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Old 30-12-2013, 01:38   #1
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GPS puck for MacBook Pro

Is it possible to link a MacB Pro to a GPS receiver so I can use it with Open CPN?

I had hopped that a simple "puck" type add on. These seem to be available for PC users.

Any advice ideas?
Steve
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Old 30-12-2013, 02:17   #2
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

I have a $10-$20 puck from Fry's in the states that I use with my Macbook and Open CPN and GPS navx.

see here at amazon GPS
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Old 30-12-2013, 03:19   #3
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

Ditto but I refuse to have anything to do with amazon..... bought mine off ebay.... amazon is almost as evil as FFacebook... USGlobalsat Corporate
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Old 30-12-2013, 03:22   #4
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

'cept mine is the S4 USGlobalsat Corporate
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Old 30-12-2013, 05:15   #5
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

Not pushing amazon, just trying to show the guy what I had
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Old 30-12-2013, 12:52   #6
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

No probs... I was feeling a bit liverish as had just been trying to stop Amazon from bombarding me with 'this is what we have found for you' emails. When you click unsubscribe you only stop a part of it. Just been back into their site to stop the rest of it...told em if they ever bother me again I'll set the dogs on them...
Re the pucks... although the S4 blurb doesn't mention Macs it does work on them.
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Old 30-12-2013, 13:27   #7
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

Really appreciate the advice and help. From the above Found a store in BC Canada that sells them. Knew they existed (hoped) but hard to find. Kept on being directed to garmin type products.

Cheers again.

Steve
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Old 30-12-2013, 21:42   #8
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

Just an add on. Spent a frustrating time trying to contact 5 stores in canada that stocked them. The company has a 888 number. When you call it they tell you that the phone number has changed and they will direct you to a "directory enquires" There is a charge of $49.95 for this service.

Bugger them. Bought one on ebay! half the price with free shipping by USPS. Week to 10 days, fair enough.
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Old 30-12-2013, 22:51   #9
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

USGlobalSat BU-353. See their website.
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Old 30-12-2013, 23:46   #10
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

Yip fryewe that was the site. Bought the same from ebay.
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Old 31-12-2013, 06:20   #11
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

The BU-353 has a magnetic base. Keep it away from the computer's hard drive. It can/will ruin the computer if placed so close to the computer that it changes the magnetic bits on the hard drive.
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Old 01-01-2014, 01:17   #12
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

cheers Fryewe.

Good advice. I did not think of that.
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Old 01-01-2014, 02:56   #13
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

The various GPS pucks are made from a limited number of GPS modules. The SirfStar III (3) has been the standard for several years now and works very well; it is inside the BU-353 among others. The SirfStar IV (4) was designed for very low power usage inside mobile devices like cell phones but is also found in some pucks and does not work as well. These modules output NMEA sentences on RS-422 serial interfaces. For pucks that have USB interfaces there is an RS-422 to USB bridge chip added, usually a Prolific brand. For any computer, Mac included, it is only necessary to have the driver for the bridge chip. Depending on the version of OS X you may have to download the driver from Prolific, or it may be already installed. No big deal. The NMEA sentences are standard and are understood by all nav programs and GPSD.

The u-blox 6 is considered better than the SirfStar III, but is a little harder to find (u-blox 7 is currently shipping but I have no info.). The pucks are smaller as there is no need for the bridge chip - the module has USB output as well as RS-422. The output is clocked at 9600 instead of the common 4800. If you are out shopping then one of these would be (marginally) the best choice. I have used one of these, as well as the BU-353, on my Mac for OpenCPN with no problem.

I also have a couple of MR-350 mini-mushrooms; I use their NMEA output for input to DSC radios and a Furuno chartplotter. Needless to say they are much cheaper than the "marine" ones and work at least as well.

Garmins are another matter entirely: they have their own communications protocol. Apparently OpenCPN supports them, as does GPSD, but I see no reason to go with them.

BTW I doubt the magnet on the bottom of the puck is strong enough to mess up the hard drive, although it is always wise to keep magnets away. If you want a really strong magnet then take apart an old hard drive: the internal magnet used to move the head is the strongest you will likely encounter. Do be careful though: it can be really painful to get pinched between one and the fridge...

For setting up the GPS with the Mac choose the input as "/dev/cu.usbserial" and 4800 baud (or 9600 for u-blox 6). You will have to select the input sentences as well; to do this it is easiest to download a program "GPSutility" from the folks who make MacENC in order to see what the GPS is sending out.

Greg
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Old 01-01-2014, 04:26   #14
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

You might look at this: G Mouse U Blox Microchip USB GPS Receiver H 8123 U2000 for PC and Laptops USB | eBay

It is not the model I have, but seems to use the same u-blox chip, and at $28 is a bargain.

Greg
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Old 01-01-2014, 21:28   #15
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Re: GPS puck for MacBook Pro

Interesting discovery recently... I loaded the Mac driver for the BU353-S4 a while back.

Then when I was just in general ' I wonder ' mode ( which all too often results in electrons manifesting themselves as smoke) plugged my original 'PC Only' BU-303 into the Mac. Works quite happily.

This is the BU-303 which some years ago was left out in the rain while plugged into a PC and got very very wet... hung it up for two days to let the water drain out and its been running OK ever since.

What I have also found is that if I unplug either dongle from the MBP while it is turned on the O/S shuts down on the instant and I am left with ' the grey screen of not very happy '.
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