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State of the GPS

Old 11-08-10, 01:27 PM
  #1  
bmike
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State of the GPS

Wondering what folks are using for GPS units these days.

I don't need it to be my personal trainer.
Not sure I need auto routing - would be fine following an uploaded track.
Question the touch screen devices - I have a hard enough time with my Android phone in the rain / cold with gloves on.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-08-10, 09:47 PM
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it's too bad there isn't more choice. Every time I think about it, I'm drawn to the Garmin 800. In your experience, how much do you think you have to push buttons on the GPS? Is it often enough to be a big problem?
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Old 11-08-10, 10:57 PM
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Bought an etrex Vista HCx. It is lousy for downloading routes. The 800 is supposed to be good at downloading routes.
Should have researched it more.
My etrex uses AA batteries. Picked up a charger with chargeable batteries. Should be able to carry spares this way.
Knew I would not be good at charging it everytime I went for a ride. Remembering to take it, etc.
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Old 11-09-10, 11:22 AM
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Hi i am in the same delemia I use a garmin edge 205 and it is only good as a basic cycling computer. I also use a garmin nuvi the cheepest one they made 6-8 months ago its a car GPS I love it but the charge on the battery is lousy so i don't even use it very much anymore. Like you said the charging of the batteries everyday sucks and i do run out of battery sometimes on the edge 205. on another note i have an awsome light Nite Rider .200 but the rechargeable battery sucks and i very often run out of battery so my conclusion is that these rechargeable devices arenot good for long rides.
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Old 11-09-10, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by CHAS View Post
Bought an etrex Vista HCx. It is lousy for downloading routes. The 800 is supposed to be good at downloading routes.
Should have researched it more.
My etrex uses AA batteries. Picked up a charger with chargeable batteries. Should be able to carry spares this way.
Knew I would not be good at charging it everytime I went for a ride. Remembering to take it, etc.
What exactly do you mean by "lousy for downloading routes"?

There are about a dozen people in DC Randonneurs who use either a Vista HCx or similar model. I have an older model, a Vista Cx. All are perfectly fine at downloading routes.

What most people do: Download the GDB or GPX file from our website. Attach GPS to USB port. Load up MapSource and open the file. Click the icon to download to your GPS. When the dialog box comes up, check that it has detected the GPS and click the items you want to download. (If you have maps on your GPS that cover the area of the route, then make sure that you don't click download maps. Otherwise you'll need to select the maps around the route and make sure you do download the maps.) Then click "OK".

FWIW, I've created nearly all the GPS files on our website.

Nick
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Old 11-10-10, 05:38 AM
  #6  
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One more bike-specific GPS option will soon be released. See this BikeRadar article on GPS units from a new company called Bryton. It appears that the functionality and design is VERY similar to the Garmin Edge 500 and 705, but expect them to be available for a lot cheaper. BikeRadar promises to post a full review soon, which will probably appear in the British "Cycling Plus" print magazine first.

Edit: One more report with first impressions of the Bryton at road.cc. An important detail is that the map data is open source, and so free.

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Old 11-11-10, 09:43 AM
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I wondered if anyone would bring out a cheaper version. Good GPS modules are very cheap now, even at retail.
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Old 11-12-10, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
What exactly do you mean by "lousy for downloading routes"?

There are about a dozen people in DC Randonneurs who use either a Vista HCx or similar model. I have an older model, a Vista Cx. All are perfectly fine at downloading routes.

What most people do: Download the GDB or GPX file from our website. Attach GPS to USB port. Load up MapSource and open the file. Click the icon to download to your GPS. When the dialog box comes up, check that it has detected the GPS and click the items you want to download. (If you have maps on your GPS that cover the area of the route, then make sure that you don't click download maps. Otherwise you'll need to select the maps around the route and make sure you do download the maps.) Then click "OK".

FWIW, I've created nearly all the GPS files on our website.

Nick
Hey, Nick... didn't know you were on here (or had forgotten, sorry).

Yup, what Nick said.

Also, http://www.BikeRouteToaster.com is a great site to create routes from scratch, including course points (i.e., turn info) or import GPX files and manually insert course points. It has specific support for Garmin Edge and Forerunner.

Features

  • Auto Routing
  • Elevation data for each track point
  • View elevation profile of the route
  • Ability to create Course Points to aid navigation at junctions
  • Automatic adding of Course Points at junctions when auto routing
  • Ability to add Course Point Warnings
  • Computes time data for use with Virtual Partner
  • Time data is calculated based on user settings - Virtual Partner will slow down on uphill sections
  • Distance, Total Ascent/Descent, and estimated time are continuously updated while creating a course
  • Download directly to GPS with Garmin Communicator Plugin
Disclaimer: I'm not associated with BRT, just a user.
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Old 11-12-10, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
What exactly do you mean by "lousy for downloading routes"?

