Garmin GPSMap 60CSx – My New Travel Companion

It was a mid Summer early afternoon – 07.07.07 to be precise – that I was out in the Silver Mountains area searching for a much sought after (by myself) Sturgeon Falls/Gorge. The parking area and trail head were very well marked but the trail itself disappeared after about 300 feet into the woods. Fortunately, I found some broken tree branches and bent plants (signs of human activity) and managed to get to a (not very useful) sign. It only said which way one should go but didn’t say how far one should go! Although the trail was quite wide (an old logging road), but plant growth was in abundance hinting dearth of human activity in this area. After walking for nearly a mile and not knowing how far I had to go (I wasn’t hearing any water sound either), I decided to return back to the parking area. It was then that my proud mapping/hiking skills left me high and dry – leaving me lost for about (what seemed like the longest) 30 minutes (of my life) before eventually finding the trail. But for my Swiss Army Knife, I probably would have been part of Upper Michigan’s wilderness forever!!

Not that I didn’t want to trust my memory and/or hiking/mapping skills, but the aforementioned experience coupled with neophelia and a long time habit of recording (in detail) geography led me to buy my first hand held GPS unit. Magellan eXplorist 210 North America seemed pretty sufficient at the time of purchase: It did its part in helping me get coordinates of many a wonderful places in this beautiful neck of the woods. However, lack of detailed maps, only 22MB of available memory and no facility to add more storage soon started becoming problematic features 🙁

Needless to say, neophelia struck again around Christmas of 2007 and after a bit of (re)search, I decided to go with Garmin GPSMap 60CSx. Customizable storage (accepts microSD cards); smart display (distinguishes day from night); decent navigation instructions even with basemap; 12 channel SiRFstar III high-sensitivity GPS receiver (WAAS-enabled) continuously tracks and uses up to 12 satellites to compute and update the position; built-in quad helix receiving antenna, with external antenna connection (MCX); data transfer (to/from a computer) via standard USB cables; approximately 18 hours of battery life … I am totally hooked to this thing. In order to miniaturize the chances of me printing driving directions in future, I added a 2GB 8GB microSD card and all of 1066 maps (covering almost all of North America) from MapSource MetroGuide v8.

One thing that totally pissed me off about MapSource was that it’s a MS Windows only application. As much as I would have loved to see no trace of Microsoft products on my computer, this (and couple other things) have forced me to put an instance of Windows under Parallels on my Apple MacBook Pro 🙁

Garmin GPSMap 60CSxI

Left: GPS, Manual, MapSource MetroGuide and 9-pin Cable
Right: Close up of Downtown Houghton

As it can be seen from the above snapshots, with the addition of MapSource Metroguide maps, the information displayed is pretty exhaustive – even our very own downtown Houghton has vivid details (yes, we do have a downtown and yes, the downtown does have business establishments) although Michigan Technological University (my school) is still listed as Michigan College of Mining & Technology (a name whose last official usage was in 1964), College Avenue still goes right through the Michigan Tech Campus (College Ave & US41 are the same for a while) and some streets/roads are missing.

Added bonus is that there are couple ways in which I can use this GPS unit with my Nikon D200 [currently, I add POI (Points of Interest) in my GPS, then add them manually to the image description – as can be seen from many pictures in my showcase]:

  1. With Nikon MC-35 GPS Adapter Cord (this thing costs about $100 and I have absolutely no idea why) and the 9-pin cable from Garmin, camera can record GPS coordinates into the EXIF data in pictures.
  2. Almost every GPS unit saves track log – a table containing GPS coordinates recorded at regular intervals of time. Once these track logs are imported to the computer, one can use GPSPhotoLinker (on Apple OS X) to add the GPS information to EXIF data.

My Settings On This Unit

  • Main Menu ? Setup ? System
    • GPS [Normal]
    • WAAS/EGNOS [Enabled]
    • Battery Type [Alkaline]
    • Text Language [English]
    • External Power Lost [Stays On]
    • Proximity Alarms [On]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Interface
    • Serial Data Format [Garmin]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Page Sequence
    • Include All [Re-order if necessary]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Map
    • General: Orientation [Track Up]
    • General: Below [800ft]
    • General: Auto Zoom [Off]
    • General: Detail [Most]
    • General: Lock on Road [On]
    • Tracks: Saved Tracks [Auto]
    • Tracks: Track Log [800ft]
    • Tracks: Track Points [10000]
    • Tracks: Go To Line [Bearing]
    • Points: Map Points [800ft]
    • Points: User Waypoints [800ft]
    • Points: Street Label [800ft]
    • Points: Land Cover [800ft]
    • Text: Map Points [Medium]
    • Text: User Waypoints [Medium]
    • Text: Street Label [Medium]
    • Text: Land Cover [Medium]
    • Marine: Marine Colors [On]
    • Marine: Spot Soundings [On]
    • Marine: Light Sectors [On]
    • Marine: Symbol Set [Auto]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Display
    • Display Mode [Auto]
    • Day Time Color Scheme [Topaz]
    • Night Time Color Scheme [Peridot]
    • Backlight Time Out [Stays On]
    • Backlight Level [100%]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Tones
    • Message Beep [#1]
    • Key Beep [Off]
    • Power Beep [#3]
    • Turn Warning (Early) [#17]
    • Turn Warning (Final) [#8]
    • Proximity Alarm Tones: Upcoming Speed Alert [#5]
    • Proximity Alarm Tones: Proximity Alarm Beep [#7]
    • Proximity Alarm Tones: Leaving Proximity Beep [#5]
    • Proximity Alarm Tones: Approaching Proximity Beep [#11]
    • Proximity Alarm Tones: Proximity Alarms [Check]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Routing
    • Guidance Text [Prompted]
    • Follow Road Method [Prompted]
    • Next Turn Pop-up [On]
    • Follow Road Options: Off Route Calculation [Auto]
    • Follow Road Options: Calculation Method [Best Route]
    • Follow Road Options: Calculate Routes for [Car/Motorcycle]
    • Follow Road Options: Avoid [Unchecked all]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Time
    • Time Format [24 Hour]
    • Time Zone [US Eastern]
    • UTC Offset [-05hrs 00min]
    • Daylight Savings Time [Auto]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Units
    • Position Format [hddd.ddddd°]
    • Map Datum [WGS 84]
    • Distance/Speed [Statute]
    • Elevation [Feet (ft/min)]
    • Depth [Feet]
    • Temperature [Fahrenheit]
    • Pressure [millibars]
  • Main Menu ? Setup ? Heading
    • Display [Cardinal Letters]
    • North Reference [User]
    • Magnetic Variation [000°]
    • Switch to Compass heading when below [3mph] for more than [180s]
  • Maps
    • Data Fields: 4 Data Fields [ETA At Destination/Sunrise/Sunset ; Time To Next/Odometer ; Bearing ; Time of Day]
    • Guidance Text: Show When Navigating
    • Turn Declutter: Off
  • Tracks
    • Track Log [On]
  • Tracks ? Setup
    • Wrap When Full
    • Record Method: Time
    • Interval: 00hrs 00min 03sec
    • Color: Dk Blue
    • Data Card Setup [Log Track To Data Card]

