looking for a navigation tutor

Submitted: Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 18:30

Member - IdahOz

I want to get into GPS navigation but am a hopeless "techno-weenie". I have searched threads about GPS nav, equipment etc but they tend to assume a level of knowledge above mine so I can't get what I need from them. I really want someone who can either help me learn the basics or point me to a website that is for very beginners.
For instance, if I take my laptop along, how do i access the internet in the bush? or is that even possible? Does a GPS unit access the internet? do I need both a computer and a GPS to find out where I am, where I want to go and how to get there?
Some advice on where to get started with the very basics would be very much appreciated, thanks
ThreadID: 83079 Views:2921
Replies:14 FollowUps:11
This Thread has been Archived
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 18:54

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 18:54
To get the internet in the bush (away from wifi hotspots) you need some wireless link. This can be via your phone (usually expensive) or through a wireless modem or dongel (usb stick thingy that plugs into the laptop and picksup wireless internet)

Navigation in the bush (not street directions) requires a gps receiver (can be a mouse type gadget that plugs into the usb port or the link is provided by bluetooth etc) feeding GPS data into a mapping software like OZiExporer. Then you require digital maps that the software can read like Natmaps (whole of Australia)

When the maps, mapping software and GPS data are joined together you will have "moving map" where your position is always shown on the map.

Suggest you search some of these topics and don't forget topics on this site. Look under Articles and find navigation in the right hand column


PS Don't be shy to ask - we all had to start somewhere
AnswerID: 438978

Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 18:58

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 18:58
Wireless internet is usually only available where you can get a phone signal and if you want the best coverage of the bush sadly it usually means Telstra NextG


PS I have a Telstra Gateway NextG modem which I take with me
FollowupID: 710791

Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 19:04

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 19:04
OK.... how long is piece of string...?
Thats the sort of answer you are looking for here. I'll give you a few basics.

If you have a laptop and a GPS-mouse, and software such as OziExplorer, and electronic maps, you will only need the internet for checking your email. The GPS does not need the internet to tell you your location.

An alternative is a GPS such as a Hema Navigator that has street navigation and OziExplorer preloaded onto it and does the same job as above. You can do the same with a cheaper chinese GPS and load OziExplorer CE onto the SD card yourself.

But most important of all, you need to know what you want the GPS for in the first place? Many will tell you that GPS xyz is better than GPS abc etc. Thats not the important bit.... the GPS you get must meet your purposes first and foremost, whether it cost $198.00 or $1198.00 otherwise its useless to you.

Hope this helps.
Fred B
VKS 737: Mobile/Selcall 1334

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 438983

Reply By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 20:26

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 20:26
Where are you? Maybe some face to face chat would help get you going.

Our 4WD club has lots of members who can help. Maybe if you are a member of a 4WD club you could ask around. You remind me of my sister. She now knows what a mouse is and can even generate emails.

You are getting into a world that can easily overwhelm you.

So if you tell us roughly where you live someone nearby may be able to help over a coffee to start with. Dont worry if you do not want to go down this track as all here will understand.

AnswerID: 438990

Reply By: Bazooka - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 20:42

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 20:42

In a nutshell:
To navigate you need a GPS device which takes signals from geostationary satellites and computes your position on the earth. These satellites have nothing to do with the internet - essentially they simply provide a way of computing your latitude and longitude (position on the earth) extremely accurately. Many (most?) people buy a dedicated GPS unit with some digital maps - no laptop required in that case. You can use your laptop with a small GPS mouse receiver if you prefer. (Plenty of reading and advice on here regarding alternatives: handheld GPS - battery operated, road GPS - plug into your cigarette lighter; brands, prices etc)

To access the internet in remote parts of Oz you need your laptop/netbook and a modem which can receive wireless internet signals (or your phone if it has internet access, since they use the same airwaves). Telstra has by far the best wireless coverage and you can buy a small USB modem which plugs into your laptop and gives you access to their network (where a wireless phone signal exists). Again there are many alternatives.

Hope this is simple enough to get you started.
AnswerID: 438993

Reply By: Von Helga - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 22:49

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 22:49

Google " book GPS Vehicle Navigation in Australia"

Buy it

Problem solved


AnswerID: 439006

Follow Up By: Member - Boeing (PER) - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 00:05

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 00:05
Trevor, I think that they have as it is now in the trader section!!


FollowupID: 710830

Reply By: Member - IdahOz - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:24

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:24
Thank you all, I am located in Bunbury WA and would be happy to chat to someone. All these answers have actually been very helpful. I now know I need a wireless modem to use the internet on the go and that I can use a GPS in connection with my laptop with the right maps/software. this definitely gives me the basic info i need to do more research. Thanks again to all of you.
AnswerID: 439008

Follow Up By: Member - Boeing (PER) - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 00:08

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 00:08
IdahOz, don't forget with the solftware you will need to do a fair degree of research as well. It is not as simple as plug and play.