There are about a dozen people in DC Randonneurs who use either a Vista HCx or similar model. I have an older model, a Vista Cx. All are perfectly fine at downloading routes.

What most people do: Download the GDB or GPX file from our website. Attach GPS to USB port. Load up MapSource and open the file. Click the icon to download to your GPS. When the dialog box comes up, check that it has detected the GPS and click the items you want to download. (If you have maps on your GPS that cover the area of the route, then make sure that you don't click download maps. Otherwise you'll need to select the maps around the route and make sure you do download the maps.) Then click "OK".

FWIW, I've created nearly all the GPS files on our website.

Nick
Nick,
Thanks. will try your directions
By "out website" do you mean the website of the DC Randonneurs?
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Old 11-12-10, 11:11 PM
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We are using Garmin 705, together with BikeRouteToaster for under 120 km distances and as this seems to become unstable at the design of the coming route at longer distances we use Gpsies for distances longer than 120 km.

We have with the last 10 months made about 130 routes, but we haven´t driven all of them!!!

Carsten & Dorte
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Old 11-16-10, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by CHAS View Post
Nick,
Thanks. will try your directions
By "our website" do you mean the website of the DC Randonneurs?
Yes.

And to come back around to bmike's questions: Most randos I know are using the eTrex Vista HCx though a few are using the Edge 7xx models. However, there do seem to be some problems with the USB connector failing on the 7xx's when it is routinely connected to an auxiliary power supply (as is required on rando events). (There have also been battery connection problems on some of the earlier Vista models, but I haven't ever had any on my Vista Cx, and haven't heard of this problem with the HCx's.) As to touch screen versus buttons, the one person I know who has tried the former found it harder to use, particularly in the winter. On my GPS, the three screens that I set to display are the map, the route, and the "statistics" screens, and I am cycling through those three fairly often as I ride, though usually displaying the map. But then I'll flip to the route screen to see the distance to the upcoming turn (or next control), and/or flip to the stats screen to check how I'm doing on moving speed, average speed, moving time, and stoppage time. To me, autorouting is the only reason to bother with a GPS. Riding with a friend on the SIR August 1000Km, as soon as it got dark, he gave up on following the track on his GPS and just started following me because I could stay on course more easily. Having it beep, light up, and pop up a "turn coming" screen as you're nearing a turn really makes it easier to avoid bonus miles.

Nick
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Old 11-17-10, 10:19 AM
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May I ask what will likely return a painfully obvious answer?

Because the unit and the software have come way down in price (I see on Amazon that the extrex Legend HCx is now on sale for $167; Garmin sells the City Navigator DVD for $79.99) I am very tempted to finally buy a GPS. Are the unit and the City Navigator (and perhaps eventually topo maps) the two basic things I need to get going? I'd like to able to do what Nick describes above but I'd also simply like to have maps loaded so that I can find my way in unfamiliar territory, i.e. I wonder where that road goes? This weekend, for example, I'll be away with my bike and would like to simply wander for a few hours; having a map would be great--yes, I know I can buy paper maps. I use a Mac and not a PC.

Thanks very much

Christian
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Old 11-17-10, 03:20 PM
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For $30 more, the Vista HCx has an electronic compass and barometric altimiter, both of which could come in useful if you are "bushwacking" (whether on roads or in the woods). I've never used the topo maps for riding, but have used them in the backwoods, and when programming up bike routes. But to start with, you could probably do without htem. Make sure to get the version of maps that can be installed on your PC, _not_ the version on an SD chip. Buy an SD chip for your GPS, I have a 4Gb chip that I bought for about $10. I downloaded the entire City Navigator mapset to it. I don't know how well it would work to _also_ download the topo maps, since I know you can select which map you want to display, but if you've downloaded hundreds it may be hard to find the one you want.

I know nothing about Macs, sorry.

Nick
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Old 11-19-10, 06:15 AM
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Well this is what I use on my ICE trike and it works really well and I can download routes using Tyre.com as well as listening to my books and music.

When I get lost I have no problem finding my way home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itqoKZUZtXE&translated=1



Steve
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Old 11-19-10, 11:30 AM
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Thanks Nick. The compass and altimeter might be useful, you're right. I'll google around a bit on Garmins and Macs before taking the plunge.

Best wishes

Christian

Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
For $30 more, the Vista HCx has an electronic compass and barometric altimiter, both of which could come in useful if you are "bushwacking" (whether on roads or in the woods). I've never used the topo maps for riding, but have used them in the backwoods, and when programming up bike routes. But to start with, you could probably do without htem. Make sure to get the version of maps that can be installed on your PC, _not_ the version on an SD chip. Buy an SD chip for your GPS, I have a 4Gb chip that I bought for about $10. I downloaded the entire City Navigator mapset to it. I don't know how well it would work to _also_ download the topo maps, since I know you can select which map you want to display, but if you've downloaded hundreds it may be hard to find the one you want.