I am looking forward to using this unit with my subsequent expeditions – photography related and/or otherwise. If you happen to know some tricks, tips, suggestions that would help me optimize the usage, please post them as comments: I will greatly appreciate them 🙂

26 Replies to “Garmin GPSMap 60CSx – My New Travel Companion”

  1. @Amy,
    It’s been (mostly) good so far – MotherLode and other such places are courtesy of MapSource MetroGuide software. I was told by a very reliable source that Survey Authorities (or whoever is responsible for making these maps) updated the new roads/streets information but forgot to remove the old nomenclature… As such, there are times when auto-routing picks up these old streets 🙁 On a positive note, this is one easy way of knowing where the old roads are…

  2. @Note2Self:

    Myself and my buddy Kyle were returning from the famed Douglass Houghton Falls yesterday and I decided to use the auto-routing from this equipment. Being the geeks/nerds we are, it didn’t take too long to figure out that our respective units were suggesting different routes – Kyle’s being the sensible one. Soon after that, Kyle pointed out that my unit was using the base maps and little more Google!ing led me to believe that the MapSource MetroGuide did not have auto-routing by default.

    Kyle suggested the third party software available from MetroGold and I am currently re-transferring all the maps (with routing information) to my unit (this is a loooong process). If it works the way it should, I will update this note.

  3. @Note2Self:
    I had noticed that the process of transferring maps from MapSource MetroGuide to the unit took a pretty long time (about 4-5 hours for about 1.3GB) without auto-routing information. The process of transferring maps with routing information (about 1.7 GB) took even longer but failed at the very last stage. Same thing happened twice more and Kyle came to my rescue again – suggesting an approach about which I cannot write in any detail. If the process of transferring maps (with auto-routing information) stops abruptly at a certain stage, please contact Kyle or me.

    On a much positive note, I should point out that the auto-routing works like a charm – even in our Houghton. I intentionally did not take the turn that it suggested and the unit recalculated the route – suggesting another turn within a reasonably quick amount of time 🙂

  4. @Note2Self:
    I used this unit – in its full glory with Auto Routing feature – during my recent 1200 mile trip down and up Michigan. I was pretty pleased with its performance – quick enough to (re)calculate routes if I missed an exit or didn’t make a turn where I was supposed to…

  5. When driving on the road my 60CSx will beep at a turn or exit but this happens about 50 feet from the turn. Does anyone know if the unit can give advanced notification of a turn? 1/2 or 1 mile? I find nothing in the manual. Thanks, JB

  6. @John:
    I believe mine beeps sufficiently ahead of the upcoming turn. For exits from highways, I get nearly half a mile advance notification. For most other turns, it’s usually a few hundred feet. I went through the manual several times, reading carefully, to find out more about it (the options) but got nothing.

  7. @Note2Self:
    John noted…

    Thanks for the reply. I found out from Garmin that the notification distance is controlled by the speed of the unit and is not changeable. Other than that i am very pleased with the 60CSx.

    Thank you JB!

  8. @Note2Self:

    I was driving to Virginia yesterday and accidentally found out the following: While auto-routing is on, if you hit the ‘Page’ button twice, you will actually see two parameters:

    ‘Distance to Next’ and ‘Time to Next’ –> I checked it few times and these are actually the distance and time to the next turn.

    Although it may not beep a mile or less from the turn, it still gives a (very) good estimate of how long to drive before expecting a turn.

    1. It’s now August 2009. Has Garmin finally come out with mapsource software that’s fully Mac OSX Leopard compatible, so you no longer have to use Bootcamp or Parallels? Their web site lists a variety of Mac-compatible applications, but I’m unclear as to whether or not they include their maps. Please advise. Thanks!

  9. I love my 60CSx, I use mine for hunting. I personaly like the easy features and the ease of navigating through the menus. The only problem I have is now I can’t tell the wife I got lost in the woods.

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