Product: Earthmate GPS PN-40 (TOPO
Year of Manufacture: December 2008
Manufacturer Website: www.delorme.com
MSRP: $399.95 USD
Listed Weight: Without
batteries 5.35 oz (152 g); with Li-Ion rechargeable
battery (not included) 6.7 oz (190 g); with alkaline
AA batteries 7 oz (198 g).
Actual Weight: Without batteries 5.35
oz (152 g); with alkaline AA batteries 7 oz (198 g).
Lanyard Weight: 0.20 oz (5.67 g)
1-GB SD Card Weight: less than 1 g
2.43 in x 5.25 in x 1.5 in (6 cm x 13 cm x 4 cm) measured
Color Tested/Available: Orange/Black
My Measurements: Identical to the manufacturer;
2.43 in x 5.25 in x 1.5 in (6 cm x 13 cm x 4 cm) measured
Display Measurements: 2.2
in (5.59 cm) (measured on diagonal from corner to corner)
Warranty: The PN-40
is warranted against defects in materials and workmanship
for 1 year from the date of purchase. More details are
included in the user manual and the manufacturer's website.
The packaged contents of the Earthmate PN-40:
- Rugged Earthmate GPS-PN 40
- Topo USA 7.0 DVD Software (with complete U.S. integrated
topo and street maps, plus four million places of
- Topo USA 7.0 Detailed Maps (Eastern, Central, West
- Supplementary data certificate for USGS QUAD, satellite
map and NOAA chart online downloads (value $40.00
- USB data transfer cable for PC/GPS data exchanges
- Neck lanyard
- Two AA batteries
- 1-GB SD card
- Quick start guide
- Owner's manual (93 pages)
- IPX-7 waterproof standard, impact-resistant rubberized
- Super high-sensitivity 32-channel Cartesio chipset
by STMicroelectronics, dual-core processor
- Position accuracy < 3 m (10 ft)
- 3-axis electronic compass with accelerometer; barometric
- Built in antenna
- Audio- for buttons, directions and alerts
- 2.0 USB data transfer
- 500 MG of internal flash memory available in addition
to the pre-loaded world base map. Holds up to ten
tracks (10,000 points per track); 1,000 user-defined
waypoints; and 50 routes. SD slot also available.
- Supports SD and SDHC memory cards; up to 32 GB
- Display as stated by the manufacturer: Sharp high-resolution
2.2" (65K-color Transflective TFT color display
(220 x 176 pixels)
- Operating temperature range is -4 F (-20 C) to 167
F (75 C)
Topo USA 7.0 Software:
The Topo USA 7.0 software is to create projects that
contain waypoints, routes, tracks, and maps that can
be later transferred to the PN-40. This program can
also receive waypoints, routes, and tracks that are
created directly on the PN-40. The software program
has a getting started guide displayed by default when
the program starts. The links on this secondary screen
were very helpful for me to understand how to use the
Operating System: Windows Vista with 512 MB RAM; US
Version Windows XP/2000 SP3 or later with 128 MB RAM.
Hardware: DVD-ROM drive; Intel Pentium III or equivalent
900 MHZ or higher processor; 1 GB of available hard-disk
space; 3-D capable video card with 32 MB VRAM.
Impressions and Getting Started
I have never used a DeLorme GPS and I was very pleased
with my initial use of the PN-40. I also have never
used a GPS device that I could download maps to. That
is partially the reason why I lost interest in using
The PN-40 case is appears to be durable and rugged.
The black buttons on the unit contrast very well with
the orange case. The color screen is pleasing to my
eyes and is large enough for me to read the various
screens without squinting my eyes. I found that on the
"Device Setup Page" I could change the color
scheme for the display and the back light intensity.
The PN-40 comes preloaded with maps showing overview-level
of world coverage, and cover for the United States for
interstate, state, and major roads. The additional maps
that can be transferred into the PN-40 are to obtain
a more detailed view. The instruction manual provided
with the PN-40 is very detailed and information on all
the screens and functionality.
I perused the manufacturer's website prior to and upon
receiving the PN-40. The website has a plethora of information
regarding the hardware specifications and the technical
functions/specifications of the unit. There is detailed
information on the various maps that the PN-40 can display
and information on the Map Library subscription. The
Map Library annual subscription is $29.95 USD and enables
the subscriber to download an unlimited amount of maps.
