Newbee on GPS

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Square4, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Square4

    Square4 Been here awhile

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    I know virtually nothing about GPS since have always used maps and liked the idea of getting lost and serendipitously finding new things. But as I am getting older, I am thinking that it would be nice to have a GPS as a backup and to perhaps use it to find new things to explore on back roads, fire roads, etc in a more systematic way. My issue is that in looking at all of the threads in this track, I am overwhelmed with models and features that I know virtually nothing about. Is there some primers that one can use to get smart enough to understand all of the comments and discussions in the threads on this track?

    Steve
    #1
  2. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Read the stickied threads at the top of the page. :D
    #2
  3. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    If you ask any questions about which model etc, it is best to state what kind of bike you ride (light Dual Sport or big Adv bike) what kind of riding you do (all off road or mostly paved and graded roads), and what you want to do with a GPS (Use Routes or use only Tracks).
    #3
  4. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    The above posts are all good info. I've taught Basic and Advanced GPS classes over the years and think it is the best way for riders to get acquainted with GPS's and what they can and can't do for you.

    Check with your local bike shop to see if they offer such classes or with your local Community Ed programs. These classes are often free or very low cost and will afford the opportunity to ask relevant questions about GPS's.

    If you just start asking questions here, my observation is that you will get a lot more info than you can process and much of it may not be relevant to what you really are looking for (Countdown's point above).

    Cheers,
    #4
  5. Square4

    Square4 Been here awhile

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    I have a hacked R1150 GSA and ride a variety of roads and love gravel roads and fire roads. Would like to head to Prudhoe Bay one day and so want a system to support that. Live in the Pacific Northwest and put 7 to 8000 miles on a year. Does that provide any insights to my needs and what would work best?

    Steve
    #5
  6. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    Do you own a smartphone and/or a computer? If so, are you comfortable using applications on them? How's your eyesight? Are small digital screens a pain in the butt for you to see and interact with?

    Cheers,
    #6
  7. Square4

    Square4 Been here awhile

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    I do not have a smart phone and have never used one. I have a computer and use it a lot for email and surfing the web. Based on that what does that tell you?

    Steve
    #7
  8. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    It tells me that you should do a fare amount of homework before jumping into a GPS - not that you couldn't figure some basic things out but rather so that you don't start off buying something you don't need or want out of the gate.

    I would suggest starting with the basics of GPS. You might read the "Sticky's" in this Forum on GPS Basics. To get you started, here's an excerpt from one of my Classes/Articles. . .



    Why Would Anyone Want a GPS Receiver?
    • Supports pre-ride planning
    • Finds "stuff" for you
    • Encourages exploration
    • Reduce driving “stress”
    • Record a ride
    • Archive a ride
    • Share ride
    • Will help you avoid "getting lost"

    Basic Specs for a GPS
    • Portable, ruggedized, water-proof
    • Powered by Battery and external 12VDC power
    • Operable with gloves on
    • Create waypoints and display their properties
    • Import and navigate tracks and routes
    • Can record tracks and store them
    • You can add addition maps to the unit
    • World Wide Map products are available
    • Software is user upgradable

    Let’s do a short review of the basic GPS data types that are most important to Adventure Touring and Dual Sport Riding.

    Waypoints: For our purposes a waypoint is a point on the earth defined by latitude and longitude coordinates.
    Routes: In today’s GPS context, a route is a path calculated by the GPS between a minimum of two waypoints using onboard maps that contain information (routing data) that the GPS uses in the calculation. Since a Route is calculated, no two GPS’s will produce the same Route given a start point and end point unless they are calculated on the same model of GPS using the same exact map data with the same exact routing preferences – and that is rare!
    Tracks: Since the beginning, commercial GPS’s have been able to record the path we traveled by setting points (latitude, longitude) along the way.*These points (track points) are represented on the GPS display by a line connecting them from start to finish.*Once a track is recorded the direction of a track is determined by the time-stamp associated with each point along the path.
    As you can see there is a significant difference between Route’s and Track’s.*So, are Route’s really useful?*Well, sometimes, but not when you want to ensure everyone follows the same path – then we need Tracks.

    Digital Maps: Most modern GPS’s support pre-installed or installable digital maps.
    The two fundamental types of digital maps are referred to as Raster or Vector maps.
    • Raster maps can be made from arial or satellite imagery, scanned paper maps or any image that is earth coordinate calibrated.
    • Routable (vector) maps are typically created using map editing software, or drawn, and have earth coordinate data associated to the drawn lines that represent roads; or any other feature the author wants to place on the map. The advantage of vector maps is that they can also have routing data associated to the roads which will enable the GPS to create a route based on a start point and an end point.