FollowupID: 710831

Follow Up By: Member - IdahOz - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 00:13

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 00:13
I see that! I am looking at oziexplorer and it says it doesn't include maps ?!?!?
FollowupID: 710833

Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 16:09

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 16:09
Oziexplorer doesn't come with maps but you can download a trial version and play with it. A set of maps for all of Oz at 1:250,000 or better will set you back only $40 in the shop on here:

Natmap 100k


Any mug can be uncomfortable out bush

My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 710894

Reply By: Harry and Ann (WA) - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:44

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:44
G\day Idahoz, I to should have asked the same question as you , so I will watch and learn, I to are new to to this technology, I have a hema and oz explorer and I am wading my way through I find the two very good for my needs but I am shore their is a lot more I can do with these, good question though.
AnswerID: 439011

Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:51

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:51
Hi IdahOz

I know some people travel with a laptop mounted between the driver and passenger for navigation. I prefer the room and have a small GPS mounted on the dash. It can also operate on batteries as a hand held when taking walks. Image Could Not Be Found Maps can be updated from the laptop, as it is an older GPS and only has a small memory card.

We travel with a laptop, and Next G connection through a small USB modem for which we have an external antenna which we can sit on top of the caravan for better range. This requires no outside power source, and laptop can run or be recharged from a 12 v power supply. Check out the Telstra coverage maps to see where you can expect Next G coverage. Telstra Next G coverage map You can zoom in on the orange spots which have Next G cover on the map, and they do turn to lace, so cover is not a good as it looks. When travelling, we were never more than four weeks without any Next G reception. If we were within 20 kms of a covered town or a major eastern states highway, with the antenna we generally got onto the internet.

There are so many different options. When out and about, accost other travellers and ask about their GPS, and get them to show you what they have. This is the best way to learn.


Red desert dreaming

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 439012

Reply By: Member - IdahOz - Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:57

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 23:57
I am thinking 'laptop' because i already have one and we always go as a couple with hubby driving so i can have the laptop in my 'space' without a problem. I currently have a map book there. (which I would keep also)
The lap top can run off the 12v adapter.
So if I am understanding correctly, i buy software (navigation maps) for my laptop and then get a gps 'mouse'. Even when I am not in internet range, the gps mouse interfaces with he software to tell me where i am on the map and so i can get directions for where i want to go?
then i only need internet access, for which i get a plug in modem, to use the email etc.?
If I've got it right, it sounds like a great set up!
AnswerID: 439013

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 12:44

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 12:44

You have the basics correct. The GPS and internet are independent systems (although modern phones are integrating the two, but that's another story/option).

Most people who go the laptop route seem to use OziExplorer software. Don't use it myself so hopefully others who do will weigh in but I'd suggest that if you want turn by turn navigation (ie you enter your destination, let the software work out the route and it speaks directions for you as you go) then a stand alone GPS unit is a far simpler/better option (as well as being less bulky, and extremely useful in the city). If you read the many threads on here you will find there are cheap options (a few hundred $) or very expensive ones (high end Hema, Garmin, TomTom with a decent mapset $500++).

There are free digital maps for dedicated GPSs, but again if you want routing (turn by turn, spoken guidance) rather than navigating by looking at the screen and seeing your position overlayed on a map you will need to purchase some map data. Many people run both commercial map products and freebies (swap in and out on a small/cheap SD card if you wish).

Some advantages of a dedicated GPS unit: small, easy to handle; can loan to family and friends if necessary; spoken word navigation means you can concentrate on the scenery; no hot, bulky laptop bouncing around on your lap on rough tracks. In the city a dedicated 'road' GPS will warn you when you are speeding (depending on the mapset and quality of the GPS unit), when speed/redlight cameras are coming up, and can show you a range of useful details like 'where is the nearest petrol station' (you can download a heap of useful POIs - points of interest - free from a number of websites, or enter your own simply).
FollowupID: 710873

Reply By: Kiwi Ray - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 07:09

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 07:09
Hi Idahoz
my suggestion is that you run with a Hema Navigator 5 it has all the street maps and the topo maps loaded and ready to run. It will give you your location in both map sections .
You will all so be able to plan your trips and or let the unit guide you to a predetermined destination. this feature is already built in to the program.
You really do not need a laptop to do this.
the manual that comes with this unit is not too bad.
With Hema unit you will be able to find your way to any place and return with out extra equipment.
If at a later stage you wish to expand your it technologies then you can add a laptop but at this stage I think you need to keep it simple
AnswerID: 439018

Reply By: WBS - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 08:26

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 08:26
I agree with Kiwi Ray who I think has summed it up well. I don't know what a Techno-Weenie is supposed to be but if you had trouble understanding how to get internet out in the bush then I don't think the laptop/gps is the way for you to go. It is not as simple as turning the laptop on and hey presto its all working. The Hema Navigator or VMS units (there are lots of others too) that can do voice navigation in cities as well as use Oziexplorer with digital maps is far more simple to operate. Leave the laptop for emails and internet and get a separate GPS unit.

AnswerID: 439021

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 13:28

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 13:28
Hi IdahOz
Another vote for that option. OziExplorer running on a laptop is a great tool but not something that you can plug in and use without a fair bit of support and/or prior knowledge. Nor do you want a laptop sitting in your lap all day, its bulky, hot and potentially dangerous in the event of a mishap.

