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Don Horner
09-19-2007, 06:55 AM
Sorry, I really didn't mean to confuse anyone with the subject. What I want to discuss is how you program and interact with your navigation system, or, in other words, how you navigate the navigator.

I've been using DeLorme Street Atlas for more years than I care to remember, installed on my laptop and using the DeLorme Earthmate GPS antenna which plugs into the laptop. For years, it was the best system one could buy at almost any price, and expecially a good value since it costs only $79-$99 including the software and the antenna, as long as you already have a laptop.

However, I think DeLorme has been falling behind in technology and mapping accuracy, and I'm considering something else. I'd also like to have a display that's easier to see than a laptop laying on the floor between the seats.

BUT -- the great thing about DeLorme is the ability to customize a route. Like all such programs, you have a choice between the fastest route and the quickest route. DeLorme also offer the choice of a scenic route, and all of the parameters of one route or another -- speed limits, road type preferences and more, are customizable. DeLorme then offers the opportunity to force a route to a specific road, outside of any "rules" that are set, by using a "Via" point. You right-click a section of road, set the "Via" point, and the route automatically switches to that route. You can use as many vias as you like. This is similar to a waypoint on a conventional GPS, but DeLorme's understands the roads and changes the route to match the new roads.

DeLorme also offers the opportunities to plot "Stops", which function something like Vias, but are easier to spot when planning the route. You can set up Stops for each night's camping on a multi-day trip, for example.

With DeLorme, this is all very intuitive and easy to use, and I've gotten used to it. I've noticed that online mapping programs, like Expedia, MapQuest and Google, do not offer that flexibility.

What I'd like to know is whether the other navigation programs, like Garmin or Pioneer or others (at any price) offer the same flexibility in setting up a route.

I hope I made it clear as mud. let me offer an example. If I try to set up a route from Okeechobee to Zephyrhills, FL, where my daughter lives, the mapping programs claim the fastest route is all the way up to Orlando on the Turnpike and then back SW on I-4. Technically, they're correct, but a more direct route only takes about 7 minutes longer -- and saves over 40 miles plus tolls! Asking for the shortest route is little better; it is about 6 miles less than the more direct route (and 46 shorter than the Interstate route), but it adds almost 45 minutes to the direct route! It takes a bit of human knowledge and intervention to get the route that makes the most sense! DeLorme helps me do that by letting me "force" my desired route; I wonder if the other ones will do it.

Of course, after I praise DeLorme while I'm setting up the route, I get frustrated with it on the road when the inaccuracies in the road location have it shouting at me, "Off Route!".

sikwan
09-19-2007, 08:30 AM
We have a Garmin 2610 (no longer made) that we use for road travel as well as in town usage. It lets us do the things that you wanted done on your Delorme like set waypoints (vias, I guess Delorme calls them), avoid toll roads, avoid freeways, etc. If it's a big trip that we're planning, I usually do most of my routing on the computer and then download them to the unit.

In addition, there's other features (that I don't have, but for more money) like...
- adapt to your speedo so that the unit continues to track your progress even if you lose the signal (tunnel, mountains, trees, etc.)
- subscribe to traffic reports so that it automatically redirects your route to another road avoiding traffic jams.

Like any other GPS, we would run into errors because the roads are continuing to change compared to the current loaded maps. We also have the GPS V that we used before for the road and for hikes. It just didn't have enough memory for maps so we upgraded to the Streetpilot 2610 and use the GPS V solely for hikes and my dirt bike adventures.

acvr4
09-19-2007, 12:50 PM
I have several Navman GPS units but I think it depends on the mapping software. The later the better. I've never tried the DeLorme but have heard it was a great system.

Zach Woods
09-19-2007, 01:30 PM
Howdy Don -

See my Garmin 2610 post (http://www.sprinter-source.com/forum/showpost.php?p=12400&postcount=5) for a link to The Digital RV.

Rich (of the Digital RV) or Rich (of Airstream Life - http://www.airstreamlife.com/) would both be good resources for answering your questions. They use GPS's and other mapping software/ hardware extensively and have thought thru a lot of the questions that you are asking in your post.

You could search their blogs and/or drop them an email with your questions. Say "Hi" to Rich Luhr of Airstream Life for me!