I know nothing about Macs, sorry.

Nick
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Old 11-19-10, 12:27 PM
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I have a Vista HCx also with City Navigator maps. Does anyone know where to get maps, so I could use it in Paris for the upcoming PBP?
Thanks.
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Old 11-19-10, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by steveindenmark View Post
Well this is what I use on my ICE trike ...
Steve
How well does that do in heavy downpours? How do you power it (I see something about a 12v rechargeable -- can you give more details).

Thanks,
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Old 11-19-10, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
How well does that do in heavy downpours? How do you power it (I see something about a 12v rechargeable -- can you give more details)
I have a TomTom unit in my car similar to the one in the video... and I can't imagine mounting it to my bicycle. It's designed for use in a nice controlled environment inside of an automobile... using it for cycling would have all the disadvantages that you can imagine:
  • The unit's rechargeable battery only lasts about 2 or 3 hours under ideal conditions. Useless for rando.
  • The unit runs off of 12VDC power. Easy to find in a car... hard to generate on a bike. Useless for rando.
  • The units are huge, with large heavy touch screens. Great for use in a car. Useless for rando.
  • The units are not waterproof in the least. They even have large speakers on the rear of the unit covered by only an open grille cover. Forget heavy downpours... that unit will quit the first time you sweat on it. Useless for rando.
  • The autorouting is optimized for vehicles that are moving at freeway speeds, so it tends to look far ahead to warn you of upcoming turns. Great for automobiles... irritating if you're on a bicycle.

And those units are only a little bit cheaper than a good unit that is rugged and meant for use by outdoor sportsmen.
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Old 11-20-10, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
....Make sure to get the version of maps that can be installed on your PC, _not_ the version on an SD chip. ...Nick
Regrettably, it appears Garmin has closed off this loophole with the latest (2011) version of City Navigator N.A.
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Old 11-20-10, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
Regrettably, it appears Garmin has closed off this loophole with the latest (2011) version of City Navigator N.A.
What "loophole"?? You want the DVD version so that you can do routing on your computer and then download maps to the _one_ GPS that you've bound your copy of the City Navigator software to. As I understand it, multiple GPS's mean multiple purchases of the CN software, one copy per GPS.

Anyway, Garmin's website shows three versions of City Navigator N.A.: DVD, SD, and download. Their FAQ says:

"Question: Should I purchase mapping for my GPS on a disc, pre-programmed datacard, or as downloadable content?
Answer:

Mapping for your Garmin GPS unit is sold in a variety of ways. It can be purchased on a disc, as a pre-programmed datacard, or it can be downloaded from our website. Please see below for the benefits of each format:"

Are you saying there's a newer version than is available for Garmin for which they've changed it so that it's only on SD chip?
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Old 11-20-10, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
What "loophole"?? You want the DVD version so that you can do routing on your computer and then download maps to the _one_ GPS that you've bound your copy of the City Navigator software to. As I understand it, multiple GPS's mean multiple purchases of the CN software, one copy per GPS.

Anyway, Garmin's website shows three versions of City Navigator N.A.: DVD, SD, and download. Their FAQ says:

"Question: Should I purchase mapping for my GPS on a disc, pre-programmed datacard, or as downloadable content?
Answer:

Mapping for your Garmin GPS unit is sold in a variety of ways. It can be purchased on a disc, as a pre-programmed datacard, or it can be downloaded from our website. Please see below for the benefits of each format:"

Are you saying there's a newer version than is available for Garmin for which they've changed it so that it's only on SD chip?
Sorry, I was being vague and perhaps read something into your statement that wasn't your main point. I was refering to the fact that older versions of City Navigator would let you load the same purchased copy onto two different devices, but this not the case anymore with the 2011 version. A friend of mine who has an older version of City Nav., told me this was only true for the DVD version. Perhaps he wasn't correct on that point?
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Old 11-22-10, 09:36 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
...A friend of mine who has an older version of City Nav., told me this was only true for the DVD version. Perhaps he wasn't correct on that point?
I started out with City Select 2007, which allowed two units, and when I upgraded to City Navigator 2009 it had already been changed to only support one unit. But since I only have one, it hasn't been a problem!

Someone asked about Europe: I bought the City Navigator Europe before the last PBP. Was $300 then but nowadays it is $100. I don't know whether there's any real "freeware" solution that downloads non-Garmin maps to your Garmin GPS and that your Garmin GPS will be able to autoroute. Does anyone know of such a thing? You can always just download a "track" to your GPS and follow the track, but at 3 am on the third day of PBP (or even the first) following a track that doesn't pop up a "turn coming" screen seems like an invitation to bonus miles.

