Garmin Navigation

Finally bought a Garmin Etrex 30x yesterday, after years of just using my phone to navigate.

I imagined the Etrex would provide something similar to Google Maps navigation, e.g. “In 100m, turn left onto Wheelbarrow Ridge Rd”. Not expecting it to speak, just some pop up text and maybe a turn arrow.

Haha. I had no idea how primitive these things are. Amazed I just spent $350 on what feels like a Gameboy from the mid 90s.

I’ve loaded some good base maps onto it from OpenStreetMap and, and have added some .GPX routes with cues/waypoints generated from Ride With GPS. Have been trying to navigate a test route this morning, just walking around my street. Ride With GPS seems to export left/right turns only, no street names, OK, I can deal with that. It’s the navigation display that doesn’t seem to make sense.

I can get a nice Trip Computer with handy data fields, or I can switch to the route map, or switch to a list of upcoming left and right turns - but how do I get it to warn me when and where to turn? Am I missing something? How do people actually use these things?

Lol I’m used to navigating with a garmin edge 500 (literally a line on a blank screen). Using an 800, 810, etrex with preloaded maps seems luxurious by comparison!

It is possible to import files with a cue sheet but I’m not familiar with how to do this. Doesn’t Garmin Basecamp have associated forums? I recall using this when I was last doing multiday rides following a set course.

I’ve searched various forums and how-tos, but there are a lot of variables involved, e.g. different Garmin models. Also a lot of people even more technologically inept than me filling forums up with their own similar but entirely unrelated problems.

Mostly just curious to hear how other people make use of the thing, because apparently the Etrex 30x is a very popular option for long mixed-terrain riding.

I’m mostly just shocked that you didn’t research the everloving shit out of this device before purchase. Jumping in like this isn’t your usual style…

From memory the easiest way is to create a GPX route (I think) with an app like Ride with GPS and add waypoints for cues. They won’t tell you which way to go but it should be obvious from your birdseye map if you go off-course. Its not as sophisticated as something like Google Maps, but it is the easiest manual way to do it.

Personally I don’t worry about waypoints. I just follow the line and have a cue sheet printout as backup. Pretty old hat I guess.

Funnily enough, I did a fair bit of research, and the Etrex 30x seems the best of the bunch. Assuming you want buttons that work in the rain instead of a touchscreen, and don’t want to spend over $500.

I’m beginning to see why a lot of the Audax guys still use printed cue sheets.

Making the GPX file is fine, it’s the display on the screen that seems lacking. Instead of the nice big turn arrows I’ve seen on other Garmins, the are just tiny notes with “left” and “right” in text 1mm high.

Yes, I’ve been looking at this for last 3 years. I don’t think you are missing anything.

Garmin is small, limited and expensive. And the instructional guidance that is readily available in even cheap car gps units isn’t in cycling gps units - I am not sure whether the constraint is size or battery power.

I ended up buying a magellan explorist hiking/hunting gps as this had a bigger screen and the functions I needed, and was better value. I made a cradle for it and bolted it onto the side of my stem. It still doesn’t provide warnings though.

I could probably add display flags to my gpx track file but that seems too much work. For me if I am going away from used roads and service towns I put a fair bit of planning into the ride, and make a gpx file - so I have all the info to make a written cue sheet with distances. So I take a written cue sheet / printed map in a ziplok bag as well.

As a back up system there is also a mobile app called avenzamaps - I think it runs on gps only so doesn’t need mobile towers. It geolocates where you are and plots your location on a preloaded map. You can buy or scam topo pdf maps of where you are going, or the state park authorities provide free uploadable maps for a lot of state parks. Again this doesn’t give instructions tho.

Is your OSM .IMG routable? You’re probably not going to get ‘turn-by-turn’ in the same sense as your garden variety TomTom car GPS. Read up on Tracks v Courses for Etrex, a course may do what you’re after, you can switch your etrex into the Automotive profile too, a higher zoom level helps. Might be SOL tho, even the Edge series will only give you a heading in ‘Course’ mode.

i use an Edge 810 for all sorts of mixed terrain riding.
Found that if you tun off auto-stop, turn off audio cues, and zoom in plenty it keeps up with some pretty quick turning / trails through single track kind of stuff.

What Zach said.

I use at etrex 30.

From memory you can make tracks which are just a line on a map you follow and routes which have prompted turns. (.gpx vs .tcx I think it also depends on your base map)

You can also either simply lay the course over the map and keep an eye on it, which is what I do.

or, when you select the track tell to to navigate to the course and follow it, and it will beep at you when you leave the course and/or beep/bloop when a turn is coming up.

I prefer it not to beep at me as often where the road is in real life is not where online maps think roads/tracks are.

Bullshit Mikdeee, satellite navigation is infallible.

I saw this article - it has some helpful links and comments for tech issues.

I hadn’t realised that tcx provides turn warnings more than gpx - although mikeD suggested it above.