Meet Earl... The Next Gen GPS?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by btao, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. Wanted

    Wanted Been here awhile

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    Is this the right GPS for me?

    I don't really know much about handheld GPS units. However I'm hoping someone can just give me a simple unbiased opinion. All I want is a GPS with a large screen like this tablet size to mount to a rally style dash. I want to be able to create tracks off of Google Earth from my base, and import it onto the GPS to use in the field with alternative routes preset as a backup.

    I want to take this GPS to some really remote places, I have a SPOT emergency beacon, and no need for any of the fancy extras like 2 way radio or mp3 player, anything like this. Will the Earl do the trick?
    #81
  2. StoneAgeMan

    StoneAgeMan Wanderer

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    As the Earl has not actually been released, it's hard to say exactly what Android apps will work fine on Earl.

    But it's pretty much "just" an Android tablet. All actual hardware, for example the E-ink display, is hidden away from the apps (more precisely from the application programmers).

    There are a lot of GPS-based Android apps out there, some with maps, most without. There are several sources for topo-maps, but trail information is what's missing from most.

    Tracks from Google Earth can be saved in multiple formats, most of which can be read by most GPS-based Android apps.

    Note that I've not answered your question of "Will the Earl do the trick?". The easy answer is "of course it will", for the easy task you specified, i.e. 1) let you load multiple tracks generated from Google Earth; 2) display those tracks; 3) show where the tablet in relationship to the tracks; 4) one you didn't mention, display some map as a background on which the routes are also.

    All of that's because it's an Android device with a GPS and the Android tool-kits (used by all the Android app programmers) have a Location service that lets them get the current location.

    But the real key is the waterproofing (and shock-proofing and low energy consumption so longer batter life). There are almost no waterproof "large-format" (7-10 inches) screens available to you (except for expensive custom deals). The various GPSes are waterproof, but not large. The various large screen devices are not waterproof, although some have small amounts of water-resistance.

    I have not seen an "integrated solution" for your scenario. In other words, there is not (yet) a single app that lets you take routes from Google Earth directly to a tablet/phone. Now that I've posted this, somebody will build it and send the link.

    But all that means is that you will have to learn how to save the tracks (whether from Google Earth or elsewhere) in a format that your Android mapping application supports.

    Back Road Navigator is not bad, but there are a bunch of these Android apps. Try them and see which one you like as they all do mostly the same thing, just some things easier on some than others.

    I think the Earl will be kick-ass, but it will also be my 3rd Android tablet. A couple of friends have iPads and they are also fine. I'm cost-sensitive and am not bothered by the somewhat less predictable apps in the Android market vs. the Apple market.

    StoneAge
    #82
  3. moto_dmitriy

    moto_dmitriy que?

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    One of the main problems with earl and other e-Ink navigation devices is that the maps are not optimized to be displayed on a B&W screen hence the resulting display looks washed out and bleak. We need something exactly like the following implementation: http://maps.stamen.com/toner/#12/37.7706/-122.3782
    #83
  4. zardoz

    zardoz Adventurer

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    http://meetearl.com looks very promising for touring AND finding buddies at the rally or campground etc. Not yet a product, but they're hopeful to ship by Spring. Might be worth watching.

    It's a gps with topo maps, radio, weather info and radio, barometer, solar charger, walkytalky, well just go have a look at what it can do!
    #84
  5. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    Merged
    #85
  6. NortwestRider

    NortwestRider TRIPOD ADVENTURER !!

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    All I really need to do is get GPS tracks for BDR rides from the internet and download them on a large screen GPS , would Earl be what I 'm looking for. ???.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #86
  7. gpsdualsport

    gpsdualsport former mid life crisis motorcycle owner

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    Earl is currently vapor ware. The web site looks promising but the planned Nov 2013 release date has come and gone.
    The release has been pushed to spring/summer of 14 if you believe the development schedule.
    If you really want a tablet sized GPS unit you will have to roll your own for now. The link below has the details of the pioneers who have attempted what you are talking about.
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=942663
    I'm waiting for Earl myself. But then I bought a Aprillia RXV 450 thinking it would be a good dual sport bike.:D
    #87
  8. btao

    btao Adventure is out there!

