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Best notebook GPS for Alaska's Dalton Hwy
Hauptmann
We intend to drive the Dalton Highway this summer, from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and back. My partner will be in the front seat with me, and can "navigate". I'd like topo and trail info. I'm leaning toward Delorme Topo North America and a GlobalSat BU-353 receiver.

Is there a bett4er setup out there?
Boyd
IMO, a "better setup" would be to use an Android tablet and not a notebook. Windows navigation software is old and getting older. There's a huge variety of software available on Android however, much of it is free or very inexpensive. Most tablets already have internal GPS chips. You can get a 7" or 8" tablet in the $100 to $200 range.

I just got an 8" Samsung Galaxy tab 4 for $200 and have been really impressed. It is way, way ahead of what's available on Windows. Have used a Windows tablet as well as laptops in the past and this just a much better solution all around.
Hauptmann
Thanks, Boyd. Do any of the Android apps show topo, like Topo NA?
Boyd
There is a huge variety of stuff out there. I make my own maps from raw data and use other advanced techniques, so my solutions probably aren't applicable to you. But you could look at OruxMaps. It is free and you can use maps from many different sources, both free and purchased. You can download USGS topo maps for free, for example.

You can also use a program called Mobile Atlas Creator on your computer to download maps from many free sources and package them for offline use in Oruxmaps (or other apps) on the tablet. These maps can be huge however, since they are raster images (pictures, basically). For a long trip, that could require a lot of storage space, but 64gb micro SD cards have gotten pretty cheap.

I think you would want another app for turn by turn Navigation, but there are many to choose from on Android including TomTom, ALK, Navigon and others. I don't use these but others on the forum do.

Oruxmaps info is here: http://www.oruxmaps.com/index_en.html

Mobile Atlast Creator is here. It has a function to download maps along a route or track, so that might be a good approach when covering a large area.

http://mobac.sourceforge.net

There really are a lot of other apps out there however, and you might find another that suits your style better.
tcassidy
But, do you already have a laptop you were planning to use? Have you used Delorme products before. Do you derive pleasure from learning new ways of seeing things or the journey planned or both? The cost and appeal is not in the result but in where you are beginning from!

Terry
Hauptmann
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyd
There is a huge variety of stuff out there. I make my own maps from raw data and use other advanced techniques, so my solutions probably aren't applicable to you. But you could look at OruxMaps. It is free and you can use maps from many different sources, both free and purchased. You can download USGS topo maps for free, for example.

You can also use a program called Mobile Atlas Creator on your computer to download maps from many free sources and package them for offline use in Oruxmaps (or other apps) on the tablet. These maps can be huge however, since they are raster images (pictures, basically). For a long trip, that could require a lot of storage space, but 64gb micro SD cards have gotten pretty cheap.

I think you would want another app for turn by turn Navigation, but there are many to choose from on Android including TomTom, ALK, Navigon and others. I don't use these but others on the forum do.

Oruxmaps info is here: http://www.oruxmaps.com/index_en.html

Mobile Atlast Creator is here. It has a function to download maps along a route or track, so that might be a good approach when covering a large area.

http://mobac.sourceforge.net

There really are a lot of other apps out there however, and you might find another that suits your style better.
Boyd, thanks again. I'm going to check these out. Isn't it great the way technology is making so many things accessible and cheap that weren't even possible a few years ago.

I don't need turn-by-turn navigation, but to see the streams, trails, lakes and topo that lay over the horizon as we make our way north. Downloaded USGS maps might be the ticket. But I have several other projects I have to work on before the trip, so I'll probably spend the $110 and have it right out of the box.
Hauptmann
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcassidy
But, do you already have a laptop you were planning to use? Have you used Delorme products before. Do you derive pleasure from learning new ways of seeing things or the journey planned or both? The cost and appeal is not in the result but in where you are beginning from!

Terry
Yes, Terry, I have a pretty hot notebook with lots of RAM and a big SSHD. I've used Delorme, MSS&T and MS AutoRoute (Europe S&T). I enjoy looking out the window of the aircraft with my notebook running a GPS program so I can identify what I'm seeing below and beyond. Topo will be a first for me. Maybe later wen I have more time, I may follow Boyd's example and "brew my own".

Laptop/notebook GPSs are lousy for navigation--they don't display well in bright sunlight, and make you take your eyes off the road unless you have a navigator.
I use my $85 Garmin for that--its FAR superior to the $600 ones built into ANY car. I've owned 3 cars with GPS (which I bought for the rear-view camera). All were POS.
Boyd
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauptmann
Maybe later wen I have more time, I may follow Boyd's example and "brew my own".
You could ease into it by installing Mobile Atlas Creator on your computer (it's free) and playing around with the free download sources it includes. That will give you an idea of what's possible and won't cost anything. If you are technically inclined, after you master the basics you can learn about using custom map sources in addition to the stock ones that come with the software.

It can create map files for just about every app on iOS or Android that supports offline maps. So when you're ready to actually pull the trigger on a tablet you could just send the maps to it and off you go.

If you have a big trip coming up, I can understand why you don't want to make a switch now. But for the future (I know others here may take issue with this) unless you have some specific needs that are only supported with a specific software package, I can't think of any reason to use a laptop for navigation today aside from nostalgia.

God forbid that someone breaks into your vehicle. But if they do, it would be better to lose a $200 tablet than a $1200 high end laptop. And if you're like me, your whole life is on that laptop so that presents a whole set of other issues if stolen.

Tablets have gotten cheap enough that they can be dedicated solely to use as a navigation device. They are easy to mount, easy to stash when you park, easy to power with standard USB adapter. All of these things are a pain with a laptop.
Hauptmann
Thanks again, Boyd, for your advise. I'm going to download Mobile Atlas Creator, and play with it while sitting around in airports. At home I won't have time to take on another project for months. BTW, do the tablets take an external receiver, for use in aircraft, for example?
Boyd
I am using a Garmin GLO bluetooth receiver with my tablet, it is much better than the internal GPS. Android wasn't really designed to work with external devices, but there is a clever hack to get around the limit. If you enable developer mode, you can choose an option to allow "mock locations". I think this was originally intended to let developers test their software by simulating different locations.

So the hack is to enable this feature, then use a program called "Bluetooth GPS" that constantly updates the mock location with the real location provided by the external GPS. If you are planning to use your laptop for the time being but need to purchase a receiver, get a bluetooth device instead of USB and it should be compatible with a tablet later.
Hauptmann
Kool! I downloaded but not installed, MOBAC (haven't figured out how yet). I hope I have time to set it up so I can explore it in my idle time. I'll worry about a tablet later. I noticed the maps available--New Zealand? Croatia, etc....Wow! Can't wait to check them out. I'll probably do a Europe trip this or next year. I have MS AutoRoute, but I'd like to use them both. I just use AutoRoute for trip planning, anyway.
Boyd
MOBAC is a Java application - kind of cool because the same program runs on both Macs and Windows. You must install Java (if you don't already have it) before using MOBAC:

https://www.java.com/en/download/help/download_options.xml

That's all you need. There is no "installation" for the program itself, just double-click Mobile Atlas Creator.exe and you will be up and running.
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