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Owner Review- Garmin Geko 301-Ralph Ditton

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  • Ralph Ditton
    Dear Editors, It has been a few months since I submitted an OR for the group and seeing that Ray has gone quiet you must be a bit idle. I have done one on my
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 5, 2006
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      Dear Editors,

      It has been a few months since I submitted an OR for the group and seeing
      that Ray has gone quiet you must be a bit idle.

      I have done one on my GPS, the Garmin Geko 301.

      A copy is in the test folder and can be found at:

      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/OWNER%20REVIEWS/Owner%20Review-
      %20Garmin%20Geko%20301/

      or Tiny Url:

      http://tinyurl.com/ltszv



      Cheers

      Ralph



      OWNER REVIEW

      GARMIN GEKO 301

      REVIEW BY: RALPH DITTON

      DATE: 5th October, 2006





      Personal Details

      Name: Ralph Ditton

      Age: 55

      Height: 1. 76 m (5 ft 9 in)

      Weight: 77 kg (170 lb)

      Email: rdassetts@optusnet dot com dot au

      City: Perth. Western Australia. Australia



      Backpacking Background

      I have been walking the Bibbulmun Track over five years and the Coastal

      Plain Trail. My goal is to complete the 964 km (603 mi) Bibbulmun Track

      and become an End to End walker. I am nearly there.

      I have evolved from being a heavyweight backpacker of approximately 28

      kg (62 lb) including all my water and food to a mid- weight backpacker

      averaging 18 kg (40 lb). I am still trying to get lighter with better

      equipment. My trips range from overnighters to five days duration.

      Garmin Geko 301

      (Courtesy of Garmin International, Inc.)



      Product Information

      Name of Unit: Garmin Geko 301.

      Manufacturer: Garmin International, Inc.

      Manufacturer's URL: http://www.garmin.com

      Year of manufacture: 2003

      Made in: Taiwan.

      Dimensions: L 100 mm x B 48 mm x D 24 mm (3.9 in x 1.9 in x 0.96 in).

      Weight (incl. batteries): 96 g (3.4 oz).

      Battery type: 2 1.5-volt AAA Alkaline or Nickel Metal Hydride. (NiHM)

      Battery life: 9 hours with alkaline batteries.

      External power: 12 volts.

      Case: Fully gasketed, high-impact plastic alloy.

      Waterproof to: 1 m (3.2 ft) for 30 minutes.

      Operating temperature range: -15 to 70 C (5 to 158 F).

      Receiver: 12 parallel channel.

      Estimated position error: Yes, satellite display.

      Acquisition time: Approx. 15 seconds (warm start).

      Approx. 45 seconds (cold start).

      North Reference: True, Magnetic, Grid.

      Waypoints: 500, 6 characters.

      Reversible routes: 20 with up to 125 waypoints each.

      Track points: 10,000.

      Saved tracks: 10 with up to 500 points each.

      Update rate: 1 second continuous.

      Accuracy (AMSA and USCG): <3 m (10 ft).

      Interface: RS-232 for PC interface.

      Antenna: Built in.

      Colour: Dark Grey-Green (Pennsy Black)

      MSRP: USD$246-41



      Introduction

      I had been introduced to Geocaching early in 2005 and I did not own a

      GPS. I had to borrow other peoples units to participate in the hunts.

      Of the various makes and models that I tried, I found that I was drawn

      to the Garmin Geko 301 model because I found it very easy to use and

      had the most important feature of an electronic compass that did not

      require forward movement to keep the compass working. I could stand

      still and rotate my body to get a bearing. The biggest problem with

      other models was that I had to keep moving to achieve a reading and

      sometimes it was a very painful exercise when surrounded by extremely

      prickly Dryandra sessilis. (Parrot Bush).

      The leaves have many spikes crowning the head of the leaf.

      Dryandra sessilis

      Dryandra sessilis

      (courtesy ANBG)

      Unfortunately, a lot of my off track walking and geocaching is through

      copse of Dryandra sessilis.

      The unit was of a similar size to my mobile phone and weighed much the

      same, so I made the decision to purchase the Garmin Geko 301.

      Some time later I purchased the RS-232 for the PC interface as it took

      a long time to manually load the co-ordinates into the GPS.



      Product Description

      At first glance the unit can be mistaken for a mobile phone due to its

      size. I use this impression when walking on a "go to" to a cache. People

      look at me and the unit with a quick glance and just think that I am

      carrying a mobile phone without realising that I am actively reading the

      display and punching through the pages.

