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Old 28 Nov 2007
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Looking for a GPS and Im Allready Lost!!

Hi there,
Im going to participate in a rally that goes from London to Cameroon, crossing the Sahara with no routes defined. Frankly I dont know anything about GPS so Im looking for a good recomendation for the reciver and where to find maps of the Sahara and Cameroon.

Any thoughts???
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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GPS Vector Map Morocco

Any good??

Nostradamus Ate My Hamster
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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Maps - garmin

Island Oalfs (sp?) topo moroco is about the best coverage you'll get for Morocco. See above link.

Unfortunatly the rest is poor. It is either garmins world map .. or smelly bikers wanderlust maps. Wanderlust Version 1.7 is due soon and that may have routing .. so I'd hold off for that version .. In the mean time if you don't have garmins mapsource program then i'd buy garmins world map .. reasonably cheap, not locked .. so you can play with that. You can 'preview' it over the web ...

GPS - Garmin
Due to the lack of laps in the area I'd use a garmin GPS as these have the best 'world' type maps... your choice than depends on what type of vehicle you are using .. car/4WD etc you want a largish screen, voice that talks to you .. on a bike you need waterproof, crash survivablity .. I use a 60MAPCx ... small screen but that reduces the possiblity of it being hit..
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 9 Dec 2007
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I use a Garmin Etrex Legend Cx. Pukka bit of kit with plenty of maps available for Europe although not sure about the Sahara. You`ll have to search the web. I found some fantastic maps for Morocco, but they don`t go down as far as you need.

The unit is light and easy to operate although you have to be careful in the heat as sometimes the glue goes a bit sticky that keeps the rubber seal in place.

Garmin. We'll Take You There.™ is the place to look.
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Old 3 Jan 2008
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I'd echo what's been said above - since there is little or no mapping software for the countries you mention, you are best of with a simple rugged 'outdoor' type GPS, that you can input Lat and Long coordinates easily, that will corrispond with any paper map you can get of for the regions in which you are travelling (and also from other travellers who may have suitable Lat and Long details of camps/fuel etc they can pass on...)

Garmin's outdoor range of GPS' like the 60 series are good in this respect, as is the smaller Etrex range or even the Forerunner, but those are a little more fiddly to use with fewer buttons... All are water/shock proof, although if you are using it on a bike, I would certainly consider one that has a 12v power input and hardwire it - as batteries can short out with vibrations on a bike, especially off-road.

JennyMo xxx
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Old 5 Jan 2008
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I used a simple Lat/Lon GPS (Garmin GPS2+) plus paper maps for my last sahara / west africa trip and found it ok. I still got lost but with a bit of cross cooordination between the maps and the gps I could figure out where I had gone wrong and correct it.

There were others that I met running laptop based systems in their TLC's with (mainly) Russian military maps, plotting a day or two ahead on the computer and then downloading a series of waypoints into their Garmins, the laptops (presumably) being a bit fragile for real time navigation.

When I was planning my current trip I looked at a lot of what was on the market but couldn't find anything in the Garmin (or other mainstream gps manufacturers) range that would let me do something similar "in the unit", or even better run satnav (as opposed to just giving me lat/lon) - usually because of the lack of suitable maps. There are plenty of paper maps available though and the Russian maps are available from madmapper.com
in OziExplorer format. It was this programme that sent me down the pda route and I've been using a Mio p550. This has gps built in, feeding the position data straight to whatever mapping programme you want to use. As an aside it also plays movies (although the screen resolution is not wonderful), mp3's and does wireless internet.

At the moment I have a complete set of Ozi maps covering my UK - Ghana route that runs through Ozi Explorer and the pda also runs a second programme, GPSTuner that does much the same as Ozi but with any map you can scan into a .jpg picture format. These ones you have to self calibrate but that's pretty easy with google earth before you go or by entering calibration points as you come into the area covered by the map.
For tricky bits you know you are going to come across - city centres, finding embassies etc its possible to screen capture the area in google earth in advance, calibrate it using GE data and have on screen moving ariel navigation. The few times I've used it this has worked very well.
I've also digitised some of my old paper maps by pinning them to the garage door, photographing them with a digital camera to jpeg files and calibrated these using GE.

