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Cooter Brown

Back Up Your Alpha/Astro Data!

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Cooter Brown

Back it up or you could lose it!

 

A few days into my UP hunt this year--with plenty more to go--my Alpha started acting strangely one morning.  I tried to bring up a specific waypoint and the thing went haywire, the screen went all fuzzy, then it just froze up.  I pulled the battery and rebooted it but did it again later.  That night the mini USB plug would not go in the unit.  An inspection showed that the pin block in the handheld itself had broken, and the pin all the way on the right was exposed and bent over.

 

Fortunately one of the other fellows also has an Alpha, so I was able to use his to charge my battery.  The unit however continued to act up.  I didn't try to bring up a waypoint again, but it was giving me poor directional and distance information on an intermittent basis.  It suspect this was because the pin was shorting.

 

At the beginning of each day I always "Start New Hunt", and at the end of each day I download it to BaseCamp on my laptop and date the hunt with flush/point/kill data.  This not only captures the dog tracks and my own, it captures any new waypoints and adds them to "My Collection".

 

Given what happened to my handheld, there was no way to plug it in to a computer and transfer any information.  Surprisingly, though there's a slot for an SD card, you can't transfer data from the unit's memory to the SD card.  I talked to Garmin customer service about this; they said that the only way would be to try to do a wireless transfer from one handheld to another, but the CS guy said that's iffy with so much data.  Fortunately, since I download each hunt, I'm essentially doing a daily backup, at least during hunting season.  I have hundreds of waypoints.  I was able to go into BaseCamp and do a much needed cleanup of waypoints, and then transfer them to the new handheld.

 

Garmin replaced the unit with a refurbished one (looks brand new) for $110.  They told me to keep the old battery and antennas, so now I have another extra battery and two of each length antenna.

 

I got over five years of almost daily use out of the Alpha and given how I use it I'm happy with the service life.

 

The moral of the story is that if you've got waypoint data on your your handheld you want to keep it, do at least an occasional back up.

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john mcg

My screen acted up on my 4 year old Alpha and I got the same deal last month.

The best service I have experienced on an electronic device!

I love that I have an extra battery and antenna.

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GuyO

Cooter, I had the same thing happen to my handheld this summer. It needed charged and I went to plug it in and the plug would not go into the port! The only thing I could figure out is I was careless when I unplugged it from a previous charge. I sent it back and took advantage of getting the refurb unit.

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Cooter Brown
25 minutes ago, GuyO said:

Cooter, I had the same thing happen to my handheld this summer. It needed charged and I went to plug it in and the plug would not go into the port! The only thing I could figure out is I was careless when I unplugged it from a previous charge. I sent it back and took advantage of getting the refurb unit.

I'm thinking about ordering a separate charger for the batteries.  They are available and pretty inexpensive and usually come with another battery.  Since I use mine almost every day the mini USB port sees a lot of use.  The pin block for it is tiny and relatively fragile.  Having a separate charger for the battery would limit the number of times the USB port gets used to the number of times I download data.

 

I've also been plugging it into the car charger if I move from spot to spot.  Bouncing around in the vehicle plugged in is pretty rough use on those tiny connections unless you have a holder for it.  With an extra battery it's not really necessary anyway.

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john mcg

Funny u mention that, Cooter. I was just wondering yesterday whether or not there is such a charger.

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Hub

I had some issues with my Alpha resetting itself.  It would force me to calibrate on startup multiple times and then forget the training buttons.  The training button issue might have just happen from bumping around while I hunt.  One time I started it up and all my waypoints and the factory maps were just gone.  I called Garmin and got a hold of some smarmy tech support guy that basically accused me of deleting the data myself.  After interrogating me he let me know that they wouldn't resend the maps that I paid for initially, but if I sent the whole thing in and $110 dollars they would replace the unit.  I wasn't too happy to have to do that with a 1.5 year old unit.  Given I was right in the middle of the season I just pulled a bunch of free topo and road maps from GPSdepot and reloaded my waypoints that I am thankfully pretty good at backing up.  I have a very strong suspicion that having an outdated copy of bird eye on there caused my problems.  I give the durability of the Alpha unit and Garmin customer support pretty poor marks.  I do also occasionally get readings that are way off on the unit, but stopping and restarting the transmitter and collar seem to clears those up.  I sure wish there was an integrated beeper collar for when things are acting up.

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Cooter Brown
13 minutes ago, Hub said:

I had some issues with my Alpha resetting itself.  It would force me to calibrate on startup multiple times and then forget the training buttons.  The training button issue might have just happen from bumping around while I hunt.  One time I started it up and all my waypoints and the factory maps were just gone.  I called Garmin and got a hold of some smarmy tech support guy that basically accused me of deleting the data myself.  After interrogating me he let me know that they wouldn't resend the maps that I paid for initially, but if I sent the whole thing in and $110 dollars they would replace the unit.  I wasn't too happy to have to do that with a 1.5 year old unit.  Given I was right in the middle of the season I just pulled a bunch of free topo and road maps from GPSdepot and reloaded my waypoints that I am thankfully pretty good at backing up.  I have a very strong suspicion that having an outdated copy of bird eye on there caused my problems.  I give the durability of the Alpha unit and Garmin customer support pretty poor marks.  I do also occasionally get readings that are way off on the unit, but stopping and restarting the transmitter and collar seem to clears those up.  I sure wish there was an integrated beeper collar for when things are acting up.

I hate to hear of your bad experience with Garmin CS.  Mine for the most part have been very good, best of all tech companies I've worked with.

 

When I was trying to transfer the old waypoints from my computer to the new unit I was having a problem and called Garmins CS.  The guy I got clearly didn't know what he was talking about (told me some info I knew to be wrong), and I didn't care much for his attitude.  This was a first for me with Garmin.  I hung up and called back and got a guy who spent over an hour with me until we got everything right.  We figured out it was something I did myself that screwed things up but he hung with me until we figured it out.  By the way, I did mention to him my experience with the previous tech.

 

If you get a bad one at customer service, try doing what I did.  Reboot the customer service tech.

 

By the way, I always lock the screen.  Things got very hosed up one time when I didn't.

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