Altimeter-Barometer-Compass Watches - Anyone Have Experience?



A

Artemisia

Guest
Hi all,

I'm considering buying one of those ABC watches, and am currently
hesitating between a Casio Pathfinder/Pro-Trek model and a Suunto Core.
Both have altimeter, barometer, temperature, digital compass, stopwatch,
and are waterproof farther than I ever dive. Both have log capacities,
the Casio allows you manually record a log while the Suunto logs trends
automatically over several days.

The advantages of the Casio are:
a) solar powered battery that should recharge itself on daylight; hence
less worry about replacing batteries and the attendent risk of losing
the water-proofing (as happened on my Timex Ironman).
b) Radio-controlled time, which resets itself automatically the world
over, so stays accurate and does not have to be reset for Daylight Savings.
c) much cheaper than the Suunto
d) better design, clearer display, less fussy, easier to read

The Suunto does not have a solar battery or the radio-controlled time,
but on the other hand has two features which I consider key: a storm
alarm and sunrise-sunset times. This is vital information for my cycling
days and I am constantly checking it on the internet. It would be useful
to have it handy for when I don't have internet. Indeed, I don't really
understand the utility of all this alti-baro stuff otherwise - all I
need to know is if it's going to rain or go dark in the next hour.

Another useful feature about the Suunto is that you can set a bearing
with the compass which will then tell you when you are going towards
where you want to go and when you are veering off-course: useful for
someone like me who is deficient in orientation skills. OTOH the
rotating bevel on the compass has been described as very hard to turn,
whereas the equivalent on the Casio turns correctly.

So overall I like the feature set of the Suunto much better, but find it
fussier (visually it's pretentious and annoying) and less practical in
the fundamentals. The Casio seems to me more reliable as a basic watch.
The Suunto's advantages thus only apply if they really _work_.

Neither watch has a feature that I _would_ like: gradient percentage -
the bike forums keep asking me about the gradient on my hill and I can't
tell you, except to say that there are parts of it that look like the
hypotenuse in my old math books.

Neither are HRMs, although Suunto does have some older models that
combine ABC and HRM. However, I'm annoyed with upmarket HRMs - neither
Timex Ironman nor Polar has ever worked so well for me as my dear old
bottom basement Sigma. So I'll just wear two watches when I want HRM -
luckily I have two wrists.

Does anyone have experiences to relate, especially of the storm-warning
feature? I know the Core is a very recent model. Are people who have
Suunto products generally pleased with them? What is the battery life?
Casio I know as the world standard for digital watches and I've had a
few already, so they are a tough act to beat for me.

Thanks,

EFR
in Isle de France where the weather reports constantly predict storms
for 4 days on end, but then we only get 20 minutes of piddle, and I end
up not cycling when I could have!
 
S

simonk

Guest
On Wed, 14 May 2008 19:03:04 +0100, Artemisia wrote
(in article <[email protected]>):

> all I
> need to know is if it's going to rain or go dark in the next hour.


Can't you tell this by looking at the sky, or checking the time?

--
simonk
 
D

Duncan Smith

Guest

>
> Does anyone have experiences to relate, especially of the storm-warning
> feature? I know the Core is a very recent model. Are people who have
> Suunto products generally pleased with them? What is the battery life?
> Casio I know as the world standard for digital watches and I've had a
> few already, so they are a tough act to beat for me.
>
> Thanks,
>
> EFR


Casio Pro-Tek's barometer/altimeter could in theory be used for
navigation against a map, although you'd have to set it to a known
hight before setting off and even then it's subject to variations in
the weather throughout the day. If you have nothing else on you then
the compass will work at a pinch so long as your wrist is kept level -
however the readings on the bevel will all wear off within a few
months and it's of limited use since it's not transparent and can't
be placed over your map. If you need to take a bearing off a map -
you'd be far better off with a basic Silva compass for c£20. The
Casio takes a whopping 5 batteries which will set you back £30 to
change when they run out.

