Garmin etrex Vista HCx dead again

Posted by Peter Dobratz on 11 July 2011 in English (English)

Last year in November I got a Garmin etrex Vista HCx to use mainly for recording tracks to upload to OSM. I've been primarily just leaving the device in my car on the dash to record where I drive. My setup involves a car USB adapter and the Garmin friction dash mount. When I stop driving I unplug the car USB adapter and the Garmin shuts down after 30 seconds. When I start off again I plug the car USB adapter again and then power on the Garmin. (My car is a Volkswagen, so the dash power adapter is always on, even when the car is not.)

In the first week of June, the Garmin would no longer turn on. I was able to record my morning commute, and my trip out for lunch, but then for my commute home I could not get the device to turn on. I tried all possible combinations of swapping batteries and removing the memory card, but no luck. After emailing Garmin support, I was able to get an RMA for the device and send it back for a replacement.

Less than 2 weeks after getting the replacement, my replacement device will not turn on (exactly the same problem as before). I'll probably end up sending this one back as well, but this is getting frustrating. It seems that the Garmin etrex Vista HCx is fairly popular in the OSM community. Has anyone had similar problems?

Comment from Anna_AG on 11 July 2011 at 13:34

I have had three Garmins, the original etrex, the legend and now the legend HCX all bullet proof, dropped them, lost them, got them wet, had them hanging off my bicycle, fall off my bicycle ( many times ) all fine
I personally would check your car adaptor which probably cost 20 Euro, used to power up a 200 Euro GPS to deliver 5V via USB. A Small power spike etc from the 12V/5V lighter socket adaptor might be all it takes to destroy internal components.
Garmin UK sent me a free battery compartment cover once when I lost mine (dont ask how), they are good and no, I do not work for them.

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Comment from Peter Dobratz on 11 July 2011 at 13:58

Yeah, I had the original etrex and never had any problems for many years, though I only used that on my bicycle running on AA batteries. At this point, if I'm able to get another replacement, I'll switch to the official Garmin car adapter so that the only non-Garmin part of the chain is the car (unless Garmin makes their own AA batteries).

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Comment from netman55 on 11 July 2011 at 20:42

I've had no real problems with Vista HCx, the low battery indicator comes up fairly early but runs for a long time after indicator has come up. Only use on battery or mains power

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Comment from Todeskuh on 12 July 2011 at 16:08

I own a Vista HCx since for a bit over a year now, and I had to return mine early this year because of exactly the same problem. So far, the replacement works fine.

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Comment from Firefishy on 12 July 2011 at 16:44

As above, I suspect you should look close at the lighter socket adaptor.

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Comment from Anna_AG on 13 July 2011 at 08:45

Just another thought, I was thinking that I only ever use batteries to power up my Garmin, but of course I, as all other mappers do, plug it in to the USB port every time I need to download data from it, and never had a problem. The 5V from a USB port is well regulated and extremely unlikely to be overvoltage, which brings suspision in your case,back to the car adaptor.

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Comment from matze_ on 13 July 2011 at 10:27

Could it be a temperature issue? Leaving the etrex on the dashboard, it can get very hot in the sun, or cold in winter. Both would kill the batteries pretty quickly and probably damage the device too. So don't leave it in the car.

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Comment from Peter Dobratz on 13 July 2011 at 12:59

Running the Garmin off USB power is convenient since I don't rarely have to change the batteries (and changing the batteries while driving is probably not a good idea). Does anyone have any idea if there are certain times the car is more likely to have a USB power spike (like when it's being started)? I was thinking I could start the Garmin on batteries, then start the car, and then plug in the Garmin. I will definitely get the Garmin Car Adapter in case that is more robust than the generic USB adapter that I am currently using.

Also, I will avoid leaving the device inside the car. The devices have failed in June and July when it can get over 90 F outside (32 C), probably significantly hotter inside my black car.

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