Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Garmin Forerunner

About a week and a half ago, I purchased a new Garmin Forerunner 405CX GPS/fitness watch. I used to have a Foreunner 201. That device could not track as much as the new one, and frequently the position track that it recorded was inaccurate. I can say that the 405CX works extremely well, and I'm looking forward to using it for quite a while. Of course, one of the negative aspects of this watch, along with most, if not all, of Garmin's GPS/fitness watches is that when the lithium polymer rechargeable battery can no longer hold a charge, you either ship it back to Garmin or upgrade to the next model.

Why did I buy this device? I want to start taking fitness more seriously, but I also like gadgets. At the present time, my fitness routine consists of using the treadmill, recumbent stationary bike, and the elliptical machine for my cardio workout. I also use the weight machines that are in the gym. With the weight machines, I do 16 different exercises. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I want to be able to replace or complement my current cardio workout with outdoor walking. The 405CX allows me to track a number of things while I am walking. Specifically, it will track my position, my elevation, my heart rate, and my walking cadence (steps per minute). The position and the elevation are recorded via the GPS receiver that is built into the watch. My heart rate is measured with a heart rate monitor that straps around my chest, and finally my walking cadence is tracking with a device called a foot pod. The two remote items--the heart rate monitor and the foot pod--communicate wirelessly back to the watch. The communications occurs on the 2.4 GHz band using a proprietary protocol called Ant+. When I am finished with my walking and I get back home, I simply have to bring the watch within proximity of my laptop computer, which has a USB dongle plugged into it that talks on the Ant+ network. Minutes later my workout is automatically uploaded to Garmin Connect, where I can view my progress on various goals, see the path that I actually took during the walk, see my heartrate and how it varied, as well as seeing the elevation, and my walking cadence. I can take those results and export them to Google Earth format and do other things with the data as well.

One of the things that the device is also recording is the number of calories burned. It counts calories in one of two ways. With the first method, you supply a fairly simple profile to the watch. This profile includes age, gender, and weight. With that data, it can calculate calories with a certain degree of accuracy. If you strap on the heart rate monitor, the watch is able to add that data to the equation and the calorie results are supposedly even more accurate.

You can view my workouts on the Garmin Connect website at

The Garmin Forerunner 405CX has two primary sport modes, the running mode and the bicycling mode. Of course, I'm using the 405CX in running mode, but I'm currently walking instead of jogging or running. I hope to get back into bicycling sometime soon. When I do, I will budget a decent amount of money for a good bike and go from there, but I already know what cycling computer to put on it, the Garmin Edge 705 (or its successor). The Edge 705 can record all of the same data as the 405CX, but instead of step cadence, it records pedal RPMs (an important number when cycling). It can also record power with the right equipment installed on the bike. Plus the Edge 705 accepts a MicroSD card which can be loaded with street maps for the entire U.S.

Anyway, I'll probably have more to share about my 405CX. I'll post more later.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Adding Another Blog

I'm adding a third blog.  There are times when the topic is not amateur radio or photography, so I've created a miscellaneous blog for those posts.  It is located at