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  #1  
Old 11 May 2010
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GPS or SatNav

Hi all!

We're leaving for a RTW trip 2up in August on Wee Strom. Route:

South america
Central America
North America
New Zealand and Australia
South East Asia
India
Siberia Mongolia and Kazakhstan back to Europe.

Is there any point in getting a sat nav like Garmin or tom tom? Or would it be better to get a GPS and a good paper road map?

I would like to clarify one thing - there is a difference betweend a GPS and SatNav systems. I understand that GPS is based on goegraphical coordinates and doesn't really have a road map attached to it - basically is a fancy compas rather than anything else.

GPS: Garmin eTrex Venture HC Handheld GPS Navigator: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo

SatNav: Garmin Zumo 660 Satellite Navigation For Motorbikes: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo
(not that I want to buy these - just to show you what I mean)

SatNav like Garmin etc. provide a navigation facility using GPS capability built into the device.

Do I have to buy maps for the route for the both of them? Is one better than the other or am I just talking about the same thing?

The POI (points of interest) issue: I understand that the files provided in the "sticky" part of the forum provide these points for embassies and campgrounds etc. ?? Can you put them into sat nav and GPS equally?

Lost and confused...

Help!
Andy
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  #2  
Old 11 May 2010
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I am confused about your distinction between a GPS and a SatNav--as far as I know they are the same thing, in that both receive position data via GPS satellites. The difference is the kind of mapping software which is, and can be, loaded onto the devices.

I have never used any of the handheld GPS devices, but since most of them are small and intended for use for hiking/biking, etc., as far as I know they typically are used for topo maps (trails, etc.). I don't know how big of a topo map they can hold, but presumably people load whatever maps they need for that particular trip. These devices, as I understand it, basically show your current location on the loaded map, your heading, the bearing to your next waypoint, etc.

On the other hand, the vehicle navigations systems such as the Zumo have much bigger screens and more memory and can hold, for instance, detailed routable maps of all of the US or Europe. "Routable" maps are those that tell you how to get from point A to point B via the road network with turn-by-turn directions. These devises can only provide such directions if you have installed the appropriate routable map. If not, you can still enter your destination and you can dead-reckon your way there by following the correct bearing.

Anyway, please clarify if I have misunderstood what you are asking...
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  #3  
Old 11 May 2010
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GPS; Global Positioning System. This is the US array of satelites that allow tuned in recievers to calculate a position.

Sat Nav; Satelite Navigation. Could describe the above but also the Russian system, European Gallileo version etc, or just about anything short of carrying a theodolite.

What we are talking about is routable maps. These are data sets loaded into the likes of Tom Tom handsets that allow it to take the position calculated, place you on the map and direct you to where you want to be.

IMHO you'll find routable maps limited (lots of motorways, few trails), but highly useful in places which are fully mapped. You will still need a paper map as a back up and for the places where the electronic maps are useless ( but would anyone care to guess what "Queens Way" North London should be called? Clue, Garmin call the A-1 "The Great North Road" which means the electronic map was based on something Roman while the lads painting the signs over lane 6 want to be a little briefer and a tad more modern). In the middle of a desert you'd be mad to risk your neck on what a TOM TOM tells you, you'll stick to known trails or at least know a major trail is roughly in one direction. Here a tiny hand held is just as useful, uses less battery, saves weight for water and won't throw wobblies repeating "return to Queens Way then turn left" over and over.

It's what you are used to and what tools suit you. If you can't write a set of paper instructions telling you to turn off the M-1 (sorry, Queens Way) at Junction 3, you'll soon learn regardless of what you take simply because while a Tom Tom will get you through Paris it'll start to struggle and be no better than the small handheld as you move off the detailed routable maps. If you start with the small hand held you'll soon enough find yourself nose on to Buckingham Palace with nothing but a battalion of the Grenadier Guards, a small pack of Corgies and several well enforced laws to stop you following the little arrow on the display to your hotel. Common sense, a feel for roughly the right way and a bit of mental agility are still required, things you get better at as you go. Any GPS device is just a tool to help you but a tool you need to learn to use.