The website also has downloadable PDF files for the
"Getting Started Guide" and the user manual.
There are also some additional accessories that can
be purchased for the PN-40. I have already ordered a
carrying case and I am thinking about ordering the handle
bar mount for my mountain bike.
Upon receiving the PN-40 I first
took a look at the "Quick Start Guide"
and I followed the directions to set up the GPS
unit. The back of the unit has two D-rings on
the back cover that hold it in place. The D-rings
are loosened by turning them counterclockwise
like a traditional screw. Once the cover is removed
the battery compartment is exposed and the SD
card holder is easily seen. To insert the SD card
there is a latch with the word "PUSH"
printed on it. This opens the card holder latch
and then the SD card is inserted into the slot
with the label facing up. To close the latch I
just gave it a gentle push down. The PN-40 came
equipped with 2 AA alkaline batteries and these
are inserted on top of the SD card holder. There
are polarity markings where the batteries are
placed inside the unit. Once the batteries were
inserted I placed the cover on the back of the
unit and closed it tight by turning the D-rings
The instruction manual states that the PN-40
"has a real-time clock that requires power
even when the device is powered off". It
is thus recommended to remove the batteries if
the device is not going to be used for a month.
This is indicated to improve battery life. I am
first going to assess how long alkaline batteries
work in the PN-40 and then I will see how long
my rechargeable batteries last. I have a set of
eneloop Ni-MH batteries and I am wondering if
they will work in the PN-40. According to the
user manual they should work just fine. However,
the battery type being used must be changed or
updated on the "Device Setup Page".
Still following the directions in the "Quick Start
Guide" the next step after the battery installation
is to connect the PN-40 to my computer. The USB cable
slides into a slot on the back of the unit above the
removable back. This is an eight mini-pin connection
type of a connection. The USB connection points on the
back of the PN-40 are gold in color and were easy for
me to identify.
After connecting the USB cable the next step indicated
in the "Quick Start Guide" was to "place
the map of the DVD for your region into your computer's
DVD drive" and follow the installation instructions.
Time to stop here. This did not work and I came to find
out that the Topo USA 7.0 program needs to be installed
prior to installing the DVD for my region. I am thinking
that this should have been stated in the "Quick
Start Guide" since it is a very important step.
So I installed Topo USA 7.0 on my computer and then
resumed installing the "West Region" DVD.
I live in California so this was the appropriate DVD
for me to install. There is a map on each of the faces
of the DVD's to indicate what states are included in
each region. In small print on the region DVD's it states
"install Topo USA program first". I think
this would have just been easier to state this step
in the "Quick Start Guide". I installed four
selection areas for California on a personal 2 GB SD
card. Those four maps did not fit on the internal memory.
I am thinking that I am going to install my maps on
SD cards and label them for the states I am using them
for. The "Connect to Computer Screen" appears
by default when the PN-40 is connected to a computer.
This can be changed in the device settings. "Data
Exchange" is the default option. This is to transfer
waypoints, tracks, and routes. Maps can be transferred
with this setting however, it is a slower transfer process
than using the "Map Transfer" method.
Next I took the PN-40 outside and pressed the power
button for about three seconds as indicated in the instructions.
The "Welcome Screen" appeared followed by
the "Satellites Page". I was near my house
with some buildings obstructing the sky, but I was able
to get a GPS fix in less than 5 minutes. The status
of the GPS fix is located in the left corner of this
screen. While on the "Satellites Page" if
the "Page" button is pressed the "Map
Page" will appear. The map will not display my
current location unless I have a 2-D or 3-D fix. The
default view when there is no GPS fix is my last GPS
location. Subsequent times after starting the unit I
had a GPS fix in less than one minute when I was stationary.
When driving in my car it took about 5 minutes to get
a fix and I assume this is because I was moving.
The PN-40 turns off with a two step button press. First
I pressed the "Power Button" and then I was
prompted to press the "Enter Button" if I
want to turn the PN-40 off. I like this feature since
I possibly will not have to worry about accidentally
turning off the unit prematurely.
