Question about Garmin eTrex Vista GPS Receiver

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Garmin Etrex Vista

My Unit started going blank. I changed batteries and now it will not acquire satellite info.
Get back to dkraepel@yahoo.com

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Screen going blank or drawing strange lines is a "built-in feature", rather than just a simple flaw, of this model. Every handheld Garmin I know does that after some use. I hope Garmin corrects that soon.

It means it is fragile, maybe much too fragile for its intended use, should I say, but not necessarily out of order. It is capable to get you oriented for many years even with such display defects.

Display follies usually get fixed by removing batteries for a reset, or (folkloricly), by hitting it gently with a finger just over the Earth-like logo until the display comes back on.

But... real trouble is a GPS not acquiring satellite signals. That's like a lamp that cannot produce light: something must be seriosly wrong with the inner core. Just removing the batteries is not a sufficient cause for that to happen, unless the unit has suffered a severe impact or has a serious internal defect.

Let's start by the basic troubleshooting.

First, you should make sure your Garmin has the right information about date (day, month and year), time (hours and minutes of day), world time-zone (how many hours are you before of behind the Greenwich meridian) and daylight-saving seasonal time (which can all be set in your adjusts menu), and about your actual location on Earth (which can be set on the satellite menu as "new location", by entering the name of your town or by searching for it with the cursor over a map).

Second is, obviously, to try it with a clear, open and wide view of the sky. Glass is not an obstacle, but almost anything else is -metal, wood, stone, concrete. Your GPS needs a broad chunk of sky to acquire the number of different satellites needed for a fix.

No GPS can appropriately acquire and read satellite signals without such data, for it needs to know which specific satellites it has to look for, at what time, in which positions.

If you are in Alaska in July 2008, and your GPS is instructed as if it was in Australia in November 1998, it may be actually getting signals, but not making any sense from them.

All this can happen if you turn your unit on in a very far away location from where you turned it off the last time; also, if you had it off-duty for a very long time.

But you should always get a reasonable position fix if you operate a normal, healthy GPS, with all that data up-to-date and with a clear view of sky.

If you are sure that your Garmin has all this basic information, and still does not work, it's internal electronics which is failing.

Then, I respectfully suggest you pack it and have it sent to Kansas for a factory repair, for I just don't know who might have those microchips greased and tuned elsewhere.

The man who repairs blenders and radios around here says he does not know what a GPS is.

Posted on Jul 08, 2008

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