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GPS systems for cars

28 Jul 07 - 10:15 PM (#2113729)
Subject: Folklore: GPS systems for cars
From: RangerSteve

I decided to get a GPS for my car. I don't often get lost, but when I do, I do it on a grand scale. I tried to get one through AAA, but they're so backlogged, there's no telling when I'd actually get it. DOes anyone have on of these gadgets? What kind, and where did you get it? I'd like one that lists locations of restaurants, hotels and gas stations. '

Thanks, Steve

PS, how much did you pay?

28 Jul 07 - 10:16 PM (#2113731)
Subject: RE: Folklore: GPS systems for cars
From: RangerSteve

CRAP. I swear I put this in BS, but somehow it came up as folklore. I'm sorry.

28 Jul 07 - 11:52 PM (#2113770)
Subject: RE: Folklore: GPS systems for cars
From: Midchuck

Kendall and Jacqui have one, but I don't know if they want me to say in this forum what they call it.


29 Jul 07 - 02:20 AM (#2113805)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: DMcG

Giving a clue to the country you want it for might help!

I'm in the UK, use a Navman 520 and find it very effective for most of the time. The biggest problem is that in cities there are constant changes to the road networks as new one-way systems are introduced, etc, and naturally these are not on the map as delivered. With Navman, the sites selling compatable maps only say things like "the CD contains latest version of the UK map" and don't give the slightest hint on when they were last revised. I can't even tell if they are newer than my 2+ year-old maps.

29 Jul 07 - 05:01 AM (#2113833)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: John MacKenzie

I had a Navman, and now have a Tom Tom system which I think is much better, and more user friendly.

29 Jul 07 - 05:22 AM (#2113840)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: GUEST,Eye Lander

We have a Tom Tom 500 and love it. But always check the route that it gives you before you go sometimes it's a bit obsure!

29 Jul 07 - 06:11 AM (#2113850)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: sapper82

I use a collection of simple devices called a "maps."
These consist of sheets of paper, sometimes bound into a book, usually called an "atlas," upon which is printed a representation of an area of ground drawn to a specific scale, the actual scale depending on what the individual map is intended to be used for.

By skillful use of these maps, I can not just plan a journey from A to B, but detour via C, D & E etc!

I also tend not to be caught out by being guided up unsuitable roads like the poor sod I found on Bonsall Moor last year trying to reverse from a deeply rutted track into a narrow gate to turn round after being misguided by his Satnav!.

29 Jul 07 - 06:33 AM (#2113856)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: GUEST,jOhn

I work here- a href
lots of drivers have sat nav, and i reckon Tom Tom are the best, Sony do one with a few more features, but costs a lot more, TOM Tom 500 is probly best value.

29 Jul 07 - 06:50 AM (#2113860)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: redsnapper

If I can ever afford a car I might think about a SatNav... (:>(


29 Jul 07 - 06:51 AM (#2113861)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: kendall

When Jacqui and I landed in Sacramento CA. it was late afternoon. By the time we got the rental car it was also raining. Lucky for us we had opted for a GPS. It was a Garman, and it got us to Nevada City without a hitch. They are much cheaper now than the one we bought right after getting home.
You can have your maps; they are great for an area with only one road, but a congested city like Sacramento at night with nothing but a "map light" to read the map with, no way. I will never go back to maps.
Midchuck, it would have been ok for you to mention her name. I have had a problem or two with the GPS, and it is always a matter of interpretation. You must do EXACTLY as the voice tells you to do.

I,m often reminded of the words spoken by Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

I called the one in CA "The bitch in the box." she had an English accent and a few words were meaningless to me.

The new one has the same name as my ex wife, Lois.

29 Jul 07 - 11:53 AM (#2114006)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: RangerSteve

In answer to the first question, I'm in the U.S. I checked out the TomTom on a few sites, and it got good reviews, so that's probably what I'm going to get. Thanks for averyones input.

and the problem with maps is that you have to stop the car to check them, whereas, the GPS sits on your dashboard and talks to you. And you don't have to look for street signs, the GPS doess that for you and tells you when the street is coming up. Atlases don't do that.