If you're looking for cycling device, I'd probably go for a GPS
enabled running or cycling unit like the Garmin Forerunner or Edge 705
- good for recording distances, finding your way back home, and if you
download the data into Memory-Map you'll get your elevation profiles
and the gradients that you're after (albeit post-ride).

Don't know about the Suunto - but I'd be skeptical of anything you
wore on your wrist that claimed to predict the weather (with a degree
of accuracy) - perhaps a set of water-proofs would be a better
investment? As for going dusk/dark, unless you've traveled hundreds
of miles overnight then it should be about the same as yesterday -
easy!

Sorry to hear your hols were a bit of a wash-out, where the trains
trike-friendly in the end?

Regards,

Duncan
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
On 15 mai, 00:02, Duncan Smith <[email protected]> wrote:

> If you need to take a bearing off a map -
> you'd be far better off with a basic Silva compass for c£20.


I have a manual compass. I can't really use it to find the way back to
the hotel in an unfamiliar city ...


> The
> Casio takes a whopping 5 batteries which will set you back £30 to
> change when they run out.


But when do they run out? £30 every few years strikes me as perfectly
acceptable.


> If you're looking for cycling device, I'd probably go for a GPS
> enabled running or cycling unit like the Garmin Forerunner or Edge 705
> - good for recording distances, finding your way back home, and if you
> download the data into Memory-Map you'll get your elevation profiles
> and the gradients that you're after (albeit post-ride).


I have indeed been looking into those devices. The Edge 705 has only
just come out and so far reports on it are inconclusive. In one of the
cycling ngs, someone reported having a lot of problems with it because
it couldn't handle the shaking of the bike and kept cutting out! Also
I have a constant problem with the mounting of such devices on my
recumbent, hence the interest of having something on my wrist. The
Forerunner, however, is too large to use as a watch and has only very
limited navigation capacities as far as I have read. I have owned a
Timex Ironman which was practically useless in its GPS and HRM
functionalities, although very nicely designed as a plain watch.


> As for going dusk/dark, unless you've traveled hundreds
> of miles overnight then it should be about the same as yesterday -
> easy!


My morning routine is very tight; there are two routines depending on
whether I am going to bike or bus to work. I do not like to ride in
the dark. I rise at 5:30 to get to work before 8:00 am. By bus I can
have 40 minutes more sleep - a priceless commodity. But there is no
point rising so early if there is no daylight at about 6:30.
Throughout April, sunrise time was a constant issue for me.

Thanks for your feedback,

EFR
Ile de France
 
D

Duncan Smith

Guest

>
> I have a manual compass. I can't really use it to find the way back to
> the hotel in an unfamiliar city ...
>


Then it's unlikely a watch compass would help you any further. Sounds
like you'd be better off with a GPS.
>
> But when do they run out? £30 every few years strikes me as perfectly
> acceptable.


Yep, will last for a couple years even with heavy use of the light and
alarms, no problem.

>
> I have indeed been looking into those devices. The Edge 705 has only
> just come out and so far reports on it are inconclusive. In one of the
> cycling ngs, someone reported having a lot of problems with it because
> it couldn't handle the shaking of the bike and kept cutting out!  Also
> I have a constant problem with the mounting of such devices on my
> recumbent, hence the interest of having something on my wrist. The
> Forerunner, however, is too large to use as a watch and has only very
> limited navigation capacities as far as I have read. I have owned a
> Timex Ironman which was practically useless in its GPS and HRM
> functionalities, although very nicely designed as a plain watch.


Most Garmins seem to suffer from cut-outs when riding over bumps -
fortunately, this is easily fixed by wedging a small piece of folded
cardboard or paper inbetween the battery contacts and the body housing
(to better push the contact onto the battery). I tried this on an
eTrex I'd been havng the same problem with - it's been fine ever
since.

