Altitude is very incorrect

Hello,

Since v3.30, altitude seems to be incorrect, showing very crazy values, sometimes very high, sometimes negative ones.
After I've factory reseted the device, it appeared to be corrected. But after I performed a walk, with GPS online, it seems that the values got wrong again.
It also seems to be impacting in the floors (stairs) counting).
Could it be another bug?
Regards
Hervandil
  • Try cleaning barometric holes. If they are already clean or cleaning doesn't help, your sensor is probably defective. Sometimes small particles like skin flakes or dust can create blockage in barometric holes but if that isn't the case you probably have defective sensor.
  • Just an update and heads up to all of you looking into strange VA3 altimeter behavior.

    Remember to check this support article on the calibration of VA3 altimeter:
    https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?fa...n56rYdmThGbO06

    I created a support case with Garmin Denmark pointing to this thread and my data collected over time. It's important that I have the data for the same device on my running mate's wrist as a reference. It made the proof of the pattern behavior much easier.

    Many thanks to Alex from Garmin Support DK for investigating the details of this case!

    There is a case in the Garmin internal database which confirms a defect of altimeter sensor in an early limited production batch. Only a limited number of devices with serial numbers within a certain range exhibit this behavior. The pattern in my case is that the sensor do not properly adjust to the temperature changes during the first 25-35 minutes of high intensity activity. The elevation drift is 30-50 meters while acceptable error is about 10 meters.

    If you experience similar problems I advice you to create a support case with Garmin and provide a proof of this behavior.

    P.S. Garmin support does not monitor forums and do not read your messages here. Please create support case for your device.
    P.P.S. I do not believe the barometer port placement to be a main cause of the erratic altimeter drift. The Forerunner 645 has altimeter port on the side of the watch as most other Garmin watches and it exhibits the same altimeter issues as some VA3 devices. Just look at the thread here:
    https://forums.garmin.com/forum/into-sports/running/forerunner-645-645m/1319012-altimeter-issue/page18
  • OsiMik, are you getting yours replaced? Keep us updated if you do and if the elevation issue is fixed in the new device. I got my device in Nov 2017 and have always had issues with elevation. My buddy bought a VA3 in August of 2018 and he has the same issue. I got a replacement unit in ~May-June of 2018 and had the same elevation issue. Replacement unit did have better battery life so wasn't totally a waste. Got tired of dealing with this issue, especially since it was such an easy workaround to use elevation correction in Garmin Connect and Strava.

    BTW, Garmin support sometimes monitors this forum. Usually right after a firmware update for a few days and then silence.
  • kgarten,

    I'll receive a replacement in a few days and will update on the results.
    I do not expect radical changes though. I can tolerate these altimeter issues in most cases, since my usage pattern is not so dependent on the absolute altimeter readings. I can see in other Garmin forums posts with very similar issues with more expensive new running watches: FR 935, FR 645. In some reports f/w updates seems to fix it. I tend to believe that the issue with altimeter drift is related to both HW and SW, but to verify this we have to get access to the internal Garmin knowledge base :).
    One theory could be that a change in HW for a new generation of watches has not been tested properly and SW has not been adjusted to the new HW. If this is true SW updates will fix it in future.
    In any case I'm quite happy with my Garmin device and the support of the company.

    OsiMik, are you getting yours replaced? Keep us updated if you do and if the elevation issue is fixed in the new device. I got my device in Nov 2017 and have always had issues with elevation. My buddy bought a VA3 in August of 2018 and he has the same issue. I got a replacement unit in ~May-June of 2018 and had the same elevation issue. Replacement unit did have better battery life so wasn't totally a waste. Got tired of dealing with this issue, especially since it was such an easy workaround to use elevation correction in Garmin Connect and Strava.

    BTW, Garmin support sometimes monitors this forum. Usually right after a firmware update for a few days and then silence.


  • Update re. swapping VA3 with defect barometric altitude sensor to refurbished VA3. The photo says it all: VA3 as good as other Garmin high end watches in showing altitude changes. The initial altitude calibration is slightly different, but within the expected deviation.
    My conclusion: the theory about the differences in barometric altitude sensor behavior due to the bottom placement in VA3 vs. other devices is not true. This VA3 device adjusts reasonably good to temperature changes during intensive workouts.

    My thanks to Garmin for effective support and case resolution.

    BTW, battery in this device lasts 5 days with 1-1.5 daily GPS usage during running workouts.ciq.forums.garmin.com/.../1460845.png
  • Thanks OsiMik for the update. So looks to be something hardware related then software. At this point it doesn't really bother me but good to know. I wonder if over time the port will gradually get blocked by sweat/salt hence why they moved it to the side. I might try another good cleaning in the port. (I know they recommend you soak it in some soapy water to clean). Again, thanks for the update!
  • I've owned my VA3 for about a year, and to be completely honest, I'm pretty disappointed. In addition to the fact that it "pauses" itself on longer runs (+13 miles) so I lose 2-3 miles of data randomly, now the elevation has gone completely out of whack. I ran a trail marathon yesterday (two loops) and the elevation started at ~950' (which is pretty close) and ended at ~80'... again, this is a loop, the start and end are the same point.
  • Please review this FAQ for information on how the vivoactive 3 series calibrates the altimeter. 

  • I own the Vivoactive for about a year now and riding mountain bikes.
    Following the procedure doesn't help and the accumulated height measurements is really bad.

    It is about 40% off comparing to Strava on the phone.

    It always shows me as if my house, when returning from a round trip ride, is ~70m or more lower than it was when I exited it to the ride.

    It was once replaced due to this issue with no help. always on the latest SW update.

    Very frustrating!

  • I swapped the watch orientation on the same hand so the barometer sensor will be close to the arm and not the hand.

    It helped with the final height and now my house is in the same (more or less) height as it was when I exited to the ride.

     Strava height profileGarmin height profile

    Yet, as can be seen from the attachments, the Garmin watch (without height corrections) is smoothing the climb while the Strava on the phone shows it all.

    This results with less accumulated climb gain.

    This might be caused by one of two reasons: either the sensor is monitoring height in a too low rate comparable to the speed of the ride (which I assume is not the reason) or the software side is not recording enough data to create realistic picture of the heights.