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Garmin eTrex for user friendly navigation on brevets?

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Old 01-04-18, 11:53 AM
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Garmin eTrex for user friendly navigation on brevets?

Rant on/

I am prejudiced against Garmin and other bicycle computers, perhaps unfairly so. I run a Garmin 510 just to keep track of distance/HR/cadence/time and I use a cue sheet for navigating. I've read the reviews for the newer Garmins in terms of navigation, seems like they haven't figured this stuff out yet.

I think these devices are great for watching cadence, heart rate, tracking distance and time.

But it is disappointing that the navigation on these devices seem lacking in user-friendliness and reliability compared to even the old school GPS devices for cars that used to sit on your dashboard, plugged into the cigarette lighter, without even talking about more modern GPS apps on mobile phones.

Glitches, updates, screwing around with the RidewithGPS file etc all seems really archaic, this stuff should be more user friendly. As someone who is neither tech savvy nor has any desire to be tech savvy, I'd like to spend my free time riding my bike, not reading reviews on DC rainmaker and troubleshooting my route on my PC.

Rant off/


What I want is a GPS device that can download a file from RidewithGPS and reliably tell me either where to go (turn left in 50 feet) or show me a line that goes forward and turning right etc without navigation per se, such that if something suboptimal occurs, it won't go berzerko and want me to re-do a turn:

say I am riding on the other side of street for a while ; or say I miss a turn ; or say the RidewithGPS route wants me to go up to the big intersection instead of shortcuting across the corner gas station. If I miss a turn, I want to be able to get back onto some point of the route (which I can do using my phone GPS without fanfare) , and have it resume it's display. If I want to go off course to check out a scenic area, and then come back to resume my brevet route, there shouldn't be any issue.

I also want the option to have it powered by batteries like AA or AAA so that I don't have to charge it off the dynamo or separate USB battery pack.

I would likely run whatever navigation device along side my Garmin 510, which is powered by a small external battery pack that takes regular AA batteries, that will record my data and provide HR etc. Dynamo hub will charge my iphone during the day.

Would the eTrek GPS do this? If so, which one do you recommend ? If not, what is the device that would gimme what I want?

thanks!

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Old 01-04-18, 12:14 PM
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I use the eTrek 20. I bought mine refurbished. Uses 2 AA batteries. I load routes from RideWithGPS and just follow the line. If I somehow miss a turn, then I will zoom out a bit on my map and retrace my route until I get back to where I belong. One time I had to make a detour as tree trimming trucks had the rails-to-trails path completely blocked. It was no big deal.

I did purchase the TOPO 24K maps from Garmin (microSD) for the Great Lakes region. When I rode in Virginia, I just downloaded free mapsets.

I purchased the "Bike Motorcycle Cycle Handlebar Mount for Garmin eTrex 20 (sku 19600)" from Amazon to mount the unit on my handlebars. It has worked very well for me.
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Old 01-04-18, 01:22 PM
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The eTrex 20 will do what you want. I use free OpenStreetMaps. If you use an eTrex you need to use track navigation. The files to do this can be downloaded from RideWithGPS. All the brevets and most other rides in my area are posted on RideWithGPS and I think that is true in more areas all the time so it's easy to do. I have an eTrex 20 and never had any problem with it.

I Think that would be your best option if you want to keep it simple.

Don't use Route navigation on an eTrex. If you do and you get off course for any reason it will recalculate the route. When you get back on route it will recalculate again and most likely will be different than the correct one. If you would like to use route navigation you would need a different GPS. The Garmin GPSMAP 64 and others will work for this.

Route navigation has some advantages over Track navigation. The big one for me is it will give me the distance to the next turn. The downside is that you need to create a file in Garmin BaseCamp that is kind of a pain to use and it must have the same map as the one on the GPS. Also the GPSMAP 64 and other GPSs you can use for this go through batteries faster than the eTrex 20.

I also have a GPSMAP 64 and never had any problem with it. It will work with Track or Route navigation so may be a good option if you think you may ever use Route navigation.
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Old 01-04-18, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mibike View Post
...
I also have a GPSMAP 64 and never had any problem with it. It will work with Track or Route navigation so may be a good option if you think you may ever use Route navigation.
I also use a GPS 64.

I wrote a few more comments on my expereice with it at these links:
Best Garmin model - that does routing - for 400km-1200km brevets?
On Bike Charging Ideas?

