GPS - tell me what to do

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Mark R
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GPS - tell me what to do

Post by Mark R » Wed Sep 01, 2004 7:27 pm

OK, I've decided I want a GPS. All it has to do is tell me where I am and where I'm headed, at which speed and how far etc...ie. for open crossings. It'll give me something to fiddle with whilst waiting for my wife to catch up.

It has to be idiot-proof, capable of surviving being thrown around and kept for weeks in damp bags. The batteries must never run out and it must cost no more than £10.

What do I get? Suggestions?
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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:56 pm

Mark, I cant give any comparative advice as I have only used one. I have had a basic Garmin Etrex for 2 years, it does the basic stuff and is splash proof. I never bother with a waterproof case but rinse and dry it each time (others have had problems). It's never let me down and it has run on 1 set of 2100 nimh rechargables for 4 day trips on battery save mode.

If I dropped over the side (it floats) and lost it I would buy another.

Douglas

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Thu Sep 02, 2004 12:22 am

With that budget, go to the pub and forget about the GPS for a while.

If spending enough to actually obtain such a device, you can't go far wrong with the basic e-trex, it will do everything you have specified and is splashproof (the immersed to 1m for 30 minutes equates to splashproof in sea kayak terms).

I would say get the Garmin e-trex because they are small and easy to use and you can connect it to your PC to program waypoints in advance, or save data afterwards for whatever reason. This isn't part of your specification, so look at the even smaller lighter Garmin Gecko units, which do not have PC connectability (which is where my first e-trex let water in eventually), the more expensive Gecko has WAAS capability which will work on the european equivalent of WAAS (EGNOS?) when it comes into operation next year and be even more accurate, but then if you really need to place a 5.5m boat any more accurately than 7m you probably can't see the GPS anyway :D

More expensive e-trexs have more features, better trip computers and more detailed displays, but you don't need that for finding out where you are, how fast you are going and what direction to head in.

There are many other makes, many people swear by Magellan, AFAIK all their units are bulkier.

Standard e-trex will go for about 22hours in battery save mode. less if you spend a lot of time program it, or with the backlight on or out of batter saving mode. Batteries are 2 AAs, which you can buy anywhere and everywhere (except when you run out), for sea kayking it works fine, for mountain biking or buggying I find the batteries can rattle and disconnect - packing them with a little something under the cover (insulation tape, receipt, etc...) solves this well. Gecko probably lasts a bit longer, not sure what batteries it uses.

JIM

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Post by Gus » Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:43 am

Jim has pretty much hit the nail on the head with that reply. I can't add much really other than the fact that i recently bought a Xtrek venture and it works fine for what i use it for. I'm not sure about the battery life lasting the specified 22 hours, though i think this could be due to the fact that i used it intensively for the first few outings, trying all the functions which was inevitably going to use up the power.

The more advanced GPS units are not really worth it unless you using them in cars to track your route (they are better on the move at high speeds than most of the cheaper ones - tho not in issue in a canoe!) and if you are wanting background maps on the screen.

My friend had a Garmin GPS 72, put it in a waterproof bag and stuffed it into the back of this kayak on a bitches trip. It recorded every movement to the island and between the rocks (apart from his blunts!) and seemed to work really well.

Gus

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sub5rider
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Which GPS

Post by sub5rider » Thu Sep 02, 2004 2:56 pm

All it has to do is tell me where I am and where I'm headed, at which speed and how far etc...
They all do that. I personally don't get on with the e-trexes with the side mounted controls, I use a magellan meridian I bought from stateside using e-bay. About £130 + carriage. No tax, no duty. Around half the UK price at the time

Pro's: BIG display, big letters, keys & legend on front, coastline map with navaids, configurable data displays, esaily read on bike boat or car. can swap marine data for land data at will (via PC), CF card memory, so you can save tracks, MM filesystem,shall I stop now?

Con's: bulky, 8 hour life from 2100nimhs (not in powersave mode), navaid accuracy debateable. It's black

I like it, but not everyone's cup o' tea.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Wed Sep 08, 2004 11:55 pm

Thanks for all the help.

