Cycle computer vs GPS

Thanks mgrant, sport tracks is cool.

Is it just me who can’t get it to talk to the GPS then?

It sits there thinking for a bit, then the GPS turns off and the program says it didn’t work…

/returns to Fugawi


I’ve carried a Garmin GPSMap C60 on all my coker rides (1500km). It has a quad-helix antenna and gets much better reception than the smaller ones, but even so there are ocassional gaps where there were too many overhanging trees. It generally works even inside my pack, but I wear it on the outside anyway. It’s a little conspicuous, but some people (in Laos) just think it’s a phone.

My cycle computer has been more reliable overall, but on the Laos tour I found that neither one was perfect. The magnet or its detector would get knocked out of place and it would be oblivious to my riding until I noticed (hours later). Also I can’t see the cycle computer while riding, so I used the GPS to check distance on the go. Handy when trying to decide whether it’s worth taking one more crotch break before the rest stop.

Another fun feature of a GPS is that you can use it to geocode your photos. When I post my Laos photos (next week, I hope) each one will have a link to a map showing exactly where the photo was taken. Hardly necessary, but kind of fun.

I’ve been writing all my own software for dealing with the gps data. I agree, it’s kind of a pain.

Don’t get a GPS. Get a GOOD GPS.

I use a Magellan Meridan Gold GPS reciever. I am posting here because it seems most people on this thread use Garmin.

I have never had a problem with my GPS system losing it’s signal because it is kept in a pocket or in a pack, the only time I have lost it is when I walked into a building with a copper ceiling.

The speed, distance and tracking capabilities are all accurate, as long as I can get at least 4 satalites(which is almost all the time)

The mapping software designed to work with Magellan recievers, called Mapsend, is easy to use, not frustrating.

So, I would consider the biggest count against a GPS is buying a cheap one. My Meridan cost me about $400 Cdn, and it’s really accurate. Most of the people complaining on this thread seem to be useing much cheaper units. Unless you are willing to pay a little extra for a quality GPS, it’s probably better to stick with a bicycle computer.

Cool! Microsoft Research has an interesting project called WWMX (World-Wide Media eXchange). The project puts photos on a map to show where the photo was taken. The WWMX web site has software available for download that will sync up digital photos with GPS track data, based on the time stamp embedded in the photo, to add the GPS data to the photo data. Then there is software that puts the photo on the map and does some searching and other features.

There is interesting stuff that you can do with GPS data. The problem is getting well designed software that will do it easily.

The quad-helix vs. patch antenna debate pops up on the GPS newsgroups all the time. Anecdotal data tends to point to the quad-helix doing better under tree cover and other challenging situations. But the antenna type is only one variable and not the most important one. The electronics in the GPS and the size of the antenna are more important than the type of antenna. Quad-helix antennas tend to be larger than patch antennas, but there is no reason why patch antennas can’t be made larger to even the matchup. In reality a GPS with a patch antenna and a GPS with a quad-helix antenna will do just as well under tree cover or other situations.

Most external antennas that people buy to get better reception (for GPS receivers that can take an external antenna) are patch antennas. People will plug in an external patch antenna to a GPS that has a built in quad-helix and get better reception. Clearly there are other factors at work than just antenna type.

I wouldn’t base a buying decision on the type of antenna used in a GPS receiver. I also wouldn’t look for a super compact GPS receiver to have the best reception. Shrinking the size of the antenna isn’t going to help reception whether it’s quad-helix or patch.

The biggest issue with quad-helix or patch antennas is the way you hold them to orient the antenna for best reception. Quad-helix antennas want to be held upright while patch antennas want to be held flat. Here’s an article that talks about how to carry a GPS for best reception. If you just throw a quad-helix GPS and a patch GPS in a pocket it is more likely that the quad-helix antenna will be oriented better than the patch antenna. That is probably one reason why some people get better reception with a quad-helix than a patch. But if you know better you can put a patch antenna GPS in your pocket such that it gets good reception too.