My Running Headlamp: the Princeton Tec Eos

Last September, my old Princeton Tec Matrix’s battery compartment clip broke and the tilt adjustment wore out (would not stay up). While annoying, I hadn’t really ever used the Matrix for running. November came, and with it so did the early darkness of late fall nights. It was time to get a new headlamp. While I’d love to have a Princeton Tec Apex, it wasn’t within my price range, and is a little heavy to wear while running.

After some searching, I narrowed the field to two candidates, the Princeton Tec Remix and the Princeton Tec Eos. Both are LED based headlamps, the Remix has three low power “indicator” LEDs plus a 1W high power LED. The Eos has only the high power LED. While I would like to have the LED setup of the Remix, it has one fatal flaw. The Remix does not have a gasket seal, and thus it is not waterproof. As my previous two headlamps were waterproof, this single feature sold me on the Eos.

The Eos falls under the “professional” branch of Princeton Tec’s products. Members of the “professional series” are waterproof to IEC Level 2 (down to 1m). This means they all have a rubber o-ring, something none of the “the family” members such as the Remix have. Additionally, members of the “professional series” feature regulated output.

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Forerunner

Never trust the weather forecast, very rarely is it correct. Today, day number 5 or 6 in the rain-a-thon that we Minnesotans have experienced turned up fairly dry. The sun even managed to peak out from behind the clouds a few times today. Thus, at 47 degrees and mostly cloudy, today was the best day for running in the past several days. Seizing the opportunity to try out the birthday gift from my parents, I went for a quick 20 minute run.

It turns out, if I had done an out-and-back of my route, I would have covered 3 miles. I did not realize that the start lap button must be pressed before the Forerunner will record the run, I ran over a mile before figuring that out. Hence, the GPS recorded 1.72 miles but the actual route was more on the lines of 2.72 miles according to walkjogrun.net (a very cool site by the way).

The GPS is not sensitive to running under power lines, which is good, but I can not say the same for the heart rate monitor. From the get-go it said I was at 100BPM or higher (not even close to resting heart rate). Most of the time it though I had a heart rate near 190BPM, and for a good stretch of time it was at 204BPM. Doing quick math, 204BPM is near to what my max heart rate should be. This high of a heart rate is not possible to sustain for extended periods of time with out heart failure. According to this, I should have collapsed during my run. After the run I did a little pulse vs. heart rate monitor and found it off by nearly 40BPM. For one moment I was able to get it measure an accurate heart rate of 74BPM at rest, it then spontaneously jumped to double that. The heart rate monitor will need to be figured out eventually, but for now every thing else works.

When just looking at the Forerunner, it looks a bit awkward due to the L shape of the body that wraps partially around the arm. When running that oddity makes sense, as the GPS antenna is located in this part and the way human arms move when running this part of the GPS is always facing the sky. The weight of the Forerunner, which is not that high to begin with, is transparent while running. Design wise, Garmin did their homework with this GPS and created a very nice product.

The feature lacking Garmin Training Center (GTC), which allows the transferring of data to and from the GPS, is basic but useful. GTC creates nice graphs and has data/lap view and statistics. Its mapping is practically useless as at anything under 1 mile = 1 inch scale is considered over zoom and has literally no local roads, what it does do though is plot your course on the map accurately. Hands down, the best feature of GTC is the import/export data options. Data output is in a nice XML formatted document, which will make life easy for me when writing WP Trainer. With this one run and the data from it I will be able to begin writing WP Trainer as no “hacking” of the export files will be necessary, and my experience with RSS will really help here as both are XML documents.

The Good:

  • Fits well
  • GTC software exports a XML formatted document
  • GPS locks in quickly after initial region discovery, even locks in when indoors in some cases
  • Accurate even in non-ideal conditions
  • Software and firmware updates are easy
  • Not-evil software, easy to disable windows tray icon

The Bad:

  • Had to install a firmware update for the new day light savings time
  • Heart rate monitor is inaccurate

The Ugly:

  • GTC software maps leave much to be desired, Garmin could learn a lot from Google Earth

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Introducing WP Trainer

Today, the birthday present from my parents arrived, a Garmin Forerunner 305. Someone on the track team, during my senior year, had one of the old 101s that weighed three times as much and are twice as big. But, despite its size it worked well. In fact, it worked well enough for the cross country coaches to purchase two 201s for the use of the team for keeping track of distances ran, instead of those running wheels. That’s where the idea to get it for me came from.

The 305 includes a heart rate monitor and records it along with time and other various stats during a workout. I have yet to try it out but tomorrow I’ll take it for a test run. Tonight, I charged it and installed the Garmin software, which defiantly feels lacking. What is good about it though is data exporting, and with that a WordPress plug-in will be made for keeping track of runs. Naturally, this won’t be available for some time, but it will be a free and powerful alternative to MotionBased.

WP Trainer will first work with the Forerunner series training GPS, but eventually support for the iPod + Nike setup, which is a really neat setup and defiantly less expensive as well. iPod + Nike has one drawback however, as it is not a GPS system, route tracking will have to be manually done by the user. With the Forerunner units, uploading the exported data should allow an auto generation of a path overlay on top of Google maps. Since I do not own a iPod or the Nike + iPod Sport Kit this setup will not be the emphasis of this plug-in (initially that is, I’m sure I’ll have access to the needed equipment when the time comes). More details will be revealed as I begin to implement things. This blog will be the test bed for this plug-in so if things get flaky that probably is the plug-in.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Prepare For CSS Nakedness

Tomorrow this site will not look the same as it usually does. In participating in CSS Naked Day I will be removing my CSS file to demonstrate how this site conforms to xHtml 1.1 standards and degrades gracefully due to standards compliance. Well it seems the leader of this has jumped the gun, or is in Europe, because it isn’t the fifth yet here in the USA.

Our track meet scheduled for Thursday has been rescheduled for tomorrow, to avoid expected foul weather. This is just great since we had a hard workout on Monday and we won’t be fully recovered on Wednesday. It really doesn’t matter as it is the first meet of the season.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]