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I lost my PC with Garmin Mobile PC, looking for an alternative.
simoncahill
I lost an old pc with the software and it's now discontinued I'm desperately trying to find an alternative. If Garmin still did it I'd happily pay for the software. Anyone got any ideas? Feel free to PM - in this instance I am open to any suggestions.
Ken in Regina
What kind of computer: Windows? Mac? ???

If you are running Windows 10 there are some possibilities that run on the Mobile (or Tablet) mode.

...ken...
Boyd
Thing is…. in today's world you would have many more options on a tablet - either Android or iOS - than you do on a computer. On an iPad you can get the $50 StreetPilot app that looks pretty much the same as a big Nuvi (which is also what MobilePC looks like).

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/garmin-u.s.a./id435490305?mt=8

iPads without the cellular data option do not have internal GPS receivers. But you can use an external bluetooth receiver on these models.

Garmin has an Android version but for some reason does not make it available in North America

But there are plenty of other apps on both Android and iOS
Ken in Regina
If you want to be able to get existing waypoints (Favorites) into whatever tablet app you choose, then the Garmin apps -- iOS StreetPilot app or the Android Navigator app are not the ones to use. You cannot get anything into or out of them.

So far the only app I've found that has the ability to import waypoints/favorites is ALK CoPilot. I use it on my Android phone and Android tablet. I did a tutorial on how to load waypoints/favorites into CoPilot. I think it's in the ALK section.

It is still a mixed bag in the tablet/phone navigation app world. Some, like CoPilot, are quite sophisticated, like we're used to from the Windows laptop world. Some, not so much.

As I mentioned above, there are some interesting choices in the Windows app store for anyone running Windows 10. They run in the tablet/mobile mode but that shouldn't be an issue.

The only real drawback to using a Windows 10 device is that most of them do not have built-in GPS receivers and it's a bit of a nuisance getting an external one to work with them. It's not rocket science .. I've done a sort of tutorial explanation on here somewhere .. but it is a bit of a nuisance for those who get no joy from doing technical things to their computers.

...ken...
simoncahill
Hi Guys. Thanks for the tips. Maybe it's best for me to explain what I want to achieve and what hardware I have / can purchase.

I live in the Middle East and spend a lot of time off road in the mountains and desert with a need to navigate complex mountain roads and wadi's mostly in Oman and the UAE.

I have an old Garmin Nuvi but the battery won't hold charge, the connection is loose so the unit constantly turns off. Also the screen is to small for my old eyes. I also have a hand held GPSmap 62s. I had a laptop with Garmin PC but it was stolen last year.

I have the latest Garmin Middle East and North Africa map and a locally produced UAE & Oman off road map, both on SD cards. There are other open source maps available so no real issue there (if using a Garmin product).

In a perfect world my 62s would have a 7 inch screen and I'd be happy. Having the Nuvi style turn by turn directions is quite high on my list of priorities but not essential.

I need to able to plan routes by typing in / uploading waypoints taken from Google Earth (Uploading KLM / GPX from Google Earth is probably another conversation for later). I need to be able to easily and quickly add waypoints on the move. It is important that the track is recored so I can see it to back track when I get lost / meet impassible obstructions etc. I want to be able to easily download (to Google Earth) accurate records of my tracks.

As mentioned above I have an old (broken) Garmin Nuvi and a handheld 62s. I bought a new 7" windows tablet (windows 8.1) and have ordered a Garmin GPS18X LVC. The intention was to install Garmin PC on the tablet. The GPS 18X LVC requires a 5v input so I was going to make a lead to power the tablet and GPS 18x LVC using the mini USB + & - and the data will transfer through the remaining mini USB connections. (I believe the 18x out puts NMEA & Garmin protocol so would would work great with Garmin PC without other third party software such as GPS Gate or Spanner). But hey now I'm screwed because I can't get Garmin PC.

I don't mind spending some money, I'm not looking for a totally cost free option, I can do some messing with hardware and software but want to keep it pretty simple, my knowledge is limited. If it means dumping the windows tablet and buying an android that's fine. In some ways android is easier as there are many tablets with mini USB & separate dc power input (save making a bespoke lead). For some reason none of the windows tablets have separate dc input. I am a fan of Garmin & would like to stick with them, however, I'm disappointed they have stopped laptop / tablet software and / or don't do a plug in large screen for the handhelds. If that means moving away from Garmin then OK.

