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Discussing the Garmin inReach Mini 2 with Garmin Senior Product Manager Chip Noble


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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Discussing the Garmin inReach Mini 2 with Garmin Senior Product Manager Chip Noble

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  • #3739022
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    Companion forum thread to: Discussing the Garmin inReach Mini 2 with Garmin Senior Product Manager Chip Noble

    In this video interview, Ryan Jordan and Chip Noble (Senior Product Manager at Garmin) discuss the new features of the Garmin inReach Mini 2, including its improved battery life.

    #3739047
    Matthew / BPL
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Wow. I surprised how much they have been able to improve battery life. It’s wonderful that we are finally getting to the point where battery life is being extended significantly due to chip design. Apple has made similar strides with their recent m1 processors.

    I didn’t hear anything about battery savings when sending, receiving and checking for messages. Did I miss something?

    #3739053
    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member

    @rex

    Ryan,

    Thanks for the interview with Chip and your additional information. A few thoughts:

    – The new chip makes a big difference in battery life, but the lower limit is likely the energy needed to send Iridium messages. For example, lengthening the message checking interval from 10 minutes to 30 minutes extends battery by almost three times on the Mini 2. A bigger antenna might help, but that’s a different form factor.

    – Seems like the engineering crossover from Garmin watches to the Mini 2 was a big win for the chip design and user interface.

    – First I’ve heard of Iridium interference with GLONASS reception. But the abstract you linked to focuses on simultaneous GNSS reception and Iridium transmissions. One obvious workaround for devices like the Mini 2 is to stop listening to GNSS signals during short Iridium message transmission intervals every 10-30 minutes. That’s not an option for the other GNSS receivers and uses reporting problems. I’d appreciate any other references that explore these issues, since my searches came up short.

    – If the battery life is really three times longer (or I can do more on shorter trips), and if the Mini 2 user interface is appreciably improved, and since (as you said) the Explore app is significantly better than Earthmate, I could be tempted to upgrade sooner rather than later.

    — Rex

    #3739059
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    Rex, you are right – the primary interference is when GLONASS and Iridium are simultaneously operating. I can imagine that part of the issue with a device using both is that there is a cost (energy and time) to shut down and reactivate these frequencies. In practical use, that wouldn’t matter much to us, but it could create some algorithmic havoc on programming the processors and antennae.

    Transmitting messages will always have the highest cost in a satellite communicator, as these transmissions consume the highest amount of power. Will the new chip help with that? Unknown as of yet, but we’ll figure it out once you send me your testing protocol ;)

    #3739116
    NoCO-Jim
    BPL Member

    @noco-jim

    Locale: NoCO

    On my old Oregon 600 I encountered track scatter measured in miles, on summits when my old inReach was on.  In 2013 I contacted Garmin engineering and asked if the scatter could be due to interference OR700/inReach.  Garmin’s response was: ” It is possible for both Class B devices, your Garmin Oregon 600 included, to produce and be susceptible
    to RF interference.”  I encountered the same scatter on my OR700.  I cancelled my inReach subscription, and never experienced that scatter again (on summits, or any where else).

    The abstract of the ref paper indicates: “The proximity of the Iridium frequency band with the L1 frequencies of the GPS, Galileo and GLONASS systems leaves GNSS receivers susceptible to interference from Iridium data transmissions.”   Garmin excluded GLONASS in the Mini2, but I wonder what about GPS?

    #3739120
    Arthur
    BPL Member

    @art-r

    The increased battery life is impressive, but the poor interface still requires me to bring a phone in order to realistically send a text message.  Earrings on a pig.

    #3739124
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I almost always just send one pre set message at end of day – “I’m camping here, all well”

    Mini works pretty good for that

    #3739162
    CS
    Spectator

    @covecs

    I think it’s important to talk about the reliability testing they do to ensure the software works under real world conditions. I’m not talking about radio problems, but really bugs.

    My Fenix 6 worked great at home, and then one of the first trips out, it got stuck in a route calculation loop for 30mins. My inReach was paired with my Fenix 6 and that in conjugation with not having a clear view of the sky drained the battery in a few hours. That’s a bug too.

