Garmin Died in Rain

Malte

Maximum Pace
Sep 26, 2011
496
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Tokyo
#1
My Garmin died on Sunday during heavy rain. I am trying to get it back to life but been unsuccessful so far :eek:uch:.

It has been the worst rain I have been through and it lasted around 2h. The rain was so bad that on Ashigara toge the street turned literally into rivers. First I noticed that the VAM readings on the Garmin got bogus which might have been caused by water on the temperature/pressure sensor. Then the weather cleared up, I climbed through Kintoki Tunnel towards Hakone and on the last 20km before Odawara the Garmin suddenly went blank. That time I thought I have forgotten to load the battery properly.

Back home I connected the device to my PC and start charging. The display showed "charging" but the PC could not detect the USB Device, so no data access :(. When removing the USB cable the screen went blank and pushing the "power" button didn't work. I read that Travis had same problem on that day with his Edge800 and he gave it a special drying treadment. So I went to Akihbara to get the Mini Torx screwdrivers and opened my Garmin.

There was quite some water around the USB plug near the battery layer and there was some oxidation on the metallic PCB cover (maybe coming from the battery itself ??). I wiped that away and dried it out.

Now, when I plug in the USB cable the devices "boots up" and I can navigate through the menu (the battery status is shown as 255% :confused:). I can see the ride data from Sunday there but as soon as I remove the USB plug the device goes blank again, also the PC still does not recognize it :eek:uch:.

I would like to give the PCB some cleaning treatment, I read that Isopropyl is good. Any experiences? Sourcing?
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#2
Mine dies regularly. I guess Garmin, like Apple, really prefers to design products not really intended for outdoor use. I flush mine with isopropyl alcohol (as you suggest) then bury it in rice for a day or so. If you try to charge it or otherwise power it on, you might damage the pcb due to shorting. There are better dessicants than rice - but beats me how to get them easily in Japan. I've taken to putting my Garmin into a ziplock now - at least that is a slightly better waterproofer than the lame case they've built. As a side note to this - it seems the most vunerable part (at least on my 705) is the microSD slot / card. If the microSD wont read - the unit fails to boot properly.
 

WhiteGiant

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Nov 4, 2006
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#4
Mine's dead again too!

After my drying procedure, I managed to get the last of the data off of it.
At first though, it wouldn't even hold a charge properly, most likely because of moisture in the battery. Then, for a short time yesterday, it seemed to be working properly, and I was looking forward to taking it out on my commute this morning, hoping that any sunshine would further the drying process. However, this morning, the main power button on the side just refused to work. I don't know what happened - It was working fine when I went to bed, but now, nothing.
If I plug it into the USB, it shows as 100% charged, but it simply will not respond to the "On" button, no matter what I do.
I think the only option is to try and send it in for warranty - The main hiccup to this plan is that they require you to have a stamped self-addressed envelope to return it. But that requires US postage stamps... Does anyone know where to get them from in Japan?
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#5
I didnt disconnect the battery. It appears to be hard soldered to the connector (like Apple). Again - I really hate these non-user-servicable units.... sigh. Luckily mine still works - but when it acts up in the rain I'm quick to simply power it down and don't touch it until I can flush it out and redry it. Done that about 4 or 5 times so far. I've also had to replace the SD card every time, btw.
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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#6
If the device dies again as soon as you remove the USB cable, it suggests the battery is not providing power. That's somewhat consistent with the strange charge state figure you're getting: There must be a problem around the circuit that interfaces to the battery.

There is a possibility the battery itself got shorted by the water and possibly damaged. Li-ion batteries don't like excessive discharge currents or being discharged below a certain minimum voltage (in the 2.75-3 V range). Once discharged too deeply they can't be charged again. Normally a circuit on the power management watches the voltage and shuts down the unit when voltage drops too low, but if the discharge is due to current flowing through water, that circuit is not going to do much good. You may need a new battery. If you have a voltmeter you can check the voltage between the poles of the battery.

It's definitely not a good idea to reapply power before the device is completely dry again, because if it's moist you can short (and fry) anything on the board when power is applied.

