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Qstarz BT-Q818X
Steve S
The Qstarz Q818X USB/Bluetooth GPS receiver is a compact and sensitive GPS receiver with an impressively long battery life (up to ~40 hours!).

Qstarz Q818X

As provided, the Q818X comes with a short, multi-lingual instruction manual, a USB cable, and a "cigarette lighter" / automotive power socket power adapter for charging on the go. The instructions also provide a website where you can download a small interface application:

QstarzGpsView - interface application for BT-Q818X


BT-Q818X setup

As shown, the interface application has two tabs, the first showing basic performance information, including the data stream, and the second one for setting a few operating parameters, including refreshing the AGPS almanac database (which allows for more rapid initial lock-ups, perhaps as short as 15 seconds!). Note that the interface is not very well explained in the instructions, so it's not clear how some of the options are intended to work.

The Q818X has been on the market for a while, and can be found for about $60 to $65 USD. In my experience, the unit works well; it is, of course accurate and commendably sensitive, and although I haven't tried to run it for 40 hours, it has worked as often and as long as I have needed it to. The unit locks up quickly, even when the AGPS almanac has aged (almanac updates are typically good for only about 6 days) and it appears to be well constructed, including a very nice "no-skid" pad on the bottom so that it stays put on your dashboard while driving (under reasonable circumstances).

If you are looking for a small GPS receiver to pair with your navigation program of choice, then the BT-Q818X is a device that you should seriously consider...
BT-Q818X Description
  • 66-Channel Performance tracking for fast acquisition and reacquisition
  • Super high sensitivity -165dBm MTK II chipset
  • Lower power consumption sup to 42hrs navigation time
  • Less than 15 sec AGPS fix support
  • Dual USB / Bluetooth
  • 5Hz update rate
  • 3 level switch (5Hz-Nav-Off) for easy operation
  • QZSS, DGPS(WAAS+EGNOS+MSAS) Support
  • Auto On/Off function
GPS Specification
  • Chipset : MTK 2 GPS Module
  • Channel : 66 Channel parallel satellite tracking
  • Time to First Fix (TTFF) : < Average 1/33/35 sec. (Hot/Warm/Cold start); AGPS <15 sec
  • Antenna : Built-in patch antenna with LNA
  • Output Message : NMEA-0183 (V3.01) - GGA, GSA,GSV, RMC(default)
  • Accuracy : < 3m CEP (Stand-Alone, S/A off); < 2.5m CEP (DGPS)
  • Sensitivity: -165dBm tracking
  • Battery Life : Operating time 42 hours
  • Dimension : 72.2 (L) X 46.5 (W) X 20 (H) mm
Product Content
  • Qstarz BT-Q818X Bluetooth GPS Receiver x 1
  • Battery x 1
  • Car Charger x 1
  • USB Cable x 1
Price
  • Approximately $60
.
Attached Images
qstarz-3.png   qstarz-ui-1.png   qstarz-ui-2.png  
tcassidy
Thanks for the review! It sounds like a solid Bluetooth GPS device.

Looks to be identical in size and chipset to the iTrek M7 which is an excellent unit but discontinued apparently. I also have a keychain QStarz BT-Q890 which is a great unit too but probably doesn't have the battery life of the BT-Q818X. I think the physical switched 5Hz would be better than the soft switch on the 890 and software controlled option of the M7 too.

Terry
Marvin Hlavac
Steve, thanks for the review. I've been using Qstarz BT Q818x almost on a daily bases for a number of months. I'm very happy with it, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one, if I needed one more GPS receiver.

It is worth mentioning that this unit can be used as a USB GPS receiver, or as a Bluetooth GPS receiver. Which ever suits you at the moment. Often times, people are unsure if they should buy a USB or a Bluetooth GPS unit. Well, if you buy Qstarz BT-Q818X, you have the luxury of testing both scenarios. Bluetooth does have its advantages, and so does USB.

Qstarz BT-Q818X can be set to refresh GPS position 1, 2, 3, 4, and up to 5 times per second. Some GPS software may not take advantage of this higher refresh rate, but some software does.

The battery life is fantastic. I remember when I first charged mine, it lasted over a week on that one charge. It can automatically go to sleep if it senses there is no Bluetooth connection, and it automatically wakes up on Bluetooth, too.

If used via USB, it requires no battery power as it takes the power it needs from the USB port. It even charges the internal battery while connected via USB.

tcassidy
However, on USB, it is probably 115,200 bps and will only work with a limited number of navigation programs not including S&T or Mobile PC.

I thought the physical switch on the side let you select between 1 and 5 Hz unlike the iTrek which allows between 1 and 5 seconds refresh but through software only.

