Garmin can activate the unit from either the serial number or the unit ID. Doesn't sound like a big problem, just call them to do it that way. I did that on mine that I got off of eBay a year and a half ago without a sticker.
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You can download for free the installation disk software from www.garmin.com. You can also download a base map, but may have to buy maps from Garmin for more detailed maps/charts. You may need the serial number of the unit to unlock the maps, this is on a paper sticker under the gps antenna.
How long does it try to find the satellites? If it trys for a half hour of more with no results, the antenna may be broken. I have read in other forms that people have added an external antenna and their units would then work, evfen with the built in antenna broken.
Even with the maps unlocked it they can appear to be locked.
There are little known flags to diable/enable the base/detailed maps.
Check that the boxes are checked under the <Map><Options><Misc>
You can select either base or detailed maps there.
Disable both and it looks like the unit doesn't have any maps.
Well unfortunately, sounds like it's replacement time.... same problem I had with mine. Even with an external antenna...no or little signal. Garmin charges $200 canadian for an exchange unit.
So much for costumer support.
I have a similar problem but I can't turn the GPS off at all, even when the antenna is down. As far as the power on/off cycle, I found another link on this site that said to turn off WAAS while the GPS is off then when you turn it on the unit will not power cycle continuously. You loose the WAAS feature but the GPS and unit still works.
Garmin normally replace your unit with a refurbished unit. Yes call Garmin and ask for a new unlock code. Normally they provide a new registration ID (yellow piece of paper with the unlock code for the latest mapsource map and accessories which it also included with the refurbished unit.