Buying a cheap GPS data logger for Strava

GrantT

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#1
I'm thinking of getting the Holux M-241 GPS data logger (aroud 5,000 yen) as a cheap way of joining the Stava set. Does anyone have personal experience of using one of these in Japan that they could share? Or of a similar gadget that does about the same thing in the same price range?

Reading online, I expect to be able to turn it on at the start of the ride, for it to log the ride, then upload the ride data to Strava from my computer at home without too much hassle (though I've read the software is slightly annoying). I'd like to mention as well that I do not own a smart phone and am happy without mapping or navigation features.

Thanks!

Holux M-241 specs
On amazon.co.jp
 

joewein

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#2
What output files can the software export? Nothing was mentioned about that on the Holux or Amazon website. No import into Strava without standard file formats such as GPX or TCX. There's a post on the Strava support website that suggests the bundled software does not produce GPX files, but there's a third party app that will convert their files, which will be a hassle if you have do it every time you've gone for a ride.

The Holux m-241 runs on AA batteries, but they strongly warn against using rechargeables (NiMH, such as Eneloop). The latter would be a knock-out criterium for me. I don't fancy discarding one spent alkaline cell into a landfill every (up to) 12 hours. All my devices that use AA or AAA cells run on Eneloop rechargeables, which work out cheaper after about the 3rd or 4th reuse. Not being able to use rechargeables sounds like a bad design to me. Modern rechargeables offer low self discharge (long shelf life) and even though their nominal voltage is slightly lower, it remains much more constant during the discharge cycle. They also handle higher currents better (lower internal resistance).

If you're on a tight budget, I'd recommend a Garmin Edge 200 (about 12000 yen from Wiggle) or an old Smartphone without SIM card (like an iPhone 3GS from someone who upgraded to an iPhone 4 or 5). The Garmin wins on battery life over the Smartphone.

Personally I'm very happy with my Garmin 500, which has a barometric altimeter that neither the Edge 200 nor most Smartphones have, and would consider that my base line. It was the altimeter and the ability to use a heart rate sensor that got me into the Garmin camp, but if you don't care about that kind of data, the Garmin 200 will be fine.
 

Sibreen

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#3
I have an almost unused garmin forerunner 405cx that you can try out and see if you want to buy it from me for (very) cheap.
I bought it for trail running, but didn't like the sensation of having it on my wrist and getting sweaty. If you're cycling, though, no reason why you can't stick it in your back pocket.
Comes with heart rate monitor, too.

PM me if interested.
 

leicaman

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#4
I have an almost unused garmin forerunner 405cx that you can try out and see if you want to buy it from me for (very) cheap.
I bought it for trail running, but didn't like the sensation of having it on my wrist and getting sweaty. If you're cycling, though, no reason why you can't stick it in your back pocket.
Comes with heart rate monitor, too.

PM me if interested.
I have a forerunner 410. Not sure about the 405 but the battery dies on mine after around 150km. Fine if you want to do a shorter ride but quite annoying for me if I want to log the whole of my ride when doing a longer ride. Nothing more annoying than losing the last 50-100k of your ride. That's why I got the garmin 510. Very nice unit but cheap it is not!
 

Sibreen

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#5
I have a forerunner 410. Not sure about the 405 but the battery dies on mine after around 150km. Fine if you want to do a shorter ride but quite annoying for me if I want to log the whole of my ride when doing a longer ride. Nothing more annoying than losing the last 50-100k of your ride. That's why I got the garmin 510. Very nice unit but cheap it is not!
Ah, good point.
I think the battery is only good for about 6hrs or so (garmin says 8hrs, but this seems to be an exaggeration).
 

GrantT

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#6
What output files can the software export? Nothing was mentioned about that on the Holux or Amazon website. No import into Strava without standard file formats such as GPX or TCX. There's a post on the Strava support website that suggests the bundled software does not produce GPX files, but there's a third party app that will convert their files, which will be a hassle if you have do it every time you've gone for a ride.
Thank you for pointing that out. I've seen it mentioned as a problem elsewhere as well, and as long as there is a solution I am fine if it's only a little extra fiddle on the computer after each ride. I've also found a tool called BT747 that will, others say, convert the log to GPX.

