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New Garmin RT 515 (radar + light but no video)

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New Garmin RT 515 (radar + light but no video)

Old 06-15-22, 04:16 PM
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Polaris OBark
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New Garmin RT 515 (radar + light but no video)

I've been using the first generation rectangular Garmin radar since it first came out, without issue. I originally paired it to my Edge 25, then Edge 130, and now Edge 530. The behavior has been nearly flawless.

Garmin has their most recent radar+light RT 515 on sale now for $150. I decided to get it. After a bit of a delay, it arrived 2 days after Garmin sent me a notice saying it would take a few more weeks. I paired it with my Edge 530, and went for a 25 or so mile ride with it yesterday.

Initial impressions:

1. The light is a drastic improvement over gen 1, but I guess everyone knows that. I had to run a subsidiary cygo tail-light, so I was one of those two rear light during day ride dorks.

2. The claimed battery life in daytime running light mode is 16 hours. If I only get half that, it will still be much better than what I am getting with my old unit which I have had since I think 2016. I'm down 1 bar out of 5 (guessing it is at 80%) after the first ride plus some messing around with pairing, etc, and overnight connected via ANT+ for auto-turn-on (I think the previous one had this too, but I got into the habit of not using it because of reported battery drain).

3. The radar seems at least as sensitive. Perhaps more-so. Twice I had an oncoming car briefly give a false positive. That surprised me. Anyone else ever have this happen?

4. Twice, during this shakedown ride, the Edge started complaining (alert beep and notification) that the radar had disconnected. Both times, it immediately (within 1 or 2 seconds) reconnected. But I had never had that happen before. I'm also riding with my watch (unpaired) in heart-rate broadcast mode, but I wonder if there is any chance it is trying to do something with my watch, or phone? (I don't have the radar app on my phone, or any Garmin app open on my phone.)

5. Having the light auto-start and go into daytime flash mode automatically is kind of nice.

I haven't decided if I am going to keep this one and give my old one to my kid, or vice-versa, but I am leaning toward giving the old one to him, along with a cygo light.

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Old 06-16-22, 07:32 AM
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I'm not sure if the battery life is truly 16 hours, but it should be reasonably close to that. Running it in night flash mode will significantly cut into battery life. Unfortunately, my Bryton 750 GPS head unit cannot show battery life for the Varia, so I have to estimate how much life is left (and today it ran out on me because I hadn't charged it recently enough, so I'll need to be more careful in the future). Never had any issues with it picking up oncoming cars, nor have I ever had it disconnect even briefly from my Bryton head unit.
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Old 06-16-22, 08:08 AM
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Being new, make certain that all the firmware updates are done with. Might jut be a hiccup after a update just waiting for a power cycle or reset to make things play well together.

I've got the non-lighted version of the Varia and it hasn't given that issue with my Edge 530. Though I don't stare at my 530 while riding and do miss many of the notifications that probably come up on it for various things.
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Old 06-16-22, 08:56 AM
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this is pretty normal from what I ahve noticed over the 3 years. I have had both of gamins taillight versions and both did the disconnected. even on the Karoo 2 it did it. but I thin tis more the light then the radar that is disconnecting as I have gotten that with other ANT+ lights though not as often.
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Old 06-16-22, 11:48 AM
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Weird. I came to this subforum to post about my new RTL 515, too. Title of the post was going to be, "Everyone was right about Varia," since every single post and review that I've seen has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks for saving me the trouble of starting a new thread!

One thing that I did not realize in advance: the Varia will show two or three cars (not just one) as they come up behind me. This is great b/c sometimes, after a car passes me, I relax a bit and am then surprised by ANOTHER car immediately behind the first one.

Hey, Polaris, one question: How do you set it up for this:

Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
Having the light auto-start and go into daytime flash mode automatically is kind of nice.
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Old 06-16-22, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Weird. I came to this subforum to post about my new RTL 515, too. Title of the post was going to be, "Everyone was right about Varia," since every single post and review that I've seen has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks for saving me the trouble of starting a new thread!

