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Handheld GPS

After suffering the slings and arrows of G1STQs “so called” topography skills on two recent Welsh Border activations, I have decided it may be prudent to invest in a handheld GPS :wink:

Looking to spend IRO of £200. Any thoughts, observations or indeed, reccomendations, would be greatly appreciated.

Mike
2E0YYY

In reply to 2E0YYY:

I use the Garmin GPSMAP 60 CSX. very pleased with it, look very carefully for best prices as they vary alarmingly. Also make sure you get the correct base map as base mapping for the USA may buy you a cheaper unit but not much use in UK.

Lots of reveiws on geocaching site - but they may lean a bit to the USA point of view. They may be helpful, I`ve not read many of them.

http://www.geocaching.com/reviews/gps

I also have the memory map adventurer 2800, not so good for geocaching but great for walking with its seemless 1:50000 map of the uk.

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hi Mike

I have a couple which I use for general walking/Geocaching which are a Garmin Legend CX and a Garmin Colorado 300. The legend I’m going to program up with Repeater/SOTA summits to use when portable, ensuring the antenna gets pointed in the right direction!

The Legend CX is no longer available, but I think you can get the HCX or Vista HCX (both of which have better receivers) for £120ish. Colour screen and an easy to use and fairly accurate GPS. Both can use maps on SD cards.

The Colorado has a bigger screen, again colour, but can be a bit of a Maverick! I’ve had a few issues with it with the compass going out of calibration whilst using it. It requires the user to turn in two full circles slowly to re-calibrate. Ok Geocaching on the hills of Wiltshire, but not much fun in the fog up a mountain! The battery life is pretty poor on the Colorado too, as the screen is so dark you have to have the backlight on at least half power to see anything. The other day I put in a set of fresh Duracell plus batteries and went for a 4 hour 8 mile walk over the hills. Batteries died before I finished. Using rechargables, it’s pointless having anything less than 2600Mah ones. I paid £250 for it about 2 years ago, not sure what the price is now.

I’ve heard one of the most accurate is the Garmin 76CSx. Again not sure of the price, but it may be a tad over £200. Excellent compass and very accurate. I know several people who use them and swear by them.

For a bit more dosh, there’s always the Active 10 Satmap of course! Shop around and you can get it and full UK mapping (worth over £200) for about £350.

Hope this is of some help in your choice.

73
Jonathan
M6HBS

In reply to 2E0YYY:

I like to live at the trailing edge of technology, so have little faith in mapping GPS receivers.

I use Memory Map to plan routes (& possible escape routs) which I load onto the devices, on the hill I use them with a real map to confirm positions, estimate timings & to keep a record.

I have an old GPS12 and a Foretrex (both Garmins)the Foretrex is precise & light, the GPS12 is slightly less precise is heavier but is absolutely bombproof. Both use easily replaceable cells that interchange with my handy, FT817 & headtorch, both have a battery life measured in days rather than hours.

For a budget of £200 I would decide how much to put aside for mapping software, then look again at the devices available in your price range.

As a matter of interest, how well do large colour lcd screens cope with the cold? I know that when mine freeze up, a few minutes tucked inside my shirt will warm them up enough to be readable again.

Dick.
M0EIQ

In reply to 2E0YYY:
Hi,Mike, I have a Garmin E-trex which together with the Memorymap software is sufficient enough to organise my trips around the fells.
The best feature of using a GPS is the recording of your walk showing time,distance,speed,etc which can be saved as a map file on your computer which is very handy for showing other people where you went and how you got there.
Also you have a grid reference at the touch of a button which makes map reading a lot easier, in fact I wouldn’t go on any walk without one now.

Best wishes, Derek

In reply to 2E0YYY:

Hi Mike,

It’s not a dedicated GPS I know, but my new Nokia 5800 symbian phone does a good job of running Viewranger. The internal GPS seems to work fine and it doesn’t seem to be much less sensitive or accurate than the Garmin Etrex H. Viewranger is available for S60 and Android phones as well as iPhone. The mapping is pretty cheap (£50 for the whole of the north of England at 1:50000), you pay for what you need and you can download more over the GPRS network if you need to. I can’t really fault the user interface. Best of all it is free.

