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Old 05-07-2009, 03:03   #1
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Garmin GPS Interface with MaxSea?

I state in advance that I've searched unsuccessfully for the answer to this question, which does not prove anything other than that my search skills may be inadequate to the task. Excuse me.

On my new (old) boat I have a Garmin GPS 126 that works fine, though it does not seem to have any ability to connect with my laptop.

The boat came with two older handheld Garmins that seem like they are past their prime and I will replace them with a couple of new handhelds (for redundancy). FWIW, I'll be using them in SE Asia. I'm on the Garmin web site right now, but I'm not certain whether any or all of them will interface with MaxSea on a laptop.

Are there any recommendations in this regard?

Thanks in advance, and apologies for what is no doubt a redundant question.

Sandy
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:19   #2
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Hi Sandy,

If the units have NMEA 183 output, then you shouldn't have a problem interfacing with Maxsea (at least not more than the usual awful maxsea problem of getting the com port set up). You will probably need a serial-to-USB cable with the correct serial end connector for the GPS to interface with the computer.

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Old 06-07-2009, 14:02   #3
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Sandy, if you have a "new" laptop then you only have USB ports. If you have an old laptop, you only have serial ports. If you have one that is just new enough--you might have both kinds of ports.

If your new GPS doesn't use the same kind of ports that your laptop has, you'll have problems. You need to look into that and match the port types.

Your Garmin 128 has a combination power/data port, and it can be connected to any old style serial port if you break out the wiring or buy a cable with that breakout in it (assuming they are available). Correctly setting up the wiring for a NMEA/RS-232 port isn't difficult although it can be frustrating at times.

If your laptop has no serial ports, you can can a "UBS to serial" adapter and wire up the NMEA connection from the Garmin using that--but some of those adapters are more trouble than they are worth.

That's up to you.
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Old 09-07-2009, 10:10   #4
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Your comments are helpful in clarifying my ignorance. I've been doing homework based on your suggestions, and I grow more confused, not less.

Let me redefine the problem in terms that might make it easier for you to help me.

I live in Bangkok and for the next year will be cruising SE Asia.

I have both CM93 charts that already work with MaxSea 10.1 and for most places I'm sailing I also have paper charts.

I have a laptop running WinXP SP3; it has 3 USB ports, no serial - I don't want to mess with serial anyway, I have many years of unhappy memories of serial ports and am happy to steer clear of them.

I have a fixed mount Garmin 126 that provides primary position information. If it has anything that would enable it to connect to the laptop, I haven't seen it.

All I want to do is to get one or more external, portable GPS devices that will connect to my computer via a USB port and show the current boat position on the CM93 chart.

In looking at Garmin products, I don't spot anything that looks as if it will do that.

The GPS 72 has serial output only.
The GPS 76 has serial output only.
The GPS 76CSX has USB output but it also is expensive and has maps that would have to be bought separately in order to justify the overkill.
There are sensors ranging from the GPS 10 to the GPS 20, but the ones with USB connectors output in Garmin compatible format only. There is a bluetooth sensor, but that just adds in one more flaky and unreliable technology link.

Isn't there any logical and reasonably inexpensive way of doing this?

Tks all,

Sandy
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Old 09-07-2009, 11:56   #5
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There are two ways to kill your cat, and both will cost you under US$50.

The first way is to use the Garmin 126 NMEA output.
1. Download the manual from Garmin
2. Look at the wiring instructions (near the back)
3. Buy a serial to USB adaptor (about $25)
4. Buy a nine pin serial cord which fits into the adaptor ($10, but getting harder to find)
4. Cut the cord in half, and connect the NMEA signal line (blue wire) to the serial "receive data" line (#2 on 9 pin connector), and the NMEA ground line (black wire, also used as DC ground) to the serial "signal ground" (#5 on 9 pin connector).

