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Garmin Etrex GPS Vibration Problems

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by mjt57, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. I recently purchased a Garmin Etrex Legend C (the color version).

    On the weekend I went up to Dinner Plain for the motorcycle rally up there. The unit performed fine. However, coming home on Monday it started switching itself off continuously and randomly.

    When I got home I Googled for this problem and found that it's a common problem with the Etrex range of Garmin GPSes. It's caused by the batteries moving around under vibration, bumps or whatever.

    I have a standard Garmin bike mount for the unit which is clamped to a bracket on the handlebars.

    My previous GPS, a Legend (monochrome) started doing it only recently, and before I bought the newer model. I also had the base yellow model, but it never did it.

    So, I was wondering if any of you guys have experienced this (those of you who own Etrexes, that is...) and if so, what did you do to rectify it?

    I've read of some fixes for it, including stuffing rubberband segments under the spring contacts, packing wadding in the battery cover etc., but I'd like to know what fixes have really worked.

  2. Yea I had a Venture which gave up its little joystick, and now a Vista and sometimes have the same problem. The best general soloution I have found is using higher capacity rechargable batteries (at least 2000mAh). They are fatter and slightly longer and hence don't vibrate around as much. Also has the advantage of rechargable and lasting for quite a while (usualy get a full day out of a fully chaged pair). I also tried putting some Al foil under the terminals and it may have helped slightly, but falls out sometimes.

    It still happens occasionaly, but usualy when I have lower capacity batteries in (smaller). My mount used to be a simple metal plate with silicone hose holding it on but now I just use a rubber band to mount to the handlebar which works surprisingly well. With the rubber bands it seems to be slightly better even possible becomes it doesn't have fine vibration, but bigger amplitude, lower frequency and is closer to the bar (like mirrors that are long vibrate like crazy)... but on a different bike (now a 650, since original mount as on 250) so can't tell the difference it made.
  3. Thanks Guv for the tips.

    I'll give the rechargeable one a try, although they were doing it in the other Etrex Legend. This weekend I stayed with Energiser Alkalines as none of the rechargables had finished charging when I had to leave.

    The mounting bracket that I have is a solid mother. Made of stainless, it has a bracket that's affixed to the top triple clamp (well, it'd be a tad difficult to see if it was on the bottom one :)) with a bracket arrangement that consists of a machined stainless round bar and side plates to mount it to the bracket.

    The Garmin bike mount is clamped to that as if it were a normal set of handlebars.


    Show the Etrex mounted on the new bracket and with it off the bracket, but showing the Garmin bike mount clamped to it.

    Roundman58 made it up for me. Good job too, given that all he had to go on were my vague measurements and descriptions via email...
  4. As a followup, this arvo I tried a few different things.

    Inserting small bits of rubber bands behind the terminal strips where the batteries contact. Padding the battery bay with tape. Cleaning all electrical contacts. Using rechargables (supposedly fatter and longer than normal alkalines - but I couldn't see it without using a micrometer).

    All I have to do, and depending on whether I'm standing downwind of Mt. Vesuvius while farting, was to move the GPS or tap it, or wiggle it, say, when operating the buttons and it'd turn off. The bike's not even moving or running.

    I think that I may return it for a replacement. I bought it at Johnny Appleseed in St. Kilda (MEL).

    In the meantime I've purchased a weatherproof cig lighter socket and a charger for the GPS. I'll be mounting that inside the fairing. That'll alleviate the need for reliance on the batteries.
  5. I had the same problem with my Garmin 60C, contacted Garmin who sent me out some rubber spacers that had self adhesive back to place behind the contact points and all was fixed.
  6. I have a Garmin XL12 and the problem only happens if I use recharable Ni-mh batteries. Ni-Cd's seem to be better but I found stadard heavy duty non rechargables the most reliable. Better to replace batteries than get half way through a tracking project and find the unit switched off! (more than a few times) :)
  7. It happens whether i have rechargables or normal alkalines in it.

    I've inserted small lengths of rubber bands in behind the battery contacts at all 4 points. It still does it.

    Someone's suggested a slight coating of petroleum jelly. I'll give that a go too. In the end, I think that I'll settle for the external power source solution. At least then I can run with the backlight up full to make it easier to read and not have to worry about changing batteries during a ride.

    The manual says that it will provide up to 36hrs of power but this is reduced "significantly" if the backlight is used. Well, how about 6-8 hrs with or without the light on?

    I'll leave it on overnight tonight and tomorrow and see how it goes with a set of fully charged batteries. Thing is, the recharged batteries are already showing one bar off full charge. The multimeter says taht they're at 1.2v, and that's stamped on the battery as well. I thought that Nimh cells were 1.5v. Maybe not.
  8. Nimh cells are lower voltage to start with but they don't drop as normal alkaline do. Normal alkaline drops voltage fairly linearly, whereas Nimh stay fairly high and drop more quickly at the end of their life. In a torch you notice it more since using normal alkaline they torch gets dimmer and dimmer, but using Nimh it will be bright and then in the space of a few seconds drop quite quickly at the end. In the GPS in settings somewhere you can change the battery type to Nimh and I think it changes the display accordingly (don't think it changes the actual operation though but not really that sure thoguh).

    The only complete fix is probably the external power source. Seems to be a fairly common complaint.
  9. Yep, in "Setup" I can change to Alkaline or NiMh as the two battery options.

    I left the GPS on overnight with the backlight set to full. I forgot to check it this morning when going to work....

    Will recharge the batteries and try again. Although it's not going to affect how I operate it once I get the power cable, it'd be interesting to know what sort of endurance the rechargables have compared to Alkalines.
  10. For those of you that are electronically minded

    Guys if you take a look in your local Jaycar shop you will find a very cheap ($6.95) kit that can power any GPS on the market. Basically it is designed to run off 12vdc and you can set it anywhere from 3 volts to 15 volts and can provide up to 1.5Amps. Kit reference No: KA-1797

    Wired up to the ignition of the bike and connected to the GPS via another very cheap (check the website) plug especially suited to fit you GPS from a mob called Pfranc, distributed by www.gpsoz.com.au.

    I have bought heaps of these circuits and used them to power mobile phones, GPS's walkmans, MP3's etc....

    My e-Trex (yellow) has never switched off or displayed any of the characteristics of the above posts. However I also use the lanyard which comes with the GPS to secure it firmly to the mount which eliminates any vibration on it's own.

    If anyone wants any more info on the kit or GPS mounting, I'm only a couple of keystrokes away.