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Thread: Best GPS

  1. #1
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    Default Best GPS

    The wife and I are starting to get interested in the Ghost Town looking. Last year we spent a day looking and the Black Hills and had a great time so we plan to do more. Having not used the GPS's do they work in places like the Black Hills of SD? I wondered if they show the gravel roads and so on.

  2. #2
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    I have both a basic Garmin eTrex (no maps) and a Delphi NAV200 mapping GPS/navigator.

    The basic eTrex is useful to me as it's versitile and more accurate to determine where you are or where you want to go, or how to get back to where you've been. The Delphi is graphic and shows you where you are or where you want to go.

    However, the Delphi has limitations. Maps, though supposedly are revised in 2006, have inadaquacies or inaccuracies, especially in rural areas where I live. In some cases it's far more graphic than I would image, as far as roads shown that aren't really there, or have been out of use for so many years that they are in effect grown over. In other cases, maintained and paved roads are not shown. Paradoxical.

    As far as navigating, I had to go to San Francisco recently. Not having been there since the 1960s and not used to large cities in general, I was very nervous about getting around. It was faultless. However, in my neck of the woods (rural Nevada), it's often frustrating. Inaccuracies galore.

    I've not used a Garmin Nuvi, TomTom or Magellain navigator unit, so I don't know how they stack up. I imagine many of the maps are generic - shared among many manufacturerers. Garmin and Magellain, however, due to their reputations, resources and the like, are likely far better. I've never heard any really valid complaints, other than user preferences.

    For basic GPS, I can't fault my eTrex. It's very accurate, handy and for learning GPS basics, it's invaluable. I often prefer it over my Delphi for navigating.

    If money isn't an object, I'd suggest any Garmin unit. They can run the gammot from fairly inexpensive for a basic mapping unit to high bucks and everything in between. But Garmin products have plenty of clout. And they stand behind their products, as a basic eTrex purchased by a buddy of mine was completely replaced by a higher priced unit from Garmin - plus they sent all the accessories for it - to replace a defective unit he bought. Now that's standing behind their products! Wish mine broke! But mine's been as reliable as the sun coming up every day.
    Last edited by David A. Wright; 08-27-2008 at 08:23 PM.
    David A. Wright
    Quote: "Happy Trails To You, Until We Meet Again!"

  3. #3
    GaryB's Avatar
    GaryB is offline Rock Crawlin GPS Moving Map Totin Trailblazing Expert Ghost Towner
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    Most car dedicated ones I have heard of have generic topo programs. So once you get out in the boonies, you're on your own.

    I'd look at what's considered a hand held or portable. IMO either a Garmin or Magellan that has good dedicated software or can be used in conjunction with topo software like DeLorme or National Geographic sell.

    If you just want to know where you are at or a decent idea of being there, any mid grade of the two aforementioned will handle you well. Lower grade (entry models) may as well, but you might want to be sure before you buy. IMO a large enough screen (easier to read) and the ability to zoom in close (mine goes to 100FT) are other major factors.

    I'd also carry any maps of an area you can as well, and not rely solely on the GPS. They are only as good as their software, which is copied from USGS style maps. So if a map is too dated, you might not have ideas about newer roads, roads may be washed out or closed, etc.


    Do lots of comparing before you buy, and see if you can try some out some where around you. Ebay is full of units people bought and were unhappy with afterward.

    Also check with your local BLM, Forestry, etc. office as they sometimes offer GPS classes for free or cheap.
    "I have a .44 and a shovel, I'm sure no one's gonna miss you" - Virginia City, NV

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  4. #4
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    I bought a Lowrance XOG crossover GPS. It's a pretty neat deal because you can go to the Map Select website and download BLM, USGS, or aerial photos (you can also make hybrid overlays) for $5 a pop. It is accurate and not real complicated to use.

    So far, I've used it a great deal around ElDorado Canyon, and have been very impressed with it.
    Goat
    -Refuse the blindfold, accept the cigarette, and have a laugh with the firing squad-

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    I have used the very basic Garmin Etrex for a couple years. I wanted to upgrade to somethig with topos. I bought a used Magellan Crossover. It worked ok for the road. The topo maps weren't that great. Plus it died the day before I left on the vacation I wanted it for!! I ended up picking up a Garmin Etrex Legend. Seems to wrok good but really no topo maps. It came with the topo software Mapsource (I paid less than what Garmin sells Mapsource alone for).

    I like the Delorme PN-20 but I don't really want a small screen. THey are coming out with a PN-40 that is supposed to be a much quicker processing unit. Still the small display though.

    Garmin recently put out a bigger-screen unit that has topos but it isn't cheap.

    I would like the topos to look like topo maps you can get. I think the Legend will work well for now.