I haven't used a Hema Navigator but as it offers both turn by turn navigation and Ozi (the two are quite different systems) it should do all that you require of a bigger laptop system. Its main disadvantage over the laptop system is probably the smaller display, but I think you would learn to get used to that.

As far as getting email while you are travelling, a Next G phone (with a datapack) plugged into your laptop is the way to go. Even then you wont get access when you are well away from highways and bigger towns.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

FollowupID: 710877

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 13:35

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 13:35
Hi again, Have just noticed that you very sensibly drive a Troopie ;-) There is definitely not enough room in the front of a Troopie to comfortably use a laptop. We have an older style small computer mounted behind the seats and a touch screen hanging on the dash to run OziExplorer. When we first got Ozi it took about 50km of driving with the laptop to decide that there had to be a better way!


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

FollowupID: 710878

Reply By: Member - IdahOz - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 15:13

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 15:13
Thanks again for all your helpful input everyone!!

I also hope the discussion will be of help to others who are not sure what they are doing in this area.

A "techno weenie" is what my daughter calls me cos I don't know how to use an ipod or get internet in the bush, and because I want a phone that just makes and receives calls!! That said I am actually a pretty smart cookie and can learn very quickly when I'm interested.

I don't think I am after the 'turn by turn' voice instructions, in fact I think that would drive me buggy out camping (but probably excellent for finding my way to somewhere new in the city). What I am looking for is a way to access detailed maps and information of an area we are exploring so that we can enjoy our trip, see what's of interest, and don't get lost as often as we would without GPS to tell us where we are. Our current maps don't go into that level of detail of all the side roads and dirt tracks and we can find ourselves turned around and not sure where we really are or where to head to next. Hubby has decades of experience 4 wheel and wilderness driving in Idaho, but the southern hemisphere has played hell with his innate sense of direction, LOL

I anticipate intermittently consulting the laptop (or whatever) to see where we are and where we want to go next, rather than driving with a laptop bouncing on my lap. However that may change once I get to play with a few systems and see what they can do.
AnswerID: 439056

Follow Up By: Rainman WA - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 17:29

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 17:29
If you go down the Oziexplorer path the Chart and Map Shop in Fremantle run periodical training sessions in how to use it, might be worth contacting them to find out when the next ones will be.

They can probably also help you with digital maps, but I think the Exploroz shop has the Hema 4WD collection on sale - it contains a load of maps as well as the Geoscience series which is a good starting point - I actually find them the best maps out in the sticks.

FollowupID: 710904

Reply By: Member - IdahOz - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 16:54

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 16:54
any one want to comment on Oziexplorer vs trackranger?
sounds like trackranger is cheaper and may be easier to use (as in plug and play)?
AnswerID: 439070

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 17:17

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 17:17
I think you will find that many more people use Ozi than TR. That means there are more people around who can help you out with Ozi when you get .... stuck.

Haven't used TR so cant comment on how the two systems stack up. But I will say that Ozi is truly worth the time and effort that you put into learning how to use it. Its brilliant. I think there is also a pretty good Ozi online forum for assistance.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

FollowupID: 710902

Reply By: HGMonaro - Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 22:19

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 at 22:19
everyones got pretty much everything covered but I'd like to point out the detail on the digital maps is usually no better than the paper one it was created from (the Geoscience maps are just digital versions of the paper ones created eons ago).Hema maps are probably more modern but might only be 1:250K (I think) so not very detailed. The geoscience maps have some areas (Vic & NSW) down to 1:25K & 1:100K. Depending on what you've been using, the digital version may not be any better. Driving along new roadds will have you looking like you're out in the middle of a paddock. However, the GPS will get you back to where you started easy though (either using waypoints or breadcrumb trails)

If you are going to use the PC, then getting a GPS (with or without mapping ability) like Motherhen has shown above might be better than a mouse unit as you can use it while bushwalking and the like. Good for geocaching too!
AnswerID: 439106

Follow Up By: WBS - Saturday, Dec 18, 2010 at 09:25

Saturday, Dec 18, 2010 at 09:25
Just a point of clarification to HG's post,

Since 1997 the Geoscience 250k maps are a by product of a GIS product called Geodata. This series of maps were updated with the best and most up to date information available at the time of production. The NATMAP 250k digital maps are as good as you'll get for national coverage.

Hema maps are more up to date due to Hema's ongoing field checking of tracks and roads and so on, but they are of a smaller scale generally than the NATMAP products (less detailed). They also don't show contours either. I know that Geoscience Australia in its previous incarnations as AUSLIG and NATMAP exchanged information with Hema on a quid pro quo basis. Geoscience supplied base data (Contours, watercourses, lakes and infrastructure) from which Hema maps were built up. Hema provided track plots for all the tracks and roads they had available at the time.

Hema is a great product that I refer to some times but I refer mostly to the NATMAP 250K digital maps when off road unless there is a larger scale map available. In the years I've used it, the NATMAP 250K digital maps have shown themselves to be very good product.

FollowupID: 711058

Related Pages

Popular Content

ExplorOz Shop Suggests (12)