Steve's in the field: Garmin Astro 220 Review
3036- Sam Walking
Man 1: We have a lot of customers that are running Beagles and Hounds. People are concerned before they get their hands on a collar if it is going to fit on a smaller dog. There is no adjustment. I mean there is no after market deal or anything that you can adjust as far as taking these components off and mounting them on another collar.
Steve: It will go down pretty small.
Rob: So what size neck do you think that is?
Steve: I have to double check, but that is about a 10.
Rob: So what kind of dog is that?
Steve: That is a small Beagle.
Rob: So to answer their question…
Steve: Well if we were running these on…I have got two baby pointers and at 10 weeks I was running it on them. The thing that you need to understand about this compared to an e-collar is that this collar does not have to be tight. It needs to be on where it is not going to come off, and you don’t want it so loose that it is banging around constantly, but it is not like an e-collar. It is also not like the DC-20 where the DC-20 had to be on tight so that it would stay in position. This one, gravity does most of the work for you. You are going to have a little bit of a curve to it, especially on a small dog, but most of the weight is at the bottom so it is going to stay in position, so it does not have to be super tight on the dog.
3034- Garmin DC30
Rob: What is that?
Steve: This is a DC30 collar. It is the current version. This one, as you can see, is a little beat up. It is the middle of February. We have been running this since August. So it has had some time on the road.
You have got a couple of different parts. This is your electronics, your radio transmitter, and your battery. This is the GPS receiver. It is picking up the signals from the satellites. And then this is your whip antenna.
They have beefed it up since the original DC20 version. We have got metal collar plates. That way everything is tough. It can take a lot of abuse. The straps are made out of nylon, which was something that everybody was a little concerned about. But as you can see, this one has got seven or eight months of pretty hard running on it and still is in relatively good shape.
Rob: What is that little colored thing?
Steve: One thing about these that is an issue for most folks is that they look just alike. So for me, this is one of the ways that we have been doing it; we are using colored zip ties so that I know this is the red collar and this is the yellow collar.
Rob: Is that for putting it on the dog?
Steve: Well that way when I have already got it programmed into the handheld as Dog 1 and Dog 2, I don’t have to figure out in the mornings, “Oh this one is Dog 1. This one is Dog 2.” I just know. It is one of the things that everybody has kind of had to work around.
Rob: It is not like an e-collar where you want to…
Steve: Well you don’t have different colored straps, so they look identical. I always like to know who Dog 1 is and who Dog 2 is. On the Astro you can go through and name each dog. But I don’t do that because I am moving them from dog to dog to dog. So for me, it is always a Dog 1 and a Dog 2, and I am using the zip ties to coordinate that.
You can see a little residue on here. We have had some tape on the antennas also. We tried that for a little while and it worked pretty well. So it is just an easy way to identify them. I know some guys have laser etched or they have etched into the metal. You can do that too. This is just what I am doing. It is pretty low tech but it works.
2972-Steve Turning Garmin
Rob: What are you doing now?
Steve: I am calibrating the compass.
Rob: By doing what?
Steve: It is an electronic compass and you have to let it figure out which way North is from time to time.
Rob: Is it using the GPS?
Steve: I don’t understand the concept behind it.
2975- Compass or Dog Screen
Rob: What is that?
Steve: That is the compass screen or the dog screen. So you have got your menu and you have got your dog. Right now I have two dogs in the system, so Dog and Dog 1. And your red arrow is for Dog and your green arrow is for Dog 1.
Now the dogs are in the truck with us right now, so it says they are both near. Once you get within about 10 yards it can’t tell the difference between standing right on top of them and…
Steve: You got your map screen, which…Let me clear it off. Menu, menu…All right.
2976 Looking at Map Screen
Rob: All right. This is a test looking at the map screen. Can you turn the screen brightness up all the way?
Steve: That is as far as it goes.
Rob: All right.
Steve: Now we are in…20 feet is as close as you can get. It is kind of cluttered right now because I have got the truck marked and I have got the two dogs standing right on top of me. But you go out and I think…All right. Yep.
You can see that is an old track that I haven’t cleared off yet. That is not from yesterday. That is probably from the last trip, so that is my track. And here are a couple of coveys that are marked that we are real close to.
2977-Changes Background color map screen
Steve: Let’s see. How is that?
Rob: That is a lot better. Now what does that screen show?
Steve: This? This is the map screen. Right now you have got multiple things. You can go in or out, virtualizing a zoom in or zoom out. The triangle is you. And then I have got two dogs, Dog 1 and Dog 2, and behind me is the truck. And if we want to move out we can get a better shot of that.
