Addendum to A GPS User Manual - Working with Garmin Receivers

By Dale DePriest - all rights reserved.

A GPS User
ManualThis Addendum adds or revises data in my published manual. The manual itself is available from 1st book publishers in either electronic (pdf) or as a paperback. The paperback book will also be available at traditional and other online bookstores as ISBN: 1-4033-9824-0. (If you search for this number online you may need to leave out the hyphens.) It covers all Garmin handheld GPS receivers available at the time it was written.

One of the problems in trying to document a product such as a GPS is that Garmin keeps changing the model features and keeps adding new products. This addendum addresses this problem by supplying the changes to the existing manual and by adding new model information as needed. Often the data in the manual will still be applicable to the new features or products since Garmin tends to base new products on its existing products so this document will reference the appropriate page in the manual where the data can be found.

Here are a few Tips to get the most from your manual.

Table of Contents

Etrex and 76 mapping units

Garmin has made a major release change to the mapping products in the etrex and 76 lines (etrex legend, vista and Map76, Map76S). The number of trackpoints in the main tracklog has been increased to 10,000 points and the number of trackpoints in the saved logs has been increased to 750 points. In addition the maximum number of points in a route has been increased to 125 points. These changes were made in the firmware starting at version 3.0. While the user interface is not effected by these changes this has been one change to help a user manage the longer tracklog. The visible log can be truncated in the map display from the map local menu -> map setup screen. Select the track tab and the visible length of the log can be changed as needed. The default length is 3000 points.

Venture Local
MenuOne local menu on the etrex has been changed in firmware releases and needs a better description. This is the Waypoint Local menu as shown on the right for the etrex venture. This menu is on the waypoint screen. Most of the functions of the commands are described in the manual but they are referenced here for completion. The local menu includes the following commands:

A new feature on the etrex models is the ability to show the direction of the next turn. The is a feature also present on the Geko and is shown below. Basically the arrow on the navigation screen bends to show the direction of the upcoming turn 15 seconds before the turn.


The GPS V has an undocumented feature. If you have a waypoint named HOME then you can press the find key twice in a row to immediately start a navigation to this waypoint.


GekoThe Geko products are the latest non-mapping units from Garmin. They feature very small size and light weight. This is accomplished partly by using AAA batteries which does shorten the battery life somewhat. You can expect a maximum of about 12 hours in battery save mode on a set of Alkalines. The battery consumption has been measured to be about 90 mA without the backlight. Note that WAAS will not work in battery save mode. The product operation is very similar to the etrex models so the user can read those sections of the manual and easily apply the instructions to the operation of these units.

The buttons perform the same functions as those on the basic etrex although they are all located on the top rather than the sides. The OK button performs the functions of the Enter button. See page 38 in the manual for details on these buttons. The buttons are (left to right) up, down, OK, page, and power. Be careful when placing the unit in you pocket since it is easy to accidently press the power-on button. Some users have glued a small rubber o-ring around this button to protect it from accidently being pressed.

The Geko 101 is very similar in operation to the Basic yellow etrex except there is no route capability at all and there is no advanced satellite display screen. The chapter on routes can be ignored. There is no interface on this unit so the chapter on computer interface can be ignored. There is no cable connection for external power. Trackback on this unit is done only with the main tracklog.

TurnThe Geko 201 matches the operation of the etrex summit product except that there is no electronic compass or altimeter on this model. In general it behaves like an etrex venture except there is no joystick. The Geko 201 does have a 10,000 point track log and supports up to 10 saved logs of up to 750 points each. The routes on the Geko 202/301 support up to 125 points. This unit and the 301 supports WAAS/EGNOS. The power and interface cable for the Geko 201/301 is the same as for the etrex or emap. The settings for WAAS have been moved to the mode menu for simplified operation. WAAS reception requires the use of normal mode on all Garmin GPS receivers and the Geko has chosen to force this choice by placing the two settings (Normal with WAAS off and Normal with WAAS on) next to each other on the same menu.

The image above is displaying the Geko 201 navigation screen with the automatic bent arrow features that shows the direction of the next turn. The arrow will appear straight and point to the next waypoint in the route until the user gets within 15 seconds of the turn. The top of the arrow will then bend and show the turn direction while the bottom of the arrow continues to point in the direction of the waypoint.

The Geko 301 is the same as the 201 except that it adds the electronic compass and altimeter and is thus very similar to the etrex summit as described in the manual. It does support WAAS as well. It supports a vertical navigation page similar to the Summit and Vista. The electronic compass consumes some power so expect shorter battery life when this is in use. Garmin says that the maximum life is about 10 hours using Alkaline batteries.

TrackThere are some unique features in the Geko line including the pan-n'-track feature shown on the right. This feature provide the ability to pan by following this tracklog visually on the screen. It also permits the user to visually select the point for a trackback or other uses. To perform this command:

  1. From the map page press the OK button.
  2. From the options menu select 'Pan Track Log'.
  3. Use the up/down arrow keys to move the arrow along the tracklog.
  4. Press OK to bring up the pan options menu.
  5. The pan option menu allows selecting a Goto, Backtracking, Marking a waypoint, or zooming in/out. Selecting goto will begin navigation toward the point where the arrow appears.
  6. Press the page key to cancel the pan operation.


The Geko includes 4 games that can be used to learn how to use the GPS or just for fun. These include Geko Smak, Memory Race, Nibbons and Virtual Maze. A fifth game, Gekoid, is on the 301 and is specifically designed to learn to use the built in electronic compass while attempting to destroy the incoming asteroids. Each game is an adaptation of games that the user is probably familiar with but with a twist. The game is virtual showing information on the screen but the player must physically move around outdoors to make the gps report the move on the board. Each game can be scaled to an outdoor area to start and then the user would move from location to location by watching the GPS screen. Spectators might give the player a funny look since the movement will make no sense to them.

Memory Race Nibbons Virtual Maze Gekoid

In Geko Smak the gecko's appear at random and you must move until you are on top of one and then smack it using the OK button. The Memory Race mimics the old card game called concentration where you must turn up two matching objects by visiting the locations on the playing field. A good memory or lots of luck can result in a win. Nibbons is a classic computer game where you visit the numbers that show up on the screen but you cannot cross your tail which gets longer and longer as the game progresses. The Virtual Maze is a classic maze but the walls are invisible in the real world. You can only see them on the GPS screen but you have to get out anyway by walking around and picking up flags on the way.

Setup for the games can define the size of the playing field with the largest setting about the size of an American football field and the difficulty can be set. One of the best ways to use these games is in a group where everyone has a GPS. A referee would start everyone off in a different but overlapping location and start everyone at the same time. Of course each person would be working from their own screen, but since the playing fields overlap there could be problems with running into each other if someone is not careful. The first person to finish is the winner. If you only have one GPS then the contests can be serial with everyone remembering their finish time. Physical obstacles can also be added to the playing field.


Garmin has released revisions to all of the GPS receivers that support WAAS. This change is designed to improve the use of WAAS and EGNOS by disabling the WAAS support feature in areas that do not have WAAS/EGNOS correction data and to ensure that the correct GEO-SV's are used for correction.

IQue 3600

The Garmin iQue 3600 is the first PDA solution from Garmin. While the user interface is designed to offer a PDA feel the underlying functions are very similar to the ones discussed in the manual. I have generated a review of the IQue that highlights the user inteface differences and demonstrates the common roots.

03/05/23 original release
03/07/08 added tips
03/08/11 added waas update
03/11/19 added iQue.