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Thread: GPS Questions

  1. #1
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    GPS Questions

    Hello, can you help me?

    A volunteer trails organization I work for has given me a new task: find a new multi-purpose GPS unit. The one I used before went kaput, so it's no longer available.

    I've mentioned the old GPS unit before, but now the move to find a new unit has kicked into high gear.

    I'm looking at a couple of different manufacturers, and in a couple different price ranges and feature sets...

    The unit must be hand-held, weather-resistant, and capable of being used for both hiking use and automotive (highway driving/direction finding) use. Common uses will be recording waypoints to transfer to a computer so that coordinates for problem areas on a trail can be recorded and repaired, or coordinates can be taken to establish new trails or re-routed trails. The recorded waypoints will be taken back to a computer and transferred to Google Earth for aerial visual analysis and planning activities.

    USB connection is must for the unit. Unit will likely work with a Macintosh computer.

    The unit should use AA batteries. I use rechargeable Sanyo Eneloops.

    The unit will be either a Garmin or a DeLorme.

    Here are the categories I'll be looking at...

    1: CHEAP - Probably a Garmin. (The new eTrex 10?) Unit must have a USB port for transferring waypoints into a computer. Unit must be able to help locate coordinates (like you do in geocaching, only this would be for points-of-interest in remote areas). The "cheap" category is to find the best handheld basic GPS with computer connectivity that can do the work we need of it.

    2: EXPENSIVE - Probably a DeLorme Earthmate PN-60 or other similar device. The unit should have all the functionality of the "cheap" unit, plus it should be able to superimpose topo maps on the unit's LCD screen so that user can orient himself on a map in remote areas.

    Any suggestions on the "cheap" or "expensive" options would be appreciated.

    Thank you for your time and attention,

    -- The Mountain Man


    NOTE: Smartphone GPS units are not reliable in the back-country where the bulk of the work I'm discussing would be done. So, unfortunately, smartphones like the Apple iPhone are not applicable here.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  2. #2
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    I use GPS units all the time - on the road, off road and marine. I am heavily biased toward Garmin as I have always had good luck with them and most of their newer units will work with a Mac (that is all I use). I don't know whether DeLorme will work with a Mac and I haven't worked with a Delorme unit. Part of the reason I favor Garmin is I sometimes connect my GPS units to other devices via the NMEA 0183 protocol for ham radio and marine use (this is not important for your use).

    If you want to use the GPS device on the road and on the trail with topo maps, I don't believe you are going to be satisfied with a "low end" unit. I currently own (amongst other units) a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx which has been replaced by the GPSmap 62ST unit. Has some topo maps preloaded and you can load others. You can also load City Navigator maps for road use and it takes SD cards. The touch screen models (Montana, Oregon series) are a little easier to work with, but I sold my Oregon because the screen was washed-out in the sunlight, and my friends tell me that is true of the Montana as well.

    Strongly recommend you visit a retailer with many units to look at - Fry's, Bass Pro Shop (particularly for the off-road models) and play with them for a bit - that may help you decide.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the quick reply!

    I'm out in a rural area, so the visit to the "big box" electronics retailers wouldn't work for me.

    I found a DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 GPS, valued somewhere north of $200, on sale "used - like new" for $167. I checked with the other volunteers and we picked the PN-40.

    I am concerned that DeLorme doesn't directly support MacOS, but I'm told I can connect the unit and transfer info.

    I visited the GeoWoodstock IX event when it was nearby last summer and got to talk to the various GPS manufacturers' reps in person. I was most pleased by the expertise and responses of the DeLorme crew that was there. I'll keep your suggestions in mind if we make any future purchases, though.

    I'd really like to hear about how you use your GPS with a ham radio. Our volunteer organization runs a sled dog race during a local winter festival. We use ham radio volunteers to conduct communications between the checkpoints.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  4. #4
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    I am not a happy camper this evening. We recently bought a lightly used DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 GPS receiver from Amazon Prime. The unit arrived today, in very good condition, but with a missing part: the proprietary USB interface cable!!! Amazon doesn't provide a means of handling this kind of omission. Without the DeLorme-spec cable, there is no way to connect this device to a computer to transfer coordinates, maps or anything else.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  5. #5
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    Update: I was forced to order a replacement for the missing cable, direct from DeLorme.

    I spent the better part of an hour on the phone with Amazon customer service. They promised me a $19 refund to cover the cost of me ordering the cable (the Amazon product page specified "what's in the box", including the GPS receiver and the cable) and an e-mail confirmation of the refund. 24 hours later, there has been no message from Amazon, however.

    For their part, DeLorme sent me a message confirming that the cable has shipped, due to arrive Wednesday.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  6. #6
    Registered User xtal's Avatar
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    If it's any comfort, I've always had excellent customer service from Amazon. If they've agreed to refund you the cost of the cable, I'm confident that they will keep their word. Glad to hear that this will be sorted out soon.

  7. #7
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    MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

    We just got an e-mail message from Amazon today confirming that we will get a $19 refund to compensate for the missing USB cable that should have been in the box with the DeLorme GPS we purchased. (The cable has been ordered and should ship this coming week.)

    I took the DeLorme with me on my Christmas hike today, and recorded six GPS waypoints. I transcribed these coordinates into Google Earth and was amazed by the accuracy. Only one point was within a few dozen feet. Another was off by a lesser amount. The others were either spot-on or within a few feet. I can see this new unit is going to be tremendously beneficial to our efforts.

    Love the built-in compass and altimeter.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.


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