Garmin fenix 5x auto-update stuck at 50%.

I just recently purchased a ‘Garmin fenix 5x’ smart-watch, with emphasis on sports features. And, to make the watch work as smoothly as possible, it was necessary to allow it to install its latest firmware version, which happens to be 20.0 at the time of this posting. But there was a problem. I was intending to use this watch mainly with the ‘Garmin Connect app’, available on Google Play, which communicates with the watch only via Bluetooth. (:1) Installing a firmware upgrade to an unknown, generic device, via Bluetooth, depends on how large a file-size the F/W upgrade is supposed to have. Bluetooth tends to be a slow interface, in the day and age where WiFi as fast as 802.11n is possible. And in this case, the update was apparently stuck at 50%, perhaps not even due to how slow the file transfer would have been, but rather, due to Garmin preferring we install the update via the ‘Garmin Express application’, of which there is a Windows as well as a macOS version.

Problem? I neither have a Windows, nor a macOS device. I depend on installing that update otherwise. But, as indicated below, I found a solution that seems to work for me…

The ‘fenix 5x’ allows the watch itself to be connected to a WiFi network. The possibility should exist, to restart the update process, but, using the watch’s WiFi link, not the Bluetooth upgrade that somehow got broken. In order to accomplish that, the first thing I needed to do was, to add my home WiFi network to the watch’s WiFi networks. Fortunately for me, because the actual Bluetooth pairing between the watch and Android app works 100%, I was able to set up WiFi for the watch, using the Android app.

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S9, with its latest firmware, and my Garmin Connect app is up-to-date.

The next thing needed to be done manually, because the watch did not just abandon its discontinued Bluetooth upgrade in favour of a new, WiFi-based upgrade.

  • On the watch, Press the ‘Menu’ and the ‘Up’ button simultaneously,
  • Next, Scroll Down to the ‘Settings Entry’,
  • Press the ‘Activate’ button once,
  • Scroll Down to the ‘System Entry’,
  • Press the ‘Activate’ button once, again,
  • Scroll down to the (last) ‘Software Update Entry’,
  • Press the ‘Activate’ button once, again,
  • There should be an ‘Auto-Update Entry’ set to ‘On’, as well as an ‘Update Available Entry…’ Scroll to this last Entry, if there is one after the ‘Auto-Update Entry’.
  • Press the ‘Activate’ button again, once,
  • Press ‘Continue’ if so instructed,
  • Repeat until doing this no longer reveals an ‘Update Available Entry’. At that point, the last menu should only have the ‘Auto-Update (== On) Entry’.

Because the watch was set up to connect to my WiFi without problems, it was able to install a major and a minor update quickly and without issues. After its major update, it restarted.

 

(Update 10/12/2020, 16h05: )

(As of 10/10/2020, 16h45: )

1:)

A word of caution to other consumers, who might want to do the same thing: The 51mm diameter versions of this tracker have as important feature, the ability to store so-called “TOPO Maps”, which are geographical maps useful when logging actual runs and hikes… When a user has a Windows 7 or a macOS PC, they can just purchase any set of TOPO Maps from Garmin, after the actual purchase of the tracker, and then, download those maps into it. But, the way Garmin sells them is DRM-ed. A fact which Linux users specifically, should already know, is, that much in the way of DRM cannot be decoded under Linux, without which even purchased TOPO Maps cannot be installed properly “to 1 device”.

The tracker which I bought was advertised as being preloaded with Canada Maps. I will not be able to install any other maps. In fact, if the maps ever needed an update, let’s say ‘because new construction in the landscape has made them less valid’, I would also not be able to download newer maps.

Without proprietary software, this tracker just comes as-is.

But, because the ‘Connect IQ’ app has a working Android version, I was able to install that to my phone, and then to install a Watch-Face that I like to my tracker, via Bluetooth, thereby also establishing that the Bluetooth link was working as it should.


 

 

(Update 10/12/2020, 9h15: )

One of the questions which the preceding detail in my posting suggests is, Whether it should still be possible to download and install Maps from other sources – which were not purchased from Garmin – to the ‘fenix 5x’. And the short answer would be ‘Of course. It just so happens that, If you purchased a map for money, Garmin will DRM it.’ But, there also exist Web-sites, where people can create custom maps online, and then download them in a file-format which is compatible with the tracker, and without DRM. (:4)

The only question which I’d have about that is, ‘What are the file-formats which this tracker can accept and work with correctly?’ (:2) And, when I try to look up that information on the Web, what the Google search-engine seems to reveal is that, people who use sports trackers do not know what a file-format is. The following YouTube video demonstrates, what not to post:

(Link to YouTube Video)

If a person just ignores for the moment, that the audio in this YouTube video was incorrectly adjusted, so that for its entire duration, the viewer cannot hear what the author is saying, and if the viewer then tries to decipher the video, what the viewer will see is that in certain cases, it’s even possible to copy and paste an .IMG-File into the tracker’s folder, when the tracker has been mounted as a mass-storage device, which is one of the modes in which it can be made to communicate with the PC. (:3)

Under Linux, assuming that the user has a desktop manager, when the pop-up displays that an external device has been detected, it only requires an extra click with the mouse, to mount that device. And the pop-up displays, when I plug in my ‘fenix 5x’ tracker to recharge it. Only, as long as I know nothing about the file-formats that the external device expects, I also dismiss this pop-up, without ever mounting the device.

Under Linux more-so than under Windows, it’s important to unmount the device again, If we mounted it, before disconnecting the device, and the way to do that is, to left-click on the little Eject Button that will next display in the same pop-up.

