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Strange GPS Behavior
Old 03-06-2016, 12:01 PM   #1
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Strange GPS Behavior

We'd had 2 instances of weird behavior . Otherwise it works fine.
1) Took it to use in rental car in HI. GPS could not find address listed. Initially I thought it was because map was outdated. However half a day later, it recognized the address and everything worked fine.
2) Used it at home. Did not recognize a major local city so could not input the
address. However, if I used a saved favorite , it seemed to work fine . I just could not input new addresses. Two hours later it worked fine.

What causes it to go deaf and dumb at times?
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Old 03-06-2016, 12:43 PM   #2
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Which brand of GPS do you have?
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Old 03-06-2016, 12:45 PM   #3
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Lots of tall buildings around? Reflecting signals drives mine nuts to the point of near uselessness in Baltimore. Once back out in the open it was fine.
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Old 03-06-2016, 01:24 PM   #4
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It's a Garmin something. Yes , I know the tall buildings effect but none around when problems occurred. ......I can see how that affects navigation but I don't see why that would affect inputting something that, I assume?,is stored
on the unit.......or maybe not.
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Old 03-06-2016, 01:32 PM   #5
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What causes it to go deaf and dumb at times?
I would reload the maps on the unit, if you still have the problem it's probably time to get a new unit.
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Old 03-06-2016, 01:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
It's a Garmin something. Yes , I know the tall buildings effect but none around when problems occurred. ......I can see how that affects navigation but I don't see why that would affect inputting something that, I assume?,is stored
on the unit.......or maybe not.
A Model number would be very helpful. I have had five Garmin models, none of which had this issue.

However, Hawaii has a difficult addressing system or I least I found it so -- i.e., "12-3456 <13 character (mostly vowels) name> Street." These GPS devices don't like numbers with a "-" inserted in the string and the name almost guarantees a typo.

Did you contact Garmin? (Garmin | United States | Contact Garmin Support) I have found them pretty easy to get along with.

The POI Factory Garmin Forum could also be very useful if others had the same experience. Garmin talk | POI Factory
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Old 03-06-2016, 02:34 PM   #7
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I have a DVD player that occasionally locks up and will not respond to the remote, nor to the push buttons in the front. Disconnecting its power cord and plugging it back in resets it, and the problem goes away until the next time.

It could be due to a software bug, or an intermittent failure of its memory that holds its firmware. Anything that has a microprocessor in it can act up in strange ways all of a sudden. For critical applications of computers such as autopilots in aircraft, particularly civilian jetliners, a triplex or even quadruplex redundant design is used so that a bad channel is overidden by the two good ones, with any of the channels capable of flying the aircraft by itself.

In the case of the OP's GPS, what is strange is not that it locks up momentarily, but that it somehow resets itself. Usually, a crashed program cannot fix itself without the manual intervention of shutting it down and restarting it. CTL-ALT-DEL, anyone?
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Old 03-06-2016, 03:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
We'd had 2 instances of weird behavior . Otherwise it works fine.
1) Took it to use in rental car in HI. GPS could not find address listed. Initially I thought it was because map was outdated. However half a day later, it recognized the address and everything worked fine.
2) Used it at home. Did not recognize a major local city so could not input the
address. However, if I used a saved favorite , it seemed to work fine . I just could not input new addresses. Two hours later it worked fine.

What causes it to go deaf and dumb at times?
The GPS function is figuring out where in the world you are... and yes big building can cause issues with that. Finding an address is really a map/database search. Possibly reload the maps or see how much memory is being used... could be pushing the limits.

When these issues happen... does it identify where you are correctly?

Are you using a memory card for the map data? If so, pull in out and reinstall it. One bad connection could cause periodic or worse errors.
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Old 03-06-2016, 04:02 PM   #9
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I used to work in the GPS world. bingybear is correct - finding an address is a database search. Each road segment on the map is a database record with from and to lat/long, street name, from and to address ranges, speed limit, city and state info, etc.

So it's imperative that the street name be entered exactly the same as what is in the db. Sounds like OP has it ok if it works sometimes and not others. Also - address number doesn't need to match any database record exactly as long as the street number entered falls with the range of addresses in one of the database records.

While the device is searching the database for the city, street and address, it is also trying to lock on to gps satellites to get the current position of the device. It needs the current position to calculate the best route to the requested address.

The GPS device will hang if it can't lock on to enough satellites to acquire a position. Obstructions such as tall buildings, mountains, and heavily wooded areas will prevent GPS from acquiring satellite lock.

Sometimes satellite lock takes longer when done for the first time in a long time, or if done in a geographic area that is far from it's previous locked on position.

That said, the best bet would be to reload any software/hardware available from the GPS manufacturer to include any upgraded maps. That has worked in the past for DW's Garmin.
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Old 03-06-2016, 04:17 PM   #10
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That said, the best bet would be to reload any software/hardware available from the GPS manufacturer to include any upgraded maps. That has worked in the past for DW's Garmin.
That is exactly what needs to be done..

You must have Garmin Express (Garmin Express) installed on your computer and the GPS unit connected to the same computer. This program will update your firmware and install the most current map (well, the map within your subscription status).
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Old 03-06-2016, 04:26 PM   #11
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The GPS device will hang if it can't lock on to enough satellites to acquire a position. Obstructions such as tall buildings, mountains, and heavily wooded areas will prevent GPS from acquiring satellite lock.

