Garmin Montana

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by AugustFalcon, May 18, 2011.

  1. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    You can always solder the thin wire to a few strands of the thicker wire. Then use long, medium, and short layers of shrink to spread out the difference in stiffness.
  2. SteveAZ

    SteveAZ Long timer

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    Most consumer dedicated GNSS receivers (vs. phones, etc.) will do closer to 1-2m or better these days, many around 1m (I've been testing a single frequency [L1-only] commercial unit that with SBAS only is consistently at ~0.3m RMS and specified to do 0.7m) - all receivers today use SBAS differential (WAAS here in the states). One problem with the montana error is the the error moves enough to "trick" the unit into thinking it's moving when stopped and if you aren't using the magnetic compass for heading ("auto"matic compass mode I think) then the heading will change when you are stopped. If you are looking at the moving map with track up then the map will turn and not be oriented properly. I don't tend to use the magnetic compass for heading in cars/4x4/moto etc. due to it usually being way off (45° or more) from local magnetic disturbances and at least I can move forward a few feet and get it back without the compass.

    I suspect the internal antenna system is very susceptible to multipath signals (reflected from nearby objects) which is the cause of the poor accuracy and if you put a decent external antenna pointed upwards, particularly if up above the nearby objects reflecting signals, and better yet if it's on a vehicle roof or other metal surface, I doubt we'd see so much error.

    Because the antenna is pointing to the back of the unit it's not a good idea to mount it close to horizontal since then the antenna is pointed at the ground which would likely make multipath very bad and reception poor, much better to have it closer to vertical... better yet would be to have the display pointed down but that doesn't seem very practical to me :D

    Satellite positions are usually within a couple of meters or so and errors due to this are pretty well reduced with SBAS (WAAS) - ionospheric delay is likely a larger contributor to position errors which is reduced significantly from what they call multi-frequency receivers (there are two primary frequency bands for GPS, L1 and L2 and the ionospheric delay is different so the amount of delay can be better deduced) but these are almost always commercial/industrial receivers

    This is one of the promising things about the 700 - it looks like it has a night and day much better antenna system... the 276cx somewhere in between since it's a similar small patch antenna as montana but it points up if the unit is mounted vertically and isn't on the PCB which tends to shield the signals and likely aggravates multipath issues
  3. baiku

    baiku Maniacal Engineer

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    +1 on cutting the cable. I set up 2 SAE plugs -- one switched, the other always hot so I can run the Montana and a phone or heated gear.
  4. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    It’s been years since the thread was this active :beer

    My 0.2 regarding the antenna facing ”back”; the first couple of years with the montana I had it mounted on top of the handlebar clamps, facing almost directly down - and not a single problem finding strong signals and navigating (either with tracks or ”snap to road”, I assume the latter is more forgiving).
    Not bad for a ”sucky” antenna :D
  5. SteveAZ

    SteveAZ Long timer

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    Plenty say it's good enough and that's fine for them - I get it... but it is very poor regardless

    I first noticed issues when out surveying waypoints shortly after getting the unit - I'd let the unit average for several minutes but noticed that positions were often much further off than the positions I had previously surveyed with my 76, often 4 or 5 meters which made the positions unusable (and therefore the unit for that use), I'm looking for 1m (~2.5m is the edge of where I need to be, 3m is getting very painful for my uses) and there's no good reason several minutes of averaging shouldn't get you under 2m

    Measuring GNSS performance is something I've done for decades so I put the montana, a much older 76 and a little uBlox module in the backyard and did a 24hr run - the RMS value for the horizontal error (a common measure of position performance that correlates to the averaging) was:

    uBlox: 1.6m
    76: 1.4m
    montana: 5.7m


    and 90% confidence (another common measure that tells you a confidence of what 90% of individual samples will be better than)

    uBlox: 2.6m
    76: 2.2m
    montana: 8.8m


    That's really bad for a modern unit, not just a little bad, really bad... figured since they were out in the back yard where there nearby multipath contributors (walls, trees, etc.) it was likely due to multipath errors so I moved everything on to the roof away from the multipath and get a "clean" measure - may not reflect real world but gives a baseline for best case - RMS:

    uBlox: 1.5m
    76: 1.6m
    montana: 2.0m


    and 90%:

    uBlox: 2.4m
    76: 2.4m
    montana: 3.1m


    It seems clear that montana is affected considerably by multipath which makes sense with a lousy antenna subsystem but even in ideal conditions it's still quite poor - the small variation in the other units is most likely due to the normal day-to-day variations. These are static numbers but I've also looked at the rate of change of the noise vector vs. time and it's also really bad.