I've found using a smart-phone/pocket pc with MemoryMap (the Ordnace
Survey maps) good for exploring (you can't get better maps), you can
get plenty of handle-bar mounts (maybe harder for 'bents though?) or
water-proof aqua-packs/sport-packs that can be worn on the wrist or
around the neck for most phones from places like MobileFun.com.
That'll give you about 3-4 hours of batt life, but you can carry any
number of spare batteries or even charge on the go from a dyno. In
addition, wearing the Forerunner 305 (just while cycling, not all the
time - it's bulky as you say) is good for a few reasons - you get
cadence, distance, speed readouts when you're on the go and following
the map route back home will ensure you never get lost.

>
> My morning routine is very tight; there are two routines depending on
> whether I am going to bike or bus to work. I do not like to ride in
> the dark. I rise at 5:30 to get to work before 8:00 am. By bus I can
> have 40 minutes more sleep - a priceless commodity. But there is no
> point rising so early if there is no daylight at about 6:30.
> Throughout April, sunrise time was a constant issue for me.


I can empathize with you there, my commute starts at 06:30 and my
night vision is very poor. I don't know if you have any desire to
ride in the dark at all - but I found using a very powerful lightset
like the Lupine Betty took all the trepidation out of night riding, it
went from being an uncomfortable experience to a quite pleasnt one.

Happy hunting. Hope you find some kit that works out well for you.

Regards,

Duncan
 
P

Peter Clinch

Guest
Artemisia wrote:

> I'm considering buying one of those ABC watches


I have one (a Stormlite, an own-brand of one of the UK's major outdoor
retailers) which I use for mountaineering, where it can be quite handy
as a navigation tool. I never wear it apart from that as it's bulky and
clumsy compared to a "normal" watch, and that is true of every one of
these things I've ever seen: I think the sensor hardware sets bulk
restrictions they have yet to find a way around.

> The Suunto does not have a solar battery or the radio-controlled time,
> but on the other hand has two features which I consider key: a storm
> alarm and sunrise-sunset times. This is vital information for my cycling
> days and I am constantly checking it on the internet.


The storm alarm will be a joke, because we're not actually that good at
weather forecasting. You'll get much better weather information from a
local forecast. I imagine all it does is peep when the pressure drops
like a stone, but you'll actually have a pretty good idea about it at
least as fast by seeing that the sky's the colour of lead and there are
big booming sounds getting louder...

For sunrise/sunset you'll have vastly more accurate information from a
GPS unit, because it knows where it is. A watch will only manage the
nearest time zone, which could be almost an hour out while a GPS will
give it to you to the minute.

> It would be useful
> to have it handy for when I don't have internet. Indeed, I don't really
> understand the utility of all this alti-baro stuff otherwise - all I
> need to know is if it's going to rain or go dark in the next hour.


It can easily rain without much significant happening to the pressure.
Significant things can happen to the pressure without it raining. A
watch is not going to reliably tell you it's going to rain.

As to will it get dark, well, at this time of year in this part of the
world, today the sun will go down a wee bit later than it did yesterday.
Once we're past September 23 it will be going down a little earlier
every night. Sunrise works similarly. So as long as you've noticed
you've your cycling day is over by X:00 hours it isn't rerally going to
change much the next day. Furthermore, the degree of effective
darklness will vary a lot with cloud cover, especially in winter, with
clear skies giving far more effective daylight at the end of the day, so
again your Magic Watch doesn't actually tell you much more than a normal
watch plus a vague awareness of what time it's been getting dark this
last week.

> Another useful feature about the Suunto is that you can set a bearing
> with the compass which will then tell you when you are going towards
> where you want to go and when you are veering off-course: useful for
> someone like me who is deficient in orientation skills. OTOH the
> rotating bevel on the compass has been described as very hard to turn,
> whereas the equivalent on the Casio turns correctly.