I ordered one of these for £145...

http://www.garmin.com/products/etrexsummit/

Now comes the bit where everyone pops up and tells me what a disasterous choice that was.
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paddles magazine
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gps

Post by paddles magazine » Thu Sep 09, 2004 7:01 am

that's a disasterous choice!

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Post by Guest » Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:01 am

I can't believe that you bought one of those, what a disastrous choice!

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MikeB
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Post by MikeB » Thu Sep 09, 2004 4:41 pm

After all that advice, you buy THAT?

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Post by Steve B » Thu Sep 09, 2004 5:31 pm

Bad choice Mark, you should have got one of these.
Image
Steve Balcombe

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Thu Sep 09, 2004 6:26 pm

What a great choice! The main feature of the summit is the built in Altimeter, so where my basic e-trex sometimes tells me I'm 15m above or below sea level when I thought I was paddling on it, your's will refrain from giving you such worrying information and should always read 0 on the sea!

Actually I think it has a better display (outline basemaps available?) and a digital compass too - in fact it probably has a more advanced trip computer and more routes available, and at that price, well I'm sure that's what the basic often goes for in rip off britain these days!

Disaster no, (well except for the stigma of having a climbing GPS at sea) but do remember to splash out on an aquapac too!

JIM

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Douglas Wilcox
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Don't listen to them they are only jealous!

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Thu Sep 09, 2004 9:33 pm

Mark clearly wants to measure the height of those big waves you accasionally come accross.
Image

Thats the thing about GPS units you can measure things, like I surfed down the waves at 13.1km/hr and the best Billy could do was 12.0! Ya Booh you cant argue with data like that! Now Mark will be able to recount to us the actual height of those waves.

I quite often windsurf and kayak in the same conditions. In the kayak I often think the waves are 4 to 5 feet crest to trough but on the windsurfer they are only 18inches. Strange. I have also been hearing tales of people kayaking through 15 foot waves in the Firth of Clyde. I have windsurfed various locations in the Clyde in winds up to Force 9 since 1979 but the biggest waves, even on the best reefs that ramp up the height, are only about 8 feet crest to trough I guess I need to get out more.

You frequently get some strange waves in the mouths of the west coast sea lochs but last winter we were out across the Sound of Arisaig from Loch Ailort in calm conditions when all of a sudden we came across about 8 long frequency swells about 3 feet crest to trough, we lost sight of each other. Afterwards the sea was flat cam. Where had they come from? What had made them? A subsea landslip? A nuke sub? who knows?

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMOKQL26WD_index_0.html

Douglas :o)

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:14 pm

Jim wrote:The main feature of the summit is the built in Altimeter
Obviously I bought this with a hillwalking application in mind.

I also have some vaguely nerdy notion that it could possibly be used to more precisely calculate creek gradients. Which IS steeper - Plym or Walkham?
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Post by Steve B » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:59 pm

Having paddled every godforsaken ditch in the south west and beyond, you're now gonna to go back and measure them?? Actually that sounds like a great idea. It'll be interesting to see how your results compare with a rough-and-ready calculation from the OS maps.

Does the altimeter use GPS or good ol' barometric pressure? (probably a dumb question, 'scuse my ignorance of these things)
Steve Balcombe

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Jim
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Re: Don't listen to them they are only jealous!

Post by Jim » Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:29 pm

Douglas Wilcox wrote:You frequently get some strange waves in the mouths of the west coast sea lochs but last winter we were out across the Sound of Arisaig from Loch Ailort in calm conditions when all of a sudden we came across about 8 long frequency swells about 3 feet crest to trough, we lost sight of each other. Afterwards the sea was flat cam. Where had they come from? What had made them? A subsea landslip? A nuke sub? who knows?
Probably a speedboat or fast ferry wake, maybe a natural phenomenon (waves travelling in packets? maybe all the others got lost or cancelled?), or maybe it was an underwater explosion? The west coast is littered with dumped munitions, and the inner sound, whilst a fair way North of you is an underwater test area even now - there maybe other underwater ranges closer?