The downside for bike use is that pda's need protection from the elements and I've used an Otterbox 1900 series protective shell with a Ram ball and socket mount. Both together came as a package deal from the Otterbox importer's at around £75.00. The pda screen is sometimes (frequently!) hard to see in direct sun but to date it's been good enough.

If this all sounds like a lot of pi55ing around it probably is, but I couldn't find anything that would do all of this as easily. Garmins running software such as smellybikers seemed to be the only other option but I couldn't find specific information on how detailed the maps were for the areas I wanted to go to and everything I read about Garmin's own maps of the area said they were not much use ot of Europe. I'm not saying that this is perfect - it's far from that - but it suits my hands on approach and has so far worked as I wanted it to. If I have missed a trick and everyone else is using some other far better / cheaper approach let me know. I'm not too proud to admit I've gone down a blind alley.
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Old 6 Jan 2009
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Regretfully the OZI explorer is the most accurate small unit route to use, however it is very fiddly, and I confess to having got myself in a bit of a fuddle and finally giving up altogether. It is certainly not I feel practical as a quick reference glance whilst on the move.

Having returned for a non adventurous trip to SA I brought a set of Tracks4Africa maps and was very impressed by all that they are doing there. I am not affiliated with the company in any way.

The Island Olaf map is certainly the greatest detail for Morocco, but I see the T4A as being an collaboration of maps from peoples tracks, hence offering greater accuracy and the opportunity to share more detailed tit-bits of information, I was pretty impressed with what come along in the form of waypoints.

If more people uploaded their personal tracks to the T4A site these maps could expand into something remarkbly accurate quite quickly, and at about £60 for the whole of Africa and the second update I believe very reasonable.

On the hardware side I have recently been using a Legend CX and have been nothing short of surprised with just how good it is. Sure I would have liked an electronic compass and a Barometer, but funds.... The Battery life is simply fantastic I was getting an average of 6 days traveling out of a set of AA's!
My requirements were Great battery life, huge /expandable memory, mains pluggable, Auto routing, and a compact size rugged unit.

My Dad has the Garmin GPS Map 60 and it has a larger display, marginal but it is larger. Better arial, an adequate memory, and the barometer with compass.
I would recommend (thoroughly) either of the GPS MAP 60 range or the Etrex range for bikers looking for a quick reference guide and handy walk about GPS. Etrex for battery life and GPS MAP 60 for more rugged, particularly the Mains connector, not being a mini USB.

The Magellan units are also very good, but they are less popular and I am not sure how well supported their maps are, certainly not as good as the Garmins support.

Lastly, I believe that Tracks 4Africa can actually make you (scan) a map for use within Garmins out of any map that you have. ie Take the Russian (old) Sahara maps and have these converted to digital for use on the Garmin...
I see this as being out of date, in accurate, and possibly expensive, however potentially much more detailed topographically.

Cheers and Good luck

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Old 6 Jan 2009
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Some more comments

Maping - for Garmins

------------- Sharing your tracks!

Island Olaf will also accept your tracks for his map for Morocco .. as will T4A.

There is also the 'open street maps' (osm) project that will also take your tracks OpenStreetMap

As will smelly biker for the 'Wanderlust' world map...

So that is at least 4 palces to send your Morocco tracks to. Anywhere in Africa to the T4Africa people. Anywhere in Autralia to the T4Australia people. Anywhere in the world to osm and Wanderlust.. and there are probably others in other parts of teh world that I've forgotten about. Your tacks are valuable - to improve the detail and acuracy of GPS maps .. send them in!

--------- Making your own maps ---
You can make your own garmin maps .. using cGPSmapper ... large learning curve. This is how some (T4A, Wanderlust) are making there maps .. you can underlay a digitised paper map and track it out by hand using this software .. tedious.
The 'old russian maps' for Africa have already been converted to digital (and OZiexplorer format) by madmappers and are avalible for free download.. though if you want the complete set it maybe cheaper to buy the CD! Note that the old russian maps are also avalible for some other parts of the world .. yes on the web in digital form ..
It is a lot of work .. most are better off sending their tracks in and letting others do the work...

Do note that Oziexplorer uses 'raster' format maps - photos if you like of paper maps. Gramin GPS maps are 'vector' format ... the two fromats are not compatable nor easily converted from one to the other ..
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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