29 Jul 07 - 12:47 PM (#2114055)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: jacqui.c

I like our GPS - it has taken us to Albany a few times for Kendall's medical appointments and, so long as you follow the instructions to the letter, it gets us where we want to go. Maps are fine for uncomplicated journeys but, when you are trying to drive around an unfamiliar and busy city they are not a lot of help, as it can be very difficult to drive slowly enough to check street names or to pull over to recheck directions. The GPS has taken a lot of the stress out of that type of driving. (Besides which, we would end up with a whole library over time, for each separate city that we might have to visit.)

We also use it to find somewhere to eat - not all eateries are on there but it can give a good idea of where a lot of them are.

I'm still getting used to finding my way around the Greater Portland area and the GPS is great for that. My daughter and family are staying with us and feel confident going off in the car using the GPS for guidance. Great invention IMO.

29 Jul 07 - 03:11 PM (#2114134)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Bill D

I know 'someone' who rode with someone else I know on a trip...the car owners had gotten GPS, and I am informed that for most of the trip the focus of conversation was on the GPS and whether it was performing and how to interpret & follow it.

Now, I LIKE the idea of 'knowing' exactly where you are, but when it becomes like being around folks with a new baby, where all topics lead to what the baby did, or didn't, do, I must demur. I have spent 50 years of driving getting there with maps, and never gotten very lost.

I don't go enough anymore to even consider a GPS system, as fascinating as it would be...but if I ride with someone, I'd hope we could use it ONLY as a guide, and not as a new baby.

29 Jul 07 - 04:43 PM (#2114194)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: kendall

There are long stretches of time when the box is unnecessary. The Mass. turnpike, for instance. Then you just turn it off.
Bill, don't try to drive through Sacramento in the dark with just a map.

29 Jul 07 - 05:30 PM (#2114218)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Bill D

gee...I drove thru Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Kansas City, Chicago, and Wash. DC in the dark, and...oh, yeah, I did get lost once in DC...*grin*...but I didn't use a map that time..

As I say, I'd love to be able to justify having a GPS map...and hope I'd use it as tool, and not a toy.

29 Jul 07 - 07:20 PM (#2114290)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Bonecruncher

So far I have yet to see a SatNav system that can give as much information as a map, or as cheaply.
What SatNav will give you information on the type of terrain (craggy mountains or rolling chalk hills with dry valleys), the steepness of the hills (useful if towing a caravan or trailer) the classification of the road (motorway, A, B or C class), all of which are most important in planning your journey.
A map, when properly read, gives a picture of the terrain in the same way as a photograph of an artist's landscape. Isolating a small area gives a macroscopic view.
SatNav does have the effect of dumbing down simple navigation to the level of the idio , sorry, lowest common denominator.
For the benefit of Sapper82, above, papers when bound together are referred to as a Basic Optical Organisational Keeper (BOOK).


29 Jul 07 - 07:37 PM (#2114303)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Greg B

I've flown thousands of miles behind GPS, and love it.

Any products by Garmin or Lowrance are great, just great.

They really know what they're doing.

GPS turns navigation into a no-brainer, from the rather
complicated proposition which it used to be. It removes
all ambiguities.

On my plane, there is a mapping GPS on the pilot's
control yoke, and an totally independent one (smaller)
for the co-pilot.

29 Jul 07 - 08:22 PM (#2114326)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: kendall

Yes, a map will tell you much that a gps won't tell you, but, you still have to be able to see it!

29 Jul 07 - 08:31 PM (#2114333)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Midchuck

Greg, why is turning anything into a no-brainer desireable?

Wouldn't it be better if people worked their brains more?


29 Jul 07 - 09:48 PM (#2114374)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: GUEST,bernieandred

I have a Tom Tom One which I use in North America. I'm very satisfied with it. I agree with earlier poster, check the route that is suggested, before you leave on your journey.

30 Jul 07 - 01:52 AM (#2114469)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Rowan

This might be either stuff you all know or stuff you have no need to know but you should make sure that your GPS is using the currrent "source" data for your region. GPSs display their "Location", which is calculated by reference to at least 4 satellites. Satellites orbit a centre of gravity (not necesarily the centre of the earth) and the Location the GPS displays is on a particular spheroid. Different regions have their spheroid calculated differently because the earth isn't a true sphere and the difference varies all over the earth's surface.

Maps are constructed according to a mathematical model of the spheroid that applies to a particular region and the notional 'centre' of the earth for that bit of map is called the geoid; the centre of gravity for the satellites has no particularly concrete relationship to any geoid.

