Garmin's RINO-120, and 110-  New GPS models with FRS+GMRS Radio
Reviewed by Joe Mehaffey
(Revision: 14 November 2002)
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Typical R-110 Screen Pictures (no uploadable maps)         Rino 120 (8 meg map mem), Typical R-120 Screen pictures
(Photos courtesy Garmin International)

What is the RINO GPS/Radio System?
RINO is an acronym for "Radio Integrated with Navigation for the Outdoors".  The GPS itself is "akin" to an eTrex Legend,  but with changes and feature additions.   What can you do with a Rino that you cannot do with an eTrex LEGEND?  Two or more users with RINO GPS/Radios can turn on their units, transmit and view on the GPS screen the location of  other RINO users who share the same radio frequency (and privacy tones if used).  Voice communication between Rinos and between Rinos and radios in the FRS and GMRS radio services (using simplex ONLY) are also possible using the built in handitalkie.  Each RINO is "named" (e.g.  Joe,  Jack, Mac, George).  The map display will show the name next to the location of each "on frequency" remote user (see moving display above.).   RINO GPS/Radios (hereinafter, Rino) have a range of typically less than a mile using FRS (Family Radio Service,  A CB Radio service) and perhaps as much as two miles using GMRS (a service requiring a license from the FCC.)   Range in the GMRS can be extended much further in some areas by the use of RADIO REPEATERS in the GMRS service but UNFORTUNATELY, Rino units cannot transmit on the repeater input frequencies.  The Rino units have radio transmit power of 0.5 watt (FRS) and 1.0 watt (GMRS).  The small radio antenna (longest protrusion above)  provides about ( -7db)  gain which results in an ERP (effective radiated power) of about 200mw on the GMRS frequencies and perhaps 100mw on FRS.  Don't expect lots of "Rino-to-Rino range" with this power level.  Expect car-to-car radio range to be even more limited.  Note that the transmission of position IS NOT automatic and no provision for automatic transmission of position is available with Rino.  (This was a condition of the FCC authorization to use the FRS frequencies.)  A Rino user must press a button on his unit to transmit his location to other Rino users on the frequency.

The Rino 120 model pictured above offers a MAPPING capability for both MapSource (R&R, TOPO, World Map, Fishing Hot Spots (limited functionality), and marine maps (limited functionality)  and MetroGuide maps.  The Rino offers built in  (WAAS) which improves position measurement accuracy.  The Rino 110 (yellow unit above) offers the same features as the 120 model,  but has no memory for user loaded maps.  It does have POI, waypoint, route, and track memory similar to other Garmin NON-mapping models such as the eTrex VENTURE.

NOTE: Apparently some Rinos are being delivered with the contrast very low.  If you can't read the screen, press the power button once (do not hold) and then move the click stick  left or right on the click stick to increase/decrease the contrast level.  This will allow you to set the contrast without having to go through the menu sequences.

What's New and Different in the RINO compared with the eTrex LEGEND?
The Garmin eTrex RINO 110  (street price ~$165), RINO 120 (street price ~$225),  (LEGEND without radio sells for about $210 by comparison)  check latest prices (HERE),  is an "similar to" eTrex package with the addition of two "prongs".  The larger diameter, shorter prong is the quad helix GPS antenna while the longer prong is the 465mhz FM radio antenna.  RINO has a MY ID field into which the user inputs his ID for use in transmitting his location to other RINOs.  22 radio channels and 38 squelch codes are provided.  Certain keys may be "locked" to prevent unwanted keypresses.  (Garmin has put the POWER ON key (See photo above. button is  top, center in front of the antennas) where it will NEVER be pressed by accident!)  RINO has a status bar (top left of each screen) to indicate many modes of operation to the user at a glance.  The Satellite page shown indicates that the battery is at about 75%, Radio is ON, peer-to-peer location is ready to send, and GPS is ON and position is not ready.  However,  the symbols are so tiny that good eyesight is required to make use of this feature.  Overall size of the RINO models is 4.5"Hx2.3"Wx1.6"D, 7"high if the antenna is included. (11.4x5.8x4.1;17.8cm).  Weight is about 7.5 oz (236g) with three Alkaline AA cells included.  Screen size is 1.4"x1.4" (3.6x3.6cm),  160x160 Pixels.  The screen has slightly larger area as compared to the LEGEND screen which is 1.1x2.1inches (2.56sq in for RINO vs 2.31sq in for LEGEND.  Like most other Garmin handhelds,  RINO is rated waterproof to IPX7 which is 1 meter immersion for 30 minutes.  (Note: The IPX7 specification is designed to test for the ability to ACCIDENTALLY immerse equipment.  It is NOT designed to test if a piece of equipment is suitable to swim with!)