Terry
Steve S
It is worth mentioning that this unit can be used as a USB GPS receiver, or as a Bluetooth GPS receiver
Marv: Thanks for bringing that up; I included that while I was composing the review, but somehow managed to lose it while I was editing that section!
I thought the physical switch on the side let you select between 1 and 5 Hz
Terry: For some reason, the 5 Hz switch setting does not appear to do anything on my unit. If I switch from the "normal" Nav position to the 5 Hz position, the BlueTooth indicator goes off and the data stream appears to stop. Since I was using the USB port at the time, this was doubly puzzling. I can get 5 Hz operation if I use the interface application to set the rate.

I've not been sure if my unit has a faulty switch, or if the unit was operating as intended; the instructions (such as they are) make no mention of what to expect from the switch (they simply show where it is).

None of this bothers me, much, because a 5 Hz rate is more appropriate for data logging , which the Q818X does not do alone, than it is for navigation. For the latter, 1 Hz is more than good enough.

Again, the Q818X will churn out data at a 5 Hz refresh rate, but it seems like you need to set the software switch to get that performance. Marv, do you know any better...???
tcassidy
Probably the other switch position is to use it in USB mode. That is exactly the same configuration as the iTrek M7. Except for the display light layout of the case, nothing sounds changed. I wonder if QStarz bought out the iTrek...or maybe they are the same company!!

Terry
Attached Images
itrek.jpg   itrek-switch.jpg  
Steve S
Probably the other switch position is to use it in USB mode
Terry: That was the clue that I needed, and you are correct! The twist that I was missing is that switching to the hardware 5 Hz mode causes the Q818X to restart, so it is briefly off line. That causes the interface application to stall, which I didn't notice until now. After waiting for the Q818X to re-lock up, and then restarting the interface app, I now get the 5Hz data stream... and you are also right that the hardware 5 Hz data updates are only on USB; the BlueTooth radio is apparently off (no light).

However, by setting the 5 Hz software switch, I can get the 5 Hz update rate over BlueTooth.

Strange way to arrange things, but thanks for helping me to figure it out!

PS: I also think that you are right that the iTrek M7 and the Q818X are the same unit with slightly different case cosmetics. Interestingly, when researching this purchase, I chose the M7 first, until I discovered that it had apparently been discontinued. I then (eventually) bought the Q818X...!
tcassidy
The reason the interface program would appear to stop is the COM port would be different. The Bluetooth generated COM port could not be the same as the USB-serial driver COM port. I am surprised you didn't have to change it in the program but I guess it auto detected it.

Terry
Steve S
The Bluetooth...COM port could not be the same as the USB...COM port
...I agree, but...

The reason the interface program would appear to stop is the COM port would be different
...The interface program apparently works only through the USB connection; therefore, the COM port doesn't change as a function of the refresh rate (1 Hz or 5 Hz) if you're using the hardware switch. I'm pretty sure that the interface application stalls because the Q818X stops and reacquires its fix...
Marvin Hlavac
However, on USB, it is probably 115,200 bps and will only work with a limited number of navigation programs not including S&T or Mobile PC.
Yeah, for a USB connected scenario, I'd just use GpsGate. GpsGate should not be necessary if Bleutooth connection is used. Before I'd use Streets & Trips with this, or any other GPS unit that refreshes more than once per one second, I'd change the setting of the GPS unit down to 1 Hz (to avoid the lag).

None of this bothers me, much, because a 5 Hz rate is more appropriate for data logging , which the Q818X does not do alone, than it is for navigation. For the latter, 1 Hz is more than good enough.
For those who wish to have also a data logging ability, Qstarz BT-Q1000X is the same as Q818X, but it also includes a datalogger.
Nrgizerbunny
Is the i.Trek 66Ch? I thought it was only 52?

Which makes me question whether this is the same unit in a different case.
Marvin Hlavac
The older generation MTK chipset was 51 / 52 channels. The new MTK II is 66 channels.

The number of channels doesn't matter in real life much, but the more significant difference between MTK I and MTK II is the tracking sensitivity improvement of -158dBm for the older MTK chip versus -165dBm of MTK II.
tcassidy
The iTrek M7 is listed as an MTK device so the 818x MTK II should be slightly more sensitive as Marvin says. I guess it is not exactly the same device!

Terry
amod
Hello,

I am a newbie to this forum. I wanted to know if this instrument is compatible with Google Earth, or if there is a method to connect to Google Earth.
t1d
Welcome!
Yes, this GPS receiver can feed Google Earth. However, some people need Earth Bridge to get things coordinated together. If you will search this forum for "Google Earth" and "Earth Bridge", you will find lots of information on how to accomplish the connection. Earth Bridge is a free program.


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