Most people work out where they are, where they want to be and how to get there by using maps of the ground rather than by abstruse notions of centres of gravity.

Some cautionary tales to help explain;
Early in the use of GPS instruments some people were trying to use them to navigate in SW Qld where the maps had been constructed with the geoid quite some distance from the sateliites' version of the centre of the earth (let alone the centre of gravity) and found that the maps were the only reliable source of info they could apply.

A fellow was given a GPS to go and plot some locations and did so for several weeks, recording them on the forms required. Some weeks after he left the employ of the organisation other workers tried to relocate his plottings and couldn't get within cooee of his locations, which were in western NSW. He had been using the GPS not realising the GPS had been used in Pakistan and the "source" in the instrument was still set for Pakistan, which has a quite different geoid. Fortunately they were able to reset "to Pakistyan" and relocate his plottings.

Take home message? Make sure the thing has been properly set up for the area you intend using it.

Cheers, Rowan

30 Jul 07 - 08:46 AM (#2114648)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Grab

I've been passenger with a few people who've had one. The only time there was a problem, the driver was too busy yammering to follow the satnav telling him to turn off. He then blamed the satnav for sending him the wrong way. :-/

I prefer a map for cross-country route-finding - the computer generally doesn't know that road A is faster than road B, or that junction X is always a swine. But anyone who prefers a map for navigating through a town is essentially an unguided missile waiting for an obstacle to hit whilst they're looking down at the book. I personally hate finding my way through towns using a road atlas - if I did any serious amount of travelling, I'd be getting myself a satnav just for that.


30 Jul 07 - 09:25 AM (#2114675)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Dave the Gnome

I've got a car one called Sonya (it's a Sony - get it?) She is great. Even tells me to be wary when cameras are about. Where she fails, and I suspect it will be the same with most of them, is with the constant changing in our city centres. She tries to send me in Bus lanes, into no entries and, particulary in Newcastle, she seems to like taking me over bridges! I think you would get this even with maps.

I also have a Magellan hand help for when out on the hills. They are bit brilliany for letting you know exactly where you are, how far you have to go and what direction that is in. None of them can ever guarantee that the bits in between will be bang up to date though!

Oh - one feature Sonya has that I played with last week is the ability to 'block out' part of your route if the traffic is snarled up. It could do this automaticaly if I bought the appropriate radio receiver but I can only cope with one technological change at a time...



30 Jul 07 - 10:49 AM (#2114737)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Greg B

Midchuck, fly 800 miles in an open-cockpit airplane
over varied terrain with dodgy weather, using only
NDB navigation, or trying to get cross-bearings
on VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) vectors some
time. Do this while thinking about your fuel and
wondering whether that highway down there is 31
or 29, or if maybe you missed the railroad track
that ran from NE to SW through a small town. Oh,
and keep hold of that chart and the bit of paper
with your waypoints and log, lest it fly up and
out of the cockpit and land on a cow somewhere.

Meanwhile you wonder if you're at the edge of, or
into, restricted airspace.

Then tell me that those of us trying to navigate to
keep ourselves alive should use our brains more.

GPS removes the ambiguities. Yes, in the air and at
sea, you still log your waypoints and times in writing
in case the technology comes up lemons. And on occasion
you still cover up the GPS screen with a post-it note
to make sure you can still do dead reckoning by compass
and watch.

GPS provides similar benefits for ground-bound individuals.
"Did I take the wrong fork on that 5-way crossroads where
the road-signs are turned around?"

30 Jul 07 - 11:06 AM (#2114755)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Midchuck

Midchuck, fly 800 miles in an open-cockpit airplane
over varied terrain with dodgy weather, using only
NDB navigation,

(portion of lengthy rant omitted)

Then tell me that those of us trying to navigate to
keep ourselves alive should use our brains more.

But... "no-brainer" was your term.


30 Jul 07 - 02:55 PM (#2114938)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Greg B

Yep, and I stand by the 'no brainer' term.

It's really nice to have the 'brain cycles'
occupied by intense focus on navigation (coupled
with wondering if I really am where I think I am)
available for other purposes. Like safety, watching
for other traffic, enjoying the ride, etc.

Mapping GPS works like navigation instruments have
wished they could work for thousands of years,
rendering virtually everything else a time and head-space
consuming 'work-around.'