The "Quick Start Guide"
also has general instructions on installing Topo
USA 7.0. After I got a GPS fix I went back to
my computer and connected the PN-40 with the USB
cable. I created a "map package" and
transferred it to the PN-40 using the "Exchange
Button" in the Topo program for a test run.
I also attempted to transfer waypoints and routes
and initially I received an error when I attempted
to transfer them. I found that I need to transfer
the map first and then the waypoints and routes
separately. This is also stated in the instructions.
Also routes, tracks, and waypoints can only be
transferred to the internal memory of the PN-40
and not the SD card.
I also activated my download certificate and
selected a few maps to download for an area I
would like to go biking. These maps took a significant
time to download. About an hour. There are several
types of maps that can be downloaded; color aerial,
USGS black and white aerial, USGS high-resolution
city color aerial, 10-meter color satellite, USGS
7.5 minute quads, and NOAA nautical charts. The
high-resolution city aerial maps are limited at
this point to only a selected number of metropolitan
areas. I downloaded this type of map and I was
limited to the number of quadrants I could download
each time. I in order to download this type of
map for an entire metropolitan area I assume it
would take up a large amount of memory and would
take a long time to download. I only downloaded
eight quadrants. This map view looks similar to
Google Maps as seen to the right.
The "Quick Start Guide" also has information
on the functions of the buttons on the front of
the PN-40 and information on the Map Library subscription
High-Resolution City Map
I have yet to calibrate the compass and
explore the other screen options on the PN-40. The SD
card slot "Push" tab became dislodged and
I had to send the device back to DeLorme to have it
put back into place. I called DeLorme technical support
and I waited on hold for only about 1 minute and they
were able to supply me with information on how to send
back the device and the turn around time should be about
three days after they receive it. The representative
was very helpful when I called.
Since I had to send the
PN-40 to DeLorme to have the SD card slot put back into
place at this point I can not include a report on all
the various screen functions of the unit. I will update
that information upon receiving my repaired unit.
So far I am pleased with
the PN-40. I am surprised how long it takes to transfer
maps to the unit. I have yet to try using a SD card
reader to see if that has a faster result for the transfer.
I was slightly intimidated
by the complexity of the unit and the process to create
a map package and use the Topo USA software. I am getting
much more efficient as time goes on. Reading the instructions
for the PN-40 and using the help functions in the Topo
7.0 software program has eased some of my growing pains
with this device. I am already feeling much more comfortable
and since my unit has been sent in for repair I have
been studying the manual and playing with the Topo software.
I sent the PN-40 two-day air to DeLorme
and I had the repaired unit back in my possession within
ten days. The SD card slot was replaced with a new working
door. The company sent me repair status updates and
tracking information via e-mail. The customer support
service on the phone was excellent. They handled my
calls quickly and assisted me in resolving my issues
as best they could over the phone. All the maps I had
loaded into the device prior to the repair were still
present. After receiving the PN-40 back from DeLorme
I was able to view the four main "pages" with
more detail and attention. This information is listed
below and is a continuation of my initial report.
Page Views on the PN-40
|The Satellites Page is the page that
appears after the welcome screen when the unit is
turned on. This page shows the current GPS status
of the unit. This includes the number of satellites
that data is being acquired from, the signal strength,
time (upper right corner of the screen), elevation
(lower right corner of the background area), and
the GPS accuracy (in the left corner of the background
area) when there is a 2-D or 3-D fix (upper left
corner of the screen). If there is no GPS fix "No
Fix" will be displayed in the upper left hand
corner of the screen. The battery life is displayed
at the bottom of the screen. The battery life is
indicated by bars and colors. Four green bars indicates
that the unit is fully charged. Three green bars
means that one quarter of the battery life has been
used. Two yellow bars signifies that one half of
the battery life has been used. One red bar indicates
that three quarters of the battery life has been
used. A low battery warning displays when the unit
reaches 5% of remaining battery life.
The Map Page shows various information
fields that can be customized. My map page is
set up to show the speed and heading (if the compass
is calibrated). I have used up to four information
fields with the PN-40 on this screen. I sometimes
use two information fields for "Speed"
and "GPS Elevation". The information
fields are easily changed on the "Menu Screen"
from the map page.
