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Old 05-01-2006, 08:53   #1
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USB GPS

Anyone have any experience of USB GPS units like the Deluo USB GPS WAAS? Found them trawling for other stuff and as I am looking for an additional unit to run through the laptop as a plotter I though they might be a sensible solution.
Advice, dissent, opinion please.
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Old 05-01-2006, 10:31   #2
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I bought a USB/GPS/Mouse over ebay from Hong Kong at less than the price of a normal serial interface cable to a Hand held GPS and a USB converter cable. The result was a no-problems integration with appropriate programmes, good reception (in the car, and at the nav station in the bowels of the boat (but does have to be sat on top of my VHF for good reception)). Thouroughly recommend this as the way ahead, It also provides an additional GPS set onboard!
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Old 05-01-2006, 11:57   #3
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USB/GPS/Mouse!!! Did it play mp3s as well? It's amazing what they're doing now, soon some of this stuff will be too small to find.
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Old 05-01-2006, 15:01   #4
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I suspect that you will be able to buy converter cables that allows almost any GPS to interface with a laptop via either USB or serial port. Certainly, my old Garmin GPS II will talk to my laptop via a cheap interface cable.
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Old 05-01-2006, 15:28   #5
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New laptops don't have serial ports any more as a rule, but you can get adapters that work very well. The new USB interface is slowly taking over since people want to use laptops. It really won't make things any better as the data transfer for GPS is pretty much dog slow compared to most things. More than a reading per second is not going to do you much good.

These days the GPS is reduced to a single computer chip for all the serious functions. you add a few other chips, ram, a screen and some pbuttons and a power system and it's done. What seems to differentiate the crowd are user functions.

Built in memory, map data, routes and way points and those features add more useability. When tied to a laptop with software you don't need very many features and a second one for backup is just too easy.
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Old 05-01-2006, 23:01   #6
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Thanks for that. As well as running one through the laptop I wanted a secondary unit to back up primary one and sextant. (Hey, I'm good at dropping things over the side )
Looks like this is a good solution for me as I already have cMap.
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Old 06-01-2006, 01:47   #7
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To those saying you can get interface cables and conversion cables for serial to USB. You are correct. However, not all USB/serial cables will work with GPS. There is a considerable amount of fiddling to do with some that do work,

and in any case, the cost of the GPS data cable and the usb to serial cable is more expensive than the USB/GPS/MOUSE.


If anyone is interested there is a group on Yahoo that is interested in all things GPS/mapping related and includes some commercial mapping software authors in the contributors. The discussion is world wide and is also relevant to land applications.

I will post a link this weekend when I get home.
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Old 06-01-2006, 05:39   #8
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I have an old Garmin GPS76 that I connect to a laptop running Bluechart software.

The GPS is serial only, and the laptop requires USB. The first USB to serial cable I bought didn't work (el cheapo), so I tried another ($30) and that works fine.

The position tracks beautifully on Bluechart, and is great for use in the cabin, with the GPS mounted on the cabin roof. However, I wouldn't recommend its use in the cockpit for some obvious reasons:
- the laptop screen is too hard to see on a sunny day
- laptops don't like spray and weather
- difficult on my boat to mount it close to the helm.

Power consumption of the laptop could also be an issue for some if used for prolonged periods.
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Old 06-01-2006, 15:41   #9
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Here is a source for a reliable adapter:

http://pfranc.com/usb/usb.mhtml

This site is really all about USB to Serial for GPS units and all the assorted cables you might need. As noted above the crappy Adfapters won't work properly. These are $29 plus shipping for one that will really work well. It even has 3 indicator lights to watch and for an extra few dollars you can get it with a 5 ft cord. They have some international distributors too in case you are not in the US.

They have Garmin plugs to make your own cable or pre made ones too.

