GlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS receiver
Marvin Hlavac
USB GPS SatNav receiver/antenna for your Windows, Mac, or Linux laptop computer.

was first released in 2005. If I recall correctly, BU353 was among the very first two USB GPS receivers based on the very powerful SiRFstarIII chip. (The first one was MR-350). Four years later, and GlobalSat BU-353 is still doing very well. From what I read in various online communities, BU353 is by far the most popular laptop GPS receiver.

When it first released, it sold for over US$100.00. Now it can be purchased for under $38 in the USA or under 29 in Europe.


BU 353 comes with 60" (152 cm) of cable, which is in most cases a sufficient length to run it from your laptop to the dash board, close to the front window. You may need a USB extension cable if you wish to place it on the roof of your car. The base of BU-353 is magnetic so it can be attached to a vehicle's roof easily. The unit is waterproof, so rain or snow will not harm it.

GlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS receiver

BU-353 has software drivers available not just for Windows, but also for Mac and Linux. They are all on the included CD, and they can also be easily downloaded from the following GlobalSat web page: www.usglobalsat.com/p-62-bu-353-w.aspx

As of the time of this writing (October 10, 2009) Windows 7 has not been released yet, and GlobalSat website doesn't offer Win7 drivers. However, users have reported the Vista drivers work just fine with the 32 bit and even 64 bit versions of the Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system.

Originally Posted by kcflyer

I'm running 64 bit Windows 7 on my HP nx9420 laptop. My BU-353 works fine. I loaded the 64 bit Vista driver from USGlobalSat.

Box shot of BU-353

GlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS receiver / antenna

BU-353 specifications:


General Specifications
GPS Chipset: SiRF Star III e/LP
Frequency: L1, 1575.42 MHZ
C/A Code: 1.023 MHz chip rate
Channels: 20 all-in-view tracking
Sensitivity: -159 dBm
5m 2D RMS WAAS enabled
10m 2D RMS WAAS disabled
Aquisition Rate
Hot start: 8 sec., average
Warm start: 38 sec., average
Cold start: 45 sec., average
Reacquisition: 0.1 sec. average
GPS Protocol: Default: NMEA 0183
GPS Output Data: SiRF Binary
GPS transfer rate: Software command setting (Default : 4800,n,8,1 for NMEA )
Dynamic Condition
Acceleration Limit: Less than 4g
Altitude Limit: Max 60,000 Feet (18,000 meters)
Velocity Limit: Max 515 Meter / sec (1000 Knots / 1,152.02 mph)
Jerk Limit: 20 m/sec**3
Environmental Specifications
Operating: -40~ 176F (-40~ 80C)
Storage: -40~ 176F (-40~ 80C)
Humidity: Up to 95% non-condensing
Electrical Characteristics
Voltage: 4.5V - 6.5V
Current: 50mA typical
Physical Characteristics
Dimension: 2.08" diameter x 0.75" (53mm dia. x 19.2mm)
USB Cable Length: 59" (1,500 mm)
Weight: 2.2oz (62.37 grams)

Check with your favorite retailer or online store for price and availability. Currently, various places carry BU-353 for under $38 in the USA or under 29 in Europe.

[EDIT] A new version of this GPS receiver has been released with a new generation SiRFstar IV chip: http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/2599-globalsat-bu-353-s4-usb-gps-receiver
I've been using one for several years. It's very sensitive and easily receives signals indoors at residential locations. There's no need to place it outside when using it in the car, it works just fine on the dashboard. It usually locks on from a cold start in less than a minute. Of course, it works better outdoors providing better precision .. I plotted the outdoor fixes at my marina for a day and most were within a 15 foot radius with an occasional fix series excursion to about 50 feet.

The USB driver has never been problematic with Windows XP. I have never tried VISTA. My CD also contained the SiRf demo program which must be used with great care.

Mine never worked for WAAS although the box was clearly labeled WAAS enabled. I could intermittently receive a European satellite but have never seen a North American SBAS satellite. I suppose that's been fixed.

--- CHAS
I recently purchased a BU - 353 although it seems to work well, it does not work with GARMIN navigational software!
Marvin Hlavac
Hmm, it certainly should! I've used my BU353 with Garmin Mobile PC without any issues at all.

Could you elaborate a little bit on the problem you've mentioned?

1. What software (name and version number) are you running?
2. Has the software been purchased?
3. Has the software come with a GPS receiver? If yes, what's the model number?
4. What exactly doesn't work?
5. Does any other GPS receiver work on your computer with any GPS receiver at all?

The more you tell us the better we can help to solve your problem.

If you use Garmin Mobile PC, be aware that the version of the software which includes it's own GPS receiver is designed to work only with the included GPS receiver. However, the version which is sold without a GPS unit is designed to accept any compatible GPS receiver, BU-353 included.
It won't work directly with Garmin nRoute but GPS Gate can solve that.

Hi Marvin and tcasidy,

Thanks very much for the info. I am running Garmin nRoute, and I was getting the message that the GPS unit did not have the capacities, however I have just downloaded GPS Gate and everything is working fine :-)

Thanks again
I'm buying the older BU-353 design and the 6' extension cord, good prices on both at amazon. I don't have the Garmin software yet. I liked the setup screen shot of the GM-2, I really appreciate your help. I'll let you know what with the BU-353. Hopefully it will fix my issue. You like the Garmin better than Streets 2010? I've had loss of signal with the MS GPS, so I got my fingers crossed!
The BU-353 comes with a 5 foot USB cable permanently attached.

I am running a BU-353 with Earth Bridge and Google Earth. I have a write up on how I set it up below in my signature. Never had any issues except the occasion operator error. I just bang my head on the steering wheel to reset the operator. LOL
That GPS worked really great .. I like the magnetic base .. kept it from sliding off the dash .. it worked on my Asus 10.1 super .. before I ordered that, I also ordered another from Geeks_c*m .. UniTraQ UD-731 USB 2.0 44-Channel GPS Receiver (Black).. it has up to date very user friendly software .. it also works great .. plus there's no magnet, the size of USB thumb drive .. I can drop it in my netbook sleeve along with my WiFi hub.. it's under 20 USD. Ain't technology fun!
I'm curious, could I plug a USB gender changer into this GPS, and then plug it into my iPod Touch USB cord to enable GPS on the iPod?
No, A gender changer does not change the USB port to Host mode. If the device does not support USB Host mode, no amount of adapters will make it do so.


Thanks--guess I didn't know there was a "host" mode. I thought that if the connection was made things could go both ways.
I don't think it is about the direction of the data. It is more to do with the initiation of the process. Also, even USB Host equipped devices must have drivers for any USB Client thing that wants to connect with them. I have a couple of PDAs with USB Host capabilities and finding CE drivers for anything more complex than a mouse is difficult, if not impossible. GPS is pretty simple though as it is merely a serial device.

I'm always keeping my eye out for a GPS option for my iPod Touch that isn't a $100 plug in or $100 Bluetooth device. Maybe one of these days...
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