As I got my 5800 as part of a 24 month contract I effectively got a seriously useful mapping GPS for just the cost of the maps I downloaded. The Nokia supplied satnav software is also pretty good and has proved useful on a number of occasions.

73 Rick

P.S. I am not employed by Nokia or Viewranger

In reply to G1INK:

In reply to 2E0YYY:

I use the Garmin GPSMAP 60 CSX. very pleased with it, look very
carefully for best prices as they vary alarmingly.

You make an excellent point there, Steve! After spending a little time playing with Google, I note that some of the price variations are eye watering. Anyway, with the store sales in full swing, now seems as good a time as any to take the plunge.

Cheers
2E0YYY

In reply to G1INK:

In reply to 2E0YYY:
I use the Garmin GPSMAP 60 CSX. very pleased with it, look very
carefully for best prices as they vary alarmingly. Also make sure you
get the correct base map as base mapping for the USA may buy you a
cheaper unit but not much use in UK.

Of the same family, I use the GPSMAP 78 (base model of the 78 series). It lists at 350 USD but I managed to find it on sale somewhere for around 290 USD which would be in your budget. The nice thing about this is their “custom maps” capability which I’ve played around a little bit with (because, as someone else mentioned, most will come with only the US base map and a very rudimentary world base map) before someone “loaned” me a more detailed ROK base map, you can (using Google Earth) match up map images (trail maps, etc) to their proper scale in Earth then send it to the GPSr and be looking at that as your “base map” which is fun. The 78 looks like it takes up more space than the 60 but I think they did it to lower its “density” and make it float-able in case you drop it in water.

My only regret (and it’s not a real regret, at that) is that I didn’t spring for the next model up, the mid-range one at just 100$ more to get the magnetic compass…I end up having to bring a “real one” with me when I want to verify directions and antenna aim without walking 3m this way and that just to “move” and use the GPS compass. Though, it was more of a move to please the XYL by only getting the 78 instead of 78s, and I can live with it.

Other than that, it’s great, doesn’t drain the batteries, amazing display in sunlight and it’s already saved my butt twice in the last three months :wink: I only wish I had gotten one sooner.

Hope that helps!

Jason HL4/W2VLA

In reply to 2E0MIX:

I have a Garmin E-trex which together with the Memorymap
software is sufficient enough to organise my trips around the fells.

Mike, I’d have to agree with Derek on this one. I think If I had £200 for a GPS for general use, then the Garmin E-Trex (Legend, Vista, Summit etc.) with Memory Map software would be the way I’d go. Great little Gps which is easy to use and program and full UK mapping from Memory Map. Not sure how much Memory Map is now, I think you could get it for about £115 on CD a couple of years ago, but look for deals where it’s coupled with a GPS.

I have Memory Map on CD and use it all the time, usually to just print out a paper map of the area to take with me rather than carry a full OS one.

73
Jonathan
M6HBS

In reply to M6HBS:
I’m in the Market for a gps device to, I already have full uk memory map 1:50k but I can decide on the device. I’m stuck between the garmin 60csx, satmap active 10(I think it’s called) and memory map’s own device. So any ideas are much welcome in terms of best receiver, ease of use, and must be memory map compatible

73
Adrian

In reply to MM0TAI:

The SATMAP is not compatible with Memory Map products.

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply All:
I am a little surprised not to see a full technical analysis from Andy in this thread yet although that may yet come (and he may be preparing as I type). Key to good GPS reception are two things: a sensitive multi channel chip such as the SiRF III and a good antenna ideally a prominent or external helix. With these you can be sure you’ll get a good location from your GPS in dense woodland or in a deep valley/gorge. Maybe not what you expect to find on a summit but perhaps on the way there. I have found and redirected so many disorientated people with basic GPS units in the Kielder and Cheviot area forests.