WWW.GPSCITY.COM also sells the same unit.
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Old 29-03-2006, 06:11   #10
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We have been using a Garmin 76 gps and paper charts. This past week we have been busy with loading Maptec Offshore Navigator and charts. Yesterday our new gps arrived from the gps store. It is a USB GPS by US Global Satcom, model Bu-353. It is really a slick set up and we are really pleased so far. The proof will be in a week or two when we head out again.
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Old 03-04-2006, 16:17   #11
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The only problem you might have with it is don't turn on the GPS or connect it until after Windows is booted and you are looged in. For some stupid reason Mcrosoft likes to grab the GPS and prestend it is a mouse and the GPS signals drive the cursor all over the screen prressing buttons all the way. You won't have the problem if you wait for Windows to finish loading and then connect the GPS. My oild computer would do it every time for a while then stop, so I always do it this way and it alwasy works. Didn't matter if it was a USB connection or a real serial port connection.

A USB GPS might behave much better.
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Old 19-07-2006, 09:47   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais
The only problem you might have with it is don't turn on the GPS or connect it until after Windows is booted and you are looged in. For some stupid reason Mcrosoft likes to grab the GPS and prestend it is a mouse and the GPS signals drive the cursor all over the screen prressing buttons all the way. You won't have the problem if you wait for Windows to finish loading and then connect the GPS. My oild computer would do it every time for a while then stop, so I always do it this way and it alwasy works. Didn't matter if it was a USB connection or a real serial port connection.

A USB GPS might behave much better.
A late addition to an old post: I'm looking through these forums to answer a narrow question, that you no doubt can answer easily. Does Sea Clear use only a serial port, which my laptop lacks? And if so, should I try to convert a USB GPS, or toss Sea Clear and start looking at commercial products?
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Old 19-07-2006, 11:26   #13
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Quote:
Does Sea Clear use only a serial port, which my laptop lacks?
What happens is the USB adapter looks liek a serial port. So the answer is NO Sea Clear can't use a USB comnnection BUT you can pretend it is a serial port. get a good adapter Google "pfranc" These are the best. They have LED indicators and can deal with all sorts of things better than some of the cheaper poor quality adapters.

The trick is boot the computer, then connect the adapter and then turn on the GPS. If you use any other order the USB will look like a mouse and the GPS NMEA signals are treated as such and you get quite a show.

On my laptop it coms up as COM5. My Compaq has no serial ports either. Also get a 12 volt adapter - it uses less power. Using an inverter is a waste of power. Making 120 volts from 12 volts then back to 12 volts loses about 40% of the inital power. You'll feel the heat.
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Old 19-07-2006, 13:15   #14
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If you purchase a USB/GPS/Mouse the software actually contains a serial/usb interface cause the NMEA data is best suited to a serial stream. Windows XP does have some issues with USB/Serial cables, and you must make sure that it comes with a driver disk suitable for XP. I have had some problems with prolific cables, but I found a company in UK which specialises in USB interfaces, and their USB/Serial cables are superb. They even have a small light to show data transmission!

I have two plugged into my computer - one for the GPS, and the other for AIS data.

I also have a programme that takes the GPS port and then creates as many virtual ports as I want to feed the different programmes that can use GPS data. Thus I can have my plotter, a planning chart, and a seperate AIS programme all running simultaneously , all using the single GPS feed.

The usb/serial cables are from http://www.easysync.co.uk/

The GPS Virtual port software is http://franson.com/gpsgate/
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Old 19-07-2006, 13:31   #15
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I just bought a Globalsat BU-353 SiRF star III USB Mouse GPS Receiver(Waterproof), installed the little program that came with it, plugged it in and bingo it worked right away. The Capn Voyager (old program from 2000) picked it up right away. You just have to point out the comm port. No problem at all. Am I missing something or was I just lucky. Great little thing, even without a navigation program the little program that comes with it gives you a lat/long. By the way, I found that buying it from a GPS store was cheaper than all those deals from e-bay. Next day delivery, about CAD$90 and that included all the exorbitant taxes we have here, about 15%! Oh yes, I'm running XP Home.
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