Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Customizing your GPS - Part 1

The following post was written my my fellow SAR team member Dan M.  I am going to spread this out over a the next several days.  Lots of detail.  Enjoy 

Like most consumer electronics nowadays, GPS Receivers (commonly just referred to as “GPS”) come out of the box with many more features than the average (or even “above-average”) user will ever need/want/use. The good news is that with a bit of patience, most GPS units can be customized to simplify the display of information, make the interface more user-friendly and optimize the use of your device. In this post, we’ll explore how to accomplish these goals and discuss what this means for your experience when in the field.

The Garmin eTrex series (10, 20, and 30) is one of the most popular GPS units for backcountry navigation due to its (relatively) low price, small size and reliable performance. The examples in this post are all from a Garmin eTrex 30, so for those of you non-eTrex users (or non-Garmin users), you may be wondering if you should bother to read on…the answer is “YES!” Although the screen captures and instructions here will only cover eTrex options, almost all GPS units allow for some kind of user customization. So even though your display, menus, etc. may not be exactly the same as what’s presented here, most of the ideas and concepts should be transferrable to your GPS. Additionally, this will be a great way for you to familiarize yourself with your GPS interface and the various options supported by your device’s software.

So, speaking of software, one of the first things you should do as part of your GPS setup is to check for updated software from your GPS manufacturer. The process to do this varies between devices and is outside the scope of this post so we won’t be covering that here. However, the instruction manual (you still have that, right?) will explain how to do this, or you can find that information on the manufacturer’s website. Usually you won’t notice a big difference in the interface after a software update, however there might be some enhanced functionality for certain features and there will most likely be bug fixes that address any known issues with your device software.

Starting with a Clean Slate

If you’ve already tweaked your settings and you want to return everything to the defaults, the easiest way to do this is to go to Setup > Reset > Reset All Settings.

Choose Yes and this will set all of your menus, options, etc. to how they were when you first got the unit out of the box. Interestingly, this does NOT remove any of your previously-created Profiles (you may not have created any yet, but we’ll be doing so here in just a bit.) This WILL remove all of your Waypoints, Routes, etc., though, so if there are any that you haven’t backed up to your computer, be sure to do this before wiping out your data on the unit.

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