Has Garmin come full circle with the introduction of the new
TT 15 (track and train) GPS dog tracking collar? Who can say
for sure but with the release of the TT 15 we may need to re-coin
the phrase “skies the limit”.
After the release of the Alpha 100 and TT10 collars I was thinking “what more could a guy ask for other than track and train on the same collar?” Then the TT15 showed up with new features such as an option to track on either the Alpha 100 or the Astro 320, bark detection, ability to start or stop recording on the VIRB action camera through the TT15 collar using commands from the Alpha 100 handheld, and the number 1 item on my “wish I had list”, collar vibrate mode for training.
My new Garmin TT15 GPS tracking collar came out of the box sporting the same trusted housing as the TT10. In fact the TT15 has the same overall appearance as the TT10. The only out of the box difference was the charging clip now has a pigtail.
Following a night of charging and a simple software update on the Alpha 100, I was ready to take the TT15 into the field. Adding the TT15 collar to my Alpha 100 was quick and easy much like my TT10 collars. When I’m trying new tracking products I like to run them side by side with other Garmin units. In this case I was observing the TT15 beside a TT10, and a DC30 being tracked on an Astro 320. Initially, I tracked the TT15 on both the Alpha 100 and on an updated Alpha 100 that I had used over the past year. It wasn’t long before all my collars where linked up and ready to be hunted.
The first thing I noticed about the TT15 was the addition of the “vibrate” option in the training mode, which was indicated by the “V” on the training dashboard. I had hoped vibrate mode would make its way onto the Tri-Tronics training collars for some time. As a handler I had often felt there was a need for a graduated consequence that was dog specific, unlike the tone on my current training system. I’ve had a few young dogs that would hang up on a brush pile while cold trailing. If I would have toned the dog I risked having another tone sensitive dog(s) hear the tone and abandon the track. If I had stimulated the young dog I risked having it abandon the track. Having the vibrate option would have been a great solution. Now with the TT15 collar and the option of vibrate, tone or stimulation I will be rethinking how I respond to the dog’s behavior.
The advantage of being able to track a TT15 collar on an Alpha 100 or Astro 320 will be especially evident when mixing packs. I occasionally hunt with another handler who is using an Astro 320. When we turn our dogs out together it would be handy for him to see where are packs are in relationship to each other, especially true if we get separated from each other. While in the field it did take some practice to learn how to switch back and forth between the Alpha 100 and the Astro 320. Most of the difficulty I experienced was me having to re-learn how to navigate the Astro 320 after using my Alpha 100. From a performance stand point the TT15 performed as well as any collar I was tracking during the weeks I had it in the field. There didn’t appear to be any difference in range or reliability while being tracked on an Alpha 100 or the Astro 320. The only significant difference was that the vibrate mode is disabled on the TT15 while coupled to the Astro 320. One other thing I should mention is that you will need to decide which unit, the Alpha 100 or the Astro 320 you wish to have the TT15 collar linked to before you turn your dog loose. Once the collar has left your immediate area you will not be able to switch back or forth between handhelds.
When I first took the TT15 collar into the field I disabled the “bark detection” feature thinking I had little use for this option. I thought it was distracting and cluttered the screen. But after fiddling around with the display options I found that displaying the bark monitor in the compass screen setting was less distracting. The ironic thing is that after watching the “bark detector” monitor it was interesting to watch. In one instance I had the dogs leave my hearing but I was able to continue monitoring the track condition by the “bark detector”. While at a tree I observed the “bark detector” for accuracy and was surprised how accurate the monitor really was. As far as usefulness in a training situation I’m not sure how useful bark detection is, but it can sure see its value from an observation point of view.
The one function that I didn’t have the opportunity to test on the TT15 was the “VIRB control” feature. Although I own and really enjoy using my VIRB action camera by Garmin I didn’t have an opportunity to use this feature. I anticipate a “spotlight” section on this feature in the near future.
On the technical side the TT15 tracks the GLONASS or Russian version of GPS system. While in the field I never lost GPS signal on any of my collars for more than just a couple seconds however, I have to say that I don’t mind having the extra piece of mind knowing I’m tracking off 21 more satellites with the TT15. I believe that when the advantage of having the TT15 tracking GLONASS proves to be a true a “feature” it will be priceless. It may very well be the difference between finding a lost dog and not finding it in time.
The short end of this track is that the TT15 collar featuring vibration, choose your unit (Alpha 100 or Astro 320), VIRB action camera control, and GLONASS is another “lead the pack” product by Garmin. With a “skies the limit” approach to dog training devices by Garmin, who can say what is next.