Handheld GPS :: ELT :: GPS Navigation :: PLB

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Often the most difficult part is to decide which GPS whether a TomTom, Garmin GPS or Magellan you will find all the best brand GPS models right here. Car GPS navigation has been one of the fastest technological advances in the benefit of the GPS satellite. While it offers many uses from aviation and nautical navigation, bush walking and modern orienteering,

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Bushnell BackTrack GPS Review

Buy Bushnell BackTrack GPS Cheap plus Review & Sale

This palm-sized compact GPS personal locator enables you to mark and log three separate locations.

The simple-to-use design allows you to mark a point by simply holding down the 'Mark' button for a couple of seconds and away you go. It provides three separate location icons symbolized by a house, car and a star. It allows you to choose an icon to represent a feature that you decide you want to mark. For instance, you can use the house symbol to represent your base camp, the car symbol to represent the car park or access point to the reserve where you left your car, and the star to represent that special point of interest that you would like to navigate back to. A simple press of the 'Mode/Power' button lets you easily scroll between your marked locations, allowing easy backtracking.

Although this little unit would be at home in the bush helping you get back to your base camp, it would also be a useful tool to assist locating of your car in a large busy car park or finding your way back to your hotel when on holidays in a city unfamiliar to you. You could even use it at crowded music festivals to get back to the spot where your friends are sitting down relaxing.

The unit weighs only 85g, which includes a lanyard to hang the device around your neck. A back light feature enables clear navigation in low light conditions. The 'Compass' mode allows the user to take bearings using a self-calibrating digital compass.

The Bushnell BackTrack GPS personal locator is retailing for around $135 and would be a great addition to the hunter's kit. You will never get lost again.

Key features:

  • Stores and locates up to three locations
  • Uses the latest high-sensitivity SiRF Star III GPS receiver and self-calibrating digital compass technology
  • Is weather-resistant
  • Operates on two AAA batteries
  • Is compact in size and fits easily in your pocket or purse
  • Includes a lanyard for easy attachment

What do you mean 'Where am I?'

Personal location beacons for pilots

Hunters like pilots often venture into remote areas...

Decisions regarding whether to adopt new technology or not need to be based on more than just concerns about price. Sure, new technology often needs to be 're-tuned' and adjusted to a variety of conditions before it renders the best service, but once these steps have been completed, there is no excuse not to adopt it.

Having been introduced to the outdoors in the days when navigation, direction finding and location was only achieved by using a map and compass, you can probably guess that I was slow to adopt a GPS receiver into my bush gear. It has been many years since I made that first dramatic step into the present, but now, I hardly ever venture into the scrub without a GPS receiver as part of my kit.

And yes, I still take the map and compass along because there is nothing like a quality compass for taking bearings on distant objects, and I like to be able to 'read' on paper the terrain through which I am hunting - and then compare it to what I am traveling through 'on the ground' as it were. Having the GPS in my kit - or more often in my hand - certainly keeps me informed about where I am, but it does nothing for anyone who might be looking for me. What is needed then is another piece of kit.

Our hunting group has small hand-held two-way radios so that the party can keep in regular contact with each other while hunting in cell phones can be great support tools too, but huge areas of America have poor telephone reception. scrub or very hilly landscapes.

The main drawback of these inexpensive pieces of safety gear is their short range and requirement for 'line-of-sight' contact (or nearly so), but I consider them essential pieces of kit for many of the places where we hunt, especially when we are widely spread across the shrub lands where we pursue feral goats. With luck and in the suitable conditions, they may contact the station homestead, but two-ways are not foolproof.

Cell phones can be great support tools too, but huge areas of America have poor telephone reception. There are both encouraging and disappointing aspects to relying on mobile phones for communication and their built-in GPS capacity - despite their ability to find a restaurant and make a booking for you!

What has come to the fore in the past few years is the emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) used principally at sea, and the personal locator beacon (PLB) used more for bush walking. I have added an inexpensive PLB to my bush gear and so have my three regular hunting mates. Both EPIRBs and PLBs report via satellites to the hosting authority and are independent of telephone networks. They send the position of the unit and presumably the location of the person carrying it. This is something that the GPS does not do, and it is a difficult task to accomplish with a mobile phone when lying injured in the scrub.

PLB for pilots

At a coronial inquiry into the death of a prospector who had become lost and perished in Northern America recently, the police officer in charge of coordinating search and rescue operations recommended that persons going into remote areas should carry and use a PLB. He said that extensive searches over almost two weeks had resulted in finding the deceased, but, in another instance when the person was carrying a PLB and was reported to be missing, it had taken just four hours to locate the victim and have a rescue team at his side.

There have been suggestions by police and national parks authorities that it might be worthwhile making it mandatory to carry one of these devices in certain circumstances. My recommendation is that before this happens, hunters should become acquainted with one of these useful and potentially life-saving devices...and don't forget the extra batteries!

Search rescue gps rescue system

Garmin GPS III Pilot - (old model - 1998)

This new handheld is easy to use...even without a manual.

handheld garmin gps3 pilot

One of the small miracles of Oshkosh '97 was the Garmin GPS III Pilot, a very small, very sophisticated, very useful handheld GPS unit.

My introduction to the Pilot came the night before Oshkosh started. riding on a commuter airliner from Minneapolis to Appleton.

As it happened, two Garmin employees were seated nearby, and we started talking about GPS user interfaces.

Somewhere in the discussion, an implicit challenge was issued that with a really good user interface you should be able to make the unit work without looking at the manual.

They looked at each other, they looked at me, told me of a product to be introduced the next day, a Pilot appeared, and was handed to me. Challenge accepted.

