Multi use GPS units??

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,653
698
Lancashire
I'm a map and occasionally compass person (although rarely where I walk of late because I know it too well). I've owned a Garmin gps60 and I use viewranger on my phone out of interest only. I have a GPS tracker on my wrist and an edge 25 on my bike. The bike and tracker get a lot of use but I tended to not use the gps60 since it's not a be mapping GPS.

Now I've found that I like the viewranger on my phone even with just the free mapping it comes with? I've also realised on the bike a mapping GPS would have been very useful on our cycle tours. So something new is needed. Anyone got suggestions?

As I can see there's a dedicated bike mapping GPS like edge explore, edge 1030, etc. It is n designed for road cycling but I guess might be of use off road when cycling or walking.

Another option is dedicated hiking GPS with bike mount. Etrex 22, 32, 25 and 35. Or for more money GPS66, Montana, etc.

Third option is replacing the Samsung A70 bought last year with a rugged phone and viewranger app. This option could be pricey. The good rugged phones are £600 or so and some can take a quadlock bike mount. Getting a cheap rugged phone and it's not as good to use for taking pictures or normal smartphone use plus the battery isn't enough. For the higher price you can get 6000mah plus the option of a battery pack booster of almost the same again!! That would put it as long lasting as perhaps even Garmin rechargeable dedicated GPS units. One even comes with a 25mm X 25mm ceramic antenna booster just like the top end dedicated GPS units have.

Does anyone have any suggestions, recommendations or advice? Even down to where to buy from. There's a GPS training online site that sells GPS for reasonable prices and that give you added extras of training manuals to get the most out of the how model you buy. An added extra to their usually competitive prices I reckon.
 
Mar 6, 2020
269
172
Hemel Hempstead
My other half has an edge 8 somethin (the new one from last yea), the maps are good, but the screen is small. I think all edges only upload to strava with activities taggwd as ride.

They are bombproof though, my 530 (not good maps) has done over 5 years of everyday use.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,050
412
Vantaa, Finland
I use Orux and Opentopomaps on a std Android phone, watertight bag for rainy days. The guy who made the app is a biker and the app is very much oriented to that, works well while hiking too.
 

MCNZ

Member
Jul 1, 2020
12
7
37
Newcastle
The Guys at GPS training are great. Give them a call to chat options. I use a etrex touch for all my bike and hike trips. Loaded with OS maps and the AA batteries mean I can take spares for long days and overnighters. Bombproof bit of kit.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,653
698
Lancashire
I've read there's a difference between phone and dedicated GPS screens which mean rain can affect phone screens but not GPS units. The increased sensitivity allows multiple touch like pinch to reduce but rain can affect them. GPS units have less sensitivity and don't get affected by rain but the quality of the screen isn't as good. For me the ability to leave the plastic bag for my phone behind is a big pro point for GPS unit.

The etrex touch has 2.6 inch screen same as the GPS66 and the etrex22/32 have a 2.2" screen. Is that big enough??

Also, do the etrex hiking ones allow for cycling sensors to be connected? I have a Garmin HRM tracker watch that can transmit hr measurements to suitable units. I think the expensive, larger screen ones like Montana I think can connect to ant+ and Bluetooth sensors for cadence, HR, pace and even temperature.
 

gra_farmer

Nomad
Mar 29, 2016
455
240
Kent
I am an experanced surveyor and cartographer and I went down this route years ago, trying to find the best GPS unit for multiple use, for leisure and work....for me it was a professional field base GPS unit with arcpad.

The brilliant part is that you can pick up older field GPS units for a few hundred, or buy older PDA and get the an booster arial for around £20 for them both. Arcpad can be a little harder to get...but possible, Google arcpad 7, there are programs out there on the net.

With either units, the software allows you to link with a to a fixed based datum (Google search your closest one), plus the satellites and you have 2m or higher resolution, including mAOD, etc. You effectively have a pocket computer, and can upload any georeferenced map tile, or tell it the georeference.

I do submeter mapping as a part of my job, without the need for an RTK unit, and get the same results with a £20 kit build as I do with £5,000 unit.

Search trimble in eBay and you will come across field GPS units, or older PDAs if you want a project.
 
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MCNZ

Member
Jul 1, 2020
12
7
37
Newcastle
The new eTrex units have ANT+ so I'm fairly sure HRM and cadence sensors work.
The screens are not as 'luxurious' as a high end smart phone but they are very robust and work well in all weather. I've dropped mine plenty and been out in all day rain, freezing and baking hot conditions. Not the conditions I would have a smart phone exposed.
 

dnarcher

Full Member
Jul 21, 2016
40
7
Sheffield
Bought my wife a cat smartphone. Pretty tough, waterproof, good battery life. Cameras ok. Worth a look, and they are much cheaper now than when I bought hers.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,653
698
Lancashire
I guy I know, part time farmer, got a cat phone and sold it on after 6 weeks because it was rubbish.

