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  1. #1
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    Do I need another GPS for longer brevets?

    I have an older GPS (Delorme PN-40) with US maps, and Iíve had it long enough to know how to use it. Only problem is battery life; itíll run 6-8 hours on a set of rechargeable NiMH AAs, which means I need to change them before the end of a 200k. I didn't take a spare set and ran out of battery 10 miles before the end of a 200k last fall, missed a turn in the dark, and added another 20 bonus miles. Not fun. IIRC, the unit I have will go about 10 hours on straight alkalines, which I've been too cheap to use so far.

    Iím slow but hoping/working to finish a SR series this year, and perhaps more next year. And REIís anniversary sale is coming up!

    Looking at whatís available, it looks like the best choices are either a Garmin Edge (something-or-other) with an accessory pack to recharge the internal battery, or another AA-powered unit like an eTrex or (Random State) 650, which might last 15-20 hours, and carry or buy extra alkaline batteries.

    What do you use on rides over 12 hours? How do you deal with battery life? Is it worth the price and effort to learn a new GPS?

  2. #2
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    My personal preference is for a Garmin Etrex 20/30. I've had 18+ hour battery life with batteries from various manufacturers. Now I'm sticking with rechargeable NiMH Eneloops and/or BTY 3000's. I always carry a pair of spares - even on non-battery-life straining rides (meaning sub-200k's) just because SOMETHING might happen. I WANT the route/mapping data and the weight of spare batteries isn't worth worrying about as a cost.

    I found a used '20 on eBay for $50 and then later replaced it with a '30 the same way for another $60. Couldn't pass either deal up and I've never regretted a penny of it. (Oh, I sold the '20 on eBay for what I paid for it... so I got months of free use.)

    Added: The Garmin City Navigator N Am map is outstanding and you can also find a memory card version of it cheaper on eBay than from Garmin (I think I paid $35, maybe $50). I have also used the freeware maps one can find in various places on the 'Net - I prefer the Garmin CNNA maps. YMMV.
    Last edited by 20_700c; 03-13-14 at 05:47 PM. Reason: correcte Edge to Etrex and Added comment.

  3. #3
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I use an Edge 800 with a 4-AA cell battery pack with rechargeable 1.2v batteries. Don't know what the combined battery life is, but it's long. Could carry 4 spare cells. For long brevets, put chargers in your drop bag. One needs to use the charging cable that came with the Edge so it knows the pack is not a computer.

  4. #4
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    I use an etrex 20. Battery life when not auto routing and backlight turned to minimum is over 30hrs (2500mAhr AAs). Open source maps work great.

  5. #5
    Jvb
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    Dynamo hub with edge 800

  6. #6
    Senior Member paulkal's Avatar
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    Garmin Oregon 450 with rechargeable batteries.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I use an Edge 800 with a 4-AA cell battery pack with rechargeable 1.2v batteries. Don't know what the combined battery life is, but it's long. Could carry 4 spare cells. For long brevets, put chargers in your drop bag. One needs to use the charging cable that came with the Edge so it knows the pack is not a computer.
    Inquiring minds want to know. How do you use the battery pack, hooked up while you ride or short charges at controls? How long does the Edge 800 run by itself, and what's the longest you've ridden without an off-bike recharge?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by znomit View Post
    I use an etrex 20. Battery life when not auto routing and backlight turned to minimum is over 30hrs (2500mAhr AAs). Open source maps work great.
    How do you load the OSM onto the Etrex? Does the unit give you routing with OSMs?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jvb View Post
    Dynamo hub with edge 800
    I'm half way there with the dyno hub. Which power "translator" do you use? Do you keep it hooked up all the time? What does the combination do to light and drag at night?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulkal View Post
    Garmin Oregon 450 with rechargeable batteries.
    How many batteries? How much runtime from each set?

  11. #11
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    Inquiring minds want to know. How do you use the battery pack, hooked up while you ride or short charges at controls? How long does the Edge 800 run by itself, and what's the longest you've ridden without an off-bike recharge?
    Recent results: 8:40 time with a reported 27% charge remaining, Edge battery alone. That's the longest I've gone without using the pack and would work out to 12 hours battery life, about what others report.

    For long rides, I leave the pack plugged into the Garmin unless it's raining. No pack in the rain. I recharge both the Edge and the pack when I can, using 2 chargers.

    The Garmin Edge 800 battery is 1100mAh. The pack consists of 4 AA 2400mAh batteries. This would theoretically give ~36 hours run time. I use this pack - $3.95:
    BatterySpace.com/AA Portable Power Corp. Tel: 510-525-2328 - Search

  12. #12
    Senior Member paulkal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    How many batteries? How much runtime from each set?
    I use 2 Sanyo 2700 mah AA batteries. They will last me a 300 km ride.

