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— urbantick

The tracking – Foretrex tutorial

The devices are here, and I can start recording peoples movement. I have a bunch of Garmin Foretrex 201 devices and will give them out to volunteers to track them around the city. The intention is to collect information about the spatial extend of everyday routines.


This preliminary study will show how useful the data is and what measures I have to take to improve them in the following sets of tracking. Of course I am expecting some problems, especially with signal strength (as it takes place in central London), but I’ll see what the returned data is.

Here is a quick introduction on how to use the Foretrex 201:
The GPS needs a sky view to establish a satellite connection. This can take a few minutes from a cold start. To establish the exact location, signals from four different satellites are required, hence the symbol on page one (see bellow). The accuracy of the positioning depends on several factors. This includes weather, location, landscape and built environment. It is not easy to receive a proper signal in central London. The main difficulty is to establish a signal, once it is established, the Foretrex is quite good in maintaining it.
On Public Transport a window seat is required to receive a signal. Tube will obviously not receive a signal and after leaving the tube station, the device will need to establish a new connection. It will do so automatically.
The device does record the track by default. There is no need to save something.

01 -Use the POWER button (red) to turn the device on. The welcome screen will show up with UT-00 and urbanTick. After a second or so it does automatically switch to the satellite page.
There are five main pages on the device. Use the PAGE button to switch between these pages.


02- Second after the Satellite page is the Map page. This shows the recorded tracks so far. The little symbol in the middle indicates direction and movement. The ARROW buttons to the far right can be used to zoom in and out of the map.


03 – The Navigation page follows. It provides a compass (only if a satellite connection was established).


04 – Fourth page is displaying the Time by default. With the ARROW buttons some more information like speed and altitude can be accessed.


05 – The fifth and last page is the menu for setup and storage. It is used to access the device settings and organize stored waypoints, tracks or routes.


The five pages wrap round. So after page five comes page one again.

The PAGE button is also used to go out of menus. Whereas the ENTER button is the complementary to this, for selecting or entering a menu. The AERROW buttons are used to navigate.

In case the device freezes, the PAGE and POWER button have to be pressed continuously for about five seconds to turn off the device.

If you stay indoors for some time, the device might recognize and ask you. If you enter yes, the device will turn off the GPS signal receiver in order to save power. To turn the GPS signal receiver back on as you leave the building, just use the POWER button to turn the device off and back on.


In case the device cannot locate a satellite outdoors, it might ask you the same question. As you are not indoors, you enter no. The device will he come up with a second dialogue to ask you whether you have moved for a great distance. Here you can say yes and the device will do a more intense satellite check and you should get a signal.


Charging will need about six hours. It can be left over night. For charging the device needs to be connected via the Cradle. If the Foretrex is turned off whilst charging it will show a charging symbol on the scree. As it is fully charged it should then display charging complete. According to the manufacture, the battery lasts for about 15 hours. This means charging i required about every two days.

For further and more detailed information please refer to the official Garmin QuickGuide or the full Handbook.