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Boots N' All  -  An activity of Scripture Union Tasmania…
Tasmanian wilderness hiking with a difference!

Etrex 10 Hints: (updated 20140219)

The Garmin Etrex 10 is a very affordable and rugged hand-held GPS with excellent (but not perfect) antenna performance, even under adverse conditions such as forest in which earlier models tended to report loss of satellite coverage. To enhance performance, Setup>System>Satellite System and choose GPS+GLOMASS which will result in coverage from both the USA's GPS satellites, and the Russian GLOMASS system  up to 20 satellites detected at a time, with accuracy under ideal conditions down to 2-3 metres.

Batteries: The Etrex 10 will give up to 25 hours continuous running on 2 AA alkaline batteries. In practice, you might not get this much, but by switching off during breaks, you can stretch your batteries over a couple of days' walking. I mostly use the cheaper Dick Smith batteries. Even the very cheap nameless brand ones will last more than a full day's continuous use.

The Etrex 10 does not support loaded maps. It has a built-in global base map which you can see if you zoom out far enough in the Map page  just to get a general idea of how it is working when you are using tracks and waypoints per below.

Here are a few hints I have found useful for the way I operate. Different users have their own ways of using a GPS. My own method is to load tracks and waypoints that I also print out on a map of the area before the walk, so I have a good mental picture and a map to support what I have loaded in the GPS.

I prepare waypoints for each track. The waypoints might be set at sudden changes of direction, junctions with other tracks, or even every 100 metre contour of altitude (a good psychological aide to help conquer those very steep climbs).

The tracks are very often those sent to me by others who have previously walked the area, or on occasions prepared by clicking along a route using mapping software on my computer. On some occasions, I have also loaded the track into Google Earth, and made adjustments to avoid visible obstacles such as scrub bands, before loading it to GPS or saving it as a .gpx file to send to other walkers.

Two other notes: Firstly, sometimes I find that the Map page has changed to a slightly different view after I have accidentally pressed buttons putting the GPS in and out of its pouch. Simply cycle back to the Map page. Secondly, if you have stopped for a rest, and pick up the GPS to continue walking, you will notice that you need to walk a few metres for the GPS to decide which direction you are travelling, so it is important to start moving before putting the GPS away.

There are plenty of hints and tips for Garmin Etrex 10 on the internet. As you grow more confident in using your GPS, you might find these interesting.

See also this discussion about affordable mapping software which can be used to manage, create or modify tracks and waypoints that can be saved as .gpx files and loaded to your GPS per below.

Page sequence:

It is useful to choose a few frequently used pages that will cycle through as you repeatedly press the Back button.

On the main menu page Startup> Page Sequence > Add Page I find the following pages the most useful: Main Menu, Map, Satellite, Waypoint Mgr., Trip Computer, Track Manager, Compass. You can choose the pages that most suit your way of operating.

Loading tracks and waypoints:

If you don't have mapping software on your computer, but want to load the .gpx information sent by Boots N' All or anybody:

         Connect the GPS to computer using USB cable.

         It will detect the USB cable and ask to go to Mass Storage > Yes

         If currently on, the GPS will save current track, waypoints etc, and then show the USB symbol

         Your computer should detect the GPS and open a window. If not, look for it as you would for any USB drive

         When the window is open, you will see a folder called Garmin. Open it and the GPX folder inside that.

         Copy the .gpx file (eg one you got from a Boots N� All email) into the GPX folder.

         Disconnect the GPS. It will turn off. When you re-start it in normal �Garmin� mode, it will contain the track and waypoints from the .gpx file.

Tracks:

If you have loaded a track for a particular walk, and want to use that as a guide, cycle through your pages to Track Manager and select the track you loaded. Choose Show on Map. The track will show on the Map screen and the indicator will show you where you are in relation to the track.
Hint: If you are a fair way away from the track, you might need to zoom out (the arrow indicators on top left) to see it, and if following the exact track is critical (which it often is), zoom in as far as possible. On bottom left of map screen is a scale indicator that gives you some idea of where you are in relation to the track or nearest waypoint.

Waypoints:

As mentioned, waypoints can be an important psychological assurance when walking. If you set the GPS to Go to particular waypoints, eg the car on the way home, children can often be kept walking knowing that they only have 800 metres, then 500 metres etc, to go. They are obviously particularly useful when navigating off track, eg to a known useable campsite.

Cycle to Waypoint Manager page. Scroll to the waypoint you want. Click to select, then click again on Go. A thick line will show from your current position to the waypoint (but see hint above about moving a few metres before accepting the line). When navigating to a waypoint, keep the GPS horizontal and pointing forward in front of you. When the thick line is straight ahead, you are going in the right direction.

Clean it out:

If you don't clear out the GPS, you will end up with a confusing mess of waypoints and tracks, and the risk that you will unexpectedly reach the storage limits during a walk. It is better to store your tracks and waypoints on your computer, and only load what is relevant to the walk.

After each walk, I download the current track and waypoints (if I created any during the walk) and then reset as follows.

         Cycle to Trip Computer page (with the sunrise/sunset at top)

         Press the Menu button on left of GPS

         Reset > do these one at a time - Timers etc (read warnings -hope you saved tracks and waypoints to the computer first!)-Delete all waypoints (warning again!) and Clear Current Track (no warning - save it first!!!) Don't click Reset All Settings

         Cycle to Track Manager and press the Menu button. Delete All Saved (usual warning). I find that it often misses at least one track, so click on that track and click on Delete on the options that come up.