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Satmap GPS

Anyone using one for SOTA? I would be interested in opinions.

Thanks.

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

You’re not as old as me Richard, that means you’re eyes aren’t worn out. Yet! I can’t read a 1:50000 OS map without glasses. I can’t be fagged with wearing reading glasses just for a map when walking so I print my maps at 1:25000 scale. I can read them without glasses and keep walking.

Most handheld gizmos have small screens and I’m finding reading them becoming harder and harder. I can read them if I stop and squint but can’t read them and walk. An iPad (spit) sized device would have a display worth having but I don’t want to have to cart something that big around. Anyway it’s probable that Jobs wouldn’t let us have maps on an iPad because they not minimalist enough. “Too much brown, only show contours every 250m. Ah, that’s better!”

I had to play about with my GPS (Garmin Vista HCx) so I could get the important bits of data big enough to read in a glance. A screen the size of an iPhone (spit) would not be able to display a meaningful amount of info at a size my eyes can cope with. So device size/screen size is a real issue.

And there’s the old curmudgeon effect. Having been involved with the design and manufacture of technology for a long time, I don’t trust it to keep working regardless. So I have a GPS which tells me a lot about what is what and where I am. But I try to do most of my navigating using the map and a compass. I could lose the map and I can use the GPS. I could lose/break the Silva compass and there’s a wee one in a pocket in the bag. Big enough so you’ve got some idea which way you’re walking. I could lose/break the GPS and I’ve got a map and compass still. I’d feel exposed and vunerable with only a mapping GPS and no printed map. If I’m taking a printed map there’s no need to go spending big bucks on a mapping GPS.

YMMV!

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to G3CWI:

Hi Richard,
I have used the SATMAP Active 10 for the passed 2yrs and had know probs with it at all a bit pricey and the maps come on SD cards you can get all the national Parks, it is very easy to use and it has a nice big screen, all updates are free when they come out they send you a SD card with updates on you put them in and then send the card back.

Terry
G0VWP

In reply to G3CWI:

Hi Richard,

I use a Garmin Etrex Vista Hcx, and this has topo maps installed via a Micro SD Card.

When paths become indistinct it will always point the way to the Trig.

It has never let me down yet in its 12 month use, I even download Geocache locations to go treasure hunting on summits.

Not that expensive if you google it,some Web shops are quite reasonable.

Hope this helps?

73

Tony

In reply to thread:

I’m with Andy on this, satnavs and their spawn were consumerised because most women can’t navigate (my XYL is a first rate driver and a disaster area at navigation) but most men can do perfectly well with a map. I enjoy mapwork too much to abdicate the responsibility to a little box of tricks, and as I have no desire to play “hunt the slipper” on summits I don’t have a satnav! Oh yes, and as a fully-paid-up OF I need bifocals…

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G3CWI:

Anyone using one for SOTA? I would be interested in opinions.

Sorry can’t oblige Richard. I don’t think my GPS has had batteries fitted for a while now. Then why should it, when I have full and free use of 4MDmap. :wink:

73, Gerald

I agree with Brian. I derive so much pleasure, and I know Jimmy does too, from poring over OS 1:25000 sheets and a good road atlas, that we could never bring ourselves to step into the world of Satnav and GPS.

4MDmap? I presume that is a functional, but much older version of JimNav?

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

4MDmap? I presume that is a functional, but much older version of
JimNav?

Correct Tom. However the older model is somewhat temperamental and idiosynchratic in it’s operation, with a tendency to lead up the garden path…

In reply to M1EYP:
I use bvemap and have found it to be quite accurate. It’s getting to be a bit outdated, but probably good for another year or two.
Tom, I accept that when there are two persons in a vehicle, map reading is fun and viable. Not quite as much fun, on your own, on a wet dark evening in Wales, when trying to locate a walk start point. The satnav with Richards POIs is invaluable and dispenses with frequent stops to consult the map.
I also find the GPS to be a great safety item, especially in poor vis. Laying a breadcrumb trail, which one can retrace to a few meters, is a huge benefit in poor conditions, and compliments map and compass work. A huge safety bonus which should be encouraged, with the usual warnings, of course.
Bye the way, I heard Jimmy on ssb very well, when he was working Gerald and Andy. Not a chance of hearing him on FM.He should be encouraged! Cheltenham, Devon, London and the Isle of Wight are listening with eager anticipation.
73, Frank

In reply to G4OIG:

There is no way that I would consider carrying a 4MDmap. I am told that they cost a fortune to run too.