  6. #6
    Tsarevna's Avatar
    Tsarevna is offline Rawk Crawlin GPS Totin Ghost Towning Expert
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    As far as car units, go, I played with many units in-store, and found the best one that I could afford was a Garmin Nuvi 650.

    I found one on the internet for $250 using those sites that shop for you, the mysimon.com, etc.

    The thing is small enough to detach from the car and carry in your pocket, but larger than the other Nuvi's.

    I was impressed that some of the roads were little more than dirt paths, but it knew their names, even when paper maps didn't show them! One dirt road to a ghost town was called "Ford's Wagon Road."

    The only downside of this, is the unit doesn't know which routes are viable or not. It told me to turn on a road that existed at one time, but was little more than a mule track in the 49'er days, and overgrown with trees. It would be impossible to take a car on that trail, but the unit told me to turn on it anyway.

    Thank goodness it re-calculates your route when you fail to turn where it tells you to.

  7. #7
    Joel's Avatar
    Joel is offline Rock Crawlin GPS Moving Map Totin Trailblazing Expert Ghost Towner
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    That's why I try to depend on my feet instead of technology. It's going to take he** or high water to stop me and quite often a combination of both.
    I have given up on topo maps for having the right roads and trails at all.
    "Life is a constant oscillation between the sharp horns of dilemmas."

    H.L. Mencken

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsarevna View Post
    The only downside of this, is the unit doesn't know which routes are viable or not. It told me to turn on a road that existed at one time, but was little more than a mule track in the 49'er days, and overgrown with trees. It would be impossible to take a car on that trail, but the unit told me to turn on it anyway.

    Thank goodness it re-calculates your route when you fail to turn where it tells you to.
    Usually in the menu somewhere is where you can tell the unit to take you to a location via a "fastest" or "closest" route (or a term similar).

    Choosing the "closest" way will usually result in your navigator trying to take you via dirt roads, 4x4 trails, etcetera. Choosing "fastest" will generally result with your navigator behaving itself and sticking to main highways.

    And yes, it's very nice that they recalculate the route when you pass by a turn - by choice or mistake. Sometimes the recalcuated route it tries to get you to take can be humerous or just plain dumb ...

    Advice: Never completely trust your GPS (except for telling you where you are or how to get back to your starting point) or navigator. Do your homework before setting out into the unknown. And carry a map(s) of where you are going for backup.

    Topo maps are available online for free or cost. Some state university libraries have free maps you can download (usually large files - not dial-up friendly). And they often have historical topo maps from the early years, which show far more historical sites or places now ghost towns with their attendent access roads, roads within and around their area, and railroads. Great for exploring ghost towns.

    My favorite map sites:
    NEVADA - http://keck.library.unr.edu/data/drg...clickable.html
    Very well organized and easily navigated.

    CALIFORNIA - http://archive.casil.ucdavis.edu/casil/maps/drg/
    Goofy organization. Loosely based on coordinates. Once you have figured out the coordinates of the region you want to focus on, you can narrow your search for finding the map you want.
    Last edited by David A. Wright; 09-02-2008 at 05:20 AM.
    David A. Wright
    Quote: "Happy Trails To You, Until We Meet Again!"

  9. #9
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    I'm starting to look at GPS's as well and I was wondering if anyone has spent time with the NUVI 500, it comes with some Topo's in it and of course you can put more in it with SD's. Using a cane I don't hike more then a little ways so I have to drive my Jeep to where I want to go and this seems like a good unit for that. What do you guys think? rupe
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattler View Post

    I like the Delorme PN-20 but I don't really want a small screen. They are coming out with a PN-40 that is supposed to be a much quicker processing unit. Still the small display though.

    Garmin recently put out a bigger-screen unit that has topos but it isn't cheap.

    I would like the topos to look like topo maps you can get. I think the Legend will work well for now.
    The PN-20 reconditioned has been hitting the market for under $200. Since it has topo USA along with street maps and hangs on a lanyard, it seems like a good answer for hiking. Also it includes aerial sat photos free for a limited area. I suspect I could get most of one state for free.

    I don't think that a car GPS is designed for hiking, battery life is an issue with larger screens. A backpacking GPS isn't meant for highway navigation.

    The other reason for choosing a DeLorme GPS like the PN-20 is that it outputs NMEA data for geomapping photos.

    Most of my interest is in taking photos of sites I visit and GPS locations are a good tool for spot location should I want to tell someone else how to find the exact spot in the future.

    I go with the general rule, take only photos and carry out everything that I carry in. Sometimes I bring a little bag and take litter with me.

    Can't afford a PN-40 but I can afford a PN-20 and some cheap reading glasses for the smallish screen.

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