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Best laptop GPS software for Holux 1200 Bluetooth GPS receiver?
Strabo
I've just bought the Holux 1200 which i'm intending to mount inside my laptop (wire it into the power and communicate through the bluetooth) but i'm yet to get any navigation software to actually show me where I am or where i'm going. I've seen it sold online with a few different applications but I'm finding it annoyingly hard to find free GPS software or trial versions. I have nothing against paying but I'd like to check it works first!

So do any of you know the best software to use with the Holux 1200, or trial versions of decent software that I can download to see how they react to my device.


Thanks a lot
tcassidy
Putting a GPS receiver inside a laptop is not a very good idea. It would have difficulty in seeing any satellites and what signal it got could be compromised by the laptop electronics. The M1200 appears to be a self-powered Bluetooth unit. Why would you want to mount it internally?

Terry
Ken in Regina
I'm with Terry. I would be planning to put that bluetooth receiver up on the dash as far forward as I could get it so that it has the best view of the sky I can possibly give it.

There was a free trial of Microsoft Streets&Trips 2009. If you go over to that section of the forum you should be able to find a link to it.

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
The download link is in the Streets and Trips 2009 review. That's pretty much the only freely downloadable trial of a GPS navigation software I can think of. It used to be possible to order a trial DVD of the old version 4 of iGuidance, just for the price of shipping, but I'm not sure if they still offer this option with the new iGuidance 2009.

I'm with Terry and Ken on the idea about trying to build your GPS receiver into your laptop. We may not persuade you not to do it, if you've already started your project, but just keep in mind if you are not happy with the performance of the GPS unit, it will most likely be due to it being inside your laptop. Antenna's location is very important. The antenna should be able to see several GPS satellites in various locations in the sky simultaneously. The surrounding of the antenna is important, too. Some components in the laptop may interfere with the GPS antenna and/or receiver.
Strabo
Thanks for the warnings but don't worry, I have two possible locations in mind. the most convenient for this as a modification (because I don't have to do anything except connect the power cables somewhere) is beneath the DVD drive, motherboard and and keyboard. This is obviously not the best place as its a GPS so the other location is at the very top of the LCD unit, the plastic surrounding the screen is wide enough at the top or bottom to hold the circuit board unfortunately I'll have to file/cut some plastic out of the inside to make room but this shouldn't be an issue.

I'd rather have it inside cos at the moment I'm sitting here typing and the GPS is connected by Bluetooth to my laptop, its about 2m away from me with nothing in the way but the signal strength is so weak that its occasionally dropping the connection. I dunno if its just this specific one or if its a general problem that the bluetooth transmitter in this GPS isn't very good, but mounting it in the laptop will get rid of this problem.


I'm downloading Streets and Trips now cheers
Ken in Regina
Here's the two main problems with your plan.

First, anywhere inside the case will be shielded for RF (radio frequency) emissions to stop them from leaking out of the laptop and affecting things around them. GPS signals are radio frequency. Shielding that stops RF from leaking out will also stop it from coming in. In addition, the drives are in metal cases and the mainboard has lots of metal on it. Those will also block any GPS signals from getting to the receiver. And if that's not enough, the reason for the shielding inside the case is that the CPU and some of the other chips really spew RF. That will drown the extremely weak GPS signals.

Now to the lid. It's possible that the inside of the lid is also sprayed with the same shielding as the main case. Even if it's not, look at the orientation of your GPS receiver when you are using it as it is designed to be used ... laying flat. There is an antenna inside that little plastic case. It is designed so it works best when the unit is laying flat. When you mount it in your lid it will be about 90 degrees to the best orientation. In other words, it will be in just about the worst possible orientation. That will make a significant reduction in how well it will receive the satellite signals.

I wish you all the best with the hack, but be aware that you could be disappointed with the results, no matter how well you manage to physically integrate it.

By the way, did you make sure the GPS receiver was fully charged before you started using it? Is it possible that the weak signal is from a battery that's weak? I'm just trying to figure why you keep dropping the Bluetooth connection at that distance?

Are you sure it's the Bluetooth connection you are losing? Or is the receiver losing the lock on the satellites, possibly due to being located where it can't get a good enough view of the sky?

...ken...
Strabo
lol, cheers for the heads up on that, I'm a lot more prepared for it to fail now. The LCD is definately not shielded and i'll tape it to the front this afternoon to see how it likes being the wrong way up...if it doesn't work its not the end of the world

Yeah the battery was definastely charged, and its definately the BT signal which is going. The weak signal is really annoying, especially if i end up not mounting it in there and have to use it as intended.

I'm very impressed with the speed that Streets and Tips let me set everything up, just told it the com port and it found me! granted the "road map" of the uk doesn't show any roads but well done microsoft! A few of the others i've managed to find have made me select the make and model of the GPS - and then not had mine in the list.
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strabo
lol, cheers for the heads up on that, I'm a lot more prepared for it to fail now. The LCD is definately not shielded and i'll tape it to the front this afternoon to see how it likes being the wrong way up...if it doesn't work its not the end of the world
Great. That's just the sort of thinking I was trying to cause. Taping it on the outside in the spot you think you will place it will be a good test. If you want to test the other potential position, just set the receiver down and set the laptop on top of it. I think it won't take long to rule that one out.

