swarmotics asked:

In this video I review the Bushnell Backtrack GPS Personal Location Finder. The Bushnell device combines GPS with a digital compass to help you navigate back to a spot you have been to before (such as your house, where you parked your car, etc). The unit can store up to 3 “waypoints”. I provide a brief explanation of the unit and then provide a field test. Note, this unit does not utilize maps and requires no subscriptions. Hence, it is reasonably inexpensive (roughly $50). My field test indicates that although there are some faults, they can be usually be overcome, providing a useful tool when hiking. I have absolutely no connection with the manufacturer and merely wish to provide an unbiased review of the product. If you use this product (or similar products) be forewarned that they can fail – you should not rely on them solely, especially if you are orienteering. Be prudent and exercise caution. Also, my explanation of how the unit works is based purely on some experience with robots and is an educated guess – I have not found any good documentation. QSTARZ and IDC (Ecco) appear to provide similar devices. I have not tested them. I would love to hear from anyone who has done a comparison.

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25 Responses to Bushnell Backtrack GPS Review

  1. swarmotics says:

    @tudorelviola I’ve found that the first time you turn it on (if it has been off for a long time), it can take quite a few minutes for it to “lock” (even 10 minutes). And then other times it happens quickly. If you are in a city, buildings can block GPS entirely. If you are in a really thick forest, GPS can be blocked. Thus far it has always worked for me, even if I’m inside a building (but at a window). Maybe your unit is bad.

  2. tudorelviola says:

    I have a problem with this device. The problem is that the Sattelite icon does not stop from blinking so i can not use the toy.

  3. swarmotics says:

    @EdificeArchitect I totally agree and people should always keep this in mind!

  4. swarmotics says:

    @Fadsmashers That is a good question. The last time I used it was in December in California. Still using the original batteries. Today I went for a hike and used it for about 15 minutes – still showing a full charge on the original batteries. I’m a “light” user, but apparently I have now had the same original batteries in it for almost 2 years, and I don’t remove the batteries when I don’t use the unit. For more serious stuff I always care extra batteries though, just in case.

  5. Fadsmashers says:

    @swarmotics How is the battery life?

  6. EdificeArchitect says:

    Navigational equipment should never be considered 100% accurate and really should be used as a way to CONFIRM your position. It should never be relied solely upon and is no substitute for basic navigation skills. =) Cheers big ears!

  7. swarmotics says:

    @sinsearch I’ve used it in Denver ok…

  8. swarmotics says:

    @TrueHelpTV Well, it is foolish to rely on any one piece of tech to save your life. But, any compass reading can be off by 15 degrees if you are near some magnetic ore. This unit always tells you your distance, so you would really have to mess up to not notice that you were getting further and further away, while walking for miles. You don’t even need the compass. Just walk in the direction that maximally minimizes your distance. That part is very accurate (assuming you get the satellite lock).

  9. TrueHelpTV says:

    15 degrees can VERY quickly turn into miles of course, I wouldn’t recommend something that imprecise; considering that’s it’s purpose if to ultimately “Save” your life.

  10. swarmotics says:

    It seems to work ok. Even if the compass gets flaky the distance is computed via the GPS module, so you can see if you are getting closer to your desired location or not.

  11. swarmotics says:

    Only where you have been. Up to 3 locations.

  12. sinsearch says:

    So this device would be completely useless in a city or for the purpose of finding a car in a car lot for example lol

  13. swarmotics says:

    @acknob: It can store only 3 locations where you have been previously. I’m sure an ECE student could figure out how to hack it, but it would be beyond most of us, and would need an extra interface.

  14. acknob says:

    are you able to program coordinates into it or does it only backtrack where you have been yourself?

  15. acknob says:

    are you able to program coordinates into it or does it only backtrack where you have been yourself?

  16. 625lafayette says:

    iron in those rocks

  17. level42hawker says:

    @fhantazm I didn’t have to move to get it to work correctly, just had to hold it flat like other digital compasses… pretty cool product

  18. swarmotics says:

    If you are referring to angular error, this makes sense. S = Theta x R, there R is your distance from the start point. Theta is the angle provided by the compass, which has error. Hence the error in S (the length of the arc) increases as R increases (and vice versa). Fun.

  19. jean9910 says:

    it might not look 100% acurate but the closer you get the more acurate it is

  20. swarmotics says:

    Darn, I thought I replied to this too. I agree the GPS compass would be neat, but then again, if you don’t actually get the GPS signal this whole unit would become worthless. At least you have the digital compass as backup. Wouldn’t it be nice to have *both* the digital compass and the GPS compass? I’m dreaming… BTW, even if the digital compass is acting up, one can always just move in a way to reduce distance…. we tried ignoring the compass and we did just fine.

  21. swarmotics says:

    Darn – I thought I replied. I’m still using the original batteries! I’ve probably used it on 12 hikes, and have never bother to remove batteries between hikes. I did a short “field test” where I popped the batteries out and back in – and the way points were kept.

  22. whimsicalfuel58 says:

    I love the technology, fyi before I bought I checked out gpssatnavreviews (.) com

  23. fhantazm says:

    Super nice review! It seems to me that the GPS provided compass would be better for this kind of thing. Although, you have to be moving, so I can understand why they went with the electronic compass.

  24. EnduringEagle says:

    Great video and thanks!!. Two quick questions. How long do the batteries last and if you have to replace the batteries do you lose your way points? Many thanks.

  25. IsmailSalah96 says:

    @swarmotics mmmm

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