birding-aus GPS

Subject: birding-aus GPS
From: Tony Russell <>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 10:42:36 +0900

Morning all.

I have a hand held Magellan Pioneer GPS which I now wish I had not bought,
it's a real pain and an embarrassment.

 I believe it's the same type that BA are making available for atlassing
purposes, which is of course what I use mine for more than anything else.
The problem with my existing unit is that from switch on it takes just ages
to take the first fix. By ages I mean anything up to 5 mins. It's not for
any lack of satellites because it can often be looking at as many as 7 or 8
and be locked on to 3 or 4. During this warm up waiting period satellites
are often locked on to and then dropped out again. Oddly, and contrary to
the info in the handbook, it will sometimes compute a fix while only
showing 2 satellites locked on - shouldn't it need a minimum of 3?  If it
is switched off and then back on again, just about straight away, it gets a
fix within 20 -30 secs, so the problem has to be one of warm up time rather
than satellite acquisition or computation.
The handbook is quite blase about this suggesting that from switch on the
unit should take a fix within 10mins!!!, if not, refer to trouble shooting
and reinitiate etc. This is crazy, what use is a gadget that takes so long
in the field?
What makes it all the more galling is that a companion with a Garmin stands
there laughing because his unit gets a fix from start up in 30 secs, no
matter what the ambient temperature might be. And he gets exactly the same
fix coordinates as my unit takes forever to get. By the time my unit gets
going the birds have flitted off and my companions are 300 metres down the
track. This happens at every stopping point.
Leaving the unit switched on is not the answer, the batteries in these
things go down very quickly if you do that. The manufacturer's claim of 24
hrs continuous use is optimistic to say the least.
If cost were not a factor of course I would have dumped this thing by now
and bought a Garmin. Do other people experience the same problems with
Magellans? I know it was only $300 , but does that mean I got a poor
performer at a peanut price?
(Would anyone out there like to buy a 1 yr old as new Magellan for $200?
or, better still, swap it for a $580 Garmin?)
The handbook says there is a car adaptor ( will this cost the earth?) which
will enable me to leave the unit "on" long before reaching a desired fix
point, so the unit will work either in the car (on reduced voltage from the
car battery ) and/or detached for hand carrying at a moments notice. I
guess that would also involve an aerial on the roof, more cost! Does anyone
have any experience with this? But even this wouldn't eliminate the problem
when walking, or on a pelagic, and only switching on when required.
Or should I just blow the budget and buy a more expensive unit? What are
your experiences with these things.

Tony Russell,
Adelaide, South Australia

        Overbearing austerity is always the companion of solitude.
                                        Plato. ( Epistle to Dion)
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