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Garmin - eTrex Legend review by martinedge

I bought this unit as I needed a GPS unit that would simply point in the direction I needed to go as I often was on a track that was not recognized as a road buy current mapping applications like Google maps. I also was looking for a unit with less functionality that a modern GPS unit and was water proof. In addition, I was also looking for something cheap and light and served as a back up to my phone.

First impressions are that the unit is small and light even with 2 AA batteries on board. Having said that 2 AA batteries only last 8 hours at best and that's with good GPS reception. If you are using the Etrex with the back-light illuminated your battery life is further reduced. An alternative to the 2 AA batteries is an external power source. Power cables are available for this unit with power supplied from USB. The cable doubles as a power source and data transfer. In addition, the units back-light stays on until switched off making for easier navigation when riding in low light.

I purchased this unit used from Amazon for $(US)29 in mid 2014. The unit was delivered in its original box with all factory supplied accessories. Including a serial port to GPS cable. I could not use the cable as serial ports are not installed on newer computers anymore, so I looked around and found a compatible USB to GPS cable also for sale on Amazon.

The unit takes some getting used to and I found myself walking around getting to know the unit with the manual in hand. The unit is not as intuitive as I would have liked but you have to remember this is one of the early hand held units and has been around for a long time and even falls into the discontinued category for Garmin products. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Garmin_products#Outdoor)

My reason for buying the unit was just to point me in the direction of my next waypoint, and it does that well. The navigation screen is customizable as far as what information you would like displayed such as speed, distance to waypoint and waypoint number.

An example of the functionality is detailed in a story about my last ride. I arrived my start point for a morning ride and started my route on the etrex. The navigation screen places a large arrow on a compass face indicating direction and distance to that waypoint.

I positioned a waypoint right on a turn off but as I approached the waypoint the direction indicator jumped to the next waypoint. The turn off was a small track heading off at an angle to the road I was on and not easy to see. I ended up riding past the turn off before realizing the arrow was pointing behind me and the distance to waypoint was increasing not decreasing.

The etrex knows you are getting close to a waypoint and as you approach one it thinks you are close to it and should be able to see it and point you to the next one. This is great as you do not have to be on top of a waypoint to satisfy the unit you have arrived and move onto the next point. The downside however is if you miss a turning point like I did the unit moves on to the next point.

This is easily fixed by selecting the waypoint missed and getting the unit to take you to the exact location. I turned around and headed for the missed point and only once I was on top of it did the unit move to the next position. I found the turn off, headed into the wash and up the hill.

The unit has another interesting feature. While the unit is on it drops 'bread crumbs'. These bread crumbs form a trail you can use to back track to you original location. This feature is especially useful when you are in an areas when visibility is limited whether by weather or vegetation.

Loading waypoint onto the unit is a lengthy process and the possibility of typing in incorrect number was good, so I looked around for another way to load waypoint onto the unit.

After a quick search online I found a USB cable that would allow me to transfer data to and from my Etrex.
Garmin Etrex USB cable
Garmin Etrex USB cable
This cable was purchased from amazon new for less than $20 and included a driver mini CD. The driver disk installed without any issues and the Etrex connected to the PC easily. So now I had a the GPS unit connected to the PC but no software to upload data to the unit. So after another quick search I found software and the best thing it was free.
EASYGPS FREE SOFTWARE
EASYGPS FREE SOFTWARE
I found EasyGPS, free software which I downloaded from the site (http://www.easygps.com) and installed without any problems. The software found my GPS unit when I connected it with only a few confirmation pages about the unit being connected. The write up on the webpage reads, "EasyGPS is 100% FREE software! No ads or spyware Download geocaches to your GPS Backup and print out your waypoints and tracks." The software has a simple feel about it but with no adds and no bugs it was exactly what I needed. The software is easy to navigate with more functionality than I need right now. Loading waypoint is very easy and can be done by starting a new route and adding waypoints. Now I had a way to enter routes and waypoints onto my GPS but needed an easy platform to select waypoints.
Google maps
Google maps
I use google maps to find waypoints buy clicking on the map (dropping a pin) for an intended waypoint. When a location is clicked, google maps provides you with a 16 figure grid reference. These numbers are copied and pasted into the EASYGPS software as a waypoint. As you load waypoints into EASYGPS a view window on the right side provides a visual of the waypoints loaded. A start and end location should be added as waypoints. The reason for this is when you start navgation on the etrex it assumes you are already at you start point and directs you to the second point on you route. Creating a route is the next task and this is done by clicking the start point and dragging lines to each waypoint in the order you wish to pass them. Name the route and save a copy on you PC and send a copy to you gps unit. An onboard GPS confirmation confirms the data transfer. Opening the navigation page on the Etrex shows the loaded route and shows the 'navigate' button to begin the route. I keep only the route I am doing loaded on the Etrex to save space. There is limited memory on the etrex and all routes are saved on my PC and are easily loaded.
martinedge
review by martinedge
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