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Just a Herbicidal maniac.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m just starting to research the possibilities of using my hand-held Garmin E-trex Legend GPS unit to interface with software of some kind on a laptop.

This past weekend while out with the boys in the back country and with various maps in hand, we still had a heck of time figuring out where we were on the trails (signs missing or shot apart). My GPS has a very small screen and is difficult to read when you are on an area of a topo map that is forest service land (very dark background).

After talking with a friend at work today, he said to check out The Official OziExplorer Web Site - GPS Mapping Software for Magellan, Garmin, Lowrance, Eagle, MLR Receivers for software that could be installed on a laptop and it works in conjunction with a GPS unit. I thought, PERFECT! I checked out the web site and it looks real promising. I would especially like to download forest service maps since that is a big chunk of what we end up on. I also really like the ‘moving map’ feature and the optional 3D package. That would be WAY COOL! :tu:

So with this software, the GPS unit is only for locating my position and it then displays where I am on the laptop, which of course has a much bigger screen and is in color. At this point, I don’t own a laptop. The system requirements for OziExplorer are pretty basic by today’s standards:

Desktop PC or Laptop running Windows 95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP
CPU Pentium 200MHz or better (higher CPU speeds will work better)
64 MB of RAM (preferably 256 or more)
VGA Monitor 800x600 or greater preferred
Mouse
CD-ROM drive (if your maps are on CD)

I would be willing to buy a used laptop in the $200-$300 range. Has anyone tried this combination before? Are there other/better alternatives? I would prefer the laptop for the large screen as I’m not getting any younger and pictures from trips could be downloaded from my digital camera and stored on it, plus journal entries for family vacations (heading to Yellowstone for a week in June). I just think I would get a lot more out of a laptop then some other device. I can get a power inverter to run the laptop while driving, so battery power is not too much of an issue.

Thoughts, comments, personal experience?
 

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Just a Herbicidal maniac.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the links. Just more info for me to condsider. :p At this time, I'm still leaning towards a laptop for the added capabilities it would bring. I would like to use my current GPS unit just for location purposes and have it interface with the software on the laptop. A buddy of mine showed me these guys RAM Mounting Systems, Inc. for a mounting system. I'm thinking I would mount the laptop down low on top of the tranny tunnel in the front seat area. I really like the idea of a large screen and the whole 'moving map' functionality of the OziExplorer software.
 

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Hey Herb, I have used the etrex w/ a laptop with garmins mapsource software. I worked really well as far as routing and navigating on roads. Sometimes it seemed that a known address was hard to locate but all in all it worked really well. I have since changed jobs so I don't have the laptop anymore but I updated the software on my PC and they have eliminated the route function in mapsource and went to a program called enroute, this is alot better than the old way I feel because this version actually has voice prompts as where the old did not. I hope you find something that works for you, be carefull out there.
 

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Ever the explorer
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Just a Herbicidal maniac.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys. I received the laptop I ordered from Best Buy on Friday. It was basically the cheapest new model they had @ $399. It's running Windows Vista home basic, has a 1.5 ghz processor and about 500 megs of RAM with a 60 gig hard drive. Nothing fancy, but certainly enough to do what I want. Oh yeah, it has a wireless network device too. I'm still playing with getting it set up. I also picked up a 400 watt power inverter that will plug into one of those power ports in my truck, so I'll be able to power the laptop that way. Plus a 9 pin serial to USB cable so that my GPS unit will 'talk' to laptop's software, once I install something.

My first choice is still the OziExplorer software. I can download and demo it before buying to see if I like it.
 

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If you want something that is good in the woods, try Delorme Topo. I bought the western US version for $50 and you can get the entire US for around $100. It works real good with my Garmin gps when I'm running around in the woods. You can set it to split the screen with one side showing a 2d flat map with a dot for your location and on the other side is a 3d view that you can customize to look from any angle and it shows a little pickup for your location.
 

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Just a Herbicidal maniac.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OK, I've been reviewing the DeLorme products, street and topo and now I'm leaning towards them! Sheesh! :rolleyes: It looks like they just released Street Atlas USA 2008 ($39.95) and their topo USA 6.0 West ($49.95) looks pretty sweet too! I have two of their printed Gazetteers (California and Oregon) and I like them. Decisions, decisions...
 

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Ever the explorer
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OK, I've been reviewing the DeLorme products, street and topo and now I'm leaning towards them! Sheesh! :rolleyes: It looks like they just released Street Atlas USA 2008 ($39.95) and their topo USA 6.0 West ($49.95) looks pretty sweet too! I have two of their printed Gazetteers (California and Oregon) and I like them. Decisions, decisions...
Geez I guess its time to update, I am still running Delorme Topo 3.0 and Garmin mapsource 3.0 both working great just can't get everything in one package it seems. The laptop sounds like a great deal!
 

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Just a Herbicidal maniac.
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Geez I guess its time to update
Ya think?!? :D

Well after reading a bunch of reviews and conducting my own research, I placed my order for the DeLorme Street Atlas USA 2008 (released yesterday!!!) and Topo USA 6.0 West Region. For almost exactly the same price as OZIExplorer. Now I will have a the best of both street maps and topo maps. I can't wait for them to arrive!

SleeperT - that looks like a real good option too. :tu:
 

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Just a Herbicidal maniac.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'd be happy to.
 

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Hate to throw another option at you, but National Geographic Topo software would be hard to beat. I do a lot of fishing via 4wd on forests and Indian reservations and I haven't gotten lost yet. You buy Topo by the state and it gives you 5 different levels of streets and actual forest service topo maps. It interfaces with my Garmin GPS and gives me more options than I'll ever use. You can plot routes on your computer and follow along as you travel. Track your route while traveling and download it after the fact. 3D mapping. Aerial previews of your planned or taken route at various elevations and speeds. I loaded it on my old-*** Panasonic Toughbook and it works great. Shows me where I am at all times on as highly a detailed topo map as you can buy anywhere. (This is the drawback of most cheapo software, limited or no detail on the screen. NGS Topo gives you everything you see on a printed topo map.) I run it all on a little inverter that powers both the laptop and GPS. You can even export pieces of your maps as JPEGs for someone who doesn't have software. I've attached a couple here from different map levels.

Check this software out on their website: National Geographic Maps
 

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Just a Herbicidal maniac.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Zebramidge. Apparently there are a number of very good topo and street map programs out there! I had no idea! :rolleyes:

I have installed DeLorme's 2008 Street Atlas and Topo USA 6.9 West region. I finally figured out how to get them to work with my Garmin gps and the serial to USB adapter. Now I have a learning curve on how to actually use them! :)

Let the fun begin! :tu:
 
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