Astro 320 Software Changes and Improvements
Older GPS products have what's called a 2-axis compass. For a 2 axis compass to work correctly you have to hold the handheld unit flat. If you're familiar with the Astro 220, the words "hold flat" will appear on the screen when you are tracking your dog and holding the unit at any angle. The 220 can't give you an accurate dog location unless it is held flat.
The 320 does not have this issue because it has what's called a 3-axis compass. It can handle all three dimensions. It doesn't matter which way you are holding the unit. You can hold it straight up and down and it's going to give you the correct direction of your dog. I find this to be really handy especially since I want to be able to grab my unit and get a dog location fast. With the 2 axis compass, you always have to give it a second or two to adjust when you move the unit. The 320 doesn't have that problem.
Having a 3 axis compass changes the way that you calibrate your hand held. The new process is very different from what we have been doing with the Astro 220, but the new model walks you through it. With the previous model, calibration was relatively simple. You just held the unit flat and turned it in a complete circle two to three time until it told you to stop.
To calibrate the Astro 320, you have to turn the unit in all three directions. When you start the process, the handheld tells you to slowly turn the unit in the direction shown. It then shows you an image and the direction to turn it. Once completed, it tells you the next direction. Once you have done steps one and two it shows you the third and lets you know when you are done. If at any point you do not move the unit correctly, it will stop you and tell you where to start again.
I've always recommended that people calibrate the Astro every time they use it. I'm not sure if we'll have to calibrate on the 320 as often, since the 3 axis compass will fix some of the issues. The biggest advantage is the handheld is going to be a little less finicky as far as how you have to hold it. That's going to be a great thing for everybody.
Dog Set Up
One of my favorite new things about the Garmin Astro 320 is the new Dog Set Menu. In the previous generation you would add the dog, it would automatically set the name based on how many dogs you already had in the system, and it would add it. It would not allow you to do anything else to it. You would then have to go into the Dog Info screen to change the dog's name, change the update rate, or to make the dog a pointing dog or treeing dog.
The Astro 320 goes about this process a couple of different ways. The first part is that when you add the dog, you are able to name the dog from the add a dog screen. So that's handy. You don't have to go to another screen. You just make the name change right there and you're done.
Universal Dog Settings
If you run pointing dogs, then typically you run all pointing dogs. If you run hounds or treeing dogs, you run treeing dogs. All of your dogs are typically going to be set up the same way. It's a waste of time to have to edit each and every dog when you add them.
The way the new system works is you make all the changes to your first dog and set him up the way you want him. You set his update rate and you set his dog type. When you add your next dog, the system will automatically apply the same setup that you put in on the first dog. This is a really nice time saver. It makes the settings universal, so there's no need for you to have edit each dog every time you add one to the 320 handheld.
The same thing is true on update rate. The majority of us are going to run this system on a five second update rate, and that's the automatic setting. But if you are one of the few that likes your update rate to be 10 seconds, or 30 seconds, or two minutes, once you make that change it will be applied universally every time you add a new dog to your handheld. All your dogs will be set to the longer update rate.
At the same time, if you DO want to change any of these settings for one specific dog, you can go into the dog info menu and edit each dog individually. Change him to anything you want: You can put him in auto mode, you can put him in pet mode, you can put him into pointing dog mode. You're not limited to only run one type of dog nor must you have every dog on the same update rate.