A green indicator arrow indicates there is a
3-D fix. A flashing red arrow means there is no
GPS signal. A yellow arrow indicates there is
only a 2-D fix. A blue arrow means that I am tracking
The Map Page can show various map layers and
map data types. Distance/area, waypoints, the
route, points of interest, coordinates, and a
map scale can be viewed on this page.
I found this to be the main page that I use when
hiking or mountain biking. The page can be zoomed
by using the "In and Out" buttons on
the face of the PN-40.
The Compass Page is a representation
of a floating needle compass. The compass can
be enabled/disabled and calibrated by using the
"Menu Screen". Step-by-step directions
are on the screen that helped guide me through
the calibration process. I made two attempts before
I got a successful compass calibration. After
the compass was calibrated it appeared to be accurate
as compared to a traditional compass.
The information fields can be customized on this
page by using the "Menu Screen" associated
with this page.
Trip Information Page
The Trip Information Page shown
to the left is from a recent mountain bike outing.
This page shows eight fields that can be customized
to show various information regarding a recent
trip. The information on this page can be reset
from the "Menu Screen" when desired.
I found this screen to be very helpful in giving
me detailed information on my trips.
There are many other "sub-pages", "screens",
and functionality with the PN-40 GPS unit. I described
the four main screens that are viewed when the unit
is turned on and the "Page Button" on the
face of the unit is pressed. More details on the functionality
of the unit can be found in the user guide.
During the past two months the PN-40 was used for hiking,
backpacking, finding points of interest, mountain biking,
and for directions while driving.
Red Rocks, Nevada and Zion National Park, Utah:
This was a four-day trip that consisted of assorted
approach hiking, climbing and day-hiking. Our first
day was rained out and got very cold but the next three
days were great. The temperatures ranged from 40 F (4
C) to 72 F (22 C) with elevations ranging from 3,600
ft (1,097 m) to almost 6,000 ft (1,829 m). Winds were
constant, but mild except for the first day when they
were very strong.
San Gorgonio Wilderness, California:
This was an over-night backpacking trip. We took the
Momyer Creek Trail. We set up camp at Saxton at an elevation
of 8400 ft (2560 m). The temperatures ranged from 39
F to 55 F (4 to 13 C).
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, California:
I spent a total of three days day-hiking at
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park during the testing period.
The day hikes ranged from 3-5 mi (5-8 km). I also used
the GPS while mountain biking in this wilderness park
on four occasions. The temperatures ranged from 65 F
(18 C) to 85 F (29 C) on my visits to the park. In the
mornings there was morning fog that quickly burned off.
Aliso and Wood Canyon Regional Park, California:
I used the GPS for one mountain bike outing
in this park and during a day-hike after my mountain
bike ride. The high temperature was around 77 F (25
The PN-40 was also used to measure walking speeds in
my neighborhood/near work; and in my car to find points
of interest and for navigation directions. I created
a map and waypoints for a July backpacking trip to Yosemite
National Park in California. This route and the waypoints
were created in TOPO 7.0 and transferred to the PN-40
device. The device was also used to view the tide information
at La Jolla and Newport Beach California.
in the Field
After using the PN-40 for the past two months I feel
comfortable enough using the device in the field without
having to refer to the instruction manual. This is not
an electronic device that I could just take out of the
box and use it without referencing the user guide. The
first few times using the device I took the instruction
manual with me at least to the car, or I regretted when
I did not have it available. Now I find the screens/pages
to be user friendly and some of them have similar functionality.
When I use the TOPO 7.0 program I still have to refer
to the user guide from time to time due to the complexity
of the program.
After completing my initial report I downloaded the
2.4 version of the firmware. I really did not notice
much of a change with this firmware release. More recently
I downloaded the 2.5 version of the firmware. This has
geocaching specific features, a memory management page
(a view of how much memory is used), some routing changes,
automatic enabled change to the device display colors
for day/night, a few user interface changes, and improvements
to the GPS functionality. After downloading and installing
the 2.5 version of the firmware it took me about 20
minutes to obtain a satellite fix after restarting the
unit. I thought this took a significant amount of time.
I am concerned with the battery performance of the
PN-40. When I use the device with freshly charged Ni-MH
batteries the batteries are 50% drained in about 3.5
hours. I have the settings correct on the battery profile.
