In a case the size of a fat cell phone, the Garmin GPSMAP 76CS has about everything
you could want in a GPS handheld. Besides standard GPS features, it includes a
barometric altimeter, an electronic compass, huge internal map storage, geocache
logging and a set of GPS games. And all of this is displayed on a high-resolution color
The value of the Garmin 76CS begins with its Americas basemap which has
auto-routing capabilities and U.S. tide data, including tide prediction stations.
For loading more detailed maps, it has 115 MB of internal memory and a USB
connection for fast transfers from your PC. This lets you choose from a wide selection of map
data including Garmin's BlueChart marine charts, U.S. Topo 24K or City Select land maps.
Up to 1000 waypoints can be entered and identified with names and symbols. Editing is easy
using the onscreen menu system and the large directional keypad.
A 256-color LCD, 2.6" (diagonal) screen is used for presenting the text and images
of the Garmin 76CS. The display's brightness, contrast and range of colors make readings in full
sunlight no problem. And it's the same at night, since the display, as well as the entry keys, have
adjustable backlighting. There's also a option to display text extra large for even easier viewing.
To achieve maximum positional accuracy, Garmin's GPSMAP 76CS is Wide
Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and Differential GPS (DGPS) ready. And when WAAS
signals are received, the position calculations are made with an error of less than three meters 95%
of the time.
Even though the 76CS GPS receiver can give very accurate position information,
GPS receivers have two navigation problems. The first problem is that GPS elevation
readings aren't as accurate as horizontal position readings. So to overcome this drawback,
Gamin built a barometric altimeter into the 76CS. It's accurate to within 10
feet and has a resolution of 1 foot. In addition to the current elevation,
the rate of ascent/descent, a profile of elevation over distance or time, or
pressure changes over time, may be displayed.
The second problem the Garmin 76CS receiver overcomes is an inherent GPS
directional shortcoming. GPS can only show your direction when you're moving.
If you stop moving, GPS can locate where you are, but can't show what direction
you're heading. You resolve this with either a mechanical compass, or like Garmin
did, with an electronic compass as part of the receiver. The compass has an
accuracy to within five degrees and a one degree resolution.
To increase the versatility of the Garmin GPSMAP 76CS, it has a serial
port to connect to equipment using National Marine Electronics Association
(NMEA) protocols. This includes autopilots, plotters and repeaters. For
instance, this would let you hook up a sonar unit to the 76CS and have it sound an alert to warn
you when you're in shallow water. With the built-in celestial tables for
best fishing times, you would be all set to get out on the water.
Map display features of the Garmin 76CS receiver include selectable coordinates and the ability to
convert loran fixes to GPS readings. For concise readings about your progress along a route, there's
a trip computer which shows such things as current, average, and maximum speed, and an odometer for distance
traveled. And you can set audible alarms to alert for getting off course, dragging your mooring, or
nearing specified waypoints. The receiver saves your path every time you move, and it has memory
available to store up to 20 of these tracks so you can retrace a previous path.
The power for the Garmin GPSMAP 76CS receiver is supplied by 2 AA batteries
with a life of up to 20 hours. The rugged case not only survives impacts but
floats in water and is rated for 30 minutes submersion without harm. The
internal antenna can be replaced with an optional remote antenna, when GPS satellite reception is difficult.