If you want to navigate, especially on road systems where often you
don't proceed in straight lines to a destination, a GPS will be
infinitely more use to you than a compass. In order to set a compass
bearing to a destination you need to know where you are, and where your
destination is, and do some calculation based on the map. Taking a
bearing off a map with a protractor compass is easy, but these aren't
protractor compasses so you can't lay them on a map grid, so you'll need
to take a protractor along with you, no about magnetic variation and
generall be clued in about map and compass use. And even with all of
that it will be of little use. A GPS, on the other hand, will tell you
where you are and if you program in the destination it will always know
not only the direction to your destination but how far it is and, with a
little more effort you can program in the exact route you want to take
to get there, point by point.

> Neither watch has a feature that I _would_ like: gradient percentage -
> the bike forums keep asking me about the gradient on my hill and I can't
> tell you, except to say that there are parts of it that look like the
> hypotenuse in my old math books.


You won't get that from a watch, because you need to know both your
altitude and horizontal travel at the same time to work out gradient.
And a watch knows nothing much about your horizontal travel, so it can't
do gradient. A GPS with a built in altimeter (like the Garmin Geko 301)
recording a track will keep a record of it, but it eats batteries a lot
quicker if you leave it on the whole time.

What is easy, however, is working out the gradient by just looking at
the map, assuming it has contours. Steep hills tend to have gradient
warning on them saying how steep they are: observe and note.

> Does anyone have experiences to relate


To be quite frank I'd say don't bother. If you want navigation to be
easier get a GPS. if you want to know what the weather will do look at
a local forecast. The temperature function on all of these things only
comes up with meaningful numbers when it isn't next to a warm radiating
body (i.e., the wearer) so that's largely useless, barometer function is
good if you're a keen amateur meteorologist but otherwise it just gives
you a fairly meaningless number, and while the altitude is interesting
in hilly country it loses most of the navigation appeal it has for
Alpinism as you know you're on the road. Any GPS will give you an
altitude estimate, a GPS with barometric altimeter will do all that a
watch can do and more.

> in Isle de France where the weather reports constantly predict storms
> for 4 days on end, but then we only get 20 minutes of piddle, and I end
> up not cycling when I could have!


And that's with professionals and supercomputers and vast data grids, so
do you really think a simple watch that only monitors pressure where it
is will do better? It won't, so in practice if you trust it to tell you
the weather then you'll miss days you could have taken and you'll get
soaked when you thought you'd be dry. Rather than a watch, spend the
money on a decent set of waterproofs that make rain much less of an
issue is my advice.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
On 15 mai, 10:41, Duncan Smith <[email protected]> wrote:
> but I found using a very powerful lightset
> like the Lupine Betty took all the trepidation out of night riding, it
> went from being an uncomfortable experience to a quite pleasnt one.


Same problem with lights as with a bike-mounted GPS: no way to mount
them on my trike. I've had three super-bright Cateyes since November
that I have tried every which way but loose on the trike, and it is
simply not possible to position them correctly without having a custom
mount system designed.

EFR
Ile de France
 
D

Duncan Smith

Guest
On May 15, 2:19 pm, Artemisia <[email protected]> wrote:
> On 15 mai, 10:41, Duncan Smith <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> > but I found using a very powerful lightset
> > like the Lupine Betty took all the trepidation out of night riding, it
> > went from being an uncomfortable experience to a quite pleasnt one.

>
> Same problem with lights as with a bike-mounted GPS: no way to mount
> them on my trike. I've had three super-bright Cateyes since November
> that I have tried every which way but loose on the trike, and it is
> simply not possible to position them correctly without having a custom
> mount system designed.
>
> EFR
> Ile de France


Helmet mounted? That fitting comes as standard with the Lupine, maybe
quite a few others as well? I've never tried it as I don't often wear
a helmet unless I have to - but I'm guessing the 'pro' would be that
the beam follows where you're looking and not where the bike is headed
and the 'con' being you'd better not stare directly at oncoming
vehicles too much for fear of dazzling them.

Regards,

Duncan
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
On 15 mai, 11:43, Peter Clinch <[email protected]> wrote:

> To be quite frank I'd say don't bother.  If you want navigation to be
> easier get a GPS.  