I left the batteries that were only 25% drained according
to the screen and I turned the unit on after a week
and the screen was already showing 50% battery capacity.
I tried to use the unit at that point for about two
hours and the PN-40 shut down, due to the low batteries.
I did not hear the battery warning beep since the device
was in the side pocket of my backpack. I have heard
the warning in the past just not on this outing. The
alkaline batteries that were supplied with the unit
lasted about 7 hours while I was learning how to use
the PN-40, set it up, take it on a trial outing, and
upload the maps.
Generally I can get a 3-D satellite fix within a minute
or two after turning on the device. Sometimes it can
take up to five minutes. On my trip to Zion National
Park I was standing on the main canyon road and I could
not get a fix after waiting for about 15 minutes. I
then started to hike and I was able to get a fix after
about 1 mi (1.6 km) into the hike. But, then I shortly
lost the fix again and my route was no longer being
tracked. Near the top of Angel's Landing I was able
to get a 3-D fix. I am thinking this is because I was
not surrounded by canyon walls and I was near a summit.
I was frustrated in Zion National Park with the PN-40
in regards that I could not get a satellite fix that
would last for any amount of time. The time that was
spent attempting to obtain a satellite fix drained the
batteries during my day hike on Angel's Landing.
I am happy to report that I have successfully made
some valid "Tracks" with the PN-40. This took
me a few attempts because I was dealing with issues
of batteries draining, unable to have a satellite fix,
and plain old user error. With my user error experience
I failed to turn off the recording after my hike and
I got in the car and started to drive home. That skewed
the entire route and the trip information. One of my
most recent tracks I created I exchanged to the TOPO
7.0 program. I thought it was cool that I was able to
view the speed traveled on any part of the route and
the changes in elevation. I was also excited to be able
to successfully follow my "Track" on a later
visit to that trail. The PN-40 seems to be very accurate
as I paid close attention to the accuracy while following
I have used the PN-40 to locate POI (Points of Interest)
and Natural Features successfully. This is sometimes
handy when I want to find a natural feature near a trail
or when I have to find a gas station or a store when
I have used the PN-40 as a navigation tool in my car.
I used the "Find" function to locate a POI
or an address and then made a route from my location
to that POI or address. I found the screen to be small
for me to read while driving and I had no means to mount
the device to my dashboard to windshield so that the
screen can be more easily viewed.
I have yet to mount the PN-40 to my mountain bike handlebars.
I was thinking that I would purchase the bike mount.
While mountain biking and hiking I generally keep the
PN-40 in the side pockets of my backpack. I was surprised
that the PN-40 tracks and works just fine inside the
pocket. However, it can be difficult to reach without
taking off my backpack. I purchased a carrying case
for the PN-40 and it has a belt clip. I have used this
case fastened to the belt of my backpack. The PN-40
is easily accessible when using the carry case and I
can obtain a satellite fix when the unit is inside the
case. I do not know what to think of the lanyard at
this point. When I wear the device around my neck with
the lanyard it swings from side to side and hits me
in the chest. When I look at the screen I have to hold
it off center because the lanyard is obstructing my
During the past two months the PN-40 was used for
hiking, backpacking, finding points of interest, mountain
biking, and for directions while driving.
Wasatch-Cache Mountain National
Forest, Utah: I used the PN-40 here on
a total of four day hikes two of which turned into
night hikes. There were downpours of heavy rain in
the area and the PN-40 became wet. The hikes ranged
from 4 to 6 mi (6 to 10 km) in length. The temperatures
ranged from 40's F (7 C) range to the low 70's F
(21 C). I also used the PN-40 in Utah for car
navigation and to map out my bicycle century ride.
San Jacinto State Park, California: This
was originally a backpacking trip that turned into
a day hike, due to me having an injured toe. The high
temperature was 78 F (26 C). I used the PN-40 to store
two geocaches on this trip.
Yosemite National Park, California: Three
days backpacking in Yosemite National Park. The temperatures
ranged from 43 to 80 F (6 to 27 C) mostly sunny skies
except for a thunder, rain, and graupel storm our first
afternoon. The trails were mostly dirt, rock, and wet
rock down the Mist Trail. The trip was approximately
20 mi (32 km). The PN-40 was used for trail navigation
and for waypoints.
