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GeoffM Profile
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Date Registered: 07-2004
Location: Sydney
TOTAL POSTS: 258
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GPS navigation


GPS Moving map.

I'm in the process of setting up a GPS system in the Xtrail, so I thought I'd share some info here as I go along.
I picked up a new Garmin etrex GPS on Ebay for $170 the other day, and by using some old electronics gear I dont use anymore, I am setting up a moving map system.

It always occured to me that the drivers side glove box above the steering wheel on an xtrail would be ideal for a GPS system, as its within the drivers line of sight, and can be descretely hidden by closing the glove box door when not in use.

My kit consists of:
- etrex gps
- Pfanc DIY etrex data/power connector
- Psion 3a PDA + Serial port cable.
- RealMaps software. [sign in to see URL]
- An old DC-DC power converter that plugs into the cigrette lighter.

The Psion 3a is mid-90's technology which looks pretty lame by todays standards, but still is a neat little package. In conjunction with the realmaps software it can use scanned paper maps converted to digitial bit-maps, and track GPS information onto the bit-maps to make a Moving Map of where you are travelling.
The Psion is limited by the fact that the screen can only show black or white (not even grey scales), and only handle 64Kb bitmaps. On the plus, my model has 2Mb + 1Mb of storage, which can hold the equivalent of Greater Sydney at about 1:250000 scale.

Progress so far:
- Got the soldering iron out and rigged up the cabling from the Psion to the GPS
- Brought a Sydney Hema Map sheet that looked suited to conversion to B&W.
- Scanned in the map on my PC to create a 3700x4200 pixel greyscale image of Sydney.
- Broke this image down into 30 750x700 (64Kb) B&W binary images for the Psion.
- Uploaded them into the Psion, and connected it all up.

First thing I noted was that my lat/long position on my GPS was not matching the map. So I played around with the settings but couldnt get it to match. I suspected the Hema map might be taking a few liberties with accuracy, so I went to [sign in to see URL] to check some key points. Yes!, the Hema was out, so I set coordinates based on Campbeltown and Palm Beach and tried again.
It was better this time. but still out by a few hundred metres in the inner west. No good for street directions.
I then checked the coordinates off all 30 psion maps. It appeared that the hema map was a little stretched and skewed as well. So by using topoweb to get all 30 maps' accurate position, it then all worked well.

The first test was on Sunday when I put it all in the xtrail, just running on AA batteries, and went for a spin around the inner west. It worked wonderfully! Accurately tracking speed, direction and position.

It did prove the concept of using the drivers side glove box for a GPS system:
- Gets good signal for the GPS, with the windscreen slope it has a good clear view of the sky.
- The Glove box has a cigarette power socket, so the whole thing can be powered from the car.
- The Psion is small enough to fit in the glove box and be visable when open.

In fact any GPS system would work in there. Whether it be a GPS with its own map, a Palm-type with a GPS connector, or even a dodgy setup like mine.

The next stage is to set it up with car-power supply, and fasten it all down so it doesnt slide around so much. Will keep you posted on progress.

Here is a sample of what the Psion's screen looks like (from the realmaps site, not me):

--Log in or sign up to see linked image content--


Last edited by GeoffM, 26/Oct/2004, 5:58 pm


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26/Oct/2004, 2:03 pm Link to this post Send Email PM   Send Private Message Blog
 
jalalski Profile
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Date Registered: 02-2004
Location: SUTHERLAND, SYDNEY
TOTAL POSTS: 29002
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Re: GPS navigation


Hi Geoff,

Very handy work indeed.

My GPS set-up is much more simple than this and it comes with full colour and very loud audio settings alerting me to the speed and directions.

It's called "a wife with a street directory and a direct line of sight on the speedo" =D

Just kidding. Please keep us updated on the progress.

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27/Oct/2004, 10:15 am Link to this post Send Private Message MSN Blog
 
GeoffM Profile
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Date Registered: 07-2004
Location: Sydney
TOTAL POSTS: 258
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Re: GPS navigation


quote:

jalalski wrote:

Hi Geoff,

Very handy work indeed.

My GPS set-up is much more simple than this and it comes with full colour and very loud audio settings alerting me to the speed and directions.

It's called "a wife with a street directory and a direct line of sight on the speedo" =D



I've got one of those as back-up.
Hopefully the GPS will be more reliable. emoticon



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embi Profile
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Date Registered: 06-2004
TOTAL POSTS: 51
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Re: GPS navigation


I used to use an etrex but then upgraded to a etrex vista. It has maps on it.

