June 26, 2008

Garmin GPS Astro 200 Collar Gets an Upgrade - DC-30

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Garmin announced an Astro upgrade today. Looks like the dog tracker GPS collar gets some better performance just in time for Hunting Season....The main news here is the new collar, the DC-30 that has the bulk of the components on one side of the collar (which hangs at the bottom), while a small GPS antenna sits at the top of the collar; allowing for solid view of the sky and overall better performance. The info is all pushed back to the Astro 220 handheld device that can track up to 30 dogs. The Astro 200 is based on the Garmin GPSMap 60 CSx.

The full press release is below....


Garmin announced the DC(TM) 30, a completely redesigned GPS dog tracking collar for use with the Astro GPS Dog Tracking System. The new collar is more rugged and its antennas are positioned differently for optimal tracking.

The new DC 30 collar is designed to stand up to the torturous abuse of hunting dogs. Whether it's hounds crashing through thick and swampy woods, or bird dogs bounding through dense CRP fields, the DC 30 is made to take the beating that working dogs dish out daily," said Dan Bartel, Garmin's vice president of worldwide sales. "And the new configuration also makes mounting the collar a cinch -- while improving reception."

The DC 30 collar's main housing is weighted to sit below the dog's neck, while a small, low-profile GPS antenna is integrated into the collar strap and positioned on top of the dog's neck, providing a clear view of satellites with minimal rotation. The transmitter antenna originates from the lower housing, and has been redesigned for more flexibility and ruggedness. No counterbalance or harness is needed. The weight for the transmitter plus antenna is 4.1 ounces, and the entire DC 30 weighs just 8.7 ounces.

Used in conjunction with the Astro 220 receiver, the system pinpoints exactly where your dog is and what he's doing -- running, pointing, or treeing -- even in dense cover, up to seven miles away, depending on terrain.

The Astro GPS Dog Tracking System requires very little configuration straight out of the box, and is extremely simple to use. Once the transmitter and receiver acquire a GPS signal, the receiver automatically lets users know the location of their dog. Unlike old radio telemetry collars, the Astro features a dog page that shows the precise direction and distance to a dog -- even indicating if it is running, on point, or treeing quarry -- and does it all without the annoyance of beeper collars. Unlike cellular tracking systems, there are no subscriptions or setup fees required to use the device.

Astro can track up to ten dogs per receiver at once, and the collar gives location updates every five, 10, or 30 seconds (user selectable). Battery life is 17-36 hours (based on update rate) on the rechargeable DC 30 collar and 24 hours on the Astro 220 receiver, which is powered by two AA batteries. Both the DC 30 collar and the Astro 220 receiver are completely waterproof.

The Astro also has a map page to illustrate where a dog is and where it has been -- in relation to the hunter -- and allows hunters to determine if they have covered nearby ground. Garmin's unique Covey Counter(TM) lets hunters mark the precise location, time of day, and elevation where they encountered their quarry -- and users can easily note the number of birds flushed and how many were taken. The Astro also comes packed with new hunting-specific icons, to easily mark and identify bird flushes, treed raccoons, food plots, tree stands, cover, ATVs, and other outdoor-related features.

Besides being a state-of-the-art dog tracking device, the Astro is also a full-featured handheld GPS based on the GPSMAP® 60CSx, with a sunlight-readable color display and a highly sensitive GPS receiver that works even under a thick tree canopy or in deep canyons. So when the hunting season is over, the Astro can pull double-duty for hiking, boating, or car trips.

The Astro has a microSD card slot that allows users to insert optional pre-programmed topo maps or road maps, which can be invaluable in an unfamiliar area. Topo maps give hunters an idea of the most productive areas to hunt, while road maps feature the same basic functions as an automotive GPS navigation unit -- even in rural areas. The optional road map data can also give turn-by-turn directions to motels, gas stations, restaurants, and even veterinarians.

The Astro also calculates area, which is ideal for determining the acreage of a piece of property or the exact size of a food plot. The unit has location-specific sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset tables (ideal for determining legal hunting hours) and a hunting and fishing calendar that suggests the best times to be out in the field.

The new DC 30 collar is included as part of the Astro GPS Dog Tracking system, which also contains an Astro 220 receiver, user's manual, power/data cables, Trip & Waypoint Manager CD, and a carrying case for a suggested retail price of $649.99. The DC 30 tracking collar sold separately is $199.99. The DC 30 collar is compatible with current Astro GPS Dog Tracking Systems as well. For current Astro DC20 owners wishing to upgrade to the DC 30, Garmin is offering a $50.00 rebate for a limited time only.

Garmin has also developed a new Astro portable long range antenna, sold separately. The accessory is designed to increase the range of the hunter's handheld receiver, by up to three miles. When a dog travels outside the Astro's range, the antenna can be lengthened to over a meter and attached directly to the Astro 220 via a one-meter coaxial cable. The antenna features a molded handle and lanyard, and measures just a quarter meter long when stored -- small enough to be carried in a hunting vest when not in use. The handheld antenna has a list price of $69.99.

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Posted by Scott Martin at June 26, 2008 7:46 AM

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