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  1. Default A little review of TomTom Navigator, BT GPS receiver, and MS Streets and Trips

    So after 10 days of travelling, I have some new insights as to what to do better and what could have been planned out more thoroughly as regards to gear and navigation equipment.

    So my weaponry of choice on this trip included:

    1 Toshiba Tecra laptop, with Wifi, Streets and Trips 2006, and iGuidance.

    1 Bluetooth Holux GPS receiver (can also be used as a GPS mouse w/the USB cable).

    1 HP iPaq 5550 PDA w/Bluetooth, wifi, and a fresh install of TomTom Navigator 5.21.

    An aerial flare gun, road flares, etc...

    There were 5 of us travelling on this trip, so each of us had various phones/car chargers, using CDMA and GSM networks. My friend even brought a CDMA broadband card for high speed internet.

    Before the we left on our trip, I found that S&T's uses a static baud rate with any GPS receiver. The software only can use a 4,800 baud rate.

    Browsing GPSPassion, I found a solution to this problem.

    However, using GPSgate did not work correctly as it would constantly say my GPS receiver was not outputing data and thus would freeze S&T. I double-checked this result to make sure my receiver was not faulty, and found that it was software related.

    I scrapped S&T's during the first hour of the trip and resorted to using TomTom for the rest of the trip.

    S&T was great for planning and double checking our routes against TomTom's routes but much further than that, it's a quite bulky set up.

    As for using TomTom, we got lost about 4 times total this trip, because I was using an older version of maps. It often had us going onto non-paved roads in rural areas. It even had us driving through a national park on a dirt road to get to our hotel!!

    But for metropolitan areas, like Denver, Phoenix, etc.. it worked perfect.

    My lesson learned is to bring paper maps next time, have all our routes on paper and confirmed to make sure of roads and road conditions.

    I also learned that next time I go on a major trip like this, a satellite phone is a necessity. We drove approximately 4,500 miles in all, in 10 days. Only to break down 150 miles away from home on the last leg of the trip.

    We were 11 miles east of Coachella in California on the 10 West around 7pm when our truck (2003 Yukon XL) died. We suspected it was the battery or alternator. The following morning, after getting home at 3am, I had the parts tested, only to find that the fuel pump had died.

    We were quite lucky to break down so close to a city that we had cell phone coverage. There were quite long stretches of the trip which we had no reception, and were miles away from any type of city. Parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wisconsin illustrate my point. If we had broken down, the only way to get help would have been to flag someone down.

    All in all it was a great trip with only a few hiccups. I'll be more than willing to answer any questions you guys have about S&T, TomTom, etc..
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-18-2007 at 01:28 PM. Reason: Preferred URL Format

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Keithville, LA
    Posts
    638

    Default Great Info

    Thanks for the report.

    Well, I feel like an absolute luddite after reading this post. I headed out with one cell phone, a charger, a 5 year old computer and my Nascar Road Atlas. I was also gone for 10 days and did 4,100 miles.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default In the West: Benchmark Maps are a good bet!

    Quote Originally Posted by bmwe30is View Post
    Before the we left on our trip, I found that S&T's uses a static baud rate with any GPS receiver. The software only can use a 4,800 baud rate.
    Thanks for the link for the GPS Forum -- that is a great resource and I especially liked the hardware/software testing analysis that you ran.
    I scrapped S&T's during the first hour of the trip and resorted to using TomTom for the rest of the trip.
    Yeah, that is interesting -- whenever possible I carry Benchmark paper maps for western states -- I like electronic mapping options -- but would never use their suggestions without checking it against a paper map or some other form of intel.
    S&T was great for planning and double checking our routes against TomTom's routes but much further than that, it's a quite bulky set up.
    This is how I have always felt about the S&T interface -- nice to hear a similar view.
    As for using TomTom, we got lost about 4 times total this trip, because I was using an older version of maps. It often had us going onto non-paved roads in rural areas. It even had us driving through a national park on a dirt road to get to our hotel!!
    There have been some serious situations in recent months when travelers "believed" their GPS routing tools and took roads they should never have been on. Apparently GIGO is a "lost term" for many. (GIGO: Garbage In = Garbage Out)
    But for metropolitan areas, like Denver, Phoenix, etc.. it worked perfect.
    Such mapping databases don't tend to work as well in rapidly growing metro areas like Las Vegas --
    My lesson learned is to bring paper maps next time, have all our routes on paper and confirmed to make sure of roads and road conditions.
    Good lesson.
    I also learned that next time I go on a major trip like this, a satellite phone is a necessity.
    I have used a variety of satellite phones over the years -- I still think of them as fun toys....
    We were quite lucky to break down so close to a city that we had cell phone coverage. There were quite long stretches of the trip which we had no reception, and were miles away from any type of city. Parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wisconsin illustrate my point. If we had broken down, the only way to get help would have been to flag someone down.
    Next time, carry a hand-held CB radio!
    All in all it was a great trip with only a few hiccups. I'll be more than willing to answer any questions you guys have about S&T, TomTom, etc..
    Thanks, you may well get some questions here!

    Mark

  4. #4

    Default Thanks for the tips

    Sorry to hear about the breakdown. What a pita but lucky it happened at the end not the beginning.

    However, using GPSgate did not work correctly as it would constantly say my GPS receiver was not outputing data and thus would freeze S&T. I double-checked this result to make sure my receiver was not faulty, and found that it was software related.
    I'd not be altogether certain it was related to the upgrade you made. The fact that the software would often crash - usually at some vital moment - was one of the major things that really made me want to throw my (brand new and completely updated software) laptop out of the window.

    I have picked up a TomTom Go 910 unit since and have to report that it has been absolutely fantastic here in Europe where I've driven all over the UK as well as through parts of France, Belgium and Ireland. I've no complaints and I am looking forward to testing it in the US soon. Fingers crossed it works as well there.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    Next time, carry a hand-held CB radio!Thanks, you may well get some questions here!

    Mark
    We actually purchased a handheld 12v CB radio a few days before hand... lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post
    Sorry to hear about the breakdown. What a pita but lucky it happened at the end not the beginning.



    I'd not be altogether certain it was related to the upgrade you made. The fact that the software would often crash - usually at some vital moment - was one of the major things that really made me want to throw my (brand new and completely updated software) laptop out of the window.
    I used the same TomTom set up (Holux GPS w/TomTom 5.2) when I was in Europe for 4 weeks and we did extensive driving through Germany and I found it to be top notch. I have a greater feeling that all the trouble was caused by bad software. I've used the Holux unit for almost 2 - 3 years and never had a problem with it's data output, which makes me think further that it was software related.

    Editor - I totally agree, but I think it's just that there's so much road information to be stored, the developers skimp out on the rural areas.

    I also forgot to mention, we had actually planned everything out on paper maps weeks / months before hand. But the last minute, I found out that someone had thrown out the pack of maps I had put together.

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