Author Topic: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?  (Read 10322 times)

Dave

eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« on: June 15, 2008, 06:28:52 pm »
OK. I'm getting really cheesed off with this now.

On the last three long rides I've done, I've spent more time looking at the screen of my Vista HCx that at the scenery, 'cos I have to keep checking that it hasn't switched itself off. AGAIN. >:(

I said 'randomly' in the subject, but I don't think it is. It's got something to do with speed and vibration. Hitting a single pothole won't switch it off, neither will riding over the wrong sort of road surface (like that thin layer of tar with a layer of grit thrown over it) fairly slowly.

But, hit a newly laid stretch of 'tarmac' or a rough downhill and I'm lucky to get it to stay on for more than a 30 secs at a stretch. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH.

Smooth tarmac - it's fine, it'll run for for as long as the surface holds out.

So. What can I do? Someone on another thread mentioned an external battery pack, but I'd rather avoid that as I don't want to have to strap another box to the bike.

Anything to be done with the battery compartment, or (what I think is the real culprit) the lousy handlebar mount?

(Sorry. Bit long that. But I needed to rant.)

Maladict

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2008, 06:38:54 pm »
Try:

putting some "shoo goo" on the mount to reduce vibration

I put some insulating tape on the mount to achieve the same effect.

Also, consider trying some different batteries; they aren't all exactly the same size.

Not had this problem with the Vista HCx though which has a more solid battery compartment cover.

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2008, 06:45:07 pm »
Since it sounds like a vibration issue, making the batteries more "firm" may help.  If there is any give that allows them to move in their compartment, there is a slight risk of contact movement, and consequent brief loss of power.  Some sort of material around the batteries may make things a bit snugger.

Depending on how electronically oriented you are, and how much space there is in the case, you could try and fit a largish capacitor on the bus to hold the power up when there is a slight discontinuity in the supply.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2008, 06:57:16 pm »
This may or may not be relevant; the only time I've had this problem with my Vista Cx is when using 1300mah batteries.

Fatter 2700mah batteries make a much tighter fit and I've never had any spontaneous switch offs with them.

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2008, 06:59:19 pm »
It's a well known issue with Garmin units, both mine do it too.  Maladict's advice is good.

Dave

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2008, 07:51:02 pm »
Thanks for all the advice.

Try:
putting some "shoo goo" on the mount to reduce vibration

What the heck is that?

Quote
I put some insulating tape on the mount to achieve the same effect.

As in, a strip in the flat, recessed bit of the mount?

Quote
Also, consider trying some different batteries; they aren't all exactly the same size.

Tried it with Hahnel, Uniross and Eneloop rechargeables (2500mAh though) and Duracells. No luck. I might see if I can get hold of some 2700s.

Quote
Not had this problem with the Vista HCx though which has a more solid battery compartment cover.

This is with a Vista HCx. Just over three months old.

I'm going to try a liberal application of cut up bits of foam and see if that helps...

Maladict

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2008, 07:53:17 pm »
Thanks for all the advice.

Try:
putting some "shoo goo" on the mount to reduce vibration

What the heck is that?

Quote
I put some insulating tape on the mount to achieve the same effect.

As in, a strip in the flat, recessed bit of the mount?

Quote
Also, consider trying some different batteries; they aren't all exactly the same size.

Tried it with Hahnel, Uniross and Eneloop rechargeables (2500mAh though) and Duracells. No luck. I might see if I can get hold of some 2700s.

Quote
Not had this problem with the Vista HCx though which has a more solid battery compartment cover.

This is with a Vista HCx. Just over three months old.

I'm going to try a liberal application of cut up bits of foam and see if that helps...

Shoo goo is some kind of rubbery gluey stuff.  Jo Wood recommended it for this purpose.  Just a wee bit in the flat, recessed bit of the mount.  I did the insulating tape thing, exactly where you said, it did stop it rattling about in the mount.

Another option is to put some shoo goo or similar in the case to keep the batteries from moving about.

Dave

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2008, 07:55:25 pm »
Shoo goo is some kind of rubbery gluey stuff.  Jo Wood recommended it for this purpose.  Just a wee bit in the flat, recessed bit of the mount.  I did the insulating tape thing, exactly where you said, it did stop it rattling about in the mount.

Another option is to put some shoo goo or similar in the case to keep the batteries from moving about.


Hmm. OK. Looks interesting, I'll give it a go. Thanks.

