Laptop GPS receiver for National Geographic Topo
I am running National Geographic Topo v3.xxx. It's a little old, but I have all of New England Loaded on my hard drive and it's a fast simple program I have been using for a while now. The program can read NEMA file and give current location and track. The software looks for COM1-COM4....

I 'd like to find some kind of inexpensive GPS receiver that will work with Topo to show my location while driving and work with a auto map type program. I have a Thinkpad Z61m, with USB ports and a bluetooth adapter. I am not sure my laptop has any comports, ashamed to say I may be a little behind when it comes to how usb ports work.

I have been using an AMOD data logger for some route logging, but you can't seem to have the unit operate and send data to the computer at the same time.

Any suggestions on how I may be able to get this to work....
Almost all USB GPS receivers (eg GlobalSat BU-353) come with a USB to serial driver. This will present the GPS data on a COM port. While it might not be in the range of 1 to 4, there are several ways around that. You can reassign the COM port in Device Manager or use GPS Gate (regular or Express) to provide the data to a COM port you assign.

Bluetooth also assigns a COM port when it is told to register a BT GPS receiver (eg iTrek M7). It also may not be in the range of 1 to 4 and moving it is a bit more difficult (but not impossible). GPS Gate could be used in this case if the COM port was not acceptable or proved difficult to move.

If you are interested in running both the NG Topo and a more modern navigation program at the same time, GPS Gate can provide data to 2 different COM ports at the same time.

I'm going to look into a Bluetooth receiver. Sounds like it could be done. Are there any receivers out there that work off regular batteries (bluetooth or usb)? I'm sure that's antiquated, but lately i try to have backup's been burned too many times with my ipod.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi map_guy, and welcome to Laptop GPS World. USB GPS receivers take the power they need directly from your laptop via USB port, so there is no need to deal with batteries at all. If you go with Bluetooth GPS receiver, then I only recall one model that used regular AA batteries. Others use proprietary baterries.
Ken in Regina
The "solution" to not running down the battery in a Bluetooth GPS receiver is to plug it into the USB port of the computer and let it run or charge from there. But now you've effectively turned it into a USB receiver so you might as well go for one of those. That's one less battery to worry about.

I prefer a Bluetooth because you are more flexible where you can place it and the laptop. But if battery charge is a concern, perhaps an inexpensive USB receiver is a better option.

If you have no issue with power cables, the Bluetooth receivers I have both charge from a standard USB cable and you can get inexpensive 12V charger cables for them. That way you can run them for extended trips powered straight from the vehicle power system. The 12V Gomadic adapter, for instance, takes a standard USB cable.

If you want external power for hiking/biking, you can buy external power packs that use 4 x AA cells and have a mini-USB plug from places like Gomadic.

Just some random thoughts.

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