The Garmin GPSMAP 60 GSx along with the new 62 series and some others from Garmin have both of these and work well with great accuracy. I have the topo GB map installed on mine and while it doesn’t give OS level mapping, I can see all the contours as I cross them and at the cost that it was when I bought it just after launch it was good value for money (not so now). If you have Memory Map or Garmin TOPO along with one of these, it is quite useful to draw a track around the contour line just above 25 metres below the summit and download that to the GPS as on approach you can see exactly when you have entered the activation zone and that provides opportunity to select a good operating position.

Without the prominent helix antenna the Vista HCx is also a very receptive and several of my fellow hill walkers have these with all of them delighted.

The newer Memory Map range - Adventurer 2800 and 3500 are interesting when bundled with GB 50K maps as it would cost you £200 just to buy the maps alone - the Adventurer 3500 looks almost ridiculously cheap. I have a 3500 on order and awaiting delivery. The key reservation I have is that these Adventurers appear to be powered by the Windows CE, which I had thought was obsolete. However the appeal of being able to down load the 25k maps that I own and display them on the screen is difficult to ignore. I’ll probably end up using my 60CSSx and the newer 3500 along side each other.

Following up on a earlier post by Tom (yes, I have just got round to catching up), when I did use CW (now lapsed) several years ago, I didn’t find the K at the end a problem maybe because the first two letters were CQ, although I’ll never know whether there were people around who kept waiting for me to give my call sign at all. Even now I think I would recognise Roy’s call sign SSH but one of the most recognisable to me used to be Richard G4SIE who I think is now not active, but it was so clear.
rgds & 73
jim g0cqk

In reply to MM0TAI:
As always it depends on what you want to spend! As Richard has said, the Active 10 isn’t compatible with Memory Map. For a similar price (£350 with maps) you could get the Garmin Oregon 450 which is a touch screen GPS. The Colorado like I have is good for general leisure activies, but after the early problems I’ve never fully trusted it although you can download fairly regular updates on the software/firmware. I did one only a couple of days ago which also updated the Chipset. Generally the Garmin units are good so I’d recommend jotting down exactly what you need from a GPS and the price you afford and then read some of the reviews and specifications on the web. I’m not sure if the 60csx is still going? I’m led to believe it was a good allround preformer though and pretty accurate too. I seem to remember that as the price of the Colorado started dropping a year or 2 back, the 60csx held it’s price. Testimony to the better machine perhaps?!

73
Jonathan
M6HBS

In reply to G0CQK:

I am a little surprised not to see a full technical analysis from Andy in
this thread yet although that may yet come (and he may be preparing as I
type).

Give me a chance, I’ve not been back long from a yomp up The Minch Moor, the drive back in thick fog was… exciting!

For the record, I have a Garmin Vista HCx. I use that with downloaded routes and printed maps from Anquet. It does me, I like to use the old way of navigating and check the GPS when I think I know where I am. I save the track logs and can review them on Anquet. So I’m not in the market for a full mapping GPS. Anyway, my eyes are too far gone. I can no longer read the screen on the Vista or my cellphone whilst walking. I have to stop and count to 3 while my eyes focus. Or put glasses on which takes longer. I’d need an iPad sized GPS to be any good!

I haven’t seen anything to disagree with. The GPS60CSx (or whatever it is replaced with) is probably what I should have bought simply because it has a quadrifilar bi-helix antenna and mine just has a patch antenna. It’s not as sexy or shiny as a QFH!

I have a GPS in my Noka E71. It works but it takes an age to get a fix and most of the time wants to use up my broadband internet allowance downloading maps. Whenever you disable the GPS I have to reboot the phone :frowning: My phone is not weatherproof. It lives in my trouser pockets unless the heavens open when it goes in the dry bag. So make sure whatever you buy is really waterproof and shockproof. I’ve got the genuine Garmin softcase and that along with the Garmin case itself is very rugged. Mine has be dropped and bashed against rocks and still goes well with just one small scuff on the plastic.

I use 1800mAh NiMHs in the GPS. These are about 7 years old now. One charge will do two good 6-7hr walks with a week inbetween. The cells seem to last another 4-5hrs but I cycle them after two outings. I carry a spare set of cells, so they spend 2 weeks charged in the rucksack then 2 weeks in the GPS. Lather, rinse, repeat.

