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Virgil Kane

Garmin Alpha stupid question of the day

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Virgil Kane

Okay, went out and bought the Garmin Alpha 100TT bundle.  Chose it over the Dogtra Pathfinder although almost twice the price but it's always on and I don't have to unlock it to use it, keeps my phone for emergencies only.  I've got everything set up but noticed that when using the compass and the dog is only 60-80 feet away the needle on the compass sometimes points almost 20-30 degrees off course to where the dog is.  If I can see the dog this is no problem but if the dog gets out 150-200 yards being off 20 degrees doesn't get me close to seeing the dog in the grouse woods.  Do others have the same problem with their Alpha compass?  I have calibrated the compass but is this something I have to do every time I turn on the receiver?

I like the unit for the peace of mind but question the compass.

 

Virgil

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Cooter Brown

Within 30 yards or so the accuracy of the pointer goes to hell.  The imprecise sat positions of the handheld and the collar stack and create a bit of error.  At longer distances things even out and it's very accurate.

 

The best thing to do is to pick out a reference point when you're 40 yards out or so put up the handheld and walk to the ref point.

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tut

I think calibrating the compass may help. 

 

 

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Riverhunter55

My Alpha seems similar to Cooter's. For the 3 years I have had it, it has been virtually trouble free. The only real issue I have ever had is twice the pointer has been 180 degrees off... a quick restart and it worked fine. 

I do need to plug it into a computer and update it sometime. 

My only advice is make sure you charge at least the collar after any more than a few hour hunt. At least from my experience it will not make it through a whole weekend on the 2.5 second update speed.

I have really enjoyed my Alpha it makes hunting in thick cover way more enjoyable!

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Felix

I agree with all of the above.  1) Recalibrate before each run.  It takes about 1 minute. 2) Direction accuracy goes away at about 30 yards. If you get within 30 yards, it can't take long to find your dog even in the thickest cover.

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Virgil Kane

Thanks guys.  I'll give a longer distance a try.  I didn't have doubts about the Alpha but rather that I was doing something wrong.  Now that I have a setter instead of a close ranging French Britt this Alpha is worth it's weight in gold for the peace of mind it will give me.

 

Thanks again

Virgil

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chilly460

Hopefully it's ok to pile on while we're talking Alphas?  

 

Has anyone figured out if there's a way to change the default home screen?  I hate having to touch through a couple screens every time I pull it up.  Sometimes I want dog info when he's on training runs to see how far he's run, when I'm hunting I just want to see the map immediately and not have to click anything.  I've searched but didn't see anything, guessing this may be why guys end up with watches paired so they can easily just see the dog locator.  

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Cooter Brown
2 hours ago, Virgil Kane said:

Thanks guys.  I'll give a longer distance a try.  I didn't have doubts about the Alpha but rather that I was doing something wrong.  Now that I have a setter instead of a close ranging French Britt this Alpha is worth it's weight in gold for the peace of mind it will give me.

 

Thanks again

Virgil

Go out somewhere you can see the dog at a distance.  That will increase your confidence in the system.

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MAArcher

Isn't the purpose of having a GPS so you don't have to use a compass?  

 

I haven't used the compass to point to the dog.  I use the map screen, it shows where I am in relation to the dog.  Its never 100 percent accurate because consumer grade GPS receivers are only accurate to around 5 yards.  So if your location is off 5 one way and the dogs off five the other, that's ten yards, so even though the dogs at heal, it might show you're as far apart as 10 yards (usually not that bad though.)  In terms of degree of angle, the closer you are to each other the greater the potential variance is.  

 

If you and the dog are moving, the degree of inaccuracy can be compounded because of the rate of "refresh" or update rate. (whatever you have that set on, 2.5 seconds, 5 seconds or whatever).  When you total up error from refresh lag and GPS accuracy it can be substantial.  Sometimes when my dog has the afterburners on I'll be looking out ahead of me trying to get a gimps only to have him come running up behind me.

 

Alpha's are far from perfect but are a lot better than nothing.  I'm to hard of hearing to go back to bells and wishful thinking.  

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WAGinVA

I may be a heathen, but I still use a beeper in addition to my Astro and rely on the beeper when I get close.  GPS tracking is a godsend if you are running long ranging dogs.

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dogrunner
10 minutes ago, WAGinVA said:

I may be a heathen, but I still use a beeper in addition to my Astro and rely on the beeper when I get close.  GPS tracking is a godsend if you are running long ranging dogs.

I do the same with my Alpha, works great. 

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Virgil Kane

I am going to use a bell with the Alpha, instant feedback when the dog is close enough to hear it.  I was using the compass to see if it would indeed point me to my dog if out of sight.  I like the map feature as it shows how the dog worked the area, distance traveled and speed.. I used this in my backyard and was amazed that my dog did over 2 miles after a workout and that was just in the yard going back and forth chasing birds.

 

Virgil

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Becassier

Keep in mind that magnets will pull your compass reading on your Alpha and magnets are everywhere - on "clickit" reading glasses, shirt pocket closures, shirt collars and of course the standard compasses that many hunters have carried around their neck all their life. 

 

Also, a good habit to get into is to check which way the needle is pointing when the dog is running straight away from you or straight towards you when they are, say, more than 50 yards out - if the needle looks right, there is no need to re-calibrate. 

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gjw

Hi, well here's my 2c worth.  When I had my Alpha (I sold it to get a Pathfinder, which for me at least was a better choice) I had to recalibrate the compass at least every time I moved (I should say drove to another area/spot).  The compass would jump around a lot, but would settle down sometimes.  I also had problems with the accuracy, my dog would be standing still at 50 yards and the compass indicated she was at 80 or 90 yards.  I have to say that the compass on the Pathfinder is damn accurate and I only need to calibrate my phone once.

 

Perhaps it was my unit, but the compass feature on my Alpha was not that great, just my experience.

 

Good Luck!

 

Greg

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Chief Paduke

There is a Facebook Garmin Alpha/Astro users group with some power users who can answer most any question. 

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