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Need a programmable GPS unit...


Guest M R Simpers

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Guest M R Simpers

I am looking for an automotive GPS unit into which I can load my own route. I am tired of trying to tour America's backroads without getting directed to the nearest "four lane."

In 2011 I participated in the MAFCA tour of the Natchez Trace, and my TomTom acted as if the Trace didn't exist.

We have plans for the 2013 MAFCA tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I've driven the Parkway recently in "modern iron", and the TomTom acted as if the Parkway didn't exist.

As for the Blue Ridge tour, I have planned my full route. I want a GPS unit into which I can load my full 1300 mile route; have the unit save the route; and have the unit return to the preplanned route daily.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Technical direction will be greatly appreciated, but beware I'm no computer geek.

M.R. Simpers

1928 Ford Tudor

Cocoa, Florida

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I mostly use it for keeping track of where I am rather than where I want to go so I'll have to double check, but I think the map function on a reasonably current generation "smart phone" might work for you. iPhone recently changed to their own mapping app which I know little about but the older iPhones and Android based phones us a map application supplied by Google. I know that the web version of Google maps allows you to select non-main highways and to move the route to meet your needs as I do that all the time when I'm planning things. If the smart phone based version does the same, it sounds like it would fit your needs and do double duty as a cell phone too.

Unfortunately the map app on my phone seems to be on the blink at the moment, so I can't check to see if it allows non-major route selection and manual re-routing.

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M.R., while driving all over the US in a Semi-Truck, I used Microsoft streets and and trips with GPS , loaded in my lap top. I liked it MUCH better than a GPS such as Tom-Tom. Rand Mcnally also has such a program. With all the smaller portable computers now, bet you can find something that will work for you.

Ben

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Try an IPhone, it has the best GPS I've used, and it gives you multiple routes to choose from.....if you don't have one, find a friend who does, get the "maps" app for free, and try it.....no, I don't get paid for this, just think it's a good product...

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GARMIN !!

I've used 3 different versions over many years.

It allows you to avoid highways, ferry boats, take the shortest, or the fastest route, or many other options

Has great battery life - I recharge it in the room at night and run it in early cars all day long without a 12-volt suppy, or have also plugged it into a battery jumper pak.

Some models have as many as 1--12 via points en-route to a destination.

I also use mine on tour, not for the destination, but to know the names of the road I'm approaching, especially when street and road signs may not be visible due to branches, darkness, etc..

My current unit is an older 1390-T which also has lifetime free traffic reporting with re-routing capability.

I have travelled all over the US and Canada with this relatively inexpensive GPS and found it remarkably accurate and dependable. It is easy to program, and will find almost any business by name or by type of business.

I would buy it again

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Guest toybox99615

Garmin Zumo series allows you to make your routes any way you want them. It comes with a program for your computer, Map Source, that allows you to create routes and upload them to your ZUMO GPS. You can map a route turn by turn if that is what you wished to do. You connect the GPS to your computer with Map Source and then upload routes or down load tracks you recorded on the GPS.

I've made two cross country trips from East to West Coast with routes I was able to plan and avoided the slab (interstate) as much as possible. On a tour where you've prebooked a motel its easy to set it as the destination along your route. The Zumo models are a touch screen based unit designed for motorcycles and work well in a car or truck. I've used mine in Australia and New Zealand as well as the lower 48 travels.

I can say over the six years I've had my old Zumo 450 I have used it for well over 100,000 miles. However like most GPS units it does sometimes think it knows more than you do when it comes to things like telling you to turn right when that would be against the traffic on a one way street.

Edited by toybox99615 (see edit history)
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The KEY to any GPS or online mapping service is the maps themselves! The Garmin Nuvi we have on some of our work vehicles use a very low-resolution map, obviously to save memory space. I tried to get it to plot a course to another town, about 1 hour away, in somewhat deserted Texas, and after about 5 minutes of messing with it, I decided I was wasteing my time and just went the route I'd always used, which is the only route to get there from where I was. Suddenly, when I got close to a turn-off of the main TX highway (not Interstate by any means), the Garmin "woke up" to tell me to turn left ________", which I normally would have done anyway. It then proceeded to try to send me to the place it considered "destination" (as I used the city's name rather than a street address in the city). When I didn't make the turn it said I should, I got the "Recalculating. Turn left on _______ Road in 1/4 mile." message. When I didn't do that, it did the "Recalculating . . . " message again and again. For one, it was going to have me turn into a small city park and turn around. What it considered to be "destination" was actually the local, small town's airport, NOT the courthouse at the physical center of town! It kept recalculating and trying to send me to the airport, no matter what. I tried to stop the situation by turning it off and on, several times, to no avail. Finally, I saw a red "X" in a circle on the screen, touched it, and it stopped.

As additional information, if you go into the NOAA Weather website to get the national map, then click on the particular weather region on the map, then on a particular city location, when you get that final map, you'll probably find that where it considers the "location" of the town might well be the location of the town's police station, not the courthouse square. Or the local airport in the case of the other smaller TX town. Just something to be aware of if you just input the town's name rather than a street address in that town.

