Delorme Earthmate PN-40 GPS: First Impression

by Brian Mullin on March 10, 2009


Delorme Earthmate PN-40 Review
I have been using the Delorme Earthmate PN-40 GPS a couple of times over the last month, but it has a learning curve on how to use the unit, so I have been a bit slow in getting decent results from the unit. It is not quite the plug and play my simpler Garmin Edge 305 was.

The unit is meant for a pretty wide swatch of users and is not a bike oriented like the Garmin Edge series, so there is a lot of bells and whistles that I most likely will never use.

The PN-40 is a color GPS and an altimeter, and has a new chipset (32 channel STMicroelectronics GPS chipset) and faster processor (dual core). The PN-40 is ruggedly built, and is waterproof. The unit uses 2 AA batteries and comes with an onboard 1GB of flash memory and can accommodate up to 32GB SD cards of additional storage. The PN-40 is lightning quick getting satellites, it almost seems like it does it instantaneously.

You first install the Topo USA 7 software on your computer and then load the PN-40 with the appropriate topographic information for where you will be riding. I added an additional 8GB SD memory card to give me as much memory as I thought I would need for my usual 1-4 hours rides. The Topo USA 7 gives some pretty amazing and very sharp topographic images, albeit it is a very confusing and cumbersome interface to perform simple activities. You hook the unit up with their proprietary cable that is a USB to Deloreme plug. They should have used the mini USB standard instead, it’s just another cable to have around.

After I figured out how to use the PN-40 the unit was much easier to use! You can either preload a route or use a track for navigation. I used the track navigation method, since I never know where I am going to go for a ride, it lets me just start a new trip, whenever I am ready.

I adjusted the display data to give me elevation, time, speed and distance on the bottom of the screen and the topographic map was on the top. I used the numerical data quite a bit while riding, but only glanced at the map on occasion to see where I was. The map was viewable most of the time, but going in and out of the tree’s made it hard to read sometimes, so I might adjust the output on the next and see if that helps.

When I completed my ride, I hooked the unit up to the computer and uploaded the data to the Topo USA 7 software.


The PN-40 cradle for the bike is made by RAM Mount company for Delorme, and although once installed it is stout, it is a royal pain in the butt to install. It is extremely difficult to use this mount on oversize bars, and it uses these small screws and nuts to clamp with, which I dropped multiple times and almost lost them. You have to pry open the jaws of life to get the mount over the bike handlebars, and I was afraid that it would break while I was installing it. Then I ended up having to add a layer of athletic tape on the thinner section of my bars so that it would fit properly. Not quite the perfect fit the Garmin Edge system has integrated into their units.

I like the PN-40, it is tough sucker that has a lot of nice features and the Topo USA software is very sweet interface. The PN-40 does suck batteries quickly, so I am having to recharge my AA’s after most rides, so I am looking into the optional rechargeable Lithium Ion pack to extend battery life during usage. I am looking forward to spending some more time with the PN-40.

Weights:

Earthmate PN-40 212.9g
RAM for bikes 77.6g

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Raymo853 May 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

Thanks for the quick review, especially the photo showing the Edge and the PN-40. The photo and mention about oversize bars shows me the Garmin mount is superior enough to tip my choice from the PN-40 to the Edge 605.

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Anonymous May 11, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Please — Raymo853

You will choose a GPS based on the 20.00 mounting bracket???? You must not care too much about how well the GPS works.. I’ve had a PN-40 for five months. Love it, best GPS I’ve ever owned. Viewing sat photos while in the woods is a great tool for finding and riding new trails. Buck up and spend the dollar to HomeDepot for longer screws if you need them for the mount.

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet May 15, 2009 at 5:32 am

On the MTBR.com forum there has been a thread with some people who use the Garmin mount, and it seems that the tab breaks, and then the GPS falls off, bummer! I have been lucky, 3 years and 500 rides it is fine. As a side note I took a good digger and hit the RAM mount pretty hard, it twisted a bit on the handlebars and got a scratch, it is the tougher mount.

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