One thing that I did not realize in advance: the Varia will show two or three cars (not just one) as they come up behind me. This is great b/c sometimes, after a car passes me, I relax a bit and am then surprised by ANOTHER car immediately behind the first one.

Hey, Polaris, one question: How do you set it up for this:
Yeah, I have been a fan since the beginning. The Gen 1 version never let me down, and the battery out-lived two Garmin head-unit batteries (Edge 25 and 130).

Near as I can remember, you just turn it on manually when you turn on your Garmin, and then it will go out when you power off the Garmin if you don't turn it off manually first. You will know it is working because of the tiny blue LED that flashes every few seconds.
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Old 06-16-22, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
Yeah, I have been a fan since the beginning. The Gen 1 version never let me down, and the battery out-lived two Garmin head-unit batteries (Edge 25 and 130).

Near as I can remember, you just turn it on manually when you turn on your Garmin, and then it will go out when you power off the Garmin if you don't turn it off manually first. You will know it is working because of the tiny blue LED that flashes every few seconds.
Hmm. I've got a Wahoo computer. I'm thinking it may not sync up as nicely as it does with a Garmin head unit.
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Old 06-16-22, 12:32 PM
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On my old one, I always turned it on and off manually. I just noticed I did the same by habit on this one.
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Old 06-16-22, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Weird. I came to this subforum to post about my new RTL 515, too. Title of the post was going to be, "Everyone was right about Varia," since every single post and review that I've seen has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks for saving me the trouble of starting a new thread!

One thing that I did not realize in advance: the Varia will show two or three cars (not just one) as they come up behind me. This is great b/c sometimes, after a car passes me, I relax a bit and am then surprised by ANOTHER car immediately behind the first one.

Hey, Polaris, one question: How do you set it up for this:
​​​​​​It's also great because when you have a left turn coming up, you know where the breaks in traffic are.
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Old 06-16-22, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
​​​​​​It's also great because when you have a left turn coming up, you know where the breaks in traffic are.
Yep. Although I'll probably always throw a glance over my shoulder anyway -- muscle memory.
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Old 06-16-22, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Yep. Although I'll probably always throw a glance over my shoulder anyway -- muscle memory.
You should! The radar uses the Doppler effect to do its job, which means if a car paces you it drops off the radar. It's not uncommon at least here for a car to match my speed until it's able to pass and then accelerate.
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Old 06-17-22, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Being new, make certain that all the firmware updates are done with. Might jut be a hiccup after a update just waiting for a power cycle or reset to make things play well together.

I've got the non-lighted version of the Varia and it hasn't given that issue with my Edge 530. Though I don't stare at my 530 while riding and do miss many of the notifications that probably come up on it for various things.
It gives one of those hard-to-ignore audible warnings as well.
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Old 06-17-22, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
It gives one of those hard-to-ignore audible warnings as well.
Huh? What does....

If you are talking about the beep when it sees a car, you can turn that off. Or you can change whether it's a single tone or multi-tone sound. Not sure when they gave us multi-tone sounds on the 530. I use to not hear my Varia. But for the last six or more months it's been more audible to me. I use to here my son's varia on his bike with his 1030 plus. But not mine with my 530.
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Old 06-17-22, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If you are talking about the beep when it sees a car....
No, the audible rapid "panic" multi-tone disconnect warning that accompanies the visual notification is hard to ignore.

I've had the first gen radar since it was released, with three different head units, and (almost) never experienced a disconnect.

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Old 06-17-22, 07:04 PM
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Today the 530 instantly recognized the light but not the radar. Eventually it found it and I went for a ride without further issue, then charged both as suggested. When I tested it by turning everything back on, it kept searching for the radar without success.

I've now deleted both the light and the radar, and re-added it, slavishly following the Ikea-like instructions. We shall see. I guess I can always revert back to the rectangular gen 1 radar, which simply worked.

