GPS Collars Revisited

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GPS Collars Revisited

Postby orhunter » Wed Jun 02, 2021 9:22 am

Been browsing @ Ugly Dog for new collar and a bit confused. Easy to get confused at my age.... The Alpha 550 looks interesting but it appears the batteries aren’t rechargeable, need to be replaced. The 100 is what most recommend but has features far beyond need. Technology always comes as a package deal so customizing according to need probably isn’t going to happen. The 100 is the mini version for “smaller” dogs. I don’t know what the word “smaller” represents. Is that dogs under 50 lbs or 20 lbs? Any/all recommendations are welcome.

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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby JONOV » Wed Jun 02, 2021 10:38 am

orhunter wrote:Been browsing @ Ugly Dog for new collar and a bit confused. Easy to get confused at my age.... The Alpha 550 looks interesting but it appears the batteries aren’t rechargeable, need to be replaced. The 100 is what most recommend but has features far beyond need. Technology always comes as a package deal so customizing according to need probably isn’t going to happen. The 100 is the mini version for “smaller” dogs. I don’t know what the word “smaller” represents. Is that dogs under 50 lbs or 20 lbs? Any/all recommendations are welcome.

Thanks

Alpha 550 isn't a product.

Garmin makes three handhelds that incorporate GPS and e-collar functionality.

  • The Pro 550+,
  • The Alpha 100
  • The Alpha 200


The Pro 550+ is like the Garmin/Tritronics Pro 550 e-collar, with a screen at the bottom that points the direction of the dog and gives a distance read. I believe you can run three dogs on it. My wife has it for her dog and she likes it. It is functional to the point that you won't lose your dog. In my experience it's accurate down to about 15 yards. It works just fine as a training collar.

The Alpha 200 is the newest, as of a year or so ago roughly. The Alpha 100 isn't a mini version, it's just the previous generation. I use it, I like it. I can't speak to the Alpha 200, but the Alpha 100 delivers sufficient ecollar functionality to stop your knucklehead from rolling in a cow pie or chasing a deer, but isn't great as an actual training collar.

They are all rechargeable and while I haven't used the Alpha 200, it appears to charge the handheld the same as the other two units, with a usb plug in the back.

If you want a GPS functionality not only to find your dog, but also drop a pin at the truck, the Alpha's are better. Mostly, I use the arrow screen (it looks like a compass and gives a distance and direction), and the beeper function if I need to turn the dog in a different direction/come back to me.

With these units, garmin sells two collars that will track the dog, and deliver e-collar functionality; the TT 15 and the TT 15 mini. The mini was designed for houndsmen running beagles. There is no reason that you can't use it for a full grown dog; the e-collar is plenty hot (probably equal to the TT15 full size.) The only downside is battery life is shorter than the TT15 full size, but IME if you have access to electricity to charge in the evening, you won't find the lack of charge appreciable. I can go weeks during the off season during walks/training sessions if I remember to turn it off. The only other notable difference is that it uses a different charging clip but unless you're running a mix of collars and forget one size at home (Been there, done that...) it shouldn't matter.

When we purchased my wife's Pro 550+, we were able to buy it with the TT15 mini collar. You should be able to find that combo somewhere online, if Ugly Dog doesn't have it.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby robshed » Wed Jun 02, 2021 3:02 pm

With the Pro 550+ you can also pair the collar to the Garmin Explore app. With the app you can create tracks of you and your dog's movement, create waypoints, and it has pretty decent maps for a free app. For me the 550+ is a great option for hunting and training, simple handheld and with the app you get most of the added benefits of the Alpha albeit with another device to carry.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby Dmog » Wed Jun 02, 2021 3:33 pm

To confuse things further on Garmin collars, there is the Astro series that is just the gps and lacks the ability to stimulate your dog. I have experience with the Dogtra Pathfinder and though it serves the purpose, I traded into the Garmin Pro 550+ after Garmin released this collar with the ability to pair it with a Garmin Smart watch and a map app for your phone that is compatible with the gps collars and system. You should be able to find past discussions on the pro's and con's in the forum. I recall AG's review of the Garmin Pro 550 plus paired with a Garmin Instinct watch dog tracker widget convinced me to switch and I am so glad I did. I took it one step further and have used the Garmin Explorer App for map tracking on the very few occasions I wanted it. I run 2 dogs and love the simple direction and distance read out on the watch as well as the pointing vibration. Easy access to the collar buttons on the controller just like the 550 trainer. No touch screens to fiddle with. The Garmin Alpha 200i for the coin addressed alot of the touch screen issues allowing you to program buttons but I like out of the box usability, if there is such a thing with Garmin...

