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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Wow! I've just discovered something that will make 4x4'n for myself a hell of a lot easier and more fun. While I do realize that most people do not have a GPS, with the cost of such a device getting less and less expensive, I honestly cann't image traveling any distance without one.

And here is why!

Goto a web site called toporama.cits.rncan.ga.ca

On this site, you will find digital forestry service maps. For free! Ok, mind you they are not nearly as good as the ones that you can get from the U.S., but they are much better then anything I've seen available comercially at a reasonable price (free).

Get the following program, GPS Trackmaker. You don't need a GPS - but, you WILL be having a serious converstation with your significant other after you see it and the maps from toporama if you do any serious expeditionary travel. That's just my opinion though :)

The program is US and toporama doesn't really give you very detailed instructions on how to use thier digital maps, but after about a couple of hours of wasted time, and just before you give up on your computer, and kill the person who suggested you use it - you set it up. And you never look back.

I have a Garmin III+, and after hooking it up to my computer and downloading the waypoints, routes, etc into it - it blew my mind. I could see forestry roads that I didn't even know existed - and they were acurate to within 5 meters - even though I think it would be damn right on, if it wasn't for the military scrambling thing on my GPS.

Guys, just trust me - get it. You'll never look at wheeling or camping the same again. Even if you don't have a GPS, these maps are unreal. Sorry guys for the mad excitement - I just didn't know these tools existed for free on the internet, and it blew my mind.

Wow!

axle.
 

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Superfly
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axle said:
Goto a web site called toporama.cits.rncan.ga.ca
That url doesn't work.

I have a Garmin III+, and after hooking it up to my computer and downloading the waypoints, routes, etc into it - it blew my mind. I could see forestry roads that I didn't even know existed - and they were acurate to within 5 meters - even though I think it would be damn right on, if it wasn't for the military scrambling thing on my GPS.
I also have a 3+. Great unit! I had a problem with mine recently and Garmin repaired it under warranty, even though it's 1 or 2 yrs past its warranty date. I told them that, too, but the tech guy said he'll cover it anyway. Before that, I had a Garmin III which I bought used. Then Garmin introduced the III+ and us III owners were allowed to upgrade to a brand new III+ for USD$125. I thought that was a great deal (how many manufacturers provide upgrade paths?).

I don't know if this will be good news or bad news for you but...SA (Selective Availability) has been turned off for at least a year now. There is no signal degradation in place so the location you're getting is the best that the GPS can calculate. A mil spec unit will not give you any greater accuracy.


Guys, just trust me - get it. You'll never look at wheeling or camping the same again. Even if you don't have a GPS, these maps are unreal.
Makes it very easy to tell someone how to find a trail, that's for sure. I always forget land marks.

BTW, if you want to have some geeky fun, check out www.geocaching.com. There are lots of hidden treasure boxes stashed away in the lower mainland and other parts of the world. Plug in your lat/lon to find the nearest ones and try to find them given their GPS coordinates. It's about the only way I can motivate myself to go for walks or hikes.


...lars



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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ah, yes, sorry about the site... but the maps are definately there. The software can be found on any shareware/freeware site you wish.

Larry, ya! I know, it's a very cool unit - but, it costs way way too much for the digital maps from Garmin, although they did say you can now purchase the Canadian CDs all at once for the same price. Previously, you had to purchase each one seperately.

They stopped it? That sort of explains why my accuracy went from +/- 15-150m to +/- 5-20m, even with just 4 sats. To get 5 with 4, you need them pretty much in a nice distant symetrical pattern around you, but hey, 20m is still a hell of a lot better then, lost, without fuel, and no way to let anyone know where in the heck you are.

Ya, I plotted out some trails up by Squish, and Harrison - they were bang on. I just need to carry around with me what all the symbols mean after I print out the maps with the waypoints on them. And they didn't cover some of the smaller lakes, but hut is there, so is upper, butterfly, etc... hey, sometimes you want some privacy without someone driving smack dab in the middle of your campsite, so what the heck, I don't mind it missing some of the very small lakes and spots.

Lars, do you know of any other topo map places which one can get digital maps for free from? Or a conversion tool to get these maps into the garmin units?

axle.

Damn... they do upgrades? unreal.
 

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Superfly
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axle said:
Lars, do you know of any other topo map places which one can get digital maps for free from? Or a conversion tool to get these maps into the garmin units?
For GPS info, I rely on Joe Mehaffey's site:

joe.mehaffey.com

If you poke around there, you will find info on how to use a new too that allows you to create your own Mapsource files to upload into your Garmin GPS. As you may know, the Mapsource data format is proprietary so it took some hacking to figure out how to do this. The product is in early beta right now so it is far from a turn-key solution. I haven't tried it myself because I don't have any pressing need to build uploadable maps just yet. Although if I log a lot of my favourite lower mainland trails, I just may do it some day. It requires Mapsource and Ozi Explorer or some other mapping program that allows you to use bitmap map images.