I do not know which hub and USB charger you use, but if you want to use the Garmin 64 to charge NiMH AA batteries, it is very picky about the source of power. My Luxos U will charge it, that has a built in pass through cache battery built in, but my Sinewave Revolution will not unless I use a pass through cache battery. I can also charge AAA batteries in it with AAA to AA adapters. Uses a mini USB cord, not the more common micro USB cord.

Following a track, it does not tell me when to turn but the track will plot a line on the map.

I use a variety of maps, but I use Mapsource software on my computer to load the maps onto my GPS, since Mapsource is no longer supported by Garmin I won't elaborate on how to load maps because there may be better options than I use.

Garmin 64 (base model) will not work with heart rate sensor, but some of the higher level versions of that might. I do not know which versions of the 64 work with a cadence sensor or not. There are handlebar mounts available for it.

It is a bit bigger than most bike GPS units, but it was designed for stuff other than cycling. I wanted a good GPS for hiking and other activities and using AA batteries was important to me, thus I did not want to use a cycling specific model.

Sometimes I do not use the GPS on the bike, thus there is a separate basic computer shown in the photos.
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Old 01-05-18, 01:17 AM
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Thanks. So I'll get either the Garmin GPS 64 or eTrex 20x. I agree with your assessments in your other posts, i.e. GPS 64 is good if have a dynamo hub and doing touring.

Tourist in MSN - I was wondering - which cache battery do you use?

I don't do touring, I train for brevets, and I will have a dynamo hub but will use it mainly for charging my phone and don't want to depend on it for charging my extra navigation GPS device, will probably run that off disposable alkaline AA batteries. Garmin GPS 64 use more electricity than the Etrex 20x, i.e. AA batteries last 16 hours vs. 25 hours (advertised numbers) on two AA batteries. That could be significant.

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Old 01-05-18, 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by mibike View Post
Don't use Route navigation on an eTrex. If you do and you get off course for any reason it will recalculate the route. When you get back on route it will recalculate again and most likely will be different than the correct one.
It has been awhile since I used an eTrex but you might want to look for the ability to turn-off auto re-routing. I has been an option for as long as I can remember on my Garmin Edge units.
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Old 01-05-18, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Flounce View Post
Thanks. So I'll get either the Garmin GPS 64 or eTrex 20x. I agree with your assessments in your other posts, i.e. GPS 64 is good if have a dynamo hub and doing touring.

Tourist in MSN - I was wondering - which cache battery do you use?

I don't do touring, I train for brevets, and I will have a dynamo hub but will use it mainly for charging my phone and don't want to depend on it for charging my extra navigation GPS device, will probably run that off disposable alkaline AA batteries. Garmin GPS 64 use more electricity than the Etrex 20x, i.e. AA batteries last 16 hours vs. 25 hours (advertised numbers) on two AA batteries. That could be significant.
I don't charge batteries in the GPS 64. I use a separate charger and charge them at home. The only time I charge them elsewhere is on a tour. On a longer breverts I will carry spares. There is always the option of buying alkaline batteries if needed.

As for the battery life there is not as big a difference as it looks like. It will very for both depending on settings. One of the biggest users of battery use is the back-light. on the eTrex you need to keep it on at night so you can follow the line. I find about 50% brightness works for me. On the GPS 64 using route navigation you can set the back-light to be off and when you get close to a turn it will turn on at the same time as the turn warning and go off after the turn. You can even set the screen to only be on at the same time as the back-light if you would like to save a little more.

I haven't timed battery life on ether but it hasn't been a problem and I don't think it's a lot different in use.

Originally Posted by Aushiker View Post
It has been awhile since I used an eTrex but you might want to look for the ability to turn-off auto re-routing. I has been an option for as long as I can remember on my Garmin Edge units.
On the eTrex you can't turn off auto re-route. I have called and emailed Garmin support about this. I have also asked on GPS forums about it.

On the GPS 64 you can set auto re-route to on, prompted or off. I keep it set to off. This is the biggest reason I bought the 64 and like it better.
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Old 01-05-18, 09:06 AM
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Thanks, Is replacing dying batteries on the GPS 64 the same as on the eTrex? I.e. it automatically resumes from where you shut off?