    Nobody needs to tell me it's good enough for them - I've heard it again and again and if they're happy, bully for them... it's not for me since I survey waypoints and I don't like the heading issues that many also complain about... from a value standpoint I think in the price range they should perform at least as well as the much older 76 - and to compare to what can be done the tests I'm running on the commercial receiver that's on my roof now yields 0.3m RMS so this is what is readily available today with no special differential signals

    Plenty folks may not care but objectively there is zero argument against montana having very poor position performance in it's class of receivers - my guess is that it's due to the poor antenna subsystem and primarily due to high multipath interference - that shows as position error, the signals can look good and strong and still give lousy position


    One of these days I'll throw the 276cx on the roof, I'm up there frequently these days


    A bright light is that the new 700 appears to use an antenna like the 76 and so it should do well - would love to measure it side-by-side if someone wants to loan me one (with power adapter) for a few days :nod
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  6. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    :deadhorse

    You do survey work with consumer grade devices? The pro stuff will give cm precision, but it’s not exactly cheap.
  7. SteveAZ

    SteveAZ Long timer

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    No, of course I don't do survey work with a handheld consumer GPS - (really?)... and agree this is a deadhorse discussion - flogged it to death a few years ago when I made all the measurements and pissed off a lot of montana owners that just wanted to defend their purchase... I get it, it's good enough for how they use it, but it is [objectively] lousy, not good enough for me and [subjectively] I think at the price point it should be better... frankly I don't care much for the user interface either but that's a whole different [subjective] kettle of worms... I sure do like the mount, the Li-ion battery and the ability to use AA's in a pinch

    Surveying waypoints doesn't have anything to do with my work, just my recreation

    E.g. when crossing over the border to Mexi on moto I've often lightened the load and cache equipment/hardware that I don't need or want to take down there... might find a good place to camp on this side, pack up that gear, cache it and stay in inexpensive rooms or just sleep under a palapa at the beach down south... open desert is a great place to cache... pick an anonymous scrub well off the trails and tie cache into it where it can't be easily seen even walking by close... survey waypoint so it's easy to figure out which scrub it is where the average distance between them is only a couple of meters or so... if the waypoint is off by 3-4meters and the unit error even worse trying to find that waypoint compounding the error... welll.... you'll likely find your cache but it will take longer as you search... and much worse if dark... I've done this many times... OTOH if you have a good waypoint (in the ~1-2m range after a survey) and a unit that's no worse than ~2m 90% confidence you'll generally end right at the cache, even in the dark...

    In the case of the montana failure I was surveying waypoints to test a drone I had scratch-built (it used the uBlox) and thought I'd screwed up the drone tuning because it missed the desired points by so much - that's when I figured out that the fault was the montana so I broke out the 76 and drone performed generally to within a meter - having a fully autonomous aircraft miss a point by three or four can have bad results... aside from other montana users that kept telling me it had good accuracy (which I knew was bs), that was my primary inspiration to actually go and test the unit (and the uBlox and 76) and get solid objective data

    There are other "recreational" reasons to survey waypoints... I suppose I could say 'create' waypoints but I think 'surveying' is more appropriate... I've never had any interest in geocaching (aside from caching gear) but that's another recreational use where poor accuracy could make a difference..

    I do test commercial units now and then and some are for commercial survey applications (most aren't) but I don't do any surveying beyond that for business... dang, some of those are amazingly accurate even real-time, <2cm type of stuff coming at you at 50hz... if you want better you'll generally need to post-process...


    Enjoy... ride... have fun... merry christmas!

    :ricky
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  8. Anders-

    Anders- 690R

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    Just checked as you seem concerned about accurancy and mentioned surveying, wasn’t sure of your use case. I understand the points made about cache hiding and drone stuff.
    Myself, I’m a happy camper and frankly wouldn’t notice if the position jumped around a couple of meters here and there as I use it mainly for riding (tracks/routing) and driving (routing).