I'd go read the compass thread too. Bottom line here is that if you are heading for places you might die if a walk turns out to be a little longer than expected, you don't want your only means of navigation to be some battery powered farkle, even if it does have a built in MP3 player to record your last will and testament.

Andy
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  #4  
Old 11 May 2010
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I used all 3 or 4 types of systems to get me lost.

SatNav - I used a TomTom Rider 2, don't buy this, it is not robust enough. Also don't buy the Garmin 660, get the Zumo 550 as it seems to be tougher. This device(whichever you end up with) is only useful for those countries with routable maps, In my case, USA, Canda and Mexico. I did not fork out the extra money for Argentina, and know the Garmin software has routable maps for Peru and other south american countries, not so TT.

GPS - When my TomTm had no maps, I used my Garmin GPS, non routable, with just the basic World Map loaded on it. This at least gave me a general sense of the main roads I needed and as I was staying on the Pan American highway, it was OK.

Maps - I had basic maps of the countries I visited and when both GPS units were a bit confused, or confusing to read, I followed the map and tried to match highway signs, which were not always evident nor correct.

Help - I used this when all the above failed, which it did(not electronically just that they became useless) on may occasions and asked the locals, sometimes this led me to places I would never have seen and did not want to go to, but that is all part of travel

In the end, do some more research, read on this and other forums what other people have experienced in real life, and especially from those people who have already been there and done that.

In the end, just go anyway, it will all work out

Cheers
TS
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Last edited by TravellingStrom; 11 May 2010 at 22:11. Reason: spelling
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  #5  
Old 12 May 2010
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Hello!

I wanted to clarify the difference between the two systems and as you've all said it's the routable maps that make the difference and the two tools work using the same concept overall.

It all boils down to the cost of the tool to me to be honest. I'm not going to fork out 400£ for Zumo 550 - there's no way in hell That's too expensive. I still have to buy all the paper maps anyway and that alone will be close to a 100£ anyway so adding the cost of £400 is not an option. If I'd be getting a satnav I would get a simple non-motorcycle dedicated one for 100£.

I'll tell you guys what I'm thinking:

Routable maps only make sense when you're travelling through US and Europe and if that is the main point of interest (it's not for us) I would go for it. For me it's South America, South East Asia, Siberia, Mogolia, India - these are the true highlights for me personally therefore getting a SatNav makes no sense. What I do need is a tool to guide me on where I am when I feel that I lost the way. I'll be mainly using the paper maps anyway and use the GPS just to confirm that I'm roughly in the right place and my heading is right.

Tell me if my way of thinking is wrong please.

Thanks a lot for your input guys!

This isn't the first topic you're helping me out on and I really appreciate it!

Andy
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Old 12 May 2010
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As said above, once you get out of civilisation Garmin's own maps will probably not be very useful any more, nor will they be affordable. But you can get free maps from OSM. They are also not perfect, but they are getting better all the time and if you find roads that are not on the map then please contribute your track logs, because that's how they come to be.

I think what you mean by GPS v. SatNav is this: by your definition a GPS is a box that displays your latitude and longitude, whereas a satnav is a GPS with a map that routes you. These days we call them all GPS. There is no reason any more to not buy a GPS that doesn't display a colour map and does auto-routing and if you want to use free maps then your choice is almost limited to Garmin at this point.

I use a GPSMap 60CSx and I'm reasonably happy with it. I only wish for a bigger screen and a power button that lasts.

If you are interested in the Zumo range there is a dedicated site. If I remember correctly some people there prefer the 660 over the older 550, but go and have a read. It's not cheap.

You still need paper maps for the big picture, but I found that cheap tourist handouts often do the job.
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  #7  
Old 12 May 2010
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buy one secondhand from someone finishing the America's trip. You might be lucky enough to get one full of interesting POI's.
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  #8  
Old 12 May 2010
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I too have a 60CSx and think it's great. Besides the GPS lat/long thing, it has an electronic compass and barometric altimeter. A little geeky perhaps, but I for one enjoyed seeing 8600 feet clicking over as I rode in the Atlas.

