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GPS Questions and Answers

"Columbus didn't need no gps, and neither do I!"

WHAT's A GPS? There's 24 Geographical Positioning Satellites orbiting the earth so you and I can identify our position any time, anywhere. You buy a gps receiver, mount it on your bike, and voila -- you know where you are, where you've been and how to get to where you want to be. The basics are covered in Garmin's GPS Guide

WHERE CAN I GET ONE? Wally World, of course! And most sporting goods stores. You can also buy new and used ones on e-Bay and on-line stores like CycoActive and GPS Now Before you buy one, though, you should know what you need, what you want and how to choose...

OK, WHAT DO I NEED?

• GPS unit to receive and display position data from the satellites

• Holder and hardware to mount the gps receiver on your motorcycle

• Software to design routes, save tracks and share files

• Interface cable to transfer tracks between your computer and gps

WHAT DO I WANT AND HOW DO I CHOOSE? There's lots of GPS units out there, with a wide range of features and prices. Dig into the jargon, compare prices and features, then ask yourself...

Why do I want a GPS on my dirt bike?

How would it enhance my off-road riding?

Will it work with my street bike and car, too?

Will it work for a walk in the forest and on rainy days?

Is the screen big enough for me to see maps and lines and read the text?

Will a gps with a gray screen work for me?

Or should i get a color screen for better contrast & visibility?

Does it come with a PC Interface cable? Or is that extra?

What format does the mapping software use?

Will that format work with the GPS my buddies use?

Can it be connected directly to the stator?

Or does it require an ac-dc converter?

Can i connect it directly to the battery?

Or does it need a voltage other than 12Vdc?

Are regulators for this other voltage available?

What do they cost and how easy is it to find them?

How many tracks/trackpoints and routes/waypoints will this gps hold?

Will it point to the next waypoint when I stop?

What does that option cost?

Does it have enough memory for the maps i'd need for a long ride?

What's the total cost: GPS, interface cable, mount, regulator... everything?

Do I really need all these bells and whistles?

SOUNDS TECHNICAL -- CAN I "GPS" WITHOUT A COMPUTER? This is the 21st century -- you can't do anything without a computer... :))

WHERE CAN I GET THE SPECS TO COMPARE ALL THESE UNITS? Goto the Garmin and Magellan websites. Here's a summary...

GPS MODEL TRACKS ROUTES TRACKPOINTS WAYPOINTS MEMORY VOLTAGE

old eTREX 10/125 1/50 1536 max 500 max NA 2.5VDC

new eTREX 10/125 20/124 10,000 max 500 max NA 2.5VDC

old VENTURE 10/125 20/50 2048 max 500 max 1 MB 2.5 VDC

old LEGEND 10/125 20/125 10,000 max 1000 max 8 MB 2.5 VDC

old VISTA 10/125 20/125 10,000 max 1000 max 24 MB 2.5 VDC

new VENTURE 20/500 50/250 10,000 max 500 max 64 MB 4.2-5.5 VDC

new LEGEND 20/500 50/250 10,000 max 500 max 64 MB 4.2-5.5 VDC

new VISTA 20/500 50/250 10,000 max 500 max 64 MB 4.2-5.5 VDC

GPS-76C 20/500 50/250 10,000 max 1000 max 115 MB 8-36 VDC

GPS-60C 20/500 50/250 10,000 max 1000 max 56 MB 8-36 VDC

MERIDIAN 1/2000 20/30 2000 max 500 max 64 MB 3.86 VDC

GPS-V 10/250 20/250 3000 max 500 max 19 MB 8-36 VDC

HOW DOES A GPS KEEP ME ON COURSE WHILE I RIDE?

• Waypoints and trackpoints are mapped locations with specific latitude/longitude coordinates.

• These "points" can be electronically stored in a computer program, then transferred to your GPS.

• Your gps "connects" these points with a line on the screen that represents your intended path

• See that small arrow on your screen? It represents your position in relation to the intended path

• Turn your bike to where the arrow is pointing to keep yourself moving from point to point.

WHAT PROBLEMS AM I'M LIKELY TO ENCOUNTER?

Once you start GPSing, you'll encounter dozens of problems on the bike or at the computer, but most fall into these two categories: (1) Your designing or riding a route you've never seen, or (2) You've ridden it before, but need to make changes or alter the format. In either case...

• The more points you have, the closer the track will represent the actual path

• The transition from point to point should be as smooth and accurate as possible

• Space points 1/10 mile apart or closer if there's lots of turns, intersecting roads or trails

• Position a point at each major turn or intersection in the course

• Most GPS units can store many more trackpoints than waypoints, so use tracks, not routes, for long rides

• It's easy to filter (reduce) trackpoints, but you must delete waypoints manually

• It's hard to make a track from a route in Mapsource, but easy in TopoFusion

• It's hard to make a route from a track in Mapsource, but easy in NG Topo

• You can move waypoints in Mapsource but not trackpoints

• Both waypoints and trackpoints are easy to move in TopoFusion

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