I run the TT15 minis collars on both my Griff and PP and find the range is plenty and battery good as long as you charge after a 12 hr day. The units and collars are rechargeable and replaceable as well as software is upgradable.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 02, 2021 6:32 pm

Harvey, I bought the Alpha 100 and mini collars. Used them extensively for a couple of season. Loved having GPS to keep track of my dogs, but hated the Alpha. Touch screen sucks, training buttons suck. Much better options now.

When the 550+ came out I bought the transmitter and paired it to my existing mini collars and love it. Gives me what I need for keeping track of my dogs and best in class training features. I pair it to an Instinct watch and like that even better as I can glance down at my wrist and keep track of my dogs.

No experience with the 200. It has the InReach feature which could really be handy in a pinch.

I have downloaded maps onto my Iphone ahead of a hunt and got along well using it for Mapping purposes.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby orhunter » Wed Jun 02, 2021 6:56 pm

Here’s what I did... Had a training collar with a bad battery on the dog end. Sent it to The Collar Clinic for repair/replace and ordered the Alpha 100. We’ll see what they come up with.

Most of this electronic technology is hocus pocus to me. All I need is to know what direction the dog is and a point alert for when I can’t see her. Cattails come to mind. I may eventually play with it long enough to learn some other useful features, only time will tell.

Appreciate everyones suggestions and comments.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby AverageGuy » Wed Jun 02, 2021 7:00 pm

orhunter wrote:Here’s what I did... Had a training collar with a bad battery on the dog end. Sent it to The Collar Clinic for repair/replace and ordered the Alpha 100. We’ll see what they come up with.

Most of this electronic technology is hocus pocus to me. All I need is to know what direction the dog is and a point alert for when I can’t see her. Cattails come to mind. I may eventually play with it long enough to learn some other useful features, only time will tell.

Appreciate everyones suggestions and comments.


What you describe screams stay away from the Alpha and get a 550+. I speak from extensive experience with both.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby JONOV » Thu Jun 03, 2021 9:02 am

AverageGuy wrote:
orhunter wrote:Here’s what I did... Had a training collar with a bad battery on the dog end. Sent it to The Collar Clinic for repair/replace and ordered the Alpha 100. We’ll see what they come up with.

Most of this electronic technology is hocus pocus to me. All I need is to know what direction the dog is and a point alert for when I can’t see her. Cattails come to mind. I may eventually play with it long enough to learn some other useful features, only time will tell.

Appreciate everyones suggestions and comments.


What you describe screams stay away from the Alpha and get a 550+. I speak from extensive experience with both.

paired with a garmin watch it will alert you when a dog stops too if that's really important. But IIRC the 550+ will vibrate if a dog stops?
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jun 03, 2021 9:05 am

Yes the 550+ vibrates with the point notification but only once. It does not repeat the vibrate after that and just continues to indicate the dog is on point, distance and direction to the dog.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby Dmog » Thu Jun 03, 2021 9:37 am

[/quote]
What you describe screams stay away from the Alpha and get a 550+. I speak from extensive experience with both.[/quote]

I second this. I think you will be pleased with a gps either way but much more satisfied with the Pro 550 plus.

AG, I am so spoiled with the watch vibrating the point alert that I am not sure the transmitter vibrates or not? I know it has a visual indicator on it but it rides on my harness and I can't recall it vibrating but I wouldn't feel it if it did the way I carry it. Anyone who has hunted cattails, standing corn or milo, or heavy crp will appreciate the hands free indication of the watch which can be used on the Alphas as well. Fumbling with gloves to work a touch screen is no fun...

edit to add: I had a chance to look at my owners manual and the handheld unit does vibrate on a pointing alert. While on this topic, I find the Garmin takes about 2 cycles (5 seconds) to give you a pointing alert where as the Dogtra would take 3-4 cycles(7.5-10 seconds) to give a pointing alert. What was odd to me and I never troubleshoot why but the treeing alert on the Dogtra was about one cycle(2.5 sec). Maybe the software reacted faster on the vertical movement up?
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby Coveyrise64 » Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:12 pm

Dmog wrote:....edit to add: I had a chance to look at my owners manual and the handheld unit does vibrate on a pointing alert. While on this topic, I find the Garmin takes about 2 cycles (5 seconds) to give you a pointing alert where as the Dogtra would take 3-4 cycles(7.5-10 seconds) to give a pointing alert. What was odd to me and I never troubleshoot why but the treeing alert on the Dogtra was about one cycle(2.5 sec). Maybe the software reacted faster on the vertical movement up?