What about Rino's regular GPS features?
The Rino is essentially an eTrex  series unit and as such is designed with a "non technical" GPS user in mind.  However,  the Rino has a  complete GPS feature set for hiking and motoring (except for automatic route generation).  When MetroGuide maps are loaded, (R-120 only)  a FIND ADDRESS feature allows location of a particular street address and you can MANUALLY generate a route to this address by placing waypoints at each intersection on the way and connecting the waypoints into a route. It is also possible to automatically generate a route using MapSource MetroGuide and download this route with its waypoints into the Rino.   Standard features of Rino include: Sun and Moon predictor,  Regular and Scientific Calculator,  "Best time to hunt and fish", and  Games.  Garmin's new Fishing Hot Spots maps is compatible with Rino 120.

The RINO uses the same sort of "click stick" (rocker/push) switch for most functions as is used in the eTrex LEGEND/VISTA line.  However,  the switch "feels" much more positive in operation.  The click stick protrudes on about 1/16 inch beyond the case and as a result it is  difficult (for me) not to PRESS the click stick  when you really meant to PUSH  Right/Left/Up/Down.  I finally figured out that using my fingernail to make sideways motions of the "click stick" rocker and my finger to press down was the ticket (for me).  Note: Garmin says that later production models will have a click stick with a longer post to correct this problem.

Operation controls are quite sparse and an extensive menu system is used to allow user control of the (literally) hundreds of features and settings.  This works fine but plan to spend some time with the manual and the unit learning where all of the features are located.  I found the menu system pretty logical and easy to use,  but just don't plan to make settings in a hurry.  There is a PAGE key which is used to circulate through various screens such as: MAP, Nav, Radio, Routes, Satellite, StopWatch, Sun/Moon, Tracks, Trip Computer, Main Menu, Alarm Clock (with buzzer/vibrator).  Which menus rotate when the PAGE key is pressed are user selectable.  By this selection,  each user is able to put his most frequently used screens in the page rotation sequence while the rest remain in the main menu for access.

The Rino and other eTrex Series models in general have eliminated the "Remarks" feature from waypoint names.  However, the Rino allows 10-character waypoint names as compared to 6 characters in the eTrex and eTrex Summit.

TRACKLOGS: The Rino shares with other eTrex models  the highest resolution tracklogs while walking of any Garmin series.  See plots (HERE).   Compared to the Summit, the Legend default has less walking resolution.  However, the Auto tracklog interval can be set to "More Often" or "Most Often" to increase tracklog resolution.  Selected saved tracklogs can be displayed on the map page.    One saved track at a time can be converted to a Trackback.  Note:  With Rino,  LEGEND,  VISTA, and VENTURE,  the user has control of the tracklogger as to automatic/time/distance between log points unlike earlier eTrex models.  For some tests of the Rino's (like VISTA's)  accuracy with WAAS see (HERE).  See the TrackLog screen HERE.

ROUTES and MAPS: Rino 120 can upload ALL of Garmin's digital mapping products.   (Rino 110 has no built in our uploadable map capability.)  The Rino has no built-in automatic address-to-address routing.  However, with  Garmin's new MertoGuide USA,  MapSource CAN generate automatic address-to-address routes on your external computer which can then be uploaded into the Rino.  Delorme SA9 also can provide the address to address routing function for uploading into Rino models.  Routes can be loaded into both Rino models,  but only the Rino 120 has roadmaps.