Never got my head around wave spectrum analysis!

JIM

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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:36 pm

hi Steve all GPs give a rough measure of height used by comparing the angles of the satellites. On my etrex I have found it pretty accurate on the summits, usiually within 1 or two metres. On thje open sea it also seems accurate allowing for tides of course. In river gorges it is innacurate as the GPS begins to loose satellite signals.

The Summit Etrex has got an electronic barometer to measure height so dependent on airpressure. I have an electronic barometer on my watch and it is very useful on longer paddling trips as it has a trends graph.

The best navigational feature of the summit etrex is the electronic compass as GOTO still works when you are stationary. Woth the basic one you need to keep moving for the GOTO to work. Nice bit of kit smart grey case unlike the bright yellow of the basic one, course some people have bright yellow decks!

Douglas

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Post by Woods » Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:17 pm

So this topic is a little old now and I'd like to know which handheld GPS would be the best choice now.

I looked at some reviews and specs on the Garmin 205/305 Edge. Some users said the battery life was less than 6 hours. Another user complained that it would not handle long trips with lots of waypoints (a multi-day trip failed to download).

I'm interested in a small, waterproof (no Aquapac required) GPS with a really good user interface.

What are the best current options?

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Mikebelluk
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Post by Mikebelluk » Mon Mar 17, 2008 2:05 pm

I'd still recommend the basic Garmin Etrex, tough and waterproof and still going strong after all this time.
Expansys.com are selling them for £92.95p.

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Post by Cameron » Mon Mar 17, 2008 2:55 pm

All I would add to this debate is to check on the type of interface the unit requires to connect to a computer. Units connect with either a USB or serial port with some newer models having both. Any recently purchased computer will not have a serial port but a simple solution is a USB to serial adapter which will cost £10-£30.

I use a Garmin Geko 202 which works very well with Memory Map to provide basic navigation via pre programmed waypoints.

Cameron

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Post by tommfuller » Mon Mar 17, 2008 2:56 pm

Mikebelluk wrote:I'd still recommend the basic Garmin Etrex, tough and waterproof and still going strong after all this time.
Expansys.com are selling them for £92.95p.
Or £66 from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-eTrex-H- ... 625&sr=1-1

Cheers,

Tom.

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Post by Mikebelluk » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:52 pm

Bingo!

GPSBitz.co.uk are selling a USB cable for the Etrex for £13 so you can get the lot for £79 +p+p

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Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:27 pm

Basic Etrex can only store one route at a time (but I think 500 waypoints, or is it 200?) so if you want multiday trips pre-planned you might need to squeeze the whole trip into one route (the GPS doesn't care if you stop in the middle), or do what I do and create lots of waypoints in the area, and then make up routes on the fly when you decide where you want to go.

There are much more feature packed units out there and many that are easier to program so a lot depends on what you want to do, if battery life and simplicity are key the basic e-trex is hard to beat, but the Gecko's are lighter and I believe some can be connected to the PC. I don't know about other makes by Garmins have a demo program so you can try them in the shop without actually getting a signal - go to your local outdoor shop and ask someone to show you through them and let you try them out. Most have display models so all they need to do is put batteries in and read the manual to find out how to get to settings and stick it in demo mode, I rather suspect that this is normal in the US but maybe not so normal here?

Jim

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Post by journeyman » Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:55 pm

Points I like about the Garmin GPS 72 is that it has all the buttons on the front, is fairly inexpensive, is waterproof, floats and does everything I need.

(I still put it in an aquapack as there was some small print on the packaging with one of them asterix marks saying that the battery compartment was not waterproof - so I can't quite fathom why it has IPX 7- but as all the controls are on the front it is still very easy to operate in a bag)

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Post by NickB » Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:17 am

I have had a basic yellow etrex for about ten years, tested the waterproofness over the first couple of trips and it wasn't! No problems though, Garmin replaced it free of charge, since then I have always used it in a small Ortleib bag.

