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Any remaining Magellan users of serial-era or USB Explorist x00 models?


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TL;DR: I'm proposing deleting 
...and related doc.

Magellan's Map330, Meridian, Meridian Gold, and Meridian platinum were beloved geocaching devices of their era. The units with SD cards are turning 20 this year. http://gpsinformation.us/mgoldreview/mag-gold.htm. The Map330 and (un-map) 310 hail from the previous century. My first GPS was a Map330 and I logged my first thousand finds with it.

Explorist 400, 500, 600, and XL http://www.gpsinformation.net/waas/Mag3-D/eXplorist.html were respun versions of those from about 2004 or 2005 that were the first handheld to really have any geocaching mode (alas, not full-on paperless). They went from 68K Dragonballs to ARM and added USB and brought USB mass storage mode to geocaching-class GPS receivers. My second GPS was a Meridian Platinum and I logged my second thousand finds with it. After that, I went to a mixture of Explorist 600, and GPSMap 60Cs, but after 60CSx hit, I went Garmin and never really went back personally.

All of these units were innovative in their time, but their time is gone. Here is your chance to change my mind. (Politely.)

Are there ANY geocachers out there that are still hunting with these units and, in particular, still using GPSBabel with them? ("If you like your GSAK, you can keep your GSAK"; it includes an ancient version of GPSBabel that's not going to change...probably ever.) There's special code in GPSBabel to handle these GPS units in general, of course, but there are enough features specifically for geocaching that it's somewhat conceivable that people are still using them to hunt geocaches from pocket queries. (Assuming they can find the cell-phone batteries of that era for that latter group...Honestly, this tidbit alone makes me suspect these units have been retired from active duty.) 

Fighting USB->Serial adapters, of course, gets more difficult in each successive OS release so that first category is on increasingly thin ice that I don't control anyway. Maybe MacOS "Bucksnort", Windows 14, and Ubuntu Wascally Wabbit kill serial support so dead that it's beyond what we can support anyway.

Explorist x10 (510, 610, 710) were Windows Mobile with the touch screens from the Mio era that can natively read and write Pocket Queries are immune from this discussion. They do "real" paperless geocaching as they can read the full PQs. It's possible that there are geocachers using these units today without a huge amount of suffering.

I can find no bug reports, non-mechanical code changes (which still cost us development time...), blog entries, or mailing list traffic for these devices in many years.  If you're still using these devices AND you're using GPSBabel to communicate with them on MacOS, Windows, OS/X, or whatever, this is your last chance to keep them alive. Unless there's a critical mass - and particularly, a critical mass willing to volunteer to test and maybe even maintain - of users for these, this code is probably toast.

Earlier, I proposed nuking Garmin serial protocol as it's a much bigger pain in my neck but there was enough base (but no volunteers to help, alas) that I granted them a reprieve. Magellan was always a smaller player than Garmin, but  has been bought and sold so many times they just don't have an institutionalized base of users (and service parts and replacement devices) to keep an interest in those "classic" devices.

Since Geocaching with Magellan GPSes was my intro to the hobby/profession of GPS and geocaching, I wanted to extend a special lifeline to users of the equipment that I used of that era before I brutally git rm'ed them. If you make a plea to keep them, be prepared to defend that decision as it costs very real expenses of time, equipment, and grief on my part. A SAR team with a hundred such device in active use will carry WAY more weight than "I have one and I used it eight years ago."

Whistle blows on Dec 31. Go. (Or not....)

Finally, as a PSA, if you have any old GPSes (or other small electronics like cameras, MP3 players, or cameras) stashed in your "junk drawer", be sure you've removed the batteries from them. That Palm Pilot or GPS12  or whatever may not seem real valuable, but it's way less valuable when your 15 year old AA's lose bladder control and spill acid everywhere which then eats the copper off the circuit board traces. Remove the batteries before storing! (Better yet, just don't store - recycle!) 

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I'm going to convince you to go ahead and just do it. No point in supporting obsolete and unsupported hardware and software standards. For the few remaining diehards who refuse to live in the present or even the less distant past, they can figure out how to support their lifestyle on their own.

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Yeah, thanx. The writing on the wall is pretty clear, @Mineral2. These are a bit sentimental to me as they were my first GPSes but we've seen no evidence of activity in these for years.  Geocaching community has some die-hards of weird hardware, so I wanted to give any remaining Magellan die-hards to speak up. The Explorist GC and x10 are normal mass storage devices that eat GPX so they're pardoned.

I've swung the axe on dozens of formats, last announcing the formats on the lists at https://sourceforge.net/p/gpsbabel/mailman/message/37618405/ but we've not made a release since then. On that announcement, I did get some pushback on Gamins of similar vintage and they're kind of all or nothing for us. Unless I can kill all the serial and USB Garmins at once, we don't gain much by trying to whack just, say, GPS-III+ as they're all deeply intertwined. The 60C[S] and particularly, the 60C[S]x are hoarded by SAR teams around the world. I certainly don't have the wall of equipment online to test them all on the three mainline OSes with a few scripted tests any more.

