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Old 11-02-04, 09:05 AM   #1
bac
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GPS .... which one for MY needs????

Okay, I've read a few threads discussing GPS. I own a GPS that I use in my auto (Garmin StreetPilot III), but it will not work on the bike for a variety of reasons. I design both on-road, and off-road rides for my bike club. I'd like to go for a ride, and then download both a map of the ride, and an elevation profile for the ride. I'd like a GPS that does the following:

-Highly mobile (relatively small, and good battery life)

-Able to download maps, elevation profile, and other useful stats (elevation gain, mileage, etc) to my PC

Thoughts on a make/model???? ThanX!!
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Old 11-02-04, 09:32 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bac
Okay, I've read a few threads discussing GPS. I own a GPS that I use in my auto (Garmin StreetPilot III), but it will not work on the bike for a variety of reasons. I design both on-road, and off-road rides for my bike club. I'd like to go for a ride, and then download both a map of the ride, and an elevation profile for the ride. I'd like a GPS that does the following:

-Highly mobile (relatively small, and good battery life)

-Able to download maps, elevation profile, and other useful stats (elevation gain, mileage, etc) to my PC

Thoughts on a make/model???? ThanX!!
I do the same thing that you are looking to do. It takes two pieces to accomplish your goal.

1. A mapping program and not the one on the GPS unit (the most important part). There might be others but I have and use Delorme Topo USA RacerMate edition. It mates to the Computrainer so I can program trails into my trainer. The straight Delorme Topo USA might do the same.

The Map program is topographical so you get absolute accuracy. The GPS can be close but it can also bounce. It needs four satellites to altitude accuracy in heavy woods you can loose the reception.

The program gives you the route, and profiles and more. You build the trial/route on the map using the track as a guide. The GPS can be off 12 - 60 or more feet if it can't see the satellites.


2. The GPS Unit. I use Garmin Vista. The one with the B & W screen.
A. It’s small about the size of a cell phone.
B. I use the Garmin handle bar mount and it stays on better than I do at times.
C. I get 8 hours on rechargeable (the green ones are most powerful) AA (two of them)batteries from Radio Shack

Your current unit if it fits you needs for battery life and size it may work if it captures a “trak” and will download into the mapping program. Your unit being a Garmin should download without a problem. The length of the tack you can capture is based on the memory of the unit.

The way it works:

1. I get to the trail, path or whatever I want to map.
2. I clear the GPS’s memory.
3. I ride the trail.
4. At the end I turn off the GPS tracking of the unit
5. I connect to the laptop (or desktop) computer with the mapping program. Note: you can turn off the unit and download hours/day later as the track stays in the memory of the unit. Cable came with the Garmin.
6. Download the track in to Delorme Topo USA RacerMate Edition.
7. Save the map.
8. A this point you can make the Maps as you want.
9. Swear at the map program because it should be more user friendly.
10. Read the 200 page manual for the program
11. Swear at the map program because it should be more user friendly.
12. print the maps
13. Swear at the map program because it should be more user friendly

Cheers,
Dusk

Last edited by Dusk; 11-02-04 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 11-02-04, 11:28 AM   #3
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OK I have done this with a Garmin 48, which is primarily a marine navigation GPS (has marine navigation aids built in).

Basically you want to save a track on the GPS, which should be easy...

Then you need some software to download the track to a map. I use OziExplorer, and the freeware/sample version which limits your calibration to two points instead of the more accurate three points.

I also use terraserver for map downloads, as you can get B&W pics of just about anywhere in the US... and often that includes bike paths in backwoods areas.

First I download the map of the area I expect to ride.... just to see if there are any visible landmarks that I can use to calibrate the map later... be it some intersection, so hill or anything I know will stand out in the map and I can find. I have used restrooms in park areas, ranger buildings, intersections of trails... anything that is clear in a terraserver pic and that I can "mark" with a GPS point.

I then go to where I want to ride, and clear the track... most of the time I just go with a default track setting... but you can change the "capture time" on some GPSs to give you more points or fewer points for the track line... play with it. I then set the GPS to capture the track, and when I get to those places I need for calibration I stop and set a waypoint (usually a couple simple clicks on most GPSs)

Later I turn the map into the graphic format needed by Ozi... I think it is a .bmp, this can be done with almost any simple graphic tool. Then I import the map to Ozi and calibrate it. For this I need the waypoint info, which I get from the GPS (remember you set waypoints at places you could see already on the map) and input the lat and long (from the GPS) to Ozi.

Then using a data cable (yeah ya gotta buy one... and they are all serial... I don't know of a single USB data cable for GPS) I then hook up the GPS and use Ozi to download the track.