In another situation, to get to one customer I have to turn on a Texas Park Road to get to the intersection to make a right turn on a "normal" road to get to his place. Seems that the Park Road is not in the mapping database, so it looks like I'm driving through a pasture or something. But when I hit the other main road, that one's there.

To me, using that system is a total waste of time. The maps are not of high resolution to include some of the less-main roads and it was just too clunky to use. I know some people who perceive that GPS is a great thing, which it can be, but it's the EXECUTION of the software and the resolution of the maps . . . on a 3.5" widescreen display . . . that make it a deal breaker for me. With Google maps, online, I can usually have ALL of the possible routes, including some changes I made, prototyped and determined in about 5 minutes, TOTAL. MUCH easier to use. MUCH BETTER MAPS, too!

Regarding GPS maps, with all due respect, remember several months back when a GPS led a lady to a very percarious situation in Death Valley? And another family into a similar situation in snowy territory up north? Any mapping service is ONLY as good as the maps they use--period. Even IF the maps include some abandoned roads, from earlier versions of the maps!

I tend to concur with rocketraider regarding GPS units and their use. I still like a good, paper map, or a good Google map to ANY GPS system. Having an "air card" or a "mobile wifi hotspot" with you and your laptop, to me, is the ultimate way to do things. Others might disagree, which I respect, but these have been my experiences with the Garmin we have at work. It IS good for reading mph, though, plus possibly tracing your trip, if programmed to do so.

Even some of the OEM disc-based nav systems might not have every little street or roadway on them. It's quite common that a new vehicle owner comes in and complains that their friend's street isn't on the system (a new street, usually) . . . as they did the "input destination" function only to discover they couldn't. But then for more established locations, it works wonderfully.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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Garmin Zumo series allows you to make your routes any way you want them. It comes with a program for your computer, Map Source, that allows you to create routes and upload them to your ZUMO GPS. You can map a route turn by turn if that is what you wished to do. You connect the GPS to your computer with Map Source and then upload routes or down load tracks you recorded on the GPS.

I've made two cross country trips from East to West Coast with routes I was able to plan and avoided the slab (interstate) as much as possible. On a tour where you've prebooked a motel its easy to set it as the destination along your route. The Zumo models are a touch screen based unit designed for motorcycles and work well in a car or truck. I've used mine in Australia and New Zealand as well as the lower 48 travels.

I can say over the six years I've had my old Zumo 450 I have used it for well over 100,000 miles. However like most GPS units it does sometimes think it knows more than you do when it comes to things like telling you to turn right when that would be against the traffic on a one way street.

Toybox99615 answered the original question. I can understand how loading the daily tour routes into a GPS would possibly be a great idea on a tour, especially for the directionally challenged. I was not aware of this functionality of the Garmin Zumo. I may consider that model if I ever have to replace my current Garmin GPS. As for some of the other negatives mentioned about GPS, I would suggest you make sure that the maps are up to date. I have been to some really obscure places with my Garmin Nuvi GPS and have been amazed at some of the "roads" that are actually on the map. I was once looking for a small family cemetary in a very rural area of eastern North Carolina. The cemetary was the only thing on the small dirt path that ran between two farms off of the main road. I was shocked to find that GPS took me directly to the cemetary address that I had been given in spite of it being on a small dirt path totally hidden from any paved roadway.

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The KEY to any GPS or online mapping service is the maps themselves! ... I got the "Recalculating. Turn left on _______ Road in 1/4 mile." ...

Agree on the maps being key. I've got a DVD based system in my car and the dealer wants, last I checked, somewhere around $300 for a new one. A number of roads, interchanges and intersections have changed in my area since my car was delivered and it'd be nice to have the car "know" more about the roads. But not $300 nice. That is one reason the cell phone based maps which always use the latest data from the Internet might be better. Unfortunately, it seems that the mapping program available on my Android phone does not have a custom route or "avoid highways" option which M.R. Simpers desires and makes a lot of sense for old car touring.

Regarding the messages given by a GPS unit, the ones on my car are so annoying that I've turned it off. I know of a fellow with an after market GPS, the brand of which has slipped my memory, that had available different voices. And someone had done a fairly effective but unofficial set using a ghetto dialect. Amusing for short trips but I doubt it'd wear well for longer trips.

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We have the Garmin Nuvi and sometimes the only thing you can do is have it map a route from town to town when it doesn't want to plot the route you want. Print out a map and directions from the internet to have with you to then program the route you want on a GPS. Sometimes you just have to outsmart the thing. :rolleyes:

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When my Garmin Nuvi 1390T wants to take a route different from mine (because it will save 0.1 miles, or a half-minute), I can schedule a via-point, forcing it to go the way I want. I spent many years developing the Architecture and Software for Large Mainframe computers. Somebody programmed in a certain logic - but that does not mean that the program always coincides with your desires.

Working with it, and learning how to make it do your bidding beats the heck out of whining that it doesn't work.

C'mon - most of y'all are smarter than the machine - after all, you got that old car to run sweet, didn't you??