And then when you want to go out, you zoom out and you can see over 325 yards Northwest of us we found a covey. Here is another covey. 900 yards South…
Rob: So the truck is marked?
Steve: Yeah. We have marked the truck. Want me to show you how to do that?
Steve: That is how you do that.
Steve: Remember how we had the customers that were bitching about, “It is telling me to turn in the proximity and all that…?”
Steve: That kills it.
Man 1: Remember when I hit those buttons when it was in my pocket yesterday?
Steve: Yeah. Yours was doing the same thing.
Rob: So what are you doing now?
Steve: Well right now we are just looking at where we are. You have got several different things. I have got different coveys, as far as where they were marked. That 450 right there…
2988- Dog Screen with Compass
Rob: What is that?
Steve: What was what?
Rob: What are you doing now?
Steve: I just cut the tracking off.
Rob: All right. So are we there yet? Where are we compared to where we are going?
Steve: Well it depends on where you want to go.
Rob: All right. Let’s put the dogs out.
Steve: Well I mean there is some other stuff you have probably got to see before the dogs are out. You have got your dog screen.
Rob: And what is that?
Steve: This is the compass screen that shows how many dogs you have.
Rob: And the direction they are going?
Steve: Yeah. The arrows…It will give you arrows and distance for when the dog is farthest away from you. But then you have got your info screens.
2989- Reset Today’s Hunt
Rob: All right. You got your info screen. What’s that?
Steve: That is when…You see how I have got the dog highlighted? So if I want to look at that particular dog, this gives his name and the state, which right now it is listed as on point because he is stuck in the truck. This is how far away he is from me. He is 4.69 yards. Also, distance traveled and average speed. And then it has got the battery life of the collar, the communication rate, which that is how the collars and the handheld are talking to each other, and then the collar’s GPS signal. That is what those three bars are. So that tells me that my collar has got 75% of a charge left on it.
It also gives the update rate, which is five seconds, and the collar ID, which is #48.
Rob: If you want to change your distance traveled, can you reset all that for like today is a new hunt?
Rob: So do that.
Steve: So you just highlight reset. “Are you sure you want to reset?” Yes. And boom.
Rob: Great. Let’s let a dog out so we can see the dogs running.
Steve: OK. You want to turn Click out for me?
2993- Map Screen
Steve: The triangle is us and Click is Dog. And the red line shows his track. And Sam is out with him right now walking around. We are going to go in a little bit and get a little more detail.
As he gets further away from us we will have to jump out.
Rob: Can you put it on the dog screen?
Steve: That shows him. He is 109 yards out from us. Now he is circling back around. You will notice it is changing. There is an update. There is a five second delay. If you see this little thing up there that is when the radio signals are talking to each other.
Rob: How does it work? There are two different GPS’s?
Steve: He is wearing a GPS and this is a GPS. And then what his collar is doing is it is picking up a signal from a minimum of three satellites. It is more like 7-11. So it is picking up that information from those satellites on his collar, and now it knows where it is based on the distance from X number of satellites.
Then it is sending a radio signal back to this handheld that says, “I am here.” Every five seconds it says, “I am here.” This has a GPS. It is picking up signals from the satellite. It knows where it is. It takes the signal from Click’s collar and it says, “OK. That is the coordinate of that. I know where I am.” It plots it on the map.
Rob: Can you put it on the map screen?
Steve: So you can watch him. You can see which way he goes and you can see how he does it.
Rob: So you can see him working?
Steve: Yes. You can see the pattern that he works in an area.
2994- 2 Dogs Out Start Tracking
Steve: Now I am going to go to menu and dog list. Richard is Dog 1. So I am going to hit enter and it is going to say, “Show info”. Then I am going to say enter. Right now it is not tracking. I hit menu and it says “start tracking.” I hit enter and give it a second. Now it is tracking.
So we go back to Dog, and right now I am in what is called “big numbers”. So I only have one dog per screen. So I hit my over arrow and it shows him. Now I don’t like to look at it that way, so I use what is called “little numbers.”
So you hit menu and it says, “small numbers,” and now I have both dogs.
Rob: OK. So turn him out.
2997- Compass Screen
Rob: Now show me what you got there.
Steve: Well this is the compass screen or the dog screen. Right now Richard is out about 78 yards right over here. And Click has come around us and he is about 130 yards out in front.
Rob: Why is it turning?
Steve: It is moving. It is updating. And they are moving around, so it is moving around.
