Travelling through Africa and Asia

Discussion in 'Global Navigation Satellite Systems' started by anadimpalli, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. anadimpalli

    anadimpalli Guest

    Hi all,

    Which hand held GPS would you guys recommend? I would like to track my movements and some points of interest - especially hospitals and health clinics. Would something like the Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator be ok? I'm a novice, so will be uploading onto google maps.

    anadimpalli, Apr 6, 2015
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  2. anadimpalli

    Sam Wormley Guest

    These days, I enjoy the GPS capability in my iPhone6 and related Apps.
    Sam Wormley, Apr 6, 2015
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  3. anadimpalli

    Alan Browne Guest

    What's more important is what detailed maps you load into it.

    While Sam's suggestion of an iPhone 6 is fine, you either need to
    preload maps into a dedicated mapping program or be sure that wherever
    you are going there is adequate cell coverage to receive the maps of
    areas around you. In Africa, in remote areas, you're not likely to have
    much coverage. You can "cache" maps in Google Maps for iPhone - see:
    Alan Browne, Apr 6, 2015
  4. anadimpalli

    Greg Troxel Guest

    Working offline is a huge issue. I would use two approaches:

    osmand (on android)

    Garmin with openstreetmap data and mkgmap to convert it.

    Most online sources have terms that prohibit effective offline use. The
    big exception is openstreetmap.

    I have an Etrex 30 that I load OSM data onto, and that works well. The
    20 is the same w/o the barometer and compass.

    Both osmand and garmin/osm can do routing offline with no communications
    link at all, including routing for pedestrians and bicycles. It can be
    a little rough but the GPS units with proprietary data seem to only do
    car routing.

    The other big issue is battery life. With AA NiMH rechargebables, I can
    run the etrex 30 all day and only charge/change batteries every night.
    You can't run a phone GPS all day without a big external battery.

    You say "uploading onto google maps". I would encourage you to
    contribute to openstreetmap, which lets everyone use the data. Google
    maps data is only usable under very limited circumstances - basically
    people can only look at it online, and they can't get the actual vector
    Greg Troxel, Apr 6, 2015
  5. I have retired my Garmin handheld GPS receiver quite a few years
    ago and don't even take it along any more when travelling
    through Africa (which I will do again in May). It has been
    replaced with a sequence of Android smartphones, currently a
    OnePlus One, which are far superior to any dedicated GPS
    receivers in almost any respect. I have never looked back.

    I use Google Maps with Google Navigation, as long as I have good
    mobile coverage (widespread throughout Africa nowadays), and
    Locus for offline mapping. This year, for the first time, I will
    use only vector maps, which are now available for many or all
    African countries in good quality.

    Auto-routing is somewhat unreliable in Africa, so you cannot
    entirely switch off your brain. :)-) But Google Navigation has
    been getting better year after year in Kenya, where I regularly
    check and use it.

    Locus is probably the most powerful mapping app for Android of
    all, but it contains an overwhelming multitude of capabilities
    and settings. Therefore I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it for
    casual use, but I strongly recommend it for everyone who is
    technically inclined and willing and able to check through its
    many features. It requires some training and exploration before
    you can unlock its power. There are lots of other mapping apps
    though, with various ease-of-use characteristics, so you will
    find something that works well for you.

    By the way, I also fly in Africa and use Locus for aerial
    navigation. I have put up my airspace data for much of East
    Africa on my web site. Please ask for details, if anybody is
    interested, or check .

    Make sure you have a smartphone holder with you that attaches to
    an air vent in the vehicle for good positioning in your
    view-field and good cooling. You may want to have a few pieces
    of foam rubber on hand to stuff under the holder to dampen the
    shaking while driving off-road. And you want to have a good car
    charger and a low-resistance USB charging cable, such as the
    special charging cables made by portapow, which you can find on

    Hans-Georg Michna, Apr 7, 2015
  6. Am 2015-04-07 um 10:18 schrieb Hans-Georg Michna:
    While this might be true for you use case, I would rather not generalize
    this. There are uses cases, where a dedicated GPS receiver has it's
    place. Among them are cases where there is no access to chargers, I also
    found the readability of transflective displays superior in bright
    sunlight conditions. Also the protection against dust, humidity and the
    operating temp range is probably better than that of a smartphone.

    Bernd Nebendahl, Apr 20, 2015
  7. Am 2015-04-20 um 16:54 schrieb Bernd Nebendahl:
    I just looked up the data:

    Garmin Etrex 30, -4°F to 158°F (-20°C to 70°C), IPX7
    Apple iPhone , 32°F to 95°F (0°C to 35°C), IP?
    Samsung Galaxy SII, -4°F to 122°F (-20°C to 50°C), IP?

    so Apple's iPhone have the worst specs, Samsung's Galaxy SII is better,
    but especially at high temperature the Garmin is superior.


    PS I did not spend too much time to find the data, so there might be
    phones that are comparable to Garmin's devices.
    Bernd Nebendahl, Apr 20, 2015
  8. Thanks for the good information. Yes, the dedicated devices have
    their place.

    It is a tradeoff between better capabilities and better
    ruggedness. If you have to go to places where smartphones cannot
    survive, you may have to take a dedicated GPS receiver.

    Better smartphones protect themselves against too high
    temperatures by switching themselves off, so at least they do
    not fail for good. And you can take measures against other
    environmental dangers to smartphones. But ultimately there
    should be a good decision, based on circumstances.

    The smartphones have their advantages too. They are much more
    capable in terms of mapping and can use a wide variety of maps.
    They are also good at routing. And of course they do a whole lot
    of other things, like communicating, providing you with internet
    access, etc. They are certainly enticing.

    With this information everybody should be able to make a learned
    decision on whether to use a smartphone or a dedicated GPS

    By the way, my smartphone has a special sunlight mode.
    Apparently it adjusts the gamma parameter of the display image
    for a brighter picture automatically when it detects bright
    sunlight. Works pretty well.

    Hans-Georg Michna, Apr 20, 2015
  9. Am 2015-04-20 um 18:54 schrieb Hans-Georg Michna:
    That's interesting. So far I was quite disappointed by the readability
    in sunlight. Which brand/modell are you using?


    PS Maybe I'm biased against smartphones probably due to my use case.
    Most of the advantages of smartphones go away if there is no coverage,
    which is often the case for me and as you can imagine in those places
    routing is also not working (due to the lack of proper maps). Actually I
    have used google earth pictures to create maps for my etrex (worked
    nicely here <>)
    Bernd Nebendahl, Apr 21, 2015
  10. If you want to drive a car in denly populated areas, a smartphone may have
    better routing and points of interest.

    But outside that, if you go off the main roads, in my experience,
    openstreetmap on Garmin (as 62s at the moment) is way better. It has a bit of
    a learning curve though.

    The map possibilies are almost endless. People make all kinds of special
    maps, for example all kinds of cycle maps. You can make your own special
    maps if you are willing to learn the toolset.
    Philip Homburg, Apr 21, 2015
  11. My phone is a OnePlus One.

    It is very true that most advantages of smartphones are lost
    when there is no internet connection. But mapping and routing
    does work.

    In offline situations, for driving Nokia's Here Maps app may be
    the best solution. For my purposes Locus is probably the best
    app. But be warned: Locus is a powerhouse with many functions,
    and it therefore requires some learning before you master it.
    But there are other apps for the casual user.

    When I use the smartphone for navigation in a light airplane I
    have a second phone with me, just in case the first one fails.

    Hans-Georg Michna, Apr 22, 2015
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