      The unit operates on two AAA alkaline batteries which are placed in the

      back of the unit. Rechargeable Alkaline, NiHM, NiCad or Lithium

      batteries may be used, but can not be charged in the unit. I have only

      ever used alkaline batteries of various strengths. My biggest problem is

      that most of the batteries that we get are made in China and do not last

      very long, whereas the American made batteries are much better for a

      longer life.

      To open the battery compartment, I have to use the edge of a coin and

      twist to shift the lock. It hurts my fingers if I try to do it with my

      fingers only. A tool of some description is needed.

      The Geko 301 has five buttons that operate the unit.

      There is a "Power" button which turns the unit on and off. It also turns

      the backlight on and off by pressing and releasing very quickly when the

      unit is on. The button is lower than the rest and has a red circle with

      a vertical dash at the 12 o clock position. To date, the red has not

      been rubbed off through use, although I have seen this happen to another

      Gecko 301 that I borrowed.

      There is a "Page" button which when pressed switches between the" Main

      Pages". There are six "Main Pages". They are the Satellite, Map,

      Navigation, Elevation, Trip Computer and Menu.

      The "Up/Down" buttons (two of them, one for each function) highlight

      options on pages and menus, adjust display on the Satellite Page, zoom

      in and out on the Map Page, troll through the data fields on the

      Navigation Page.

      The master button is the "OK" button which confirms data entry or menu

      selection, marks my current position and access the "Mark Waypoint" page.

      As I purchased my unit from America, I had to change the units to read

      in metric. It was a simple matter of going to the Menu Page and scroll

      down to "Units" and instruct the unit to compute the distance, speed

      and elevation in metric.



      My measurements of the unit corresponded to the manufacturer's.



      Features

      The unit comes with an Owner's Manual and a Quick Start Guide.

      The Quick Start Guide is in the form of a folded pamphlet and covers the

      following:



      * Installing the Batteries.

      * Start Up Sequence.

      * Previewing the Main Pages.

      * Calibrating the Compass.

      * Setting the Time Zone.

      * Using the Geko 301 Buttons.

      * Starting to Navigate.

      * Finishing the Goto Return.

      * Playing the Geko 301 Games.



      The Owner's Manual covers the above but in greater detail down to the

      nth degree.

      It took me many readings of the manual to get my head around many of the

      topics as I have never had much to do with GPS's before and was very

      unfamiliar with the jargon.

      In some ways, the manual is like a "Beginners Guide for Idiots". It

      basically leads the reader by the nose, with instructions like, "Press

      the Up or DOWN button to highlight MAP. Press the OK button to display

      the waypoint on a map with bearing and distance. I can use the UP or

      DOWN button to zoom in or out on the map."



      Although the unit has five games with the user as the key participant, I

      have never bothered with them. I have left that to my son to play with.

      I am not into electronic games, so in my opinion it is a wasted feature.



      Use of Unit in the Field

      I primarily use the unit for geocaching purposes.

      Prior to purchasing an interface cable, I manually entered to

      co-ordinates into the unit by hand. This took a little practice as I

      invariably made an error in entering the digits.

      One of the big drawbacks is the restriction of being only able to use up

      to six characters to name a location. Eg. If I wanted to enter the name

      "Where the hell is it" all I could enter into the unit is "Wheret". It

      is an actual name and location of a cache.

      Over the course of a year since I purchased the unit, I have located

      over fifty caches, some in the metropolitan area, some in the bush and

      others interstate.

      When I have entered the caches that I want to go and look for, I scroll

      to the Menu page. At the top is the "Waypoints". I press the OK button

      and a panel pops up listing a selection of "Mark, List All, Nearest,

      Delete All". I usually scroll down to "List All" and make my selection.

      Having made my selection, I activate the "Go To" and then follow the

      compass pointer to the cache.

      go to prompt

      go to prompt



      There are some variables that will make a search either very difficult

      or not when using the unit. The single most important feature of the

      unit is its ability to lock onto three or more satellites. If it only

      locks onto one or two, I will not get a pointer on the electronic

      compass to follow. It needs three at a minimum. Sometimes there are only

      a few satellites around for the unit to lock onto.

      The other cause of losing satellite signals is when I am in under very

      dense tree cover. The leaves and branches can break up the signal.

      I have had no trouble under light tree cover provided there are three or

      more satellites around.

      Funnily enough, I have no luck at all in getting a signal when I am

      under a bridge due to the layer of earth, concrete and bitumen on top.

