GPS - Fiberglass RV

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Old 11-18-2005, 07:34 PM   #1
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Trailer: Casita 17 ft Spirit Deluxe
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I've been thinking about getting a GPS for my truck. I know nothing about them other than the fact that Garmin, Lowrance, Magellan, TomTom and others all seem to have their strengths and weaknesses. My question is what do you have and why do you like what you have or do you wish you had purchased another brand? Do any of these GPS units have maps that show campgrounds?
Anybody thinking about getting one in the near future and which one are you considering getting? Right now, I am leaning towards the Lowrance iWay 500C. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

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Old 11-18-2005, 08:26 PM   #2
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Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
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I have 3 gps hand helds. The first was purchased in 1998 and at that time they didn't work very good. US gov. prevented accuracy. That changed on May 1, 2000. The accuracy is very good, within 9'. The prefered brands among hand helds are Garmin and Magellan. Lowrance is often prefered by the marine folks. For most non marine uses I would stick with either Garmin or Magellan.

To answer the question of what do I with it, how do I use my GPS? The biggest use if playing a high tech treasure game. The game is called geocaching. You can find out more about that here.

This game is one of the best way known to learn how to use a GPS. Once you learn how to find a sandwich box in the woods you'll know how to find yourself or a camp ground. A recent example of this was I went to an Oregon fiberglass camping event. I walked out and left my maps and directions at home. Had set a waypoint in my trusty GPS and found the camp ground without any problems.

As for features to be looking for, depends on what you imagine you might want to do with it and how much money you want to spend. You might try low end at first with understanding that you're going to want more later. Low end units make good gifts when it's time to upgrade.

Once you start looking I can try to answer questions.

Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 11-19-2005, 07:19 AM   #3
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Bought a Garmin 12 a few years ago, thought it would be useful for grouse hunting forays into unfamiliar woods. Turned out to be more bother than it's worth. Now it just collects dust in my workshop. Anyone want to buy it?
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Old 11-19-2005, 08:41 AM   #4
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They're cool toys. I've played with a variety of them for years. They're very useful... provided that you HAVE a use for one. If you don't know if you need one or not, you probably don't. Frankly, I find good ol' paper maps and local knowledge to be far more useful than GPS. It certainly has it's uses; for example, at sea it has no peer. But for getting around on good ol' terra-firma... well, as I said, they're cool toys but unless you have the specific need...

Even though I've used them, I don't own one. I'm with Jack.

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Old 11-19-2005, 09:34 AM   #5
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My wife says that all men think they are born with one, that's why they never stop to ask 4 directions.
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Old 11-19-2005, 10:12 AM   #6
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Trailer: Scamp 16 ft
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Roy I'm glad you ask this question I have a garmin that I use both on the boat and with my ham radio useing a program called APRS.
It is an old one which does not have built in maps.
I have been looking for a good one to use when on the road.
if I don't sell my trailer soon I am going to try and use it again next summer or later on this winter in florida.
So i too am waiting on info.
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Old 11-19-2005, 10:33 AM   #7
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West Coast USA
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Darwins wife is my hero!

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Old 11-19-2005, 10:46 AM   #8
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Like many other things is this world, such as a travel trailer, a gps receiver is not a necessary thing. However it can make some things easier. Add a laptop computer with a mapping program, the usefullness is increased. If I know an address but not the local area I find it one a mapping program, and download from the PC to the GPS the coordinates. I find that it reduces the "oops we just went past our turn" thing.

I travel with a navigator, brand name wife, she has used the laptop attached to a gps with a mapping program running. With the large sceen a split screen is possible so you can see to zoom levels. When the lap top is not in use paper maps are.

My GPS receiver is in a place that I can see easily does have maps. She'll tell me when we are getting close to a turn, With a glance I'll check to see where we are in relationship to the turn. Doesn't mean I don't go by and have to turn around, just reduces the number times that happens.