 

The problem? The fact has not changed, that .IMG-Files are disk images, which means that the ability of the tracker to accept different file-formats must be good. But, a disk image is just a way of encapsulating random contents, which would have taken up an entire disk in the past, but which are therefore also completely unknown, because a storage volume could have any directory and file structure.

Do not conclude that it’s safe to copy and paste disk images with any, arbitrary directory structure into your Garmin device! Your Garmin device is expecting a specific directory structure.

Also, if people want to create their own ‘TOPO Maps’, there exists software that allows them to do that. The thing not to do is to create a Web-site like the one below, which assumes that your intention is to import maps in any format, but maximally, to print those out on paper:

(Another example of a useless Web-site)

The problem with this Web-site and many like it is, that their authors do not appreciate the difference between input and output.

If I want to ‘create a map’, then what I do not want is, the ability to ‘consume a map which has been created for me’, but just to print it out on paper. In fact, if I was going to be carrying around a mess of papers with me, there would be no point in having any mapping features built-in to the tracker.


 

I also have to admit that, even though my preferred Operating System is Linux, I do not know how all the software available under Linux works in detail. One example of map-making software that can be installed directly from the package manager – as in, you don’t need to subscribe to some Web-author’s personal software – is named ‘QGIS’. Because it can be installed from the package manager, there is also no point in my telling Linux-users how to install it.

However, because I have never used QGIS, I do not fully know what it can export. Remember, what the program can export, is what the user will have created. What the program can import, is what the user will have consumed from someplace else. What I see in the command-menus of the ‘QGIS Desktop’ application is that apparently, it will import ‘anything’, but only Save the Project to a QGIS File, as well as exporting .DXF-Files, the latter of which is the former 3D Modelling format that AutoCAD used.

Observing that software named ‘QGIS’ can export to .DXF File Format, does not imply by any means that the tracker can parse .DXF-Files correctly. And so, what the reader can try with an equal probability of success would be, to create an .IMG-File of an arbitrary disk, and to Copy and Paste that to the tracker’s (mounted) storage. Don’t do it.


 

 

(Update 10/12/2020, 10h20: )

2:)

I’ve gotten a little further with my query, about, how to use ‘QGIS’. Apparently, in a way different from how it would be, to Save a Project, there is the ability to ‘Save a Layer As’. If a layer has been added to a project, and if that layer is of the correct type, such as an ‘ESRI [OGR] Shapefile’, which can first be imported from an .SHP-File, then to Save this Layer As… also gives us the option to export it as a .GPX-File.

GPX Files are a common file-format that many GPS devices recognize, so there is some possibility that the ‘fenix 5x’ may as well.

Only, I cannot demonstrate fully, because with this software, I must first have added a Shapefile Layer from somewhere, before I’m given the option to Save that Layer As a GPX File…

What I can do in the short term is, to import a random Shapefile as a layer from ‘OpenStreetMap‘, and then, to display the available export dialog:

Screenshot_20201012_100745

 

Hence, there is no apparent deficiency in my installed software’s ability to export different file-types. Only, one must first create a decent layer, before exporting and then trying to use that, and, in order not to corrupt the tracker, because some small, incomplete mapping layer was saved to its storage.


 

 

(Update 10/12/2020, 10h45: )

3:)

I have another word of caution, to anybody who might be reading my posting. If a small, embedded system is very versatile, in how many file-types it can parse, this can be an asset as well as a liability. Why can it also be a liability? Because, through user error, a file might get loaded which is either corrupt or incomplete in some way, and then, a small embedded system will likely not have enough error-detection code, to ignore that file completely, at which point a user may end up with a corrupted device.

Hence, a user may want to try to copy and paste .OSM-Files from OpenStreetMap, just to see whether the ‘Garmin fenix 5x’ can load and display them, but may find out that, instead of getting some neat error message saying it can’t, the device might try, and might be messed up afterwards. Because my device already has the relevant map for the region I live in, I have no motivation to try this…


 

 

(Update 10/12/2020, 14h35: )

The text which I wrote above states, that the software ‘QGIS’ allows the user to ‘Save (one) Layer As’ a GPX File. I’d like to add that, on my desktop, I can just as easily import and select two layers, and save them both to one GPX File:

Screenshot_20201012_141417

 

What I would infer is that certain GPS devices will allow GPX Files to be stored in some base directory, and, given that each GPX File has longitude, latitude, and scale information, will superimpose the layers contained with the other map information.

What I might also infer is that the preferred data-format of the ‘Garmin fenix 5x’ might be, a collection of many such layers, organized as files, encapsulated into a disk image, but sorted into a specific system of subdirectories….

If the ‘Garmin fenix 5x’ allowed the addition as well, by the user, of singular GPX Files…, it would strike me as impressive performance already. What that would mean is, that some user could find that the (bundled) geographical maps in themselves lack certain details, such as, ‘the location of restaurants’, for example. That user could create a layer that identifies those locations. And he or she might then be able to export that combination of layers as a GPX File (from their desktop software), with the expectation that this tracker position the custom layers on the display according to the GPS information.

What would happen if some piece of metadata, such as, the actual longitudes and latitudes, were never saved with the GPX File?

 


 

(Update 10/12/2020, 16h05: )

4:)

I have observed that an alternative place where even Linux users can find maps, in the ‘Garmin IMG File format’, is this site:

https://shop.talkytoaster.me.uk/

For most locations, this shop will ask for a small fee, but then the user should be set to go…

 

Dirk

 

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