Monday, July 9, 2018

Battery for Garmin Glo

Need a new battery?

I've used a Garmin Glo Bluetooth GPS for a few years now.  It does a great job giving a fast, accurate GPS position to an iOS or Android devices and is very useful for things like in-aircraft applications, where you may want a more sensitive GPS receiver than the one in your phone.

It's available in new and refurbished versions online for reasonable pricing, typically less than US$99.  However, after a few years, the batteries fade, and if you haven't used it for awhile, the battery may not work at all, due to a cut-off circuit within the battery in case of very low voltage.  To get around this I've "jumped" the battery (using a 9V Ni-Cad) battery to get it working again, but often when you're at this point, you probably just need a new one.

That said, it's almost impossible to find a replacement battery for it.  The local Garmin distributor here in Hong Kong won't sell it, Garmin USA doesn't sell it, and even if you find one online, chances are the seller won't ship it to you due to dangerous goods restrictions on Li-Ion battery shipments.

The spare battery has had different part numbers over the years, all of which are discontinued or seem impossible to find:

Well, here's the secret:

It turns out that you can use a standard battery for a Nokia 3600 phone, and it'll work perfectly.  Chances are your local phone shop has dozens of these on-hand and can't sell them because no one uses these old, but once extremely popular, Nokia phones.  The Nokia part number is NK3600, and it is the exact same spec as the Garmin Glo battery.  Now you know! Use this information at your own risk, it's not something that Garmin saw fit to tell me, but it just works.

Garmin Glo Battery Issues and Status Indications

While troubleshooting my previously dying Garmin Glo battery, I noticed some not-so-intuitive LED status indications.  Aviation retailer Transair, has a good video that demonstrates this. It is very easy to mistake the "battery faulty" indication for the "battery charging normally" indication.

Green/Amber LED
  • Green-Green-Amber lights blinking: normal charging.  After a full charge, the LED goes off completely and you can unplug the mini-USB charger. A good battery should give you 10-12 hours of use.
  • Green-Amber / Green-Amber (alternating) lights blinking: fault with the battery, you probably need a new one.
  • Green solid light: GPS is connected to satellites.

Blue LED
  • Blue light blinking: looking for a Bluetooth device to pair with.
  • Blue solid light: paired with said device.