Other new features of interest are:

A few less used features (or features Garmin considered non-essential for Hikers or Motorists)   are not present in Rino, LEGEND or VISTA.  battery hours timer,  and user timers,  are among the missing.   The 8 meg map memory in the Rino is adequate for many users but we wish it had 24megs like the VISTA.  (Personally,  Jack and Joe are never satisfied with the available amount of map memory.)

Rino Radio Features
Rino has a low power radio transmitter and a compact antenna.  Effective Radiated Power is estimated at about 200 milliwatts or less.  The antenna has a gain in the range of minus 7db.  The radio transmits and receives in the frequency range of 467mhz and  has a range of one mile or less on FRS channels (ch 1 to 14), 500mw transmit power, 100mw ERP, and two miles or less on GMRS channels (ch 15 to 22), 200mw ERP.  You are able to operate your Rino as a handitalkie on all 22 channels (provided you have a license for the GMRS frequencies).  If you try and operate a couple of units between two enclosed metal boxes (aka automobiles), you will get considerably LESS range.    Rino can operate simplex (transmit and receive on the same frequency) on the FRS band and on the GMRS band.  Rino CANNOT operate on GMRS repeaters and no facility is provided to enable Rino to transmit on GMRS input frequencies.  You CAN operate simplex on the GMRS channels.  If you do not have authorization and know what you are doing, stick to the FRS channels.)  Note also: DO NOT OPERATE UNLICENSED on channels 15 through 22. The FCC can fine unlicensed operators up to $10,000 per day for unlicensed operation on these bands.)

Rino has a unique "peer-to-peer" tracking capability.  With this capability,  two users in radio contact on the FRS BAND (only) can know precisely where the other is by keying up the transmitter and his location will appear on the MAP screen of other cooperative units on the same channel.  Rino users can also LOG contacts with other users in an electronic log file.  Note:  FCC rules DO NOT permit data transmission on the GMRS bands.  No.. We do not know how to modify a RINO so it will send data on the GMRC bands.

There is a bevy of special map and screen symbols used by the new radio capability.  The user enters his ID (name) and may select a symbol so as to uniquely show up on other Rino map screens when interrogated.  The map HERE shows on Jack's MAP SCREEN the location of Joe.   Rino radio features which can be turned on or off by the user include: Call Tone (sends attention tone to others),  Roger Tone (Issues when the talk switch is released.),  Ring Tone (Receiving Radio sounds tone when it receives a call on its channel and with the proper tone (when used),  Vibrator (Operates on (initial and at 45 second intervals) incoming transmissions),  Scramble (allows limited privacy of communication ON THE R-120 ONLY), VOX (when used with external hands free mic/earphone allows "speak to transmit" operation of the radio, Send Location (when activated,  button sends current location to other units.  There is a visual information screen on the radio page that (upon first glance) will take your breath.  It is quite complex but after spending a few hours with it,  you begin to remember what the various symbols mean and after that it is pretty neat.

The Rino has a 500 waypoint capability.  The "contact log" uses one of these waypoints each time a remote user calls in.  These contact log points are plotted on the map so the receiving station can plot the progress of the remote station.

Software Compatibility
The following programs are compatible with Garmin's data transfer protocol:  MapSource 3.0x, Street Atlas 8, National Geographic Topo!, Fugawi, MacGPS Pro, Ozi Explorer, G7ToWin, GARTrip, GPS Utility, and TrackMaker Ver. 10.   NMEA output  is 0183 Ver 2.3.
NOTE: Only Garmin maps in conjunction to MapSource are uploadable to Garmin  mapping GPS receivers.  No maps from any other vendor besides Garmin can be loaded INTO any Garmin GPS.  (Same with other consumer GPS vendors.)  No Scanned Map from any third party source can be loaded into any Garmin GPS receiver (Same with other consumer GPS vendors.)  No USGS DRG map can be loaded.  Delorme SA map products cannot load maps into any vendor's GPS receiver.

Well..  What do we think about Rino units?
Jack and I are pretty happy with these new models.  I have sometimes "fussed" at Garmin for designing a GPS and leaving out some very desirable feature.  Garmin did not do that on Rino.  Rino offers  almost everything a hiker/motorist needs to navigate.  The only missing ingredient for motorists is automatic address-to-address routing which is available in the Garmin ColorMap StreetPilot III.  The FIND (address/intersection/city/etc.) feature works as a nice substitute when used with MetroGuide maps.  For hikers,  we think Garmin has gone 100% and these units have all essential features and more.

