Garmin ForeTrex 201

My nifty new wristwatch GPS 

I need(ed)/want(ed) a GPS for my Megalith Project. As usual, I had a few criteria (in no particular order):

  • it shall not be overly bulky
  • it shall follow, in GUI and form, normal human interface guidelines
  • it shall have decent battery life
  • it shall support NMEA output

After looking at a few options, including:

  • iPaq with GPS sleeve
  • Palm with TomTom
  • Garmin eTrex (my dad has one of these)
  • Garmin Vista

...I decided not to buy any of them.

What I really wanted was a real GPS in the form of a wristwatch. I was aware of the Garmin Forerunner series devices - the F305 is downright pretty, albeit massively expensive at $377 MSRP - but it's not really a GPS, just a satellite-guided speedometer thingy.

Why?

Because, shut up, that's why.

Because every guy likes a wristwatch that can double as a glider, or machine gun, or whatever.

So, can it.

Anyway, I found one. It's a lump of a thing, but considerably smaller than the eTrex, and with many of the same functions. It also fits the above criteria.

Behold! ->

Also behold an excellent review here: http://webs.lanset.com/wa8lmf/ForeTrex/

 

The failure  [updated Wednesday, 14th June 2006]

Alas! It has betrayed me (a little).

After filling the memory somewhat, I decided to try using G7toWin to backup track and waypoint information so I could selectively purge the unit. However, G7toWin and the Garmin firmware updater failed to function on two of my PCs at home, and on my PE1800 server at work. 

This, I thought, indicates a problem.

After a brief exchange with Garmin support during which we determined that I actually have a clue, an agent named 'Nick' kindly offered to replace my cable out of his own desk drawer, if it was faulty. I took the kit home and tested it, and the cable checked out. I then tested the cable attached through the cradle. To my surprise (using my invented numbering system for the cradle’s pins) I found that both serial port pins 3 & 5 went to both dock ports 2 & 4. Since serial port pin 2 is TxD and 3 is RxD (both having the requisite 48 ohms resistance through the cradle), pin 5 (ground) clearly shouldn’t bridge the same contacts (at 1.1 ohms, the nominal resistance of the cable alone). I opened the cradle and found a tiny, stray solder bridge across two of the surface mount resistors. When I removed this, and attached the unit to my PC, it worked immediately!


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 This is not a GPS 

 

This is a GPS 

 

I did my own damn pinout analysis

Solder bridge is shorting out, shorting out, shorting out...