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GPS anyone?(18 posts)

GPS anyone?zeke
Mar 2, 2002 3:30 AM
I've been using a GPS (Garmin) for the past few years on my rides. I've been reading this discussion group for a only few months and have not seen any messages about cyclists using GPS, and am a bit surprised.
GPS units create a great amount of info that is useful for s cyclist, eg current speed, average moving speed, avg. total speed, ETA, real-time map, altitude profile, and so on. Also, once one arrives home, using free downloadable software, one can print out one's route travelled that day. I am here only mentioning a few features that are available.
So, has anyone ever used one while cycling?
I just got one - need advicesodade
Mar 2, 2002 4:01 AM
I just bought a Gamin eTrex Vista - it looked like the schwankiest one. The problem is that its built in map doesn't have the backroads that I ride on here in NH - only the major routes. I bought garmin's Topo SW, but it was the worst POS proggie I have ever seen - the roads werent labeled, you couldn't do profiles, and no 3d views - basically useless. Then I bought Delorme's topoUSA on DVD - awseome SW with all the features that Garmin's topo SW lacked - but it appears that I can't upload map data from it to my GPS - I can go the other way though (GPS to Delorme). I have MS streets and trips, but I can't figure out if I can DL maps to the Garmin with it.

Anyway - what GPS do you use, what SW, and what is your "workflow?"

Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions
I just got one - need advicezeke
Mar 2, 2002 6:04 AM
I also have the etrex vista, and the included maps are basically useless, especially the one they provide for japan (i live in japan). from the site i list below you can find detailed downloadable, and usually free, maps for any area. also software to interface with your pc. the site i pasted below will be able to answer all of your questions and more.

one piece of advice/caution. with the garmin bike-handlebar adaptor, it turns out that the attachement, ie the back cover to the etrex that attaches to the handlebar adaptor, is a bit loose. i 'tightened' mine by adding strips of tape to the outer edge of the back-cover, and some cotton wadding to the inside of the battery case. if you dont do this it rattles, which is annoying, but more importantly a loose battery cover on a bike allows the components inside the etrex to vibrate and cause trouble. i had to send the unit back for service for (i think) this reason.

anyway, check the site below for further, and COMPREHENSIVE information.

btw, what do you mean by 'workflow'?
I just got one - need adviceOverHillnDale
Mar 2, 2002 6:43 AM
I have the Garmine E-Trex (basic model) that I use mostly for mountain biking rather than road, at least as of yet, and I carry it in a Comm Pouch on the Camelbak. I don't want to mount on the handlebar because I don't like the mount nor do I want it on there, too big, vulnerable.

I bought a power cord with a cigarette lighter adaptor for the car and a PC data cable from a vendor I found on the Joe Mahaffey web site to use with National Geographic Topo software. You can upload and download with this outstanding software. I bought the California state series rather than the regional and I love it! I get elevation profiles and can trace routes for elevation and distances.
Me tooJekyll
Mar 2, 2002 8:32 AM
I only use mine when I head off road. The e-Trax has really expanded my off road riding, especially in areas that I not familiar with and has gotten my butt back to the car on occasions I probably would have been spending a night in the woods otherwise.
I just got one - need advicezeke
Mar 2, 2002 10:02 PM
just a note about using the cigarette lighter adaptor.

be sure you turn the garmin unit on after you attach it to the adaptor, and more importantly make sure you turn it off before you turn your engine off.

i didnt realize these things and destroyed my old model.
Thanks Zekesodade
Mar 3, 2002 7:20 AM
It looks like, with some of the SW on the site, I can upload routes to my garmin from delorme. I am wondering, since you don't have a useful map in the garmin for Japan - can you upload full map sections to it? I am planning a trip to Norway this summer and I hope that there is a way for me to do this.

So, for tightning it up (I noticed the same thing), did you use electrical tape on the battery cover rail? The cotton you used around the batteries?
Thanks Zekezeke
Mar 4, 2002 5:37 AM
i am planning to scan area maps into my computer then download them into my e-trex. i have searched japanese sites, and some maps are available, but not for my area.

if you cant find norwegian maps, you may be able to scan and then download also. in the end this is the best choice for local area. also you would have choices of many types of maps.

