Last updated 8Aug19

Garmin Oregon 650 GPSr

Why Did I Get It?

• Screen readability in daylight
• Rapid map drawing
• More intuitive user interface
• Battery pack is field rechargeable
• The 650 has 3.5GB memory and included rechargeable NiMH battery pack, and camera (which might be of use); the 600 has 1.5GB memory and optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack.

Why You Might Not Want It

Touch screen, so you need gloves-off fingers (or very expensive gloves with conductive silver threads). Cold in the snow!


• Oregon slip case
• Upgraded OZtopo V4.0 to OZtopo V5.0 on a 16GB µSD card. This gives plenty of room to store other maps and BirdsEye imagery and leave the GPSr internal memory free to page map tiles.


There is a great aid at explaining all the settings on an Oregon 600/650 GPSr. Thanks to Mike B for telling me.

1. Position Format and Datum:
Setup, Position Format, Position Format, MGRS
Setup, Position Format, Map Datum, WGS 84
2. Customise the Trip Computer page to show lat/lon position for rescue services:
Trip Computer, Unlock Data Fields, select field to be changed/added, Location (lat/lon), Lock Data Fields
3. Power saving:
Setup, Display, Battery Save, On
Setup, Display, Backlight Timeout, 15 Seconds
Double tap (see below) the Power key and set the display intensity slider low
Turn off all Tones except Proximity Alarm and Approaching Alarm.
4. Identify your ownership:
Open internal memory drive:\Garmin\startup.txt in Notepad and modify the contents (5 lines are available).
5. Other navigation settings:
Setup, Heading, North Reference, User, Magnetic (this automatically sets grid-magnetic angle to 12° around Canberra)
Setup, Heading, Display, Numeric Degrees.
6. Map settings:
Setup, Map, Orientation, Track Up
Setup, Map, Advanced Setup, Detail, Most.
7. Customise camera:
Setup, Camera, Save Photos To, Data Card (If Present)
Setup, Camera, Photo Resolution, 8MP.
8. Satellite acquisition:
Setup, System, Satellite System, GPS + GLONASS (this uses more power).
9. Customise the Compass page:
Use the Small Data Fields dashboard and display – Location (selected), Bearing, Waypoint at Destination and Distance to Destination (these last 2 fields are meaningful if navigating to a waypoint; if navigating a route, change them to Waypoint at Next and Distance to Next).
10. Customise the Trip Computer page – this page can have multiple pages with multiple fields:
Change the Dashboard to Compass. Location, Bearing, Waypoint at Destination, Distance to Destination, Waypoint at Next, Distance to Next, Trip Odometer, Location (lat/lon) – see above, Total Ascent, Elevation, Total Descent, Time of Day, Compass Heading, GPS Accuracy, ETA at Destination, ETA at Next, GPS Signal Strength.
11. Customise Main Menu – to contain Map, Trip Computer, Where To?, Compass, Waypoint Manager, Track Manager, Setup, Mark Waypoint, Current Track, shortcut to Toggle Screen Lock. Also, set the Main Menu dashboard to Status (Setup, Main Menu, hamburger, Change Dashboards, Status, back out). The Status dashboard shows signal strength, Date, battery level, time of day.
12. Customise Shortcuts – make a shortcut to Toggle Screen Lock.
13. Customise Power Key and User Key (because I’m paranoid about accidental function activation and button pressing (but the power and user key pressing is a lot more robust that the old 550):
Setup, System, Configure Keys, Power Key, Single Tap, Screen On/Off; Double Tap, Status Page
Setup, System, Configure Keys, User Key, Single Tap, Toggle Screen Lock; Double Tap, Where To?; Hold, Camera.

Locking the GPSr against accidental screen knocks

Set up the Main Menu with a shortcut to Toggle Screen Lock. Tapping this will lock the screen, but not unlock it (perhaps it shouldn’t be called Toggle Screen Lock because you wouldn’t want an accidental bum,p to unlock the screen). Unlock the Main Menu by pressing the customised User Key. To lock/unlock any screen, press the customised User Key.


The battery pack is field rechargeable, including whilst the GPSr is in use. When it is fitted, the AA Battery Type field via Setup, System is not available. When the battery pack is replaced by another type of battery (eg. Alkaline, Lithium, NiMH, Precharged NiMH), the correct battery type should be configured. As I understand it, this setting affects the correct operation of the battery level display.

However, I now use Panasonic eneloop pro 2550mAh rechargable batteries. They are very good. (Note that you cannot recharge these batteries in the GPSr. It’s only the Garmin battery pack (batteries + some electronics) that can be recharged in the unit.)


(a) OZtopo V5.0. Located on µSD card:\Garmin\. 2 files, ∼1.48GB. OZtopo can be installed on PC via the setup on the purchased card into C:\Program Files (x86)\OZtopo V5.0 (along with …\OZtopo V4.0 and …\OZtopo V3.0 for any comparisons) and is visible in BaseCamp.
(b) Open Street Maps AU NSW – no cost. Downloaded the New South Wales file from Unzipped and copied the 4 img files to µSD card:\Garmin\. ~18.2MB. The OSM-AU Standard New South Wales 1-4 maps are visible to BaseCamp as long as the GPSr is USB-connected (but see 5 below).
(c) BirdsEye Imagery. Purchased the $39 annual subscription from The imagery is downloaded via BaseCamp – see the instructions at The imagery can be stored in both the BaseCamp library and downloaded to µSD card:\Garmin\BirdsEye\.
(d) Custom Maps – no cost. A source of custom map sections is the NSW Land & Property Spacial Information eXchange at Take a screen capture (eg. Windows 7 Snipping Tool) of the area required and store as a jpg. Follow the instructions at or Store in µSD card:\Garmin\CustomMaps\. A custom map is visible to BaseCamp as long as the GPSr is USB-connected.
(e) Maps in BaseCamp when GPSr not USB-connected.
(1) OZtopo – easy. Just install on PC via the setup on the purchased card into C:\Program Files (x86)\OZtopo V5.0. Previous V4.0 and V3.0 versions are also there. They are visible in BaseCamp. BaseCamp is able to access maps from your GPSr when it is connected in USB Mass Storage mode. But access is slow and you may not want to connect your GPSr every time you use BaseCamp. How can you see your maps? Thanks to hints at, here’s a solution (or you can follow the full-blown remounted ‘removable media’ virtual disk solution). Basically, any removable drive (eg. USB flash drive, but not external hard drive) is recognised by BaseCamp and it will not be distinguished from a GPSr. So put your (.img) maps on a USB flash drive in a root:\Garmin directory.
(2) Open Street Maps AU NSW – easy. Just copy the files to the flash drive
(3) Other .img map files – easy. Just copy the files to the flash drive.


When geocaches are downloaded from they arrive as .gpx files with a 7-character filename (if multiple caches with ancillary waypoints such as parking are downloaded, the package may arrive as a .zip file). I used to rename these files (eg. 500 centred on Yankee Hat.gpx) to distinguish them on my PC. However, when such a file was copied to  ..\Garmin\GPX in the GPSr for use, the caches were not available. Lesson: don’t change the gpx filename!!

Use GarminExpress (replaces WebUpdater) to manage software updates for your Garmin GPSr. Load onto PC from Also facilitates downloading geocaches to the GPSr. In your account, add required caches to a list. Download the list via GarminExpress.