Quote:
Yeah the battery was definastely charged, and its definately the BT signal which is going. The weak signal is really annoying, especially if i end up not mounting it in there and have to use it as intended.
That's puzzling, unless there is something between the receiver and the laptop which might be weakening the Bluetooth signal. If I recall correctly my iTrek M7 is supposed to be good up to about 10m. I think that's about standard, so 2m shouldn't be any challenge at all.

Where is the GPS receiver located in relation to the USB dongle? Is the main body of the laptop (and possibly your body) in between, or is there a clear line of sight between the two tranceivers?

Quote:
I'm very impressed with the speed that Streets and Tips let me set everything up, just told it the com port and it found me! granted the "road map" of the uk doesn't show any roads but well done microsoft! A few of the others i've managed to find have made me select the make and model of the GPS - and then not had mine in the list.
There should be no need for the software to know about the make/model of the GPS receiver. All it needs to know is how to receive an NMEA data stream. If you want really simple setup you should see Garmin's Mobile PC. No setup at all. If you fire up a Bluetooth receiver it will just look and find it. No messing with COM ports or any of that nonsense. In fact, once it finds the connection, Mobile PC will tell you what make and model the GPS receiver is!

...ken...
Marvin Hlavac
There have been several ultra-mobile PCs, and other small mobile devices, sold with integrated GPS receivers, but people who bought them, especially the people who have had experience with external GPS receivers, were disappointed with the performance of the integrated units. It may work, but it will not work as well as an external unit. So have fun experimenting, Strabo, big companies are doing right now exactly what you are doing. We will see soon several laptop models with integrated GPS receivers on the market - and that's a good thing. And hopefully there will be some serious though put into improving performance of these built-in GPS units.

If you do decide to give it a go, please share with us a few photos.
tcassidy
The Holux M1200 is a dual interface device. It would probably be easier to wire it via USB and not bother with Bluetooth at all. I do note the USB interface is 38,400 bps so it would not work with S&T. However, it would work with Street Atlas, iGuidance or Mobile PC.

The Bluetooth range is listed as 10 meters so your problems may be related to the Bluetooth radio in the laptop. 2 meters if pretty close though and I wouldn't expect problems at that range.

Terry
Strabo
I've never had any trouble with any other bluetooth device attached, although todays testing showed that even when touching the laptop (top of the LCD, integrated bluetooth is at the very front by the speakers) it has a pathetic signal so i'm not sure about that.

But...

Today I took the plunge, with the receiver taped externally (in the approx location I managed to find myself in about 80seconds from a cold start on my windowsill which isn't perfect but is acceptable. So i once again got my trusty screw driver and unscrewed the LCD cover and then cut out two tiny bits of plastic in order to make room. Then I placed the GPS inside with the battery pack outside and replaced the LCD cover (as much as possible without damaging the tiny wires to the battery) and placed it on the windowsill. Results are as follows:

GPS vertical - 1000 seconds - 0 satellites found
GPS horizontal - 1000 seconds - 0 satellites found

so I thought for a few seconds and tried repeating it with the GPS wrapped in a thin layer of plastic to stop the circuit board grounding on anything (I didnt think it was but thought it should be taken into account as a possibility)

plastic coated GPS vertical - 1000 seconds - 0 satellites found
plastic coated GPS horizontal - 1000 seconds - 0 satellites found

So...not the best luck and looks like I either need to find a way to extend the aerial and possibly run it externally around the LCD unit (not sure this is even possible) or mount the whole thing externally (which i dont especially want to do) or give up
tcassidy
Check the cd that came with the Holux and see if it has a simple testing program such as GPS Viewer. S&T is not a good program to compare signal strengths.

Terry
Strabo
It has "Minigps lite for pc" which is quite buggy, but does give quite a good readout for the signal strength of the satellites it can see
TBeats
strabo - i'm trying to do the same thing as you so please let us know how everything works out. could you tell me about what size the interior of you holux is? and if there are any smaller ones out there as i'm using a lenovo s10 haha.
Strabo
Good luck dude! hope your attempts go better than mine have

Once removed the board itself is 60mm x 18mm x 5mm
The 5mm approx, it includes a small pad of foam which can be compressed flat or removed. As with the batter it appears to be attached with double sided tape.

The battery isn't required if you can steal power from the USB (as the 1200 has a mini usb port on it) but if you want to use it there is 15mm worth of wire going from the battery to the plug which goes into the socket on the board.
The battery is a tad shorter than the board but wider, measuring about 57x17x6.

I havent found any smaller, the main selling point of it was how tiny it is. I'm not sure of the batteries mAh (it may be written in the documentation but I dont have that to hand atm) but it lasts a fairly good length of time. I'm always impressed when I turn it on and it still has charge


On the software side i've just been given access to a HUGE archive of free Microsoft software! (cos i'm a student and my uni are part of the MS "academic alliance") and one of the many i've been downloading is MapPoint! its only MapPoint 04 and there are a lot of things that can be improved in it (the website says 09 Europe will be released...3 days ago lol. Still hasnt.). But for a free bit of software I can't really complain.
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