The Holux m-241 runs on AA batteries, but they strongly warn against using rechargeables (NiMH, such as Eneloop). The latter would be a knock-out criterium for me. I don't fancy discarding one spent alkaline cell into a landfill every (up to) 12 hours. All my devices that use AA or AAA cells run on Eneloop rechargeables, which work out cheaper after about the 3rd or 4th reuse. Not being able to use rechargeables sounds like a bad design to me. Modern rechargeables offer low self discharge (long shelf life) and even though their nominal voltage is slightly lower, it remains much more constant during the discharge cycle. They also handle higher currents better (lower internal resistance).
I didn't see that mentioned before. It does pose a question. I've read a few people mention using rechargeable batteries in the M-241 and no one mention any problems related to doing that, so I think I'm prepared to risk it. The battery life was apparently not great either but a recent firmware update has improved things a good amount (someone mentioned 18+ hours).

If you're on a tight budget, I'd recommend a Garmin Edge 200 (about 12000 yen from Wiggle) or an old Smartphone without SIM card (like an iPhone 3GS from someone who upgraded to an iPhone 4 or 5). The Garmin wins on battery life over the Smartphone.
I've been looking at the Edge 200 but 5,000 is low enough and the features/reviews good enough that I'm still just about prepared to bet on it. Hopefully it will pay off. I found a bit more info on the M-241 unit here.

Thanks for the offer Sibreen. Btw, I'm interested in doing the 川苔山 climb whenever your are. Please let me know the next time you go.
 

joewein

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#7
I've read a few people mention using rechargeable batteries in the M-241 and no one mention any problems related to doing that, so I think I'm prepared to risk it.
It could be that their bias against NiMH was based on earlier technology's high self-discharge rates; if you left the batteries in the unit without using it, it could be without power by the time you next need it. Modern high quality rechargeable AAs and AAAs however can be stored for months and months without much charge loss. The only other difference, the nominal voltage, is of no practical concern, as the 1.5 V for alkalines is their initial voltage only (it drops below that rapidly), while the 1.25 quoted for NiMH is more like their average voltage.

Even if the batteries can be swapped, I would hate to stop recording a track to replace a battery, thus breaking up the recording into multiple files. With 6 hours of battery life that would be a real issue, with 18 hours (similar to a Garmin 500) less so.
 

GrantT

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#8
It could be that their bias against NiMH was based on earlier technology's high self-discharge rates; if you left the batteries in the unit without using it, it could be without power by the time you next need it. Modern high quality rechargeable AAs and AAAs however can be stored for months and months without much charge loss. The only other difference, the nominal voltage, is of no practical concern, as the 1.5 V for alkalines is their initial voltage only (it drops below that rapidly), while the 1.25 quoted for NiMH is more like their average voltage.

Even if the batteries can be swapped, I would hate to stop recording a track to replace a battery, thus breaking up the recording into multiple files. With 6 hours of battery life that would be a real issue, with 18 hours (similar to a Garmin 500) less so.

That's good to know and I'll make sure to find some good batteries. Apparently the M-241 can also be powered through its mini USB port, so in theory the battery life could be extended by connecting a small battery pack.
 

microcord

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#9
For 1500 yen or so more than the Holux costs, you can buy the I-O "Tabireko" aka "GPSlog" (here at I-O, here at Amazon). I-O says that it runs off 単3電池1本 (with no warnings) -- but only for about 10 hours, and even this unimpressive estimate comes with caveats. According to I-O, you must be using Windows, Windows or Windows to get anything out of it. Hmm, maybe next year's models will be better.
 

GrantT

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#10
For 1500 yen or so more than the Holux costs, you can buy the I-O "Tabireko" aka "GPSlog" (here at I-O, here at Amazon). I-O says that it runs off 単3電池1本 (with no warnings) -- but only for about 10 hours, and even this unimpressive estimate comes with caveats. According to I-O, you must be using Windows, Windows or Windows to get anything out of it. Hmm, maybe next year's models will be better.

Thanks, I've had a look at this one and it seems to be a Japanese version of the M-241, with the same hardware but Japanese interface on the logger and software and firmware that may possibly be better or worse than the original M-241. In any case, there is more information out there about the M-241 so I would be more confident buying that.