How to Use Microsoft Autoroute Satellite Navigation Software 1. USB GPS
The USB GPS receives position data from orbiting satellites. It does not need access to mobile data to be able to do this.
- The USB GPS should be plugged into a USB extension cable.
- The USB GPS should be placed on dashboard around TomTom satnav suction mount to keep it in place. It needs to be on dashboard so it can get a clear view of the sky so it can receive data from at least 4 satellites.
- The USB extension cable should always be plugged into the left hand side USB port. Windows has allocated COM3 to the USB GPS. If you plug it into another USB port it will be allocated another COM port number and Franson GPSGate won’t be able to detect the USB GPS.
- Look at the G icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. If it is:
- Green – Everything is functioning correctly. Franson GPSGate has detected the USB GPS and it is receiving satellite data and it has calculated your position.
- Yellow – GPSGate has detected the USB GPS and it is receiving satellite data but it hasn’t calculated your position yet. You may have to wait a few seconds / minutes until it has received enough data to calculate your position. If it doesn’t turn green after a reasonable length of time follow the steps below for red.
- Red – Something is wrong.
- Make sure USB GPS is plugged securely into USB extension cable and that the extension cable is plugged securely into correct USB port. Some USB ports are loose which causes the device to drop out and be reacquired whenever the PC is moved. You can use 50mm of a folded in half plastic drinking straw, folded end in, pushed into the BOTTOM of the USB port to wedge the USB plug into the socket.
- Unplug USB extension cable from PC, wait a few seconds and then reinsert it.
- Check that Windows hasn’t decided, even though the USB GPS is plugged into the correct USB port, to allocate a new COM port number:
2. Franson GPSGate
- In Windows XP, Vista or 7 – Press Windows key or Left click Start (Windows flag button in bottom left corner of screen)
- In Windows 8.x or 10 – Press Windows key plus X key or Right click Start (Windows flag button in bottom left corner of screen)
- Control Panel
- Device Manager
- Ports (Com & LPT) – If this isn’t displayed the USB GPS hasn’t been detected. Remove USB extension cable and reinsert. If that doesn’t work, reboot. If that doesn’t work USB extension cable may have died. Try plugging USB GPS directly into PC. If that works buy new USB extension cable.
- Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (COM3) - If the COM port number is different, note number for use in reconfiguring Franson GPSGate.
In the screen capture below it shows that on my PC Windows has allocated COM9 to my USB GPS. On your PC if it is plugged into the correct USB port it should be COM3.
- Check Franson GPSGate settings as discussed in next section.
- Reboot PC. This will usually fix most PC problems, especially if you have been Sleeping or Hibernating the PC. PCs should be rebooted regularly as they can / do get confused easily.
- If the USB GPS, or USB extension cable, are disconnected when you reinsert them you may get the following “USB Device Not Recognized” message. The only way that I know of to fix this problem is to reboot the PC.
Franson GPSGate is software that converts the output from the USB GPS into a format that can be utilised by your satnav software, eg Microsoft Autoroute (Europe) or Streets and Trips (North America), Garmin nRoute or Oziexplorer. It also allows the GPS output to be used by several satnav programs simultaneously.
Note: In the sections below when I refer to Autoroute the information also applies to Streets and Trips.
GPSGate is configured to run automatically at startup. If the G icon isn’t displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen GPSGate may have died. You need to re-start it:
- Start (in Windows XP, Vista and 7. In Windows 8.x and 10, search for Franson)
- All Programs
- Franson GPSGate 2.6 folder
- Franson GPSGate 2.6 program
If you need to check whether GPSGate is running correctly or to reconfigure it left or right click the G icon displayed in the bottom right corner of the screen and click Settings.
In the screen capture below it shows that on my PC GPSGate is configured to look for the USB GPS on COM10. On my PC this should be COM9. On your PC it should be COM3, unless Windows has allocated a new number to your USB GPS.
To change the COM port that GPSGate looks at for the USB GPS click the Close button.
Click on the dropdown arrow to the left of the COM port number and select Com Port.
Click the Settings button and change the COM port number to the number displayed in Device Manager. For your USB GPS you don’t have to change any of the other settings. Click OK.
Click the Open button.
In the screen capture below you can see that GPSGate is reporting that the USB GPS is “Running OK” and that there is “GPS data but no position”. The second message is because I am writing this indoors and the USB GPS cannot receive the signals from the GPS satellites.
Sometimes, when you remove the USB GPS and put the PC to sleep, for example when you take the PC with you when you go sightseeing in a town, when you reinsert the USB GPS and restart the PC, GPSGate may not detect it correctly. The G will be red. Rather than having to reboot the PC which will take several minutes you should be able to open the GPSGate Settings screen and click Close and then Open to reconnect the device.
If you click on the Output tab you can see which virtual COM ports GPSGate has created. These are the port numbers that are used by / should be configured in the satnav software to connect to the USB GPS.