My wife loves to navigate, she gets to tell me where to go.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 11-19-2005, 11:36 AM   #9
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Trailer: 2003 Casita 16' SD
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Iím a fan of GPS and Garmin specifically. I have too many of them. One for geocaching that I can load topographical maps onto. Another for the boat that I can load marine charts and a GPS Street Pilot III that I can load street maps onto. All have color displays which I consider important and the SPIII talks to you. I have two old black and white display units that I donít use much anymore. One used to drive the lap top program for the boat.

Laptops hooked to an inexpensive GPS unit, or perhaps a better GPS that you use while fishing will work but I find mounting the lap top, securely, where I can see it and all the supporting button presses to be dangerous while driving. I build a special tray that tied into the seat belt but I gave up on it in the end. Plus, it was more fussy to travel with being more equipment and a nuisance in airport screening.

I tend to stick to a brand so that there is little or nothing special to keep track of when switching units. Button presses and menus stay consistent between models, at least with the Garmins.

I think Garmin has the widest array of models and I recommend them.

The SPIII and its current incarnation can be pricey. Like many things today, they seem to make their money on the accessories and maps can be pricey. Use in a car will benefit from a remote antenna and RAM mounts. I like the suction cup mount for the windshield. Most will come with a base map with the larger highways but to get the most out of the unit pay for the enhanced maps, or buy one with the enhanced maps already installed. Some, professionally installed, will even come with inertial navigation back up but even I havenít gone that far yet. Plus, working for an auto company, I lease my cars.

I travel alone and having a talking unit is very important when you donít want to take your eyes off of the road. Traveling with a GPS is not much different than driving and talking on a cell phone. There is a learning curve and it is somewhat impaired driving.

Everything fits in a modest bag, GPS, extension cord, power cord, suction cup and mounting arm. I hand carry it when flying and stuff the GPS in it when parked and out of the car to keep it somewhat out of sight.

They wonít know the short cuts, but theyíll get you there in the end. Right to the street address with the enhanced maps. Ready access to all sorts of services, including telephone numbers is great. Recalculation of the route for if you get trapped in the wrong lane and miss a turn, or detour functions when you end up on freeway construction is useful as well.

Get as large of a display as you can afford. Try to locate the unit if it is to be used while driving close to your line of sight. Often, trying to use a small hand held unit for driving will not have a large enough display and no talk function making it almost dangerous while driving. Dual usage of a single unit, i.e. for driving and for fishing rarely works well because the car one is too large and the fishing one is too small.

Youíll want a unit that will track 8 or more satellites and has a parallel processing. Quicker acquiring and reaquiring satellites.

I also recommend GPS City. They handle all brands, have competitive prices and good packages. Iíve never had a problem with them nor has anyone Iíve sent their way. I have no financial interest in them.

It you always travel with a partner, you might not need this, but still, access to restaurants, shopping centers, emergency services etc is valuable also. However, a partner can deal with the lap top on their lap and the lap top will provide the voice, if needed, and services should still be available.

Every camp site Iíve visited (but I havenít done any of the rustic federal camp grounds) has been on the unit.

I still travel with paper maps as a backup. I like those big format books with a single state. I'll still get AAA books to thumb through planning the next day's adventure at the table the night before.
Quando omni flunkus, moritati
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Old 11-19-2005, 01:12 PM   #10
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Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
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I have a Garmin eTrex Legend, the cheapest Garmin with a map display at the time - maybe it still is. We actually got it with the frequent-shopper points program from our grocery store!

While we have gone for significant trips without even turning the GPS on, I always want it with us. Even if I have a map, I don't always know where I am on the map (did we pass the turnoff?), and I like having the GPS to tell me.