Rob: What else can you see on that?
Steve: That is really all you got in that. You got your distance. The distance is right over there.
2998- Click and Steve
Steve: He is 13 yards from us. Now he is near. As he goes out, it will change.
Rob: Now show us the map.
Steve: So now we jump over to the map screen.
Rob: And what does that say?
Steve: It shows us the entire track that Click has run. Now for some reason it is not showing Richard’s.
Steve: Now he is on point. Now he is moving. This is Richard right here. Click is off screen now. He should be right out here. There he is right there.
3012-Start of a new hunt
Steve: We are going to do a couple of things. First we are going to reset the map here. So you are on your map screen. You hit menu, menu, which takes you to the main menu.
We are going to start a new hunt, so hit enter. You see how it is highlighted? You can move around. I do want to clear off the hunt information, so I say yes. I do not want to mark this as the truck, so I say no. Now I go back to my map and everything is cleaned off except for my track; the little bitty line, that is me.
Now I will go back to the dog screen. Let’s do a couple of things. First off, let’s get rid of some dogs. So on the dog screen, which there is your dog button, so it is “map”, “dog”, we want to look at the menu. So on the dog screen you hit menu and it gives you a couple of different choices. Here we go. “Pause all tracking,” “calibrate compass,” “dog list,” and “big numbers.”
We are going to go “dog list.” I have got three dogs in this system right now. I am going to get rid of them. So we are going to say, “remove.” “Are you sure?” Yes. Now we are going to get rid of Dog 1. So I hit enter and I say, “remove.” “Are you sure?” And Dog 2, we are going to hit enter, “remove”, yes.
3013- How to add collars or Dogs
Steve: When you get an Astro, which is going to be your handheld and your Dog 1 collar, they are already synced up together. But when you add a second dog or a third dog, you have got to add one.
So at the dog tracker screen, right now I have no dogs. So we are going to hit menu, which takes us to our menu, and “dog list”. Under “dog list” right now we have nothing, so it says, “add new.” So we hit enter.
The first question is, “Are you able to touch the handheld to the new dog unit?” Yes. So I say yes and it adds it automatically.
Rob: So how does it know?
Steve: How does it know? The two things are talking to each other, and the collar is saying, “OK. I am dog ID #4 and my update rate is every five seconds.” And I say OK.
So straight out of the box, that is how it is going to appear. But I bought a system with two collars, so now I have got to add my second collar. So we go over here to “add new” and it says, “Are you able to touch the handheld to the new dog unit?” And I say yes. And Dog 1 is successfully added. It is #48. And you say OK. That is how you add dogs.
3014- Pointing Dog versus Treeing Hound
Steve: I will set them up for pointing dog, treeing dog. Are you ready? Right now my dogs are set up as pointing dogs. As you can see, they are both on point. But I am going to change this to a hound collar.
So you highlight the dog you want to change. We will change Dog 1 here. You hit enter. This takes us to the dog info screen. On the dog info screen you hit menu and you get a whole bunch of choices here. You can “stop tracking”. That allows you to keep the dog in the system but to stop tracking it. Say you are only running two dogs instead of three. You can cut off Dog 3.
“Identify Dog Unit” tells you what the software is. “Change communication settings.” All right. “Choose an ID from the neighboring hunters to prevent interference.”
3015- Changing Dog Unit Type
Steve: This is changing dog type. From the menu screen you go to “Change dog unit type.” You hit enter and you have several choices. “Auto” means that it will do pointing, treed, or sitting.
“Pointing dog” will only do pointing. It will not do treeing or sitting. “Treeing dog” will only do treeing. It will not do pointing or sitting.
Rob: What are the differences between those three?
Steve: Well a pointing dog is going to stop when he is on point and the collar should be straight. A treeing dog will be like this. It is going to be flat. It is on the dog’s neck and he is standing up on a tree, and so the unit can tell. It can also tell if it is sitting, which will be more like that. There is a device in there so it can tell where it is.
OK. The problem with that, though, is I have a pointing dog, but he is on an incline. Well now he is pointing but the machine says he is sitting. It is not a big deal, because if my pointing dog stopped, I know he is not sitting. He is pointing. But the problem is that my point alarm doesn’t work.
OK. But this collar right now, I want this to be a treeing collar. So I go to “treeing dog”. I have selected that. I go back down to “OK” and I hit enter.
Sam, carry that over to that bush over there and set her down. Did I do Dog? I must have done Dog. I thought I did Dog 1. I changed it.
Now Sam has moved the collar. And now it has stopped.