I see what youíre saying about route navigation and battery life, ie screen backlight comes on only as you come up to turn on the GPS64, whereas using eTrex without routing and just following a pink line at night, you have to keep the backlight on the whole time. But Using routing on the GPS 64 requires you to fiddle with a separate file, correct ? Iím looking for simplicity, ie just downloading a file from RWGPS without any modification...

Kingston and other eTrex users - when riding through the night , eg 24 hours straight , where you need to keep the backlight on to follow the line , how long does a set of AA batteries actually last ?

Originally Posted by mibike View Post
I don't charge batteries in the GPS 64. I use a separate charger and charge them at home. The only time I charge them elsewhere is on a tour. On a longer breverts I will carry spares. There is always the option of buying alkaline batteries if needed.

As for the battery life there is not as big a difference as it looks like. It will very for both depending on settings. One of the biggest users of battery use is the back-light. on the eTrex you need to keep it on at night so you can follow the line. I find about 50% brightness works for me. On the GPS 64 using route navigation you can set the back-light to be off and when you get close to a turn it will turn on at the same time as the turn warning and go off after the turn. You can even set the screen to only be on at the same time as the back-light if you would like to save a little more.

I haven't timed battery life on ether but it hasn't been a problem and I don't think it's a lot different in use.



On the eTrex you can't turn off auto re-route. I have called and emailed Garmin support about this. I have also asked on GPS forums about it.

On the GPS 64 you can set auto re-route to on, prompted or off. I keep it set to off. This is the biggest reason I bought the 64 and like it better.
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Old 01-05-18, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Flounce View Post
Thanks, Is replacing dying batteries on the GPS 64 the same as on the eTrex? I.e. it automatically resumes from where you shut off?

I see what youíre saying about route navigation and battery life, ie screen backlight comes on only as you come up to turn on the GPS64, whereas using eTrex without routing and just following a pink line at night, you have to keep the backlight on the whole time. But Using routing on the GPS 64 requires you to fiddle with a separate file, correct ? Iím looking for simplicity, ie just downloading a file from RWGPS without any modification...

Kingston and other eTrex users - when riding through the night , eg 24 hours straight , where you need to keep the backlight on to follow the line , how long does a set of AA batteries actually last ?
Yes battery replacement is the same on both units. When the batteries are dead take the old ones out, put in 2 new AA, turn on and ride. I change them at a control when they are low so I don't need to make a stop to change them.

Yes using route navigation requires some setup work to get a good file. With track navigation you can download the file from RideWithGPS or other sources and you are good to go.

If you think you might ever want to use route navigation I would look at the 64. You can use it either way but for track you would need to leave the back-light on at night.

If you are sure you would be happy with following the line I would go with the eTrex 20 or the 30 if you want Compass, Altimeter and the ability to use things like hart rate monitor, cadence sensor, etc.

My eTrex is a 20 and my 64 is a 64s. The difference in the 64 and 64s is the same as the difference in the eTrex 20 and 30. I never use the extra features. At first I thought the compass was nice as you could see direction when you are stopped. You need to calibrate it every time you change batteries. After a while I stopped using it as it was more trouble to calibrate then it was worth. As soon as you start moving even slow the GPS based compass starts working. I have cadence etc. on my Cateye computer so no need to use it on the GPS. This also gives me a backup as I can use the Cateye with a cue sheet. If I were to buy today I would go with the 20 or the plan 64.
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Old 01-05-18, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Flounce View Post
...Kingston and other eTrex users - when riding through the night , eg 24 hours straight , where you need to keep the backlight on to follow the line , how long does a set of AA batteries actually last ?
I use an etrex20 with eneloop rechargeables and one set will easily last 24 hours if you go easy on the back-light. I typically use no back-light during the day and as low as I can at night. When it's dark out you don't need much back-light anyway.

ride with gps has a page with some good info on how to use the etrex with their routes.

I also use openstreets maps which I update each spring.
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Old 01-05-18, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mibike View Post
On the eTrex you can't turn off auto re-route. I have called and emailed Garmin support about this. I have also asked on GPS forums about it.
That is disappointing and I can see why you found it frustrating ... good to know not that I would be in the market for a eTrex 20 anyway, but still.
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Old 01-05-18, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Flounce View Post
...
Tourist in MSN - I was wondering - which cache battery do you use?
....
Pass through cache battery - I should define that, if I plug my GPS into a pass through cache battery and then plug that pass through cache battery into the charger, it works if your dynohub powered USB charger charges that battery simultaneously with that battery also supplying power to your GPS. In other words, power is going into it and also coming out of it at the same time. But, many battery packs will not do both simultaneously.

