Good GPS but with a Serious Undocumented Flaw
I've been very happy with my eTrex 30 for a couple of years until recently, when I attempted to upload a large number of Waypoints from Google Earth, using Garmin's BaseCamp software.
I found out, 'unfortunately', that if you load more than 2,000 Waypoints into the GPS, neither the Firmware nor the BaseCamp software prevents the eTrex's reserved memory from being corrupted and the GPS being permanently bricked!
I've tried every fix available and none work. The unit simply will not turn on, although you can still hold the joystick button...to one side, then press the power button and hold for 30 seconds, and you will be able to access the internal USB drive. All of the internal files are OK, the flash has been validated and I can perform firmware updates successfully with the GUPDATE.GCD file clearly visible in the internal Garmin directory. The only problem is that when I try to reboot and load the new firmware file, nothing happens. It appears that if you load too many waypoints, (>2000) the reserved boot loader memory within the eTrex30 is overwritten and corrupted, preventing the device booting again. If you don't have a lot of routes or waypoints to deal with, this will not affect you, however if you exceed any of the maximum recommended waypoints or routes, you will be at risk of bricking the unit. in my view, this is a real shame as the GPS is well engineered but has totally let me down because of this flaw.
Ok when it works
Had my etrex for about 4 years, used it probably 5 times. It has screwed me over twice. Once out near nymagee in state forest when it shat itself and deleted my base camp waypoint marker (I would have been royally stuffed had my hunting companions not also brought gps units and had a backup map) and the second time out past Burke when trying make it back through a 40,000 acre paddock in the 4wd in the middle of the night and etrex told us we were heading back towards the gate we had waypoint marked but we ended up in the middle of the paddock w...hen the gps told us we had reached our destination which turned out to be about 3kms away. It has worked on other walking trips but is not to be trusted, if you are planning on using this as your sole navigation unit, make sure you take a good PLB as well so the chopper can find you.
Generally good unit except ...
Typical quality Garmin unit except ... If you're into geocahing - great. If not, it's very difficult to hide the geocahing points from the map. Also, the startup screen is so dim it can't be read. Registered my unit with Garmin and accessed their product support service who confirmed the shortcomings, but wouldn't acknowledge them as such. No solution available. Will never again assume that Garmin guarantees a well refined product.
Generally typical Garmin quality.
A good unit that won't lead you astray.
I use my etrex30 for geocaching and hiking. I like it. It's accurate and keeps my tack we'll. I have a few criticisms though. It's a bit difficult to work some of the functions. It's too easy to reset your settings accidentally, but impossible to change some other things. The toggle stick is kind of annoying. Maps process really slowly, especially if you have lots or very detailed maps. The compass isn't very accurate unless it's rested for a moment.
I'd rather save a little longer for a monterra.
Sturdy, accurate, rugged.
Confusing OS, Poor compass response, slow processing maps, interface is fiddly.
Questions & Answers
Jab mine for about 6 years now , love it . But all the rudder housing is falling apart can this be fixed?
I called Garmin Australia regarding this problem, they offered me a refurbished same unit for about half price, with 12month warranty but what's the point if the same thing will happen again in 4 or 5 years time, so I just stuck some grey gaffa tape over the buttons works good as gold, for now, anyway. just don't drop it in water. great unit apart from the rubber deterioration
Yes, the rubber will perish, generally over the side buttons most used, it is possible to purchase a silicone cover on Ebay for a few dollars (ex China) that protects the original rubber if used early, or if the buttons are already damaged, will protect the repair job quite well. My first unit (now a spare) has had this treatment.
Note that with the silicone cover on, the unit cannot be fitted into the RAM holder (if used).
Can I use a hard copy map to mark out our path with way points, then enter the way point coordinates into the gps device so that the device can still give us a distance between way points, and/or a compass bearing from one point to another? Can the device still give us our current gps coordinates so we can mark our current position on a hard copy map (with out an electronic topo map of the area we are in at the time loaded on the device). In short can we use the device in conjunction with a hard/paper map to navigate our way if we do not have electronic topo maps of certain areas loaded on the device? Sorry it’s a bit wordy, just trying to be clear.
You sure can use a hard copy map and physical compass in conjunction with your Etrex 30, or almost any other hand held GPS. You might be able to find some great maps for free that you can install onto your etrex. I had a topo map that covered all of Australia that I got for free that someone had created from the Australian government geospatal data. it was a 2gb file so i needed to add removable storage (micro sd card) to my etrex.
the etrex range will always be able to tell you exactly what your position is. the co-ordinate system may be different to the system used for your map, so be sure to do a few test runs using street corners and places you know first so you know you understand the difference between what your map uses and what your GPS will tell you. You may be able to set the GPS to display the same system that the map uses, but most maps only provide one type of coordinate system.
The etrex 30 has a built in compass. I found that it wasn't as reliable as a standard compass, but it worked good enough mostly.
you can input a bunch of waypoints into your GPS and sort of make a route, but the easiest way to do what I think you are talking about, is to open the garmin basecamp program on your computer, plot out a route and upload it to your gps. There are 3rd party ways of doing this through google earth and then converting it to a file type that garmin will recognise (i think this is .gps), then putting it into basecamp and uploading it to your computer. This is how I usually do it because basecamp can be a bit cluncky. There may be better ways to do it that someone else can explain to us how to do. I'm not hugely tech savvy, but I can usually find my way around a problem.
good luck! Happy trail hunting!
Is base camp worthwhile downloading I will be using my etrx 30 for hunting.just brought it not happy with the maps what map would you recommend don't want to pay to much?
I use basecamp for geocaching, and while its not the main program that I use, it does have its uses. I'm sure you may find the same with hunting.
In terms of maps, I have used the free Shonky Topo maps which are free and pretty good. You can also get free road maps from http://www.osmaustralia.org/garmin.php
There are other maps out there that are sometimes better, but these ones are free and easy to use.
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