Hopefully, you won’t need to do this but Autoroute sometimes loses track of which COM port it should be connected to. You would use the information on the Output tab to know which COM ports are available.
In the screen capture below of the Output tab Virtual COM1 / Garmin Emulator is for use with Garmin satnav software. You must not try and use this port with Autoroute or Oziexplorer.
On my system there are three ports that can be used – Virtual COM2, COM3 and COM4. On your PC Virtual COM3 won’t be available because Physical COM3 is connected to the USB GPS.
Note the available COM ports for use in configuring Autoroute. I will discuss how to do this in a section below. 3. Microsoft Autoroute
Microsoft Autoroute is satellite navigation software.
Based on this quote from the film Dirty Harry starring Clint Eastwood: But bein' this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and it'll blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?!
I have always regarded Autoroute as “the .44 Magnum of satnav software, the most powerful satnav software in the world”.
It can be used to:
- Display your current position on a map that extends from Ireland in the west to Romania in the east and from Norway in the north to Greece in the south. The level of detail varies across the countries but in most countries you can see roads down to the laneway level in cities and towns and minor roads level in the countryside.
- Find towns and addresses in the countries covered.
- Route you between any two locations. You can add intermediate way or via points on the route. You can click and drag the route to go through selected points.
- Import Points of Interest, POIs, for places such as the most beautiful villages in France or scenic lookouts that you can then modify your route to visit.
- Provide written and spoken directions and display the route in either north up mode or “Rotate map to follow travel direction” mode.
- Record where you have driven and where you have parked – very important in large cities.
- Measure distance between points or along a route (by pressing CTRL+E).
Microsoft discontinued Autoroute in 2014. Autoroute 2013 was the last version released. 4. Check that Autoroute is Working
If you are outside or in the car or possibly next to the window in your hotel room and the GPSGate G icon is green, which means that you are receiving position data from the GPS satellites, you can check to see whether Autoroute is working.
Start Autoroute (2007 in your case) by clicking on the Autoroute icon on the Desktop or Task Bar.
Activate the GPS Pane by:
- Selecting Tools, GPS Task Pane;
- Pressing CTRL+A; or
- Clicking the red triangle icon on the Standard, ie top, toolbar.
Click on Start GPS tracking and Arrange map view.
The map should move to display your current position. 5. No Device is configured
If Autoroute displays “No device is configured” at the top of the GPS Pane click on Configure GPS. On the GPS Receiver Settings dialog box select the required Communications Port as displayed on the Output tab in GPSGate and click OK. Remember, don’t select the port used for Garmin output. 6. Planning a Route
There are several ways that you can plan a route: 6.1 Route from Current Location to Selected Destination
Locate the required destination town on the map. Right click on the town name. A box will surround the town name and a popup menu will be displayed. Select Route, Add as End. Display the GPS Pane using one of the three methods described above. Click the Go button or press F3 to calculate a route to the destination. 6.2 Route Between Selected Start and Destination Points with Intermediate Stop Points
Use the technique described above to select Start, Stop and End points. To calculate the route right click on any route marker and select Route, Get Directions.
Alternatively, activate the Route Planner by:
- Selecting Route, Route Planner;
- Pressing CTRL+R; or
- Clicking the Car icon on the Standard, ie top, toolbar.
Click Get Directions. 6.3 Re-Ordering Stop Points
If the order of the of the Stop points is incorrect you can click on the place name in the Route Planner and click the Move Up and Move Down arrows to re-order. 6.4 Use Find to Select Route Points
You can use Find on the Navigation (lower) toolbar or on the Route Planner pane to find locations. You can search for:
- An address including Postcodes in the UK
- A Place, ie a town name
- Latitude and Longitude – If you are using Booking.com to make hotel bookings note that the latitude and longitude are only displayed on the booking confirmation screen, not on the website or in the confirmation email, so always print the confirmation screen to PDF so you have it for future reference. This is particularly important for agriturismos, ie farm stays, because the street address information supplied may not be sufficient to locate the property.
If the latitude or longitude is specified in degrees, minutes, seconds format with symbols paste the values into the appropriate box and remove the symbols, eg E100 15’ 25” should be entered as -10 14 25.
East longitude (and south latitude) is negative, eg E10.1234 should be entered as -10.1234. 6.5 Setting Route Segment Preferences
By default the calculated route will be the Quickest route which will usually use freeways. You may wish to change the route options.
In the Route Planner pane click on More Options, Segments tab. You can choose whether to apply the Route segment preferences to one, some or all segments using standard Windows selection methods of click, CTRL+click or SHIFT+click.
You can choose:
6.6 Clicking and Dragging Route
- Shortest – not a good idea as it will route you down all the laneways
- Preferred Roads, Preferred Road Types – If you wish to avoid Motorways and Limited access roads and Toll roads move the sliders all the way to the left to Dislike.
Once you have created a route using any of the methods listed above you can modify the route by single clicking on the route. The colour of the route will change from green to blue. Click on the route and drag it to the required location.