Sorry of the long post but necessary i think to explain where I am trying to get to.
tcassidy
While the Garmin 18x LVC is a rather ancient device and requires you to do some wiring, I think you are right that it does supply Garmin format data ( as well as NMEA). Sounds like what you need is Garmin nRoute. It can be obtained from here;

http://gawisp.com/perry/nroute/

It only works with the Garmin PVT data format and should see your 18x and Garmin maps if they are the older format. If not treat them to MapReverseConverter to make them usable.

http://www.javawa.nl/cne2009_multilang.html

Terry
Ken in Regina
Hi Simon,

No apologies needed for the "book". In this situation more information is always better than less. And there's no such thing as too much. You never know which snippet will lead to a good solution. Here are some thoughts in no particular order ... we can sort/focus if you decide something is worth pursuing.

I'm also a Garmin guy. So I always look for a Garmin-based or -compatible solution as first choice. And I have also reached an age where my eyes have become a limitation.

- Garmin Nuvi style devices:

You could consider one of the new 6" or 7" devices under the Nuvi, Sumo, Dezl product lines depending upon how robust a unit you need. I switched up to a cheap refurbished low-end 5" recently (Nuvi 2597) just to see if moving to something physically larger would help. It does.

If you combine a larger dedicated Garmin navigation device with Garmin's Mapsource or Basecamp PC planning programs and Google Maps you've got the very best solution. I've tried lots of other things (I'll enumerate a couple later) and always ... Always, end up back here.

- Windows tablets:

I've tried a variety of things. You already know that none of them, or nearly so, have built-in GPS receivers so you have to have an external dongle. In the outback that's not necessarily a bad thing because it gives you more mounting flexibility in low signal situations. But it can be problematic to make work with your desired navigation software. And, as you are discovering, it's getting to be nearly impossible to find standard Windows desktop navigation software as all the manufacturers are dropping away.

Most of them do not have Garmin-compatible solutions anyway so let's not waste space on that.

So your only option is nRoute. Yes, it's truly ancient but it still runs quite happily in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Hats off to Microsoft for maintaining such solid backwards compatibility in its operating system and to Garmin's original nRoute developers for such long lasting code.

Unfortunately nRoute does not talk to you. So you have to check the screen to follow your route. Otherwise it does everything you want, including maintaining a track log. Here's a link to a review that was done back when nRoute was first split off from Mapsource a decade ago:

http://www.gpsinformation.org/penrod/nroute/nroute.html

This solution (nRoute for navigation on a Windows PC) is similar to the first option in that you still use Mapsource or Basecamp and Google Maps for your planning, waypoint and map management, etc. One limitation is that you must use Mapsource-compatible maps (we can discuss that later) for this to work. That's not a huge issue; just something to be mindful of.

- External GPS Receiver:

I think the LVC version of the 18x might not have been the best choice. The USB probably would have been preferable since it takes its power off the USB port anyway, and the current draw is minimal: 110mA @ 5vDC for the USB version.

You have clearly figured out how to bodge something that will work but the USB version would be simpler and cleaner. You need to figure how to power the tablet and the GPS receiver from vehicle 12vDC anyway, so whether you do it directly to the GPS receiver or via the USB port is irrelevant.

If you decide to pursue using nRoute the 18x is a good solution because it provides the Garmin proprietary protocol and that's what nRoute wants to see.

- Powering a Windows tablet:

This should be simple if you have access to internet ordering. If you do not have a tablet that charges from a standard micro-USB connection there still might be appropriate pre-built solutions out there.

For instance, I have a Microsoft Surface Pro. This has the weirdest power connector ever. But I can go online, search for "Surface Pro car adapter" and find a host of solutions that all allow me to simply plug one end into the cigar lighter of the vehicle and the other has the appropriate connector for my Surface Pro. The prices range from Canadian $9.95 to $84.99 (!).

I'm sorry, but I have an appointment right now and have to run. Later this afternoon I'll do up something on a couple of alternatives. They would not be high on my list but they need to be included.

...ken...
Boyd
Based on what you've said, why don't you just get one of the newer 7" Garmin devices like the Nuvi or Dezl? They would include lifetime City Navigator maps. Not optimal for use with topo maps, but neither was Mobile PC. Now I can only advise based on what is available here in the US, the equation might be totally different in your part of the world.