Mammoth Lakes Area, California: The
PN-40 was used at Mammoth Lakes and on day hikes around
Mono Lake. The elevation at Mono Lake was 6,382
ft (1,945 m). The high temperature was 84 F (29 C)
with sunny skies and I hiked approximately 3 mi (5
km) on this trip. The PN-40 was used for POI (Points
of Interest) and car navigation on this trip.
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park,
California: The PN-40 was used at Whiting
Ranch Wilderness Park while mountain biking two times
during the testing period.
The temperatures ranged from 70 F (39 C) to 92 F
(51 C). The GPS was mounted on my mountain bike with
a RAM mount.
in the Field
During my first trip to Utah I encountered problems
with the PN-40. I was using the device for car navigation
to find the location of the start of my bicycle century
ride. After the unit was on for about 60 minutes it
started to buzz, the screen was black, and the device
was very warm. I tried to turn on the PN-40 and it
would not turn on. I replaced the batteries and I still
could not get the unit to turn on. I contacted DeLorme
customer support and with no questions asked they issued
me a return authorization and I sent the unit back
In the meantime DeLorme sent me the TOPO USA Version
8.0 CD. I wanted to wait until I received the GPS unit
back from DeLorme before I installed the software.
After about 10 days I received the PN-40 back and
the unit turned on. However, when I attached it to
my computer via the USB connection the computer did
not recognize that the device existed. So, I contacted
DeLorme again and they told me that they would send
me a new PN-40 since I encountered so many problems.
I received the new PN-40 in about 5 days. This new
GPS was already configured for TOPO 8.0. So all I had
to do was install TOPO 8.0 on my computer. It would
not install and I had to contact customer service again.
I had to delete TOPO 7.0 and all my data and install
a patch to have the software run correctly. Basically
I was starting from scratch.
After getting the
waypoints for my Yosemite trip in the TOPO 8.0
software there was no issue transferring them
to the PN-40. I was familiar with the way that
TOPO 8.0 worked since it was similar to TOPO
7.0. I could not reproduce my saved "Tracks" but
at least I was able to add my waypoints and my
routes in again.
Lucky for me the new PN-40 is
working great. There has not been a single technical
issue to this date that is of any major relevance.
I like the "Midnight" color
scheme feature. When the sun sets I have the
screen set to be easier on my eyes at night.
The background is mostly black in color. The
only issue with this is that the "Map
Page" sometimes has the midnight background
but has the midnight color and the daytime colors,
as seen in the photo to the right. This occurs
when the map is zoomed in. I spoke to DeLorme
about this issue and they are aware of it.
The new geocaching features that are found on
the latest firmware and on my new device are
pretty neat. I would find them handy if I geocached
regularly. I can upload field notes, view the
notes, sort by name, and find nearby geocaches.
I am still learning all the capabilities with
using the unit effectively with geocaching.com.
The battery life with my replacement PN-40 is still
less than stellar. The batteries last from 6 to 7 hours.
Once in a great while they will last 8 hours. On one
of my trips I carried an extra set of batteries, but
for multi-day use I find this not practical.
I mounted the PN-40 to my mountain bike handlebars
using a RAM mount. The PN-40 sits nicely and snug in
the cradle. Even with the vibration from mountain biking
the PN-40 remains on and can record a "Track". The
screen is sometimes difficult for me to see while riding
due to the sunlight on the screen or because I have
to pay attention to the trail. But, when I stop I can
look at the PN-40 quickly on the handlebars.
The PN-40 became exposed to rain and submerged in
water. The unit is working just fine. No water leaked
into the housing or caused any damage to the buttons,
the USB connector, or the screen. I have wiped the
screen clean by using a damp cloth.
The PN-40 has proven to be accurate and easy to use
after getting myself acquainted to the functionality
of the device. I encountered several issues with my
original PN-40 that were very frustrating. However,
DeLorme customer support was a wonderful resource and
I believe they resolved my issues the best that they
could. I have not encountered any major technical issues
with my replacement PN-40. I am still concerned with
how long the batteries last in the device. The only
issues I encountered with obtaining a GPS fix were
after a firmware install and in the canyon country
concludes my reporting on the DeLorme PN-40.
Thank you DeLorme and backpackgeartest.org
for providing me with the opportunity to test the PN-40