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Anybody know GPS?


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  • Anybody know GPS?

    We just returned from a trip to Guatemala for research on her Thesis and used some GPS units to do land cover classification. Whatever.

    Anyway, those damn things are COOL! Now I want one. It seems that Garmin is the way to go for the poor of wallet and have a bunch of features. However, I have a Mac and can't seem to get any good info on if they work with them.

    Just looking for suggestions.

    '95 YJ 4 banging powerhouse.

  • #2
    If you are a Mac user looking at Garmin, you are SOL

    For Macintosh users:

    Garmin does not support Macintosh computers at this time and does not have Macintosh software or connectors available. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes you. Information for wiring a Garmin GPS to a DIN-8 connector is provided as a courtesy to Macintosh users. It is possible to run PC-based software on a Macintosh by using a PC emulator program. Macintosh systems normally utilize a female 8-pin DIN-8 port on the back of the computer.
    It might be easier to define what GPS unit to get by first looking at how you plan to use your GPS unit.
    [list=1][*]Will you be using it solely as a sensor in conjunction with a laptop?

    If this is the case, you don't need anything fancy at all, just get a DeLorme Earthmate USB GPS. These have no display and are smaller than a deck of cards. They attach to the laptop and let you use them with your laptop GPS/mapping navigation program (more on this later).
    [*]Do you plan to use the GPS unit solely as a stand-alone unit (probably not given your questions)

    If so, you will need to give a lot more consideration to the questions below.
    [*]Do you need maps and points of interest on the unit itself?

    This is a nice feature and my first GPS was the Garmin Vista, because I wanted all the bells and whistles. I really hardly use any of these functions now (or even the unit) as most of my GPS navigation is done with a laptop. When out and about on foot, I usually drag along a map with both lat/long and UTM scales.
    [*]Do you plan to use GPS in conjunction with paper maps

    If so, onscreen mapping may be less important. Other times, the onscreen map is essential, esp if your hands are full (driving, kayaking, boating).
    [*]Will you be primarily using this in an auto or on foot

    If you are using your GPS while driving, pay careful attention to how easy it is to read and manipulate your GPS display. Yes, I know the manual says you have to pull over and stop the engine before you use the GPS.
    [*]How much waypoint/route data do you plan to keep on the GPS unit before you archive it on a computer and erase it

    This is pretty important. I used to download and upload waypoint data pretty frequently and delete them on the GPS, but now I tend to just let them live on the GPS after archiving them. This is more for fun, though some people like to use them as regular references (hunters, fishermen, geocachers).[/list=1]

    Having said all that, I own three GPS units, all from Garmin, the Vista, the Geko 201, and the yellow Etrex.

    The Vista was my first GPS as I got it as a gift after nearly getting lost in the Angeles Natl Forest on a backpacking expedition. Very small, very feature packed. Lots of memory for maps. Unfortunately, only takes Mapsource maps (more on this below) and the topo maps basically suck. The Metroguide maps are OK but they are expensive and the POI data is a bit dated. The display is very sharp but small. Nowadays, it rolls around in the drawers waiting for me to pull it out for a trip to a city where it's ability to pack in Metroguide data shines.

    The Geko 201 is my major go-to unit right now. It does both laptop sensor duty and pocket round-town duty. No maps can be uploaded to it, but for laptop sensor function this is totally superfluous. I like to keep routes of dayhikes in it, so that I can focus more on the scenery than trail signs. Very small and fun, but hampered by AAA lifespan.

    My most recent Garmin is probably one of the older models that they still make, the yellow Etrex. I picked it up in Moab when I forgot to pack that danged Geko. I will be cannibalizing a data cord to turn it into a sensor unit for our GPSy41 personal locator beacon. I probably don't need a display for this function, but it would be nice to know that I have a fix before activating the PLB.

    Features that I think are absolutely necessary are:
    NMEA output- pretty standard
    computer interface port
    water/dust/shock resistance
    12 channel- standard
    WAAS is nice but not enough birds in the air yet to make it useful outside of marine or plains use.

    I think the above are necessary, as I do all my "serious" mapping off-road with a laptop and GPS. The combination of real-time location in conjunction with a computer display 1:24K topo map is unbeatable. I personally use the TOPO! map series (bought out by Natl Geographic) as I am very familiar with them having used them since the Dandelion days. I have amassed quite a collection of these CD's. This app supports Mac.

    I also have fooled around with Ozi Explorer which lets you use essentially ANYTHING as a map, aerial photos, scanned maps, downloaded maps. It's a fairly comprehensive program that can do most of what TOPO does, but sometimes it is a bit more involved when you want to do complicated stuff like create a map from an aerial photo (need to calibrate known points) or stitch multiple maps together. The nice thing is that you can use FREELY available map data with Ozi Explorer that you cannot use with other commercial apps like TOPO. I have downloaded all of California and Arizona. I am working on Utah but ran out of DVD-RW disks. This app does not support Mac but does support Win CE handhelds.

    The Garmin units use proprietary Mapsource maps only that do not let you normally upload non-Garmin (read free maps). This capability has been recently hacked however using GPSmapper and OziExplorer. Personally, I think it is a hassle, but it has been particularly useful for people venturing to areas that Garmin hasn't yet created maps of (Eastern Europe, Canada).

    In any case, I almost never use maps on-screen on the Vista unless I am using it for streets and POI in an urban setting. The laptop has a much bigger screen and is easier to use than the joystick and baby aspirin buttons.