    Merry Xmas!
  9. txmxrider

    txmxrider Been here awhile

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    Hello,

    I have a Garmin Montana 600 and I'm hoping someone here knows a short cut to accomplish a task that for me requires multiple steps. Here's the dilemma. I'm using Garmin Basecamp to connect a series of tracks into a nice 1500 mile trip. On Basecamp I have the path colored in magenta because it's easy to read on the Montana. On the left side of my Basecamp map screen is a list of probably 100 or more individual tracks plus another 50 or so waypoints such as fuel stops, camp sites, etc. Next I export this complete gpx file over to my Montana. So far so good. Now over on the Montana is where the frustration comes in. The only way I know to make my planned path show up on the main map is first I have to go to Track Manager, then one at a time I select each track name, then select Show On Map, then select Set Color, then select magenta, then hit the back arrow twice to get back to the track list...and repeat that individually for each of the 150 or so tracks and waypoints. That's roughly 900 steps and hours of effort. Someone please tell me there is an easier way to do this.

    First of all I fail to understand why it can't just automatically come out on the Montana looking exactly like it did in Basecamp. But assuming that's asking too much, surely there has to be an easier way to link all these individual tracks together without having to go through all these steps for each track and waypoint. For the sake of comparison I purchased a micro SD card from GPSkevin with the coast to coast TAT trail and all I have to do is slip in the card and presto, follow the line on the map. Similarly all I want to do with the path I created is to follow the line I made in Basecamp. What is GPSkevin doing that simplifies that process down to a plug and play SD card?

    Thanks for your help.
  10. Ken in Regina

    Ken in Regina Long timer Supporter

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    The reason the SD card track works is that someone has already put the individual track pieces together into a single track and saved it that way, ready to go on the Montana. To get the same thing with your tracks, you have to use Basecamp to join them together and save the result as a single track before you load it onto the Montana.

    ...ken...
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  11. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    Over 100 tracks for 1500 miles is an average of under 15 miles per track.

    I've loaded tracks from Sam's TAT, some BDRs, the TCAT, and others on my Montana 650 and just tried it on the 700. I can turn on all the TAT tracks for a state or province in a minute or two. Sam's tracks are often about 100 miles long. Makes the difference between a tedious task in one sitting to an anticipated look ahead in some spare time in camp. BDR sections with lots of alt tracks can be longer but to see all the options I need to turn on 5 or 6 tracks for 150 miles. Still about half the work of 15-mile tracks. I shouldn't have to turn on more than 10 tracks for a day.

    I've loaded tracks that a friend prepares in Basecamp and they come up on my 650 in the color that he chose on Basecamp. I don't have Mac or Windows so I can't run Basecamp to tell you how to do this.

    I do use other programs to make tracks and I sometimes duplicate parts of the "main" route to tie together several alternate loops. I display 2 or 3 tracks that show a main track plus many different alternate loops. I've only done this for days and weekends, so maybe 800 or 900 miles of total track for under 600 miles of pre-planned riding. At some point you might reach a Montana track-point limit, but I never have.
  12. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    My preference is to save the file as an IMG file. You will need a separate program to put the GPX file through and convert it to an IMG file. If there are waypoints you want loaded, you can load them separately and they will show up. I find this is the easiest way for me to do day in and day out riding, without risking making a mistake by forgetting to turn a file on.

    I was completely sold on this method after doing a 2000 mile ride with friends. The ride had some more difficult sections that turned off the main track. We would have to keep an eye out for them. I was doing a lot of leading, using the IMG file. One of the days a friend took the lead and I did not pay attention to my GPS all day. He blew past all of the turn offs that we wanted to make because he forgot to turn the challenge sections on. On that trip, he would frequently ask where we were at, so he could turn the correct track on.
  13. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    You are going to have to bite the bullet and combine all these smaller tracks into a series of larger ones. Basecamp has a track join feature that works sometimes (for me anyway).

    On a PC you use the left mouse button to select the tracks you want to join. Then use the right button and select Join Tracks. It is critically important that you select the tracks in the order you want them joined.

    To be honest I have tried this a number of times and it seems to work the first few times and then stops. When it stops it draws some straight lines between track end and start, like it forgot the order you selected them in.

    I normally use an alternate copy and paste method of manually selecting tracks points from one track file and pasting them into the proper place in the bigger file I am creating. For some reason I find this easier in Mapsource. I also use this method because I am normally just selecting a portion of a track to paste into the new one.

