Navigation displays

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 11:53
ThreadID: 24317 Views:2223 Replies:9 FollowUps:10
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Reading the forum, it would appear that the most popular navigation display is a PDA. I am contemplating a larger display (woried that PDA display is too small)

I am proposing to use navigation software (probably trackranger) on a laptop (used for all sort of things such as logs,photos, etc when not used for navigation) tucked under seat or somewhere and having say a 7" LCD screen on the dash, sunvisor or roof console with the laptop controlled by a wireless mouse.

Has anyone used similar setup? Any opinions about navigation setups other than PDAs? What are the pitfalls etc of such a setup?

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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 12:55

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 12:55
Allan, I have seen the setup with two 7" LCD screens behind the visor, and it works great, larger than the PDA but not too large like a notebook PC, I dont have it in my car but have been seriously looking at it. You could also use the Lilliput screens, Alpaca and Lucy have them and will no doubt elucidate, although I would liten to Alpaca as technology tends to bamboozle Lucy hahahahaha, just like trimming the ends off a battery bamboozles me. Let us know what you end up with.

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Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:01

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:01
I have also seen installs with Oziexplorer running off a notebook with a Lilput mounted hanging from the roof, looks great!

I use the notebook on the missus lap at this stage, I'm looking at getting a tablet type PC which will make life a little easier. I agree with the PDA screen looking a tad small. Might as well just use the GPS! Also the stuffing around with maps etc transfering to PDA seems a pain, I like sitting in the arm chair watching TV planning my trip on my lap then taking that to the car, plug it in and away we go.

It's all personal pref though...
AnswerID: 118235

Reply By: desert - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:21

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:21
G'day the Hob,
I've gone a slightly different route. I got a 40GB 2.6 Ghz hard drive 12v car computer with DVD drive, remote mount 10 inch lillipur LCD screen, remote mini keyboard and mini-mouse for control. Temperarily mounted on passenger side dash board pad on sticky velco strips. If it all works OK for the next trip, I'll move the HDD to a roof console and put in an in-dash 1 DIN 7 inch pop-out screen. That way the handbrake can watch her DVD's during the boring bitumen sections and not annoy the be-jezus outa me!
AnswerID: 118240

Follow Up By: Scubaroo - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:53

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:53
Got a link to the 12V car computer? Would be interested in seeing it's specs.
FollowupID: 373421

Follow Up By: cokeaddict - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:59

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:59
Ok u got me thinkin now,
I got plenty of bits hangin round to build me another puter. All new parts too, just spares i keep for diagnostics when trouble comes my way. I'm wondering though, are you using an inverter for your power supply or something else? Also is it set up for constant power feed even when ignition is shut down?
Care to share that with us desert :-)
FollowupID: 373424

Follow Up By: drogger - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:23

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:23
I also would like more information about the 12 volt car computer.

I imagine you custom built it.

So what did you use?


Australind W.A.
FollowupID: 373427

Follow Up By: Scubaroo - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:31

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:31
I think a standard computer power supply supplies 12VDC anyway - so you might just need a DC regulator rather than an inverter and power supply.
FollowupID: 373432

Follow Up By: Member - 'Lucy' - Friday, Jul 01, 2005 at 01:13

Friday, Jul 01, 2005 at 01:13
Morning Desert.

Could you please tell me what sort of remote keyboard and mouse you have and where you got them from.


Ken Robinson
FollowupID: 373515

Follow Up By: desert - Friday, Jul 01, 2005 at 14:20

Friday, Jul 01, 2005 at 14:20
The car computerI wired direct to 12V and the power supply in the HDD has no problem with the fluctuating voltage(12 to 14.2V). The Lilliput screen does have it's own in-line regulator and does have a hiccup when I start the engine (just turn it off first). The mini-mouse I got from Big W ($29) and the mini-keyboard I cant find the site, but if you do a google search for min-keyboards it should find OK (somewhere in Sydney has them), The web for the computer is This next trip I will be running Ozi on it and will see how it stands up to the vibrations etc.
FollowupID: 373588

Reply By: The Explorer - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:25

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:25
Hello - curious why you are planning on using Trackranger when OziExplorer is arguably better (certainly not worse), cheaper and more widely used. No big deal -just wondering.
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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AnswerID: 118242

Follow Up By: The Hob - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:57

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 13:57
I've used Trackranger for sometime and find it very user friendly and at least in the early days, it seemed to handle route tracing better.