The other thing it will do is tracklogs. It records everywhere you've been in 3D so you can look back on Google Earth and see your route. (Plus give a pic of your route on Mapsource, show altitude graph, average speed etc - usefull for calculating how far you're likely to go offroad. I was quite alarmed to see we'd average 11mph on a day's off roading.)

It will also follow a tracklog you've programmed into it (using mapsource on a PC) - they call it trackback - and whilst it won't give you "turn left at the roundabout" it will colour the line in to follow. This means that if you're in a city and have plotted your route out it will guide you to the right road. Also means that when out on the trails and faced with three or more all seeming to go in the right general direction, you get a good feel for which one to take as picking the wrong one leads you off the line on screen.

They are expensive, but with battery and bike power available will serve you well in the back of beyond. Even if GPS info is unreliable / unavailable, the compass will still help guide you.
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  #9  
Old 12 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave ett View Post
I too have a 60CSx and think it's great. Besides the GPS lat/long thing, it has an electronic compass and barometric altimeter. A little geeky perhaps, but I for one enjoyed seeing 8600 feet clicking over as I rode in the Atlas.

The other thing it will do is tracklogs. It records everywhere you've been in 3D so you can look back on Google Earth and see your route. (Plus give a pic of your route on Mapsource, show altitude graph, average speed etc - usefull for calculating how far you're likely to go offroad. I was quite alarmed to see we'd average 11mph on a day's off roading.)

They are expensive, but with battery and bike power available will serve you well in the back of beyond. Even if GPS info is unreliable / unavailable, the compass will still help guide you.
That's exactly what I was thinking of. What I'm aiming for is something that I could use with Google Earth and similar so I can plot the route and stuff. Does it work with the thousands of camping grounds and embassy points provided by Ulrich in the sticky part of the forum?

Andy
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Old 12 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougieB View Post
buy one secondhand from someone finishing the America's trip. You might be lucky enough to get one full of interesting POI's.
I would love to do that so if there is someone outthere trying to sell his please let me know!

Thanks!
Andy
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Old 12 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyWx View Post
That's exactly what I was thinking of. What I'm aiming for is something that I could use with Google Earth and similar so I can plot the route and stuff. Does it work with the thousands of camping grounds and embassy points provided by Ulrich in the sticky part of the forum?

Andy
If you can add it to Mapsource, it'll export to the unit yes. With the Olaf maps of Morocco I made a waypoint at every refuel or hotel point shown on the map (they're just graphics on the map, not actual waypoints you can search for or route to.)
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Old 12 May 2010
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Not sure if this is breaking the rules (apologies if it is) but I've got a TT GPS 60 mount on E-bay right now. It will come with a free GPS60CS. The reason the mount is for sale and the GPS unit is free is because my PC broke and I've lost the unlock code. I'm not sure Garmin support this software version anymore but it'll give long and lat and a few other tricks. For anyone who's prepared to deal with Garmin to unlock a four year old device or enter waypoints by hand it could be a bargain.

Andy
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Old 12 May 2010
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Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
Not sure if this is breaking the rules (apologies if it is) but I've got a TT GPS 60 mount on E-bay right now. It will come with a free GPS60CS. The reason the mount is for sale and the GPS unit is free is because my PC broke and I've lost the unlock code. I'm not sure Garmin support this software version anymore but it'll give long and lat and a few other tricks. For anyone who's prepared to deal with Garmin to unlock a four year old device or enter waypoints by hand it could be a bargain.

Andy
I've PMed you about this I think Garmin 60CSx is going to be what we're after. Looks easy enough to use and has pretty much everything you might need for overlanding!

Thanks for the info!
Andy
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Old 12 May 2010
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Here's the kind of profile it records:

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Old 12 May 2010
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SatNav is equal to Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and is generic term for satellite navigation systems.

GPS is a SatNav-system which uses the US-Satelites (NAVSTAR). There are aslo other Navigation Satellite Systems like the Russian GLONASS and the EU Galileo. As far as I know these systems are not fully functional yet.

So basically GPS is the only SatNav/GNSS you can use today.

The question " GPS or SatNav?" makes as much sense as "eagle or bird?"
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