GPS recommendation?

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wbdeford
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GPS recommendation?

Post by wbdeford » Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:48 am

Till now, I have been using an old Magellan GPS for my hiking (by old I mean made in the 20th century)....For my upcoming DV trip in April, I would like to get a new hand-held one with the following requirements:

1) Track all my movements so I will have a complete history of where I have been which I can export to my computer.
2) Easily pre-programmable with all the points I want to visit on an upcoming hike, with the ability to import these from a file on my computer.
3) No reliance on cell phone service
4) Can run for 15 hours a day for 2 weeks on a reasonable number of disposable batteries. (If it can run off solar power--that is a nice bonus.)

Any recommendations?

Thanks!

D.A. Wright
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Post by D.A. Wright » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:07 pm

Yes ... keep you old GPS. It can do any of your requirements.

If you have issues with connectivity to your computer, there are adapters.

I run a 10 year old basic Garmin eTrex handheld (Garmin made them for years, but are now out of production) and it uses the old serial port connector for attaching to the computer. My current laptop is USB only. Adaptors to do this used to be expensive, but prices have dropped considerably.

I run National Geographic TOPO! software on my computer. It speaks just fine with my Garmin. I can download tracks and waypoints I create in the field. I can upload new waypoints, routes and names to the Garmin.

As for battery life, on trips my Garmin always sits atop my dash, eating a set of alkaline batteries for the most part every other day on lengthy trips. Left on all day, just like your requirement. My Garmin alerts me for several hours that battery life is getting low before shutting down.
D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

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wbdeford
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Post by wbdeford » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:37 pm

Thanks, D.A.

Keeping it is definitely what I would prefer. I like it a lot, in spite of the primitive screen. The Magellan GPS 315 has a limit of 1200 tracking points....in 2 weeks, I would think I would blow way past that, though I don't know if that 1200 includes my pre-programmed data points or if it is separate. I'd really like a complete record of the trip if I can get it.

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TonyG
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Post by TonyG » Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:55 pm

My 10+ yrs old Garmin 60Cx is still hard to beat. You can get it (used) or the newer 62 or 64 models on Amazon for between $250 and $350, depending on the maps included and options. A pair of AAs will run it for 20+ hours since the color screen is transreflective and does not use power (unless you press the button in the dark). I upload 1:25,000 nationl park topos and am all set. You can also download your GPX tracks later on.

http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-GPSMAP-Hig ... 094&sr=1-3

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:44 pm

I upgraded my GPS a couple of years ago. Ordinarily I keep things way longer than most - my laptop still runs XP, I have an analog tape answering machine at home, my car is 19 years old. But updating the GPS has been a good thing. I got a Garmin etrex 30, to replace my older etrex model. The competing Garmin line is named after states and has a bigger screen, but I liked that I didn't have to learn a new user interface.

What do I get with this model? USB connection, which means no extra cables to pack Lots of memory for maps (see below). Color screen (not necessary but I like it). Nice battery life on rechargeables.

The big change for me is having enough space for on board maps, and a good enough screen to read them. There are free maps online. These are not identical to the USGS topos but they are good enough. There's decent free software that allows you to sync GPS and laptop, so it's easy to set waypoints the evening before a hike, and then you can save the track on the laptop. If your old GPS does maps you're set, really, but this is the first I've had with plenty of memory.

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hwstock
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Post by hwstock » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:09 pm

I have had a Magellan STP, Garmin 60c, garmin 60csx (still use as backup) and garmin 62stc. I don't like touch screens, so I stick with 6x series.

One of the big differences since the 60c, is that you can store more than you will ever need on the gps units that accept SD cards The 60csx was limited to 500 points for saved tracks, and 20 saved tracks, but would store a copy of each day's tracks (if asked) on the SD card.

There are some serious quality issues with some of the 62s builds -- like power buttons that fail. However the tracks are saved in full, and the limit is something like 200 tracks.

Contrary to popular belief, the gps in smartphones is not dependent on cell service. There are some bad implementations that won't allow the gps to be used if the unit is in airplane mode, but most iphones and android phones will let the gps be used off-line

By law, smartphones are required to be able to give a location within so many meters, and most have AGps -- gps AUGMENTED by cell phone triangulation where available. The cell tower info gives a faster fix for the satellite gps, and actually gives a better fix in urban canyons. Some systems can even use a location from wifi for the initial fix. However, most cellphone-based gps have poor battery life with the gps on, poorer gps antennae, and chipsets that pick up a max of 6-8 satellites, plus they die if you get them wet.

Smartphone apps like Gaia and backcountry navigator are pretty spiffy. I have a friend who uses only her iPhone, and takes extra batteries; th gps works when she has no cell reception

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TonyG
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Post by TonyG » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:58 pm

I can only add to gwstock's comments that the newest Android phones, like Moto X 2014 or Samsung Galaxy 5 have a much longer battery life than the previous generation. You can also download lots of Google maps for use off-grid, record your tracks with My Tracks etc, but it's hard to beat a dedicated GPS receiver like Garmin GPSMap 60CSx. It seems from many comments on the web that the newer models, esp. 62st, are a hit or miss in terms of reliability... You might want to look for a good deal on a GPSMap 60CSx on ebay, I can see one for $170 right now. A much sturdier build and USB connectors than the mini-USB in all newer units (unless they have Bluetooth).