  13. #13
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I prefer the Garmin Edge units, as they are cycling-specific, small, convenient, and fully compatible with RideWithGPS. It also replaces -- and IMO improves upon -- your cycle computer.

    I've used the Edge 500 for rides up to 100 miles, and the battery worked fine. What I did was turn off the backlight during daylight hours, to ensure sufficient battery power later in the day. I'm testing the 810, and if that works well, I'll use that as my main unit and the 500 as a backup.

    I have heard about hooking Garmins up to an external power supply, but my understanding is you need a very specific cable. Otherwise, it will basically restart the unit.

    To me, the ETrex-type units don't seem optimal. It probably makes a lot more sense if you also use it for other purposes, like hiking.

    Buying two Garmins may seem like overkill. However, the Edge 200 is cheap ($125) and very small, and that should result in a total of 20+ hours of run time.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Hairy Hands's Avatar
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    I use the Garmin 810 witha Dynamo hub and a Pedal power charger. It will charge my garmin, iPhone, iPad, and most any thing else u can think of. It will fully charge my Garmin and at the same time run my Edulux headlight and taillight.

    I have had my garmin run continually for 60+hrs so far.
    ~John~

  15. #15
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hairy Hands View Post
    I have had my garmin run continually for 60+hrs so far.
    Are you using routes with that? Is there a max route length you use?

  16. #16
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I prefer the Garmin Edge units, as they are cycling-specific, small, convenient, and fully compatible with RideWithGPS. It also replaces -- and IMO improves upon -- your cycle computer.

    I've used the Edge 500 for rides up to 100 miles, and the battery worked fine. What I did was turn off the backlight during daylight hours, to ensure sufficient battery power later in the day. I'm testing the 810, and if that works well, I'll use that as my main unit and the 500 as a backup.

    I have heard about hooking Garmins up to an external power supply, but my understanding is you need a very specific cable. Otherwise, it will basically restart the unit.

    To me, the ETrex-type units don't seem optimal. It probably makes a lot more sense if you also use it for other purposes, like hiking.

    Buying two Garmins may seem like overkill. However, the Edge 200 is cheap ($125) and very small, and that should result in a total of 20+ hours of run time.
    As I said above, you need to use the charging cable that comes with the Garmin charger to plug in an external power supply, not the usual USB cable. It's a short cable, about 1'.

  17. #17
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    As I said above, you need to use the charging cable that comes with the Garmin charger to plug in an external power supply, not the usual USB cable. It's a short cable, about 1'.
    The 500 is different than the 800/810, it needs cable with different wiring. Gomadic sells one with what it calls "TipExchange."

    Retractable USB Power Port Ready charger cable designed for the Garmin EDGE 500 and uses TipExchange

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I prefer the Garmin Edge units, as they are cycling-specific, small, convenient, and fully compatible with RideWithGPS. It also replaces -- and IMO improves upon -- your cycle computer.
    I've seen that in Garmin's marketing, but I got to admit I don't understand it. Beyond the (extra cost) bike mount, what does a "cycling-specific" GPS do that any other GPS doesn't to? The eTrex (and the 800) display maps that the 500 and below don't, and I like maps!


    To me, the ETrex-type units don't seem optimal.
    A variation on a theme, but what do you see as sub-optimal in the etrex?


    The 500 is different than the 800/810, it needs cable with different wiring. Gomadic sells one with what it calls "TipExchange."
    Pardon me, but eeuw! You mean to tell me Edge cables aren't just Edge cables, they're 200/500/800/Touring Edge cables??

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    The Garmin Edge 800 battery is 1100mAh. The pack consists of 4 AA 2400mAh batteries. This would theoretically give ~36 hours run time. I use this pack - $3.95:
    BatterySpace.com/AA Portable Power Corp. Tel: 510-525-2328 - Search
    Wow, I like the sounds of that a whole bunch more than some of the lithium packs I've read about!

  20. #20
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    How do you load the OSM onto the Etrex? Does the unit give you routing with OSMs?
    I generate the maps online and just load them to a folder on the GPS. Yes they can autoroute but I find the beeping annoying. I can also find the nearest schools(water) and hamburger joints.
    On last weekends 400k one guy was fiddling a lot with his edge 800 battery pack. Didn't get it working.
    Personally it's just another thing I don't want to have to carry or worry about.

  21. #21
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    I've seen that in Garmin's marketing, but I got to admit I don't understand it. Beyond the (extra cost) bike mount, what does a "cycling-specific" GPS do that any other GPS doesn't to?
    Lots of stuff.

    The Edge devices are actual cycle computers, not a separate GPS unit. They basically do all the things that your cycle computer does, but with GPS added.

    The 200 does speed (based on GPS), distance, time elapsed, time of day. Screens are customizable, e.g. you can make a screen that shows only what you want. You can create routes in RideWithGPS and put it directly on the unit. It saves and allows you to download ride data to your computer, e.g. into Garmin Connect, Strava, RWGPS. It's about half the size of an eTrex. I believe it also gives you a turn-by-turn page (i.e. a cue sheet, with distances to the next turn.)

    The 500 adds ANT+ and an altimiter. This means wireless speed, cadence, HRM and power.

    You can look at lots of data from your ride, e.g.: Tour de France, stage 20 by DavidMillar_slipstream at Garmin Connect - Details

    I've used the 500 for 3 years, and it works fine without a map. I rarely even look at the map, I look at the turn-by-turn. If I need a map, I'll break out my smartphone.


    Pardon me, but eeuw! You mean to tell me Edge cables aren't just Edge cables, they're 200/500/800/Touring Edge cables??
    All the Garmin Edge units use standard Micro USB B/5 cable:



    However, if you use a standard cable on the 500 (and I presume 200 and 510), it will assume you're plugging it into a power source or computer, and will reset your ride. You need a non-standard Micro USB cable, with different wiring, to charge it while in use.

    This is only an issue for the small group of people who need the 500 for more than ~12 hours, and do not buy an external power supply that comes with the non-standard cable.

  22. #22
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    <snip>
    This is only an issue for the small group of people who need the 500 for more than ~12 hours, and do not buy an external power supply that comes with the non-standard cable.
    Have you tried plugging your Edge into a power source using the short charger cable that came with your Garmin charger? I have one, and it is the non-standard cable of which you speak. So think all you have to do is buy the charger with the Edge and you're good. I'm a cautious person and never plug my Edge directly into a computer. I use a microSD card, put the card in a reader, and plug that into the computer. I plug the Edge into a charger, along with all my USB lights and devices, each with its own charger. I have a dedicated outlet with that stuff always plugged in. I've heard too many stories of scrambled files. Maybe those are from the earlier Edge products, but still.

  23. #23
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Have you tried plugging your Edge into a power source using the short charger cable that came with your Garmin charger?
    It's not the length, it's the wiring. Trust me, I looked into it.

    Garmin Edge USB power hack


    I'm a cautious person and never plug my Edge directly into a computer. I use a microSD card....
    The 500 doesn't have an SD card slot.

    I've never had an issue plugging the 500 into a computer, it works fine.

  24. #24
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    It's not the length, it's the wiring. Trust me, I looked into it.

    Garmin Edge USB power hack



    The 500 doesn't have an SD card slot.

    I've never had an issue plugging the 500 into a computer, it works fine.
    I've looked into it too, and as I've said twice, the power cord that comes with the Garmin charger is that special cord. It happens to be short, and that's an easy way to tell it from the usual USB cable, however its key attribute is that is comes from Garmin wired like your "power hack" indicates. When I plug my battery pack into my Edge 800, using the Garmin charger cord, I get a lightning bolt symbol on top of the battery state symbol, indicating that an external power source is being used. When I disconnect it, I get a screen saying that the external power source has been disconnected. None of this affects the operation of the Edge 800.

    Yes, you are right, plugging the device into a computer is not usually a problem. However, I find using the microSD card for map and data storage to be a tremendous convenience. I can swap multi-gig maps by swapping cards. I also don't need a computer to charge my Edge. I just plug it and the charger into the wall, 110, 220, whatever.

    The 800-810 map capability is very nice should something go wrong with the route, finding the road closed for example. One can use the map to find a way back to the route one is following, pick a slightly different route, etc.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    I'm half way there with the dyno hub. Which power "translator" do you use? Do you keep it hooked up all the time? What does the combination do to light and drag at night?
    I like the B & M Luxos U headlight, because its the light, charging circuitry, and battery buffer all in one unit. Typically, I'll run the battery fairly low before plugging it in to recharge for battery health. Though at night while the light it on you can lose your ability to charge, especially if you've got climbs or stops that keep the dynamo turning constantly. Charge up before sundown, and that's not an issue. On the other hand, if you're high enough speeds to charge at night and stay plugged in, it will keep the backlight on the Edge.
    I ♡ Dynamo hubs & have these in my stable: Schmidt SON28 (x2), SA-Sun Race X-FDD, SP PV-8

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