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Maps, global positioning systems (GPS), in-car navigation systems and compasses


Global positioning systems (GPS) & in-car navigation systems
The Garmin 'GPS III Plus'
GPS-capable route-planning and moving-map software
Other GPS links
Waypoint data published on Internet    
Magnetic compasses

Maps & Geographic information systems (GIS)

Global positioning systems (GPS) & in-car navigation systems

Joe Mahaffey has produced FAQs about GPS:

Many  new (and not so new) GPS owners have basic (and  not so basic) questions about the operation and performance of  their GPS  equipment.  Most of the questions and answers are  available for you at Joe and Jack's GPS Information Site and Thomas Born's Garmin website.

BE SURE  to take a good look at THE TITLES all of the items listed as you will be looking for other listed information in the future.

These websites include a hundred or more topics and articles on all facets of consumer GPS usage.  These include such topics as:
1) How GPS receivers act in the woods with tree cover.
2) What the latest Garmin firmware revisions are.
3) Product reviews of various Garmin, Lowrance and Magellan GPS receivers.
4) Do GPS receivers have Year 2000 problems (Most don't).
5) Cable Pinouts for Garmin (and some Magellan) GPS receivers.
6) Shops that sell GPS receivers via the Internet.
7) How accurate are GPS receivers?
8) Amplified external antennas for GPS receivers.
9) Reviews of popular MAPPING SOFTWARE packages.
10) GPS receivers operated on MotorCycles and MotorBikes.
11) Information on MAP DATUMS.
12) Using your GPS on commercial aircraft.  (Is it Safe?)
13) Battery drain and battery usage of various receivers.
14) How to connect your GPS to your laptop computer and SA4/5.
15) Information about GLONASS, the Russian GPS system.
16) Waypoint lists for many parts of the world.

For  more general information on GPS,  mapping, datums, NMEA, DGPS,  see for example Trimble's 'All about GPS'http://vancouver-webpages.com/pub/peter/index.html and http://www.cnde.iastate.edu/staff/swormley/gps/gps.html. Peter Bennett and Sam Wormley have a wealth of information of many types on and about GPS on their websites.  In addition,  you will find hundreds of pointers to still more websites on  these FAQ sites. You can learn fast by a) First take a look at the FAQ websites and then b) ask questions on the newsgroup if you do not find the answer on one of the FAQ sites.  The FAQ website's answer to your question is likely to: a) be more detailed than a newsgroup response and b) lead you to more information about whatever you are wondering about. If you don't find the answer on the FAQ sites> please feel free to ask any question whatsoever via the <news:sci.geo.satellite-nav> newsgroup.

gps-practice-and-fun.com has detailed advice and information on GPS devices and software, including GPS/mobile phone combinations

The Garmin 'GPS III Plus'

It is reviewed by Joe Mehaffey. I bought the 'European Edition' of this GPS receiver in February 2000 from 21store.com for £336.50. It was provided with a manual and a cable to connect it to a PC serial port. The  display was monochrome. The device has mapped my route on foot, in a car and on the flight deck and passenger compartment of a commercial Boeing 737 plane. It does not have an audible alarm but displays a message when alarms are set.

Using the 'GPSIII Plus' in a car: I bought from Lowe Electronics Ltd. an 'Electronics Power/Data Cable'. This set of two linked cables powered the receiver from a car cigar lighter socket and connected the receiver to the serial port of a notebook computer. I also bought an 'In Car Power Inverter' from Peripheral Corner Ltd. to provide power to the portable computer. The receiver was mounted with the supplied Velcro strips above the dashboard of a car, away from the airbag. 

Maps for the 'GPSIII Plus'

The European edition of this 12-channel GPS receiver was supplied with the 'Atlantic' base maps already installed. These can not be changed or deleted. The American base maps, which provide details of the American continents, are provided in the 'GPS III Plus' sold in the USA. There is also an 'International version of the hardware. 