73

Richard
G3CWI

Jimmy is rare DX on 2m SSB as you hinted Frank. This is because I hog the 817 for HF, leaving him with a handheld - therefore FM only - for his 2m activating. However, after his 18th birthday in September, he might not be so restricted!

I agree with your point Frank, but I am rarely having to drive to somewhere I don’t know alone these days. If I have a gig with the band I am now working with, Jimmy usually comes along to navigate, just as he did for the recent family holiday in France. He uses an interesting combo of Google Maps at home beforehand, followed by a Philips OS road atlas and his iPhone in the car, to lead unerringly to the destination.

If I’ve got to find somewhere and I’m on my own, and it is cold and dark, I’m quite happy to pull in, grab a coffee and have ten minutes rest while checking the map and directions. Navigating while driving can be a difficult chore, but while parked is a source of relaxation!

Tom M1EYP

In reply to G3CWI:

Hi Richard,

I dusted off mine ( an early model) To use up Buckden Pike on Friday, It worked really well with full os mapping. You have to tinker with screen brightness and power off times.

It will be sent away shortly to have a new mother board and Antenna fitted, being an early model it requires this for future pc upgrades. One reason why i was testing it out. I cant say its cheap cos it isnt. ( although the upgrade seems reasonable.)

I get the impression it is battery hungry but that could be my model.

The other worrying thing is where the sd card slots in as it is protected by a rubber cover and looks easy to break off ( mine hasnt)

Like all things the gps is an aid and not a must.

rgds Keith G0OXV

Thanks for the various responses - especially those that addressed the original post rather than something tangential.

Being neither a Luddite nor a misogynist I have bought a SATMAP to evaluate. I have done two substantial walks today in different areas of the Peak District. The two walks were selected to test different aspects of the SATMAP. I will write up some comments on its use for SOTA shortly.

73

Richard
G3CWI

Sorry for contributing to the tangentiality. Unfortunately, tangents are on the brain, what with Jimmy’s current A level maths homeworks concerning deriving the equations of tangents to parabolae. Anyway, hope you had a good walk. I had a good curry (without the walk this time).

Reckon your Satmap could find its way to the Bull, CRT or Ox-fford later?

Tom M1EYP

In reply to G3CWI:
Hi Richard,
I will be very interested to read you evaluation report on SATMAP. It looks like a very nice machine, and I wonder if you will identify any shortcomings in practical use.
Pity they did not put a rechargeable LIPO into it as standard but I suppose they have to cater for easy field battery replacement.
73,
Frank

In reply to G3RMD:
To change the type of battery, you have to fit a different battery carrier - a bit fiddly IMO.

Peter - G0FIM / AA3JN

In reply to G0FIM:
Hi Peter, the battery carrier is fiddly but I got another regargable one and carry that but never had to change when out for the day but then that depends on how long you have it on, but must say the Satmap active10 is good I’ve had mine 2yrs and love it.

Terry
G0VWP

In reply to G3CWI:
Not particularly using one for SOTA, but I offer a few comments on their use in the hills.

SatMap. We have been loaned one in my local SAR Team (Sussex) on a fairly permanent basis by the company. I believe that we are due to receive a second one imminently. Obviously they are interested in sales etc. From our point of view, we want to evaluate it with a view to a team policy on this sort of kit. It is currently being passed around between team members to try out as much as possible.

My thoughts. It is physically quite a big lump to carry or put in the sac. It offers 25k mapping, but using their own map format, so for instance while possible, it is tedious to load maps which you own in Memory Map format on to the m/c after changing it to their format. The vintage of 25k map detail for my home area had a number of inaccuracies – I haven’t spent time tracking down if these are due to OS errors or simply being out of date. The unit uses a combination of physical buttons and touch screen, so you have a learning curve to negotiate. In particular activating the crumb trail was anything but intuitive. Batteries – you have a choice of AAs or their proprietory rechargeable Li cell… Swapping between the two requires changing the carrier – it is not a quick throw in an alternative set of batteries out on the hill job. The display was good and if they had done a deal with Memory Map it would have been a good machine. Bearing in mind its size and weight, we thought it would be good for the Mountain Bikers. (We do have M T B Trained searchers in the team.)

