Re: birding-aus GPS

To: Tony Russell <>, Birding-aus <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus GPS
From: (Richard Johnson)
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 11:53:04 +1000

I haven't any experience with the Magellan Pioneer model but I suspect that
your problem is the 'initialisation' phase. When you move a GPS unit from place
to place while turned off, the first fix when you next use it is always a bit
slow because the unit has to re-establish where it now is on the Earth's
surface. This is the case with all hand-held units that I have used, whether
made by Magellan, Garmin or Trimble. One suggestion for getting round the wait
while this happens is to turn it on as soon as  you get to the birding spot, so
it can be doing its thing while you get your act together (unpacking stuff and
so on). Once the unit has initialised, subsequent use in the same general area
should give you much quicker fixes. The car battery connection might be a good
way to go - if the unit is operating continuously, fixes should be quicker,
since the unit 'knows where it is' from the start. As I recall, the Birds
Australia shop was offering a special deal on these for Atlassers. Hope this


Tony Russell wrote:

> 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.
> Cheers.
> Tony.
> Tony Russell,
> Adelaide, South Australia
>         Overbearing austerity is always the companion of solitude.
>                                         Plato. ( Epistle to Dion)
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