Garmin receivers can display ( one at a time), four types of proprietary map, either 'base', which is provided in the receiver, 'topographical', 'roads and recreation' or 'MetroGuide'. The last three classes of map have to be purchased and uploaded to the receiver, before they can be viewed. Map types present in the device are displayed rapidly in the above order, when the receiver is switched on. The last one in sequence is retained for continuous display.  Maps cannot be displayed superimposed. If you have all four types of map data for the same area loaded into the receiver at one time, you may see briefly the flickering of the first three types before the 'MetroGuide' map is finally displayed. Other areas, for which there is no data, are shown with cross-hashes. Each of the installed map sections can be disabled/enabled, selectively. This means that you can load both topographical and R&R or MetroGuide data for the same area, to give a choice of what type of data to display. It is possible to turn off the ' MapSource' map display in the 'GPSIII Plus' and just use the ' base' maps, if desired. It is only possible to upload to the 'GPS III Plus' maps which are provided by Garmin, as the device will only accept maps in Garmin's proprietary format. 

I decided that I needed to use good quality maps of countries outside Europe in my 'GPSIII Plus', so I bought the Garmin CDs called 'WorldMap' v 2, from 21store.com. It provides additional detailed maps of much of the World including the USA. I also wanted to display more details of UK roads, so I purchased the 'UK Roads and Recreation' CD from Lowe Electronics Ltd. Note, that if you use your GPS in the UK and want to show a location in Ordnance Survey map reference format, then you should change the grid from 'WGS84' to 'OSGB'. CDs of Ordnance Survey maps of the Great Britain 'North' (4 CDs, covering Landranger maps 1-107) and 'South' (4 CDs, covering  ) at 50,000:1 on are available from Anquet Maps for £120 each. These are suitable to prepare routes and data can be downloaded to Garmin GS units. 

The Garmin 'StreetPilot' III Atlantic version receiver with MapSource City Navigator for the UK will be released in late 2001. Although the trip and waypoint management functions of the 'UK MetroGuide' will work with the 'GPSIIIPlus' receiver, the map download features on the CD will not. This means that detailed street-level dynamic mapping of the quality found in Delorme's 'Street Atlas' v 7 maps, are not available for the 'GPSIII Plus' in the UK. However, a CD of UK street maps called 'Travelmanager Office' is available and works well as stand-alone software for street-level mapping and planning journeys. It has no interface to GPS receivers, yet. There is no comparable product in the UK to the US Datus 'PNA' portable hand-held vehicle navigation system.

The 'GPSIII Plus' has about 1.45-MB of memory space (the same amount as a MSDOS 3.5" floppy) for storing Garmin maps, which can be viewed instead of the 'base' installed maps. Selected maps from Garmin CD-ROMs can be uploaded to the 'GPSIII Plus' receiver from a computer using the serial cable and MapSource program, which is installed when Garmin 'MapSource' CDs are installed. Press 'MENU > MAPSOURCE INFO > KBytes used' to show how much memory space is already occupied by uploaded maps. This display also shows the total memory capacity of the device. The 'MapSource' program, which is installed from the CD-ROM, can also be used for several functions, in addition to uploading maps. These are:

(a) to upload/download routes, tracks and waypoints to the GPS
(b) to enable the user to manually generate a route and upload them
(c) to print maps
(d) to manually input waypoints and routes onto the map for later upload
(e) to edit waypoints, both on the map and in text form.

GPS-capable route-planning and moving-map software:

There are many programs that can be used in conjunction with a GPS device to show the current GPS location and selected places which is displayed in a moving map on a computer monitor. Many can also upload and download data to GPS receivers. Here are some I found, in alphabetical order:

