Looking for advice in putting together a GPS navigation system for my truck
I am going to be heading out into northern Alberta and BC this next year and am putting together a gps nav system for my truck.

A little knowledge background for me. I have used hand held gps enough times with search and rescue. And computer setup is no problem for me since I am a Sys Admin for all Linux and windows computers in a small software company.

But I don't know what is available to setup. I have an idea of what I would like to put together, I hope someone can give me a direction to go or some brand names/ software recommendations.

What I have:
Clevo M570RU laptop( running windows XP, Linux if needed)
RAM Mount Laptop system (in the mail)

What I need:
Guidance to setup the system I would like.

Here is where I find out if what I want is doable. Try not to make fun of me as I am unsure if the systems could be integrated as such.

I want to buy a good Handheld GPS that I can use for Search and Rescue, skiing, Hiking, hunting, geocaching etc. I would like topographical information available. Bonus if I can put city maps on it.
And then plug said GPS into my laptop while driving be able to use all GPS information on laptop and see myself on laptop similar to navigation systems. With the laptop saving all paths and trip information as well as the gps.

Save and overlay all paths/routes taken onto maps on the laptop.
Sync the GPS to the laptop in a similar manner to palm pilots
Add notes to specific points on the laptop

Im sure I will think of more once I start playing, But this is something I have never worked with so im lost other then what I can find on google.
I guess my first step is getting a decent handheld that can still interface with my laptop.

Sorry for the long post, and thanks if you can help me out.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Charon,

Welcome to the forum!

I'm hoping someone more familiar with handheld Garmin units will give you some feedback. I think most of Garmin handhelds can be connected to a laptop for the purpose of transferring waypoints. Not all of the units may be able to provide GPS signal for your laptop, but for that you could just buy an inexpensive USB GPS receiver.
Ken in Regina

This is the first time I've dropped into this particular forum. I hope this isn't too late to be useful and that you see it.

I won't try to give advice on the hardware side because I have not done very much of the sorts of things you want to do. I suspect Garmin will have the best selection of devices to do what you want. I have a friend who does a fair bit of hiking and camping in the mountains of BC and Alberta. He recently bought the GPSMAP 76CSx. He is an engineer so he did quite a bit of research before making the purchase.

What I do know from personal experience is that no matter what unit you get, the maps make all the difference. The Navteq maps that Garmin and other companies (Microsoft, etc.) sell as their "North American" products are quite awful anywhere outside of major population areas, especially in Canada. The geographical features (lakes, rivers, parks, etc.) are truly horrible.

Garmin has two Canadian products. One is Metroguide Canada v4 and the other is Topo Canada v2, both made from DMTI data. Both products are getting a little old and need to be updated but, even so, they are hugely better than the Navteq-based products in the areas you mentioned. Garmin's Cartography department has indicated that an update for Metroguide Canada is supposed to be in the works.

If you see this message and are interested in seeing the differences for yourself, I can point you to specific areas using the Garmin online map viewer that will illustrate the differences rather dramatically. We could also have a discussion of whether Topo Canada has any advantage for you, versus Metroguide Canada.

After much research, this is the system I'm upgrading to. This system will mostly be used for mapping old logging roads not on the topos. (paper or digital). Garmin 60csx, don't need the 76csx as this is not a marine application and the 60 can hold lots of info, just put your streets on one chip, your topos on another, or if you work in different areas, have a chip for each. It's cheaper and more flexible.

As the 60csx will be mounted inside the vehicle at the bottom of a stack of electronic gear (laptop,scanner,2 way radio, sat. radio) I will be using an external ant. (Gillson-cheaper and better than OEM). This will be mounted in a custom made rack as I have been unable to find a rack to accomodate all this gear. Yes I checked out Ram-Mount thoroughly.

Because these roads (well, they were roads 65 years ago) are quite rough, I will be going with a solid-state laptop, model TBA. The prices on these laptops are expected to drop signifigantly in the coming months and because I can't start mapping until the snow goes, (April-May?) I'm holding off on this part.

The maps are TOPO 50 which are already loaded in the current laptop.(Toshba Satellite) This covers S.E. BC, Abbotsford to Alberta, Blue River to the 49th. Every day I thank my lucky stars I'm Canadian. Best police force in the world, best hockey teams in the world, back bacon, maple syrup etc.

Onto this I will be adding Ozi Explorer 3D. No point putting it on this 'puter as I'm upgrading anyway. A system like this will do everything you need/want and more.

Hope this gives you some ideas.
Ken in Regina
Hi nuggetalley,

It sounds like you've given it a lot of thought. The 60CSx is a nice choice. As well as being able to connect an external antenna, you should also be able to use it as a receiver for the laptop if you choose to. My eTrex Legend HCx works really great as a receiver for my laptop .. a wee bit better than any of the USB and Bluetooth receivers I have. Although the BU-353 I just got might prove better if I ever get into a situation where mounting externally is needed because it has a nice strong magnetic mount and is otherwise a very fine receiver. In your case it won't be an issue because the 60CSx will already have the Gilsson connected. I don't have the option of an externa antenna with my Legend.

Did you know that you can use the tracks you gather with the 60CSx and easily turn them into Garmin transparent overlay maps without having to use Ozi?

If you want a jump start, are you aware that you can get some excellent work from the folks over in the Crowsnest Pass? They've got a Garmin-compatible transparent overlay map that they've been doing of all the trails from just west of Pincher Creek over almost to Fernie, from the 49th to over half way up to the TransCanada. In case you haven't already been there, here's a link to their excellent site, The Quad Squad.

If you want a Garmin-compatible transparent overlay for west and south of Calgary, but not over into BC, you can check out this site for the Calgary Area Trail Mapping Project.

Thanks for the info

Since original post I have purchased a 60Csx and have Topo Canada. I will have to look into the transparent overlays. Some methods to add roads to the existing Topo maps are overly complex for something that should be so simple.

I will look at Ozi Explorer 3D as well. I wish the roads were easier to see on the topo maps they just blend in are are very hard to find when not zoomed right in. About