      In other words, it does not work under bridges or in tunnels.



      When I am going off track from one cache to another, I find using the

      GPS to confirm my position to my map very comforting. There is a page

      that shows the exact co-ordinates of where I am when other information

      on the page shows the direction of my goal and how far it is away.

      On the approach to my target, the display will show "Arriving Destination".

      The "Go To" compass pointer function gets confused within an average of

      1.6 m (5.3 ft) away from the cache as the pointer swings around. What I

      do then is walk slowly, changing directions if necessary, reading off

      the last digit co-ordinates on the South and East, as I know what they

      should be. An example would be say S 32 32.798 E 116 00.926 and when the

      pointer swings all over the place, the co-ordinates will be something

      like S 32 32.793 E 116 00.924. It is just a matter of walking to line up

      the last two digits to match and bingo, I should be able to locate the

      cache.

      homing in on a cache

      homing in on a cache



      The fundamental accuracy of the unit is well within 5 m (10 ft) 95% of

      the time. Why do I say within 5 m (10 ft)? When the unit is locking onto

      satellites it displays an accuracy status which I have noted can start

      out as far as 27 m (88.5 ft). The more satellites it locks onto, the

      accuracy gets better. The most common accuracy status I obtain is the 5

      m (16.4 ft). The best to date has been 2 m (6.5 ft) and that was when I

      had strong locks on all 12 satellites.



      How do I know what the signal strengths are? There is a bar display for

      each of the satellites the unit locks onto and the height of the bar

      lets me know if it is strong or weak.

      satellite display

      satellite display

      accuracy of signal

      accuracy of signal



      I always carry spare batteries with me as the unit can chew through the

      battery power especially when I am flipping through various functions.

      There is a battery meter at the foot of the satellite page. It has four

      small bars and when the batteries run down the bars show clear. When the

      batteries are very low, I get a display "Battery Low OK" which means

      that I have about 10 minutes power left using Alkaline batteries.



      One of the drawbacks of the unit is that I have to recalibrate the

      compass every time I replace the batteries. To do this, I have to lay

      the unit on a flat surface and rotate it at a certain speed two full

      circles in the same direction watching the display showing "Just Right"

      Too fast or slow I will get that message also, but if I do not act

      quickly enough I have to start all over again. Sometime even when I

      have the speed right it takes three or three and a half turns to have

      the "Just Right" bar fill up similar to a download bar on a computer.

      When the bar fills up I get a "Calibration Completed Successfully".



      The unit is operated one handed with my thumb doing all of the work. For

      finesse when entering co-ordinates manually, I tend to either lay it

      flat on a table or hold it in my left hand and use my index finger on my

      right hand.



      When I am camping out I always make a pen and paper note of the

      elevation of the location as I use this information for my reports. As

      far as I am aware I am not able to store this information.



      There is a Sight 'N Go option when using the compass. I have to make

      sure that the compass ring with the pointer is in-line with the two

      sighting marks on the case. See the above photo showing a white arrow

      head and underneath the "R' a white vertical stroke.

      I do not use it a great deal as I usually just follow the pointer as I

      have the co-ordinates already entered.



      I obtain the co-ordinates from two sources, the Geocaching web site and

      Google Earth. I use Google Earth for interesting locations, zoom in on

      the spot and input the co-ordinates. I used this facility when I

      travelled interstate and wanted to look at some tourist spots. The GPS

      was very helpful in finding the location in a strange area. Why? Because

      the free tourist maps tend to be a bit skimpy on detail of interesting

      things that I want to visit and are not mainstream such as fishing

      spots, low density picnic areas and off track attractions that the

      general public does not know about.

      In addition I use Google Earth to see where the co-ordinates will take

      me and that way I can better plan a route to the target in conjunction

      with my paper maps, especially in the metropolitan area.



      One feature that I use regularly is the Map Page which shows where I

      have been. I use this in difficult terrain to retrace my steps back to

      my starting point. On occasions I mark the start point and use this as a

      "Go To" to retrace also, but I do not always do it.

      One thing I noticed very early that retracing my tracks did not

      correspond exactly with my original trail. It is usually about 1-2 mm

      (0.04- 0.08 in) out. The reason for this is that the satellites move and

      the earth rotates in the time span between going and coming. The longer

      the time span the greater the distance. From memory, the biggest gap

      between the trails is about 3 mm (0.1 in). The jargon is to call it a

      breadcrumb trail.

      breadcrumb trail

      breadcrumb trail

      In the photo above it will be noted that to the right where I returned

      on the same track it runs besides the original, making it much thicker.