  • Anquet provide Landranger and Explorer map data from Ordnance Survey and 1:25,000 scale 'Harvey' data for some areas in the UK.
  • 'Autoroute 2005',  Microsoft's road and route planning maps with GPS support and excellent street and area code location for Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Spain, Switzerland and the Vatican City.
    • Note that in Autoroute 2003 and earlier versions of Autoroute, the GPS navigation data is only updated every fifteen seconds, which is too slow for anyone using a GPS system in a car. This is not a problem in Autoroute 2004, where the data is updated every two seconds.. You can reduce the update to two seconds in earlier versions, using a Hex editor to alter either 'Autorout.exe' for Autoroute 2003 or for 'Street.exe' in MS-Streets&Trips. 
      If you want to alter 'Autorout.exe' in the earlier versions, first, copy 'Autorout.exe' to a backup file, such as 'Autorout_back.exe', in case you make a mistake and want to use the unaltered program again. 'Autorout.exe' is found in the 'Autoroute' directory in 'c:\Program Files'. Now, open 'Autorout.exe' with a Hex editor and search for the binary Hex string 'BF983A0000'. The '983A' is the value 0x3A98 (15 seconds). Change 983A to E803 (value 0x3E8) and save the file. Now, the GPS navigation data will be updated every two seconds when you use the program. The same procedure works for Autoroute 2001 and 2002.
      If you are using 'frhed' as the HEX editor, enter the string '<bh:bf><bh:98><bh:3a><bh:00><bh:00>', in the 'Edit | 'Find' dialogue box. (Copy and paste '<bh:bf><bh:98><bh:3a><bh:00><bh:00>' without the apostrophes at the beginning and end, into the 'Find' box. 'b' is for byte and 'h' is for hex notation.) When the string has been highlighted in yellow, click on the '9' of the '98' and type 'e8' to change '98' to 'e8' and then type '03' to overwrite '3a' . When you are sure that you have done this correctly, save the edited file and exit. If you have any problems, close the edited file without saving it, open it again and try once more. If all else fails, rename the saved version of 'Autorout.exe' back to its original name. 
  • Jim Willsher's database and downloadable 'pushpins' of Scottish hills and mountains for 'AutoRoute'.
  • 'EPS'. A Java charting program with many features, that runs in Netscape 'Navigator'.
  • Eye4Software, Dutch professional GPS software: GPS Mapping Studio, Coordinate Conversion Software and GPS Toolkit for developers.
  • 'flexGPS'. Freeware.
  • 'Fugawi'. Northport Systems Inc. Canada. US$95. Available with OS maps. Poor height data and no 3D viewing available.
  • 'Gartrip' By Heinrich Pfeifer, Germany. US$30 shareware. A trial version is available, with limitations.
  • 'GPS Positioner Pro'. Freeware.
  • GPS Trek Nepal routes and waypoints for all of the main trekking routes in the Everest region and many of the minor routes, including waypoints for many villages by name and elevation.
  • 'GPS Utility' is a freeware/shareware program with many features.
  • 'GPSS', UK in-car moving map with voice input and output functions.
  • 'IBIS'. Freeware.  
  • 'MapBlast'.
  • 'Mayko Xmap' runs under Linux.
  • Memory Map sells base software @ £70 or £100 for GPS compatibility and then £25 per map set thereafter. Map coverage varies, but as a guide, Scotland is available in 4 sets. Digital versions of all the 50,000 series and 25,000 series maps are available for some areas, mainly National Parks. Download the 30-day evaluation copy, then register it at the website, to enable printing for that period. You can print as many maps as you wish, for private use.
  • 'Navigate-GPS'. 21-day evaluation available.
  • 'NavPak'. Global Navigation Co. US$ 180, 50% less for the 'lite' version.
  • 'NeverLost'. Australia. A$95. A two month trial full version is available.
  • 'OziExplorer'. Australia. US$75.00. Shareware. Scan in maps for use with GPS and has good GPS functionality.
  • 'QuoVadis'. Touratech, Germany. £94.16 shareware with several CDs. A map scanning service is available.
  • 'Route 66' by Geographic Information Systems B.V.
  • 'Route Master'. UK route planning and GPS software, using Ordnance Survey maps. Free in the July 2000 'PC Magazine' UK CD-ROM. It appears to have been discontinued.
  • 'SeaClear'. Freeware nautical charting program.
  • Tracklogs comes with either OS maps 1:50k or 1:25k and is cheaper than Anquet or Memory Map.
  • 'Trailgauge' scan in maps for use with GPS.
  • Turner Endeavours GPS internet resources portal.
  • 'Waypoint+ 'by Brent Hildebrand. Freeware to upload and download routes, tracks and waypoints from a Garmin GPS device to a PC.
  • 'WinGPS Pro' and WinGPS 398 shareware.

Other GPS links:

Waypoint data published on Internet:

Magnetic compasses

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