Here in the US, GPSCity has factory refurb Garmin units that are an excellent value. They have lifetime map updates and the same warranty as new. A refurb 7" Nuvi 2757 is only $140. A 7" Nuvi 2797 is $190. Considering that just the City Navigator North America map alone costs about $100 and that does NOT include lifetime updates, it's almost like getting the GPS for free.

I have a Windows 7 tablet with Mobile PC. It was pretty cool in its day, but that day has come and gone IMO. I also run nRoute, and that does work and is free. But you really have to be a fan of antique software to use it. Sorry, I'm sure that will rub some other forum members the wrong way…

It seems that nRoute cannot take advantage of newer graphics cards, so it is really slow to scroll and zoom the map. If you use a complex topo map, forget about track-up mode, it just can't keep up. Mobile PC performs much better on the same hardware.
Ken in Regina
I see Terry and Boyd have weighed in with good suggestions and Terry provided a link to the nRoute download (sorry I neglected to do that in my rush to get out the door).

If you want to play around with the nRoute option you can download and install it. You'll also need a copy of Mapsource if you do not already have it. You can get it here:

http://gawisp.com/perry/mapsource/MapSource_6163.exe

You should be able to use your 62s as the source GPS signal for nRoute. It will output either NMEA or Garmin protocol. Just go to Setup / Interface and select Spanner Mode. That should cause it to output the data onto the USB port.

You will need to use something like Spanner or GPSGate to catch the signal off the USB port and put it onto a virtual COM port for nRoute to find it. The express version of GPSGate is a free download and it's really simple to use. I believe Spanner has not worked on any version of Windows since XP.

This will allow you to play around with nRoute and see if you have any interest in it.

Other possibilities:

These are all much less desirable than either a dedicated Garmin navigation device or nRoute when it comes to making good use of the Garmin infrastructure.

On Windows 8.1 and 10 you have the new "mobile" or "tablet" environment with an associated App Store. There are some navigation apps starting to appear there.

- None of them have any compatibility with the Garmin tools.
- Using an external GPS receiver for "mobile" apps is problematic; it can be done but it's a chore.
- Navmii is probably the best of this lot. It has a user interface that's not awfully different from the Nuvi style or Mobile PC. It uses OpenStreetMap maps so if they are available for your part of the world this could work. I don't think it creates track files.

Android tablets are nice to work with because virtually all of them are powered through a standard microUSB connection and have built-in GPS receivers. So there's no fussing about with bespoke power or GPS connections.

There is a very large selection of navigation software for Android. Some of it is optimized to work equally on a tablet as on a phone. Some of it looks okay on a phone but is quite horrid on the larger display of a tablet.

Navmii, as described above, is also available on Android.

I use ALK CoPilot when I need a Nuvi-like navigation capability on my phone (it works equally on a tablet). Much like many Nuvi models it comes with lifetime maps with quarterly updates available. It has all the things you would expect from a standalone navigation device, including the ability to download the maps onto the phone/tablet so you don't need a constant internet connection for map display and navigation. And there is a backdoor method for loading Garmin waypoints into it. However, you cannot load routes or tracks into it and it doesn't create track files.

Another Android app I use occasionally is probably the closest to what you need. It's called OruxMaps. It will load Garmin (unlocked) maps and it will download open source maps from a number of sources. It's even quite helpful for downloading the desired maps from these sources. It can load waypoints and routes and tracks. And it creates track files.

There is a problem that keeps me from unreserved recommendation of OruxMaps in an Android environment as a solution for higher up the list, and that's the interface. This thing is hugely powerful; you could say it's a navigation Swiss army knife. But it comes at the cost of a very steep learning curve. It also doesn't display Garmin maps particularly well. They are usable but only just. I have some open source maps loaded on it and they are quite lovely. I still have not mastered its routing features. Although I did get them to work once it was entirely by accident and has proven so far to be unrepeatable.

I confess that I really don't need it so I have not bothered to learn anything more than the most basic features. The only reason I tried it at all is because I prefer carrying my Android (Nexus 9) tablet over my Microsoft Surface Pro when I travel and I wanted a way to display various maps, including Garmin unlocked maps, on a larger screen than the eTrex units we use on the bikes when doing nightly planning for offroad motorcycle day rides.

If you were seriously interested in an Android tablet solution, OruxMaps is the tool I would recommend and no other. But you would need to expend a considerable amount of time to get what you need from it.

