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M L
(herzzreh) - M
Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 08:07:35 MDT Print View

I'm looking for the simplest GPS receiver out there (and budget is somewhat of an issue). All I really need is very good sensitivity and ability to display UTM coordinates. Ability to upload waypoints is a plus, but not that necessary. I really don't need all the fancy mapping abilities and such.

Any recommendations?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 08:18:58 MDT Print View

If you want good sensitivity, you have to get a more expensive GPS.

Good sensitivity means it will work better in steep canyon or deep forest.

It also depends on where the satelites happen to be at any moment. Maybe a cheaper GPS will work for a few hours, and then lose reception. Or work one day but not another.

You can get the cheaper GPS to work if you go to a ridge.

I have successfully used a Garmin 60CSx. They have newer ones that work good. DeLorme has some good ones. I have heard people say that the cheaper Garmin eTrex, for example, doesn't get reception in canyoned areas.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: Re: Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 08:25:20 MDT Print View

I think I might be less of a pessimist than Jerry. We're on the Nth generation of devices now, and I think core functionality is pretty good on all current models. The makers try to differentiate on color screens, mapping, communications (probably facebook).

Looking at the eTrex line, the base model 10 claims the same "ability to lock onto 24 more satellites than using GPS alone" as does the higher end 30.

I'd consider the eTrex 10 for ~$110

M L
(herzzreh) - M
yes on 05/16/2012 08:30:15 MDT Print View

Yes, I do realize that higher sensitivity = more expensive. I was just wondering what the the least featured(=least expensive model) that I should go for without giving up sensitivity. As previous mentioned, all I need is the UTM coordinate display and an arrow that points in the general direction of my waypoint would be a plus.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: yes on 05/16/2012 08:47:50 MDT Print View

I do believe "lower sensitivity" should show up in the specs. Perhaps not for off-brand low end models, but the big boys should be up-front.

FWIW, I track the hobby segment a bit, and it is pretty shocking how far component prices are falling as functionality increases ... a $30, 66 channel, dime sized, gps moduel with integrated data handling, for instance.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 08:52:11 MDT Print View

Some models have an added electronic compass - I have found it to not work so I just turn it off

Some models have a barometric pressure altimeter. More accurate. Bounces around less from reading to reading. GPS altimeter is good to 100 or 200 feet elevation? If that's good enough you don't need barometric pressure sensor models.

Some models have extra memory to store more maps.

Some models have better resolution, bigger displays.

All of that costs extra and probably you don't need them?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 08:57:03 MDT Print View

Garmin Foretrex 301 - $130

Mary R
(pietimer) - MLife
Re: Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 09:02:50 MDT Print View

I have the fortrex 301. It is a really great little GPS.
I haven't had any problems with the sensitivity (that I've noticed) or the battery life.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: Re: Re: Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 09:08:37 MDT Print View

Garmin lets you compare between their models a bit (here). It looks like the Foretrex is a bit lighter, but has lower battery life, and doesn't use the Russian GLONASS satellites. So it's tradeoff.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
smart phone on 05/16/2012 09:22:41 MDT Print View

If you have a smart phone just download a gps app, price is between 99 cents and $10.
Download the maps before you go on your trip and you won't need cell service to use the GPS app. Battery life is an issue though, but if you only turn it to check your location once in a while rather than keeping it on for tracking, a fully loaded battery can work for several days.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: yes on 05/16/2012 09:27:40 MDT Print View

I followed John's link (thanks!) and found this bit facinating:

"Most modules permit NMEA output only when the module is traveling under 515 m/s AND when its at an altitude of under 60,000 ft (18,000 m). This is to prevent the modules from being used for military use."

which I think explains why none of my GPSes work going 500 mph in a commercial jet. Either that or the small windows in an otherwise complete aluminum tube?

Interesting that they allow use up to 60,000 feet which is the provence of only military jets and rockets. I'm guessing if TSA wrote the rules, the limit would be 10,000 feet.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: Re: Re: yes on 05/16/2012 09:34:51 MDT Print View

Isn't it a crack-up that Garmin is using Russian satellites now? I mean, it was a bit mind blowing to get our military technology for recreational purposes, but now we have theirs! That was meant to kill us, basically.

