Basic GPS. Advice needed

Ashbine

Active Member
#1
G'day all,
I'm a paper map man and, chances are, will be until the day I die. However, more and more maps have GPS location points listed on them which come in handy particularly in remote areas when you are trying to find a marked campsite i.e. Simmo etc.
So, I just want a basic handheld GPS that will give me my position. I don't want to load maps or anything fancy. If I could input GPS co-ordinates and the unit would then alert me when I'm there is about as fancy as I want. I'm completely unfamiliar with GPS so I may have totally misunderstood how they work but if anyone could provide any information on a basic unit that will do the above it would be appreciated.
Cheers,
Ash
 

Gavo

4x4 Earth Contributer
#2
Having played with GPS from a young age. Back when GPS fix would take half an hour on my Magellan, through to my First Bluetooth dongle and into my current smart phone with inbuilt GPS, you really need to consider just getting/using a smart phone.

There are some really really simple GPS oriented apps that give basic positions, GPS waypoints etc. But for how simple it is now. Having the same paper map on your device is the way to go. (Most don't require phone service to work either)

I usually have paper maps for my extended trips. I love getting the crew together around the bonnet to make our plans.
Jumping back in cab and then having that same map with a dot on it with your current position is awesome. Also draws a snail trail of where you have been.

You don't need to go over the top. And if you already own a GPS phone, the outlay will be much lower than a dedicated device.

I'm confident there will be people with other opinions and advice. That's just my take on it.
 

Toddyh

Well-Known Member
#3
100% agree. Smart phone or tablet is the way to go. So much more versatility than a designated GPS unit. As Gav said you can use a simple GPS app if you like or you can get some mapping software. Something like Memory Maps on Android even has a free 250k topo map of the whole country. Not great for detail in some places but sounds perfect for your needs.
 

akin

Active Member
#4
I use both I love paper maps for the reasons given above and also have digital Hema maps on my Car head unit and phone and basically just use them to confirm where the hell I am.

I never really that happy until I just a little bit lost !
 

Gavo

4x4 Earth Contributer
#6
Good stuff. Yeah most smart phones now have barometer, this helps with altitude accuracy.
Can actually get an app that uses it to give you weather indications if you feel that way inclined.
 

Triton14

Well-Known Member
#7
My latest handheld in a Garmin Rino 650, has a 5W 80 channel radio in it so duel purpose.
You are able to download satellite imagery onto it as well.

I also have Avenza downloaded on my phone which works off PDF format.
Works pretty good, shows your position but not many other features but for something that's free its a good basic map.

My rule of thumb is have several types of devices & also a map & compass & know how to use them all, that way when one runs out of batteries you have the good old paper back up.
 

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
#9
For iPhone / iPad, Mapout is very hard to beat as a good basic nav app.
Free, Worldwide, zoom in shows very high detail, down to walking tracks.
Waypoint plotting, routes (if desired) but I mostly use this one for the route tracking (.gpx files) and excellent info the route recording provides.
 
#10
I've had Garmin GPS units in various forms for over a decade. Prior to that Magellan, when it was just an LCD with lat/long. Before that it was a topo map and a silva compass.
Have often toyed with the idea of getting one of the 'satnav' style units - tomtom/nuvi/HN7/VMS etc. however there is a huge caveat...
They pretty much use the same baseline data, and it's just bells & whistles on top. Not very satisfying when you're shelling out huge sums of $$$ for a 'navigator'

My current gps is a garmin oregon 550 - it's about 10 years old, runs 2xAA batteries has a color touchscreen sunlight readable lcd, is backlit, has a usb thingy to power it without batteries (incar)... stores the complete 250K australia topo set and has a multitude of easy to use features (too many to list)

But the dilemma I have is one of SIZE. I want something as big as an ipad pro for a display to replace my oregon 550. I have not found anything that can track satellites as quick, update the speed (better than a car speedo) so fast (0.5s) and most importantly, can allow me to download maps / satellite data, and use it, or save a custom map to the gps as an overlay and use that image as a map - without me paying for a subscription or needing a mobile phone data package subscription just to make everything 'useful' - and by that I mean to actually be a useful real-time handheld navigation tool.

I thought the HN7 would cut it, but it's crap compared to my 10 year old garmin. I thought the VMS would cut it, but it's got some pretty horrendous flaws in the user interface - and I almost bought one until someone told me to buy an app for the ipad... which I have been hesitant to do (but it looks like the best non 'gps' gps solution).

Do I want to buy another garmin? yes and No, not really - they are moving to birdseye satellite subscriptions and each device needs annual licensing, so it's a money gouge. Not only that, the inability to download an entire map set is just BS. So garmin gets a huge thumbs-down from me, and I'll never buy one while they continue with their subscription antics. I don't need an up-to-the-minute recce map. I need a reliable well detailed topo and if there's aerial photo overlay, that would be awesome.

