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Old 04-03-2006, 10:25 AM   #1
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Laptop as GPS

I am looking at diferent software to use my lap top as a GPS. Does anyone else do this and have a suggestion? The one I am looking at is the Deluo USB GPS WAAS
and Microsoft® Streets & Trips 2006

Here is the link:http://www.deluoelectronics.com/customer/home.php

This will be used in the motor home.
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Old 04-03-2006, 10:41 AM   #2
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http://www.delorme.com/earthmatelt20/

I've had good results with Delorme products and have used their little GPS unit with my personal laptop while driving.

I use my Garmin III+ with map display. It's little and sits on the dash with no problem. I can download to the laptop at night. I don't like to keep the laptop on in a car (truck) when moving. One quick stop and it's toast. The Garmin is bullet proof. Newer models have bigger displays and more memory.
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Old 04-03-2006, 10:43 AM   #3
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Laptop Gps

I have used a laptop running Co-Piolet for several years. It seems to work but high ambient light and noise level in the truck make it difficult to see and hear. It is also run better by the navigator than the driver and my wife does not like to do it. She would rather set with the road atlas in her side pocket or lap. I run streets and trips before we start in the morning and it is fairly good if we do not change our plans during the day's travel.
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:07 AM   #4
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I use Streets & Trips.

You need a savvy co-pilot, or you need to plan out the day's trip the night before and just let the co-pilot tell you when to turn.

Unless the co-pilot is familiar with the program, don't try to use it on the fly to find restaurants or local points of interest. She/he will get frustrated and you will get lost.

On the other hand, it sure is fun to watch yourself speeding down the highway, and see what intersections are just ahead.
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:18 AM   #5
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Another Delorme user here. I love it! I like the ability to keep track of where I am and where I can detour too if traffic jams up on me. As far as keeping the laptop in check I use a Jotto Mount a bit pricey but much cheaper than a new laptop

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Old 04-03-2006, 11:18 AM   #6
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I have seen small LCD displays such as those found for portable DVD players for sale on Ebay. You could plug these into the video output jack on the laptop, and mount the LCD in a more driver friendly location.
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:24 AM   #7
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I have used a Rand Mcnally bundled receiver and software for several years, and have never had to stop and ask directions since. I believe they now sell Delorme. It worked great, but it is time to update my software/hardware, and the Microsoft Streets & Trips is looking good. In fact, the package deal that Chaplain Kent referenced is a good price. Thanks for the link.

I built a contraption out of thin plastic sheets, velcro, and some 3M non-skid tape to cut back on the monitor glare during the daytime. It sticks to the top and two sides of the screen with velcro, and folds flat when not in use.
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:38 AM   #8
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Chaplain,
We use MS Streets and Trips with a GPS receiver that came in the box with the software. It works well for us but as markdoane says, your copilot needs to be comfortable with using it as it is not anything you can fiddle with while driving. We haven't used the turn at a time instructions or the voice prompts much. One thing you may need to adjust to is that you can't expect your copilot to use the software exactly as you would, if you try to give instructions while driving I think you will both be frustrated.

We have full-timer friends who use a dedicated GPS which he operates while driving. Seems to work for them, I suspect that they learned early in their full-timing that having her navigate led to marital strife.
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:50 PM   #9
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Received MS Streets and Trips for Christmas gift and have spent some time learning the software in the past couple weeks. Once you have it figured out, it is pretty slick. I would agree that the co-pilot (my wife) will need to spend some time prior to a trip to become familiar otherwise it could be a frustrating experience. I can see us using MS Streets on a longer trip but not necessarily a day trip when you didn't want to take your computer with you. I plan to use it a night to plan out the next day's trip when going cross-country.
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:58 PM   #10
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I've tested a lot of different kinds of GPS hardware and softare for my work. The laptop solutions work fine, but I think the dedicated vehicle navigation units like the Garmin Street Pilots and Magellan Roadmates and the like are a lot better for most people.

