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Settings for the Varia RTL510 - on/off/standby?

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Settings for the Varia RTL510 - on/off/standby?

Old 03-11-20, 09:31 PM
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NoWhammies
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Settings for the Varia RTL510 - on/off/standby?

For those of you who own the Garmin Varia RTL510, I have a question for you. Ok, maybe two questions.

In my reading of the manual, there are basically two on/off settings.
  1. The unit is totally off
  2. The unit is in stand-by mode, waiting to pair/connect with the head unit. The light is off and by all appearances the unit is 'off'.
My questions are:
  1. Am I correct in my understanding of the on/off settings? If so,
  2. What off mode do you keep the unit in? If the unit is in sleep-mode, do you notice significant battery drain between uses?
Thank you.
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Old 03-11-20, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
Am I correct in my understanding of the on/off settings?
Yes. In the 4th mode, as selected by the on-unit button, both the light and the radar are off, though the little status LED will flash occasionally to let you know it's in Standby. A long press of the button turns it fo real off.

Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
What off mode do you keep the unit in? If the unit is in sleep-mode, do you notice significant battery drain between uses?
I leave it in off-off because I have a Wahoo, which doesn't do ANT+ light control, which means Standby doesn't do me any good.
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Old 03-11-20, 10:21 PM
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August West
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I have a Garmin 830 which does form a light network so I leave in stand-by mode (occasional blue LED flash). It has virtually no effect on battery life. I think the battery life in standby mode is 5 months and it is handy to have the light come on automatically. Plus you can control it from the computer although I just leave it in day flash mode since I only ride during daylight hours.
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Old 03-12-20, 09:51 AM
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When riding primarily indoors I turn it off. When most of my rides are outdoors I will put it to sleep instead of turning it off.
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Old 03-12-20, 04:38 PM
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Thanks everyone.
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Old 03-13-20, 01:22 AM
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There's a standby mode? Like if I park the bike for a bit while I rest the unit will remain on, but not active (no solid light or flashing)? How do I put it into standby?
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Old 03-13-20, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Princess_Allez View Post
There's a standby mode? Like if I park the bike for a bit while I rest the unit will remain on, but not active (no solid light or flashing)? How do I put it into standby?
Standby isn't like an auto inactivity shutdown, it's a mode for waiting for for ANT+ Light instructions from your (compatible) cycling computer. As you cycling through the lighting modes (with short presses of the on-unit button), Standby Mode is the 4th and last option. I supposed that putting it in to Standby would be easier with gloves than the long press to turn it off completely (and then back on afterwards).
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Old 03-13-20, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by August West View Post
I have a Garmin 830 which does form a light network so I leave in stand-by mode (occasional blue LED flash). It has virtually no effect on battery life. I think the battery life in standby mode is 5 months and it is handy to have the light come on automatically. Plus you can control it from the computer although I just leave it in day flash mode since I only ride during daylight hours.
5 months??? Mine loses about 1/3 its charge when fully off. I always make sure to top it off before heading out, or I get the low battery warning after 4 hours. I use it with a Wahoo Elemnt in the second (fast flash pattern) mode to save battery.

Today it randomly disconnected after about an hour. I think Wahoo has a whole bunch of bugs and incompatibilities to sort out. Or just ways they tickle bugs in the Garmin firmware. Their support seems a little POC grade.
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Old 03-13-20, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sfrider View Post
Today it randomly disconnected after about an hour. I think Wahoo has a whole bunch of bugs and incompatibilities to sort out. Or just ways they tickle bugs in the Garmin firmware.
When my friend connected his Garmin GPS to my Varia, his GPS battery drained really, really quickly. I've since heard others report the same, so I'm happy with the Wahoo compatibility on the whole... though I do wish that Wahoo would get on top of ANT+ Light control - that would take care of both my Varia and Cycliq and I'd be a happy camper.
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Old 03-16-20, 10:15 AM
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Garmin / ANT+ needs to do a group-ride / stumble upon network thing with those. Say after 30 secs of consistent signal, it'll just add the Varia data feed to any head unit that wants the data. If you're varia-less and you join a group ride and you have it enabled, you'd get the radar data from the other guy.
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Old 03-16-20, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by jfranci3 View Post
Garmin / ANT+ needs to do a group-ride / stumble upon network thing with those. Say after 30 secs of consistent signal, it'll just add the Varia data feed to any head unit that wants the data. If you're varia-less and you join a group ride and you have it enabled, you'd get the radar data from the other guy.
It can get confusing, though, with the scale/reference errors introduced by the distance between the radar unit and the head unit, which can be pretty significant. It would probably be better to be without the information than to have to give pause and interpret relative positions, etc.
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Old 03-16-20, 11:06 AM
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It's BLE / ANT+. If you're in range, you're about 3-10ft from the unit and you'd be going the same direction. What's confusing about that?
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Old 03-16-20, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jfranci3 View Post
It's BLE / ANT+. If you're in range, you're about 3-10ft from the unit and you'd be going the same direction. What's confusing about that?
Have you used one in a group setting? I have. The range is considerably farther than 10 feet.
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Old 03-16-20, 12:09 PM
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So.. is there a mode where there's no light but radar works with the head unit? Obviously I haven't played enough with my own unit.
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Old 03-16-20, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
So.. is there a mode where there's no light but radar works with the head unit? Obviously I haven't played enough with my own unit.
Only only if you have ANT+ lighting control through your GPS unit. There's no way to access the mode directly through the on-unit button. IOW, Wahoo users are SOL for the time being.
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Old 03-16-20, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jfranci3 View Post
It's BLE / ANT+. If you're in range, you're about 3-10ft from the unit and you'd be going the same direction. What's confusing about that?
Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Have you used one in a group setting? I have. The range is considerably farther than 10 feet.
When I walked through the door, I happened to have my Varia and Wahoo sitting out, charging after the ride yesterday. Just to test out the range between them, I went outside. The Varia is on the ground, at the base of the No Left Turn sign, roughly 100' away. It's blurry, but you can see it's signaling the passing vehicle to the Wahoo.