Mudmaps looked ok, but not sure about it. oziexplorer is as bad as hema... no names on gazetted roads etc. (even the 10 year old garmin and australia topo are more accurate)

Insofar as papermap to gps 'learning curve' then I would say, buy a handheld Garmin unit with the Australia Topo map on the sd card or a dvd, and leave it at that. It's been an awesome device to me, and the newer ones are so much better than what I have, the only reason I have issues is because I want satellite data mapping overlay on my topo raster, and I want to be able to store it offline - i.e. cant do it where there is no internet to download a map set you don't have stored, and you can't download them all in one hit, cant buy it on dvd! huge faux pas on garmin's part.

Stick with the paper topo maps and your silva compass. I still keep mine in the ammo box, because you never know when technology will fail you. But maps are getting every bit as expensive as the GPS..... but at least they last.
 

hiluxdriver

Well-Known Member
#11
That was a massive post.

My first GPS was a garmin 62s that I bought as a combination hand held GPS for hunting, and an incar GPS when 4wding. Screen can be painfully small when 4wding and tracking ahead is a real pain in the arse, but it got the job done and was muchbetter than no GPS. Handheld functions and usability when when walking is faultless. The maps that came with it are also better than I expected and have no complaints.
I've since updated 4wd maps to Hema running on iPad but I still use the garmin to mark water bores on the station I work on.
I hear there is a 64s now but I haven't looked at what the differences are to my 62s.
Good luck
 

Toddyh

Well-Known Member
#14
You can't David. The tracks database has been dead for a while now and looking like there's no plans to change that in the near future.
 
#16
Thought I better come back a couple years later after some heavy useage and divulge my verdict... if anyone has interest.

I ended up 'renewing' my birdseye sub briefly. I got a bit pi$$y about it and have since let it lapse again. I will not be using it.
My old mac died after almost 10 years (worked well until one day it got sick and died) but I already had a replacement NO garmin software on this puppy though. I ended up going full iOS and using avenza pro which has the ability to import the map data I needed.

I run everything on an older ipad pro (large one) which I purchased some years back, with 256gb memory and no sim. bugger.
This meant I needed a realtime gps so I ended up purchasing a garmin GLO2 unit and tethered that to my ios devices, while powered from dc12v.
All in all it has been relatively painless. I had some mapping data quandries, but eventually was able to obtain the data I wanted from various bodies, including state govt departments and other well known websites.

The caveats were considerable.

I had no real 'turn by turn' navigation usability in the CBD's of cities without tethering to the phone's 3G data and using google maps or apple maps. This wasn't really a problem though. The 3g mobile data usage charges was my bugbear.
I worked out how to do it better over the course of a year, and while I generally have no interest in turn by turn nav, when I am in an unfamiliar place and just need fuel or a public restroom facility where there are no convenient fast food outlets (greatest source of revenue is derived from tourists needing a 'dump point'), you just have to suck it up and let the telcos butt-gouge you on data charges (and I am on a decent plan).

So all in all, I still have the oregon 550. it's so un-killable that it keeps my faith in garmin handhelds. If only garmin made a decently large tablet sized vehicular- display, like their glass cockpit aviation gear or marine displays.... then I would simply have coughed up, so long as the birdseye was available offline. Those two pain points are what keep me away as a customer and I am now loving avenza pro as a good solid go-to application.

obviously YMMV if you have different requirements. I just thought I had better provide a bit of follow-up after some solid 'away time' useage.

cheers.
 

darb

Well-Known Member
#17
I use a mixture of Motion-X HD , Google Earth, and Google Maps on my ipad mini dash mounted. Works well, simple enough.
It'll do basic GPS duties, don't have to piss aroud with maps and tracking if you dont want.

Purely for touring / offroad stuff. For around town I just use a phone, or the old garmin Nuvi i was gifted but rarely ever touch.

Edit OK i see you said handheld, but to my mind that's more hassle. Just use an app on your smartphone?

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Triton14

Well-Known Member
#18
G'day all,
I'm a paper map man and, chances are, will be until the day I die. However, more and more maps have GPS location points listed on them which come in handy particularly in remote areas when you are trying to find a marked campsite i.e. Simmo etc.
So, I just want a basic handheld GPS that will give me my position. I don't want to load maps or anything fancy. If I could input GPS co-ordinates and the unit would then alert me when I'm there is about as fancy as I want. I'm completely unfamiliar with GPS so I may have totally misunderstood how they work but if anyone could provide any information on a basic unit that will do the above it would be appreciated.
Cheers,
Ash
There is nothing wrong with paper maps & I still have them on hand but don't think not having a mapping gps is not an option as it will still help you while your mobile.

The 'snails trails' or 'track record' is even better displayed when you have the whole map option displayed & also these are able to be downloaded into a PC as well & intern you are also able to look at terrain on mapping software & transfer important waypoints onto the device.

If I hadn't 12 months ago got Garmin 64sc I would definitely be looking at one of the Garmin 'In reach' handhelds that combines a mapping gps with a PLB.
I don't totally rely on GPS but if for some reason I have to walk many km's in terrain Im not sure of then I want to know what the terrain looks like & be able to identify points.
If you don't have mapping then you are basically a cursor point on a wide field of next to nothing except major arterial roads, if there is any!
 
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