I use an Android phone for Strava. When there's a slight drizzle, I simply wrap it in Saran wrap. If it gets worse, I put a small shopping bag from a conbini on top and secure it with a rubber band. If it's really awful, I take it off the handlebar and put it away in a safe place (in a plastic bag inside the the handlebar bag or backpack if I carry one). Never had a problem with water so far.
 

Malte

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Sep 26, 2011
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Tokyo
#7
If the device dies again as soon as you remove the USB cable, it suggests the battery is not providing power. That's somewhat consistent with the strange charge state figure you're getting: There must be a problem around the circuit that interfaces to the battery.
I thought of the same.
Additionally there might be some problem with the USB Connector as I can't explain why the PC does not recognize it anymore (the SW seem to run, I can navigate the menu).
Anyway, I buried it in rice for the night.

I use an Android phone for Strava. When there's a slight drizzle, I simply wrap it in Saran wrap. If it gets worse, I put a small shopping bag from a conbini on top and secure it with a rubber band. If it's really awful, I take it off the handlebar and put it away in a safe place (in a plastic bag inside the the handlebar bag or backpack if I carry one). Never had a problem with water so far.
Interesting fact is that I had my IPhone next to the Garmin for map navigation (sealed in a topeak holder) and it didn't had the slightest problem.
 

Jayves

Speeding Up
Nov 20, 2009
115
3
38
Yokohama
jayves-rando.blogspot.jp
#8
I also have Garmin but is very careful in leaving out in the rain despite the IPX7 waterproof rating due to the unreliable rubber flaps. I usually cover the device with very thin transparent sandwich plastic bag and still be able to attach to the base.

Sometimes, I question that makers are too optimistic in their waterproof ratings (unless they make scuba diving electronic equipments :))

IPX-0-0 No special protection
IPX-1 Protected against falling water Equivalent to 3-5mm rainfall per minute for a duration of 10 minutes. Unit is placed in its normal operating position.
IPX-2 Protected against falling water when tilted up to 15 degrees - Same as IPX-1 but unit is tested in 4 fixed positions - tilted 15 degrees in each direction from normal operating position.
IPX-3 Protected against spraying water - Water spraying up to 60 degrees from vertical at 10 liters/min at a pressure of 80-100kN/m2 for 5 min.
IPX-4 Protected against splashing water - Same as IPX-3 but water is sprayed at all angles.
IPX-5 Protected against water jets - Water projected at all angles through a 6.3mm nozzle at a flow rate of 12.5 liters/min at a pressure of 30kN/m2 for 3 minutes from a distance of 3 meters.
IPX-6 Protected against heavy seas - Water projected at all angles through a 12.5mm nozzle at a flow rate of 100 liters/min at a pressure of 100kN/m2 for 3 minutes from a distance of 3 meters.
IPX-7 Protected against water immersion - Immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter.
IPX-8 Protected against water submersion - The equipment is suitable for continual submersion in water under conditions which are identified by the manufacturer.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#9
Ok these are such a simple construction - everything just plugs in to the MoBo so open her up remove the LCD and the PCB from the body and take a hair drier to it.

I've rescued to of them now doing this.

Also as for the IPX-7 rating. Sorry but Garmin screwed up as how often do you drop the bike in a pond? When you are descending in the rain then the Garmin is going to need to be protected against projected water!

Also I would suggest taping over the USB cover - it's useless! So I have taken to putting electrical tape over it in the case of rain.
 

Malte

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Sep 26, 2011
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Tokyo
#10
The problem remains: I used some Isopropyl tissue (not fluid) to clean the PCB from the oxidation + the device spend a a night in rice.

However still same problem :eek:uch:. I guess the battery is dead, will check the voltage later. Any experience in changing the battery (some Akihabara action :eek:)?
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#11
ahhhh I had the exact same problem a few months back - have you tried the hard reset?

Try holding down: hold down power+menu+reset buttons for a few seconds and it reset. You'll need to do it with the USB cable connected to the PC.

PS,

This didn't solve my problem - I ended up getting hold of a broken 500 and salvaging it for the PCB.
 