      The time interval was about forty minutes when I was looking for a

      cache, found it and returned back along the animal track. The display

      moves as I progress, so the "Home" will disappear the further out I went

      to the cache. Upon my return, the picture display changes until I see

      the "Home" location again. "Home" in this case was Ball Creek Hut on the

      Bibbulmun Track.



      When I am travelling in my vehicle, I set the unit up on my dashboard

      and have the compass page up that shows the speed of the vehicle. I use

      this facility to check it against my speedometer. Both tend to agree

      with each other which is good.

      Using this same feature, I check to see how fast I am walking on

      designated tracks. This gives me an indication of approximate arrival

      time. The unit will give an approximate time based on the speed also,

      but the GPS measures distance in a straight line, whereas the track

      always bends and turns adding distance to the walk. I find that I am

      comfortable ambling along at 5.1 km (3.2 mi). This seems to be the most

      consistent figure the GPS gives me for slightly undulating terrain.



      Summary

      I have had the unit since September 2005 and I have used it nearly every

      week, usually on weekends when bushwalking and geocaching.

      The unit has other features that I have not touched on as I very rarely

      use them and some not at all such as the games, plot over time/distance

      and zoom ranges. Why? Because in my type of walking I do not need them.

      They are surplus to my requirements, but it nice to know that they are

      there if I should ever find myself in a different walking environment.

      To date I am very happy with the unit as it does what I want and I am

      still learning things about it.

      I found that I had and still do, read the owner's manual many many many

      (yes, a lot) times to get my head around things and understand what the

      manual is trying to impart. Yes, I have made mistakes inputting data but

      by doing that I learnt the hard way how not to do it.

      The GPS is not the be all and end all for navigation. I still carry

      paper maps of the relevant area that I am walking in and a manual

      compass in case all of my batteries fail. It has been known for my son

      to swap his flat batteries for my fresh ones and leave me the flat ones

      without telling me.

      The Garmin Geko 301 is an excellent unit to learn on because down the

      track I will be looking to upgrade to a unit that has topographical

      ability whereby maps can be downloaded into the unit and the display is

      very busy with information.



      Things I like



      * small and lightweight.

      * accuracy within 1.6 m (63 in).

      * locks onto satellites quickly.

      * pages contain easy to understand information.

      * minimal buttons to operate.



      Things I dislike



      * can only use six characters to name a waypoint.

      * battery case very hard to open.

      * having to recalibrate the compass every time I change the batteries.











      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • edwardripleyduggan
      Heh. Idle, eh? Next time we need a new editor, watch out Ralph! Best, Ted. ... seeing
      Message 2 of 5 , Oct 5, 2006
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        Heh. Idle, eh? Next time we need a new editor, watch out Ralph! <g>

        Best,

        Ted.

        >
        > It has been a few months since I submitted an OR for the group and
        seeing
        > that Ray has gone quiet you must be a bit idle.
        >
      • chcoa
        PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
        Message 3 of 5 , Oct 6, 2006
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          PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT!

          Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner
          Review Queue and will be picked up by an Edit Moderator soon. Do
          not worry if nothing happens with it for several days. All our
          Editors are volunteers and your report will be subject to an
          official edit within fourteen days. If you have not had a response
          from an Edit Moderator via the Yahoo Groups list within this
          timeframe, please let me know directly at jdeben@....

          To assist in this process, if this is your first Owner Review we ask
          that you post only ONE Owner Review for edit at a time. Our
          experience is that it is more efficient for both the Editors and
          yourself, if you post your first review, have it edited, approved
          and uploaded before you post your second and subsequent reviews.
          This way we can work with you on addressing any standard BGT policy
          edits which you can incorporate into your second and subsequent
          reviews before submission.

          If you are new to BackpackGearTest.org, welcome to the community!
          The Editors will work with you, within their own time constraints,
          to get your first two Owner Reviews approved and upload in a timely
          manner. Once these first two Owner Reviews have been approved and
          you have submitted your Tester Agreement you will be eligible to
          start applying for Tests. If you'd like more assistance or guidance
          with the process you can request a mentor by sending an email to
          Jennifer P, the mentor coordinator, at (jennifer.pope@...).

          You may receive edits or comments from other members of the group.
          These edits and comments, while not official, should be considered
          carefully, and if you find them substantial, revise and re-post your
          review. Incorporating member edits and re-submitting to the list
          will usually result in a better review, as well as making things
          easier for the official Editor. Please put REVISED in the subject
          line of your re-submitted review, if you take this route or make any
          changes to your review BEFORE the review has been taken by an Edit
          Moderator.