Nick
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Old 11-22-10, 10:23 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Hydrated View Post
I have a TomTom unit in my car similar to the one in the video... and I can't imagine mounting it to my bicycle. It's designed for use in a nice controlled environment inside of an automobile... using it for cycling would have all the disadvantages that you can imagine:
  • The unit's rechargeable battery only lasts about 2 or 3 hours under ideal conditions. Useless for rando.
  • The unit runs off of 12VDC power. Easy to find in a car... hard to generate on a bike. Useless for rando.
  • The units are huge, with large heavy touch screens. Great for use in a car. Useless for rando.
  • The units are not waterproof in the least. They even have large speakers on the rear of the unit covered by only an open grille cover. Forget heavy downpours... that unit will quit the first time you sweat on it. Useless for rando.
  • The autorouting is optimized for vehicles that are moving at freeway speeds, so it tends to look far ahead to warn you of upcoming turns. Great for automobiles... irritating if you're on a bicycle.

And those units are only a little bit cheaper than a good unit that is rugged and meant for use by outdoor sportsmen.
!. The battery only lasts for 2 or 3 hours.

You would be lucky as mine without the 12v battery lasts about 20 minutes. With the battery, which is very small and carried in a bar bag it lasts for about 5 days without being recharged.



2. See above

3. No problem at all on a bike. I should know I have done a lot of distance with this on the bike. You just need the correct fitting to make it steady and secure.

4. This is absolute rubbish. I have had this on my motorbike for thousands of miles in all weathers and it has never failed. I think I have put a plastic bag over it twice in all the time I have had it to keep the rain off. They do make a TomTom Rider specifically for bikes but at about twice the price. The main difference between motorbike GPS and car GPS is the bikes GPS ability to go offroad without being damaged. Protecting a GPS in the rain is common sense.

5. Look and listen to the video. It gives the left turn instruction about 50 metres before the turn but the turn itself is spot on.

You obviously have no experience of this and probably do not know anyone else who has tried it to get feedback from them.

On my bike I use a Garmin Edge 305 but I can also download specific routes onto the TomTom using Tyre.com. When I do a video on my 2 wheel recumbent I will post it on here.

I am all for people having an opinion but I have used this system and know it works very well, I know by experience. It appears you know by....tell us, how do you know it does not work?

Steve
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Old 11-22-10, 12:00 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
I started out with City Select 2007, which allowed two units, and when I upgraded to City Navigator 2009 it had already been changed to only support one unit. But since I only have one, it hasn't been a problem!

Someone asked about Europe: I bought the City Navigator Europe before the last PBP. Was $300 then but nowadays it is $100. I don't know whether there's any real "freeware" solution that downloads non-Garmin maps to your Garmin GPS and that your Garmin GPS will be able to autoroute. Does anyone know of such a thing? You can always just download a "track" to your GPS and follow the track, but at 3 am on the third day of PBP (or even the first) following a track that doesn't pop up a "turn coming" screen seems like an invitation to bonus miles.

Nick
the Tour Divide and Utra MTB racers tend to use tracks... I see the value of the warning / pop ups / etc... just wondering how much this becomes personal preference / used to the status quo and what not.

I see REI is running a special on the HCX. Might have to pick one up.
I'll only need it in 2011 for a 600k in unfamiliar territory, as I'm organizing the 200k, 300k, and 400k here in VT that I plan on riding for PBP qualification.
Not sure I'd want or need it on PBP, as I've read that the course is well marked... (along with all the other riders out...)
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Old 11-22-10, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by steveindenmark View Post
I am all for people having an opinion but I have used this system and know it works very well, I know by experience. It appears you know by....tell us, how do you know it does not work?

Steve
Wow Steve, I didn't mean to set you off, but the things that I said are valid. I know that you have mounted the TomTom to your bicycle and made it work, but you have to know the difference between "making it work" and making it dependable, efficient, and appropriate for your needs. I never said that the TomTom would not work... but I enumerated the disadvantages to using a TomTom unit as opposed to using a unit that is purpose built for sporting use. And those points are true. The TomTom units are heavier than most randonneurs want... the batteries don't last long... carrying extra batteries means more weight than necessary... the units are NOT waterproof (you said yourself that the waterproof motorcycle version is twice the price of the one in your video).

I know about GPS and navigation because it's what I do for a living. I've been an engineer specializing in RADAR and radio navigation for over 25 years... I've even spent time writing aircraft autopilot navigation software. So it kind of makes me giggle when you think that you're an expert because you mounted a TomTom to a bicycle.
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