It's a fine academic exercise to use these older methods,
and a light amount of attention has to be paid to keeping
track of where I was ten minutes ago in case the technology
craps out.

But I'm very very happy to see an 'X' marks the spot with
where I am relative to geographic features (and in my case
airspace constructs) as well as to see my present direction,
speed, ETA at next waypoint and destination, updated up-to-the

Then, because that's a 'no brainer' I can note things like "I'm
now just about half-ways through my allocated fuel, and my
ETA is still about two thirds of the projected time, so I guess
I have an unprojected headwind and need to use my brain to
think about a fuel stop about halfway between where I am now
and where I actually planned to end up."

A side benefit is when I or someone else says 'I gotta pee NOW!'
I can hit the 'Nearest button' and find the 20 or so nearest
stopping points, their facilities, communications frequencies,
etc., choose one, and hit 'Direct' and it tells me what to do.

Similar benefits are provided to ground transportation.

30 Jul 07 - 06:37 PM (#2115072)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Rowan

Someone seems to have forgotten that the thread was directed at GPS use for cars.

And then there's the matter of how and why one learned the particular navigation techniques that get used later on. Although the principles are the same whether you're tramping over rough terrain with a topo map, driving in a city with a street directory or flying an aircraft and concentrating on conversations with Air Traffic Controllers, their application requires different techniques because of the different rates at which information (and distraction) is presented and the consequences of "getting it wrong".

As one who learned in the topo map situation in a country where map reliability was always to be questioned I became very comfortable with transferring what I saw between the ground and the map; even with the best (commercial) topo maps here you can't pinpoint to better precision than 100m. That's metres for you Americans. In Britain, with a longer history of mapping, many places can be pinpointed to better than 10m. Where NATO wanted to drop things down chimneys from another country, the accuracy may be even better.

But most of us can't afford the sort of GPS that can routinely, reliably and rapidly pinpoint a position to better than 20m at driving speed although many could do it at walking speed. In older cities with streets, lanes and mews spaced according to horse and buggy rules (or even walking rules) lack of precision becomes important. In more recent cities, spaced with large cars and trucks in mind, such lack of precision is less important. And that's just the precision behind the instrument's calculations; on top of that you also have the accuracy of the supplied map to contend with.

In various student exercises I get them to select a datum, record what the GPS displays as its location, go and plot a series of other point and then come back to their datum and check the GPS reading of its location again. They are usually surprised at the variation (10 to 25m off) and how that depends on the time of day and the models of GPS used. Great fun. At this level I suspect the precision is sufficient for any navigation, just not for fine mapping but you should do similar checks on intended purchases, just to be sure.

Flying is a different activity entirely and not particularly relevant to driving and the context of this thread, I'd suggest.

Cheers, Rowan

30 Jul 07 - 07:52 PM (#2115109)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Grab

I stand by my earlier statement. If you're using a paper map in a city centre, you're an unguided missile waiting for a target to impact against. That goes for you, me, the bloke next door, and Midchuck as well. I'd rather my processing cycles (to use Greg's phrase) were more dedicated to paying full attention to the road and other drivers, instead of having to second-guess the next badly-set-up junction system. This is even more critical in Europe, where towns were set up for people driving oxen, not cars.


30 Jul 07 - 08:31 PM (#2115119)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Midchuck

I never meant to speak against GPS systems. I'll probably break down and get one eventually. I meant to speak out against the concept that any activity being a "no-brainer" is desirable. Too many people drive, now, as though driving were a "no-brainer." And they, and others, die because of their doing so. So we want to make it even more of a "no-brainer"?

As for " Europe, where towns were set up for people driving oxen, not cars..." I don't disagree, but why pick on Europe alone. Try Boston.


30 Jul 07 - 08:37 PM (#2115124)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Sorcha

I have a Saturn...and I 'think' I have one? Anyway, if I break down, I can call this number, and somebody knows exactly where I am, but I don't think I have what you all are talking about or it's not 'set up'. Maybe it's just my On Star system? I don't know! I just drive it. I try not to talk to it.