Malte

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Sep 26, 2011
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#12
This is how it looks from inside. I noticed that there is still some severe oxidation on the right side of the USB Connector. Will search for some Isopropyl Alcohol and hope to revive at least the USB Connectivity by that.

Also I noticed that the temperature sensor seems to be sitting under the battery, maybe that's why there are three cables.

attachment.php?attachmentid=1185&d=1346717219


attachment.php?attachmentid=1186&d=1346717219
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#13
Malte the battery connector is a snap fit so it just pops off - however its bonded to the back of the case pretty securely so be very careful not to puncture the battery when removing.

The best bet is to go to a RC shop in Akiba as some of them can actually build you a custom battery -

Super Radi-Con Tokyo; tel:03-5688-1414
on Showa-Street; Echo Akihabara-Buildg2F, 1-10-3, Taito Taito-ku Tokyo 110-0016.

Closed on every monday, 10:00~21:00 (~20:00 on sunday and holiday).

Is probably the best of the bunch and they made me a few custom batterries a few years back (about 6 in fact!) - not sure if they still offer the service though.
 

Samuelg

Warming-Up
Jun 22, 2009
33
0
0
Sydney
#16
I have been watching this thread with interest, thanking the powers that be that my garmin has so far held up in the rain, however on return home last night i found my one year old looking like this http://yfrog.com/h6cqmkunj
(its an old pic but it happend again), little teeth pulled of the usb cover and accurately deposited saliva directly into the port. It was with some trepedation that i turned it on this morning, though it still worked.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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www.roadfixie.com
#17
Tokyu Hands has it - they also have some non-corrosive electro cleaner that is good for getting the oxide off the board. Also - your RC Shop will have this as well! If you take the unit there it might be easier to show them what exactly you need , since the names of these chemical prdts in Japanese are not in the general venacular. (i.e. not likely your Japanese SO will have an idea of what to ask for)

Tokyu hands - or a good pharamacy or hardware store?
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#18
Not helping your problem, but like Joe, everything electronic gets saranwrapped before leaving the house.
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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#19
FarEast's shop recommendations sound good. They should be able to help you with batteries.

Basically, Li-polymer batteries like in the Garmin (and most cell phones and digital cameras) are pretty standard - there's little difference between them, except for connectors, capacity and physical dimensions. There's little difference at the electrical level. They all have a + and - contact, with a nominal (average working) voltage of 3.7 V and about 4.15 V fully charged. At similar physical dimensions the capacity and maximum discharge current will be similar too.

The third contact is for a temperature sensor. By checking resistance between that and one of the poles, the charger circuit can sense the battery temperature. That is important to prevent the battery from being charged when it's freezing and to prevent thermal runaway when it overheats during charging or use.

If the circuit board is damaged, it may be possible to find a cheap unit with broken screen on eBay and transplant the circuit board from that.
 

kubatyszko

Speeding Up
Jul 29, 2012
79
24
38
Shinagawa, Tokyo
#20
This is what I use:

http://wino.org.pl/forum/files.php?pid=279876&aid=14593

This is Polish 96% alcohol, I use it for cleaning electronics and wounds - it solidifies the oxidized blood contrary to peroxide (which dissolves it), good for quickly closing the wound.

It's possible to buy it in Japan, bigger shops carry it on the shelves (but last time it took me longer to find one than I thought).

Regarding batteries, looks like Nokia BL6-C has matching voltage and higher capacity, might be worth checking if you can at least get the device to run.
But it definitely won't fit inside:

Garmin: 39.5mm x 31mm x 5mm;

BL6-C : 53.25x33.90x6.30

If I recall, the 3.7v batteries are quite popular, the only challenge may be finding matching size,
but BL6-C is so easy and cheap to buy - that you should get one and see if this revives your garmin, then you can spend more time to find a proper battery.

One thing though - I looked into Edge500 firmware (researching way to convert between regional versions of the device), and I found quite a few strings which mention battery - calibration, testing, verification, some error strings (bad battery) too etc.
Though it's uncertain how those strings are used, and what is the impact of using a replacement, It's entirely possible the device requires a very specific capacity etc....

Cheers