...lars



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where do you get the free gps software?
do you have a web site.
I bought the garmin etrex vista 2 weeks ago and I want to download some maps.
 

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GPS & Maps

I use OziExplorer for the mapping in combination with a desktop/laptop. I found Toporama last year and downloaded and calibrated about 700 maps. Mostly for B.C. but for Canada as well at the higher scale. I have also purchased a few nautical charts and am most impressed as are my friends at the accuracy. Gone are the days of using the #@[email protected] B.C. Fishing books to try and find any out of the way lakes. If you have other friends that have GPS's, you can email them routes waypoints tracks etc. With Technology now...you can head way into the hills and then fire off a wireless message containing a route or track to lead someone to you. The model I use is the GPS12 that I got of ebay for 130 bucks....
 

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Now I'm interested....
I've been looking at a GPS and you guys can answer my question of the day, I'll bet.

Can I set way points on the GPS as I travel along and when I get back to a PC upload the waypoints to a map and plot the course I just completed?

Assuming Yes! ( please, please say yes it's possible )

The next question, will a Garmin Etrex do the job?
( with a pc interface and a pentium 100 laptop with 40meg )
 

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Yes, you can.

Btw, I went looking at notebooks yesterday, and I noticed that most of them are legacy-free, ie. they do not have a serial port. I know you can get a USB-serial adapter, but the salesperson told me they have a 70% success rate, as in there's a 70% chance it will work with your app. Dell was the only notebook manuf who still provided a serial port (I've checked Toshiba, Compaq, and Sony so far).
 

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bonefish

just wondering where you got your interface cable? i to have the gps12, havent tried uploading stuff. since the 12 doesnt have mapping capabilities, are the routes just waypoints? overall how difficult is it?
 

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Superfly
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Re: bonefish

jeremy said:
just wondering where you got your interface cable? i to have the gps12, havent tried uploading stuff. since the 12 doesnt have mapping capabilities, are the routes just waypoints? overall how difficult is it?
Interface cables are pricey because the plug that goes into the Garmin is a proprietary design.

However, since Garmin GPS units are so popular, there is someone who is making "shareware" plugs for them. If you can solder wires together, then you have enough skills to build your own.

http://pfranc.com/

They also have USB/serial converters.



...lars



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Johno said:
Now I'm interested....
I've been looking at a GPS and you guys can answer my question of the day, I'll bet.

Can I set way points on the GPS as I travel along and when I get back to a PC upload the waypoints to a map and plot the course I just completed?

Assuming Yes! ( please, please say yes it's possible )

The next question, will a Garmin Etrex do the job?
( with a pc interface and a pentium 100 laptop with 40meg )
The eTrex supports 500 waypoints and a GPS<->PC interface. So yes, it can xfer waypoints to/from a PC. You can then use a mapping program such as OziExplorer to calibrate scanned-in maps and overlay your waypoints onto the map images.

I have some example pics of what it would look like in my article on the Spectral Digital Imaging BC Maps on CD product. In this example, I scanned in a map from the trail pamphlets available for Walker Valley, calibrated the map using some known waypoints, and then overlayed my saved track log and waypoints onto the map. The little yellow box and dot represents a waypoint. The blue line represents a saved track log. It follows the actual road very closely. That was BEFORE SA was turned off. If I went back and did it again, the track would probably be even closer to the map's road. Of course, the map might not be 100% accurate, plus the dense tree cover also causes some inaccuracies.




You can read the article here: http://www.bc4x4.com/pr/ozi/ozi.cfm


...lars



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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok, that picture was UNREAL!

I don't have the same setup as you guys do, but my work loaned me a Toshiba 4600. These are awesome machines, as they can run from your car battery (15V). To that, I've purchased a car kit for my G III+, and a PC hookup cable. I've opened up the PC cable, and found out which ones supply power to the GPS. I cut the cables leading back to the PC (I'm presuming 1000cca battery could do quite a bit of damage to the laptop), and powered my GPS as it also runs on 15V.

I get my maps from Toporama, and load them into GPS Trackmaker, that I picked up from a shareware site (use any, I used ZDNet). It took forever to figure out how to load the maps, as they only give you the upper right corner, and they don't tell you what the map covers (2' Lat, 1' Lon) when using the 50K.

I then enable active positioning, or something, and it shows me a nice little topo map, all the rivers are there - 100% where they should be, so are the lakes. Which way I'm going, where I am, and how far way the next river, swamp, lake, or the best thing I found so far? If I get stuck, how far I need to travel cross country to get to another trial.

The forestry roads, are there, but I find that some are not listed, but should be, while others are there, but only a donkey can use them. Bottom line, the maps are not 100% up to date, but heck, what do you want?

Zoom in, out, the works. If I don't want to drag the laptop, 'cause the guys I'm with will spill beer all over it, I plan outwhere I'm going, and print out the topo map on my 820Cxi. Very old printer (10 years almost), but it works OK. I then laminate the paper, and take it with me. Works great.

That map though? Is unreal! Can you get a topo overlay on it?
 
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