Btw have you heard about ]Geocaching?

Have a look. High tech treasure hunt. A warning though. You will be hooked for life! emoticon
27/Oct/2004, 5:35 pm Link to this post Send Email PM   Send Private Message
 
GeoffM Profile
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Date Registered: 07-2004
Location: Sydney
TOTAL POSTS: 258
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Re: GPS navigation


Progress:
I wired up power and lighting circuit last [sign in to see URL] burnt my finger on the soldering iron.

This is the cicruit:
--Log in or sign up to see linked image content--

Because the glove box power socket sticks up vertically, my 12V-3V DC converter wont fit directly in, so I had to make a small cigrette lighter extension cable. The added advantage of this is it enabled me to add a switch (to turn everything off), and some lighting inside the glove box.
I toyed with the idea of also having a magnetic switch which would only power the system up when the glove box was open, but that can wait for version 2.0.

The manual switch shown is too avoid powering the system when not in use (ie down the shops). This will save the GPS's screen, and avoid any heat issues with the DC converter operating with the box down. And maybe save my battery one day!

Because the Psion doesnt have a backlit screen, it was two dark inside the glovebox to read it, so I tapped of some 12V to a couple of high-brightness LED's. Technologic marvels they are. Use bugger all power, no heat, and only $[sign in to see URL] each from Jaycar. New wiz-bang torches use these now days.



Last edited by GeoffM, 28/Oct/2004, 3:51 pm


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GeoffM Profile
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Date Registered: 07-2004
Location: Sydney
TOTAL POSTS: 258
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Re: GPS navigation



Here's a couple more photos of the gear I'm using:

Etrex:

--Log in or sign up to see linked image content--

Psion 3a:

--Log in or sign up to see linked image content--

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28/Oct/2004, 3:55 pm Link to this post Send Email PM   Send Private Message Blog
 
jalalski Profile
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Date Registered: 02-2004
Location: SUTHERLAND, SYDNEY
TOTAL POSTS: 29002
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Re: GPS navigation


Hi Geoff,

Today I scored myself a bargain Palm IIIc personal organiser which is capable of being loaded with the required software for it to become a GPS navigation tool that attaches to the windscreen.

I got this for $45 from a guy at work.

I have to play around with it a bit more to learn it's capabilities and upgrade it's OS, then download the required software.

I'll keep you posted how I go with that as well.

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GeoffM Profile
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Date Registered: 07-2004
Location: Sydney
TOTAL POSTS: 258
Reply | QUOTE
Re: GPS navigation


quote:

jalalski wrote:

Hi Geoff,

Today I scored myself a bargain Palm IIIc personal organiser which is capable of being loaded with the required software for it to become a GPS navigation tool that attaches to the windscreen.

I got this for $45 from a guy at work.

I have to play around with it a bit more to learn it's capabilities and upgrade it's OS, then download the required software.

I'll keep you posted how I go with that as well.



Good score Jalal,

I think you can get plug in GPS modules for palms, which saves a lot of cabling trouble.

Although I went for the stand-alone GPS model so I could take it bushwalking without the PDA attached.

Had a bit of a test run last weekend. Worked ok, but the software wouldnt change map on me. Afterwards I figured out I have my lat/long coords out on each map.
So Ive sort of come to the conclusion that although programs like mine and the Oziexplorer one which let you scan your own maps in, take a lot of fiddling to get accurately set up. If you can get commercial digital maps to suit your program, lifes a bit easier.
Although scanning your own maps gives you far more flexibility.

Another note, is that the cigrette power supply socket only powers up when the key is on, so ideal for a GPS system which wont drain the battery if left on.


Last edited by GeoffM, 3/Nov/2004, 10:51 am


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GeoffM Profile
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Date Registered: 07-2004
Location: Sydney
TOTAL POSTS: 258
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Re: GPS navigation



I think the ultimate solution for a big trek would be a sub-laptop, Running Ozi-Explorer with commerical maps, plus a few home scanned, plus a wifi network card allowing video communication with other 4wds in the vicinity with the same set up.

  emoticon

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jalalski Profile
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Date Registered: 02-2004
Location: SUTHERLAND, SYDNEY
TOTAL POSTS: 29002
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Re: GPS navigation


Hi Guys,

I just picked-up a GPS Navigator from ALDI for $[sign in to see URL]

Had to queue-up 30 minutes before the store opened, as the special started today and stock is limited, so scored 2 of them for my bro in law and myself.

Testing it as we speak, but looks like a nice unit and priced reasonably well compared to others in the market.

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