Russia to open its best satnav system to all

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Etrex 10 or Etrex H on 05/16/2012 09:35:02 MDT Print View

I was doing a little research a couple of weeks ago, and I think your best bet is probably the Etrex 10. It's RRP$119 compared to the EtrexH RRP$99, but it has a 50% increase in battery life, and is slightly lighter. It also connects up by USB, not serial, and you can connect straight in to the Garmin Connect site, which allows you to directly download other peoples routes for a hike or bike trip.

They both use a high sensitivity chip, so the satellite lock is MUCH faster and more tenacious than in the past, but the Etrex 10 also uses the GLONASS system.

As far as price and features go, it's a pretty nice mix

Rod

M L
(herzzreh) - M
etrex on 05/16/2012 09:46:32 MDT Print View

etrex 10 is on the way. What sold me was the ability to use GLONASS as well.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: yes on 05/16/2012 11:01:02 MDT Print View

["Most modules permit NMEA output only when the module is traveling under 515 m/s AND when its at an altitude of under 60,000 ft (18,000 m). This is to prevent the modules from being used for military use."

which I think explains why none of my GPSes work going 500 mph in a commercial jet. Either that or the small windows in an otherwise complete aluminum tube?]


515 m/s is much faster than 500 mph. Not sure that this explains why your unit doesn't work in a commercial jet.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Most simple, cheapest GPS receiver recommendation pls on 05/16/2012 12:23:36 MDT Print View

Technically speaking, most GPS receivers will work fine inside an airliner as long as there is an external antenna on it stuck to the window. It will see poor satellite geometry, and that will add more position error. Legally speaking, GPS receivers have been banned on every airliner that I've been on since 2001.

I can't figure out why any North American-based GPS user would want to get GLONASS reception. Historically, it has been very unpredictable.

Most consumer models use very similar GPS chipsets, so the reception sensitivity is very similar. What you may really be interested in is the ability to lock on and stay locked on various satellites when you are deep in the woods. In the springtime, lots of trees have lots of leaves with lots of water inside. They effectively block GPS signals. In some cases, the leaves act as signal reflectors, and that will set up a multipath interference situation in the receiver, assuming that the receiver is using a typical patch antenna. With a better external antenna, that problem can be mitigated as well.

Due to the similarity of consumer models, you are almost better off selecting a model based on the software user interface at the computer. Normally you do certain tasks at your computer, then transfer the results to the receiver and use it there.

I started using GPS receivers both professionally and for outdoors fun in 1994.

--B.G.--

Herbert Sitz
(hes)

Locale: Pacific NW
smartphones on 05/16/2012 15:25:38 MDT Print View

It might make sense for some people to use their smartphone as a gps solution. Some people mistakenly think that smartphones need a wireless cellphone connection to use gps. They don't, they can use gps satellites just like dedicated gps units. (If wireless cell reception is available, smartphones can use cell towers to help pinpoint location and get faster gps satellite link.)

Accuterra is well-known app for iPhone: Accuterra for iPhone. Backcountry Navigator seems to be a good one for Android: BackcountryNavigator

I haven't used these, just got my first smartphone. but I'm going to check out Backcountry Navigator. It's cheap ($10) and even has free demo version. Can use USGS topo maps or also sells same set of topo maps used by Accuterra, which you can look at and drill down to your desired locale here: topo map Drill down by using slider at upper right and sliding map so point you want is in center as it zooms. Nice thing is that it seems trails are on the topo map, at least the trails I was looking at in Olympic National Park. . .

Edited by hes on 05/16/2012 15:29:42 MDT.

R K
(oiboyroi) - M

Locale: South West US
Re: etrex on 05/16/2012 15:42:42 MDT Print View

Just a heads up - the etrex 10 doesn't have a compass. Since it doesn't have a compass, it won't be able to point to a waypoint unless you're moving since it won't know which way you are facing if you're stopped.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
cheapest GPS receiver on 05/16/2012 17:56:21 MDT Print View

Unless you're carrying a smart-phone for other reasons, iPhone or Android phone doesn't meet your "cheap" requirement. I'll chime in here since others have already raised the smart phone issue -- if you (or other readers) go the SmartPhone route, you should read the article about battery conservation, etc.
http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm

M L
(herzzreh) - M
battery life on 05/16/2012 18:00:33 MDT Print View

Actually a smartphone won't meet my battery life requirement... Plus many phones I've seen don't come anywhere near dedicated receivers when it comes to reception.