    Basecamp has a limit of something like 27 tracks that can be shown on the map. I guess you could get by with just selecting the next 27 you are going to need.

    I normally create a track file for each day and sometimes 2 per day with the first one stopping at a gas stop.

    I actually prefer keeping the number of tracks in a trip down to a fairly low number and naming them with the Day number of the trip. But I know some guys think differently.
  14. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    it's just a crappy user interface... they didn't expect people to have 100 tracks (or routes) on the device at one time. they expected the user to record one track, then go home and plug into a computer to do stuff with/to the track, instead of on the device.

    the easiest way to fix their problem is to create either one track (merge all those into one) or create a Garmin img from all the tracks. you'll probably have better results from creating an image than making one long track, the old Montana doesn't have a lot of ram or a very fast processor, so really long tracks can become problematic.

    there are YouTube tutorials for creating images from tracks, check em out.

    if it were me, I would user my phone's database to turn on/off one/ten/hundreds/thousands of tracks at one time, merge them all into one track, and then do the sdcard swapping ritual that is required to transfer the final track to the Garmin, since it doesn't have WiFi or Bluetooth available for transfers.
  15. eduro

    eduro Been here awhile

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    In Basecamp, press CTRL button on your keyboard and select the tracks you wish to join.

    1.jpg

    Right-click on one of the highlighted tracks and select Join the Selected Tracks...

    2.jpg

    Once the new track is created, double click on the track for a pop-up box to appear. You can select the track color from the top right dropdown.

    3.jpg

    Right-click on the new track & export to the Montana.

    4.jpg

    I'd stick to creating one new track from two old tracks... rinse & repeat.
  16. txmxrider

    txmxrider Been here awhile

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    Thank you all for your suggestions. That's all good stuff. I think I'll start by trying to join the tracks together to form fewer tracks and see how that works out. At the very least that'll cut out some of the work on the Montana side of the equation.

    I've heard people talk about a limit on the number of tracks and waypoints but so far I've never had that be a problem...yet anyway.

    Unfortunately I still can't explain why I can have a magenta track in Basecamp that defaults to a different color on the Montana. If I could I'd simply change the default track color on the Montana but so far I'm unable to find a way to do that. But it's more of an inconvenience and not a show stopper. I just like the way the magenta line looks on the GPS. I find it to be the easiest color to see in various lighting conditions.

    Just so people don't think I'm nuts for having so many tracks in the first place, it's not as simple as just drawing a line between two cities. When I plan trips I start by collecting many different gpx files from many different people then I snip out the pieces I like and put them onto the 'master' map that I intend to use. Once I have all the donated tracks in place then I use the New Route tool to connect the disparate pieces together. And as I research the trip further over time I'll edit in new pieces of trail, add detours, side trips, etc...all of which of course adds more tracks. I could break things into separate files, one for each day for example, but on our trips we mostly camp so we stop for the day when convenience, dusk, and a nice campsite all intersect, so it's not a preordained location. I prefer just turning off the GPS at the end of the day and then starting right back up the next morning without having to mess around with manually changing to a different file during the ride.

    Thanks again for the good tips!
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  17. txmxrider

    txmxrider Been here awhile

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    Eduro,

    Evidently there's something different about how you're joining the tracks. I had the same problem wbbnm mentioned. When you do it do you get the screen shown below? For some reason Basecamp not only wants to join the tracks where they meet but also want's to join the two opposite ends. In the example below, if I click OK it will draw a solid line where the dotted line is now. And if I edit out the straight line by selecting 'Split Track Here' at the two ends I'm right back to the same number of tracks I had to start with.

    Screenshot 2020-12-29 114543.png
  18. eduro

    eduro Been here awhile

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    It adds that extra line because both tracks have arrows moving in opposite directions and the tracks get joined on the wrong ends. Right-click on a track, then select "Invert Selected Track" before joining them.

    Two tracks opposite direction
    1.jpg

    Two tracks same direction
    2.jpg

    Make sure all your tracks are moving in the same direction :thumb
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  19. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I must be missing something. It looks to me like the arrows are all pointing the same direction.

    I vaguely remember somebody posting a solution to this behavior a few months back. It was some nonobvious (to me) trick. Maybe they will chime in.
  20. bkoz

    bkoz test

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    I owe you a beer for this simple solution!
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