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2008, 08:00:10 pm »
[Slightly OT: My recently acquired Vista HCx exhibited screen freezing at randon times after I'd had it about 2 days. It was not a vibration issue as it could happen when not moving.

I sent it back for a replacement - the supplier said this occurred with about 1 in 100 units. The new one has not done this at all after about 300 km.]

Re the vibration issue:

The batteries I use (Ansmann 2850 mAh) are an extremely tight fit in the device and I think it would take an extreme shock to move them.

However, I have tightened the fit of the device in its bracket by simply using about 3 rectangles of insulating tape along the outer face of the male part of the bracket (on the device). It does not rattle at all. Personally I'd avoid shoe goo as it is messy.

Also I use an Acor bar extender, which in itself probably isolates the HCx from road shocks. I use the oversize brackets (although the Acor is not oversize at the device end) and strips of rubber to pack it out. All in all it is pretty well insulated from road shock.

Dave

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2008, 08:11:23 pm »
My recently acquired Vista HCx did this after I'd had it about 2 days. It was not a vibration issue as it could happen when not moving.

I sent it back for a replacement - the supplier said this occurred with about 1 in 100 units. The new one has not done this at all after about 300 km.

That's interesting. I'm pretty sure that my problem is vibration related. It's never (AFAICR) switched off when not moving and smooth roads don't cause the problem. I gave it 150km of testing today :)

I'll slap some insulating tape on the bracket and see what happens.

pdm

  • Sheffield hills? Nah... Just potholes.
Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2008, 08:56:20 pm »
The Etrex series of units is known for this fault.
The cause can be two-fold. One cause could be that the batteries are a little "loose" and slightly bigger batteries of a little padding can help.
However, in my experience, this is NOT the major cause and the problem lies not inside the battery compartment, but in connections between the battery compartment and the printed circuit board behind it.
That some batteries work better than others is a function of battery case distortion and weight rather than intermittent battery contact.
The ultimate cure is to do a little surgery on the unit (if it is out of warranty) and either solder little fly leads between case contacts and PCB OR add in a little 10uF tantalum capacitor on the PCB (or both). The way to do the latter with the GPSMap 76Cs is detailed on the web - the procedure for the Etrex is similar but involves a littler more in the way of surgery, removing the rubberised case edge, etc.
I did hack my old original etrex some time ago with success but my current HCx is still in warranty so I am using a home brew foam padded handlebar mount for it in the interim.

Dave

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2008, 09:00:17 pm »
Sadly, that kind of surgery is way beyond what I'm capable of. But the link has given me some ideas for fettling a replacement mount...

cc93

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2008, 10:28:14 pm »
My suggestion on this thread worked for me

GPS purchasing advice please



frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2008, 11:07:46 pm »
An oversized handlebar mount on non-oversized bars helps a lot - the extra thickness of rubber seems to make all the difference.
Use of lithium (primary) cells helps a lot - but might be seen as expensive.  They are half the weight of NiMHs and so reduce the battering-ram effect.  (And they do last 50+ hours.)

But the root problem lies on the circuit board, not in the battery compartment - you can't fix it without opening the unit and compromising the waterproofing.  Garmin really should have fixed this well-documented problem by now, especially since the H series uses a totally different chipset to previous models.
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2008, 09:30:49 am »
A crude fix to the PCB contact issue is to use a soldering iron to melt the plastic around the rivets - heat the rivets, as the plastic melts push them deeper with the tip of a screwdriver, remove iron and allow to cool (inadvertently discovered this worked while soldering a capacitor across the battery contacts). Although this could in theory affect the immersion-proorfing, as the contacts are inside the battery compartment at the top they won't get wet unless the unit is immersed in water for a while (the battery compartment is not rated waterproof to this level).

One tip to tell which issue it is - loose batteries or PCB contacts - is to remove the internal batteries and try running with an external pack. If it still powers off with this setup, it's the PCB contacts (and you may have the loose battery issue too).

I don't believe their claim it only affects 1 in 100 units though. The problem has affected  3 out of 3 units here (two eTrex Summits bought in 2006 and 2007, and an eTrex H bought in May 2008).


Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2008, 01:02:07 pm »
Similar problems with a bog standard eTrex (the yellow one).

I've given up trying to fit bits of insulating tape or the like. It worked for a short while but after enough time out in wet weather it soon starts wobbling in the mount and turning itself off.

