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Old 11-28-07, 12:06 AM   #1
cccorlew
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GPS geeks: Garmin 305 Motionbased? Ascent? Huh?

I've ordered a Garmin 305 with all the goodies.
I use a Mac
Any of you Mac/Garmin users?

Should I get Ascent? Does it do the MotionBased thing, but not online? Any other advice for a GPS clueless guy? Training Center? I am so confused.
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Old 11-28-07, 06:40 AM   #2
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I just bought a Garmin 305 edge and can't wait till I hear the responses.
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Old 11-28-07, 06:44 AM   #3
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I would look at SportTracks, the only thing you really need Training Center for is if you want specific training routines. You can load courses from SportTracks but it is slightly cumbersome, for all of the analysis though ST is heads above TC. I would not go for MotionBased right now, the information out there is that Garmin is changing this from a subscription based service to a TC replacement some time in early 2008. At that time it might be worth looking at, currently it is too costly and too slow for what it provides, IMO.
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Old 11-28-07, 06:47 AM   #4
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My Edge 305 is one of my favorite possessions. While I'm no fitness numbers geek, I still like looking at the HR and cadence numbers, and seeing how things change over the months and years.

Ascent clearly is the way to go. It is an amazing program with even more amazing service. A new version (1.8) came out about a month ago, and already there have been about 5 or 6 bug fix and upgraded versions (now in 1.8.7 I think) The author is always available and is extremely responsive.

MotionBased, not so much. It advertises itself as Mac-friendly, but it is not. A new version is supposed to be launched soon and it should be much better, but MB has burned a lot of bridges with Mac users (myself included), and it will take some proving to get my money again.

Training Center, which is free, is not worth the money. Unless you want to do course creating (which I've not used) Ascent does everything you need. You can upload for free to MB and get limited use, and that probably is useful, because all your data is saved off site. I suggest buying Ascent as soon as your 305 arrives.
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Old 11-28-07, 08:37 AM   #5
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I have the Training Center on my PC and upload data via my PC. I also have a MAC running Leopard. Initially, I tried Ascent but preferred Motionbased. If you do not make your data private, MB allows you to have unlimited space for free. I also like the link that creates a route in Google Earth and I can use the new Google Earth to get very cool map and elevation views. I am going to check out Ascent again for the MAC.

As far as GPS is concerned, read the technical section on the Garmin site. I have found the main problem with data accuracy is in the mountains and redwoods. The results, especially climbing totals and grade, are silly. One will see grades of 25 -35 % when surveyed grade is a lot less. Motionbased has a correction database that is better but not perfect. One is not as great a climber as Garmin says. However, for most other metrics it is pretty good and we get repeatable results. We have the Flightdeck computer on the tandem and my wife uses the Garmin on the stoker bars. We get comparative instantaneous and cumulative readings.
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Old 11-28-07, 09:46 AM   #6
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Sportstrack is only for PCs. I tried Garmin Training Center and MotionBased before settling on Ascent. Prior to using the Edge 305 I was using a Polar S725. As you may know Polar doesn't support the Mac so I was using a software from England called iSmartTrain. I was used to getting specific settings for my charts.
As a long time Mac user and developer of Mac software I am kind of a neat freak regarding user interface and aesthetic looks. iSmartTrain was not panacea but pretty good overall.
It took me a while to decide on purchasing the Garmin, the main reason was the software. Training Center looked real bad on the Mac and MotionBased was OK but not very exciting. That's where Ascent made the balance tip over. I played with their demo data before getting the Edge. At the beginning it wasn't perfect but I communicated with Rob, the author, and sent him a list of things I would really like. I was amazed at his quickness at implementing new features and at fixing bugs.
I finally made the jump and never looked back. I went back to MotionBased and Training Center a couple of times for testing some import tools before they were included in Ascent, they have not made much progress while Ascent has new features every month or so.
As you can see I am very very happy with Ascent. The software runs fantastic (even on Leopard), the support is second to none, the user forum is active and helpful, and I could customize my charts the way I wanted and they look great and easy to read.
The GPS accuracy is quite good, elevation is on par with what the Polar was providing. There a setting in Ascent called GPS Altitude Filter, it works great when set at 5'. Distance, HR, and cadence are also very consistent with the Polar. The main physical advantages of the Edge over the Polar is that the sensor is on the rear wheel allowing use on a trainer, and that the HRM belt works all the time (the Polar belt was very finicky).
Back to Ascent the improvement I would now love to see in the program is a way to track mileage on equipment as I could do in iSmartTrain. I would like to be able to link any piece of equipment (tires, chain...) to an activity and use this tracking as a guideline for maintenance.
Enjoy your new toy, it's a good investment.
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Old 11-28-07, 11:09 AM   #7
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Wow. This is GREAT info. Thanks to you all. I'm getting kinda excited. I'll be watching the mailbox!
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Old 11-28-07, 11:52 AM   #8
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Some days my reading comprehension sucks. Anyway, wait see what MB morphs into.
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The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large