Unless I'm missing something I think your timing (cycles vs seconds) might be a little off. Electrically speaking there are 60 cycles in one second. Therefore one cycle is equal to 0.0166 seconds.

As for which GPS unit most I know prefer the 550+. I have an Alpha 100 with the Instinct watch and don't have many complaints.

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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Jun 03, 2021 6:10 pm

Dmog wrote:

What you describe screams stay away from the Alpha and get a 550+. I speak from extensive experience with both.[/quote]

I second this. I think you will be pleased with a gps either way but much more satisfied with the Pro 550 plus.

AG, I am so spoiled with the watch vibrating the point alert that I am not sure the transmitter vibrates or not? I know it has a visual indicator on it but it rides on my harness and I can't recall it vibrating but I wouldn't feel it if it did the way I carry it. Anyone who has hunted cattails, standing corn or milo, or heavy crp will appreciate the hands free indication of the watch which can be used on the Alphas as well. Fumbling with gloves to work a touch screen is no fun...

edit to add: I had a chance to look at my owners manual and the handheld unit does vibrate on a pointing alert. While on this topic, I find the Garmin takes about 2 cycles (5 seconds) to give you a pointing alert where as the Dogtra would take 3-4 cycles(7.5-10 seconds) to give a pointing alert. What was odd to me and I never troubleshoot why but the treeing alert on the Dogtra was about one cycle(2.5 sec). Maybe the software reacted faster on the vertical movement up?[/quote]

The 550+ vibrates once when the point indicator first goes off. It does not vibrate again.

I am using an Instinct watch with mine and like it.

As usual Garmin put a bunch of features into it that I will never use and I wish it had the singular feature I bought it for. Have to go through the process to lock it now so it is not constantly switching to some useless screen just when I need it most.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby Dmog » Fri Jun 04, 2021 8:39 am

Coveyrise64 wrote:
Dmog wrote:....edit to add: I had a chance to look at my owners manual and the handheld unit does vibrate on a pointing alert. While on this topic, I find the Garmin takes about 2 cycles (5 seconds) to give you a pointing alert where as the Dogtra would take 3-4 cycles(7.5-10 seconds) to give a pointing alert. What was odd to me and I never troubleshoot why but the treeing alert on the Dogtra was about one cycle(2.5 sec). Maybe the software reacted faster on the vertical movement up?

Unless I'm missing something I think your timing (cycles vs seconds) might be a little off. Electrically speaking there are 60 cycles in one second. Therefore one cycle is equal to 0.0166 seconds.

As for which GPS unit most I know prefer the 550+. I have an Alpha 100 with the Instinct watch and don't have many complaints.

cr


I will clarify that I I should not have used the term "cycle" but meant "refresh rate" or "update rate". Garmin's as well as Dogtra's fasted gps refresh rate is 2.5 seconds(not sure if this is real time but seems to match up with the delay I see from actual point to when the pointing indication comes up) unless improvements have been made that I am not aware of. I concluded that the delay from the dog going on point was the "update rate" but I have no scientific data to support this theory other than reading how the gps software works between the collar and the receiver. If someone knows more about why there is a delay from when the dog goes on point to when the receiver recognizes it, I am all ears.
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby ryanr » Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:50 pm

orhunter wrote:Here’s what I did... Had a training collar with a bad battery on the dog end. Sent it to The Collar Clinic for repair/replace and ordered the Alpha 100. We’ll see what they come up with.

Most of this electronic technology is hocus pocus to me. All I need is to know what direction the dog is and a point alert for when I can’t see her. Cattails come to mind. I may eventually play with it long enough to learn some other useful features, only time will tell.

Appreciate everyones suggestions and comments.


Well then you should have bought the 550+
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Re: GPS Collars Revisited

Postby orhunter » Mon Jun 07, 2021 3:32 pm

I contacted Collar Clinic and changed my order.

Just got off the phone with them. Unit I sent in is not repairable, expected. Will be replaced with new unit. Pro 550+ in the mail today.

Thanks for everyone’s help.
Last edited by orhunter on Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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