The battery size does help but doesn't cure it all. Mine still turns off with tight fitting Ansmann 2700mAh batteries. Smaller Energiser batteries would have the unit turning off much more often.

On the Severn Across 400 it was fine for the first 100km but after leaving Stow, on poorer road surfaces, it was turning itself off every 20 seconds or so. I soon got bored of this and just ziptied it to the bars (in its mount), this held it all the way to the finish.

I've now sourced a reusable ziptie to hold it in place. Yes it obscures part of the screen but there's no important data displayed on the bit it obscures so I don't care.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2008, 01:02:58 pm »
The "1 in 100" referred to the problem I had, which was freezing up for no reason whether moving or not. Sorry for mixing in that separate issue, I should have made that clear.

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2008, 12:41:37 pm »
My eTrex started switching off a lot because of the battery connector to PCB issue.  I'm no good with a soldering iron so I just took it apart and bent the connectors straighter so they put more pressure on the pcb.  This worked for about 6 months, had to do it again last summer and its been fine since.

One issue I have is that the rubber band which covers the buttons round the outside of the device is now not sticking very well and I'm worried it'll get damp inside.  What sort of glue should I use to re-apply the rubber band?

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2008, 02:34:32 pm »
The reason my first device was shutting down was, possibly, a known problem with shut downs when pressing menu when on the highway page. This can be related to the number of data fields you have selected to display on this page. One of the software updates is supposed to address this.

According to Garmin support, even if you have used the Garmin updater to install the latest software, it may not be installed correctly until you do a hard reset, even if the version number appears correct. I have done this with my current device and the problem seems to have gone away.

The highway page is not a lot of use anyway.


Dave

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2008, 11:10:05 am »
Woohoo it works! Cautious optimism.

Didn't switch off once during the FNRttC, despite some fairly high speeds over fairly rough tarmac (and the foul weather).

A combination of the thicker padding + replace the screw with a cable tie, more foam inside the battery compartment, and using lithium AAs (which are light) seems to have produced some sort of fix.

I suspect that some sort of surgery to toughen up the contacts will be necessary at some point though.

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2008, 01:26:21 pm »

One issue I have is that the rubber band which covers the buttons round the outside of the device is now not sticking very well and I'm worried it'll get damp inside.  What sort of glue should I use to re-apply the rubber band?
[/color]

I had the same problem with my eTrex Vista CX. I phoned Garmin in Southampton who identified it as a known problem. They invited me to send the CX back to them whereupon they would replace it with a similar unit.

Within a week I received a brand new eTrex Vista CX. (I think this model is now discontinued in favour of the hcx).

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2008, 01:42:22 pm »
Woohoo it works! Cautious optimism.
Didn't switch off once during the FNRttC, despite some fairly high speeds over fairly rough tarmac (and the foul weather).

Neither did mine, despite dropping it from shoulder height after the half-way stop  :-[
Behaved itself very well.

I note that despite all the rubberiness and some attempt at a seal, the battery compartment is not waterproof at all.

Tiger

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2008, 04:25:40 pm »
I have exactly the same problem with my Etrex. This is clearly a real issue with Garmins on bikes.
My fix was to change back to Duracells and also to strech upo the contacts so they pushed harder. Until then I was chucking teh baterries out because I thoiught they were duff!

CathH

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2008, 09:58:56 pm »
using about 3 rectangles of insulating tape along the outer face of the male part of the bracket (on the device). It does not rattle at all.

Nice trick, thanks for that.  My Garmin eTrex Vista Hcx now sits very snugly in the mount. 

I also had the problem with the unit turning itself off (it was an eTrex Vista) but mine turned itself off only once, and terminally.  Garmin sent me a brand new Hcx within days.

I use rechargables now which sit snugly in the compartment.  Fingers crossed this particular problem won't happen again.

Re: eTrex Vista 'randomly' switching itself off - suggestions?
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2008, 10:04:48 pm »
I have exactly the same problem with my Etrex. This is clearly a real issue with Garmins on bikes.
My fix was to change back to Duracells and also to strech upo the contacts so they pushed harder. Until then I was chucking teh baterries out because I thoiught they were duff!

If it is a problem with the contacts in the battery compartment itself, make small squares of suitable rubbery stuff and fit them in behind each contact. I think Garmin themselves did this at some point, early ones didn't have it but I see mine has bits behind the contacts. Maybe the rubber compresses after a while. 

If it happens with mine and the problem is in the device itself as described above, it will be going back to Garmin. This is something they ought to have sorted out.