However, I've never actually used Oziexplorer but put off by the site where all sorts of fixes and extra patches need to be downloaded along with playing with maps to get OZI Explorer formats.

Trackranger justs installs and works fine with natmap maps and I have scanned other maps and used them with success.

The Hob
FollowupID: 373422

Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 21:06

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 21:06
Hob - fair enough but keep in mind the standard registered download of OziExplorer will actually do the same as Trackranger (ie work with natmaps and scanned maps) - the various "extras" you talk about are actually for more specialised uses (above and beyond what is available with full blown Trackranger I assume). Pity Trackranger dont offer a "demo" version like OziE as it does restrict the number of people who will give it a included.
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:11

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:11
I use a laptop with remote screen. In my photos you can see the setup. Since then I have downsized the screen to 14 inch which I picked up in Japan for less than $200. I use wireless mouse. Never need the keyboard when mobile. I have a USB mouse modem and a Magellan Map330 connected all the time and run DiscoverAus and OziExplorer simultaneously. You can use GPSgate to run two mapping programmes from the one GPS.
I have trouble accurately mouse pointing when mobile. Maybe the Liliput touch screen would be better but I have heard about problems with that.
AnswerID: 118254

Reply By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:16

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:16
OziExplorer isn't hard to set up.

You could get it working with a laptop, gps & cable in less than 10minutes including install time.

I've gone the PDA route. I have tried the laptop thing. It's too big and it's extremely dangerous at street/highway speeds as it invariably sits between passenger and the airbag.

Just bought it all this week.

Picked up iPAQ hx4700 PocketPC (full 640 x 480 VGA resolution) and 12v cable for it on Tuesday afternoon at 5pm. Installed OziExplorerCE that night.

At 1600 on Wednesday went into JohnnyAppleseed in St Kilda Rd and bought Haicom Bluetooth GPS and watched my trip back to south melbourne on the screen within 1 tram stop.

Doesn't get much easier than that.

Oh and picked up RAM PDA mount to fit my RAM mount that I've been holding my Magellan Meridian Platinum on as well.

Now my GPS setup will be something like:
In vehicle: PocketPC on RAM mount with Firemaps, CFA maps and Natmap 250k sheets, Vicroads and Melways for areas I want to travel in, linked to Haicom Bluetooth GPS on dash.

Out of vehicle (geocaching):
Magellan Platinum with DiscoverAUS and GDT

The screen on the iPAQ hx4700 has to be seen to be beleived.

AnswerID: 118257

Follow Up By: Old Bushie - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 16:12

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 16:12
Gday geocacher

Thanks for your replies on my PDA Gps advice post. Sounds like I am hdg for a simillar setup to you with my hx4700.

Can you advise the Ram model No of your suction mount/arm and the PDA holder. Because I am enquiring from Perth J Applebys (Brisbane) and GPSOZ steered me to the ram-mount website initially to look at choices.

It would seem you may have a Ram B-166 or B-148 suction mount/arm?? and either a PD3 or CO5 PDA mount??? The lever/twist type suction mount certainly looks better than the plain push on type. Does the PDA vibrate much on the mount?

Applebys also mentioned a good start point alternative to a bluetooth or CF GPS. They can supply a cig lighter power lead for the hx4700 that also has a PS2 lead spliced in for connection to my Etrex with a PS2 lead(ie run hx4700 connected to Etrex and power both from the 1 power source) $55 all up.

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Follow Up By: Old Bushie - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 17:35

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 17:35
Gday geocacher

I just received an email saying you had posted a follow up to me but cant find it anywhere??? Could you try again please.

FollowupID: 373457

Reply By: GUPatrol - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:54

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 14:54

I have been using Oziexplorer on a laptop for a long time now (1997) usually hooked up to the Garmin GPS.
That setup was fine on many many trips never a problem except for the size, too big in my opinion, and the laptop hinges get damaged with vibration unless you use it closed, I have seen the smaller screens and didn't like their performance in the sun, I also thought of going the tablet way...
Recently (about six months ago) I went for the PDA instead, I found that to be the best compromise for normal navigating but "IF" lost, cut roads, need to re-asses the route/plan, it is time for a cuppa...
I then get the laptop out (or the paper maps) and check which way we are going, once sorted out, I put the laptop/paper maps away and continue navigating with the PDA.
THe PDA is small enough to take on bush walks and it does everything the laptop does (Using Oziexplorer CE) and Oziexplorer on the laptop.
The transfer of maps is OK, I have a 1 gig card so plenty of space and no big dramas, to keep it all syncronised between my laptop, server and PDA I use "foldermatch" which works a treat and at the same time I have three backups of all my plots, maps and data.
AnswerID: 118266

Reply By: The Hob - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 15:57

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 15:57
Thanks for all the information and advice.