          Additionally, it is important for you to monitor the Yahoo Groups
          list to keep track of the progress of your Owner Review. Once an
          Editor has taken your OR and made the necessary edits they will post
          their comments to the list with EDIT in the subject line. Once you
          have incorporated these edits into your review please use REPOST in
          the subject line. When your OR has been approved by the Editor they
          will use APPROVED in the subject line.

          If you'd like to keep track of the progress of your OR, the entire
          Owner Review Queue is posted to this yahoo group list on Fridays.

          If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask via
          the list or contact me directly.

          Regards
          Jamie DeBenedetto
          Edit Administration Manager
        • rayestrella1
          EDIT/Approval: Owner Review- Garmin Geko 301-Ralph Ditton Hi Ralph, Nice looking review. Your HTML looks and works great, your edits will follow. They will
          Message 4 of 5 , Oct 10, 2006
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            EDIT/Approval: Owner Review- Garmin Geko 301-Ralph Ditton

            Hi Ralph,

            Nice looking review. Your HTML looks and works great, your edits
            will follow. They will take the following format;

            EDIT: must be changed
            Edit: should be changed but will be left to your discretion
            Comment: just that or something to think about

            When you have made the changes you may place it in its new home here
            (after making sure it is good in the test folder again please);

            http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Navigation%20and%20Map%
            20Gear/GPS/Garmin%20Geko%20301/

            Ray



            ***Dimensions: L 100 mm x B 48 mm x D 24 mm (3.9 in x 1.9 in x 0.96
            in).
            ***Weight (incl. batteries): 96 g (3.4 oz).
            ***Battery life: 9 hours with alkaline batteries.

            EDIT: are these the listed numbers? If so what are your verified
            numbers?


            ***MSRP: USD$246-41

            EDIT: USD $246.41


            *** Eg. If I wanted to enter the name

            EDIT: E.g.



            ***When the unit is locking onto satellites it displays an accuracy
            status which I have noted can start out as far as 27 m (88.5 ft).
            The more satellites it locks onto, the accuracy gets better. The
            most common accuracy status I obtain is the 5 m (16.4 ft). The best
            to date has been 2 m (6.5 ft) and that was when I had strong locks
            on all 12 satellites.

            EDIT: extra spaces at "start out" and "had strong"




            accuracy of signal

            ***I have about 10 minutes power left using Alkaline batteries.

            EDIT: alkaline, (no cap)

            ***but if I do not act quickly enough I have to start all over
            again.

            EDIT: extra space before I



            ***the earth rotates in the time span between going and coming.

            EDIT: extra space at "the time"


            ***I am walking in and a manual compass in case all of my batteries
            fail.

            EDIT: extra space at "in case"


            ***It has been known for my son to swap his flat batteries for my
            fresh ones and leave me the flat ones without telling me.

            Comment: niceĀ…


            ***The Garmin Geko 301 is an excellent unit to learn on because

            Edit: to avoid projection maybe say "for me to learn on"
          • Ralph Ditton
            Hello Ray, Thank you for the edits. I do not know how I managed to have a spacing problem. Must be double spacing for some reason, one for luck maybe. Looked
            Message 5 of 5 , Oct 10, 2006
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              Hello Ray,

              Thank you for the edits.

              I do not know how I managed to have a spacing problem. Must be double
              spacing for some reason, one for luck maybe.

              Looked fine in the test folder so I have uploaded into its home.

              Cheers

              Ralph



              _____

              From: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
              [mailto:BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of rayestrella1
              Sent: Wednesday, 11 October 2006 3:58 AM
              To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [BackpackGearTest] EDIT/Approval: Owner Review- Garmin Geko
              301-Ralph Ditton



              EDIT/Approval: Owner Review- Garmin Geko 301-Ralph Ditton

              Hi Ralph,

              Nice looking review. Your HTML looks and works great, your edits
              will follow. They will take the following format;

              EDIT: must be changed
              Edit: should be changed but will be left to your discretion
              Comment: just that or something to think about

              When you have made the changes you may place it in its new home here
              (after making sure it is good in the test folder again please);

              http://www.backpack
              <http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Navigation%20and%20Map%25>
              geartest.org/reviews/Navigation%20and%20Map%
              20Gear/GPS/Garmin%20Geko%20301/

              Ray




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