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Discussion Forum - Gear ! - Satnav advice needed for complete novice

Author: Andy Carpenter
Posted: Wed 6th Jun 2018, 14:24
Joined: 2013
Local Group: Beds, Bucks and Northants
Cheers for your comments, Simon / Matthew! :-) Am always happy to help out if & when I can.
Author: Andrew Beck
Posted: Tue 5th Jun 2018, 21:00
Joined: 2017
Local Group: Thames Valley
Author: Don Arthurs
Posted: Tue 5th Jun 2018, 15:08
Joined: 2017
Local Group: Kent
I personally swear by my Garmin GPSMAP 64s, but I'd recommend seeing who in your local group has GPS and asking to borrow any that you come across for a few days. I'm happy to do so when asked and I'd hope your local group members would be the same.

As stated it takes a little while to get to know your device but that's to be expected for anything new and unfamiliar.

The 64s has a relatively small screen, but I've found it to be very accurate and I've never had trouble getting a signal. It also takes two AA batteries so as long as I carry spares I'm good for power - I have a lensar head torch I use for challenge walks which takes AA as well so I only need to carry one type of battery. I bought a clip and rain cover that clips it to the front straps of my daypack so it's always securely at hand.

I think we're well on the way - not there yet but definitely well on the way - a time when the RD is going to be at first optional and then a novelty with challenge organizers expected as a matter of course to provide an accurate GPX file. There were stretches, especially at night, on the Kent 100 when my RD didn't even get looked at.

All of that said - using an RD can be fun, and also keep your mind occupied on longer challenges. Much as I like to shill using a GPS I expect all you're missing RD wise is practise.
Author: John Pennifold
Posted: Tue 5th Jun 2018, 11:59
Joined: 1996
Local Group: London
Simon Pipe,
Satmap is the name of a company which manufactures one brand of GPS devices. Satsync is the name of the proprietary program which was written by Satmap to copy (into and out of) GPX files between your PC and your Satmap device; it is only of use if you have a Satmap device. With older models of Satmap (10 &12), Satsync was the ONLY method that could that would interface your Satmap device to your PC. I believe that with their latest model (Satmap 20), you can access the device with Windows File Manager (File Explorer) and presumably drag & drop files backwards & forwards, but I can't say for sure.
I have had a Satmap 12 for a few years now and I would not recomend that particular model (maybe the Satmap 20 is much better, but I somehow doubt it). The Satmap 12 has so many ideosyncracies and old-style functions (in terms of software & hardware) which make it very difficult to learn and use. Also, you have to buy your maps from them on (micro-)SD cards, so you are really tied to them once you commit to their models. I initally bought the Satmap 12 because a friend recommended it, but it was only after I had purchased it did I find out that he wasn't using it to anywhere near the level that I required.
A lot of people swear (favourably) of the Garmin range of devices but as I have never had or used one I am unable to comment.
What ever device you buy, you will have a long learning curve before you feel confident in its use.
You can practise building your own GPX files and downloading them by playing with and choosing 'Course Creator'.
Best of luck.
Author: Iain Connell
Posted: Tue 5th Jun 2018, 11:51
Joined: 2010
Local Group: East Lancashire
Author: Matthew Hand
Posted: Tue 5th Jun 2018, 9:16
Joined: 2001
Local Group: Mid Wales
I've never had a GPS and been strictly map and compass man, on occasion that I have thought one, the jargon when reading discussions on here has immediately put me off - I have absolutely no idea what people are talking about. Very similar to trying to get sense or advice on bikes from keen cyclists!

The post below is simple to follow and even I understand it, now I have some idea on how they work. Thank you very much.
Author: Simon Pipe
Posted: Mon 4th Jun 2018, 23:15
Joined: 2006
Local Group: Heart of England
Andy, I'm actually rather touched that someone took the trouble to be so thorough. Thank you.

Any recommendations for rugged devices would also be welcome. I see forum discussions about Satmap and Satsync, at it means nothing. These discussions are presumably great for people who already have a good level of knowledge.
Author: Andy Carpenter
Posted: Mon 4th Jun 2018, 21:55
Joined: 2013
Local Group: Beds, Bucks and Northants

"GPS" is the name of the overall system (Global Positioning System), but is also often used to informally describe the device itself (e.g. "using a GPS").
"GPX", on the other hand, is the type of file that contains all the info which describes a given route. So, when you download a route-file from the LDWA website (or from wherever), it'll be a file which has a .gpx extension on it (exactly like how a Word-document filename has a .doc extension on it).
So, a GPX file can be downloaded to your PC from the LDWA site, and then you can copy that file to your GPS device (the method of copying will vary from device to device).

Once it's on your device, that file can be used to navigate you along the route. Some devices allow you to follow a line that is superimposed over an OS map, some will show a simple arrow in a compass to indicate the required direction of travel, some will give you a warning (a beep or whatever) if you stray too far off the route, some will tell you how far it is to the end of the route, etc, etc.

Another use of a GPS device is to record the route you are following. So, you could wander around while the device records the route on a new GPX file, which you can then upload to your PC when you get home. This is often how GPX-files are created for LDWA events - i.e. someone will walk the route while recording it on a GPS device, then they will post the resultant GPX file on the website, so that entrants can then download to to use on their devices.

Most GPS devices can also show a range of other information, such as current speed, average speed, total time take, in-motion time, distance covered, current altitude, total ascent climbed, sunrise/sunset time at your current location, etc.
You can also use it to record "waypoints", which is just a name for a specific location. For instance, if you park you car somewhere, & take a waypoint on your device there, you can then set off walking around for the day, safe in the knowledge that at any time your device can tell you how far away - and in what direction - the car is as the crow flies (so you can use it to get back if lost). Some devices will even help you navigate back along the exact route you took to get from your startpoint to where you are now, which will sometimes be more appropriate than an as-the-crow-flies direction.
A GPX file can even be manipulated afterwards. As an example, if you were recording a route for someone, and you made a small mistake somewhere along the way, once you've got home and copied that GPX file to your PC, you could then remove that mistake from the GPX file, so that the file you give to the person is a perfect representation of the route. (Don't worry about stuff like this for now - I only mention to illustrate the power and capability of satnav.)

They can have other capabilities too, but the above is a summary of the key features and uses of these incredibly useful devices.

Personally I use a wrist-mounted old-style device, which I know you've said isn't what you're after, so I'll leave it to others to get into the whole thorny debate about which one of the various handheld devices out there is The one to go for! The main things to consider are likely to be screen clarity/brightness, type of map offered (ideally OS), length of operation on a charge, and ease of operation. Beyond that, you may wanna also consider stuff like method of charging it (including while out & about if you think you'll need to do that), weight, size, and durability. Depends on which are the most important factors to you.

Happy navigating,
Author: Robert Newell
Posted: Mon 4th Jun 2018, 13:03
Joined: 2014
Local Group: Norfolk & Suffolk
Author: Simon Pipe
Posted: Mon 4th Jun 2018, 10:36
Joined: 2006
Local Group: Heart of England
I have absolutely no understanding of GPS for walkers and runners, but I need to invest in it because I simply cannot consistently follow a route description, and the problem is getting worse.

Could my fellow LDWA members please use this space to explain how it works, and what to buy? What's the difference between GPS and GPX?

I dislike wearing a watch, so a hand-held device would be best. A watch-size screen would not be big enough for me.

Many thanks

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