Zach

BaywoodBill
09-19-2007, 04:17 PM
Hi Don,

We have a Garmin Street Pilot (I think it's 2650 or 2630... some number or other). It has software to load on the computer with which you can make a route conform to your desired roads.

The choices are "fastest" and "shortest".... no scenic.

The route you plan on your computer can be transferred to the GPS device. A problem I have discovered when doing that is that the lady in the GPS who tells you where to go will sometimes want to send you down a side road, do a u-turn and then get back going the way you want to go. Weird.

For our 42-day 10,000 mile trip this Summer I laid out the route on the laptop but programed the GPS only for the route for the day.

Even in the GPS it's possible to force it to follow certain roads you select but it's a real pain.

The Garmin doesn't have "stops", just "via" or "way" points and destination. The lady in the box makes all the same mistakes as the person in your laptop and those folks in all the other GPS devices out there.

Makes me wonder about those cruise missiles that are said to be so precise. What do they do when they get that "off route" notification?

aljimenez
09-19-2007, 04:57 PM
I've been using DeLorme Street Atlas for more years than I care to remember, installed on my laptop and using the DeLorme Earthmate GPS antenna which plugs into the laptop. For years, it was the best system one could buy at almost any price, and expecially a good value since it costs only $79-$99 including the software and the antenna, as long as you already have a laptop.

I am exactly like you, and before you abandon your setup, take a look at what I have been using for the last year: an LCD touch screen with bluetooth gps attached to my laptop using Street Atlas. The problems you describe with Street Atlas have fixes. Street Atlas allows you to create streets, and set the "off route" to be the largest it can be. I will try to attach a pdf file desribing my setup.

Don Horner
09-19-2007, 07:39 PM
...take a look at what I have been using for the last year...
This is an idea I have been playing with for a year, but have been too timid to pull the trigger. I can't afford to make mistakes...

(1) I don't like the laptop on the floor between the seats; it makes it too hard to get to the back of the van, and if I don't build it up under the laptop, the cooling can be blocked by the carpet. On the other hand, the screen is always visible with good contrast, never gets knocked out by sun.

(2) I actually bought a jotto desk for my old Pace Arrow Class A, but that thing was huge and there was plenty of room for it. I don't want the jotto desk taking up the space between the seats; see above about getting to the back.

(3) I found some touch screen LCDs at different places, 7" and 8", that would do the job. They have VGA input from the laptop, USB connection for the touch screen, and also have 1 or 2 AV connectors for a rear view camera. That would kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

(4) I experimented, and I can set up the laptop to keep running (not hibernate) with the lid shut, and Windows has a small on-screen keyboard that can be used with a stylus, reducing the need for a wireless keyboard (although that's a neat idea). I tried my built-in microphone for voice commands but it didn't work well; I didn't think about a headset. That would be perfect if the annoying "voice" came through the headset as well, so my DW wouldn't hear it and grouse about it.

Everything seemed great, but I didn't spring for it because I'm naturally timid. I need to be sure everything is as I expect it before I leap.

For example, where will I mount the LCD monitor? Yours is on the dash; I worry that it might cut my visibility, and I worry about bright light washing it out when its up near that huge windshield.

Is there a control on the LCD monitor that I can use to easily switch to the rear view camera? I can live without it going on automatically when I go into reverse, but I don't want to have to do more than touch a button to switch it.

What if I'm pulling my trailer, and I have a second camera on the trailer? Does the LCD have 2 inputs, and can I easily select 1?

Getting back to the mounting, I was thinking about carving a block of some sort that would fit in the slot on the dash next to the auxiliary power outlet, and then mount the monitor to that. Then, I would have to figure out a place to mount the laptop, and rig the inverter to power it. It would have to be an easy place to remove the laptop so I can use it for normal use when we stop. The Leisure Travel has a bathroom directly behind the driver, which means that there is a wall above the driver's head. I was thinking about making s rack similar to a magazine rack into which I could slide the laptop. Then, I have to figure a way to efficiently route and hide all the wires -- inverter, AC converter, power, VGA cable, USB touch screen cable.

My current antenna is hardwired to USB; I'd have to buy the bluetooth version.