The degree of information on the map in the GPS depends heavily on the area. The built-in map in our Garmin had detailed information about interstate highways in Alabama, including even the brands of gas stations at each exit; however, in northern Alberta is doesn't even include every major road. The general fix is to buy more data on CD, and load it in. If I were going to do a lot of this, I think I would just give up on fancy GPS features and use a receiver plugged into a laptop computer, which is a much more powerful storage and display tool than any separate GPS. For trying to drive while guided by the GPS display (rather than looking at the GPS information at stops or getting guidance from the right-hand seat), I agree with Steve that the laptop scheme seems unworkable, and I think a dash-mounted unit with a big display would be good. As it is, we just toss the Garmin on the dash and pick it up as required to look at it.

I can't say anything definitive about brands, but I tried my cheap Garmin and a newer and more expensive Magellan while riding in the back seat in Alabama, and found the Garmin was much more successful getting a lock on our location. Back seats are bad because, unlike the dash area, there is a poor view of the sky, and thus the satellites.
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
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Old 11-19-2005, 01:34 PM   #11
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Garmin and Magellan are both good brands. However if you are going to be using it while walking in the woods I would avoid Garmin's ETrax series. The antenna Gramin uses in this series is prone to loss of lock in trees. Everybody I've been with that has an ETrax has lost the satilite lock while my Magellans very seldom lose the satilites. The Garmin GPS60 series however seem to be pretty nice units. Last summer I geocaching with a guy that had Garmin 60cs, I think it was. If I would have been in the market for a new unit, that's what I would have gotten.

As for loosing a lock or not in the back seat of a car depends on where the satilities are located and horizion masking in the gps receiver. I wouldn't make much judgement on that kind of test. Take them both out in tree cover and see what happens.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 11-20-2005, 12:13 PM   #12
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Name: Patrick
Trailer: 2007 Casita Liberty (Sold 2011)/ Honda Odyssey
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I highly recommend getting a GPS for your vehicle if you're going to be doing any significant amount of traveling to unfamilar areas. A few minutes spent before the trip to input the destination and other stops along the way makes traveling much more enjoyable and interesting. No more wondering how far to the next critical turn, pondering the shortest way back to the campground, or even where the nearest hospital is.

A friend gave me a Compaq/HP Pocket PC with a Navman GPS "sleeve" and software. I've now used this for trips to Mississippi, Bullard Beach, San Diego, and to about 18 homes here in Tucson on a Koi fish pond tour. Works just great.

I recommend people consider the Pocket PC route rather than the dedicated GPS device. The Pocket PC provides many more useful functions at a generally lower cost than the dedicated units like mentioned above. For example, playing MP3s, books on MP3s, websurfing, email, games, like my new favorite SuDoKu, note taking, and Directv/Dish satellite aiming.

You can get a Dell Axim Pocket PC for about $300-$450 and a wired GPS receiver is about $160 more. They also have wireless Bluetooth receivers if the Pocket PC has Bluetooth. So for about $500 you could get a new system. Older systems including HP Ipaqs like mine, with Navman are available on eBay for less.


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Old 11-20-2005, 08:36 PM   #13
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Trailer: Boler 13 ft 1972
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Since we travel a lot, we got a Magellan 700 series that is portable and plugs into a power port or cigarette lighter. It comes with maps of the entire US, Canada and parts of Mexico, all incluseive. (No cds to mess with)

The latest version (older ones can be updated periodically, for a price) show nearly all the gas stations and many restaurants on the bright color map as you're driving along.

Its not without gliches. It doesn't like to be in canyons, and it occasionly gets confused. But the new version has a built=in speedometer and it shows elevation. Nice features. You can choose between male and female voice prompts which guide you pretty well in unfamiliar territory.

This is not something you'd want to carry into the woods -- its strictly a vehicle gps. You can rent a car from Hertz that has gps to get a workable demonstration.

All in all, its been a good investment. As avid garage sale freaks, you can actually find places in a strange city easily. The directions are much better than Mapquest.
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Old 11-20-2005, 08:48 PM   #14
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Originally posted by Gina D.@Nov 19 2005, 09:33 AM
[b]Darwins wife is my hero!

Directions? I don't need no directions!

Hello, Uh, Gina? I think I'm lost.* How far are you from Big Bear?

Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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