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Old 26 Jun 2007
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GPS for Mexico, Central and South America

What's the best GPS for this trip? Please help.
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Old 6 Jul 2007
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What GPS

I use a Etrex Summit with a bicycle mount and a car 12V lead. I've added a 12v socket to the bikes fairing.
I used to use the basic Etrex (£100), but I like the electronic compass and barometer on the Summit (£200).
I use multimap.com to find where I want to go then input the Lon/Lat into the GPS. Saves buying all the maps to install. I also carry a map and compass as backup. )
I've been using GPS since the mid 90's and have found it invaluable when it's cloudy, dark or both at the same time.
The Gypsy
Second star on the right.
Then straight on till morning.
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Old 12 Jul 2007
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We've used a Garmin 60CSx for the last two (cage) trips. Unfortunately, you are reduced to the absolutely appallingly poor Garmin base map (they want to sell the other map sets, but even then, they dont sell a good map set for mexico/C.A. But the reception with the new Surf III chip is so improved over older models, that there is almost no comparison. The power use has improved that now you can get almost 18 hours out of a new set of batts (more if you turn things off) instead of the 8 that is common with other units. (batt life on the websites is not reflective of actual use.)
Depending on how retentive you are about your GIS info (I am retentive) I have found that the only way you will actually be able to predict as many roads as possible in Mexico are to either spend a lot of money and purchase actual paper maps for the area that you are going in 1:50,000 scale and combine that with a guia roji, or purchase commecially available software and run it on your laptop- not really usable on a bike and extraordinarily expensive ($1000 US or more). We mapped large parts of the back roads in Merida using our 60CSx and were able to import to ArcGIS and use that later for our work. As for Further south, I havent seen much else down there, sorry for no more detailed information on that.

On a side note- XM radio works pretty well all the way down to Guatemala- you have to be further from mountains the further south you go (increased satellite look angle)

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Old 28 Jul 2007
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Just info

If your budget stretches to it, get a 276C - yes, it is a marine unit with a fab display but it can do automotive as well. Best GPS I've come accross and I had a few. (only 'down' side are garmin's bespokew emmory chips max at 512MB and expensive (about £75 on ebay)

Alternative, as has been said the 60CSX with a 2GB chip (cheap) and with the track set to save on the chip. Brilliant but small screen. Touratech do a very nice mount for it and power it from bike- It also has 2 batteries for planning-

Mapping worries ? well, at present although it cannot 'route', the info on it is light years ahead of garmin worldmap which really is very basic-
Go to Smellybiker and buy Bob's WANDERLUST map - you won't believe your eyes!
current version 1.6
Work in progress 1.7 which will also have Topo and routing
(hurry up Bob - what's taking so long?!!)
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Old 30 Jul 2007
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Originally Posted by bert333 View Post
Mapping worries ? well, at present although it cannot 'route', the info on it is light years ahead of garmin worldmap which really is very basic-
Go to Smellybiker and buy Bob's WANDERLUST map - you won't believe your eyes!
current version 1.6
Work in progress 1.7 which will also have Topo and routing
(hurry up Bob - what's taking so long?!!)
Err hope your joking about the hurry up bit .. I've made a few maps (vector) for teh GPS and they take time to get right .. and I've not done an autorouting one yet. I've only just sent him the names for most of the UK A roads .. and some tracks from my trip there .. and I'm only one contributor so he has plenty to do ..
I'd expect the routing if it come throught to be basic - Motorway set to say 80 mph, main A roads to say 50mph .. every thing elese ? well remainign A and B roads to 30 mph, remining to 20 mph? as a guess... way too much to set them to what they are as they change within a country let alone conutry to country .. and the map set will be huge in memory size too...
Think routing is a little too much at this stage .. maybe when there is more than one persone working on it .. and maybe it will requierr more than one per country too ... just considering the umm performace of things like Tracks 4 Australia and Tracks 4 Africa.. tends to be slow to update but more coverage .. no autorouting ..
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 10 Aug 2007
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GPS choice

I have been looking at the 276C (Euro 800,- complete) and the 60CSX (Euro 500) but I have seen that there are many secondhand Streetpilots 3 available on the internet marketplaces for around Euro 300,-. It seems to me that the Streetpilot 3 is older but has about the same posibilities as the 276C? Or does it not? Can anybody advise me on that?