I'm coming to the same conclusion. Now to find the right GPS. My
TomTom is worse than useless. The bint only knows one sentence: "Turn
back where possible". She constantly tries to send me onto autoroutes
and the software is buggy to the point of being unusable. I still
haven't managed to pre-calculate any routes on it; I doubt it even has
that function.

There's a company in France called IGN which produces all of the
trekkers' and cyclists' land maps, with the kind of detailed trail
information one needs when one is deliberately trying to _avoid_
autoroutes. They have their own GPS system called Georando. But
because this is a French product in a completely captive market, I
don't trust it at all. In addition to my fears that it won't be
unuseable anywhere else, there is none of the improving influence of
internatinal competition when we have this kind of monopoly. You get
shoddy products, high prices, no support and arrogant attitude all
together.

So I'm looking into the Garmins. I don't like the short-lived non-
removable li-ion battery on the Edge 705. Plus since IGN has the
monopoly on detailed land maps in France, I'm not sure that the Edge
could have compatible ones. IGN does endorse another Garmin, the
60Csx, which seems to be a popular model with most of the features I
would like, strong on navigation, but with no specific cycling
functions. Perhaps its best to separate cycling from other functions.
I have already had so much disappointment with the other combined
solutions I've tried: Polar, Timex Ironman, Sigma's 2006 wireless bike
computer with HRM and altimeter, which copped out on me after about
50km. Plus cadence, a feature which I would love to have, probably
cannot be configured on this architecture.


Cheers and thanks for the helpful advice.

EFR
Ile de France
 
W

Will

Guest
On May 14, 1:03 pm, Artemisia <[email protected]> wrote:
> Hi all,


> I'm considering:


> altimeter, barometer, temperature, digital compass, stopwatch...
> a storm alarm and sunrise-sunset times...
> a bearing with the compass...
> gradient percentage...


I think the damage to your feet last week affected neurons elsewhere.
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
On 15 mai, 15:29, Duncan Smith <[email protected]> wrote:

> Helmet mounted?


I may be constrained to that. But one of the supreme pleasures of the
trike so far has been leaving the *%¤*ing headgear at home for once
and feeling the wind in my hair. Plus I really wanted two headlights,
one on each side, to demarcate the width of the trike. They need to go
on the crossbar but it's just too thick to accept any mount.

EFR
Ile de France
 
P

Peter Clinch

Guest
Artemisia wrote:

> So I'm looking into the Garmins. I don't like the short-lived non-
> removable li-ion battery on the Edge 705. Plus since IGN has the
> monopoly on detailed land maps in France, I'm not sure that the Edge
> could have compatible ones.


I would guess you have no need of detailed land maps to navigate the
road network, just road maps. Go to a GPS dealer and see what they have
I think would work best: it's difficult to judge exactly what someone
else will have a use for given the potential options.

> Perhaps its best to separate cycling from other functions.


I don't think I've ever seen a GPS which claims to be cycling specific.

> Plus cadence, a feature which I would love to have, probably
> cannot be configured on this architecture.


All you need to judge cadence is a watch with a display in seconds.
Time yourself for ~15 seconds at roughly constant speed and multiply the
number of pedal revolutions in that period by 4, and that's your
approximate cadence. Your exact cadence doesn't really matter, the
important thing is to know what you're comfortable with on a longish
trip and if you're in the right ballpark which you can easily tell from
the odd count or simple familiarity. While a computer with cadence
might well be a useful training aid for the more serious athlete, for a
tourer it's not really important as long as you can tell if you're
mashing at low speeds or spinning at higher ones, and that certainly
doesn't need a computer, just "my legs seem to be going round at their
usual rate, which I measured some time ago to be about X".

More gadgets add to weight, complexity, desirability for thieves and
sometimes tend to isolate you from the actual cycling. Less can be more
at times.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
On 15 mai, 15:56, Will <[email protected]> wrote:

> I think the damage to your feet last week affected neurons elsewhere.