I originally went Trackranger because it happened to be the software I found when I went looking several years ago.

A separate dedicated computer (such as the S350 at would be nice to make a permanent setup in the vehicle but I suspect I would still have a laptop along anyway so I would probably use it for navigation as well.

Moving map is luxury as reference from GPS to digital Map or from digital Map to GPS using co-ordinates is usually all that is required for tricky navigation and I always have paper maps along for the ride.

The Hob
AnswerID: 118274

Reply By: Member - 'Lucy' - Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 23:37

Thursday, Jun 30, 2005 at 23:37
Evening Alan

As BONZ mentioned above, I run setup that is in constant R & D, as he is fully aware because he assisted me greatly into the wee hours of a number of mornings recently at the OBC, trying to get it all to work.

The set up then comprised a laptop, Garmin EMAP GPS, External GPS antenna, Garmin power/DB9 data cable, Kerio Power source for the Laptop, a DB9 serial to USB converter and a 7in Lilliput Video/rearvision screen.

Yes! I know, what a nightmare.

Software - Oziexplorer.

(1) The Lilliput for me was fairly useless because of my fading/failing eyesight requiring the use of reading glasses. (a) Glasses on = can't see the road which is exciting when travelling at speed. (b) Daylight makes it difficult to see the screen.

(2) The laptop being the new whizz banger that it is, doesn't have a DB9 serial port. The Garmin EMAP only outputs in a DB9 Serial cable so you have to use a USB to DB9 serial converter cable. (Just a nightmare to set up, however a piece of P I S S when you know how)

(3) The cables , Oooooooooooooooooh! what a mess. All I can say is thank goodness I was travelling in the vehicle by myself most of the time, and when I used one of the competitors as a navigator, he got in and I fitted the 'setup' on and around him. (if SWMBO was there, it would have been interesting to say the least)

(4) Depending on what you are doing, you need a constant/always on power supply or battery back up in both the GPS and Laptop, otherwise its a 're boot' on both everytime you turn the vehicle off. ( real PITA).

All of the above comments by others apply as well.

I had it running really good after 3 days of 'tuning'. I will admit that I used to have it open on the passenger seat and could follow it whilst travelling. (Not recommended though)

Now that I have returned to civilisation I have re assesed the whole idea and this is the new attack, R & D, which is currently in progress.

(1) The lilliput is going to be used for videos(which it is excellent for) and as a screen for a rear view camera (they come wired for this)

(2) I now have a USB GPS mouse which has done away with the necessity for a Handheld GPS and that mother of a USB/DB9 converter cable. (Just as an aside I was supposed to have it before the OBC, however it arrived whilst I was out there)

(3) The Laptop is going to used as a Laptop for - Photos, Televison when available (Has TV Compatabilty), DVD player, normal computer uses such as internet, word processing and Oziexplorer with all its add ons.

(4) As my usual electronic organiser (10yrs old) started to play up after the OBC I have taken the decision to spec up to a PDA, and tomorrow I should have a brand new HP HX4700 to start playing with.

(5) I will get a ARKON cradle for the PDA which is powered and is USB compatible which will in turn link up to the GPS mouse.

(6) All this will sit on the dash in front of me or in front of SWMBO if she desires.

It all = no more 'wild' rides with the Laptop 'somewhere' in the front and me trying to watch same out of the corner of my eye.


From what I have read on Oziexplorer CE (PDA version) it would seem that there is/maybe a regular requirement to setup up your maps/routes etc on a PC or Laptop then download same to a SD card . This aspect I still have to come to grips with, however I have it covered with the hardware I already have.

For those of you out there who are just busting to comment of this 'action' of mine, don't bother as I will only take notice of those who were there and have done that and I don't remember seeing any of you there.

If it all fails then I just drag out the paper maps and compass.


Ken Robinson
AnswerID: 118337

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