so tiny and you can't see much of anything at a respectable zoom level.

  18. #18
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    I don't care that much for the DEM generated contour lines, as the only available grid, without going bankrupt is 90m, which is too low. But I am often more interested in small roads and paths than the terrain itself. By having one unit support it all I would not have to carry an additional unit, and wait for it to lock onto satellites (FS N560 is BAD for TTFF).

    Even though I recognize the advantages of vector graphics, I think that drawing a map of the same detail will be much faster on a raster map than vectors. The bitmaps are simply copied onto the video memory, no math involved. Sometimes, depending on the hardware, you don't even have to copy, just walk a pointer for the video memory to the beginning of the map.

    With vectors, you have many vertexes to deal with. Drawing and rotating them takes a lot of processing time, and if you have many objects, it can take a long time. For instance, when I am in Zagreb, the vector topo map for Garmin is very detailed, showing every building, all the parks, streams, a lot of detail. At 500meters zoom, a screen redraw will literally take 5 to 8 seconds. In that time, even the oldest processors could move a thousand bitmap images on the screen, making that much faster. Hope that explains why one would want Garmin to support it.

    I get the impression that Garmin will not include more advanced options for the sole reason of making the device easier to use for the stupid customer (there we agree). How SILLY is it that you cannot use the GPS altitude in the cockpit of a pressurized airplane on a barometer equipped GPS unit like Vista HCx???? Insane. Or that you cannot somehow browse the tracks from your SD card from a year ago, even if your life depended on it.

    I say - make an advanced unit, and HIDE the advanced options. I will use them and the keep it simple stupid crowd does not have to.

    I think that if someone made a unit that had the screen visibility of the old Garmin models, had a great bike mount, used AA batteries, supported Ozi raster and vector maps, handled and used the external memory better, had better handling of maps (again, like Ozi map indexing), had great customization capabilities, they would OWN the market.

    My Canon T1i camera even has some configuration options hidden away in an obscure place, there you change the options by flipping them to one's and zero's, for the advanced crowd. I am afraid Garmin is only on top still because most of the others are even worse, but the GPS units are appalling. Just think about the Etrex bike mount there the only contact with the bike is the batt. compartment lid? Or the unit GLUED together and the glue fails for EVERYONE after a while??? That is no way to go forward. Now with the new units the batteries last half the time, and you cannot see the screen in the Sun . Just a very sad story.

    But I am probably asking for too much

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    You confuse me, but I think there must be some kind of language barrier or something.

    I'm saying that you don't even need the Garmin. Your PDA with a GPS receiver can do EVERYTHING if you have the right software. Your DEM's do suck...90m? Standard in the States is 30m. I don't know much about your hardware discussion. What I DO know is that I handle this stuff all the time. I also know that a set of vectors for a given area draws faster than a set of rasters for the same area. Now, one thing that slows vectors down is that they often come in a VERY large extent. Say, a vector file covering transportation would cover an entire state where the rasters cover a MUCH smaller area. So when I'm working with that stuff, the first thing to do is to clip the vector data to the extent I'll actually be using because the computer is processing the WHOLE file at the WHOLE extent (even what is not currently displayed). If raster graphics were handled the same way....yikes.

    For the software I use, I have to prepare my data on the PC before I package it for the handheld. That includes setting the extent of the files I plan on using. The program also will optimize rasters to make them smaller. Resolution drops, but since storage is at a premium (the original files are usually 25MB each), the optimization is necessary. But once those vector files are clipped to the correct extent, they display lightning-fast. Not sure why Garmin's topos for Zagreb have so much detail on buildings and stuff. There's really no need for that kind of information, and even the US maps don't have that kind of detail. There's also no such thing as video memory on a GPS. I don't think even a PDA has that sort of thing.

    I'm telling you that the advanced stuff is already there. Why do you want Garmin to offer it, too? I like Garmin for what they are...simple consumer GPS receivers. If I want something simple, I get one of my Garmins. If I want more advanced stuff, I grab one of the more advanced receivers (Trimble) from school. The Trimbles don't do some of the things that my Garmins do. Navigation is weak at best. Absolutely no handling of HR, Speed, or Cadence data. But, they have Wifi, editing capabilities, and the ability to handle nearly any vector or raster data. I could probably find some apps to handle the features the Garmins do, but the Trimbles are not mine.

    A GPS is WAY different than a camera. I don't see how you could simply show/hide more advanced features since the two are so radically different from each other. The advanced stuff is all Windows Mobile-based while the simple stuff is all proprietary. That would be like having a switch on the back of your gaming console. One toggle makes it a PS3. The other makes it an Atari. It doesn't work that way.

    How SILLY is it that you cannot use the GPS altitude in the cockpit of a pressurized airplane on a barometer equipped GPS unit like Vista HCx???? Insane. Or that you cannot somehow browse the tracks from your SD card from a year ago, even if your life depended on it.
    WTF is that? I don't even know what you're saying here.

    I think you are asking too much. Your expectations are way off the charts for Garmin. Garmin has never claimed to be in the market for advanced GPS equipment. Garmin has always been about consumer grade equipment. You want the advanced stuff, look at Trimble, TDS, Thales, etc. They handle the more advanced market. Get ready to pay for it, though. The cheapest Trimble I know costs about $600 (Juno), and that doesn't include the software (the software comes from someone else...the stuff I use (ESRI ArcPad) costs more than the GPS it's installed on). That compares with the most expensive Garmin handheld.

    Garmin probably will introduce something proprietary eventually, though, since Delorme has come out with it awhile ago. To compete, they'll have to. But Delorme's system is fairly proprietary. You have to use THEIR software for it. And if you want to use free data, you have to pay more for THEIR more advanced PC software. AND, that doesn't cover free vector maps like the Garmin can do. You can ebay a cheap used PDA and external GPS, then find some software to handle the data for a lot cheaper. But most don't know that.

    Simple answer: You already HAVE what you're asking for. It just doesn't have the name "GARMIN" printed on it. Quit whining about it and go use what you've got.

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    Language definitely is a barrier, but I do agree with most you are saying. I use both my N560 and Vista HCx very successfully, just wanting for both to be better devices.

    As far as the altitude is concerned, if you have a barometric altimeter on the Garmin unit, the recorded tracks always record the barometric altitude, never the GPS. So if you are flying in a pressurized aircraft cabin, you cannot have the real altitudes recorded. In other words, Garmin choose not to give us an option Use GPS or Baro. altitude. That would have been very simple .

    Thanks for sharing the other details of how to best use the technology.

    Domi

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    Returning to the original subject - Faulty Vista HCX.

    I have (had - lost it) a Vista hCX which used to turn off on every ride, it got worse and worse
    until I found these instructions.

    I followed'em and took photos of the process.

    After the fix, the problem was no more.

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    I've also had the same problem with my Etrex Vista shutting off during bumpy rides while on the handlebars. For most people this issue seems to be due to the battery cover moving the batteries around at the contacts and causing a jump in the current. With mine, I melted a little bead of solder to each of the contacts on one side. It makes the batteries now fit very snug and tight.

    ..no issues with the gps turning off during rides since. I was a bit wary of soldering to my gps, but it only took and couple seconds and it worked very well.

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