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Post by netllama » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:15 pm

FWIW, I've used an assortment of Android devices (phones & tablets) with GPS almost exclusively all over the world for the past 5 years. I can typically get about 8 solid hours of battery on my Galaxy S4 with the GPS turned on the entire time (while in Airplane mode).

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wbdeford
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Post by wbdeford » Sat Feb 28, 2015 4:36 am

I have a Droid Razr Maxx HD, so I have good battery life. But I don't think it will last anything close to 2 weeks, even with GPS only. I tried a solar powered charger, but it is wasn't up to supplying enough power to meet my phone's needs. I would consider some sort of supplemental power supply if I can find one that is not too heavy or bulky or expensive.

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Post by Orchid Thief » Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:39 am

I ran my Magellan receiver (2001-era) side by side with my Galaxy S5 GPS app the other day & found remarkable differences in location. I've been using the Magellan for work for many years and I know its accuracy quite well. I was disappointed that the phone's GPS app failed to even put me in the same neighborhood. Has anyone else done this comparison? I'm not sure if it's the app or the phone.

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gedstrom
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Post by gedstrom » Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:47 am

Orchid Thief wrote:I ran my Magellan receiver (2001-era) side by side with my Galaxy S5 GPS app the other day & found remarkable differences in location. I've been using the Magellan for work for many years and I know its accuracy quite well. I was disappointed that the phone's GPS app failed to even put me in the same neighborhood. Has anyone else done this comparison? I'm not sure if it's the app or the phone.
Did you allow your Galaxy S5 time to stabilize on the satellites? I had a Garmin unit some years ago that would do the same thing if its almanac data from the satellites was not up-to-date. It could show a radically incorrect location for several minutes until it had finally received all of its updated almanac data from the satellites. This almanac data is normally uploaded to the satellites weekly. This data describes each satellites precise orbital parameters. The longer your unit has gone without updating its data, the further off it will be. My old Garmin unit had no warning that its position data was marginal due to having obsolete satellite data.

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Post by netllama » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:15 am

gedstrom wrote:
Orchid Thief wrote:I ran my Magellan receiver (2001-era) side by side with my Galaxy S5 GPS app the other day & found remarkable differences in location. I've been using the Magellan for work for many years and I know its accuracy quite well. I was disappointed that the phone's GPS app failed to even put me in the same neighborhood. Has anyone else done this comparison? I'm not sure if it's the app or the phone.
Did you allow your Galaxy S5 time to stabilize on the satellites? I had a Garmin unit some years ago that would do the same thing if its almanac data from the satellites was not up-to-date. It could show a radically incorrect location for several minutes until it had finally received all of its updated almanac data from the satellites. This almanac data is normally uploaded to the satellites weekly. This data describes each satellites precise orbital parameters. The longer your unit has gone without updating its data, the further off it will be. My old Garmin unit had no warning that its position data was marginal due to having obsolete satellite data.
I've never had any issues with accuracy on my Galaxy S4 (other than in China, which is a completely separate fiasco from the GPS perspective). But I do have it configured to update its AGPS data every day (that its online). So its never going to be more than a few days out of date.

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Post by TacoLand » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:19 am

On my last trip to DV I successfully used my iPhone 5 & Topo Maps app. I also brought along a Mophie battery pack to do charging in the backcountry. Not an ideal setup, but I didn't want to drop some serious $$$ on a GPS unit. From the limited research I'd done I wasn't impressed with a lot of the current GPS offerings that have build quality issues and stupid features, like poorly implemented touch screens. Seems like the industry has lost its way a little bit and until a new gem of a unit comes out I'll probably just force the iPhone to do the work.

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Post by netllama » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:23 am

TacoLand wrote:On my last trip to DV I successfully used my iPhone 5 & Topo Maps app. I also brought along a Mophie battery pack to do charging in the backcountry. Not an ideal setup, but I didn't want to drop some serious $$$ on a GPS unit. From the limited research I'd done I wasn't impressed with a lot of the current GPS offerings that have build quality issues and stupid features, like poorly implemented touch screens. Seems like the industry has lost its way a little bit and until a new gem of a unit comes out I'll probably just force the iPhone to do the work.
The industry has largely been cannibalized by the smart phone market. For the average user, a standalone GPS unit is a waste of money when their smart phone can do the same thing, plus 1000 other things for about the same cost. The long term direction of the GPS industry is going to be high end ($$$$) specialized units, primarily for military and business use cases.

Unfortunately, the multi-day 'off the grid' wilderness use case is effectively a niche market now.

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TacoLand
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Post by TacoLand » Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:54 am

Yep. Smartphone meant I didn't have to buy/bring a standalone GPS unit, I could leave my dedicated point-and-shoot camera at home, and I threw out all my Huey Lewis and the News cassettes.

Best bet for me is probably going to be repurposing my iPhone next time I upgrade as a "standalone" GPS with a big battery pack case, and bring along my external charger. Unfortunately that's really only good for maybe five days, depending on usage. Blech.

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