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Old 07-21-2008, 05:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 36
Default garmin 396/496 "LOOK"

So for 3 or 4 months my Garmin 396 has had a hard time finding itself.
In the beginning if it sat unused for a couple weeks it took a while to find the satellites. Now if it sits for more than 3 days it would take several mins to find the satellites. (If your date and time on startup is wrong read on ) So I had enough after several calls to garmin and a few firmware updates and I decided to take a look and sure enough there is a MC621 Battery soldered to the CB inside the unit. This battery runs the clock in the unit so when you turn it on it will have some clue as to what satellites to find and where. I went to Radio Shack and bought a Wafer battery holder and 3v wafer battery and did my own upgrade. It is now a replaceable battery and all is well. I did find this link after the fact on the internet for a Garmin 276 battery replacement and it is the same for the 396.
I am sure as these units get older this will be an issue. I have a hanger neighbor that has the same problem with his 396 and we will do his next. So in a couple years when your 196/296/396/496 does this remember this link.....or send it to Garmin for $350 and a seven day turn around.
I did this on a Sunday and after a phone call today to Batterys Plus here in Lakeland FL I could have had a battery set up like the original for about 5 bucks (welded on solder tabs) ......but I think I will just leave mine as a replaceable.

**Just a note**My 396 was purchased as one of the first released a few years ago during OshKosh. YMMV

**Another Note** I asked the guy at Garmin today if his watch Battery Lasted 4 years when I called to see if they would sell the battery

I love my 396 and would have no other.....

Lakeland FL.

OskKosh Bound 7/25/08
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:09 PM
Walt's Avatar
Walt Walt is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Dallas/Ft Worth, TX
Posts: 4,981

Timely post for me anyway, I've been wondering why my 496 has been taking 5 or more minutes to find the satelites recently
Walt Aronow, Dallas, TX (52F) RV7A, IO360, C/S, 1500+hrs

EXP Aircraft Services LLC
Specializing in RV Condition Inspections, Maintenance, Avionics Upgrades
Dynamic Prop Balancing, Pitot-Static Altmeter/Transponder Certification
FAA Certified Repair Station, AP/IA/FCC GROL, EAA Technical Counselor
Authorized Garmin G3X Dealer/Installer
RV7A built 2004, 1700+ hrs
Website:, Email:, Cell: 972-746-5154
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:28 PM
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Geico266 Geico266 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Huskerland, USA
Posts: 5,861

Try pointing the antenna straight up, or better yet use the remote antenna. I've noticed it acquires sats faster straight up.
RV-7 : In the hangar
RV-10 : In the hangar
RV-12 : Built and sold
RV-44 : 4 place helicopter on order.

Last edited by Geico266 : 07-21-2008 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 07:12 AM
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Rick6a Rick6a is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Lake St. Louis, MO.
Posts: 2,346

Very interesting information. After 4 or so years of trouble free service, recently my 296 failed to acquire. I removed the unit from the plane and brought it home, anticipating sending it out for service. I did a net search and discovered that many, many owners experience similiar problems with older Garmin handheld units. The general consensus seems to point to the internal battery as the culprit and a $350 fee seems an exhorbitant price to pay for Garmin factory service. Taking a tip from one owner, I reset the unit using AUTOLOCATE. It took at least 15 minutes of searching, but the 296 eventually did "find itself" and now seems to be functioning properly again. I'm told that if the unit is not turned on more frequently now, I can expect the same thing to happen again. Naturally, I am now chary. After all, batteries do wear out.
Rick Galati
RV6A N307R"Darla!"
RV-8 N308R "LuLu"
EAA Technical Counselor
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:16 AM
spuds spuds is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Willis, TX
Posts: 26
Default Thanks

Thanks for the solution to the same problem many of us have encountered with the internal clock not running in the Garmin GPS's.

Garmin support either did not wish to "enlighten" us about the problem or the 3 tech representatives I spoke with had no clue. Which one do you think is more frightening?

Equally scarry, the problem wasn't recognized by many users, but considered normal ops.

