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Garmin Devices and USB Cables-Some Kind of Black Magic

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Garmin Devices and USB Cables-Some Kind of Black Magic

Old 11-02-20, 07:04 AM
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DaveLeeNC
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Garmin Devices and USB Cables-Some Kind of Black Magic

My main bike computer is a Garmin 1030 (previous generation). I bought it a bit under a year ago and always had a bit of trouble getting a USB data connection to my laptop. Early on it was pretty consistent where the second plug in would work. I would always get a power connection, but no data connection first try. Then it started getting worse until not long ago I quit after maybe 8 tries.

I also have an old Garmin 520 that I use on my indoor trainer (Vector pedals for power). I don't recall it ever failing to connect (same computer/cable), but cannot be absolutely certain about that. THere have not been many trainer rides lately.

So back to the 1030, I rummaged through my cable drawer and found a brand new in box USB mini (micro?) cable. And it worked first time and has worked the last 5 times I have used it. HOWEVER, it simply will not work with my Garmin 520. So I have to have a "special cable" (the old one) when I want to download data after a trainer ride.

I also have a Garmin Varia radar/light that I really like using. It also uses USB mini charging (no data, obviously). I have a USB wall charger in the garage with 2 USB cables (one for the Varia and one for the front light - Bontrager). Both of those 2 cables will consistently charge the front light. But if I use the short cable on the Varia, I have to be very careful with how I position the USB connector into the Varia or I get the red/flashing red signal that something is wrong (flashing green/green is OK). If I use the longer cable then it usually is OK, but it is possible (intentionally and rarely unintentionally) to get the red light failure.

And I do have a must be 8 years old by now Garmin 800 that never fails to connect.

It is black magic, I think.

dave

Last edited by DaveLeeNC; 11-02-20 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 11-02-20, 07:21 AM
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Steve B.
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Did you sacrifice your middle child ?. That's a requirement I think.

Seriously. You need to grab a bunch of cables, your computer and the 520 or 1030 and try the assorted cables to see which does data. THEN LABLE IT !!!. Then repeat for the 2nd device and LABEL IT !!!. Then do not use for anything but charging those devices (in other words, don't lose these cables) and when you want to do OS updates use the labeled cable appropriate to the device. I finally did this, but I also use BT and the Garmin Mobile app to get routes onto the device as well as completed rides off, so don't have to use the cables for other than charging.
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Old 11-02-20, 07:28 AM
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Its funny you have this deal. I had a 520, then up to a 1030. The 520 cable will not work on the 1030. The new 1030 cable will work with it of course and my headlight but the cable I got from the headlight will not work with 1030? I was super confused about this. I called Garmin and they said it just happens...just happens that the cable works on whatever device it see fit. That is pretty funny to me. I am just VERY careful not lose my "1030 cable"....

I feel your voo doo too!
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Old 11-02-20, 08:28 AM
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It is interesting to hear that this is not exactly a rare problem. Thanks for the comments/suggestions. dave

ps. No children - so maybe that is the issue in my case :-)
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Old 11-02-20, 08:56 AM
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If by “black magic” you mean “tragic state of USB” then I totally agree. The 1030 might not like it if you’re plugging into a USB 3.0 port or some other such nonsense.

Also, if you’re using Win10, I don’t believe FAT32 file systems are natively recognized anymore. If you don’t have the latest Garmin express version installed you could try that too.
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Old 11-02-20, 09:32 AM
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Garmin is not the only device maker that does this, but they have for probably as long as USB has been standard on a Garmin, put a resistor on one of the charging pins of the cable. This let them determine what the device was that the cable was hooked to so they could put the Garmin device in the proper mode for that connection.

For the most part it worked well, for those that used other cables they sometimes didn't get the expected result because the garmin device thought it was connected to something else and went into the wrong mode.

USB standards with version 3 changed the power output of USB from the computer. And since the ancient days of USB, Garmin has also probably gotten more sophisticated with detecting what it is connected to. The method of seeing how much current it took to cross that resistor on the power pin was always just an interesting kludge at best when used by itself.