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    At least they have been communicating vastly better. And once a month is vastly better... Should be great someday...

    I do like the improvements they have been making recently.

    sent from my portable multipurpose communicator
    #88
  9. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    just a february ping.
    #89
  10. btao

    btao Adventure is out there!

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    And here's a word from our sponsor:

    March Madness

    Reinforcements have arrived! One of the initial members of Team Earl recently relocated to Hong Kong in order to help during the final stages of development. Tyson Fok has been integral in the early stages of development and PR for the crowd funding campaign. As he gets up to speed on all the current ongoings, update frequency and communication with backers will see a marked increase. We are very excited and happy to welcome him to the fray. Earl has become a bit like conducting an orchestra. Though a little chaotic and out of tune at times, our main partner has done an amazing job of coordinating all the individual teams developing each of the components for Earl. Our RF system is an engineering feat in and of itself. A local Shenzhen manufacturer of two-way radio modules has tackled the task of creating an all-in-one radio that will pass FCC, CE and C-tick requirements. Though we were promised a developer friendly module by early February, debugging proved to be more complicated than anticipated and took an additional few weeks to work out the kinks. But we couldn't be more pleased with the results. When we arrived at our office on Friday we were pleasantly surprised to see our walkie talkie team waiting with our module mounted on a demo setup with microphone and speaker. Still waiting for custom Android drivers to be built, this was a suitable alternative to finally test out Earl’s radio system with the requisite, crystal clear, “Can you hear me now?”. It was like witnessing the birth of our first born, only better! The next treat was to finally see data streaming across the airwaves from our new modules, no cell phone towers, no wifi, just Earl to Earl. One of the big decisions we made early in development was to make the move from a fixed to a removable antenna system. We knew this would give users the flexibility to switch out antenna for clearer and longer range transmissions on more specific frequency ranges. We also wanted to make sure the antenna that Earl ships with would be top notch. Working closely with our tooling factory and a recommendation from our two-way radio manufacturer, we set out to develop a custom dual band (VHF/UHF) antenna. Because Earl can be used in landscape or portrait modes, we also had to design an antenna that adjusts to each mode. We chose to affix the antenna with a standard SMA connector on the back of Earl which allows for these multiple positions and stores nicely in the groove of Earl’s hand grip when not in use. We have a few options for the connector and locking mechanism for the connection and will be visiting our tooling factory this Friday to discuss the details of manufacturing our new antenna. Just a few more tweaks before we throw up version 1.5 of our site. We need final approval of the antenna system design with our tooling factory before preparing imagery. So in the meantime we have an updated list of the official specifications of Earl below:
    Android 4.4 (Kit Kat)
    6” Flexible, sunlight viewable, E-ink screen (1024x758) with front light
    Glove friendly capacitive touchscreen
    i.MX 6 DualLite 1 GHz Cortex A9 processor
    1GB ram
    16GB memory + microSD (up to 128GB)
    WiFi 802.11 B/G/N
    NFC with Android Beam
    Bluetooth 4.0
    ANT+
    AM/FM/SW/LW world radio
    2w two-way radio with 1w/0.5w low power modes
    GMRS (USA/CA): 462 + 467 MHz
    PMR446 (EU): 446 MHz
    UHF CB (AU/NZ): 477MHz
    VHF: 2m, 136-174 MHz
    UHF: 70cm, 400-480 MHz
    GPS with support for GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU) and Bedidou (China) locational satellite systems
    9-Axis Accelerometer/Gyroscope/Magnetometer
    Temperature, Humidity and Barometer (10cm resolution)
    Wolfson WM8960 audio codec
    Waterproof microphone and speaker, 1 watt
    Vibration alerts
    3.5mm TRRS headphone/microphone jack
    Micro USB
    Impact resistant solar panel, 22% efficiency rating
    20+ hour Li-Ion 3000mAh removable battery
    Quick Charging system with data support
    Dual quick disconnect sling connectors
    IP68 certified, Ingress Protection of dust and water up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) for up to 60 minutes
    125mm x 178mm x 15mm (24mm w/antenna)
    We’re still waiting on a few more details to come in from our manufacturing partners so we can reassess our timeline. Since our walkie talkie module was delayed, we had to push back certification until the beginning of April. It will only take a few days to test and pass tests here in Shenzhen, after which we can submit for final approval. We’ll be using this time to run through a few tooling tests so that we can start manufacturing in mid to late May. We have a few meetings this week and once we chat with everyone about their individual timelines, we’ll post an update with the de facto schedule.
    #90
  11. btao

    btao Adventure is out there!

