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Old 08-26-2013, 05:27 AM   #1
bmwrider1946 OP
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Question about using smart phone as primary GPS

When I was out west my smart phone was pretty much useless as a GPS when I was in an area where there was no cell coverage. The GPS knew where I was but since the maps could not refresh there was no map to relate the information to. Did I do something wrong?
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:57 AM   #2
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kinda. you needed to download the maps into your phone so it didnt need the cell coverage to refresh. several apps have that ability.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:08 AM   #3
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Generally, you need a data connection to download the maps. Some apps allow you to load the maps for a route ahead of time so you don't run into that problem. The limit in that case is your phone's memory - if you've got it full of music/pictures, there may not be much left over for maps. Getting a phone with expandable memory would be a good idea if this is what you plan to do.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:59 AM   #4
Spina
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I use my Galaxy Nexus and a Givi case mounted on an homemade support. I tried the tom tom app for android, no need for data, so it works even with no cell coverage and the app seems pretty good!

I had only one problem: the phone was plugged into a 12v socket with a usb adapter, and the phone was recharching, at least that wat the battery status was saying.
However, in 2h I lost 15-20% of the battery. Sure it was less than what I would have lost if the phone wasn't plugged in, but I hoped that the 12v socket would be enough to keep the phone fully charged :\
I had the tom tom app, gps and the display ( it's a big screen ) at full brightness. I don't know if that's normal, given the big battery consumption, or if I have a problem with battery...
Maybe with a dedicated gps I would have not this problem?
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:08 AM   #5
Twilight Error
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spina View Post
I use my Galaxy Nexus and a Givi case mounted on an homemade support. I tried the tom tom app for android, no need for data, so it works even with no cell coverage and the app seems pretty good!

I had only one problem: the phone was plugged into a 12v socket with a usb adapter, and the phone was recharching, at least that wat the battery status was saying.
However, in 2h I lost 15-20% of the battery. Sure it was less than what I would have lost if the phone wasn't plugged in, but I hoped that the 12v socket would be enough to keep the phone fully charged :\
I had the tom tom app, gps and the display ( it's a big screen ) at full brightness. I don't know if that's normal, given the big battery consumption, or if I have a problem with battery...
Maybe with a dedicated gps I would have not this problem?
Most GPS mounts come with a provision for 12v power from the bike, you'd only have a problem if the wiring to the electrical system is bad or the GPS itself has a problem.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:11 AM   #6
SuzukiScottie
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Metroview on my iphone. The app is around $15 and has all the roads in Aus and NZ. The app is regularly updated for free to keep it current.

I use a 12v charger with 2 outputs (ebay HOng Kong for a dollar) A 1amp output to run and charge the phone continuously with the gps running, and the other output is a 2.1amp output for charging anything else with a higher consumption.

My old half amp charger struggled to keep my old iphone4 charged when using gps continuously. Iphone5 is even worse but that may be because i have more going on in the background with email and suchlike.


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Old 08-26-2013, 07:12 AM   #7
Shirtfaced
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I've got an app called OSMAND which allows you to download maps per region which are available offline. It's an excellent app.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:22 AM   #8
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Gaia GPS

I'v been using the Gaia GPS app and love it. I use it on an iphone and on a wifi ipad with the bad elf GPS receiver and it works really well.

It lets you download from a lot of different map sources, including Google road, terrain, and satellite imagery, as well as open street map and USGS topos. You can select areas to download or it will automatically download maps around a saved track. If you have a data connection it will pull maps in on the fly and even display local weather radar as an overlay.

It will easily import GPX and KML files. I have my phone and computers setup with dropbox, and Gaia will open track files from dropbox. pretty cool.

Only downside for me so far has been having to remove my gloves to use the touch screen. I need to get some of that conductive thread :)
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:52 AM   #9
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One of the other Gaia devs uses the app a lot while skiing backcountry. He uses a stylus for screen interaction... might be what you want on a motorcycle too.
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:54 AM   #10
John Smallberries
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No cell coverage, no GPS myth

You will find lots of posts about smartphones only working as GPS devices when in a cellular network. I can guarantee that this is not true, at least for iPhones. The iPhone has an excellent GPS chip that works outside cell coverage. It does also use the available cell network to find it's location more quickly. If you have the memory available (~1G), there are several apps that will hold the entire US map database in the phone (I use Magellan Roadmate). So - the phone will work just fine anywhere within this map database, cell signal or not. I have been using an old iPhone 4 with the cell coverage fully discontinued (migrated to my new iPhone 5) for the Magellan nav ap and it works fine. It does seem to take a bit longer to find itself, particularly in an urban area (downtown Detroit).

Lots of good alternatives out there if you use the site:www.advrider.com Google search.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:33 AM   #11
bmwrider1946 OP
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Great help. I figured I was doing something wrong. I have lots of memory on my phone and plan on using it as a primary backup.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:35 AM   #12
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I have avoided SmartPhones for the most part because I don't text and really only use the phone for phone calls.

Since getting my K100 back on the road however, I have been thiking that I should get a SmartPhone that does it all.

Since I am w/AT&T, I believe I'll get an unlocked Nokie Lumia 1020 that will serve as camera, GPS and music source as well as phone source.

It has 32 B=GB of RAM and the maps for the USA are only 9 GB.

My music only takes up ~ 6GB (160kbps .WMA files), so I should be good.

This way I don't need to have a data connection (keep my current plan) and not be tied into them on a contract...I'll just use WIFI for the downloads and trip planning.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:49 AM   #13
bmwrider1946 OP
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I have to admit that I am addicted to my smart phone. Work and personal email, texting, listening to books or music while driving long distances or mileage crunching on the bike, checking weather, replacing my bicycle computer, and in general bolstering my ever worsening memory. The GPS is just another addition to the arsenal.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:22 AM   #14
Robert_W
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I have 2 Zumo 665's. One on each bike. Also have a Delorme PN-40. Have used them all extensively. The Zumo's have pretty much been relegated to XM/mp3 players. Good for basic nav and find fuel stuff.

A week ago I bought a Samsung S4. Love it. Just starting to use all of it's functionality. With a bigger battery and memory card...which are on the way... I can easily see it replacing the above. Great for backpacking too. Lose weight. Not only GPS but replace my camera, extra batteries, etc.

Been using the ViewRanger App and it is real good. The Gaia GPS also looks real cool. I'm going to try it too.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twilight Error View Post
Most GPS mounts come with a provision for 12v power from the bike, you'd only have a problem if the wiring to the electrical system is bad or the GPS itself has a problem.
I believe the problem is the USB adapter isn't passing enough current. It'd depend on the phone but perhaps the nominal 1A that a typical 12V USB adapter passes isn't enough.

I know the popular 12V waterproof USB adapter available here wont keep an iPhone 4S charged when the GPS is in use with the screen always on.


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