Garmin External GPS Antenna (BNC) Review

Garmin External GPS Antenna

I recently purchased this item for an old GPS that was going strong in most ways but suffered from a weakish signal. By purchasing this antenna, I was hoping to dramatically improve the signal, thereby turning an old mil-spec’d Garmin GPS V into a useful emergency GPS for my bug-out bag.

Since the original factory installed antenna is bnc, changing out to this antenna is a simple affair.

This unit has strong magnets that allow it to be securely attached to any relatively flat metal surface, but also includes two small screw holes to make any attachment even more secure. A separate metal plate further allows suction cup attachment to the windshield of a car, which for some folks might be another reason to purchase this type of extended antenna, as it allows you to place the actual GPS unit anywhere you like (as long as the cable reaches). Though I’ve long since upgraded to a much faster and more feature packed gps for my car, the suction cup mount is $6 extra and a nice-to-have.

The antenna itself is truly remarkable. It’s a one trick pony but does it very well. I had no idea GPS reception could be this good, I consistently had 10 black bars and 2 grey bars while driving around the Bay Area, and also while walking around. Before attaching this antenna, my typical satellite reception was about 5 bars, with occasional consistent runs of 7 bars, and rare bursts to 8 bars..

What’s more, before attaching this antenna, even when turning the GPS on an hour after turning it off, without changing locations, the reception always took a minute to re-lock on satellites (and sometimes several minutes to lock when turning on after changing locations).

With this antenna, both the satellite lock and satellite re-lock were orders of magnitude faster. About 1 minute 20 seconds for a lock, and 15 seconds for a re-lock. That’s faster than my much more current Mio or my previous Navman IC510.

All of a sudden, my Garmin GPS V seems like a pretty amazing device again, and with the GPS V’s alkaline AA battery usage, and mil-spec toughness, I look forward to taking it on a camping trip. It may not have the topo maps or color touch screens of modern off-road gps’s like the 620st, the rhino, or the oregen/colorado/dakota series available from garmin today, but thanks to this antenna, my old garmin gps v will be an excellent device for waypoint loading, track logging, longitude/latitude checks and course bearing checks…which is just about all I really need for hiking a little off the trail. More importantly as a bug-out bag addition, the 19mb of data in the GPS V, which may seem piddly by today’s standards, is more than enough for my local area, and already includes all the key POIs for the area, including emergency services, should a bug-out scenario ever become a reality.

Thanks Gilsson, you’ve turned a product nearly ready to throw away device into a fast, functional, and reliable device and you charged me only $19 for it.

You rock.

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