GPS on a PDA

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 10:54
ThreadID: 20689 Views:2087 Replies:4 FollowUps:5
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Hi all

saw with interest recent post on GPS and co-ordinate systems. Prompted me to follow up on a "wish list" item. I have a PDA/Phone gadget (I-mate) running pocket PC and would like to use it as a GPS screen as well.

Have been to a vendor here in Melbourne, branch of a prominent Brisbane based organisation. They have taken the time to explain I need a GPS receiver - small magentic one is fine, a holder / mount and a power cable as hardware - all available form them and seems to be a fair price.

In terms of software they advise it depends on what I want to achieve. I thought to start something that gave me basic position, course, speed, distance to next WP and course to next WP would be ideal - I still like the idea of translating to a map on paper. They said there is some good shareware available off the net for this.

Next stage would be similar to above but overlaid over a map in the PDA.

The question for the gurus - are there any recommendations for software to run on the PDA (and puter)? secondly if we needed to compare apples with something else where would we go in Melbourne?
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Reply By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:07

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:07
G'day Gazza,

I've got an I-Mate too and have been playing around a bit lately. I've been testing a bluetooth (wireless) Leadtek GPS Receiver which communicates with the I-Mate and supplies location information. You then need some software to interpret that information.

First bit of advice, stay away from Bluetooth with the I-Mate. Had to install a bit of software called Bluetooth Tools to get it to work properly and now am having other problems with car kit. Get a serial device. Better still, if you are going to buy a receiver, look at a cheap GPS unit so that this will tell you where you are even if other things break down. You can get a Garmin E-Trex for around $300.

OziExplorer is the software of choice for displaying current locaiton on a map and also for planning routes etc. It's not free and neither are the maps. I don't think it's dear though for what it is. Their website is excellent and you can download trial software to have a look. (You can buy it in the shop here too!)

OziExplorer WON'T do what is called turn-by-turn navigation. For this you need a different and far more expensive program. The main difference is that the maps are not pictures as they are in OziExplorer and others, the maps are reference data and the software will give you the voice prompts like "Turn left in 200 metres". This only works on recognised roads (UBD). Will not help you in a desert or in the bush.

Hope this helps a bit with understanding the components. There are a lot of experts on the forum that use OziExplorer extensively and I'm sure they will fill in the blanks.

One question I will add to this thread for both your own and my benefit is:

What hand-held GPS should we be looking at given we only need basic (NMEA) communication via serial with a PC and possibly waypoint downloads?

Thanks for asking the question too, I'll watch the answers with interest.


AnswerID: 99661

Reply By: Member - Gary W (VIC) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:55

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:55

Sounds like you have been to Jonny Appleseed in St Kilda Road.

I went there and bought a Haicom mouse GPS for my (then) IPAQ. I have since changed to an O2-XDA I needed to buy a new Y cable approx. $20 - no worries.

I agree with previous comments that Bluetooth is a problem so steer clear. There is some merit in a GPS that has its own display but my Hiacom only cost $175 so it was a no brainer for me.

I also agree that OziExplorer is the best mapping software for a PDA for remote areas. One cool feature is when you get home if you have been on an unmarked track you can add it to the map permanently. To run OziExplorer on the PDA you must have the PC version as well because this is waht you use to setup your maps for the trip and convert files etc.. I think you have to be a little bit of a techo to get the most from it but if you like gizmos this is a very neat solution.

AnswerID: 99670

Follow Up By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 13:33

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 13:33
Hi Gaz and Gazza,

Just for the record in case you weren't aware, the O2 XDA is the same as the I-Mate. Made by same factory, just some very minor config options like amount of factory memory. Same unit, same software, same accessories.


FollowupID: 357998

Follow Up By: GazzaS (VIC) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 13:42

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 13:42
Hi Smocky and Gaz

thanks for the comments back. I am aware that XDA and Imate are the same, worked it out when buying some other accessories. The JA guys also told me about the Bluetooth problem - I was going to go cable anyway - I like to have something I can touch.

What sort of mount do you use in car? the JA guys were suggesting Akkon I think. 2 models with or without speaker capabilities (and therefore hands free phone). Is a suction style device that goes on wind screen or you can stick an adaptor to the dash and use suction cup on it - limits the heat effect through the windscreen.

FollowupID: 358001

Follow Up By: Member - Gary W (VIC) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 13:47

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 13:47
Thanks for the clarification re IMate & XDA.

I bought the windscreen mounting bracket from JA (No speakers) and did 7,000ks in the outback and heat and it never came off once.

FollowupID: 358003

Reply By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 14:34

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 14:34
Hi again,

Spoke to a store here in NSW and these are the basic options:

1. Serial mouse such as Haicom 204S or Garmin GPS18. These are cabled for Serial (RS232) or USB. $179 or $199. You'd then need an adapter to fit the I-Mate. Not sure of cost. If you need to mount the I-Mate, you'll need that for both solutions. All up, around $200 + a cable.

2. Best option of portable is the Garmin E-Trex Legend, which is $329 including data cable for a PC. You'd then also need a converter cable AND an in car charge for the unit. Plus an additional cradle or holder for the the E-Trex as well as your I-Mate. All up, around $400 plus a cable.

The standard $179 serial Garmin GPS18 would work perfectly with a PC as is and you could just stick it in the corner of the dash. But you're then using a PC instead of the I-Mate for the map. Connecting it to the I-Mate seems to be the problem, as for me I have a Car Kit which plugs in to the bottom of the I-Mate. So I won't be able to use this and the GPS at the same time.

So Gaz, more info for you but not a great deal of answers I don't think. I'm going to the store tomorrow to look at these things so will let you know then.

AnswerID: 99693

Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 17:36

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 17:36
it sounds like a lot of trouble for a display that isn't much bigger than a basic GPS. The Magellan Map330 does all the things you mention in B&W, the Sportrak Color has a prettier display. With my 51 year old eyes (no comments about other causes of visual impairment please) I need a bigger screen while on the move. The cheapest 'big screen solution' is an old laptop with a mouse GPS (from the EO shop) running OziExplorer.
I reckon 'convergence' can be taken too far. Just because your phone has a colour display it doesn't mean it will make a good navigation system.
AnswerID: 99744

Follow Up By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 17:44

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 17:44
I'm starting to agree with you Bob.

I've got a tablet PC which I think will be terrific at navigation due to the 10" screen and no need for a keyboard or to be open. Looks much like a giant PDA. I think I might just buy a serial mouse and start with that.
FollowupID: 358035

Follow Up By: GazzaS (VIC) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 22:47

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005 at 22:47
Bob I do not disagree - that's why I really only want basic GPS functionality , ie position and other bits. Don't really need the map thingy on the PDA, just a future possibility if I ever change my mind. My eyes are like yours (50 in June) and little numbers are impossible to read unless I have the glasses on and then I can't see the front of the truck!

If though I can get it on the PDA it has a bigger screen than most of the telephone style hand held GPS units - about 80mm high by 50mm wide to give the type of display seen at

FollowupID: 358095

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