Thanks again,

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Old 07-22-2008, 12:24 PM
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N941WR N941WR is online now
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: SC
Posts: 11,908

Originally Posted by CBRXXDRV View Post
I went to Radio Shack and bought a Wafer battery holder and 3v wafer battery and did my own upgrade.

Do you happen to have the Radio Shack part numbers for the holder and battery you used? My local Radio Shack can only seem to find stuff for cell phones unless I have the exact part number.

Bill R.
RV-9 (Yes, it's a dragon tail)
O-360 w/ dual P-mags
Build the plane you want, not the plane others want you to build!
SC86 - Easley, SC
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Old 07-22-2008, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 36

I used a larger CR1220 battery (3v) and battery holder. The holder is made to be soldered to the CB but I just added 2 leads and then put shrink tube over the whole thing after bending over the sharp points. Take a look around the case and plan ahead where the battery will go. With a little thought you can place this larger battery in the case off to one side (large cavity). I used the larger battery because that was the smallest holder they had in stock and I leave for KOSH this Friday and wanted it fixed NOW.

By the way my Battery guy told me the cross over for a MC621 is the #377 battery which he said is as popular as they get, but no holder, and he did not find it with the tails spot welded sure you use a 3v, make sure you get positive in the right spot and you can make it fit in the case and that is the fix.

Heck we build airplanes....this is easy

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Old 07-22-2008, 05:26 PM
Posts: n/a
Default OR - It May be Corrupted Software

On my 296, I had similar problems, but I was not convinced that it was a failure of the internal clock battery. A search on the net revealed that this symptom also is commonly caused by a corrupted internal file/table of some kind, usually in relation to a user-defined waypoint or other "saved" input of some kind.

The solution was a "hard reset" which - IIRC- was something like "push power, page and in" buttons all at once. Don't take my word - do a quick search and you'll find it. I believe some people have gotten this info/solution direct from Garmin tech support if they call up, also.

My 296 has been working fine after this simple fix.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:02 PM
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mannanj mannanj is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Mtns of N.E. Georgia
Posts: 1,322
Default Slow Acquisition

My 396 is doing the same thing. My solution is:

1. Turn on the unit.
2. Accept the conditions.
3. When it starts "Acquiring Satellites", press "MENU".
4. Scroll down to "New Location", press "ENTER".
5. Press "AUTO".

Generally takes less than two minutes, sometimes less than a minute to come up with usable nav info. (4 or more satellites.)

I do intend to replace the battery soon though, especially if the acquisition times get longer.
Mannan J.Thomason, MSGT. USAF (RET)
"Bucket List" checkoff in progress!

Last edited by mannanj : 07-22-2008 at 09:00 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:38 PM
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N908RV N908RV is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Warrenton, VA
Posts: 273
Default Quick Way to Auto-locate

[quote=mannanj;241816]My 396 is doing the same thing. My solution is:

1. Turn on the unit.
2. Accept the conditions.
3. When it starts "Acquiring Satellites", press "MENU".
4. Scroll down to "New Location", press "ENTER".
5. Press "AUTO".

I have the same problem everyone describes. Very annoying. After several calls to Garmin, I got the quick autolocate procedure from their tech area. Updating the firmware didn't make any difference, BTW. Am sure Mannan's works too, but this is easier to remember.

Here's what you can do if the date/time are incorrect - this works everytime in about three minutes:

1. Turn unit OFF
2. Hold (and continue to hold) the Zoom OUT buttom
3. Turn the unit ON (Continue holding the OUT button)
4. Once you get to the "I agree page", then release OUT button
5. "Enter" to acknowledge the agreement and from there the rest is normal. Mine usually reaquires in a minute or so. By the time I taxi to the run up area the unit has already aquired.

If the date and time do not match it won't auto aquire for a very, very long time - much longer than most people's patience level, so you need to force it with the above procedure.

Just turn the unit back off and then hold the OUT button while turning it on again and wait for the Agreement page before releasing it. That's it.

Rob Brooks
EAA Tech Counselor
Warrenton, VA

RV-8, QB completed, flown 750hrs and sold

RV-7, SB completed and flying Phase 2
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