August 28, 2006

eTrex Click-Stick Fixed

My Garmin eTrex Venture has been pretty much unusable for at least 6 months now due to the rarely working click-stick, and only mostly working screen. Every time the Ebenezerling suggests we "go find a geocache" my mind turns to doing battle with the eTrex. Consequently we haven't been caching for a while.

I decided it was time to either get a new GPS, or fix the old one.

Given that I'm still hanging out for a Venture Cx, here's the procedure for fixing it. Note that the B&W eTrex Legend suffers from the same problem, and so the fix is probably the same for the Legend. Don't try this if your unit is in or close to warranty!

I carefully removed the rubber seal, and then didn't wash the sticky stuff off my fingers before proceeding. Then carefully removed the clear tape around the unit, and carefully prised the 5 clips open (2 on each side, and one at the bottom).

There is a ribbon cable connecting the screen & click stick to the rest of the unit. I think the problem with the click stick & screen is that this cable comes loose, or the connections start to get a bit dodgy (which is why a good thump can get it going again), rather than a problem with the click-stick itself.

I Carefully (there's that word again) removed the little clips at the side of the ribbon cable and removed the ribbon cable. Then I cleaned the end of the ribbon cable with some suitable cleaner (I only had metho) and stuck it back in. I did up the little clips at the side of the cable again to hold it in place.

A quick test (YES - she works again!) and time to stick it all back together again. I'm told that if you got the tape that was under the sticky stuff in a horrible mess you can replace it with electrical tape, but mine was pretty much in tact, so I re-used it. I put the rubber seal back on making sure that the buttons on the outside line up with the buttons on the inside.

Next I cleaned off all the sticky stuff on the outside that wouldn't have got there if I had washed my hands straight after taking off the seal, and before handling the screen and poking at the eTrex's innards.

It is so strange to have it working (reliably!) again. It feels like I have a new GPS!