After you have clicked and dragged the route always zoom (see section 7 for information on how to zoom) in on the route marker to the maximum level possible to check that you have placed the marker exactly on the required road. This is particularly important on dual carriageway roads such as freeways because if you place the route marker on the wrong carriageway you may be routed many km down, off at exit, up, off at exit and down the freeway again. Remember, vehicles travel on the right in Europe and on the left in the UK and Ireland.
You can move route markers by single clicking on them. A four arrow headed mouse pointer will be displayed. Single click again and drag the route marker to the required location. Note that the centre of the mouse pointer is where the route marker will be moved; not the route marker itself. 6.7 Planning Example
For example, if you wanted to travel from Fiumocino Airport, Rome to Ravello on the Amalfi Coast along the coast but then join the autostrada to bypass Naples you could:
- Set a Start point at the car rental location at Fiumocino Airport.
- Set an End point at Ravello.
- Set Stop points at various towns along the coast.
- Calculate the route.
- Set Preferred Road Types to Avoid motorways and Toll roads for all segments except the last segment.
- Recalculate the route.
- Drag the route as necessary to force route to follow coast and to take autostrada to the east of Mount Vesuvius rather than the autostrada that goes through Naples which would be very busy in the afternoon when you would be passing through.
7.1 Double click on the map to zoom in on that point.
7.2 By default the mouse pointer is a hand. When you click and drag on the map you can Pan the map around the screen. If you click on the Select icon, a dotted box, on the Navigation toolbar the mouse pointer changes to an arrow with a dotted box around it. If you wish to zoom in on an area left click on the map and drag a box around the required zoom area. When you release the mouse button the tooltip “Click to zoom” is displayed and the mouse pointer changes to a + sign. Left click inside zoom box and the area inside the box will zoom to fill the screen. You can do this as many times as necessary to display the required area at the required zoom level. Remember to click on the Pan icon on the Navigation toolbar to reset the mouse pointer to Pan mode.
7.3 Press + or – keys.
7.4 Click + or - on Zoom control on lower (Navigation) toolbar.
7.5 Click and drag slider on Zoom control.
7.6 If you click on Zoom control slider and then press LEFT or RIGHT keys the zoom steps are much smaller than when you press the + or - keys, giving you much finer control.
7.7 Single click on the map and turn the wheel forward to zoom in and back to zoom out. PCs used for navigation in a vehicle usually don’t have a mouse so this option isn’t particularly useful. 8. Saving and Opening a Route
Once you have created a route you can save it as a .AXE file and then open it as required.
If you have imported Points of Interest, POIs, into Autoroute, which is beyond the scope of this document, such as the most beautiful villages of Italy, the Borgi Belli d’Italia www.borghitalia.it/?lang=en
you can save the file as a template .AXT file and open it as required as the base for a new route. You can modify your route to visit the POIs near the route. When you save the file it won’t overwrite the .AXT template file, it will create a new .AXE file. 9. Using Autoroute for Navigation
To use a planned route for navigation:
- Open the GPS Pane using CTRL+A. You will be doing this a lot so you should learn the quickest way of doing it.
- Start GPS tracking
- Arrange map view
- Keep position centered
- Rotate map to follow travel direction – If driver or navigator has difficulty with north up mode
- Create GPS trail so you can see where you have been and where car is parked.
- Provide Driving Guidance – This will give spoken navigation directions. I prefer to have the navigator keep an eye on the screen and give directions.
- Press CTRL+A to close GPS Pane so you can see map on all of screen.
The reason I said you will be opening the GPS Pane a lot of times by pressing CTRL+A is because, for example, as you approach a town you may wish to stop the vehicle and zoom in to see what the road network looks like or what features are available. You won’t be able to move the screen because Arrange Map View is ticked. You would have to press CTRL+A to open the GPS Pane, deselect Arrange Map View and then close the GPS Pane. You will then be able to reposition the map view to study the town. Before you set off you would have to open the GPS Pane to re-select Arrange Map View. 10. Tips and Tricks for Using Autoroute 10.1 Measure Distance Between Points
Press CTRL+E to measure the distance between two points. Click on first point and then click on second point.
To measure the length of a winding route click and hold on the first point and drag along the route.
Single click and press DELETE to remove the measure distance line. 10.2 Hearing Driving Guidance
If you are using the Provide Driving Guidance option you may not be able to hear the spoken directions because the volume of most netbooks is quite low. If the vehicle has a 3.5mm audio in jack you can purchase a 3.5mm AUX cable and connect the PC to the vehicle’s audio system. Alternatively, you could purchase cheap USB powered speakers from a discount store. 10.3 PC Support
If I am driving alone I use driving guidance with the PC connected to the audio system. I fill the passenger footwell with a cardboard box with the PC strapped to the top of the box. 10.4 Help File
Read the Help File for more information on how to use Autoroute.