This perhaps is some of the Black Magic you describe. But several oddities in the way Apple and Microsoft chose at differing times to recognize USB storage devices helped to keep many of us wanting to see our Garmin's splatter as we threw it at brick walls.
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Old 11-02-20, 10:33 AM
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I have not used any of the cycling specific Garmins. I have not had any connectivity problems with my Garmin 64, that is a recreational grade GPS, not a cycling specific one. And before that I had no trouble with a Garmin 62S or a 60CSX. My earlier Garmins from the black and white screen era used a Garmin specific connector on a RS232 cable, never had a problem with that either.

But when I seem to have any connectivity issues with anything, I always give it a shot of tuner cleaner and think nothing of it. I may have occasionally given one of my Garmins a shot of tuner cleaner, but can't really say if I did that or not. If I had a connection problem that was fixed with tuner cleaner, I would not remember having that problem a week later because it was fixed.

Some of my cables that I brought on rainy bicycle tours got a bit of corrosion on them, most of those cables were discarded on my return home but some appeared to be restored with a shot of tuner cleaner.
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Old 11-02-20, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
I believe FAT32 file systems are natively recognized anymore.
Not true.

Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
If you donít have the latest Garmin express version installed you could try that too.
Express isn't used for the USB connection.
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Old 11-02-20, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
My main bike computer is a Garmin 1030 (previous generation). I bought it a bit under a year ago and always had a bit of trouble getting a USB data connection to my laptop. Early on it was pretty consistent where the second plug in would work. I would always get a power connection, but no data connection first try. Then it started getting worse until not long ago I quit after maybe 8 tries.

I also have an old Garmin 520 that I use on my indoor trainer (Vector pedals for power). I don't recall it ever failing to connect (same computer/cable), but cannot be absolutely certain about that. THere have not been many trainer rides lately.

So back to the 1030, I rummaged through my cable drawer and found a brand new in box USB mini (micro?) cable. And it worked first time and has worked the last 5 times I have used it. HOWEVER, it simply will not work with my Garmin 520. So I have to have a "special cable" (the old one) when I want to download data after a trainer ride.
Sounds like flaky cables.

With multiple 800s, a Touring, a 1030, and a 1030+ I haven't had any real problems connecting any of these to multiple computers (running Windows or Android).
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Old 11-02-20, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Not true.


Express isn't used for the USB connection.
The Garmin Express tool finds any connected Garmin devices and updates the devices boot code to make it compatible with Windows 10.

From docs.microsoft.com
"This problem occurs because Garmin devices that are formatted with FAT12, FAT16, or FAT32 file systems are not recognized as mass storage devices by a computer or device that's running Windows 10."
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Old 11-02-20, 03:01 PM
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I had an Edge 520 that needed a "special" cable to consistently get a data connection. My Edge 830 seems to be much less finicky in that regard.
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Old 11-02-20, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
...
From docs.microsoft.com
"This problem occurs because Garmin devices that are formatted with FAT12, FAT16, or FAT32 file systems are not recognized as mass storage devices by a computer or device that's running Windows 10."
My Garmin 64, not a cycling GPS, a general recreation GPS connects to my Windows 10 computer without any problem for installing maps, GPX files with tracks, waypoints, routes, etc. I has always worked fine since I bought that computer four years ago.

I plug the Garmin into the computer and the computer sees both the internal Garmin memory and the 32gb FAT32 micro SD card.
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Old 11-02-20, 05:09 PM
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njkayaker
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
The Garmin Express tool finds any connected Garmin devices and updates the devices boot code to make it compatible with Windows 10.

From docs.microsoft.com
"This problem occurs because Garmin devices that are formatted with FAT12, FAT16, or FAT32 file systems are not recognized as mass storage devices by a computer or device that's running Windows 10."
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/tro...es-not-working

That's misleading.

It's this part that is describing what the problem really is:

"The Garmin Express tool recognizes the connected device and updates its boot code to make it compatible with Windows 10."

The problem is with the boot code (not with the format being FAT32).

Windows 10 supports FAT32.

https://windowsreport.com/can-window...20Windows%2010.

Yes, FAT32 is still supported in Windows 10, and if you have a flash drive that is formatted as a FAT32 device, it will work without any problems, and you’ll be able to read it without any extra hassle on Windows 10.
==================

In any case, if this was the OP's problem, the connection would have never worked ("Early on it was pretty consistent where the second plug in would work.").

Last edited by njkayaker; 11-02-20 at 05:15 PM.
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