Rino  units offer a wide range of useful features and or major criticism is in the usability of the click-stick used for most data entry.  Functionally, the rocker switch is a major improvement from the older eTrex and Summit EXCEPT that it barely protrudes from the case 1/16 inch and so (for us) it was almost impossible to input data by pushing the click stick up/down/right/left with your finger friction on the top of the stick.  Instead,  we had to routinely use our fingernail or some other "probe", such as a pen, to avoid pushing DOWN on the clickstick (give ENTER function).  We must say,  that an almost unbelievable functionality has been built into the Rino and to control it (mostly) through the clickstick is nice.  We wish it stuck up higher as on the LEGEND and VISTA.  (Late note:  We understand that later production Rino Click Sticks do protrude higher out of the case.)  We still miss the full page "highway"  display  of cross track error which is most useful in flying and marine uses but Rino does offer a cross track error feature.

On the other hand,  the "not included" features we like to use in other Garmin GPS versions  include:  external antenna port, waypoint averaging,  and internal wide range voltage regulator.   Map memory is 8 megs in Rino and is NOT expandable.  In compensation,  no competing consumer GPS has a capability of 20 routes with 50 waypoints in each route (except other eTrex models).

WAAS:  What is it and why would I want it.
WAAS is a position accuracy enhancement system being tested (now) for full deployment (in years to come) as a safe and reliable source of differential corrections and integrity monitoring for aircraft navigation system using GPS.  (See more information on WAAS (HERE).  In our "casual" testing,  we found that the LEGEND gave us routinely accurate measurements only as long as there were no surrounding trees.  There were  many "outliners" in this environment out to about 42 feet.  (That is why GPS accuracy is specified as 95% confidence.)   This accuracy with a good strong WAAS signal CLEAR OF TREES was about the same error as compared to  a DGPS equipped consumer model GPS receiver.  Note: Tests were made with the LEGEND and VISTA,  but the Rino has essentially the same receiver and functionality.

Note Carefully:  Your geographic location and terrain has EVERYTHING to do with WAAS working for you.  The availability of a WAAS satellite and data available is shown by a "D" on each satellite signal bar where satellite WAAS correction data is available.   Presently there are only TWO WAAS satellites.  ( Garmin units allow for 19 WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS unique GEO satellites as specified by the FAA.  They are depicted on the GPS as Satellite ID 33-51 which is actually a NMEA convention.  Each WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS satellite will have its own unique PRN code assigned from the list of 19.)  Sample plots of WAAS accuracy with the VISTA are shown (HERE).

One of these is low on the SE horizon from the Eastern USA and the other low on the SW horizon in the Western USA.  If you cannot see at least ONE of these WAAS satellites,  WAAS will not operate.  You can forget WAAS coverage at present in tree cover,  mountainous terrain,  or city canyons or in any other situation where you do not have a CLEAR view of one of the two WAAS satellites.   Note:  The FAA is expected to provide additional WAAS signals in the future,  but NO TIME FRAME for these additions has been established as of February 2001.  In "northern and middle America" Garmin advises that WAAS operation may be spotty at best until the FAA provides additional satellite signals. WAAS on the Rino at this time is not available with Europe's EGNOS, nor is it available outside the USA.

WAAS in a nutshell: It works just fine when you are in the clear with a good view of the WAAS satellites.  When you do NOT have a CLEAR view of  one of the WAAS satellites,  your Rino (or Legend or Vista) will operate as an ordinary GPS.  You should generally turn WAAS off to save power when you do not have a clear view of the sky to the SE or if you are outside the USA as WAAS ON outside the USA or when you do not have a clear sky view may acutally degrade accuracy.