30 Jul 07 - 10:13 PM (#2115186)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: dick greenhaus

Just bought a Garmin 360. love it. With the state of most street signs--either illegible or missing--it's very nice to have a voice that tells you to "turn left onto Somethingorother in two-tenths of a mile".
While I find that the gadget's knowledge of my local roads isn't as good as mine (surprise!), and that it sometimes chooses routings that I normally wouldn't, it hasn't really steered me astray. When I choose to ignore its suggested route, is announces "recalculating" and picks a new route starting from whever I happen to be.
       Just got back from navigating around Ormstown, Quebec. Worked jes' fine, there, too.

31 Jul 07 - 04:09 AM (#2115311)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars

GPS doesn't relieve you of the need to keep brain in gear:

Release date: 10 Oct 2006
An 80-year-old German driver was guided by his satnav down a road still under under construction near Hamburg - and crashed his Mercedes, having ignored several signs for the construction.

The Mercedes ran through several barricades and eventually crashed into a pile of sand. The driver and his wife were uninjured.

A police spokesman commented 'The driver was following the orders from his navigation system and - even though there was a sufficient number of warnings and barricades - he continued his journey into the construction site. His trip finally ended when he wound up crashing into a pile of sand'.

The Truck in the Cherry Tree

GPS (railway) tracking (so near a major catastrophe).

In another incident in Germany last year, a driver drove his car through a railway station concourse, down a flight of stairs and onto the platform, guided as he thought by GPS.

31 Jul 07 - 05:46 AM (#2115344)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Grab

Yeah, heard bad things about Boston traffic too, Peter. :-) But generally, roads and towns in the US were *designed*. Roads and towns in Europe mostly just happened. Like the appendix or hiccups in people, there's enough "WTF?!" moments in Europe to give you clear evidence of there being no Intelligent Designer. (Actually most major roads *are* planned now. Most of them still don't show any evidence of an Intelligent Designer, in Britain anyway...)


31 Jul 07 - 08:28 AM (#2115421)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: GUEST,redhorse at work

On balance having had one for a couple of years (Mio 168 + CoPilot) I wouldn't be without it. Like all tools, needs to be used with intelligence, and like all computers can be totally bloody-minded (insists on taking me straight through the middle of pedestrianised French towns, totally ignoring bypasses). On the other hand it's never thrown a map at me saying "Read it yourself if you're so bloody clever!" :-)


31 Jul 07 - 09:10 AM (#2115446)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: kendall

The GPS system is not meant to allow you to turn your brain off! If you fail to turn when it tells you, then you simply make a better choice and it will recalculate.

Remember, if you don't know where you are going, it doesn't matter how you got there.

31 Jul 07 - 09:19 AM (#2115452)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Megan L

Quite right Kendall My brother in laws gps got quite narky when he refused to take the route over a toll bridge when there was a perfectly good road that avoided it.

31 Jul 07 - 09:39 AM (#2115472)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: DebC

I got a TomTom for my birthday last year. Since I have to drive all over the US *and* the UK (not in the same car! :-) ) for my work, I have found it to be a great help in finding places.

One of the problems I have these days is that I can't see to read anymore without my reading glasses. Before the GPS, I would have to write out directions in big, black Sharpie pen and have them next to me on the passenger seat. Unfortunately, this system causes me to take my eyes off the road to scan the directions, which causes me to slow down, which...well, you know where I am going with this.

I cannot multi-task, especially when I am driving. Having the voice call out the turns is a wonderful solution to many pages of directions on the seat of the car. For a ten-gig tour, those papers get pretty numerous and un-wieldly. I now travel with one or two pieces of paper that show the venue's address and phone number in my tour folder.

And as with anything, there is always going to be common sense that has to be employed and a GPS or Sat-Nav is no exception. I get directions as I would have in the past and then check the route on a physical map before I leave (my TomTom will show you maps and texts) just so I have an idea where I am going.

Deb Cowan

31 Jul 07 - 11:26 AM (#2115580)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Greg B

When GPS first came out a bunch of boats got their fronts
smashed in on buoys. You see, with DR navigation, you usually
miss your target. Even with Loran C, you just get within sighting

With GPS, you get right there. In-built defense-related inaccuracy
aside, you usually get right there.

So guys would set the GPS for the sea-buoy, couple it to the
auto-pilot, and at the ETA sure enough, they'd arrive
at the buoy!

Aeronautical navigation is remarkably like terrestrial
navigation, in fact. Even under VFR (visual flight rules)
restricted airspace, etc., means we don't often fly 'as
the crow flies.'