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  • 2 months later...
Guest Auburn852

M R Simpers, (I hope you still see this post several months after your original posting) I was searching the internet to solve this same question and found your post. I too am seeking a GPS that will do what you describe. Last year I ran the Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherohola Skyway and Tail of the Dragon without a GPS and thought it might be nice to have one. This year I am planning to run Route 66 end to end, with a navigator who is, well lets say, not map friendly.

I did this week just purchase a Garmin 3590. With the free basecamp program it appear I can create and download a route. Basecamp has a bit of a learning curve to use, not as easy right out of the box like Google Maps. I ran some local test runs and if I get off course, it does bring me back to the route I set. However one downfall if I dont pass through a point on my route, it will want to take me back to that point before I can go to the next. So I will have to keep this in mind when setting up my route tour. I have not found a button or way to just say skip point and keep going to the next without stopping going out and restarting the trip telll it what point to go to next.

I would be very happy to hear what you have learned. Perhaps we can share ideas so that we can each plan our 2013 summer tours.

Thanks

Auburn852

1936 Auburn 852

1970 Monte Carlo SS

2011 Corvette Grand Sport

Central PA

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It seems to be a somewhat common complaint of DVD-based OEM nav systems that even the latest update is not updated enough. Frequently, a couple will purchase a new vehicle and then head out to see "the kids" (who have just moved into a new development in a larger metro city). They return to the selling dealership to get the nav system checked as it couldn't find the address of the new house in the new neighborhood where their kids now live. End result is "No Problem Found" on the repair order, usually.

From what I've seen on the GM Navdisc website, they will contact the new owners of their vehicles every quarter to see if they want an updated DVD . . . for a price. It can get somewhat pricey if you get the updates each time.

Personally, I can do whatever I want to do with Google Maps . . . AND do it quickly. All you really need is a WiFi-enabled laptop and a portable WiFi Hotspot device to do this "on the fly". Or use the WiFi of many lodging locations "the night before" to plot the next day's route, plus check the particular state's Transportation Dept's website for road conditions (and related things), or even metro traffic conditions via www.traffic.com a few days before you actually get to the area you might be checking on.

I know the portability factor of a handheld GPS unit is really nice, but they just seem "too compromised" to me, whether in their maps and mapping programs or their "unhooked" battery life between charges. Plus you don't get the incredible graphics of some of the OEM systems, either.

Take care,

NTX5467

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Guest M R Simpers

I want to thank everyone for their comments. As far as the lingo went, I understood a few replies, and as for the others, I was lost out in left field.

I think I am going to take my TomTom - with concerns. Before I leave on the MAFCA tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway, I am going to pull out my VA, NC, & TN DeLorme Gazetteers, get a handful of Post-a-Notes, check MapQuest for a few details, and plan the trip accordingly. My biggest concern is how to get out from the AutoTrain Station in Lorton, Va. and head west without yelling at my wife.

As an aside and as for the TomTom, mine is haunted. We headed to Key West a few weeks back, and to keep track of my traveling time I punched in a Key West address. The TomTom started thinking and locked up. It seems that it calculated the route to about half way down the Keys before it stopped. Now it doesn't take a college degree to realize that there is only one road down there. That is U.S. 1 unless you are in a boat.

One of the problems with TomToms is that they set a given address as right off the street. In the case of my house you would have to pull off the road about 30 feet from my driveway and drive up into the woods before it will be pleased. By pass that point and the TomTom will freak out trying to get me to turn around. Also, in one instance at a State Park in western Pennsylvania, I found that the TomTom took me into the park. I played its game and about a half a mile in the park at one particular picnic table it shut up. I wonder what ever had happened at that picnic table? For those considering a TomTom take heed.

Again my thanks for all the help.

Look for the Model A's on the Blue Ridge Parkway in May. It starts on the 6th in Charlottesville, VA and ends on the 10th in Gatlinburg, TN. There will probably be over 200 A's on the tour.

M.R.

1928 Model "A" Tudor

Cocoa, Florida

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I own a Garmin, main reason is that I can plan a route out on google, msn, etc and then download it into the GPS, or I can code in my route. When we go on vacation each year, I get all the info of where we want to go, places ot see, etc... then I load them up into my Garmin and away we go. When i load in the info i put in name, address, phone, etc...

I also found this website to be a HUGE help with my dealing in programming !!

POI Factory

Also there are sites I use to GEoCACHE an address, basically punch in the street address, and it will get you the Long, Lat info for the GPS.

I just upgrade mine a few months ago, I have tried out various makes and models, and NOTHING, i Mean NOTHING beats a Garmin !! Yeah I also download all the vehicles they have (FREE) and use them in my GPS, kids love to choose what will guide us on each trip :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Auburn852

Well folks, I have really enjoyed this thread. I wanted to share that I have successfully planned a trip using Basecamp and downloaded it to my Garmin 3590. The trip is the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. I also have a return trip back east. One limitation that caused me some problems is that the GPS will only accept so many via points and way points before it just stops the route. I had to break the trip down into segments. Basically I have 4 or 5 segments per State, where each segments is about a 2 hour drive. Doing this has allowed me to create the entire route I want to drive on the roads that I want to drive.

Should be a great trip!

Auburn

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