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Author Topic:   Garmin GPS Internal Battery Replacement
btb posted 04-24-2009 09:40 AM ET (US)   Profile for btb   Send Email to btb  
I have a GPSMAP 276C and have been very very happy with it. Lately - it goes into Autolocate every new day I turn it on, which means it starts hunting for satellites from scratch, rather than remembering which birds were in view at the last session and starting with those.

The upshot of this is that it takes longer to get a fix.

In researching this issue (Garmin have been slow to respond to my tech inquiry), I came across several similar issues where a GPS unit slowly loses its ability to get fixes. According to several threads I found, this is due to a built-in battery losing its power over time. This is not a user-replaceable battery, is apparently hidden deep inside the unit and costs $175 to have replaced.

This information is purely gathered from various internet sources and has not been independently verified - but its sounds like a possible explanation. If true, its also an example of built in obsolesence and I for one will be upset, as they said nothing about this "feature", of course, in all their cute sales stuff.

Anyway, the Garmin folks are sure to get back to me one day and when they do I will post the results of any discussion I have.


Buckda posted 04-24-2009 12:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I'd wait to hear back from Garmin. I agree that this is a disappointing planned obsolescence "feature" if it is in fact true.

I have a GPSMap 168 Sounder that I purchased in 2002 or 2003 for my 15' Sport which has migrated to the Outrage and is still performing solid duty as a backup GPS, but I haven't noticed it taking a long time to establish a fix because I don't use it for navigation anymore. I will pay closer attention the next time I'm out in the boat.

Still - depending on which unit you purchase, $175 to fix a $2,000 unit isn't a huge deal if you wish to continue to use the unit.

My problem is that when I buy my next unit, I will have to begin re-purchasing Blue Charts, as the ones I have are licensed to both units, and there is a 2-unit max per license.

chopbuster posted 04-24-2009 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for chopbuster  Send Email to chopbuster     
I now have a Garmin GPSMAP 478, I previously owned a 276c
and the user Lith-ion battery was not internal but
external and was easily replaceble. Is the battery you
refer to something else ?

Did you try a software udate ?

btb posted 04-24-2009 06:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for btb  Send Email to btb     
Yes, software is up to date. Its not the Lithium Ion battery, my understanding is, as I said, internal, in the guys of the thing...

Garmin did come back to me, I gave them a bit more info so now waiting to here a specific answer to a direct question.

jimh posted 04-24-2009 08:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
quote: starts hunting for satellites from scratch, rather than remembering which birds were in view at the last session and starting with those....

I don't believe that a GPS receiver would try to locate the satellites it last used, unless the interval between the last fix and the re-start was very short. The orbits of the satellites cause them to move relative to the earth, and their position is constantly changing with respect to any point on earth. It is more likely the information that is stored has to do with the last position the GPS receiver deduced it was in, and the current time and date. The receiver also probably has some data stored about satellite orbital periods (or an ephemeris) so that it can make an educated guess about which satellites are likely to be in view.

kamie posted 04-29-2009 07:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
The battery is not all that hard to replace. I replaced the battery in my Garmin GPSMAP 180 after they told be to either take it to an electronics/TV repair shop or send it back to them. Basically, I replaced the soldered on battery with a battery holder and now I just open the unit and swap the battery when it gets low.
You can take a look at my post on WC highlight=gpsmap+180&pid=16416#post_16416
sheikofthesea posted 05-02-2009 03:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for sheikofthesea  Send Email to sheikofthesea     
Okay so lets go slow for us tecnologically impaired folks. My Garmin 498 has been working fine for two years. This year as I powered up the boat it had trouble finding satellites but everything else( fishfinder, stored way points, speed etc. was working). Sometimes it wont go on. Miracle of miracles when i needed it in the fog it went on. But when I turned the unit off later that day and turned it back on it wouldn't work . Is this this internal battery issue and how do i deal with it if i don't have a soldering gun?

thanks for the help in advance

Liteamorn posted 05-02-2009 07:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Liteamorn  Send Email to Liteamorn     
I 'm not so sure it is a battery problem. Garmin charges a fairly reasonble flat fee to repair units out of warrenty and the turn around is pretty good too.


kamie posted 05-02-2009 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
that is not a battery problem. either you are having an electrical issue within the unit itself or your electrical connections aren't good to power. recheck the power cord hookup, i assume it's either hooked to key on power which means it's connected to the purple wire and ground wire in the console. Or it's hooked to a fuse panel, if that is the case, check that the connections are tight. Do you have good contact, is there corrosion or are the contacts clean.

If both those are good, try hitting the button at different angles, straight on, push down on one side, see what makes it turn on. Push and hold for a second, and see if that will turn it on.

I have a Garmin 360c that does the exact same thing.

Do all of the above at the dock, and not when your in a hurry to get moving.

sheikofthesea posted 05-05-2009 09:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for sheikofthesea  Send Email to sheikofthesea     
thanks, it is really erratic, worked fine yesterday, i guess it is kind of like a woman's sweet spot , you got push it just right, otherwise its too hard or too soft.
btb posted 05-11-2009 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for btb  Send Email to btb     
OK, so my GPSMAP 276C is fixed. Here's the scoop.

We (an electronics engineer buddy and I) took the unit apart and indeed found a small button cell soldered to the circuit board - a Lithium 3v cell.

However, upon removal from the circuit board, the cell turned out to be just fine.

The problem was traced to the oscillation crystal which is used to regulate the internal clock - it was not running, no matter how the unit was supplied with power.

This problem was traced to contaminants left over from the original manufacturing process: the main circuit boards are assembled, then soldered in an oven, and afterwards the boards are washed to remove the soldering contaminants. Two items which cannot go through this process are the crystal and the button-cell battery - so these are soldered on manually; but the post-soldering contaminants were not cleaned off by the manufacturer.

As a result those contaminants have, over time, degraded further, to the point they have interrupted the power flow to the crystal. So the internal clock stopped running and the GPS lost its ability to remember where it was and went into autolocate mode every time it was switched on.

The contaminants were cleaned off, the clock runs and now my GPS is fine.

btb posted 06-21-2009 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for btb  Send Email to btb     

After a trial it was clear that the GPS was NOT fixed.

Upon further inspection, the internal hard-wired lithium cell WAS bad, so we replaced it and NOW the GPS works great!

How come we missed it the first time? It turns out that when the GPS is powered on, it sends a small CHARGE CURRENT to the hard-wired lithium cell; when we tested the cell before, the unit had been turned on, so the cell temporarily showed 3 volts.

BTW, the consumption from the hard-wired lithium cell is 60 microamps.


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