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I am heavily involved in trail building here in TN. have been depending on others for GPSing. I have used their jpg files to make maps on Autocad at work, and then change over to Adobe to publish on sites. Am considering buying GPS and need one that will connect to computer, and be fairly accurate. What should I consider? Recommendations? Thanks.
 

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Slowest Rider
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Place "GPS" in the search box for the other General Discussion forum.

Popular GPS units are the Garmin eTrex series that are intermediate size, the slightly bigger and better Garmin 60CS, and the smaller and cheaper Garmin Foretrex that fits on your arm like a watch.

A new bike-specific Garmin "Edge" computer just came out that's the size of a bike computer and does similar things, along with optional cadence and heart rate moniotor. But I don't think it's as good for MTB as road due to the small battery time (8 hours which means really 5) that's less than many of my epics, and it doesn't use field changable AA batteries like my eTrex. It also doesn't have as much of the maping and navigation software features, nice in the way out areas.

Affordable is relative, but prices for a good GPS go from $150 to $350, depending on features. Most GPS are about the same on accuracy, but vary more in reception in foilage and canyons. A new high sensitivity SIRF receiver chip is coming out in the new Garmin series next month that will have an "x" after the name (like 60CSx rather than 60CS). Since most units loose reception in heavy foilage, this is a good thing to have. As for price, with more money you get very worthwhile extra features like more memory for maps, tracks, and waypoints, more software capability, an electronic compass, a barometric altimeter, bigger screen, color screen that indeed works well in sunlight,....

I love my eTrex Vista that is small enough and tough enough to fit on the handlebars through 2.5 years now of hard terrain, and also has lots (24MB) of memory to store the whole SF Bay area streets and topo maps, and a barometric altimeter for improved 1' accuracy on climbs.
 

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If you are mostly interested in saved tracks and waypoints for use later with a pc mapping application, you may need only a basic gps. A better antenna (quad helix vs patch) and the ability to use an external antenna can improve accuracy. Look at the 60 series - the basic gps 60 is only $180 (amazon). Amazon now has gpsmap 60c for $250 which is a good deal for a color mapping unit. May be worth waiting for the new models w/sirf3, but they will be more costly.

The pda bluetooth gps concept is interesting if you want decent map display in the field.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Anything considered a "mapping" unit should work just fine for you. By mapping, I mean something that you can download topo maps onto (etrex Legend or better, Rino 120 or better, 60 series, 76 series). This does not include the basic etrex, Rino 110, Forerunner, Foretrex, or the new Edge models. The models with the quad helix antenna, like mentioned earlier, will get slightly better reception. The Rino series also has this antenna. The Rino series units also have a radio, which is nice if you are working with other folks separated in the field and you need to communicate, otherwise it's just extra stuff to haul around.

The ability to plug in an external antenna for improved reception/accuracy is a good option, and can be found on the 60 series. Other units require a rebroadcasting antenna with its own power supply, which is not widely available. I do lots of trailbuilding, as well. I'm currently using a Rino 120, but find I don't use the radio as much as I thought I would at first, and would like the color screen, electronic compass, and more memory for storing maps, waypoints, and tracks. I will eventually upgrade to the Garmin 60CSx when it's finally released.
 

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Respect Your Trails
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With the key word being affordable, I'd look into the Magellan Explorist line. I got the 200 just recently. I knew I didn't need all most advanced features, but what I got for the $150 price tag is a lot. It has many of the features you would be looking for including digital compass, which can be set to true north, or to follow your entered destination. It has 20MB of memory to save trips, elevation records, and your entered coordinates to get back to the car, mark a trail, or find the local airport. The only thing is, you would have to just up to the 210 model to connect to a PC. No GPS units I've found so far can connect to a MAC, so it didn't matter to me.

Just another manufacturer to look into. http://www.magellangps.com/en/products/explorist.asp

Good luck.

kindacreeky said:
I am heavily involved in trail building here in TN. have been depending on others for GPSing. I have used their jpg files to make maps on Autocad at work, and then change over to Adobe to publish on sites. Am considering buying GPS and need one that will connect to computer, and be fairly accurate. What should I consider? Recommendations? Thanks.
 

