Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GARMIN gets it right this time - we hope

Garmin's new and improved Astro 220 and DC30 collar system pictured below.

Garmin's first foray into hunting dog telemetry, the DC20, was fraught with problems. Most of these problems were clearly due to a knowledge and experience gap on the part of Garmin's product designers/engineers.

I'm not saying that there aren't any hunters working at Garmin. They are after all in Lenexa, Kansas. Having lived in that particular area for many years I can attest that the hunting community in the Kansas City metro is substantial. And Garmin has in my opinion always been very friendly to its very large hunter customer base. But based on the DC20 I must wonder if any of them are real dog-men/women.
When the first Astro was released, the pictures were cliche with an English Pointer. Among the photos for the new unit, I did notice they have one with a trailing hound now.

So what was wrong, and how have they improved it? The original Astro DC20 had a bulky transmitter which mounted on the dorsal side of the neck on a collar, or on top of the whithers as part of a special neoprene vest. This transmitter had a rigid and brittle antenna... you working dog folks already know why that didn't work!

You don't even have to know anything about dogs to know why the collar option didn't work. Basic physics is what it is. If the transmitter was mounted on a collar, the collar would find it's new center of gravity by rotating until the transmitter was located under the dogs throat. With the antenna pointed straight down, its range/effectiveness was greatly diminished. LCS came up with a clever counter balance system pictured at right. Which, in theory, kept the transmitter right side up, but also made the large, bulky and heavy collar... larger, bulkier, and heavier.

But now, it looks like they took the advice of houndsmen and finally designed the collar the way it should have been from the beginning. Smaller, lighter, under collar mounted, with a longer more flexible antenna.

There is also a long range antenna available for the receiver as well now from LCS.

Only time will tell of course, but it looks like the new Astro 220, but especially the DC30 collar will finally help to realise the truly awesome potential of this GPS telemetry system.

You can find out for yourself soon enough. They go on sale to the public in 2 days at LCS.

See GARMIN's DC30 page for more information.