5. Install serial adaptor driver in your PC and plug in the adaptor.

6. Go through the menus on the Garmin and set the interface to NMEA/NMEA

7. Go into the device manager on the PC and see which com port the serial/USB interface was assigned.

8. Go Maxsea and set the com port to what you found and the baud rate to 4800.

If that was too simple, you can go to plan B:

1. Buy a USB GPS for about US$35 on Ebay and install on PC. You want the one that is a little hockey puck with a magnet for attaching to the roof of your car.

2. Download and buy Franson GPSgate Express for $12
GPS splitter, simulator and logger. Serial port splitter. - Franson GpsGate

3. Assign a com port to the GPS with the GPSgate program and find it on Maxsea.

Note that Plan B gives you a backup GPS.
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Old 09-07-2009, 17:11   #6
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Don, you missed the simplest solution:

Amazon.com: Garmin Data Cable for GPS 126 (010-10150-00): Electronics

Just buy the Garmin data cable for the Garmin GPS. ($25-ish)

Then plug that directly into a serial-to-USB dongle bought for the PC. (Another $25, perhaps more because buying one that isn't logo certified for use with that OS, is just asking for more trouble.)

Two gizmos, problem solved. No soldering or wire making required.
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Old 09-07-2009, 19:54   #7
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Well the good news is that garmin 128 definitely works with maxsea & I think a 126 is the same unit but with an internal arial. I got mine going just by buying a femail 9 pin socker and soldering the black ground to pin 5 and the data out (can+t remeber the colour) to pin 2 then the usb serial lead goes into that. Though if you can get the garmin splitter lead delivered to Hong Kong it might be easier. Then open the data in/out settings in utilities menu in maxsea and set the com port, theres usually only one there. Then I normally have to click on the data calculator button and select speed over ground and course over ground as master. Then all should be well. Expect it isn´t. When the computer first sees gps data it thinks it´s mouse data and the mouse goes nuts, so a word a thanks for spurring me into google action as at last I think i´ve found a solution.

"
Mad Mouse
If you have a GPS receiver which can power up or down (e.g. chart plotters or hand held GPS units):
1. Start with your computer off.
2. Connect the GPS to your computer.
3. Turn on the power for your GPS unit.
4. Start your computer.
5. Wait until the mouse starts jumping.
6. Turn off the power to the GPS (i.e. shut down your GPS) but leave the GPS connected to the computer.
a. OPTIONAL - If there is a serial-to-USB adapter cable between your GPS serial port and the computer, you may disconnect the GPS from the serial-to-USB adapter cable. In all cases, leave the USB connector plugged in to your computer.
7. For Windows XP or Windows 2000:
a. Click Start
b. Right-click on My Computer
8. For Windows Vista:
a. Click Start
b. Right-click on Computer
9. Click Properties, a new window will open called “System Properties”
10. Click on the Hardware tab
11. Click the button labeled Device Manager, this will open a new window
12. A list of devices will appear.
13. Click on the “+” symbol to the left of “Mice and other pointing devices”
14. You should see listed a “Microsoft Serial Ballpoint”
15. Right-click “Microsoft Serial Ballpoint”
16. Click Disable
17. This will mark that device with a red X, and it should not bother you again.
18. Now you can close the Device Manager window.
19. Shut down your computer.
20. Reconnect the GPS (if disconnected)
21. Turn the power on for the GPS.
22. Start your computer.
23. You should have a stable mouse now.
"
Hope this helps.
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Old 09-07-2009, 20:00   #8
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Quote:
On my new (old) boat I have a Garmin GPS 126 that works fine, though it does not seem to have any ability to connect with my laptop.
I have two Garmin 128'S and they work fine. The only difference is I have an external antenna. Do you have a cable? All you do is connect up a DB 9 connector with the pins 2 and 3 and it should work fine. Pin 5 is mostly optional but can't hurt.
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Old 09-07-2009, 21:20   #9
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"Mad Mouse"
Just look up adding the "/noserialmouse" parameter to the boot.ini file.