It's more of a case of 'fly 063 degrees for 60 miles to
the first way-point' (which may be a geographic feature or
an aeronav construct), then 'come to 050 degrees for 8 miles'
then '045 degrees for 100 miles, look for the airport five
miles out.' When you hit the first waypoint, the GPS notices,
and tells you (or the autopilot) where to turn next. Of course,
you may have to change altitude, if for example, you change
from an easterly to westerly heading, to follow conventions.

The ones for cars are a bit nicer in many ways, because they
have the anticipatory stuff--- "In 1/4 mile, turn right" as
they have to on vehicles that are restricted to roads.

31 Jul 07 - 04:18 PM (#2115903)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: RangerSteve

I recieved my TomTom today. I tested a couple of routes using demo thingie (that's the technical term), and it worked, although it didn't take routes that I usually use. That doesn't matter, since I tested it on places that I already knew the route to. One problem with test driving it in your living room is that it keeps telling me to make the next possible U-turn. I'm in my living room, goddamn it. I'll test it for sure tomorrow. (I'm making home-made pizza tonight, which is way more important).

I like the feature that lets you pick the voice it uses. It has some nice proper James Bond-movie type UK voices, but I opted for a nice pleasant American female.

31 Jul 07 - 08:40 PM (#2116063)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: The Fooles Troupe

"I got a TomTom for my birthday last year"

Bloody Hell! I thought Bodhrans were bad enough!

31 Jul 07 - 09:11 PM (#2116090)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Big Mick

A little back story first. Union Organizers are called upon to go to cities, bergs, villages, urban, rural, etc. locations on short notice, and have to hit the ground running. One skill that is developed quickly is the familiarization with the layout of the area in which one is working. It is quite a skill, when one considers that they might be working in the Boston area (where the fact that one can see a place does not mean that they can get there....chuckle) and the next month they are in Phoenix, AZ in which the streets are all laid out in grids and finding an address is simply a matter of counting blocks. The first thing we would do is stop at the local map shop, and buy a map book of the area. Then we would figure out the major North-South roads, the major East-West routes, and the cross cut routes. Usually, within a week or so due to the homecalls we are making, we are pretty damn familiar with the area, and by the end of the program we are driving like natives. It is one of the things I love about my work. When I visit an area, I get to know it like the locals.

When I moved to South Jersey/Philly area, I had a mapping GPS program on my computer. This is software that works with a GPS transponder which just plugs into a USB port on my laptop and it is a fully functioning GPS unit. I started using it instead of maps when I got there. Must have been 2 months later when I realized that I didn't know the area much better than when I got there. The GPS had taken away my need to think and the by product was that I really didn't "get" the lay of the area. I quit using it for day to day navigation, and inside of a month I pretty well understood the area, the shortcuts, which roads got me where, etc.

I guess I come down pretty close to where Bill D is on this. I think they are a fine tool, but many folks use them to suspend thought, or are entertained by them. Fair enough, they are fun and interesting technology. But mine only gets hauled out now when it is necessary, or on the odd occasion that I am lost. Most of the time I just take a quick look at a map. Or I will do a Streets and Trips lookup to figure out what exit to take and what turns to take, and then drive there.


31 Jul 07 - 10:51 PM (#2116126)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Rowan

Mick, that's why I routinely default to using the skills I acquired when dealing with topo maps, compass, where the sun (or other stars) happened to be and a sense of time. Being from south of the equator I only found problems when I behaved as though on auto-pilot in the northern hemisphere. But GPSs are wonderful when you're trying to pinpoint a location out in the middle of the Hay Plain, with its dead flat horizon for 360 degrees, few discernable features and where a bump of 3m is regarded as a hill.

And beware of GPSs that use GoogleMap in their displays.

Cheers, Rowan

01 Aug 07 - 07:18 AM (#2116342)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: kendall

When I was in the Explorer I had no radar. Most of the yachts had radar, and if the damn thing quit working they didn't dare get under weigh. If they ever had any navigational skills they lost them when they installed radar.
I could go anywhere with a good set of charts, a good timepiece, a set of parallel rules, and a speed curve for the boat.

However, now I don't have, and never had the ability to find my way around a strange city in the dark, and that GPS is a Godsend. If it quits working, I'm back where I was and no worse off.

It all depends on your particular need. Obviously, Mick's need is different from mine, and it all boils down to a matter of opinion.

