Map, Compass & GPS

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Customizing Your GPS - Part 3

Dan's detailed post continues regarding GPS set-up.
Setup Tips & Tricks
Now that you have your list of pages minimized to the essentials, let’s talk about a few options in the Setup menu that will enhance your navigation and optimize the performance of your GPS. Your Setup pages will vary depending on the features of your GPS so we’ll focus on the important ones here. Any others, as well as options not discussed in this section, can be set as you prefer. WARNING: Don’t change settings unless you completely understand the consequences of your changes as you could adversely impact your safety in the field!

First, in Setup > System > Satellite System, I would recommend setting this to GPS. GPS + GLONASS may be slightly more accurate (especially in canyoneering) and lock onto satellites more quickly, but this is at the expense of decreased battery life. Same thing with WAAS/EGNOS—turn it off. Speaking of batteries, you ARE using Lithium-Ion batteries in your device, aren’t you? If not, stop reading this right now and go out and buy some. (Yes, I know they’re expensive. However, they’re lighter, more powerful, better in cold weather and longer-lasting than the other options. Also, while you’re at the store, buy some extras and make sure to take them with you when you go out in the field!)

Now that you’re back and have put the new batteries in your device, change the Battery Type option to Lithium. Leave the USB Mode setting on Mass Storage. Go back to Setup > Display and change the Backlight Timeout to 15 seconds (once again, to help conserve battery life).

Setup > Tones
Do you like driving everyone within earshot crazy? If so, leave your Tones on. Otherwise, turn ‘em off (at least turn off the Key Beep.) Turn Warnings and Proximity Alarms are more for auto navigation so we’ll ignore them here.

Setup > Map
Set Orientation to Track Up and change the Data Fields to “One” (it’s up to you which data field you want to display on the Map page. Personally, I find “Location (selected) to be the most useful as it provides an easy-to-read display of your current coordinates.)

Setup > Tracks
Change the Recording Interval to Less Often (you will still get plenty of track points with this option, so don’t worry about that.)

Setup > Position Format
UTM UPS or Degrees Decimal are most common. For your Map Datum, MAKE SURE that whatever you set matches what’s on your map. If you don’t see this information on your map, you are probably looking at a Denny’s place mat. Go get a real map and then set this. It should then set the Map Spheroid for you. If you don’t believe in maps, set it to WGS 84, take extra batteries and hope you don’t get lost.

Setup > Profiles
A Profile is a way to save all of the customizations that you’ve made. Click Create Profile and you should see the following screen.

Click OK and you will see your new profile in the list with a generic name like “Profile 2”. Click on the name of this profile and rename it to something descriptive that describes the name of your position format and map datum, such as “UTM WGS84”.


Click on the Create Profile button again and OK to confirm the profile creation. Do this one more time so now you have three profiles.

Your two new profiles are copies of the first one you created. What we’re going to do next is edit one of them to be a generic “factory default” and then edit the other profile to be a customized profile that uses a different position format and map datum. Choose the second profile in the list and rename it to something like “Default – All Options”. Now choose the third profile in the list and rename it to “Decimal NAD27 CONUS” (this is the datum most commonly found on USGS 7.5 minute topo maps).

The profile you just renamed is the currently active one (since it was the last one that was copied). Click the Back button to return to the Setup screen and change the Position Format to hddd.ddddd and the Map Datum to NAD27 CONUS.

One of the limitations of the GPS display is that it’s not immediately apparent which profile you are currently using. This can have serious impacts on your navigation. A good way to remind you which profile you are using is to change the color scheme of each profile so that they all look different. In Setup > Display > Colors, change the Day Color Scheme and Night Color scheme to something other than the defaults (I would recommend choosing the same for Day/Night). For example:

When you’re done, click the Back button until you’ve returned to your (customized) Main Menu with your 9 tiles (pages).

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