It is odd that it instantly finds the radar's tail light, but not the radar itself.
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Old 06-17-22, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
Today the 530 instantly recognized the light but not the radar. Eventually it found it and I went for a ride without further issue, then charged both as suggested. When I tested it by turning everything back on, it kept searching for the radar without success.

I've now deleted both the light and the radar, and re-added it, slavishly following the Ikea-like instructions. We shall see. I guess I can always revert back to the rectangular gen 1 radar, which simply worked.

It is odd that it instantly finds the radar's tail light, but not the radar itself.
are you also turning off the garmin? using sleep can cause issues if you do it too much.
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Old 06-17-22, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by fooferdoggie View Post
are you also turning off the garmin? using sleep can cause issues if you do it too much.
Nope. Turning it all the way off.

Again, all of this worked flawlessly with the Gen 1 radar. There might be something wrong with the RT515. I did the 8-sec button push reset and started yet again, deleting it from the 530 and pairing from scratch. With the Gen 1 radar, the radar connection was nearly instantaneous, and then the light network got established a bit more slowly. In this case, with the RT515, the light network is nearly instantly established, and then the radar takes anywhere from several seconds to several minutes to never connecting.
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Old 06-17-22, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
Nope. Turning it all the way off.

Again, all of this worked flawlessly with the Gen 1 radar. There might be something wrong with the RT515. I did the 8-sec button push reset and started yet again, deleting it from the 530 and pairing from scratch. With the Gen 1 radar, the radar connection was nearly instantaneous, and then the light network got established a bit more slowly. In this case, with the RT515, the light network is nearly instantly established, and then the radar takes anywhere from several seconds to several minutes to never connecting.
that pretty much covers it. let it just go for a few rides see if it improves. I have had that work before.
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Old 06-17-22, 09:13 PM
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This might be a red herring, but my 530 is also paired to my watch as a broadcast HR monitor. When I turned that on, suddenly it found the radar. Maybe it acquires the ANT+ connections in the order that I added the devices?
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Old 06-17-22, 10:17 PM
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Disconnection issues between my RTL510 and Edge 520 was why I dropped the Edge for the Elemnt Bolt as soon as I learned that Wahoo added radar support. I lost the light network feature that I didn't use much (only thing that I'd use it for would be keeping radar alerts with the light turnes off when in a paceline), and at least one BF poster thought it was the light network causing dropouts in the first place, but I'd had enough of the 520's overall crappiness by that point anyway. In 2+ years since I switched, I've not had any major dropouts. It used to happen almost every ride between Garmin's own devices.
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Old 06-18-22, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
This might be a red herring, but my 530 is also paired to my watch as a broadcast HR monitor. When I turned that on, suddenly it found the radar. Maybe it acquires the ANT+ connections in the order that I added the devices?
It appears to be at least a reproducible red herring.
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Old 06-18-22, 09:58 PM
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After I convinced myself of the above, I deleted the HR monitor from the Edge 530.

After that, the radar binds without issue. I then re-added the HR monitor and allowed it to bind. Then I turned everything off.

Now when I turn the Edge 530 on, the radar binds first, and then the HR monitor (if present), again without issue.
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Old 06-19-22, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
After I convinced myself of the above, I deleted the HR monitor from the Edge 530.

After that, the radar binds without issue. I then re-added the HR monitor and allowed it to bind. Then I turned everything off.

Now when I turn the Edge 530 on, the radar binds first, and then the HR monitor (if present), again without issue.
I would describe that issue to Garmin. Imo, that is worthy for an update from them.
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Old 06-19-22, 01:55 PM
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It also explains why I never ran into the issue until I got a new radar.
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Old 06-23-22, 08:28 AM
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I needed another mount for the RTL 515, so bought the hard mount -- and kind of regret it. It's a bit ungainly, and the rubber band mount actually works just fine.

Just posting this in case it helps anyone who stumbles upon this thread.
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