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Best Settings For Fenix In Ultratrac Mode?

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  • Best Settings For Fenix In Ultratrac Mode?

    Yesterday I tried using Ultratrac mode for the first time. I was running a 12 hour race and wanted to sort any issues out before a 100 miler next week. I put in Ultratrac mode in Setup -> System -> GPS Mode, had Setup -> Tracks -> Interval set to 15 seconds and Setup -> Sensors -> Mode set to 'On Demand'. I acquired satellite reception well before the start of the race, but a good 3 miles in and the watch had only recorded .16 miles. After about 5 miles, not much had changed and I switched sensors to 'Always On', hoping that this made a difference. It did seem to, as it recorded most of the next lap. The two laps I ran in Ultratrac mode amounted to 10.3 miles, with only 5 miles actually being recorded. After the two laps I switched to Normal mode as decided that I obviously wasn't getting the results I had hoped for in Ultratrac mode.

    I was wondering if folks who had successfully used Ultratrac mode might share their settings. I would love to be able to record next weekends 100 miler if possible.

    Also, curious, can I charge the Fenix on the go with a battery pack? If so, do I simply plug it in while recording and not enter USB mode?

    Any help greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Originally posted by INTOLERABLE View Post
    Also, curious, can I charge the Fenix on the go with a battery pack? If so, do I simply plug it in while recording and not enter USB mode?
    Yes, as long as the power supply / battery pack you are using correctly shorts out the USB data pins, then it will simply charge, without going into USB mode, just like as if you were using the power supply/charger that came with the fenix.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by CDMACKAY View Post
      Yes, as long as the power supply / battery pack you are using correctly shorts out the USB data pins, then it will simply charge, without going into USB mode, just like as if you were using the power supply/charger that came with the fenix.
      Thanks, I think I will just try and go this route rather than the Ultratrac mode, unless I can successful get that to work prior to the race. Disappointing, as I got the fenix specifically for stuff like that.

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      • #4
        I think with Ultratrac, distance accuracy depend on the type of route you are running. With Ultratrac, the fenix will "connect the dots" with straight lines and you'll only get an approximate distances. If it is a tight course with lots of turns, the estimate might be way off. Although with an interval of 15 seconds, you'd think it would be fairly accurate.

        I've only tested Ultratrac while driving with 1 minute intervals. After downloading the track to my computer I can see that the distance is under-calculated because it straightens all the curves and turns that were made between the intervals.

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        • #5
          Dumb question: what is the difference between Ultratrac GPS mode, and a manually set track interval of 60s in Normal GPS mode?

          i.e. given that we can manually set any track interval, using the Time method, in Normal GPS mode, why do we also need Ultratrac mode, let alone one with its own separate track interval setting?

          Or am I missing something?

          And is it really true that you need to use the Time method, to get lower than a 7.5s interval? I notice that even the Running profile has a "Auto - most often == 7.5s interval", by default.

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          • #6
            Good question. Looking at NUB98's excellent fenix profile guide it shows:


            Garmin_Fenix_Track_Ultratrac.JPG

            It looks like Normal GPS has pre-set time intervals up to 50 seconds and if you want any other intervals than those ones, you'll need to use Ultratrac. So Ultratrac allows you to save even more battery if you have longer intervals? Are intervals less than 7.5 seconds really feasible?
            Last edited by StargazerOne; 05-20-2013, 08:54 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ISTARGAZER View Post
              Good question. Looking at NUB98's excellent fenix profile guide it shows:

              [ATTACH]12056[/ATTACH]

              It looks like Normal GPS has pre-set time intervals up to 50 seconds and if you want any other intervals than those ones, you'll need to use Ultratrac. So Ultratrac allows you to save even more battery if you have longer intervals? Are intervals less than 7.5 seconds really feasible?
              yup, I saw that in the guide, but that's not what I see on my fenix.

              On my fenix (latest firmwares), in Normal GPS mode, if I set method to Time, I can then set any interval down to 1s. I only see that list of named intervals if method is set to to Auto.

              As to interval == 1s, I use that all the time, on other devices.

              This was a limitation of the original 10,000 point Track limit, before Garmin changed that to unlimited (for FIT), in a later rev. With 1s intervals, 10,000 points is only around 3 hours.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CDMACKAY View Post
                Dumb question: what is the difference between Ultratrac GPS mode, and a manually set track interval of 60s in Normal GPS mode?

                i.e. given that we can manually set any track interval, using the Time method, in Normal GPS mode, why do we also need Ultratrac mode, let alone one with its own separate track interval setting?

                Or am I missing something?