I bought some cheap cylindrical power packs on Ebay, shipped from China that had Li Ion 18650 batteries inside that worked great as pass through batteries. But eventually they quit working, so I ordered some more. But the newer ones did not work that way anymore, they would either charge the GPS or they would accept a charge from the charger, but not both. <Major bummer.> At that time I tried all the power banks that I had to see if any would work the way I wanted them to, I had two small powerbanks that also had solar panels on the side of the powerbanks that actually worked the way I wanted them to but all of my other powerbanks did not work that way.

I suspect that the solar charger power banks are wired so that they can accept a charge while also discharging simultaneously so that the power bank can be providing power and also continue to accept a solar charge. The ones that I have that work are the Brunton Ember 2800 and a small solar charger/power bank that came with a Steripen that I have. Neither of them are available for sale any more.

Unfortunately, nobody that sells powerbanks will tell you if their product will simultaniously take a charge while providing a charge because only a cyclist with a dynohub would really care about that.

***

For AA and AAA, I only use NiMH rechargeable batterys, not disposable. For AA in a GPS, I have the best luck with Eneloop batteries and the low discharge version of rechargeable batteries sold by Ikea (they name them Ladda and they are white with black print). Ikea also sells some non-low discharge ones that cost less, I recommend the low discharge ones. I bought some of the Ladda Ikea ones last month for $6.99 for four cells.
LADDA Rechargeable battery - IKEA

Eneloops, I usually bought them from amazon, I won't bother with a link here, anyone can find amazon.

***

Now let me tell you one problem with using a Garmin 64 if you are not plugging it in for power. The screen can be configured to shut off to save battery life. I have no idea how long the battery will last if you have the screen permanently turned on, I have mine set to turn off after 30 seconds. You need to touch a button to turn the screen back on. But, while it is plugged into a power source the screen stays on. If your plan is to only power your Garmin 64 from disposable AA batteries and keep the screen on, you should test it first to see how long the batteries will last, they might not last as long as you planned.

The other thing I do not like about the Garmin 64 is that when the screen is off, there is nothing telling you that it is still turned on. Several times at the end of the day I assumed it was off, but it was on and then I had dead batteries the next day at the start of my ride.

In the photo I was using one of my remaining cylindrical pass though cache batteries on a tour last February in Florida (before Irma), the battery is copper color and on top of my handlebar bag bracket. (This is on a different bike than the one pictured above.) On this bike tour for two weeks, I was fully self sustained for power on my dynohub, never had to plug in elsewhere. But my phone was almost always off. I occasionally used it for weather forecast, but that was pretty brief. On this trip I used a Sinewave Revolution but I needed the separate pass through cache battery to be able to charge the AA batteries in my Garmin 64.

As I mentioned above, the Luxos U has a built in pass through battery that plays well with my Garmin 64, I can just plug it in and it works great without needing anything else. I bought my Luxos U from Star Bike in Germany last spring, also bought another SP hub from them at the same time.
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Old 01-05-18, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
For AA and AAA, I only use NiMH rechargeable batterys, not disposable. For AA in a GPS, I have the best luck with Eneloop batteries and the low discharge version of rechargeable batteries sold by Ikea (they name them Ladda and they are white with black print). Ikea also sells some non-low discharge ones that cost less, I recommend the low discharge ones. I bought some of the Ladda Ikea ones last month for $6.99 for four cells.
LADDA Rechargeable battery - IKEA

Eneloops, I usually bought them from amazon, I won't bother with a link here, anyone can find amazon.

***

Now let me tell you one problem with using a Garmin 64 if you are not plugging it in for power. The screen can be configured to shut off to save battery life. I have no idea how long the battery will last if you have the screen permanently turned on, I have mine set to turn off after 30 seconds. You need to touch a button to turn the screen back on. But, while it is plugged into a power source the screen stays on. If your plan is to only power your Garmin 64 from disposable AA batteries and keep the screen on, you should test it first to see how long the batteries will last, they might not last as long as you planned.

