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GPS & Communication Discussions here pertain to the use and troubleshooting of GPS, CB radio, and amateur radio

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Old 01-07-2008, 06:45 PM   #1
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Recommended GPS system for Off Road Use

I am interested in purchasing a good GPS unit for off road purposes. I want something that will allow me to track my routes when I go wheelin so I can hook it up to my laptop when I get home and download for future reference. It would be nice if there was a software package where I could pull up Topo maps on my laptop as well, but it's not a requirement.

I am certain I am not the first person interested in doing this, so I was wondering if any of you have experimented with this. Please post up your suggestions / experiences. I have been doing some looking on my own, but I am not very familiar with the terminology yet. I'm not interested in a Tom Tom, but street level mapping would be a nice bonus.

Thanks,

Richard
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:18 PM   #2
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Garmin 276C or similar Garmin.

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Old 01-07-2008, 07:38 PM   #3
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i have the garmin rino 530hcx and i love it.
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:46 PM   #4
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I've got a Garmin 60csx. Nice unit, came with mapsource software and I can plot it on the computer. I haven't integrated it with real TOPO software yet, but I'm pretty sure the files are compatible. Mapsource pretty much is compatible with all the popular file types. Google Earth Plus will download the Garmin files directly, which is kinda fun to see where you've been on the planet. Has all the trackback features you're looking for too. The screen is a little too small for street navigation, and I've come to the conclusion that a separate dedicated unit is really the way to go if you need that, since entering info in the 60 series is not exactly fast.

I have Ram Mounts, which are nearly indestructable. Got it all at www.gpscity.com which has some pretty decent deals now and then. I have one mount for my quad, and the 60csx stands up to all the mud, sand, and water I can throw at it, along with handlebar vibrations at 75mph. If you get any unit, invest $15 in the adhesive stick on clear lens covers... I scratched my lens and evidently it isn't replaceable.

One last note: I debated whether to get a 12v power supply for mine, but then figured I'd try some rechargeable AA's. The rechargeable batteries are working great, I can go 6-8 hours on a lower display brightness very easily, maybe longer. I always have 2 extra batts, and keep my charger handy for overnight trips. I hate dealing with power cords.
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:10 PM   #5
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I also have the Garmin 60CSx. Works very well. I got the upgraded SIM card for the area I wheel. It's supposed to have detailed TOPO's of AZ, UT, NM and CO. To be honest, the screen is so small and the topo's don't seem to updated. I am almost always on roads that don't exist.

I bought the National Geographic TOPO software for Arizona. Very detailed and allows you to "fly" your route when done. Kinda neat, but I find importing my routes to Google Earth more useful. Let's me really see where I went... and where I might try and go next time.

I debated adding a 12v power source for mine for reasons 111db stated, but decided to do so anyway. Couple good things about having it plugged in:

1. Back light stays on all the time which is great for night driving and makes day visibility better.

2. Saves my batteries for when we start to hike or bike.

I will say though that the batteries run this unit for a very long time before they run down.

I just bought a cigarette power adapter for my model and hardwired it to 12v. Then I pulled the power cord through the dash just below the mount. I modified the belt clip mount it came with and bolted that to the dash as well. I left enough slack so I can pull the wire out to plug it in, but just push the plug into the dash when no GPS is attached. Pretty slick and no sloppy wires hanging around.

I can take some pics of the setup if you like.
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Old 01-08-2008, 11:22 AM   #6
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I still use my old Garmin StreetPilot-III. It has a large color screen and that helps a lot with the topo maps. I run it off 12 volts in the vehicle and save the batteries for portable operation. Mounted above the rear view mirror.
Click the image to open in full size.

I find that the newest City Navigator maps have quite a few back country roads on them and for areas near/in national parks, the Nat. Parks topos are wonderful, 25,000:1 scale and lots of roads and detail.
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Old 01-08-2008, 03:47 PM   #7
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any other suggestions?
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:11 PM   #8
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I also use the Garmin 60CSx. I have also had Magellan handhelds. With the exception of the small screen I like the 60CSx but I also use it hiking. It keeps a signal in heavy over head tree cover where the magellans would drop out. it uses Micro SD cards, which are a little hard to handle for me...but tweezers work..
If I had the money and was looking for dedicated vehicle mounted GPS I would consider a Lowrance Baja: http://www.tigergps.com/lowrancebaja540c.html
It is one that a lot of the desert truck guys use. Big screen, easy to see and uses SD cards, easy to transfer info back and forth...
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Old 01-08-2008, 04:52 PM   #9
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Installed hard mounted with external antenna. You can also use a ram windshield mount which I got my dad for Christmas and he loves it.

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

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Old 01-08-2008, 05:01 PM   #10
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My GPS system works great. I lick my pointer finger and put it up in the air. I also toss grass around and watch the sun all day.

Garmin works well too.
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:10 PM   #11
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The Garmin GPS60CS(x) is a great unit, no doubt. I found the backpacking units were missing the trails and map detail that I feel that I need for offroading, so I went the Windows Pocket PC running "Memory-Map" software. You can buy their map packages or you can download quad maps in 3 level of detail (1:24k, 1:100k and 1:250K) for FREE for most U.S. states. (California's site is http://gis.ca.gov.) I do survey work in my career...basically, it's hard to beat a USGS quad map for detail. Garmin charges $100 per state for maps, and those are not state-wide, just state/national parks.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here is a screen capture from the unit in Death Valley, CA:
Click the image to open in full size.

I used this GPS and logged every day of a 1-month long trip by boat from Seattle, Washington to almost Alaska, so the software handles large map areas and many many tracks with ease via an SD card slot (I have a 4GB card in it) and a compact flash card slot (which I haven't needed to use yet). No matter what you get, make sure it has external card storage for maps.

It's not as plug and play as a Garmin, but it does do a whole lot more. Heck, I can even surf the internet via Wifi, it has bluetooth, Microsoft Word, Excel, etc! I use a separate program for city driving, which does turn-by-turn 3D guidance with voice command, restaurant listings, gas stations, etc.
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Old 01-08-2008, 10:32 PM   #12
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I'm looking for something like this also.
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Old 01-08-2008, 10:32 PM
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