    I understand how these things happen, and Garmin isn’t the greatest sinner, I think it’s more akin to how automotive safety wasn’t an issue until consumers demanded it. So we should demand it not habituate to it. :)

    I have my map and compass and a mental model of my route, I look back to make sure I’ll recognize where I came from and bring a little trail tape if I go off trail, the electronics I expect to work 90% in ideal circumstances at a developer’s desk is all.

    #3739234
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Is there a new InReach (nota Mini) available withjimprpved battery life?

    I currently use a SPOT 2 but may chamge to a full sized InReach. Int do NOT want to carry a “paired” cell phone in addition to a GPS. My current GPS is an old Garmin Colorado that still works well but is not a GPS/rescue beacon combination. As a geezer who often  backpacks alone in the mountain west I want a rescue beacon/tracker that’s the info available online for my wife.

     

    #3739246
    Joel K
    BPL Member

    @joelyrock

    I just bought the inReach Mini a year ago and am not overly excited about the idea of buying another anytime soon. I agree the Earthmate app leaves a lot to be desired; do you know if there are plans to integrate the original Mini into the Explorer app?

    That would be an ideal situation for the likely thousands of users (if not many more) in the same situation. Hope to hear it’s on a short term road map. Thanks!

    #3739283
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Just out of curiosity, I downloaded the Explore app even though I have an old Mini. Under ‘Devices,’ there is a category called ‘Unsupported Devices,’ and my Mini shows up there. That’s not to say they won’t make them reverse compatible in the future, but if that were the case you think they would’ve implemented it from the outset.

    Just poking around in the Explore app, I honestly don’t see it being that different than Earthmate. It has the same general layout and navigation. Maybe the magic happens when you connect it to a compatible device, but so far I really don’t see the point.

    Garmin makes some good hardware, but the totality of the 1nReach environment feels like a kindergarten class project.

    #3739294
    Joel K
    BPL Member

    @joelyrock

    @philip

    Thanks for the intel, will do the same to see what’s up. Agreed that their software and interfaces are stuck in the 80’s, is a shame really as you’d think that would be easy enough to fix up. Thanks again!

    #3739309
    Arthur
    BPL Member

    @art-r

    I have a whole closet full of Garmin products including the early Garmin 50, its weight measured in pounds. I used to like their products.  I have a friend who just bought a Cirrus jet with Garmin Avionics which are spectacular. Granted, he paid close to a Million for those screens, but you would think a couple of Garmin engineers on that project might drift down the hall for a few hours and make are real upgrade to the Mini.  Certainly disappointed with this go around.

    #3739337
    Dylan J
    BPL Member

    @dylanmj

    Amazing update to this device to improve battery life!  Do wish that Garmin would make a couple of tweaks to their OS which would greatly assist with SAR efforts when a device is used in an emergency situation.

    1. Increase the message checking interval once the SOS button is pressed to 10 minutes.  As listed in the user manual the Mini 2 will check for messages IF/when the user has the device tracking turned on (which is a default 10 min interval), but otherwise will check for messages 10 min after a message is sent and then hourly intervals after that.  In actual SOS activations, this has proven to be problematic in a number of activations, because the user does not understand that they need to be manually checking for messages once the initial 10 minute period has passed.

     

    2. Alert the user when an attempt to check for message fails because the device cannot connect with a satellite, since the device will not attempt to recheck for new messages until the next default interval tells it to do that.

     

    With the improvements to battery life, it seems possible to default the message checking frequency to 10 minutes (regardless of whether tracking is turned on or not) without punitively affecting the useful battery life.

    #3739360
    Indrit S
    BPL Member

    @grivola79

    Same doubts as @PhilipTschersich above… Till now (I’m in Europe) I have almost never actively  used the Garmin map (Earthmate), but Gaia GPS, not sure if the Explore is much better to be worth using the map. I’m a little angry at my self though because I bought the mini 6 months ago and was expecting a couple a years before an upgrade to take place hence half of me wants to switch to the new one and the other half tells me to wait for evidence before upgrading such a critical device to a new untested (in time) product.

