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  1. #1
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    Garmin 500/800 in the woods

    Has anyone used a Garmin 500 (or 800) in the woods? Is there any problem with GPS reception in a wooded area, or does it work well enough?

  2. #2
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    I think I've noticed some flakiness under tree covered trails with my Garmin 500 for realtime speed measurement. It prompted me to start using a ANT+ wheel sensor and magnet. Now, the readings seem more consistent. But, average speed on the 500 is probably just a function of time and distance.
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

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    Thanks NoRacer. Have you used the 500 to map your off-road adventures? That was what I was thinking of doing with it, but I was wondering if I would be able to do it in tree covered areas in the woods.

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    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    500 for me was affected by woods, and hi-ten power lines. Oddly enough that in the same daily commute my 305 never had an issue. Ultimately returned the 500 and went back to using my 305.


    Although the 500 did make me look like a beast..when it would toggle from GPS to the wheel sensor it whacked the top speed readings every time. My best top speed was 2,407mph

  5. #5
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    Haha, that's pretty good, 2,407mph

  6. #6
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARider2 View Post
    Thanks NoRacer. Have you used the 500 to map your off-road adventures? That was what I was thinking of doing with it, but I was wondering if I would be able to do it in tree covered areas in the woods.
    It still gets the position fairly well, it's just that the calculated speed seemed off compared to my perceived effort.

    "Fairly well" is subjective. I've seen tracks that my Garmin recorded where echoes from buildings while in the city made it look like I rode through buildings. You can experience the same thing in the woods or in landscape where signal reflections can occur (i.e., surrounded by rock faces).
    2009 mileage = 14,738 miles; 2010 mileage = 15,234 miles; 2011 mileage = 17,344 miles; 2012 mileage = 11,414 miles; 2013 = 12,169

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    500 for me was affected by woods, and hi-ten power lines. Oddly enough that in the same daily commute my 305 never had an issue. Ultimately returned the 500 and went back to using my 305.


    Although the 500 did make me look like a beast..when it would toggle from GPS to the wheel sensor it whacked the top speed readings every time. My best top speed was 2,407mph
    Pretty hilarious, but I'm wondering when you downloaded the data into the Garmin software did that screw up your data or was it just for a brief moment and the software had a way of averaging out your speed so the data was ok.

  8. #8
    Fred J.G. dwilbur3's Avatar
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    I know it's not the same item, but my Garmin 305 does terrible in trees or around tall buildings.

  9. #9
    Senior Member chasmm's Avatar
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    From what I understand both the 500 (which I have) and the 800 use "smart" recording intervals if you do not have a power meter. This can be pretty evident if you ride a trail that does a lot of zig-zags. When you upload your ride, the Garmin software will attempt to display the trail using these breadcrumbs and if there was too long a gap, it will just end up drawing a straight line between the recorded points.

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  10. #10
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    Interesting.
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  11. #11
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Watchdog View Post
    Pretty hilarious, but I'm wondering when you downloaded the data into the Garmin software did that screw up your data or was it just for a brief moment and the software had a way of averaging out your speed so the data was ok.
    It was a really odd ride. We were geocaching by bike, so we were doing a lot of stopping and I think the GPS just got really, really confused. That and where we were was a rail trail with a lot of high rock walls on either side.

    Or I'm really a beast and went that fast...... naaaaaaa

  12. #12
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    If you do a lot of riding in the woods, you will probably want a speed/cadence sensor to get more accurate speed and distance reporting. You can get it pretty cheap on Amazon.

  13. #13
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    I bought a Garmin 500 last week with the speed/cadence sensor.

    When I first started using it on my trainer, it appear the speed sensor was not working and giving really odd/inconsistent readings. I'd look down and one second it says my cadence is near zero and I'm going 5 km/hr, then I look down 2 seconds later and I'm going 30 km/hr and a normal cadence.

    This persisted for the first 20 min and then it appears to have worked properly since. Is that normal?

  14. #14
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    I hope you all know its more than just tree canopy. If you can't see the horizon you will not get many satellites. If you are in a deep v shaped valley you won't get many. Its much more than tree cover. I've used 10K+ GPS equipment in the forest to do work for the USFS and we still had to move to a good point and offset back to the point we were trying to get. Don't expect to get great GPS in any forest that has dense tree cover..

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    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I have a 705. I rarely lose the satellites despite riding in lots of tree cover. However I've lost it occasionally in some very puzzling locations, like a spot or two on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah NP. I was riding on the side of the mountain. I guess it was the time of day and the location of the satellites relative to the mountainside. When I reviewed the data later it looked like I took a shortcut that took me off the road and right over the top of the mountain
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    Based on some responses, it seems like some riders GPS units work OK even under fairly thick tree cover.

  17. #17
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    Ordered my 800 Monday should be Wedensday. Hope its worth it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Check out the Garmin Forums. There's a lot of good info there and many helpful experienced users.

    https://forums.garmin.com/forumdisplay.php?f=20

  19. #19
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    so far so good for my new edge 500

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