Moving a little tangentially, we are in the process of evaluating a variety of units with a view to adopting a standard in the team. Our prime requirements are that while we can all navigate with map and compass, we want a device which will give us a precision NGR for a find and also provide a good crumb trail for possible use by police or coroners in the event of certain finds. The devices need to be switched on and left running during a search with minimal operator intervention and then to be easy to plug into a computer for data download at the end of a search shift. We are currently investigating several solutions - not just the SatMap.

Memory Map have provided appropriate local 25k OS mapping to all SAR teams in the UK free for search use. Obviously anything compatible with this is a bonus.

M M Adventurer 2800 handheld. Small and light particularly compared to the SatMap. Comes with OS 50k mapping of all the Nat Parks in the UK. Can upload any other M M mapping which you possess, or chose to purchase – eg OS 25k or IGN maps for France etc. I personally found the screen on the small side and the popup menus very small to read – I need glasses for them. Sometimes it doesn’t scroll automatically as you walk – a pity – it might be me of course. Also it has an internal Li rechargeable battery which is not user swappable, so you could be in trouble on a multi day exped – not a problem for us on typical search shifts with a return to base. Fairly cheap to buy.

Viewranger. For team use, the Viewranger company have given us the software for team members who have GPS savvy phones with the Symbian operation system, together with OS 25k maps for our home county and each of the adjoining counties where we get called to assist the ‘home’ team on searches. I should point out that each team member has a specific licence no - it is not a grab it and pass it on to all your friends job. This set up has the advantage that everyone carries a mob phone anyway, so you don’t need another gadget and supply of batteries. Having said that, I did buy some extra Li cells for my phone ‘just in case’. I understand that the company have just released an app for the iPhone which will do all the same things that we get with Symbian.

Garmin Oregon 550t. This is larger than the Adventurer, but a lot more practical than the SatMap. It comes with Topo maps which cover the whole of Europe although the contours are at 25m intervals. It does mean that I can turn up anywhere and have a useable set of maps available to me in a GPS unit. When back in the UK, I insert one microSD card which holds the whole of the UK at 50k OS mapping and I am ‘up and running”. Garmin don’t offer 25k mapping - pity. The unit is easy to use with fairly intuitive menus and sub menus – not as good as your typical Apple Mac, but not bad. The text is large enough that I don’t need glasses. It comes with a karabiner suspension so that you hang it on the shoulder strap of your sac at the correct attitude for GPS reception. I am told by people who know about these things that it has a very good chip set. Certainly it seems to be pretty good on Satellite acquisition and retention, even under tree cover. It uses two AA cells, so you can easily carry spare cells and recharge at your leisure.

Like many SOTA operators, I love just looking at paper maps and planning routes or just plain reading them like some read books. To me the gadgets are extras in the tool box of the mountaineer - not rivals.

Final thought. The Norwegian mapping agency have already released their map data into the public domain and OS are due to do so in the near future – subject possibly to the results of the recent general election. The trend is therefore likely to be that the companies will sell progressively more able software and hardware platforms whereas the old business model relied on tying you into their licensed map data.

Disclaimer - all the comments above are personal to the writer who has no connection with any of the companies. Notwithstanding - I hope this is of use to someone out there.

Peter G0FIM / AA3JN

In reply to G0FIM:

Some additional points:

The unit uses a combination of
physical buttons and touch screen,

No, it uses buttons and a “joystick”. It’s not a touchscreen device.

Swapping between the two requires changing the
carrier – it is not a quick throw in an alternative set of batteries
out on the hill job.

I have a spare LiPO and so it is quick and easy to carry a spare and change it.

The current version includes world mapping and an OS base map so it can be used straight out of the box anywhere.

My initial thoughts are reasonably positive but as I can navigate anyway, its main use would seem to be in conditions of poor visibility where it would certainly be useful addition. I will write up a detailed review when I have used it in more challenging conditions.

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

Does it feel solid and likely to last outdoors Richard?

I have a licence for Anquet to install it on a Windows Mobile device and did think about acquiring one with a GPS to try mapping. However the build quality and environmental robustness of PDAs leaves a lot to be desired. Certainly when compared to something like a GPS designed for outdoor use. My Garmin Vista feels extremely rugged and has survived horribly wet conditions clipped to my belt or rucksack. It has also been dropped onto tarmac and rocks many times with no ill effects apart from a scratch on the case and a scuff to the soft case screen protector.

Andy
MM0FMF