The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

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gonehuntin'
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The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by gonehuntin' » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:28 am

The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake.

I'm an old duffer so I'm always trying to increase efficiency and simplicity when I hunt. I was running multiple dogs with three collars on them: Astro 320, Pro 100 and an ID collar. I could easily have omitted the ID collar but I'm lazy and it doesn't interfere with anything so I generally just leave it on. With that combination when I hunted I had to carry the 100 transmitter and the Astro receiver, and the dog's had two collars on, one training, one locating. I thought that there must be a better way for both of us. Enter the Alpha, the all in one, do-it-all unit. I read the reviews and instructional DVD's and headed off the the store with my $1,100.00 (the base unit an two locator collars).

I have used Astro's since their introduction and TriTronics ecollars for over 40 years so learning the Alpha was reasonably painless though typically, they are short on instruction on some programs. I set the unit up for two dog's and happily bounced off to the woodlands. I knew the dog's would appreciate having only one instead of two large collars clanking around their necks and I was happy with only one transmitting-receiving unit. So I thought. Problems from the start.

I set the unit up with one screen for each dog. On each screen I had two different levels of stimulation and a tone button. Seemed foolproof until I started into the woods. I carry the Alpha in a shoulder holster so I can hear the beep on windy days. Great system and I've done it that way for many years but not so great with the Alpha. The Alpha is a touch screen unit so every time the screen is touched, it changes screens. When it does this it may delete a dog, may change dog's, may change to any one of a number of different screens. If you go to correct a dog, you may be correcting the wrong dog.

The answer to these woes is to LOCK THE SCREEN. This works very well except that then to change dog's or screens, the screen first has to be unlocked. This makes the unit very, very, slow to use and many times correcting at the instant of infraction is impossible. It is also reasonably difficult to change levels of stimulation being a touch screen and not a toggle.

Now, think winter. Try operating the unit with gloves on. It is nearly impossible. I ended up taking off my gloves to operate the unit, a real pain in the posterior. It seems this unit was designed by a person that has never hunted or trained a dog in their lives. Nothing about the unit is user friendly. All Garmin would have had to do was simply make the screens operate by toggle and not by touch. The touch is a massive mistake.

Now, I'm stuck with an $1,100.00 mistake. If you only have one dog and if that dog is trained, the unit is great. Just lock the screen and go. If you have multiple dog's you are going to be a very unhappy person. As a pure training collar, it's a piece of garbage. I've thought of selling mine and going to the 550+ but I need GPS so I'd be right back to carrying two units and the dog's wearing two collars.

All in all, this is a very poorly thought out unit for the multi dog person.
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cjhills
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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by cjhills » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:03 am

I absolutely hear you and agree with every thing. I test Garmin products So I did not have to dump $1100. Personally I did not care a whole lot for the 550+ either. I go with the three collars. I only need the gps when I hunt, not when I train. I really don't have a problem with the 2 transmitters because I almost never need the correction on the older dogs. I use the field 70 and have since it first came out. It does everything I need and is cheap. Lately I have had issues with the P10 recievers not working.
Only other problem is making sure it is on the right dog. But that is the same with al multiple dog collars...... Cj

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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by marwei » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:46 am

I had all the same problems, a friend showed be his 550 plus and I bought one. Great unit and syncs to your existing collars. Toggles between 3 collars (I only use 2). No mistakes and still has GPS screen that changes to the dog you want, same as the buttons. I do miss the audible tone on the alpha when dog points, it does vibrate and indicate on the screen for stopped dog but I don’t always notice. Last week I carried the alpha in my breast pocket while the 550 was in the holster. I would hear the tone and could look at the 550 to locate my dog. Worked great. Dogs only had one collar and carrying two transmitters was not a big deal. It was another $400 but better than throwing the alpha away and starting over.I do remember the days when it was just me, the dog and an old shotgun, no collars.....wonder how I ever found my dog

averageguy
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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by averageguy » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:57 pm

I have lived your pain GH, having used my Alpha for a few years prior.

I bought the 550 Plus transmitter only, paired it with my existing collars and solved my problems.

If you did the same you would have the training features you want, a simple way to handle and track each dog with flip of a toggle switch on the 550 Plus (with or without gloves easy either way) and you can still carry and run your Alpha for full GPS at the same time. (The Alpha and 550 Plus transmitter can run on the same collar unit at the same time. You will be packing two transmitters but other than that it solves your problem.)

So one ecollar on your dog, full GPS, Full training collar features and simple tracking and dog handling between dogs.

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gonehuntin'
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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by gonehuntin' » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:22 pm

averageguy wrote:I have lived your pain GH, having used my Alpha for a few years prior.

I bought the 550 Plus transmitter only, paired it with my existing collars and solved my problems.

If you did the same you would have the training features you want, a simple way to handle and track each dog with flip of a toggle switch on the 550 Plus (with or without gloves easy either way) and you can still carry and run your Alpha for full GPS at the same time. (The Alpha and 550 Plus transmitter can run on the same collar unit at the same time. You will be packing two transmitters but other than that it solves your problem.)

So one ecollar on your dog, full GPS, Full training collar features and simple tracking and dog handling between dogs.
At least my dog's would be more comfortable. :( :(
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by Bowguy » Sat Jan 26, 2019 6:23 pm

Idk guys. Best thing I ever bought and I’ve had all sorts of collars. Running bird dogs is typically lower impact than rabbit dog cover. I put the unit on my neck on a harness. My lead is across my shoulders. I use the clip on my gizmo vest to attach to leash so it doesn’t flip and I’m good. Ran 5-1/2hrs today w multiple dogs utilizing multiple screens n no probs. A gizmo vest is a protector for guys that aren’t familiar

Dakotazeb
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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by Dakotazeb » Tue May 07, 2019 10:43 am

I have the Alpha. You can set it so the handheld will emit a tone and/or vibrate when the dog goes on point. My biggest complaint is that the tone is so faint I can't hear it in the field and the vibrate is so weak I can't feel it unless I'm holding the unit. So, for those of you with the Pro550 Plus, does it also sound a tone and/or vibrate when the dog is on point? And if so, is the tone louder and the vibrate stronger than that of the Alpha? Thanks.
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birds
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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by birds » Wed May 08, 2019 2:36 pm

The 550 plus indicates a point on the screen with a STOP sign shaped symbol. No tone or vibration.

work765
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Re: The Garmin Alpha; An Expensive Mistake

Post by work765 » Thu May 09, 2019 6:05 pm

I would love a firmware update that gives the 550 plus a tone option for when on point. The vibrate isn’t going to help If the handheld isn’t being held or resting on your body.


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