    Maps are only as good as the author who created them. There is not one type of map that is better than another but routable maps are more convenient since you can both auto-route and use waypoints and tracks to navigate.​

    Hope that get's you started.

    Now, go to your favorite GPS store(s) and look over the various models so you get a feel for Screen Size, Brightness (go outside in the sunlight with it before you buy!!!), Touch Screen or Button ergonomics.

    Remember, you'll be trying to look at this device while you're riding and "see" what's ahead on your route.

    Here's the short list of the units I recommend to our Clients:

    Garmin Montana Series (it's at the top of my list in all categories)
    Garmin GPSMAP 276, 376, 478 (tried and true - but out of production and older technology)
    Garmin zumo 660/665 (supported - becoming less desirable due to software issues)

    There are certainly a lot of other GPS's available on the market that will meet/exceed the basic requirements. Hands-on is the best decision maker. Take your time.

    Cheers,
    #8
  9. Mifune

    Mifune Been here awhile

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    Hi Steve,

    Good questions. I've been leading the GPS strategy for a couple of the leading chip makers for donkey's years and still can't make sense of half the features promoted on most consumer devices. You could research this to death or you could just go out and buy something from any of the leading brands and start playing with it. My advice is to do the latter. It's the most time-efficient way to learn what you can and can't do with it. And by the time you have figured out whatyou love and hate about the one you've bought, there'll be a whole new generation of products on the market. I still get good use out of products I picked up from Garmin 10 years ago and from TomTom software running on an iPaq with GPS on a CF card (remember PDAs?). If you've got the money, I'd just go out and buy the new Garmin Montana. It looks to me like a huge advance over anything that has previously been peddled to the motorcycling crowd. I don't see how you could go wrong with that. If you want to save some cash, get any of last year's motorcycle-specific models from TomTom or Garmin. You don't need to be a genuis to operate any of these products. They all work pretty well. And they'll all be replaced by something better by the time you get home from the store. So just jump in.

    -Stuart
    #9
  10. Square4

    Square4 Been here awhile

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    Dan and Stuart;

    Thanks for the info. I found that very informative and it gives me a strategy for moving forward. It is clear this will not be something that one can easily review and become an expert but it is a complex long term investment and study.

    Steve
    #10
  11. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    Another tip on GPS selection. If you ride with a group or at least know several other riders with GPS, just buy what they have so they can answer any question during your learniing curve.

    I know that many Adv riders tend to ride along but off road riders tend to ride in groups. An example is Events. At Dual Sport rides 90% of the GPS units are 60/76 so any one can help you. Another source is if you frequent a bike shop where lots of customers have GPS.
    #11
  12. TRZ Charlie

    TRZ Charlie That's MR. Asshole

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    We see a lot of new GPS users or wannabes. This is about as concise as one can get when trying to convey the considerations that should be made prior to buying a GPS'r. Hey 9Dave whatcha think?

    Great job DRTBYK!


    #12
  13. RozzyCat

    RozzyCat Bleeds orange

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    Two approaches for us with aged eyes:

    #1: Bifocal safety glasses

    http://www.amazon.com/DPG59-115C-Reinforcer-Rx-Bifocal-Performance-Protective/dp/B000646VF8

    #2: For those riding with face shields. Apply a pair of these together to make a circle that you can use to zero in on the screen. Caution - don't do this above 100 MPH. :D

    http://www.amazon.com/OPTX-20-Stick-Bifocals-2-00/dp/B000W7HQCQ

    Attached Files:

    #13
  14. dontlr

    dontlr Banned

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  15. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    I think you need to add a couple more features that make a big difference.

    Routes do not just show on the Map page. You must call up a route to Navagate. Then the GPS shows it (and only it) on the map in its preselected color. As you ride you can not see if there are passing optional routes. Way points could be set at these Splits to help. Routes are very good for highway use and expecially long ones and ones through towns with complicated turns and freeways where you really don't want to make a U-turn.

    All Tracks show on the map all the time (but can be turned off by user). They make your GPS the same as a paper map with YOUR highlighted roads and trails or even across a Dry Lake or Sand Dune, plus a constant "you are here" mark that shows which way you are traveling, plus an invisible navagotor who keeps folding and moving the map so the "you are here" is always right in front of you. Tracks can be set by user to any of many colors for "color coding" like normal, hard, easy. Tracks are very good for "off road" mostly dirt travel.
    #15