OK a bit complicated but after a few attempts, you can do it. I have even done this for a swim course I do in the ocean... just to see how far and fast I was going. Far worked, fast did not as the GPS kept losing track due to water covering it. (it is a waterproof GPS, AND I had it in a special waterproof bag... but I was towing it and it would roll away from "looking" at the sky).
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Old 11-02-04, 11:40 AM   #4
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Hello,
I've used both the Garmin ForeRunner 201 and the Garmnin GPS V+. Both seem to work with Garmin's MapSource software.

The ForeRunner seemed to work OK but has built in software oriented more for running than bicycling (calories burned, jogging speeds, etc.). It also had an annoying beep that alerts you to when a timer stops (when you stop) and then beeps when the timer starts (when you start). This beeping occured even when you were perfectly still. It would be nice if it restarted only after about 10 or more feet of movement. The elevation feature worked only so so.

The Garmin GPS V+ works OK also and can save many different tracks (as mentioned before) but has alot more mass and it uses the same tiny little bar bracket that the Forerunner uses (less mass). The only quirk I've found is that the active log is the only log that contains day/time info. Once you SAVE the active log in the receiver, the save logs dump the day/time info. The only clue as to what day you travelled on a saved track is the default title it gives the saved log.
IE: You make a ride today and leave data in the active log. Tomorrow you save the active log. It will save the track with tomorrows date and dump the date/time info you actually rode the track on. Just be sure to save the active log on the same day you ride OR upload the active log and then clear it between rides. It gets confusing if you try to save more than one log on the same day in the receiver.

The maps that I can upload to the receiver are fairly detailed.

The only mounting weakness I've found with the Garmin bike bar mounts is the interface between the mount and the bracket used to clip the receiver to (applies to both the Forerunner and GPS V+). One tiny little piece of plastic keeps the whole thing together. Very flimsy. I've ejected my GPS V+ several times until I wrapped a piece of two sided velcro around the joint area to keep the two halves together.

Did any of that make any sense?

D.Tipton
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Old 11-02-04, 12:11 PM   #5
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Virtually any GPS, in conjunction with TopoUSA, will do what you need. I use an inexpensive eTrex GPS from Garmin. It will let me record a track while riding, then download the track to TopoUSA where it can be displayed on the map. However, it is probably best to use the track as a guid to creating a route in TopoUSA that mimicks the track and use the route on your maps. That way, if you take a wrong turn or side trip it doesn't get included in the route.

TopoUSA is very good at letting you set waypoints to force the route calculation to go were you want. Once you have a route, you can print turn-by-turn directions, elevation profiles, etc. You can also add symbols and notes to the map showing where various points of interest are located, cautions (bad intersections, railroad crossings, scenic overlook, ice cream shop, etc...) to the map for printing.

TopoUSA is a fantasic program and I use it constantly for researching my own routes. It's a little pricey at $100 but you get all roads and topographic data for the entire US.
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Old 11-02-04, 12:36 PM   #6
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Wow - what GREAT replies!!! ThanX to all! I now have a better understanding regarding what to buy, and how to use it. Does anyone else have an opinion, or comment? Does anyone have any examples of the maps, and/or elevation profiles (from topoUSA or other) that are generated?

ThanX again!!!
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Old 11-02-04, 01:42 PM   #7
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A Garmin Vista is a good one to look at for you bike, get the bike handlebar attachment and you're set. it has 24MB of memory, a altimeter and compass so you can get your elevation profile and a basemap of NA so you have a very rough idea of some county roads and interstates. I use one for touring and it's pretty handy!

Then you'll want a Mapsource of the area you'll be riding in for more detail and/or a topo program for your PC so you can play with the route data on your PC/Mac...

Jay
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Old 11-02-04, 07:26 PM   #8
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Garmin Geko 301 works great for my purposes. It's not too big to attach to my bars.
I mainly use it to create maps after the ride. I use National Geographic state topo software, which is very detailed, but not as user friendly as some of the other software packages out.
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Old 11-02-04, 08:46 PM   #9
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I have both a Garmin Vista (black and white) and a Garmin GPS 60CS (color). Both work great. The color one is easier to see map detail and has better mapping features for use in the car. The Vista is smaller and most other riders mistake it for a "regular" cycle computer. The Garmin handlebar mounts work great. You can store rides as "tracks" with elevation profiles to be stored in the unit and downloaded to the computer. You can also upload separate detailed map CDs to either unit and use the maps to create routes - very useful for planning long rode rides or tours. I alo use the same units for car trips, hiking, and camping - don't know how I ever got along without a GPS unit...
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