As I got thinking about all that rigging and fabricating and wiring and mounting, I was also thinking that as I get older, I'd rather travel than start projects. That's when I started thinking about one of the all-in-one DIN mount nav systems like Pioneer and Alpine (and another brand I can swear I read about here on sprinter-source, but can't find, now). It seemed like it would be easier to swap out the radio and install one of the units with a retractable screen and all the controls.

But, that's when I started to worry about the flexibility of their software. I'm reassured that some of them have software that can be loaded onto the laptop to create a route, and then transfer the route to the nav unit. That works for me.

What I'm really looking for, or waiting for, is software that will take the location services of my Sprint Aircard and place it on a sophisticaTed nav map It will do it now, placing me on Microsoft Virtual Earth or Google Maps, but their routing is primitive -- and I haven't tried it yet to see if it automatically updates my position while I'm moving, but it's supposed to do that. The Aircard will serve as a GPS antenna if it can see the sky, and uses triangulation from cell towers to determine position if indoors.

aljimenez
09-19-2007, 09:47 PM
(3) ... LCDs for rear view camera....
I have a JVC radio receiver with a 2 1/2 inch display that comes on with rear view camera. I also have the output of the JVC hooked up to the LCD which can be set to change source from pc to JVC. That's how I have it.
(4) ...I didn't think about a headset. That would be perfect if the annoying "voice" came through the headset as well, so my DW wouldn't hear it and grouse about it.
Even the headset does not work realiably with conversation and music on. The sound does come thru it so you can shut the pc off.
...where will I mount the LCD monitor? Yours is on the dash; I worry that it might cut my visibility
I also worried, but the answer is not for me. My LCD is pretty hi res and it is remarkable even with bright sunlight. It is only harder to see with dark sunglasses.
What if I'm pulling my trailer, and I have a second camera on the trailer? Does the LCD have 2 inputs, and can I easily select 1?
Mine has one video input and one VGA input, but I'm sure you can find one with two video inputs.
My current antenna is hardwired to USB; I'd have to buy the bluetooth version.
If you GPS is old, you will be amazed at the new ones with the new chip. I hardly ever lose satellite connection, even inside basement of a house.
As I got thinking about all that rigging and fabricating and wiring and mounting, I was also thinking that as I get older, I'd rather travel than start projects.
You sound a lot like me, but I am not there yet. I still look forward to projects... Al

Don Horner
09-20-2007, 12:46 AM
If your GPS is old, you will be amazed at the new ones with the new chip. I hardly ever lose satellite connection, even inside basement of a house.
Lots of great answers, every one important to me. But, I really need to comment on this one. That's incredible to me! I purchased my first DeLorme antenna many years ago when they first came out, but it was stolen when someone broke into my old Class A. So, about 3 years ago, I purchased a DeLorme Earthmate with the hardwired USB interface, mainly because I didn't need the bluetooth (my laptop was close enough to the dashboard) and because I didn't want to spend the extra money.

Now, here's the part about your comment -- last year, we took a long cruise from Miami all the way to Brazil and then 1,000 miles up the Amazon, and then return. We were gone 26 days and visited about 12 Caribbean Islands along the way. I took my laptop, and on a whim, I packed the GPS antenna. We had a balcony cabin, and I sat out there with the antenna on the railing, and watched DeLorme track the ship past the islands and down the coast of South America, then up the Amazon. It was pretty neat -- even though they had a GPS map on the ship's TV, I found it fascinating to be watching my own.

However, the antenna had to be way out there -- sometimes I had to stick my arm out over the railing -- in order to get a fix, and there were times when I was on the "wrong" side of the ship and never got a fix. It sounds like the new antennas are far superior to that. Is your bluetooth antenna from DeLorme, or is it some other model?

aljimenez
09-20-2007, 01:05 AM
...Is your bluetooth antenna from DeLorme, or is it some other model?

Not from DeLorme. Do a search on Holux (eBay has lots of them), also read about the new Sirf III chip contained in it. I bought the Holux a couple of years ago, so there may be other GPS receivers with the new chip. I don't think DeLorme is using this chip yet... Al

ctmcdaniel
09-20-2007, 04:30 AM
Don

At least one other all in one in dash NAV etc is the Kenwood DNX7100.

It has a Garmin GPS built in.

Tom McD