Sometimes satellite lock takes longer when done for the first time in a long time, or if done in a geographic area that is far from it's previous locked on position.
In my experience, this is by far the most common cause of GPS complaints. The poor little thing is desperately trying to figure out where it is and its owner is getting frustrated because it can't map a route to his destination.

In these cases, it's always a good idea to go back to the satellites page of the GPS display to see just how good or bad its lock is on how many satellites.
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Old 03-06-2016, 04:38 PM   #12
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Again, the model number is very important.

I have always used a top-of-the-line Gamin unit so probably cannot relate to this issue. The only time (while in the vehicle) I could not get a signal was in the lower level of a parking garage in downtown San Francisco... and it was a block and a half away before I connected with enough satellites to track my position. And this was several years (6+) ago.
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Old 03-06-2016, 05:12 PM   #13
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My Garmin can have difficulty accepting a destination if it is not given the right approximate location. For example, given the wrong city, it is not as smart as Google Maps which will look in adjacent areas for the street address.
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Old 03-06-2016, 05:18 PM   #14
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It's also possible for these nifty little gadgets to have an occasional brain fart like the rest of us.

I'll never forget one time in 2006 I was driving through Idaho and stopped in a town for lunch. On my way back to the highway, the street I needed was closed for some fire apparatus, so I had to detour a couple of blocks. Although my route was westward, the GPS (a TomTom, not a Garmin) told me to turn onto the highway eastbound, go roughly 800 miles, then make a U-turn.

I rebooted the thing and went on my way, but I still shake my head when I think about that episode.
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Old 03-06-2016, 05:21 PM   #15
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........ the GPS (a TomTom, not a Garmin) told me to turn onto the highway eastbound, go roughly 800 miles, then make a U-turn...............
Even machines have a sense of humor
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Old 03-06-2016, 05:54 PM   #16
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Thanks, all, for the replies. Your inputs are greatly appreciated.

NWB, in this modern age, my only weapon is rebooting..........and surprisingly it works 90% of the time (thank goodness). In the last incident, I used my only weapon numerous times w/o success until I gave up and tried it 2 hrs later on the way home......so I agree w/ your comments.

[QUOTE=NW-Bound;....................................

In the case of the OP's GPS, what is strange is not that it locks up momentarily, but that it somehow resets itself. Usually, a crashed program cannot fix itself without the manual intervention of shutting it down and restarting it. CTL-ALT-DEL, anyone?[/QUOTE]

I just went out and tried it again. It did not recognize the same city A as last night. I put in another city B and it was ok. Then I went back and input the same city A and it took that input.............all w/o rebooting, as far as I can remember.......so a much milder form of dementia than last night.

The other interesting thing is that there was a note on the screen saying that the maps were a year old........do you suppose they cause you aggravations on purpose so you update? What does it cost to update? This was a gift so I don't remember if it came w/ lifetime update privileges .

.....and just for my understanding..........the database is stored on the GPS unit so it shouldn't need the satellite info to know that a city exists and to accept the city A? The satellite info is just needed so it knows where you are at any given time?
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:07 PM   #17
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.....and just for my understanding..........the database is stored on the GPS unit so it shouldn't need the satellite info to know that a city exists and to accept the city A? The satellite info is just needed so it knows where you are at any given time?
Logically, I have the same expectation as you do. That is, the GPS function is to tell the unit where it is. But accepting any address info is the function of the map data base. It's the same as people may be lost or not (not knowing where they are), but that does not impact their ability to look up a telephone directory (old white page telephone book) or a yellow page directory to see someone's phone number. Here, the database contains latitude and longitude coordinates of the addresses.

What is strange is the thing acting erratically. Whether the map database is old or not, an address is either in it or is not. It cannot be there one instant, and not there an hour later. It's the same as someone is either listed in the phone book or not. He cannot be there one day, and not the next day.

I wonder if you may have an intermittent hardware memory failure. If so, it may get worse with time until the thing fails permanently and becomes useless.
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Strange GPS Behavior
Old 03-06-2016, 06:16 PM   #18
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Strange GPS Behavior

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.....and just for my understanding..........the database is stored on the GPS unit so it shouldn't need the satellite info to know that a city exists and to accept the city A? The satellite info is just needed so it knows where you are at any given time?

The db is in the unit-it's linked to the map.
True - the unit doesn't need the satellite info to know that a city exists.
True - the satellite info is only needed to plot your location on the map, know what map tile to pull up, and develop directions to the address entered.

But, if the user queries an address as soon as he/she turns it on, the unit is probably searching the db simultaneously with getting sat lock. Maybe the combo of the 2 tasks sometimes stalls the unit. Kind of like the intermittent hardware problem that NW mentioned above.

DW had a similar problem. Her unit did not include the whole US - she only had western states built in. She searched for Nashville and it just spun. She called Garmin tech support - she had to get a micro sd card for the remainder of the US


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Old 03-06-2016, 10:56 PM   #19
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What does it cost to update? This was a gift so I don't remember if it came w/ lifetime update privileges.
Download the Garmin Express program I linked to earlier. It will tell you what "plan" your device is on. All of our Garmins came with life-time map updates... well, up to four times a year.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:25 AM   #20
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Funny timing, just ran into a similar ridiculous direction.

Big Island of Hawaii, going north from Kona to Marriott hotel in Waikoloa. Google maps on iPhone takes us one street past where we should turn left (which was a mile or more), then takes us to a roundabout with 3 exits, and instructs us to take the 4th exit!

Needless to say, we had to figure it out on our own. Out of curiosity, we put it in again another time to try again, and still got the same result.
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