Re: Global Positioning Systems???
Milt Forsberg (miltf@UX1.CSO.UIUC.EDU)
Wed, 10 Dec 1997 09:11:59 -0600
I use a GPS with my notebook computer running DeLorme Street Atlas to
provide a moving map as I drive. It works great! I have used this system
for 3 or 4 years now.
My GPS unit is a Garmin 45. I do use the external antenna, but I just
place it on the dash. It can be mounted on top of the vehicle for better
reception, but the dash is adequate for most purposes. Most units are
waterproof as they are intended for boating use.
The DeLorme Street Atlas goes down to gravel road detail and surprisingly
has many BSA camps marked and identified. You can zoom in and out for
different applications (hiway, city streets, country backroads, etc.).
The accuracy is limited with the government's Selective Availability which
puts in up to 100 meter error on the location. I don't find this a big
problem and the error transmission will be removed in the next few years.
Subscription services are available to correct the error, but they run
several hundred dollars per year. I think this is why the slow phase out
of the inaccuracy - it would wipe out these services. The inaccuracy was
intended to prevent enemy aircraft from accurate bombings of the US (and
other countries, for that matter.)
The units with attached screens are very new and probably very pricy. I
have not looked at these yet. A normal GPS unit provides your location,
altitude, etc., but, without a map and understanding of plotting your
location, it will be of limited use in our BSA programs. The GPS units
don't like to be under trees - signals do not travel through the leaves
As for units sending data to a computer, most if not all which have a data
connection should work fine. There are certain protocols required by the
software, but most units produced now have those protocols. You can buy
the complete package from DeLorme which includes the CD and GPS unit.
Their GPS is without controls on it and must be used with the software.
The price is around $169, complete. The CD alone is around $40. Street
Atlas 4.0 works with Windows any version while 5.0 is Win95 only. 5
includes locations of restaurants, motels, gas, etc for most major
I am not sure about the "stocking stuffer" as there needs to be some
education to use a GPS and for maps, you need the computer.
The units for autos to be installed run around $2,500 right now. I
suggest waiting for the market to grow and the price to shrink.
I have made presentations to my troop on use of GPS when we are looking at
mapping. I do feel GPS use will increase in an explosive manner within
the next few years.
SM, Troop 7
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City