    #3739418
    Josh J
    BPL Member

    @uahiker

    I’m very new to the GPS world but from my understanding the mini, Zoleo,  bivy stick or name your device has trouble sending messages when under tree cover like a forest,  but yet my cell phone doesn’t seem to have an issue when I look at Gaia maps…..  why is that?

    This seems like a huge flaw since so many of us travel in tree coverage……

    One day I’ll probably pick up the mini 2 bc I’m planning on doing trips where there is zero cell coverage and my wife would freak out not knowing I’m ok or having a way of getting help if injured. Plus I rather have a stand alone unit than needing my phone as well.

    #3739513
    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member

    @rex

    Josh,

    Hiking through thick redwood forests, often in steep canyons, my old inReach SE and now inReach Mini sent tracking messages through very reliably – but not instantly.

    GPS coverage is similar. Sometimes all your device needs is a short look at a clear patch of sky to receive GPS signals, or to send and receive satellite messages.

    Making a satellite phone call or similar long connection under challenging conditions is a whole different story.

    Like you, my inReach more and more has become my “permission ticket” to go solo backpacking. And many backpackers find smartphones much better for following maps using Gaia and similar apps.

    Lots of background here:
    https://backpackinglight.com/satellite_communications_sotmr_part1/
    https://backpackinglight.com/gps-good-bad-ugly/

    — Rex

    #3739514
    Adrian Griffin
    BPL Member

    @desolationman

    Locale: Sacramento

    Josh–When using GaiaGPS with previously loaded maps, all the the iPhone has to do is get a fix from the GPS satellites. To send a check-in message from a satellite tester, the device has to first get a GPS fix, and then wait for an Iridium satellite to come within range. Only then can it send the message. The tree cover might be letting the GPS through, but blocking the Iridium signal.

    A nifty iPhone app for cheating the health of the GPS signal is GPSdiagnostic. Alas, I haven’t found anything comparable for Iridium. When you have an internet connection, you can see the positions of the satellites at iridiumwhere.com. This shows possible gaps in coverage if a satellite is out and the spare has not been moved into position.  Something like this that would work offline would be great, but I haven’t found anything.

    #3739614
    Adrian Griffin
    BPL Member

    @desolationman

    Locale: Sacramento

    BTW, the Zoleo and the inReach aren’t the only games in town. ACR has cut the price of the BivyStick to $200. Can’t beat that with a stick. Some thoughts based on on my use of the Bivystick are in my posts near the end of the Zoleo vs Somewhere vs Garmin thread.

    #3739624
    Chris FormyDuval
    BPL Member

    @chform

    Locale: RTP

    Adrian, I used to have an app that worked offline. I think it was Orbit  it it doesn’t seem to work after latest phone update. It was helpful to see where the nearest iridium was and why if I was in a narrow cove or the wrong side of a mountain it may take a while till one got in a workable position. Other times it was obvious why a message sent very quickly. Also note that with the inreach it’s an option as to wait for gps fix or just ahead and attempt to send. And trees, especially certain pines  can be very effective at attenuating rf transmission. I don’t think I’ve ever had a message not go thru but with lots of foliage and a narrow sky view it did take a little while.

    #3739637
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    One downer of the ACR Bivystick is the battery can’t be replaced by the user. On PLB’s getting the battery replaced can cost over $100.

    “The battery is internal and non-user-replaceable for various purposes.”

    #3739641
    Josh J
    BPL Member

    @uahiker

    Rex and Adrian: thanks, i appreciate the education!

    #3739933
    Merritt D
    BPL Member

    @tmdraney

    Locale: No Mountains Close-by VA

    Anyone know if the antenna reception is improved at all. Mine seems to be rather slow. The mine struggled where someone with a regular larger one was communicating almost freely?  Thanks.

    #3780598
    Josh B
    BPL Member

    @jbalisteri

    Locale: Western New York

    Thank God there’s a BPL article on this. Thanks Ryan.

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