The other thing I do not like about the Garmin 64 is that when the screen is off, there is nothing telling you that it is still turned on. Several times at the end of the day I assumed it was off, but it was on and then I had dead batteries the next day at the start of my ride.
+1 on the Eneloops. That's all I buy anymore. But it's nice to know I could buy alkaline batteries in an emergence.

I run my 64 not plugged in. I find the back-light uses more battery then the screen. I have the timeout on the light set to 15 seconds but leave the screen on. I have Distance to next turn displayed on the map screen. If I want to see it at night I hit the enter button and the light will come on and then time out. With it set up this way I know if it's on.

There are other settings that affect battery life. Using GPS only without GLONASS is one thing that helps.
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Old 01-05-18, 07:05 PM
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Thanks for all the information, very helpful.

I read about Passthrough cache batteries on a website , they recommended a number of them:

https://www.cyclingabout.com/best-dynamo-hub-cache-batteries-buffer-batteries/
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Old 01-05-18, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by mibike View Post
...
There are other settings that affect battery life. Using GPS only without GLONASS is one thing that helps.
WAAS is also something that consumes a bit more power, I leave that off too. That cuts accuracy a bit, but you will still find the road intersections just fine with it off.

Originally Posted by Flounce View Post
Thanks for all the information, very helpful.

I read about Passthrough cache batteries on a website , they recommended a number of them:

https://www.cyclingabout.com/best-dy...fer-batteries/
Thanks for posting that link, I was unaware of it.

A quick additional note: After owning some power banks that did not have any means of telling me if they were 20 percent charged or 80 percent charged or somewhere in between, I have developed a strong preference for ones that have several different LEDs that will tell me roughly how much of a charge I have in it.

I took the photo while on a tour in Iceland, the campground owner was doing some construction and left an extension cord out overnight so I could charge some batteries. I was running power into two Brunton Ember 2800 powerbanks and from there was then running power into a total of four AA batteries in a pair of Eneloop AA battery chargers. On those Brunton powerbanks I could push a button and it would light up some LEDs and to give me a rough idea on how much power they had in them.
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Old 01-06-18, 03:45 PM
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the Zendure batteries claim pass-through charging. I have never tried it, because no dyno usb charger. I have been otherwise happy with mine
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Old 01-06-18, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
the Zendure batteries claim pass-through charging. I have never tried it, because no dyno usb charger. I have been otherwise happy with mine
Thanks for posting, that is the first powerbank I have seen where pass through charging was cited as an advantage in the marketing. If I was shopping for one, this would be on my list for consideration.
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Old 01-06-18, 07:47 PM
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I looking at pulling the trigger on a Xiamoi 10000mAH Mi Power Bank Pro which I understand has pass through charging but need to confirm that.
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Old 01-07-18, 09:28 AM
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I started thinking that since some of my pass through cache batteries no longer function, that the few that i still had might not last too long. So, I started thinking about buying one of the Zendure A2 or A3 units, as they are reasonably affordable. I looked at this page:
https://zendure.com/pages/a2-instruction-manual

I pasted the following from that page:

In charge-through mode, the total maximum input is 2.1A, however, the output of the Zendure to the device is limited to 1.3A, and the input from the power source to Zendure is limited to 1.5A. Depending on the charge level of the Zendure and the device you are trying to charge, the 2.1A current is distributed between Zendure and the devices. If the Zendure is low in power (for instance only 1 to 2 LED lights), the voltage that goes out from Zendure to charge the device will be lower than 4.6V. In this situation, the device will think the power source is a low-power one, and thus the output drawn might be only 0.4A to 0.5A. As the charge level of the Zendure goes up, the voltage that it outputs will also go up to 4.8V, and the output to the device could be up to 1.3A.
That discussion of voltage made me a bit concerned, as I have some USB chargers (that plug into a 110 volt outlet) that are low power, the Garmin 64 does not accept a charge from them. Thus, I have no idea if the Zendure will work as a pass through cache battery for a Garmin 64.

I sent Zendure an e-mail, when I get a response I will let you know.
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Old 01-15-18, 07:26 PM
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In the post above, I stated:

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
...
I sent Zendure an e-mail, when I get a response I will let you know.
I never got a response from them. I chose not to buy a pass through battery from them. For many users it might work great, but I am concerned that my Garmin 64 is very picky about power supplies and I did not want to roll the dice and get one with the risk that it would not play well with my other electronics.
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