Which USB GPSr?

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Chazz Layne
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Which USB GPSr?

#1

Post by Chazz Layne » Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:09 am

I'm hoping to get the parts pulled together and use my netbook for on-board navigation during BorregoFest, but I'm not sure which GPSr unit I should pick up. In the future, I will want to be able to run Overland Navigator, Topo!, and APRS using this setup. There seem to be a very limited number of options out there that will work with all three... suggestions?
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Re: Which USB GPSr?

#2

Post by NotAMog » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:32 am

Chazz,

I've been using a Garmin GPS-18 hockey puck style unit for awhile. It works great. I see they have a newer GPS-18x model but I haven't checked out its features yet.

The only caveat is that the USB version only outputs Garmin data strings. That isn't a problem if you're running a utility like Franson GPSgate which will translate Garmin to NEMA. You'll also need GPSgate is your planning on running multiple GPS enabled applications simultaneously.
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Re: Which USB GPSr?

#3

Post by Chazz Layne » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:21 pm

I do a lot of track logging and geotagging of photos - every trip, in fact - but I have never used them for navigation before and am not likely to start doing so outside the vehicle. In the past, I've been using GPSed on my phone for this purpose, but it is an extremely clunky and buggy program (both on the phone and the online-ONLY geotagging feature), and the phone's GPS is very power hungry (a problem on long trips). With these in mind I went searching for something super small, with great battery life, that could log a trip uninterrupted whilst simultaneously being plugged into or removed from the netbook for vehicle navigation.

After a lot of reading and a conversation with DaveK on his setup, I was going to go with a smaller eTrex unit so I could easily toss it into my pocket for hikes or rides. It was still bigger than I wanted though, and would be seriously limited in charging options (AAA batteries). I decided to search one last time for a solution when I stumbled on this:

Image
http://www.amazon.com/Q-1000XT-BT-Q1000 ... 679&sr=8-1

Qstarz Q-1000XT Travel Logger

It is about half the size of a Garmin eTrex, has no display to break, runs for about 42 hours off of a generic Nokia li-ion battery (easy/cheap spares), recharges via USB (car charger included), tracks for about a month (assuming 10-hour days at one mark every 5 seconds), and will share itself to a computer over USB and/or Bluetooth without affecting it's own built-in track logging. The included software is easy to use and geotags happen on the computer, instead of over the internet, so it is much more reliable. The tagged photos can then be uploaded anywhere they need to go either in the software or via the traditional methods.

I've only had a little time with it so far, during BorregoFest, and none of it was with a computer for navigation. Power-up to location fix was about 15-20 seconds, and seems to work just as well on foot, in a vehicle's glove box, or in a building. A small slide switch on one side sets the device to "off", "nav" for computer USB/BT navigation only, or "log" for simultaneous internal trip logging and computer USB/BT navigation. I used "log" during the Truckhaven and Lost Ship of Pearls run and left it in the console under the dash. The resulting tracks were flawless, and I've been able to zoom in to my geotagged photo locations on Google Maps to find everything right where it should be. The only other control on the device is a small red button on the top, which can be used to mark points-of-interest in the track log. There are 3 LEDs on the top surrounding the button: one blue for Bluetooth, one green/red for battery, one amber/red for GPS fix (red flashes when marking POIs). It is also capable of audio feedback, which makes it easy to flip on/off and mark POIs while driving without taking your eyes off the road.

When I got home I set up GPSgate and plugged in the Qstarz via USB (I hate bluetooth with a passion). It immediately popped up and installed, and GPSgate worked perfectly with it as tested on Overland Navigator and a few other utilities I have. As an added plus, the software that came with the device to change it's settings work just fine right through GPSgate, so there's no need to shut GPSgate down if you need to change settings in the device. Log point rate, audio feedback, motion detector, and a few other settings are all handled via the software only.

I'll be testing it out in greater detail along with my shiny new copy of Overland Navigator on our Mojave Road trip next week, and will get a proper review up when I get back.
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Re: Which USB GPSr?

#4

Post by OLLIE » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:50 am

So how is this unit working for you so far Chazz?
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Re: Which USB GPSr?

#5

Post by Chazz Layne » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:28 pm

Fantastic! ...bout time I did a write-up on it, hopefully this week. :lol:
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Re: Which USB GPSr?

#6

Post by Chazz Layne » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:51 am

6-month followup: The little Q1000XT continues to work flawlessly, everything in my brief write-up above still holds true. The software has been a little annoying when tagging photos, mostly because it tries to do too much at once. The easy fix: I just export the GPX file when I'm ready to geo-tag and use the included GeoSetter when I process the photos.

Note: GeoSetter is a freeware utility, well worth checking out even if you don't have a Q1000XT: http://www.geosetter.de/en/

Some pictures:
Image Image Image Image

Dust and Weather: While not truly "ruggedized", the devices simplistic design and minimal controls leave few areas vulnerable to moisture or dust ingress. For the last six months it has been a trusty travel companion while winter-hiking frozen trails and barreling down dusty back roads (with the windows down).

Hiking with it: the Q1000XT is small and rounded enough to go unnoticed in a pocket - perfectly suited to hiking the wilderness or the urban jungle. The waypoint button is plenty easy to press for marking any points of interest along the way, without causing accidental marks on the track.

In-and-out of the vehicle: Switching from vehicle to foot and taking the unit with me (and plugging it back into the computer afterward) has worked perfectly. I've been able to unplug it, go for a hike, plug it back in and keep driving several times in the middle of a trip with no problems. Of course, while it's out any track logging you have on the computer will have gaps, so I've been using the device's own log exclusively for that and just doing nav on the computer. So far it has also worked directly with any software I've tested, most see it as a Garmin unit.
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Re: Which USB GPSr?

#7

Post by salad_man » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:05 pm

That is fantastic chazz! I might have to get one of these :D
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