Is it a quality, and functional GPS receiver for Hiking and Automobile use?
Yes.  We do agree that Rino  is <fairly>  easy to learn,  easy to use and fully functional in getting you from A to B.  Coupled with the radio features,  it is NOT as straightforward to learn as a LEGEND.   It is accurate and provides all necessary functionality for hiking use. Rino has 20 routes with 50 points each and up to 500 waypoints.  Rino has a 2048 (statements elsewhere saying it has 3000 are in error) trackpoint storage capability and you can save up to 20 compressed tracklogs with up to 250 points each.  Saved tracklogs can also double as Trackback routes once you have been along the desired path one time.   The extremely small package coupled with average battery life.  Battery life was measured at 15 hours for Rino with both GPS and Radio turned on.  Garmin specifies GPS only, 28 hours,  Radio only,  20 hours.

Rino has a computer interface (with a connector similar to the round connector in G-12xl BUT lots smaller) so a user can operate it with a mapping program such as Street Atlas 7/8, GARtrip, G7ToWin, or OziExplorer.

What about RF sensitivity and use under tree cover?
I noticed in comparative testing that our test Rino unit seemed to be somewhat more sensitive than some other Garmin eTrex receivers and seems on a par with other larger units.  The quad helix antenna (housing) appears a bit larger than usual.   Experiments under tree cover show all the eTrex models  to have roughly identical performance with other Garmin receivers in most situations.

Is Rino ROBUST?  Is it WaterProof?
The Rino is indeed a robust GPS receiver and like other Garmin units in current production,  it is rated for submersion to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.  We did not try the submersion but Garmin has a reputation of replacing or repairing any unit found to leak. Rino seems particularly robust and well sealed.

There has been discussion as to the degree of "waterproofness" of Garmin GPS receivers and especially the eTrex and Summit (Legend and Vista use essentially the same package).  Here is Garmin's statement on waterproofness:

Garmin reports (from a past review): "Our specifications for eTrex  (and Rino) are that they are waterproof per IEC529-IPX7.  IEC is a European specification published by the International Electrotechnical Commission.  It is very similar to the Japanese  Industry Standard JIS-8.   IEC529 gives an excellent breakdown of the relative degrees of protection against water ingress.  (IEC529 specification can be found HERE.)  (A layman's breakdown of IEC529 can be found HERE.)  By the way, our products are more waterproof than virtually everyone else's.  We even test 100% of them in our factory.  It costs a lot more, but we do it anyway to be sure what we ship meets IPX7.  We understand and acknowledge that the marine environment can be very harsh.  Even the brass contacts with nickel plating and gold over that will eventually corrode if left exposed to sea water long enough.  That's the best contact material available, and we use it on all our external power contacts.  All other marine electronic products in the $100-$500 class that we are aware of have this weakness.  IEC529 specifies that the immersion test is to be done in fresh water,  probably for this reason.  The harsh environment does occasionally cause failures and we continually work on improvements to existing products while introducing new ones."

"The classification of IPX7 is for temporary (i.e. accidental) immersion in water.  It is not for continuous underwater use.  If the end user is looking for something that can be used underwater continuously, they need to find something rated IPX8 or JIS8.  However, we are not aware of any GPS or fish finder that is rated for IPX8 in any price category.  You will see in the attached sections of IEC529, that  "The manufacturer of the equipment should be consulted to determine the degrees of protection available and the parts of equipment to which the stated degree of protection applies."  We recently did start to add to our packaging a note concerning the extended waterproofness of our battery compartments as the seal is rubber and over time and wear and tear, will not be able to maintain as good of a seal as when new.  We have a vested interest in presenting truthful, correct information to all of our current and potential customers."  (End of Garmin statement.)

Rino GPS Features and Specifications:

Specific questions answered:

The Rino 110/120 are  high quality and full featured (Rino 120 only,  MAPPING GPS) receivers that users will feel comfortable using for both automobile navigation and hiking and even recreational marine uses.  The user interface is a bit tedious to use,  but it gets the job done but you cannot be in a hurry.  The radio is a low power short range unit operating in the Family Radio Service (FRS) and the range will be less than a mile in most cases.

Technical Questions?  Comments? Additional Info we should add?          For: How Do I operate my GPS? See: news:sci.geo.satellite-nav
Contact: Joe Mehaffey

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