If you're looking for true rugged phones there's ulefone, blackview and doogee. The blackview phones seem to come out very well in reviews. Compared to smartphones they're only a little behind with the latest os version but they often have the decent Sony camera sensors unlike cat phones.

Huge battery capacity and often with ceramic patch aerial like a lot of good dedicated GPS units. The quad helix with patch GPS units might be a lot better though perhaps those high end rugged phones might match the etrex versions. Aiui phones don't get the GPS signal as quick because their aerials aren't good. It's the same with my GPS smartwatches, they've taken a long time to get a fix at times.

Everything is a balancing act of competing needs and often you see interesting extras like those offered by high end rugged phones. I still like the offers of FLIR, VOC detector, etc. My old company could have used a thermal camera quite a few of these phones have. They had to use a temperamental ir temperature sensor or unreliable thermocouples that failed and couldn't be replaced until annual shutdowns.

I think a professional standard GIS solution, even if done on the cheap, isn't for me. I'm a simple wannabe gear freak. Phone or GPS unit. The choice will be easiest from them. Accuracy isn't the total priority. If you're showing up as cycling in a river instead of ether road alongside it then I think I've got enough experience to know I'm not in the river!

I'm thinking a basic GPS with barometric sensor for more accuracy with the altitude. Do you reset the height on your GPS using the barometric altitude sensor before each day's ride or walk?
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,664
1,626
McBride, BC
The American outdoor magazine "Field and Stream" has a major gear evaluation every year.
For the manufacturers, it means serious bragging rights. Kiss them off if you will.
More items of comfort and equipment than you will ever even imagine owning.

In the mean time, you can find the results as the "Best of the Best" in annual listings.
It is free, on line and you need not feel threatened to do some window shopping.
Some people have their paranoids hanging out. Not this time.

My Silva Prospector compass (steel case, vintage 1965) developed a serious bubble,
so old that it was hard to use in the southern hemisphere.
Best of the Best said to buy a Brunton Eclipse proto 8033. Out of Production now.
Fabulous instruments.

Any outdoor kit pieces, I will check the F&S listing first.
They like to beat the crap out of everything and see what floats.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,050
412
Vantaa, Finland
basic GPS with barometric sensor for more accuracy with the altitude.
No I am at a loss, GPS solves for height directly from satellite data. Inaccuracies (on top of std GPS ) follow from the receiver not being optimized for z but for x and y and some from the geoid model used. My phone is mostly within +-5 m of height.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,653
698
Lancashire
I doubt the phone's accuracy from GPS alone. I've read a few articles by instructors in GPS navigation and use of GPS equipment where they discuss the vertical accuracy of satellite based navigation. I can't remember the details just the headlines which is basically the vertical axis isn't accurate hence the use of barometric based height to provide the accuracy. Remember aircraft don't use GPS for altitude for a very good reason I reckon.

AIUI accuracy for height also comes from the fact the earth isn't a uniform shape but the WGS84 spherei think is used for GPS. I've also read a few comments on navigation sites saying accuracy is worse the further from Newlyn you are and vertical actually is 1.5x worse for vertical than horizontal. Other comments say typically +/-5m others say+/-23m accuracy is common. If I've read the accuracy spec of Garmin etrex correctly they have 1-5m with beacon receiver input or 15m without and can be 100m out with US DOD turning off the higher accuracy for civilian use.

If the air pressure isn't rapidly changing and you've reset the height at a spot height in your hike then a barometric height should be more accurate. Although if you do get the 1m best accuracy Garmin claims then TBH you'll be more more than happy whether from GPS only or with barometric height.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,050
412
Vantaa, Finland
Aircraft use barometric height because flight levels are DEFINED that way. Also a simple altimeter does not require electricity.

There is no basic reason why vertical accuracy would be worse than horizontal it is totally a matter of choosing the right satellites for the solution. As orthogonal as possible and if that chosen for x-y it somewhat by definition is not that for z.

Various geoids have correction tables for height, accuracy also depends if those are used or not.

On Finnish topographic maps there are more that enough height references to check the accuracy, +-5 holds.

In std atmosphere 1 millibar equals about 7.9 m of height, you are fast walking outside the error range of GPS in most weather changes.
 

fenix

Tenderfoot
Jul 8, 2008
83
39
Kent
To be honest I would just get a cheap 2nd hand phone, fit in a waterproof case and shove an app on it. I currently use the OS Android app and have a subscription, its excellent value for £23, and you can save maps for offline use. You dont need simcard and could (depending on contract) share your main phones data, also get the option of installing other mapping apps.
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,050
412
Vantaa, Finland
By the way, I put up a trace of my last summers long walk on the Out and About on Mar31 as a .kml file. Download and then open in Google Earth. That trace is done by Orux.