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Old 11-28-07, 10:38 PM   #9
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Yesterday I packaged my second Edge 305 for return to Garmin. Both have been defective. Both have been confirmed to be defective. For a while I thought it was my operation, but that was not the case. Besides those problems, and I believe it has already been mentioned, do not believe the grade reports. Way off.
You can probably detect I am not excited about being a 305 owner.
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Old 11-28-07, 11:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikeArkansas View Post
Yesterday I packaged my second Edge 305 for return to Garmin. Both have been defective. Both have been confirmed to be defective. For a while I thought it was my operation, but that was not the case. Besides those problems, and I believe it has already been mentioned, do not believe the grade reports. Way off.
You can probably detect I am not excited about being a 305 owner.
That's a big YIKES. But you're getting a new one, right? It may be a pain, but you aren't "out" at least.
I'm sure in 5 years there will be omething that is much cooler, but darn it, I want those incorrect grade reports NOW.
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Old 11-29-07, 12:01 AM   #11
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I have heard about issues with some Edge units but never bad things about Garmin support. They seem to stand behind their product. I bought my 305 used last March and haven't had any problem with it. The only issue I have had so far is the unit stopping recording after a fall into bushes while mountain biking. I suspect a branch hit the start/stop button.
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Old 11-29-07, 09:54 PM   #12
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I do not consider another 10 day wait to replace the second defective unit good customer support, but I may be unreasonable.
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Old 11-29-07, 10:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Yesterday I packaged my second Edge 305 for return to Garmin. Both have been defective. Both have been confirmed to be defective. For a while I thought it was my operation, but that was not the case. Besides those problems, and I believe it has already been mentioned, do not believe the grade reports. Way off.
You can probably detect I am not excited about being a 305 owner.
What went wrong with the units?

My Edge 305 got drenched in a heavy rainstorm the 2nd day I had it. The unit was all fogged up and quit working (actually it still collected data which I could download, but no display). Garmin had me a new one in about 1 week. But call, don't email, they do take several days to answer an email.

--------

A couple of you mentioned courses.

Are you talking about navigating unknown routes? I was experimenting with this over Thanksgiving when I was out of town at relatives and didn't know my way around. I found the site http://www.marengo-ltd.com/map/help.html that has a fairly easy to use (if a little geeky) method to create a course through unknown territory.

Basically you draw a course using Marengo's version of Google maps which creates gpx coordinates and lets you name the waypoints. Marengo is free to use for the basic version.

After you create and save the gps course to a file, you use gps-babel (free also from a separate site) to upload the route to your Edge 305. Then you tell the unit to navigate the course and it beeps and shows you the name you entered whenever you pass one your entered waypoints. It also uses the little map on the Edge somehow, but my eyes weren't good enough to use that feature while riding. It wasn't perfect, but it worked and was a fun diversion. I bought the unit for data collection, any navigation I can do is just a bonus to me.

The instructions for using the method are given at the link above and the map is linked from there. If you try this, I suggest making a short walking course around your neighborhood the first time or two to get the hang of it, it is hard to ride and fool with the unit at the same time.
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Old 11-29-07, 11:11 PM   #14
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What went wrong with the two Edge 305 units? The first one would lose signal if I went under a bridge. No one else with a Garmin would have this problem. When going under a series of trees the speed would be reduced to about half. Sometimes the speed would just go to zero and it would vary between a few seconds or several minutes to go back to normal.
The second unit had a problem with the elevation. It was stuck at 65,616 feet. I worked with the techs at Garmin to clear this, but they determined it was defective.
With the second unit I never got a chance to test the recorded grade. The first 305 would sometimes seem correct and other times the grade would obviously be wrong, actually very wrong.
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Old 11-30-07, 12:16 AM   #15
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The first one would lose signal if I went under a bridge. No one else with a Garmin would have this problem. When going under a series of trees the speed would be reduced to about half. Sometimes the speed would just go to zero and it would vary between a few seconds or several minutes to go back to normal.
Did you have the cadence/speed sensor? If yes, did you have a good battery in the sensor?
Early units were famous to have been shipped with bad batteries. The problem you describe is consistent with a bad battery or a lack of sensor. The GPS loose track of satellites under bridges or heavy tree cover. I recently did a ride in redwood country, it took the gps several miles and a clearing to start picking up satellite connections, the speed and cadence were however transmitted correctly from the start from the sensor.
I consider the cadence unit a must have for cycling.
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Old 11-30-07, 12:39 AM   #16
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I did not have the cadence sensor.
On many occasions I would be riding beiside other bikes with the Garmin. I would lose speed under a bridge, under trees or even close to overhead power lines. The bikes beside me would not lose signal. When I got the second unit it never lost signal at a bridge or in trees, but as I said before, the elevation was not operable. With both units I spoke a number of times with the Garmin techs to try to work out the problems. The techs determined the units were defective.
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Old 11-30-07, 08:21 AM   #17
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What went wrong with the two Edge 305 units? The first one would lose signal if I went under a bridge. ... The first 305 would sometimes seem correct and other times the grade would obviously be wrong, actually very wrong.
The Garmin uses GPS signals to calibrate the barometric altitude monitor against changes in air pressure due to weather patterns. If you were losing signal, this calibration would likely not work so well.

On my rides over routes I do over & over, the total climbing seems to be within roughly 100 ft out of 1000-1500 ft of ascent typical of my rides around here.

On the percent grade I think it does better, but that is purely subjective. I have noticed the %grade indicated seems to lag so that if a steep road flattens and you look down at the Garmin, you can ride along the flat portion & watch the indicated grade settle back.
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Old 11-30-07, 08:01 PM   #18
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The Edge has, or had, a problem with shutting off after going over bumps. I have mine for a year when the problem began. Although it was out of warranty, Garmin replaced it. My new unit hasn't had the problem, and I would expect that newer models have fixed the problem. It's good to have good customer service, but it's better not to have to need it.
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