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  1. #1
    Bike touring webrarian
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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.

    Ray
    Last edited by raybo; 01-27-10 at 04:32 PM. Reason: Identifying what the PN-30 is
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  2. #2
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Best advice is Garmin.... Sorry but it's true.
    Save 15% on your first order at Hammer Nutrition!!

    2010 Giant TCR SL 3
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  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    Best advice is Garmin.... Sorry but it's true.
    Agreed. My Garmin Edge 705 seems to work flawlessly regardless of whether it's attached to the handlebars or shoved in a jersey pocket. I've ridden quite a bit of San Francisco and never lost a data point. 5-6 hour rides seem to deplete very little of the battery power. Unfortunately, the Edge doesn't have removable batteries so you're stuck plugging it into the wall to recharge. Garmin does make other GPS models that accept AA batteries, though...

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Just based on what you said about support and the energy consumption, I'd take it back pronto.

  5. #5
    Bike touring webrarian
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    I didn't go with a Garmin because of the problems identified here: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post10308075 essentially, the rubber ring on the outside delaminates and has be cleaned and reglued by hand. I have no interest in removing and applying glue to a GPS.

    It looks like I'll be doing without a GPS, just like I've been doing for all this time.

    At least I'll have a better reply the next time someone tells me how useful GPS's are on tour!

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  6. #6
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    +1 on Garmin

    I have an Edge 705 and its worked flawlessly in my seatbag and on my handlebars. Battery life is stated as 15 hours and that seems about right.

  7. #7
    Bike touring webrarian
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    Maybe my whole approach to a GPS is the problem.

    How do you guys use your Garmins?

    Do you use them as super bike computers or do you actually store touring routes on them? Or, do you only turn them on when you want to find something in the surrounding area and get routed there?

    Thanks,

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  8. #8
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Between Garmin being first rate on customer service and Rei being even better......... Your in good hands. If something does go wrong either Garmin or Rei will take care of you. That is my experience with both companies.

    I had a bad HR monitor and they replaced it without question. Never even needed to send in the old unit. Replaced within a few days. They earned my business for taking care of an issue and answering a phone.

    Will purchase from them again.
    Save 15% on your first order at Hammer Nutrition!!

    2010 Giant TCR SL 3
    2010 Novara Randonee

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    How do you guys use your Garmins?

    Do you use them as super bike computers or do you actually store touring routes on them? Or, do you only turn them on when you want to find something in the surrounding area and get routed there?
    Every time I'm on a bike, the Garmin is attached to the handlebars recording the route, speed, elevation gain, cadence, heart rate, power output, etc. 90% of the time I have the unit displaying the bike computer screens. On rare occasions, I'll use the maps to look for a shortcut or alternate route. I rarely use the navigation features, since I'm pretty familiar with the area where I ride.

    On tour last summer, I programmed my route before leaving and used the Garmin's turn-by-turn guidance to get to my destination. 85% of the time I had the unit displaying the map, which also shows a couple of useful stats (e.g. speed) as well as alerts for turn-by-turn guidance. On long stretches where I knew the route (e.g. Big Sur to San Simeon) I'd switch back to the bike computer mode.

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