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    Yea, it's cool. :deal
    #91
  12. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    Do you have any insight into what the following spec you posted actually means?

    The one thing I don't see is a means of powering/charging the Earl while on a bike (vehicle) without compromising the IP or using the Solar.
    #92
  13. btao

    btao Adventure is out there!

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    Well, the quick charge refers to the microUSB port, while it has a slightly slower solar charge via the back panel. There's more pictures of the update on the updates tab of the website, but the solar is on the back:

    [​IMG]

    So, if the mount you use for the bike doesn't completely block the back solar panel, you may not need to even plug it in or wire a plug for your bike. Remains to be tested, but the solar panel is the highest efficiency I've ever seen for current panels on the market. Once released, they will be working quickly on a line of accessories, and have reached out to the community to help with ideas and designs, similar to the crowdfunding approach. I'm sure a mount that allows good charging is a must.

    The connectors are sealed, and there's a rubber dust boot so crap doesn't get in it. You may need to clean it before the next use if you have it corded and drop it in the mud. You can hose it off though since it's IP68. Literally, just jump in a lake.
    #93
  14. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    I don't see Solar is a reliable source for charging this type of device in the Moto world and using USB connections for external power in-use is a rather poor design since access would compromise the IP protection. USB in any format was designed for desktop use and not high vibration and potential moisture ingress implementations.

    The current "standard" in the industry is to use low/no-insertion force connections for external power: e.g, Pins & Pads. Examples would be, Garmin's Rugged Mounts and Delorme inReach SE. With all of the tech the Earl Team are spending time and money on, to ignore this would be a very big mistake in my opinion. The Earl would never make my short list without comparable external power connection with mount/cradle and that is something that needs to be designed into the product before release; not after.
    #94
  15. btao

    btao Adventure is out there!

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    Not sure on the details since they aren't finished but that is what it sounds like to me. I can't speak to it. You could ask for more info on the Earl forum. I agree it would be an advantage, but don't know why solar doesn't work for you. It's designed to charge even under full use. I would rather get rid of the problem then need a solution.

    sent from my portable multipurpose communicator
    #95
  16. NortwestRider

    NortwestRider TRIPOD ADVENTURER !!

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    But the placement of it on MY BIKE would put the solar panels facing the front tire /road. !!!.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #96
  17. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS Supporter

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    Solar is a very limited positional charging solution and I don't think I would consider it very useful or effective as a mobile charging solution. Exposing circuit pads on the outter frame of the device is such a simple solution that I'm just surprised at their omission.

    That omission leads me to believe that the Earl Team had no intention of the device being used as an in/on-vehicle device.
    #97
  18. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    It seems more like a device for the... what was it again, Dan? Professional outdoors men? :-)

    I've given up the idea of having that perfect GPS for the adventure motorcycle, they all have compromises. This one, Earl, seems to be a great unit for the long distance, multi-day, wilderness hiker. Probably something that was missing for those guys. And I could see myself using Earl's company on my moto trips. Not as a handlebars navigator, but something to check the weather, get the news (I travel with short wave radio), and simply to have another gadget with me. In terms of GPS, I decided I'm happy with my old Oregon, accompanied by a cheap car nuvi. Together they do the job until the ultimate united is designed. Yes, imagine if Garmin allows the Monterra to romance the BMW Navigator V, perhaps their offspring would be Earl's cousin, the perfect navigation/communication/planning device for adventure motorcyclists.
    #98
  19. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Not just on YOUR bike. LOL
    That was exactly my thought when I saw the arrangement, it's either in charge position or in use-it position.
    #99
  20. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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