You just open the file, add the one parameter, save the file and it is fixed forever. In any version of NT. (NT, XP, Vista.)
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Old 09-07-2009, 23:39   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
All you do is connect up a DB 9 connector with the pins 2 and 3 and it should work fine. Pin 5 is mostly optional but can't hurt.
The signal ground (pin 5) is actually quite important as the UART needs a reference for the signal voltage. It may work just fine without this, but there's really no reason to leave your NMEA setup to luck - it's best to wire it correctly and provide the signal ground, but make sure this goes to the same ground as the NMEA source - and not an RS-422 differential signal "-", assuming the source is not single-ended.
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Old 10-07-2009, 00:35   #11
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Hi, it's me, the OP, clawing my way up from the profound depths of ignorance of which each successive post is a vivid reminder! Ouch!

I am fascinated by what you guys are saying, but I have to admit that there are some posts of which the only concepts I can understand are based on the words "and", "the", and "buy".

I have not soldered anything since I had a Heathkit radio about 50 years ago (true confession: I have no recollection of having gotten that to work, either). Most of the Letter/Number terms you are using may as well be Sanskrit - actually, it would be better if they were because I can at least read Sanskrit, which I guess proves that the knowledge of archaic languages is not a help in modern sailing.

I am looking for a solution that could be implemented by the dullest of dullards. (Yes, I have a specific one in mind.)

I want a hand-held device that will give me redundancy over the GPS 126, that will connect to MaxSea, using my existing CM93 charts, via a USB port without having to cut, interface, solder, or reconfigure anything. Kind of like "plug and play". I admit I've never been much of a believer in that either, but one would think that at this point in time there would be some manufacturer making a GPS device that would do just what I'm looking for without having to get tied up in knots.

I'm sure my astonishing ignorance will have driven most of you away in exasperation, but if there's anyone left following this thread, please point me in the right direction. I'm willing to even drop one of my success criteria: affordability. I'll pay ANY price (comes easily to me, being an owner of both a sailboat and motorcycles) for something that can accomplish this seemingly simple task without convolutions.

I reiterate my appreciation to all of you who have chimed in with suggestions; I apologize for not having knowledge enough to capitalize on them.
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Old 10-07-2009, 01:55   #12
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The Garmin GPS76 is available with either serial or usb data cables. thus can be plugged in easily

personally, I prefer to interface to maxsea via franson gpsgate as that means that the info is always on the same virtual port, so you spend a bit more time with the initial set up, but it is then always correct.
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Old 10-07-2009, 04:18   #13
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
In any version of NT. (NT, XP, Vista.)
Not so, vista doesn´t use boot.ini file.

And to OP, something like this??
gps mouse usb
haven´t used one but should work. Onboard I usually have laptop in hibernate (uses too much precious power otherwise) and fire it up once in a while to plot a fix or when entering a port, you may find that a gps mouse will take a moment to find the satillites while if the 126 is on all the time it has a fix already, dunno never used a gps mouse. Soldering a femail 9 pin socket really isn´t that difficult if you know someone who can solder OK then it would certainly be a lot cheaper.
Sailing SE Asia, sounds great, enjoy.
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:01   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talbot View Post
The Garmin GPS76 is available with either serial or usb data cables. thus can be plugged in easily
If I'm understanding the specs from Garmin correctly, the 76s are serial only with NMEA 0183 - if you want USB you are in Garmin proprietary territory.

Ergo, this appears NOT to be the solution...

S.
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:16   #15
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And to OP, something like this??
gps mouse usb
haven´t used one but should work.
Thanks, conachair, that looks like something that should work.

Is there not a simple online table that indicates which devices work with MaxSea? MaxSea indicates NMEA 0183 compatibility, but there appear to be some caveats about that, and/or additional complexities involving port simulation. Doesn't the vendor keep up with what works and what doesn't?

Cheers,

S.
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