    My next GPS unit will probably be a DeLorme Earthmate that I will hardmount to the Jeep so I never forget to bring a GPS again...OBGPS, the next big thing in Jeeping! If you plan to do laptop-GPS navigation, check out Stu Olson's dissertation on the matter. It may make more sense for you to find a software package you like first and then tailor your choice of GPS unit to the software and cable interface compatability issues (i.e. not Garmin).

    Good luck!
    Last edited by jmbrowning; 06-02-04, 12:41 AM.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
    2003 TJ Rubicon: 4.5" OME coils; RE SF2; NthDegree TT/oilpan skid/shock shifters; FXD rock rails; Anti-Rock; 5150'


    • #3
      Got this Garmin Rino for dad's day last year and I'm still learnig all the functions, but the basics are pretty simple and I like it alot. Does alot for it's little size to include walkie-talkie.
      “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. ”
      -Gen. George S. Patton Jr.


      • #4
        Consider this application and they also build data cables for Garmin. It appears to be very much like Ozi Explorer but for the Mac. Hope you find this info useful. If you do use this app and need the DRG data, let me know as I have gigabytes of the stuff.
        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
        2003 TJ Rubicon: 4.5" OME coils; RE SF2; NthDegree TT/oilpan skid/shock shifters; FXD rock rails; Anti-Rock; 5150'


        • #5
          We use the Garmin eTrex Vista and it's small, feature-packed, and does a pretty good job for the most part (doesn't work well in trees).

          That's great to hear there's another Mac user here, I swear we don't get enough credit!! It does suck that none of the software runs on the Mac, but I probably wouldn't buy it anyway.

          From my experience, I rarely interface the GPS unit with the computer. And when I did, I used a PC at work or at a friend's house. I found that once I had the maps on the GPS, I was pretty much content!

          Hopefully igofshn or nailer will chime in too, they have the GPS V I think? It's the bomb!
          :gun:'99 TJ Sport:gun:


          • #6
            Garmin V Deluxe here. It is awesome, but Garmin has a new one out GPS map 60 and the gps map 60CS. Both are in color and at a very good price.
            1994 Toyota, dual cases, 5.29 axles with ARB's


            • #7
              gps v here as well... great unit, and really easy to use. the only real downfall is you have to buy "their" software to put on the gps. it is great mapping software, but not cheap.

              95 yj, locked lifted, and ready to rock!


              • #8
                Mine came with all the city maps and I got he topos from a friend.
                1994 Toyota, dual cases, 5.29 axles with ARB's


                • #9
                  I use a Magellan Sportrak Map. I love it. If you decide on any Magellan product I will let you copy my Topo programs.

                  The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed!!!!


                  • #10
                    I have a Garmin ique 3600
                    if you have never looked at this unit, do so.. just unbelieveable what this thing does.. it plays mp3's, color moving map with voice directions, infrared port to communicate with cell phones (yes you can browse the internet with a cell phone attached), full PDA functions, just everything......really....
                    It actually learns any code you shoot at it. I have mine changing channels on the tv etc.

                    word has it that soon a cheaper version will arrive without quite so many functions.
                    It's not what you have. it's what you do with what you have.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Elusive
                      I have mine changing channels on the tv etc.
                      must ... buy ... gps!!
                      hahah! that is way too cool! what about changing the NEIGHBORs channels thru the front window?
                      :gun:'99 TJ Sport:gun:


                      • #12
                        Heck, I'd just be happy with beaming waypoints rather than repeating UTM coordinates
                        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
                        2003 TJ Rubicon: 4.5" OME coils; RE SF2; NthDegree TT/oilpan skid/shock shifters; FXD rock rails; Anti-Rock; 5150'


                        • #13
                          I looked at the iQue and figured out that while it'd be great for non-Jeep use, it's just not rugged enough for offroading. It's neither water resistant nor dust resistant. I loved its features but those two drawbacks made it unsuitable for open Jeep use, at least in my opinion.

                          I ended up buying Garmin's new GPSMAP 60CS for $418 from TigerGPS and so far, I'm totally impressed and loving its' performance and color display. This is my 3rd GPS, which I consider a 3rd generation model when compared to my 1991 Magellan (size of a Buick ) and 1994 Garmin.

                          By the way, its key advantage over something like a Garmin GPS 5 is that it has 56 MB of RAM which means you can store the streets for autorouting of the entire SOCALIF/SO-NEVADA/SO-ARIZONA area or similar-sized areas anywhere else. The GPS 5 only has enough RAM (something like 1.5MB?) for a community or two's worth of streets for autorouting. This thing even has the gas stations, restaurants, and other key points of interest and even their phone numbers for the entire area you've stored the street data for. You choose what geographic areas to load from a PC-based application, up to its RAM capacity.

                          Check it out at

                          Last edited by Jerry Bransford; 06-06-04, 06:20 PM.
                          The Geezer Jeep:


                          • #14
                            We actually met about 3 months ago outside 4wheel parts..
                            I have my ique in a waterproof carrier thingy that keeps all the elements out..
                            the ique uses SD cards, so you have as much memory as you want. I have the western US on one card, music and games on another. Not saying its for everyone, the internal battery only lasts about 3 hours, but its pretty neat.
                            It's not what you have. it's what you do with what you have.


                            • #15
                              If you to go out and find stuff with your GPS then check these sites out.
                     for your natural hot springs
                     for your hidden treasures have fun
                              75 blazer + 81 CJ-7 + 90 Wrangler = Tonka Jeep Dave