The GlobalSat BR305 in use
OK so those of you who know me know that I am a die hard outdoors guy (albeit with a large paunch) and my GPS emphasis has always been towards mobility, compactness and battery life. So how did I fare with a static non-self powered GPS.
I AM A CONVERT!!
Well at least partially. What appeals to me about this setup is that you just get in the car, start the engine, then put the PDA in it's cradle. While all this is going on the GPS is getting a Fix, so that by the time you have started your navigation program the GPS is fixed and all ready to go.
Now there are the obvious drawbacks of non-portability, but if you only have one car, and you are not interested in using a GPS for outdoor pursuits then you cannot go far wrong with a setup like this. I now use this setup for all road GPS, and will get one for my son's car too soon.
But those are just generic comments about the GPS format. What about the GlobalSat?
Firstly it all goes together very easily. There was plenty of cable for me to install it anywhere I wanted in the front of the car. I managed to tuck the cables away very well as described above. As this is a serial device there is no software driver required. Just plug and go.
The first time I started the GPS it did a factory TTFF I was surprised when it achieved this in about 42 seconds. Cold starts normally take 20-30 seconds. There have been a couple of times when the cold starts have been a lot longer, but you will occasionally get this happening, one day I was having trouble getting a fix with the Emtac as well. Warm starts are pretty fast as well. After starting the car and before I have started my navigation application I have a fix.
The signal strength and sensitivity is slightly less than that of the Emtac. Where the Emtac would give a 7-8 satellite fix, the BR305 gives 5-6. This is not a problem as it is more than enough for accurate navigation. I have never lost a fix driving down leafy lanes, so essentially that is all that counts.
I recently went on holiday (well they let me out once a year) and thought that this would be a good opportunity to test the mouse GPS. We did about 2,400 miles over 15 days towing a caravan through France, Belgium. Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. An excellent test of all the equipment. I was running a combination of Destinator 2, TomTom Navigator, OziExplorerCE and Fugawi. Throughout the traveling time the only problem I encountered was with Destinator. On a couple of times it locked up and the PDA required a reboot to recover. This was not a fault of the GlobalSat GPS it was Destinator.
Now all of you who know of Switzerland think of Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks. I can assure you that it is also a country of tunnels. When going through the Alps there are literally hundreds of tunnels, but it is not just the alps it is in the towns as well. When we got to Basle the motorway suddenly disappeared underground, Whoops GPS does not work down here. I was given a sharp lesson in not relying on the navigation software when faced with a few underground Y junctions. I had to snap to and MANUALLY navigate. That aside the BT305 sprung back to life as soon as we exited the tunnel.
Further up in the mountains there were some interesting tunnels and avalanche protection half tunnels. Once again the GPS re-fixed after a couple of seconds. The toughest test was a series of 8-10 tunnels of 200-500 metres with open gaps of the same length between them. No sooner than we came out of the tunnel the GPS picked up a fix and we were in the next. The only slight delay was when we had exited the Gotthard Tunnel going northbound where the GPS did not re-fix for about 45 seconds. Having said that the Tunnel was over 12 miles and the valley we were in was somewhat deep at that point.
Another issue brought to the fore recently has been the performance or failure of GPS equipment at high temperatures. Well whilst in Italy we had 10 days of extreme temperature, at night the ambient temperature dropped to 27, during the day it rose to between 36 and 39 centigrade. Combine these temperatures. with the effects of a glass windscreen and you get some pretty hot untouchable surfaces. At no point did I have any problems with the GPS, it was just the driver and passengers who overheated.
All in all I am very happy with the GPS and will continue to use it on a daily basis.