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Old 03-16-20, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Only only if you have ANT+ lighting control through your GPS unit. There's no way to access the mode directly through the on-unit button. IOW, Wahoo users are SOL for the time being.
Sy Reene, this ^..

if you have a garmin unit, swipe down and right/left to get to the lighting control page and then you can turn the light off, without turning the radar off.
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Old 03-16-20, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by kissTheApex View Post
Sy Reene, this ^..

if you have a garmin unit, swipe down and right/left to get to the lighting control page and then you can turn the light off, without turning the radar off.
Thanks to you and WhyFi ... I'll take a look but there's no swiping with my button-menu 520
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Old 03-17-20, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Thanks to you and WhyFi ... I'll take a look but there's no swiping with my button-menu 520
I too am using the Varia with my 520 unit.

How are you noticing battery drain on the 520 with the Varia connected? The battery on my three old (or is it four?) 520 head unit is draining much quicker now that I have the Varia connected. I am interested in hearing your thoughts/feedback. Thank you.
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Old 03-17-20, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
I too am using the Varia with my 520 unit.

How are you noticing battery drain on the 520 with the Varia connected? The battery on my three old (or is it four?) 520 head unit is draining much quicker now that I have the Varia connected. I am interested in hearing your thoughts/feedback. Thank you.
Take it with a grain of salt, but I'm 90% that my friend's Garmin is also a 520. He was connected to my Varia on our club's Oktoberfest ride, which is ~95 miles. He had to unpair a few hours in because it was draining his battery too fast to last the entire ride.
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Old 03-17-20, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
I too am using the Varia with my 520 unit.

How are you noticing battery drain on the 520 with the Varia connected? The battery on my three old (or is it four?) 520 head unit is draining much quicker now that I have the Varia connected. I am interested in hearing your thoughts/feedback. Thank you.
Yeah.. I had a low battery warning at about mile 30 of cold day ride. I put it down to it being cold outside, but it wasn't that cold. I turned off the unit and back on and finished the ride. Just also did a very short 20 mile ride .. unit when plugged in to recharge was at 56%. I'll have to keep an eye on this. I assume (?) that the more things communicating with the unit the faster the drain.. ie. I have HR, Power meter/cadence unit, speed and now the Varia.
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Old 03-19-20, 08:16 AM
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WhyFi Sy Reene Yeah, it really is too bad about the battery drain. I like the Varia and I like the fact that I am altered to cars coming up behind me. But if having the unit on means I cannot complete a century ride without the 520 dying on me, that's not very promising. My 520 still does everything I need a bike computer to do, and I'd hate having to buy a new computer just because 520 doesn't have the battery power. I see the 1030 is on sale right now, but still.

Mrs. NoWhammies has the new Garmin 530. I can always see if the battery drain on her system with the Varia is just as bad.
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Old 03-19-20, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
WhyFi Sy Reene Yeah, it really is too bad about the battery drain. I like the Varia and I like the fact that I am altered to cars coming up behind me. But if having the unit on means I cannot complete a century ride without the 520 dying on me, that's not very promising. My 520 still does everything I need a bike computer to do, and I'd hate having to buy a new computer just because 520 doesn't have the battery power. I see the 1030 is on sale right now, but still.

Mrs. NoWhammies has the new Garmin 530. I can always see if the battery drain on her system with the Varia is just as bad.
Some posts out there on the interweb, seem to say that it depends on how often you're actually getting traffic hits, as it turns on the backlight each time. So it's said that it's not really the radar that's the cause of battery drain, but the backlight turning on and being on that much more. Workaround may be to reduce brightness of backlight to eg. 10%
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Old 03-19-20, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Some posts out there on the interweb, seem to say that it depends on how often you're actually getting traffic hits, as it turns on the backlight each time. So it's said that it's not really the radar that's the cause of battery drain, but the backlight turning on and being on that much more. Workaround may be to reduce brightness of backlight to eg. 10%
He's not talking about the battery in the Varia, but the battery on the Garmin head unit; the light flashing autonomously in response to an approaching car should have no affect on the head unit's battery.
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Old 03-19-20, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
He's not talking about the battery in the Varia, but the battery on the Garmin head unit; the light flashing autonomously in response to an approaching car should have no affect on the head unit's battery.
I know. My recollection though (haven't ridden and tried this out to verify yet) is that each time the Varia gets a hit on traffic behind, the head unit beeps, and the backlight goes on. A more trafficked area can mean your head unit's backlight is on a lot more than with the varia not running. I'm going to try a lower brightness on the backlight, and also reduce my backlight timeout setting to 15 seconds (had it at 1 minute).
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