Could be! My feet are still not back 100%, and I did another 20 km
with the offending gear only yesterday. I badly need better-fitting
shoes but these may prove very hard to find on the local market. In
shops I've only ever seen road shoes for men. I need to get back to
the UK to try some BG Comps in a larger size.

EFR
Ile de France
 
P

Peter Clinch

Guest
Artemisia wrote:

> and feeling the wind in my hair. Plus I really wanted two headlights,
> one on each side, to demarcate the width of the trike. They need to go
> on the crossbar but it's just too thick to accept any mount.


But if they go on the crossbar they won't mark the width as they'll be
inboard of the wheels, which will obstruct light from them too.

Why not just tape or glue a small 1 LED flasher to each mudguard? That
will do the "I am here" job much more easily and cheaply, and since
they'll be on top of the wheels probably more effectively.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
P

PoB

Guest
"Artemisia" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
On 15 mai, 15:29, Duncan Smith <[email protected]> wrote:

> Helmet mounted?


>I may be constrained to that. But one of the supreme pleasures of the
>trike so far has been leaving the *%¤*ing headgear at home for once
> and feeling the wind in my hair. Plus I really wanted two headlights,
> one on each side, to demarcate the width of the trike. They need to go
> on the crossbar but it's just too thick to accept any mount.


Have you tried Minoura Space grips - the loopy bit that goes round the bars
can expand quite dramatically - before I trimmed it, mine could go round the
boom on my SMGT

E
 
R

Rob Morley

Guest
On Thu, 15 May 2008 07:17:43 -0700 (PDT)
Artemisia <[email protected]> wrote:

> On 15 mai, 15:29, Duncan Smith <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> > Helmet mounted?

>
> I may be constrained to that. But one of the supreme pleasures of the
> trike so far has been leaving the *%¤*ing headgear at home for once
> and feeling the wind in my hair. Plus I really wanted two headlights,
> one on each side, to demarcate the width of the trike. They need to go
> on the crossbar but it's just too thick to accept any mount.
>

Are the mudguard brackets not strong enough to support lamps? If not
I'd have thought it would be pretty simple to have someone make up some
heavy duty replacements.
 
P

Peter Clinch

Guest
Artemisia wrote:
> I need to get back to the UK to try some BG Comps in a larger size.


Don't particularly limit things to BG: the ones you did try alomst
crippled you and didn't get on with the sole unit, not really much of a
recommendation for another pair, is it?

Try on /everything/ you can to make sure you get the best fit. All
manufacturers use different lasts so their shoes are all different
shapes from one another. People all have slightly different shaped
feet. The only way to really tell if a shoe is well shaped to your
particular foot is trying them on.

I have trouble believing you have to come to the UK in order to find a
decent selection of cycling shoes.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
P

POHB

Guest
On 15 May, 14:46, Artemisia <[email protected]> wrote:
> So I'm looking into the Garmins. I don't like the short-lived non-
> removable li-ion battery on the Edge 705. Plus since IGN has the
> monopoly on detailed land maps in France,


IGN may have the commercial market sown up, but OpenStreetMap has and
will blow that wide open. See Paris for example.

http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=48.8517&lon=2.3383&zoom=12&layers=B0FT

You can quite easily take the OSM data and turn it into a map that
will upload to a Garmin - for free rather than the huge sums that
Garmin charges. OK so the coverage is patchy depending on whether
there are active OSM map-makers in your area, but it is getting better
all the time and you can always fix it yourself.
 
A

Artemisia

Guest
Rob Morley wrote:

> Are the mudguard brackets not strong enough to support lamps? If not
> I'd have thought it would be pretty simple to have someone make up some
> heavy duty replacements.


In the manual it explicitly says not to put anything on the mudguards or
their brackets. I contravened this by putting the computer on the
bracket, but it's a lot lighter than a lamp would be.

EFR
Ile de France