The reason is safety. Most of the dedicated units have clear voice directions for turns, touch screens, etc. Laptops are big and cumbersome, and sometimes have weak displays. The last thing I want is a lot of people driving large, heavy rigs while trying to run a laptop.

On the other hand, motorhomes usually have better environments for laptop use than smaller trucks and vans, and are often operated by couples. With an extra set of eyes and brains, the safety issue would be no big deal.

Another sort of in-between option is to get a PDA and nav software and a bluetooth GPS for it. DeLorme makes pretty good software for the Windows-based PDAs, and I've even had good experiences with a cheapo Radio Shack GPS input for my ancient 1st-generation iPAQ. PDAs have bright screens, touch screen input, and voice direction command capability. A lot of small aircraft pilots use them for navigation, which ought to be an indication that they work reliably.

Personally, I use Streets & Trips for evaluating routes and stops, and a Magellan Roadmate for actually navigating the rig. If I were to start fresh, I'd get the latest Garmin road nav unit, and continue to use Streets & Trips for planning.
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:13 PM   #11
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One other thing, WAAS is a really good feature. Try to make sure whatever GPS unit you have includes it. Gives substantially better accuracy in some conditions. Not really a big deal for navigating down the interstate, but I like watching the elevation numbers, and WAAS makes them a good bit more dependable.
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:32 PM   #12
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Talking Ozi

you guys knew I'd roll in with Oziexplorer as my top pick!!

I love the ability to scan and calibrate my own maps, use USGS topographic maps, and generally fool around with cool things like landsat false color images (what beauty they reveal in the west...). I can always cave in to MS Street Finder when I need to navigate a city, but that's like being a helicopter pilot--fun but you wouldn't want to tell anyone about it.

It's just that I think there are two groups of Airstreamers out there--those who "tour" and those who "boondock." None of the cartoon maps, like Street Finder and Delorme, are wholey (wholly, wholy,,,gak! engineer brain suddenly meets its match) satisfactory for the boondockers, IMHO. Besides, when you want to see the map notations for those old ruins, there's no substitute for the right USGS topo.

And when you start following the links from the Oziexplorer.com home page you begin to learn more than you ever wanted to know about maps, mapping, geodessy, GPS, etc.

IF this piques your interest, I am willing to copy a CD of western states highways to get you started (after you buy your license, less than $100 for a first-class technical program).

--no connection to Ozi, I just use it and love it--
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium

I love the ability to scan and calibrate my own maps, use USGS topographic maps, and generally fool around with cool things like landsat false color images (what beauty they reveal in the west...). I can always cave in to MS Street Finder when I need to navigate a city, but that's like being a helicopter pilot--fun but you wouldn't want to tell anyone about it.

Besides, when you want to see the map notations for those old ruins, there's no substitute for the right USGS topo.

And when you start following the links from the Oziexplorer.com home page you begin to learn more than you ever wanted to know about maps, mapping, geodessy, GPS, etc.

IF this piques your interest, I am willing to copy a CD of western states highways to get you started (after you buy your license, less than $100 for a first-class technical program).

--no connection to Ozi, I just use it and love it--
Zeppelinium,

Another option along similar lines is a program called Fugawi. Does a great job of allowing one to scan and import maps and attach coordinate nav properties to them. Also, has an amusing name.

As a geodesy guy, my skin starts to crawl when I imagine people depending on these types of tools for precision and accuracy, but they can be used effectively as long as the user understands what they're doing. Sounds like you've actually bothered to dig in, for which I commend you.
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Old 04-03-2006, 03:07 PM   #14
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I've been using the Delorme EarthMate and their software for a couple of years now, and have been pretty happy with it overall. I made a mount for the laptop that sits snugly in the drink holders in the center console. It pivots on a ball bearing mount which cost about $15 in materials from Home Depot to build. It can actually turn 360 when mounted and running on battery, and easily back and forth from driver to passenger while plugged into the truck via ac/dc inverter.
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