Monday, September 1, 2008

Benefits of car GPS nav systems

If you go back through the recent history of in-car GPS systems, you will note that largely they were gadgets for fun. For the most part they consisted of software running on a laptop and a serial GPS device. Somewhat simultaniously they were incorporated into the dashes of the more expensive cars-as an expensive option.

Now of course they are everywhere...all types, at all price ranges. So now nobody has an excuse for getting lost...but what else can we make them do.

I have the Garmin 7200 installed in my truck.

-it has a video input triggered off the reverse gear I now have a backup camera.

-it has an option for an XM antenna to receive weather and traffic after a cheap ebay auction...I have that now. (but the XM radio audio that comes with the package sounds like cheap AM...I don't know if it is the Garmin unit, the XM 'puck' or the actual stations broadcast.)

-it (and many other devices) will allow you to load your own "Points of Intrest"... that opens up a big area...

Trapster maintains an open database of user input info...specifically where Redlight cameras are...and where speed traps are normally located. Thanks to a quick download...I now have THAT info on my Garmin.

Ok that is pretty cool...but what if you are like my brother and need to know where the nearest $tarbuck$ is?

Enter POI-Factory. There are probably hundreds of websites that have a collection of "Points of Interest"...but this one has all the ones I have needed. Again a collection of user created data...but it is a huge collection...getting to the point where it may be hard to find what you are looking for. And of course in addion to the points, there are also a ton of icons to associate with your machine.

To put these POIs on your GPS unit is going to vary...but for Garmin, they have a free POI loader available for download. It is pretty much foolproof, but if you want to add an needs to be in the same folder as your POIs and named exactly the same .bmp. When the icon is named the same as the POI file, then the Garmin POI loader will associate the two.

I can't speak for all units, but I put ALL the POIs and Icons I want to upload into one folder and send the bunch...I am not sure if you can just add on...or if it overwrites every time.

Of course your GPS unit should allow you to decide when the icons should show...or else if you are zoomed way out...all you will see is a sea of Starbucks.

With my GPS unit, when I go to the 'find' menu, under Extras (with a picture of a golf green?) there is a button called custom POIs...they are ALL there.

I could select the Starbucks one, and it would give me the list of all the closest shops rank ordered by distance, with an arrow to the relative direction.

What more could you ask for.

1 comment:

Escherblacksmith said...

you are funny guy. Death to Videodrome long live the Starbucks.