Laptop GPS receivers - Which one?

Lorin

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2010
1,314
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Bournemouth
I want to use my laptop in the LC as my GPS. Are any of the GPS kits for the laptop better than any others or are they all pretty much the same? Ultimately it will be used when driving through Africa to run some sort of mapping software (excuse my ignorance :oops: ), so a powerful receiver that can find and hold a GPS signal in difficult terrain would be preferrable.

Any help appreciated.

Lorin
 

ignat

Well-Known Member
I am in south_africa
Mar 22, 2010
524
1
36
Johannesburg, South Africa
Garage
I'm busy looking into all of this too.

I got one of these based on a recommendation. its cheap too.

I havent had much time to test it properly but so far so good. picks up satellites near a window indoors and works with memory map no problems.

Do you have a normal Garmin Sat Nav? If so, depending on model, you should be able to use it to link to your laptop. My Nuvi 250W doesnt enable me to do this. You need a Garmin which has a PVT protocol. Position Velocity Time.

So far, I'm planning on using Tracks 4 Africa in the Garmin, Olafs maps for Morocco also in the Garmin, Memory Map to scan some maps of western African countries, and Google Earth caches for some planned pistes.
 

Crispin

Administrator
Staff member
Guru
I am in great_britain
Feb 24, 2010
5,970
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springs, gauteng
As Ingat said, a normal Garmin with a USB cable will show up as a GPS. Your added advantage is that you can unplug it and walk around with it. Disadvantage is that it's "cumbersome" A large brick on your dashboard that has to be removed each night / time you park.

I bought a USB one off ebay which has an external antenna. They are idea as they cling on to a signal for longer as the antenna has a higher gain than the normal ones. I paid £5 + £12 shipping from Hong Kong. It has yet to let me down and holds onto a signal well. Some multi story car parks and tunnels are no match for it where as my NavMan dies.
Advantage is that it's a small black box about the size of a large stamp that sits on my dash in the corner. Never remove it.

You can also get Gary's option which is an externally mounted one. These will out-perform everything as there is no shadow from the car. Mount on roof / roof-rack and you're good to go. Disadvantage is drilling in roof and possible damage. (Unlikely as it is very low profile)

The one I got: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/GPS-Receiver-Ante ... 35aaccf5ee
Gary's option: http://da3y.com/globalsat-mr-350-waas-e ... eiver.html


I would stay away from the "USB key" type ones. I suspect they might struggle for a signal when it's week. Not solid reason, just that small is not always better / good. :mrgreen:


Don't forget to buy GPSGate - it's very handy if you have one GPS and different mapping software. :geek:
 

Ian Rubie

Moderator
I am in uk
Feb 24, 2010
925
88
48
Bordon Hampshire
I have the one Crispin has labelled Gary's Option.

http://www.expansys.com/d.aspx?i=142537

A bit more expensive and don't forget you need the correct cable set to. Mine is mounted on one of the aerial tabs on top of the bull bar. Cable routes through the grill, round the passenger side of the engine bay and then through the existing grommet to come out behind the glovebox.

Ian
 
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Gary Stockton

Super Moderator
Supporter
I am in zimbabwe
Sep 10, 2012
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Edinburgh
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Mine's mounted on my roofrack, and feeds in through a windows when I need it. I'm thinking of shifting to go on top of the snorkel head though ....
 

24Seven

Well-Known Member
Mar 1, 2010
599
0
36
Poole UK
I don't think I would like to rely on just a dongle / Laptop if going to Africa, I would want some redundancy.

I'm guessing you will be using Garmin software for the free maps available and routing software.

I use an Garmin Bluetooth GPS 10x Receiver for the laptop this is just to save having wires all over the place, but I also have a basic standalone Garmin GPS which can also give a signal to the laptop if needed or can be used for waypoint to waypoint navigation.

On top of that I have another Garmin 1490T (TomTom type) which is also handy for areas where routeable maps are available, (or not sometimes) I travel without a passenger so it just makes life easier when the roads are busy.
 

Matt Wright

Well-Known Member
I am in south_africa
May 26, 2010
474
3
36
Cape Town, SA
Garage
Hi all

Without asking the most obvious question on this thread, can someone explain why the need for using a laptop as a GPS rather than a traditional Garmin or an onboard car radio/GPS combo unit? ie What are the benefits?

The reason I ask is that I have a car radio/GPS unit that has a 7" touch screen and does all the media bits 110%. It came with GPS built in which for day-2-day stuff is fine. I've seen the posts about Chinese stuff being junk :twisted: but in this case I'm extremely hapyp with it @£198 delivered.. Given that Africa has a different risk factor tho..

I'm now deciding whether to use it as the GPS for the car or use an external one. The external obviously takes up space etc but I have a very very specific requirement which is that the route travelled needs to be downloadable which sounds like it needs to be a Garmin / laptop based unit that works with Mapsource which can import the routes etc..

(Kevn, Lorin - PM me if you'd like Africa maps as i have a full set of the east coast, and much of the west, that is 100% ROUTABLE :) taken ages but I'm finally there! All work with Mapsource, exportable to a Garmin unit. I also have them working on MAC and windozzzz. My self imposed challenge is to get these working on my car unit which has the nav 'n go / iGO 8.3.4 software. One good thing about this unit is that as it's not a main stream unit, there is more scope to use all kinds of generic maps with it.. I'll post pics and a write up to slightly water down the dislike for Chinese goods soon as I have the routable maps working :geek: )

I just ordered one of the ones Crispin has for fun and may land up using this but I would like to understand the reason why y'all seem to prefer the carputer variety..

Thanks
 

Gary Stockton

Super Moderator
Supporter
I am in zimbabwe
Sep 10, 2012
3,924
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48
Edinburgh
Garage
My logic - ok, excuse for SWMBO - is that I can more easily plan and draft routes on the laptop than on either of the other GPS units I have - one is the Toyota built-in unit, the other is a Nuvi (my other Garmin has just died ..). And I can take the laptop out the car, and we can use it, with an appropriate GSM modem, for email and web browsing etc.

Neither the Nuvi or the in-car unit does things like track-back or waypoint storage etc which you will probably want in deepest darkest Africa.

Cheers
 

Matt Wright

Well-Known Member
I am in south_africa
May 26, 2010
474
3
36
Cape Town, SA
Garage
Thanks a lot Gary - that's 100% the answer I was expecting :) ie the waypoints / routes and ease of use.. :thumbup:
I have a 13" I'll be using for the GPS unit which should be nice and small. Save the MAC for the real work (video editing the underwater footage along the route..)

I guess I'll let you know how it goes in deepest Africa in a few months time.. Same goes for Kevin!
Kev - PM me and we can organise to get you the maps..
 
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