...ken...
Ken in Regina
You did not mention whether you were familiar with Mapsource or Basecamp on the PC for planning and map management. Either of these will allow you to go either direction with Google Earth. That is, you can do your planning on Google Maps, or preferably Google Earth, download the related KML/KMZ file and use it in either program. Or you can do some or all of your planning in Basecamp or Mapsource and then view the results in Google Earth. The latter is easily accessed from the View menu in either Basecamp or Mapsource.

Basecamp can import KML/KMZ files directly, as well as GPX files.

Mapsource imports GPX files directly but you need to run KML/KMZ files through a converter, like GBS Babel, to get them into GPX format for Mapsource.

If you decided to do preliminary planning, or simply to manage your waypoints, routes and tracks, in Basecamp or Mapsource, the "View in Google Earth" option is very powerful. It does not simply invoke a view; it actually transfers the selected objects into Google Earth. So if you select, for instance, a route or track and all associated waypoints in Basecamp or Mapsource and select "View in Google Earth", when Google Earth comes up with that view all of the selected objects from Basecamp or Mapsource are now available for use in Google Earth.

When you are done with Google Earth you can save the desired data into a GPX or KML/KMZ file and load it back into Basecamp or Mapsource and, if desired, thence into your standalone Garmin navigation device.

It's these capabilities that keep me in the confines of the Garmin infrastructure. The combination of planning and management tools, combined with the availability of compatible maps from a variety of sources is very powerful; a tough combination to ignore.

It costs you nothing to play about with nRoute, Mapsource, GPSGate and your 62s so I would recommend you have a bit of fun with that. Ask us any question you might have about getting things to work. And you might decide it's a good way to go.

But I am with Boyd in saying that, based on your description of what you really want: "In a perfect world my 62s would have a 7 inch screen and I'd be happy.", you should consider a 7" Garmin standalone navigation device. The prices Boyd quoted for his two examples are in Canadian dollars, which are quite devalued these days (less than $0.75 USD I think). His two examples are so cheap that your shipping costs might exceed the device costs!

The drawback with Garmin's vehicle models like Nuvi, Sumo, or Dezl is the battery life; it's quite short. They really aren't suitable for handheld use. But you don't need to because you already have the 62s for that.

...ken...
Boyd
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
The prices Boyd quoted for his two examples are in Canadian dollars, which are quite devalued these days
I am in the US and the prices I quoted are in $USD. GPSCity has a Canadian site as well, and I think you'll find those two models are quite a bit more expensive in $CDN.

I also like OruxMaps on Android. It is free and very versatile. I make my own maps for Orux, but that is complicated. You can access a large base of free maps with Orux however. I agree with Ken that you it might take awhile for you to get started with it.

You can get pretty nice 7 to 8 inch Android tablets here in the US in the $100 to $200 range. They will have battery life far superior to any of the Nuvis and much higher resolution screens. I have an 8" Samsung tablet that includes an internal GPS. But the internal GPS is really pretty bad, so I use an external bluetooth receiver (Garmin GLO).

Of course, the attraction of the Nuvi is that it's more like an "appliance" that is easy to setup and operate.
simoncahill
Again Thank you for so much useful information. I'll take a look at it over the Christmas break.

Just a couple of points. The GPS receiver I have ordered is the 18x USB version I had been reading a lot about the 18x LVC series port version and that was stuck in my head when typing the post. Boyd said "Based on what you've said, why don't you just get one of the newer 7" Garmin devices like the Nuvi or Dezl?" Do these units record tracks? my old Nuvi does not, unless I've been missing something for the past 6 years which is possible!
tcassidy
The USB version of the 18x does not put out Garmin format GPS signals. It is NMEA only so you will need GPS Gate if you wish to use it with nRoute. I think it is a poor choice if you have an option of devices. The GlobalSat BU353 S4 is superior.

Terry
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcassidy
The USB version of the 18x does not put out Garmin format GPS signals. It is NMEA only so you will need GPS Gate if you wish to use it with nRoute. I think it is a poor choice if you have an option of devices. The GlobalSat BU353 S4 is superior.

Terry
According to this it only outputs Garmin protocol:

https://buy.garmin.com/en-CA/CA/oem/sensors-and-boards/gps-18x-oem/prod27594_010-00321-31.html
tcassidy
You are right. I got it backwards! The other models - serial and ULV - do both but the USB only does Garmin PVT. It has been a while since I used one (18 serial).

Terry
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