I have always managed with manually programming in a few waypoints beforehand and setting up the single route on the hoof similar to Jim. I have never bothered with the cable because it always seemed a bit steep at £30 plus the cost of any necessary software.
Mikebelluk wrote:Bingo!

GPSBitz.co.uk are selling a USB cable for the Etrex for £13 so you can get the lot for £79 +p+p
If I was to buy this USB cable from GPSBitz, what software would I need to transfer waypoints down and tracks up?

Would the free software mentioned here http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... hp?t=34312 and available here http://kayakhiddencoast.com be all that is required?
Cheers
Nick Benny

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Post by geoffm » Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:08 am

One thing to consider. I previously used a black and white display Magellan GPS but it was becoming more and more difficult to see detail on the screen, particularly through the extra layer of an Aquapac case. So I purchased a Garmin GPS 60Cx. It has a superb colour display. I have autorouting street software, marine charts and topographical information loaded on it and it is just brilliant.

Geoff Murray

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Robert Craig
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Post by Robert Craig » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:40 pm

For what it's worth, I've used a basic Etrex for years, unprotected, and have several times confirmed that it floats in the sea. No problems ever.

Lynx cables do an Etrex-to-serial cable.

If I were buying another I mught go for something with a bigger bolder display, to compensate for fading close vision. Or I might but another Etrex.

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Post by ian johnston » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:39 am

I've had the basic etrex for around 6 or 7 years. Most of the time it's used on the hill and for 99% of that time it stays in the bottom of my rucsac. It's the nature of the thing that on the occasions it comes out, the weather is particularly poor and so it gets wet. I use the stretchy protective case, really to protect the screen from scratching.

For the price I think it's hard to beat - especially as they're now a high(er) sensitivity receiver and the accessories are available at good prices as in the above posts.

GPS receivers should work perfectly well in a BA pocket or in a drybag/deckbag if there's a concern about the level of waterproofing. Has anyone tried leaving one running in a day hatch? Theoretically they should still receive OK as it's essentially a radio receiver using the GHz spectrum.

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Post by Owen » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:18 am

ian johnston wrote: GPS receivers should work perfectly well in a BA pocket or in a drybag/deckbag if there's a concern about the level of waterproofing. Has anyone tried leaving one running in a day hatch? Theoretically they should still receive OK as it's essentially a radio receiver using the GHz spectrum.
My Garmin 38 switches itself off if put into a cag pocket and when used under trees. Its not waterproof so when kayaking I use it in a waterproof case on deck. Here it works ok but the batteries only last about 3 hours. Maybe I should get a shiney all singing and dancing new one but to be honest I can think of many other things the money could be better spent on. For the odd times I do any real navigation I'll rely on chart and compass and keep the old GPS just as a back up.

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Post by AllanC » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:09 am

I have been following this thread with interest because I'm going to buy myself a GPS for a multi-day summer trip, and was wondering what thoughts were on the Garmin Foretrex units? The blurb on Garmins' website says that it was designed for multiple sports including kayaking, so it seems like the ideal choice, but I was hoping to find out what it's really like before I part with any money. I was also wondering if there is any benefit of the 201 over the 101? They seem to be the same as far as I can tell except the 201 has an inbuilt cell, whereas the 101 takes conventional batteries.

Sorry for hijacking the thread.

Allan

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Mikebelluk
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Post by Mikebelluk » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:28 pm

I tried a 201 but found I didn't like it as much as the basic Etrex venture as the battery life wasn't as long and its a bit fiddly to use.

Going back to an earlier post, I used to connect my Etrex to a PDA with Memory Maps loaded on it via the Garmin cable, but found it a bit of a faff, so I bought a bluetooth GPS receiver to do it wirelessly, which is very good, and I can download and upload all data too when I get home.

However, there is an interesting new machine on the market called Satmap, which has had some excellent reviews but I'm not sure if it has marine chart data available yet.

www.satmap.com

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