Figuring It Out

Well, I didn't figure out how to turn it on, thinking that the red light bulb icon button was a back light control, and I had to ask.

Once it was turned on, I held it up to the window of the airliner to see what I could make it do. The Pilot immediately started tracking signals from satellites, showing their azimuths, elevations, and signal strengths.

The Pilot has a 12-channel, phase tracking receiver, which means that they use additional magic beyond all that pseudo-random noise modulation that you read in the textbooks and don't quite believe can really work.

That big button—the star in the solar system of buttons—is in fact a four-way cursor button just like you see on those two-way pagers that gave me some handheld user interface design experience.

It wasn't hard to use the cursor button, the Enter/Mark button, and the Menu buttons to get the Pilot going and to measure our ground speed toward Oshkosh—without a manual and with no coaching beyond how to turn it on. Challenge met, and most impressively.

First Impressions

The Pilot display is tiny, as is the unit, but it is nicely readable. The database contains all the usual bells and whistles, plus a goodly set of gongs, chimes and drums.

For example, the moving map display shows freeways, roads, state boundaries, railroads, cities and bodies of water.

It also has VORs, of course, and special-use airspace, airport frequencies, and special-use and controlled airspace. Finally, there are FSS and ARTCC frequencies.

There is an HSI function that will let you intercept and track course lines like a jet pilot, or you can use the railroad symbology like a Cub pilot.

There's also a very handy highway-in-the-sky feature, using enough of the display to be readily readable, that should make it very easy to follow a course line with an even friendlier display.

Need more?

The unit is roughly triangular in cross section, so you can rest it on top of your panel. If you want to mount the unit vertically, the screen display can rotate 90°, and the buttons are already at a 45° angle.

Need to mount the antenna remotely? It comes off. Too soon, those tired batteries were screaming for peace, and I gave the unit back to the Garmin folks.

Back at Home Base

A few days later. Jay Dee Krull. private pilot and lead software engineer on the Pilot (and also its older brother, the GPSMAP 195) told about the development and features of the Pilot.

Compared to the 195, the Pilot differences are fewer pixels (a 100x160 pixel display versus 160x240 pixels), better fonts on the Pilot and no data card.

Updates for the Pilot can be done from your PC with the correct options. On the 195 the final approach segments for all Jeppesen instrument approaches are in the database, but those were omitted from the Pilot.

Under the hood, the Pilot has a hardworking 16MHz Intel 386 processor running a custom Garmin operating system, with all the code written in C and assembler.

A half-megabyte of ROM and 128K RAM handle most of the storage, and 1.5 MB of flash memory stores the database.

That GPS receiver circuitry is also custom Garmin and is not standalone but rather requires the 386 for some of its signal processing needs.

Development of the Pilot, which the company thought of as the 195, Jr., took about 9 months, but they did have the working 195 to give them a head start.

Given the impressive quality of the user interface, and knowing from experience how arduous it is to do it right, I was surprised to find that Garmin's beta testers were all Garmin employees.

Some three-dozen people reviewed the design, including engineers, marketers and phone support people. They got it right.

And the price? A competitive $700 for a 9-ounce marvel, including dash mount, wrist strap, owner's manual and quick-reference guide.

Once you have it at home, there is an optional kit to allow you to update the database from your PC.

In the plane, the Pilot has a standard NMEA interface to drive a moving map, and it also has a differential-GPS input should you need to follow either the right or left rail of the railroad tracks.

When I was learning to fly , my instructor talked about a lost feature of the four-course radio ranges: that you could put a receiver into your shirt pocket and find your way home.

With the Pilot III you could put two or maybe three in your shirt pocket and use one to get home, following roads, rivers, railroads. VORs or direct.

And, unlike the four-course range receiver, you won't need charts.. .or an owner's manual.


A Ready-To-Fly Aviation PDA

GARMIN aviation PDA

Garmin International announced its latest GPS mapping gadget—the iQue 3600a. According to Garmin, the product is the first Palm-powered aviation device that comes ready to navigate right out of the box without extensive set-up procedures.

The package includes the iQue unit wit h built-in base map, terrain, obstacle and Jeppesen databases, as well as a yoke-mounted cradle. "It's like flying with a portable MFD" said Gary Kelley, Garmin's director of marketing.

"Pilots wil l fall in love with the rich color, the high-resolution display, the sectional chart-like presentation, the terrain-mapping and obstacle-alerting functions, and the overall ease of use."

The iQue 3600a's features include the following: mapping data with aviation navaids, airport and airspace; topographic data and obstacles; GPS-derived speed, altitude and guidance features in an aircraft panel format; and a digital log-book that tracks flight time, mileage and start/end points.

In addition, the unit's QueTerrain feature uses the topographic/ obstacles database to alert you of potential terrain conflicts near your flight path using pop-up windows.

The unit weighs 6.2 ounces and features a 3.8-inch diagonal TFT dis play screen. The rechargeable lithium ion battery provides up to 9 hours of continuous use at the minimum back light setting.

Dedicated Direct-To, Nearest, Menu, Escape, Enter and directional rocker buttons are built into the unit, so no stylus is needed in the cockpit. In addition, the iQue 3600a is a fully functioning Palm OS PDA; it features automotive turn-by-turn capabilities and comes with a suite of personal information management applications including address book, date book, memo pad and to do list.

The older iQue 3600a lists for $1099 - and the new M3 seen here, a lot less! For more information, call Garmin at or visit www.garmin.com.

View the GARMIN iQue M3

View the Garmin iQue 3600 PDA/GPS