for tightening, i used black duct tape, but i guess elec. tape would do just as well. yes, i stuck it to the battery cover rail (by 'rail' i think you mean the outer edge of the battery cover?) i used cotton on top of the batteries. by cotton here i mean i used square swabs my wife uses for cosmetic purposes. these i cut into battery sized slices and placed on top of the batteries. it works pretty well. no more vibration. not sure if you could get the cotton around the batteries unless the cotton (or whatever) were very thin.
Garmin redesigned the bike mount....Jim A
Mar 12, 2002 8:20 AM
late last year. They sent me a new one free. I havent tryed it yet.
Roads and Recterry b
Mar 2, 2002 8:49 AM
I bought myself a Vista for Christmas (thanks kids, I had no idea!) and I'm having a blast with it. You need to get Garmin's "US Roads and Recreation" or the "US Topo Set" - they have all the little roads. I too have DeLorme and have been downloading my routes/tracks to it, but as you have said, you can't upload the detail to the device. Of the two Garmin products, I like Roads and Recreation more as the local detail is increased compared to the Topo Series. Plus, it's one disk for the entire nation, not three. The Topos are nice but I don't think the added earth science detail is worth it, especially if you're already using DeLorme. The contour lines on the GPS are not that great.

I've just started entering all my common rides into the computer as well as an organized century I'm riding in May. What a blast, and enlightening too.
and by the wayterry b
Mar 2, 2002 9:04 AM is a great place to buy on line. They have all the accessories and MapSource disks available at a pretty substantial discount. I've used them a couple of times and have been very satisfied. Made recommendations to friends who have been satisfied as well.

Also, you can try the various MapSource CDs at the Garmin website to find the right one for you. Check out the two I've mentioned and I'll bet the roads you're looking for will be there. My street is and I live in a little podunk village in the center of New Mexico.
Roads and RecR-I-D-E
Mar 2, 2002 9:08 AM
Another E-Trex Vista owner here! I've had mine since last year and love it! I don't take it out on many road ride, but do use it while mtbing.

The coolest features are the altimeter and elevation profile. I love to go back after a ride and see the profile. It is amazingly accurate! The altimeter, as well as all of the distance and speed features are also dead-on.

Not to mention that it is a relatively small unit, and easy to carry. It is the best of both worlds in my opinion.

Roads and Recterry b
Mar 2, 2002 9:58 AM
I chose the Vista because of the altimeter. Had a lot of fun with it during my annual Christams drive to Mexico - had it running in the car when we left the beach until we reached home. The altitude plot was pretty cool - slowly climbing up through Sonora, crossing the mountains at Nogales, the slow steady climb up I10 into NM and finally the last leg up to 5k feet and home. Man, I love technology!
sorry guys!jim hubbard
Mar 2, 2002 10:46 AM
I have read the thread and it looks like you guys have a blast with these things. The only thing I have to add is that you realise that they are accurate to +/- 10-15m horizontal and this blows out to +/- 30-45m vertical. So while you can donwload your routes travelled the accuracy is not going to be that great. The reason is that most handhelds are only tracking 3 sats at once, where a minimum of 5 five is need for a accurate solution. How do you get on with them dropping lock?
Vistaterry b
Mar 2, 2002 10:55 AM
Mine typically tracks 7 satellites at any given time. This model does not have a problem dropping lock - it evens works reliably inside my house, something that I know the older models did not do. Accuracy is typically +/- 17 feet, not meters.

The vertical tracking is done via barometric pressure (extrapolated altitude) so the accuracy of course varies. Not too worried about this innaccuracy - I'm not trying to find my way home from Chechnya, only having fun.
Vistajim hubbard
Mar 2, 2002 4:41 PM
Sounds like you have a good model. +/- 17f works out to be about 5-6m. Our gear at work when used standalone will get sub 2m, but then it's worth $30,000 and uses a backpack. Our geotech's at work have a garmien(sp?) and every time they want any real accuracy I have to get the 'good gear' out and go and fix the points. Interesting about the barametric fixing for the height. I have some doubt about getting any lock inside as it requires LOS to the sats.
Vistaterry b
Mar 2, 2002 6:35 PM
Actually, when they finish turning WAAS on, I think the accuracy improves to +/- 3 feet.

No doubt on the inside function - I have used the device hooked up to my computer in my office. I only get 3-5 satellites, but the accuracy does not matter when I am sitting at my desk.

I think the Vista represents an inflection point in consumer technology. I have a friend with a couple of older models and he said his Vista is the first to work in his house.
sorry guys!zeke
Mar 2, 2002 10:09 PM
i think that the minimum number of sats to get a reading is 3 and then the accuracy is about 15 meters. i just used my etrex vista today, best accuracy was 4 meters (12 feet) and i think i averaged about 8 sats. this was in a relatively flat area. as for the altimiter, i need to recalibrate before every ride. if not, i find that i am riding 75 meters under the earth's surface.