YMMV! Make sure if you buy a full mapping display type GPS that you can read the display at the resolution you need in the dark and bright sun. Make sure you can swap the batteries in the dark and that you don’t need to spend a gazillion pounds on a custom battery. My 817, camera and GPS all use AA cells. Commonality is useful, the camera batteries can be pressed into service in the GPS if need be.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to M6HBS:

I have a Garmin E-trex which together with the Memorymap
software is sufficient enough to organise my trips around the fells.

Mike, I’d have to agree with Derek on this one. I think If I had £200 for a GPS for general use, then the Garmin E-Trex (Legend, Vista, Summit etc.) with Memory Map software would be the way I’d go. Great little Gps which is easy to use and program and full UK mapping from Memory Map. Not sure how much Memory Map is now, I think you could get it for about £115 on CD a couple of years ago, but look for deals where it’s coupled with a GPS.

Now i agree here to certain aspects, yes these are ok for cheapness, but the garmin sc60x works well under tree cover more than others, the colarado is also a good gps,now this one is good as you can hold around 1000 caches aswell as a good map, a few of my friends from geocaching have these, i also use a nuvi t610 with back up batterys,
Steve m0sgb

In reply to M0SGB:

Yes Steve, agree. As you know I use the Colorado with OS Mapping on SD Card. The problem with this unit is that at the higher magnification levels the resolution is poor. Possibly why Garmin discontinued the unit.

That said it took me straight to the site of KB993 RCAF on Bleaklow last week.

A good accessory whilst being not a tool nor an instrument.

In reply to M0SGB:

Now i agree here to certain aspects, yes these are ok for cheapness,
but the garmin sc60x works well under tree cover more than others, the
colarado is also a good gps.

Steve, yes I agree the Colorado is good, but there are still bugs in it’s system which Garmin haven’t fixed yet. The compass going out of calibration for no reason is one. I’m very often using it and then find that the compass is suddenly 90+ deg. out. Recalibrating sorts it out, but it’s something Garmin should have fixed as they knew about it fairly early on. I have just downloaded an update which may have fixed it, until I try it on a failry long walk again I won’t know. I seem to remember that the 60Csx has a different type of compass which means the unit can be held at any angle and still reads true, whereas the Colorado has to be held completely flat to get the correct reading. My point with the E-Trex was that if I had no mapping software & £200 to spend, then I’d go for the Etrex Vista, Summit whatever + Mapping software.
The Hcx versions are pretty accurate, even under trees.
Yes, the Colorado is fine for me as I Geocache a lot, but if I were primarily a walker or SOTA operator then I might look to a different unit like the 60Csx or similar.

73
Jonathan
M6HBS

In reply to M6HBS:

Do you actually use the compass? My Vista has one but it eats the battery when enabled, so apart from checking it worked when I bought the unit, it’s been disabled ever since. I’ve found that when I need a compass, my Silva does the job admirably and doesn’t need batteries or recalibrating!

Which brings us to a safety point that needs considering. If you take a map&compass and a GPS you have 2 navigation systems. If you only take a GPS then you are taking a calculated risk that should you need it, it will work. If you take a printed map (either printed yourself or a full OS map) then you don’t need a mapping GPS! You may want one but you don’t need one.

There is no correct answer to the conundrum. Only how much you trust your only navigation system not to fail when you may really, really need it.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:
I think your right Andy, gps should be a backup to your map and compass. It’s definatley a nicety over a necessity. But mine will be mainly used for geocaching as the iPhone or mine at least is really really poor under tree cover.
I’ve got a week booked in the cairngorms to freshen up the winter walking/navigating coming up which I’m really looking forward too.

73
Adrian
M0TAI

I started geocaching with a Garmin eTrex Vista. It survived for a few years but began to go flakey after one too many tumbles. I replaced it with a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx. Both units had barometric altimeters and electronic compasses. The new unit also takes micro-SD cards, and I have chips with the OS maps for Southern and Central UK, and a chip from Tracks4Africa, all of which have proved very handy.

I take a paper map and old-style compass as backup… :wink: