Bike touring webrarian
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Francisco, CA
Bikes: I tour on a Waterford Adventurecycle. It is a fabulous touring bike.
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First exerience with PN-30...it seems worthless for biking
Yesterday, I bought a PN-30 at REI. This is a handheld GPS made by DeLorme. It is a nice looking device about the size of a thick flip phone that has a circular set of function buttons on the front.
I brought it home and spent a couple of hours loading in the software, moving a local map over to the device, reading up on how it works, and taking a walk with it around the block. Today, I took one of my usual routes (through Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, across the GG Bridge and back) with the GPS in my back pocket.
The written materials delivered with the PN-30 are little more than a listing of what the buttons on the device do and the menu options they display. There is no advice on how to use the device, what the device can (and can't) do, or how to troubleshoot if something isn't working right. It took a long time to load the software and even longer to put a map of the Bay Area onto the device. The later task required that I download a PowerPoint presentation from DeLorme's website before I figured out how to do it.
Even though I've only had this device a bit over 24 hours, I can see that it eats batteries like a bike tourist consumes calories. A set of charged rechargables barely lasts 2 hours. I would think that brand new disposable batteries might make it 7 or 8 hours. While this isn't a showstopper, it is close.
But, the real kicker was in my first test ride with the device today. I don't have a handlebar mount for it so I stuck it in the back pocket of my biking jersey. It is 16 miles to the GG Bridge and back, according to my bike odometer. I had to abort the GPS tracking on the way there as it hadn't started when I did and seemed to miss my first couple of miles.
Instead, I waited until I got to the other side of the bridge, my turn around point, and reset it for the ride back. My bike odometer reported 8 miles in about 48 minutes. The GPS said 6.6 miles and 14 minutes.
I asked about this performance at the DeLorme website and (after being made fun of) was told that "urban canyons" cause a problem with GPS performance (my ride was either through parks with some trees or along roads lined with 2 story houses) and that the device has to be horizontal to work optimally. I hadn't read this admonishment in any of the literature that DeLorme puts in the box so may there are lots of other things I just have to pick up before this thing provides any payback for the $250 (including tax) I laid out for it.
So far, it looks like the only route this device will be tracking is back to REI for a complete refund.
Tomorrow, I'm going to put in a route and then ride it to see if that helps.
Any advice or feedback would be appreciated.
Last edited by raybo; 01-27-10 at 05:32 PM.
Reason: Identifying what the PN-30 is