01 Aug 07 - 07:27 AM (#2116348)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Big Mick

Hell, Skipper, I'm not disagreeing with you, just relating my experience. It's a nifty tool, and it works well for you and the Missus. My wife loves the thing. For me, I still like figuring out where I am, engaging with the terrain, as it were.

But then again, I still like grabbing a 15 minute map, a compass, adjusting for declination, and taking off across a wilderness like I know where I'm going. ****chuckle**** Does this mean I have joined you in the ranks of the Honored Old Farts with wrinkly arses??

All the best,


01 Aug 07 - 03:50 PM (#2116760)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Anne Lister

I love reading maps and navigating for my husband, and we choose all kinds of interesting routes together. However these days I'm spending a lot of time on the road alone, going to places I've never been before, often negotiating city centres at night, and after a series of really nasty moments trying to read a map or directions as well as cope with traffic I finally snapped and demanded a SatNav. The crunch was when I was in Blackpool and Google directions suggested I needed to turn left ... which would have had me in the North Sea.

Anyway we have a TomTom and it's great. It has given me a couple of good anecdotes to tell over dinner, like taking me round the Luton one way system twice for some unaccountable reason and (recently) taking me on a magical mystery tour over a dirt track through fields instead of the more conventional route to my destination, but it's certainly saved my jangled nerves more often than bamboozled me. And we have John Cleese's voice, which is absolutely SUPERB if you want to have an argument about his directions.


01 Aug 07 - 03:55 PM (#2116765)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: kendall

Mick, my friend, I didn't mean to imply that you were arguing with me, not at all.
All of the fishermen knew I didn't have radar in the Explorer, and they were quite surprised to see her come looming out of the fog. It tickled my sense of Puckishness.

02 Aug 07 - 12:44 AM (#2117085)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Teribus

Seems lots of people like them, who don't even own cars:

02 Aug 07 - 06:38 PM (#2117776)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Rowan

A snippet on ABC Radio National, as I woke up this morning, described research by two Taiwanese into the use of GPSs in cars. The short story seems to be that they gave 16 drivers car-GPSs and 16 other drivers maps and told all of them to drive from A to B, ie, the same start and destination locations; on different occasions the A and B would change but all drivers used them the same number of times in the tests. Some of the trips were urban and some were rural.

At the end of it all they found that drivers with GPSs travelled 7% less distance than those with maps, if the trip was urban, and travelled 2% less distance of the trip was rural. The inference drawn was that GPSs saved in greenhouse gas emissions from driving.

Rural trips for GPS-equipped drivers were also less variable in routes taken and the inference drawn was that such drivers were less frustrated (and thus safer) than those using maps.

Looks like we're all destined to be deskilled.

Cheers, Rowan

02 Aug 07 - 07:48 PM (#2117846)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: MaineDog

I have a handheld GPS, a Garmin GPS76MAP which I use for driving, sailing and kayaking. It takes a while to set it up for different uses, but it works well with a few exceptions:
Rough seas when kayaking cause it to stop tracking.
Toll gates on the Maine turnpike frequently cause it to crash and need to be restarted.
It frequently loses signals from inside the RV (because of the overhanging bed area)

02 Aug 07 - 09:42 PM (#2117897)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars
From: Rowan

Several of the handheld GPSs, including most of the Garmin offerings, have external antennae as optional extras. One friend of mine mounts the antenna on the top of the external air intake of his vehicle, a diesel 4WD Toyota with the type of dust-avoiding air intake common in northern Australia's outback. These diesels have the air intake at the same level as the roof of the cabin so an external antenna mounted on top of it is out of harm's way and would rarely have any obstruction to all the satellites above the horizon. He originally got it when using his vehicle as a support vehicle for a participant in the Simpson Desert Cycle Race; navigation by map and compass out there can be a bit tricky.

Cheers, Rowan

03 Aug 07 - 12:42 PM (#2118368)
Subject: RE: GPS systems for cars

In Oct. '06 we rented a car in London. Drove south and west to Cornwall then north to Swansea Wales- up the coast to Snowdonia and crossed back over into England then down to the Cotswolds. The GPS was a god-send. It got us through back roads as well as cities. We enjoyed the proper Victorian English lady that spoke to us over our two week trip. She was most polite. "At your easiest convenience please make a u-turn."