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NateHawk said:
Anything considered a "mapping" unit should work just fine for you. By mapping, I mean something that you can download topo maps onto (etrex Legend or better, Rino 120 or better, 60 series, 76 series). This does not include the basic etrex, Rino 110, Forerunner, Foretrex, or the new Edge models. The models with the quad helix antenna, like mentioned earlier, will get slightly better reception. The Rino series also has this antenna. The Rino series units also have a radio, which is nice if you are working with other folks separated in the field and you need to communicate, otherwise it's just extra stuff to haul around.

The ability to plug in an external antenna for improved reception/accuracy is a good option, and can be found on the 60 series. Other units require a rebroadcasting antenna with its own power supply, which is not widely available. I do lots of trailbuilding, as well. I'm currently using a Rino 120, but find I don't use the radio as much as I thought I would at first, and would like the color screen, electronic compass, and more memory for storing maps, waypoints, and tracks. I will eventually upgrade to the Garmin 60CSx when it's finally released.
NH,
I also do alot of trail layout. I have been using a Garmin III+ for about 5years now. I always wanted to be able to upload the topo map into the GPS unit instead of just guessing at my location on a paper map. But for trail layout, I need at least to be able to upload 1:24,000 scale topo's. I have seen some units that allow 1:100,000 scale topo but these seem useless to me for laying out trail. Are there any units out there that allow you to upload 1:24,000 scale topo maps? Will this Garmin 60CSx ?
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Garmin has a 1:24k map set that is compatible with quite a few of their receivers (even some eTrex models). The only problem with it is that it has a VERY limited coverage. VERY limited. Some states have no coverage whatsoever, and the ones that do still have a pretty small portion covered, and the vast majority of those areas are national parks, where you're highly unlikely to do any trailbuilding in the first place. Unfortunately, you can only put vendor-specific vector maps onto your consumer level GPS. If you go with a surveyor's "field computer" you can put whatever basemap you want on it, but those things still cost multi-thousands of dollars.

You're still going to be limited to 1:100k topo basemaps on your GPS for quite some time. But still, I think it's a LOT easier to do layout at home on the PC or on a paper map. Here's a strategy for you.

Take your GPS into the field and mark positive (things you want to use in the trail) and negative (things you want to avoid) control points. Download those onto your pc with National Geographic Topo state series maps (1:24k), and print a map showing the points. Work with a pencil and sketch in a trail that'll work. Go back to the computer and mark waypoints at turns and intersections, then load those points onto the GPS. When it comes time to flag trail, use the "Go To" function from one point to the next (number them sequentially so they're easy to follow), and you've got yourself a trail...no need for the 1:24k topos on the GPS itself.

seenvic said:
NH,
I also do alot of trail layout. I have been using a Garmin III+ for about 5years now. I always wanted to be able to upload the topo map into the GPS unit instead of just guessing at my location on a paper map. But for trail layout, I need at least to be able to upload 1:24,000 scale topo's. I have seen some units that allow 1:100,000 scale topo but these seem useless to me for laying out trail. Are there any units out there that allow you to upload 1:24,000 scale topo maps? Will this Garmin 60CSx ?
 

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Regardless of the unit, buy Topofusion

Regardless of what GPS you buy, I highly recommend buying Topofusion software. It allows you to download your tracks and waypoints right over topo and arial images. I have found it to be a great tool for map making as well as analyzing rides if you are feeling geeky. For ultimate geekiness my wife just got a PowerTap for her road bike and that combined with the GPS gives you route, elevation, grade, speed, wattage, heartrate, cadence, and a bunch of other mind numbing statistics that you can download and plot. Anyway, buy Topofusion. The support is also great, I asked them for a way to export waypoints as an Excel file and they were able to add that function in one day! You can also use it to due trail usage simulations, a great tool for doing proposals to land managers. www.topofusion.com
 
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