Technical trivia: Garmin GPS offsets again and PowerTap units discontinued


As we wrap up Wednesday, there are some news items that are definitely worth mentioning, especially this one first as a warning to Garmin users to make sure you don’t get shaky GPS tracks the next day or so. Plus, a notable disruption to a set of power meter products… at least for now.

This morning, readers started contacting me about GPS offsets for their Garmin devices, especially those based on Sony GPS chipsets (e.g. Forerunner 45/245/945, Fenix ​​6, and a host of other newer units. ), showing the dreaded GPS offsets that we saw numerous watch makers in the first week of January . You will remember that it is then that the GPS tracks were shifted sometimes hundreds of meters (or more) to one side or the other, as if they were completely shifted. The problem ended up being a faulty satellite cache file from Sony, which was then propagated to GPS watches from Garmin, Suunto, Polar, Wahoo, and others. It was compounded by a so-called unrelated Week 52 bug, and then the whole thing was sent to hell on a holiday weekend.

In any case, comments started coming in this morning with people reporting the same. I actually did a series of tests on Garmin watches this morning, but I haven’t seen the problem on my own. As before, this was / is more of a file recovery time specific issue, hence why it is not as bad as the previous one.

I checked with Garmin and they confirmed that the problem reoccurred, saying (in bold mine):

“We are aware of the problem and we already have implemented the correction (new file on server). Users should see this problem will solve itself (no action needed) within the next 24 hours . Until the new file is downloaded, the users can wait a little longer (~ 5 minutes) while acquiring satellites to get a better solution . We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused to our customers and we are actively working on the necessary changes to prevent this from happening again in the future. “

By checking with them again, there is no way to know if your device has a good file or a bad file. Unlike in January, when one could roughly understand the state of CPE, they said this time it will remain the same in both cases. Therefore, the best solution is to simply stick the watch on the window or on the doorstep and turn on the GPS before going out in the cold. Or, if you live in Australia, just enjoy five extra minutes of sunshine. The watch will automatically acquire the correct file behind the scenes via near-constant Bluetooth sync with your phone, or it will sync via WiFi or USB when it connects.

Again, as before, this is largely resolved by letting the watch maintain an active GPS connection for a period of time, where it then updates the cache information it has about the satellites. You can do this easily by sticking the watch outside and letting it record a 15-20 minute workout of nothing. So delete it later.

I don’t know at this point whether or not this affects other vendors using the Sony chipset (Garmin has confirmed that this only affects watches with Sony chipsets). As with January, due to the sheer number of Garmin devices in circulation compared to Polar / Suunto / Wahoo (roughly in the 40-50: 1 range these days), it will take a little longer for them to show up other complaints (if at all). I didn’t see the problem on my Polar Grit X this morning (just like I haven’t seen it on my Garmin watches).

Last week a DCR reader brought to my attention that the SRAM / Quarq website had quietly stopped selling PowerTap hubs and pedals. These would be the wheel hubs of the PowerTap G3 series ei PowerTap P2 pedals . You will remember that SRAM / Quarq acquired the PowerTap brand from Saris nearly two years ago, but planned to continue selling hubs and pedal formations. And in fact, they have continued to both produce and sell them, as well as supporting them of course. They chose not to continue the range of crowns C1 , since it sold relatively poorly (even before the acquisition).

I checked with Quarq (under SRAM, where the acquisition took place) about this and sure enough, they have actually stopped selling the G3 line and the P2 line. However, they will continue to fulfill existing orders placed before closing the order delivery, as well as continue to support all existing G3 and P2 customers (just as they have done for the past two years).

In fact, you may remember a year ago when SRAM has updated their AXS app to actually support existing PowerTap products for things like calibration and firmware updates. In fact, I still use my PowerTap P1 and P2 pedals almost every day on two different indoor bikes for precision testing.

Checking with Quarq co-founder James Meyer, he noted that while they could have continued to make small changes to those products to keep them in production, they decided to use those hours of engineering to instead take “steps forward to a next generation. what power meter technologies should be “.

We still don’t know exactly what these new technologies will be (or if they will keep the PowerTap branding), but keep in mind that Quarq has repeated numerous times that they didn’t buy PowerTap to kill it. In fact, they noted that the reason they bought PowerTap was to continue those products and make future editions of them, particularly drawing interest in the pedal and hub product lines and building on them. You can read mine original interview about it .

Anyway, given that Quarq and SRAM often announce products as a one-two punch between the first week of February, followed by what was the Sea Otter time frame, and given that a few years have passed, and given that have made the first punch last week … It might not be long until that second punch.

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