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Old 27 Aug 2007
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+1 for the Wanderlust Map sets. Just finished downloading them and way better than the Garmin Worldmap. Also nice to support a fellow biker.
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Old 10 Sep 2007
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What is the detail like of the smellybiker maps for Mexico/South America?

I have a couple of Garmin GPSs (Zumo ram mounted and a RINO on the handlebars) and just returned from a 11 day trip to central Mexico and continued to be disappointed in the Mexican maps. Granted I was only using the base maps and they only had the cuotas and some of the larger roads in sorta the right places.

My .02

The Zumo has an excellent display and the interface is VERY easy to use while driving with gloves on as opposed to my RINO, which I have to stop and remove gloves to use. Unfortunately, the Zumo doesn't save a track log (as far as I can tell), so if I want a tracklog I take my RINO with me as well.

In my world of GPS obsession, I like having both as the Zumo works really well on the bike and when I go off hiking, the RINO 530 is a waterproof, rugged FRS/GMRS radio plus GPS. One of my friends has one and it is great to be able to "beam" your location over the radio to eachother. It is also handy if you get seperated on the bike but are in radio contact =].

If I had to choose one, I'd go with the RINO 530.

As far as applications to Mx/SA... it is all in the maps that you obtain. Half the time my fancy zumo was just showing me as a dot hundreds of miles from any roads even when I was on a nice paved road near a reasonably sized city.
http://davegtravels.com - RTW on a DRZ
All the way south - Texas to Tierra del Fuego in '08-'09
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Old 7 Oct 2007
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Just to comment I bought e Garmin Worldmap set, and it sucks pretty bad. It is basically and artist's rendition of roads. Field tested in Canada, US, and Mexico (Baja and mainland). Not worth the extra $$$ over their built in world base map. I don't know how they can put such a crappy product to market when there is so much public domain data available that is millions of light years ahead of whatever database set they have.

And I'm not a picky guy, I'm not talking about the newest exit off the freeway not being in the mapset, but more like main highways and coastlines, major geographical features, that have been around for decades be out of position by 5, 10, 15 kms? And it's not datum shift issue, either.

Boo on Garmin. And it still won't work natively on my Mac, either.

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Old 8 Oct 2007
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I belive Garmins 'World Map' is based on public material (VMAP0) .. so is Bobs .. but Bob has taken advantage of 'our' (and a few other peoples) tracks and stuff to improve his.. 1.6 is good, well as good as Garmins in Africa .. (that is where I'm looking at so it is my reference) The public avalible data for Africa is poor .. NGA: Country Files for instance has a resolution of 0.003333 degrees .. about 100 or 200 metres ...

Bobs 1.7 should be a good improvment .. then 'we'll' work on 1.8 .. 1.9, 2.0 ...

------- For me it is not the country side maping that I find myself in need of .. it is the cities where I get frustrated with not finding my way .. I think that is mainly because I cannot pull off - stop and consider - there is too little space to do that in the city, where as in the country side I can pull over and relax .. take out a drink and spread out a map..
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
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Old 8 Oct 2007
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Worldmap = Basemap?

As far as I'm aware, Garmins Worldmap is basically the same as the base map already installed on your GPS. My Quest has the Atlantic basemap for Europe on there but it has nothing for the Americas so hence I downloaded Worldmap and used it for that. (it doesn't use an unlock code)

BUT: When I came back to Europe, (and before I had put any European maps back on there) I could switch the Worldmap off and on and see no difference at all.

So I'm guessing that if your have an American GPS, the base map detail will be the same as having Worldmap for the Americas.

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