                And is it really true that you need to use the Time method, to get lower than a 7.5s interval? I notice that even the Running profile has a "Auto - most often == 7.5s interval", by default.
                I think the difference is this:
                - in Normal GPS mode: the GPS is _always_ turned on and you get your position saved at your defined interval
                - in Ultratrac GPS mode: the GPS is turned on _only_ at your defined intervals (=it needs to get a fix every 15/60/whaterver seconds)

                This would explain the battery saving between these two modes.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by HUHLIK@GMAIL.COM View Post
                  I think the difference is this:
                  - in Normal GPS mode: the GPS is _always_ turned on and you get your position saved at your defined interval
                  - in Ultratrac GPS mode: the GPS is turned on _only_ at your defined intervals (=it needs to get a fix every 15/60/whaterver seconds)

                  This would explain the battery saving between these two modes.
                  This is my understanding of the difference also. The only reason I could come up with for the issue I had recording in Ultratrac mode, other than an issue with the watch, was that in Ultratrac mode, despite having reception at the start, it turned off the GPS and when it turned on and tried to get a fix every 15 seconds, it could not do so within some internally set timeout because of poor reception, it failed and waited until the next attempt (and proceeded this way for more than the next hour).

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                  • #10
                    thanks both, I agree that sounds plausible, but then it would seem to raise a further question: why is Ultratrac not the sole method?

                    i.e. why would you ever choose "Normal/15s" over "Ultratrac/15s", if the latter gives you the same track but with less battery use?

                    I imagine the answer to that is the same: the Ultratrac method may lose some points if it can't re-enable GPS lock within a timeout (or within the requested interval).

                    interesting...

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CDMACKAY View Post
                      yup, I saw that in the guide, but that's not what I see on my fenix.

                      On my fenix (latest firmwares), in Normal GPS mode, if I set method to Time, I can then set any interval down to 1s. I only see that list of named intervals if method is set to to Auto.
                      Oops! I've corrected the guide. Also, I posted a new builder with the correct formulas.

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                      • #12
                        I decided to do a test today, but I'm not sure if it really answers the question or confuses the issue. I currently have 2 fenix watches - long story. I set one to UltraTrac and the other to Time with 60 second intervals. I proceeded to drive to a park, walk around a short loop, go to 2 stores, and drive home. Once I deleted the extraneous points, the 2 tracks were about .2 km apart. Also, I noted both watch batteries decreased about 6% in about an hour and half - which would possibly yield up to 25 hours of tracking at these settings. As for satellite reception, only the one set to Time gave me any indication of losing satellite reception during my stop in the second store.

                        screen-capture-1.png

                        The blue track shows the watch set to Time with 60 second intervals. The red is the UltraTrac. They don't match exactly, since I can't edit the points in the FIT files to match the times, but you can see they are both extremely similar.

                        By the way, the park loop I walked was exactly the same distance on both tracks - 1.18 km. I was surprised by that.

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                        • #13
                          interesting, thanks... and very odd.

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                          • #14
                            Saturday was the day for my 100 miler that I mentioned in the original post. Despite the earlier issues I had with Ultratrac mode, I decided that I would set the watch to record every 35 seconds and if I had issues recording that was just going to be the way it was. In the end I was pretty pleased with the result.

                            The conditions were trees but no canopy, most of the course having a good view of the mostly cloudy sky. There were only a few instances where I did not get a reading around the expected time, a couple times for around 10 minutes and once it took about 25 minutes. With the every 35 seconds reading and all sensors set to 'On Demand', no HR monitor or other extras involved, I went for 28:25:55 and had 25% battery left over (possibly a little more, as I saved my activity, turned off the GPS but did not check the battery life until I got home, maybe 2 hours after I finished recording).

                            This was a certified course, so I am going to accept that the 100 miles and 900 ft of elevation per a loop are mostly accurate. The course was 10 full 9.4 mile loops, with a 6 mile out and back at the start. In an attempt to win a Darwin Award, I started out on one of my loops leaving my water bottle behind and had to return, which was at least .25 miles.

                            In the end, Connect shows the track being 101.49 miles long with 9,482 ft, Strava shows 101.4 miles with 8,915 ft of elevation gain.

                            I don't know why Connect and Strava always present the same track a little differently, but was pretty pleased with the accuracy over all either way.

                            Here's a screencap of what the track looks like on the map in Connect...

                            pigtails.jpg

                            If I did not get decent results I was going to return the watch to REI and get the Ambit (the original Ambit is only $375 presently as they clear out the stock and replace it with the Ambit2) to replace, but I've decided to stick with the Fenix. Very much hope Garmin keeps updating the device

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                            • #15
                              good news, and well done!

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