The copy of GPSBabel that's embedded into GSAK is already years behind our development trunk and remains frozen in time, as is most of GSAK itself. There will come a day that those drivers and executables won't run on Windows 14 or whatever, but GSAK itself is facing a more dire case of tool constraints than we currently are so it's largely frozen.

As GPSBabel is turning 21 this month, some right-sizing and housecleaning seems fitting. Since my disability took me out of geocaching, I just don't have the time and soul to fret about whether some obscure GPS works on this month's edition of Linux or whatever. It's time to trim the dead weight so we can focus on keeping the important ones alive.

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Well, two of those never had a (supported) computer connection, IIRC. I called out on the GPSBabel list months ago for 400, 500, 600 users and got ZERO interest. I thus removed magellanx SD support, just like I said I was going to.

The good news for you is that making a release is a real pain in my (titanium-filled) neck and I haven't made a release since I've been on this bend. GPSBabel 1.8.0, currently on the website, still has support for all of these. So (Obama Voice) "If you like your GPSBabel 1.8.0, you can keep using your GPSBabel 1.8.0."

The next version will support zero of them.

This also means if you find some terrible bug that you want fixed, it'll be up to you to pull the old source, fork it, and fix it as needed. Open Source means you can support whatever combination you want, even after the original maintainer blows the whistle.

I can't tell if you're kidding, but seriously, those were not really  popular units 15 years ago when they were introduced. While they are technically still viable, (statistically) nobody still uses them and you'll have a hard time still finding the proprietary cell phone battery pack those models used. I've seen the traffic on those models taper to noise a long time ago. The last eXplorist x10 post I see on the GPSBabel list was 2008.

I just spent 5 hours modernizing an obscure Garmin format that has at least had one user check in in the last ten years. 

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Accidentally left my Oregon 600 at a hotel after loading some geocaches onto it. Whoops. (They have it in their lost and found and I will pick it up on the way back.) But I find myself not missing it, at least as far as geocaching is concerned. That may change over the summer when I'm hiking... and geocaching in the mountains.

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First off, Robert - glad to hear from you and it sounds like you’re feeling better than the last time we chatted.


Back on topic, I have none of my old gear anymore, but even if I did I’d see no reason to carry support forward in GPSBabel.  Anyone still clinging to a superannuated GPSR probably has a vintage computer to run the old software as well.

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Atlas, I understand your collection.  I also know you realize the difference between using them and collecting them and are prepared to use bespoke software if you can get it at all. (Good luck with that Magellan stuff that required online registration, for example.)

Mineral, close call! The 600 was actually the last device that I purchased when it was substantially discounted. The 450 it replaced had gotten crash-happy. The 600 at least rebooted more quickly when it crashed. By the time I purchased it, my own geocaching was largely limited by my own health and available time to business travels when I was "stuck" out of town. South SF Bay had enough geocaches to keep me occupied and there was enough flat land that I could choose my own adventures to tailor my days to my pain level for the day. I think I probably have a thousand or more finds that I've not even logged when I cached in part of a group on GeoWoodstock weekends, but I'm pretty much a former geocacher at this point.

Thanx, user13371.  For a few years after my surgeries, I was "frownie face" most of the time. While I still can't predict how much time I can devote to software just due to the nature of spinal issues, I do have some random lucid hours from time to time, so I can still pop out a release or two a year even if working from the bed or something. It's just the nature of my disability. 

The removal is in https://github.com/GPSBabel/gpsbabel/pull/961. Once I get that build green, I'll push it and it'll be gone in the nightlies and all future builds. For some reason, the doc build is silently failing on my machine right now and I don't feel like debugging that. I'll just "spray and pray" in the build cluster at Github. 

Once that PR is submitted, it shall be done.

In vaguely related news, the birthdate of GPSBabel's original code turns drinking age this week. It was just before the Christmas holiday in 2001 when I was still in a neck brace from my very first spinal surgery (the morning of 9/11) when I started geocaching. I had a DNF from mistyping the coordinates in my Map330 and I started writing code to talk to the device from SCO UNIX after being frustrated with the tools available at the time.


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I still have an explorist 100, GC, and a Magellan Triton. The Triton was like the Titanic, doomed from the start for gillions of reasons. 


The Explorist 100 still works and still will get you to ground zero if you don't mind putting in the coords manually and no way to log a cache as found on the unit. It's a unit that feels good holding in your hand. 


The GC series was an improvement over the Triton but Magellan using Windows CE. Magellan tried to cut corners... The GC, 110 and 310 were identical hardware wise but only slightly different software. It was too late for them by this time. 


What doomed Magellan was the constant changes in ownership, which lead them to get behind Garmin in technology and stubborness not to switch to USB technology until the GC.

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Yes, the rather non-gentlemanly references to them being bought and sold frequently were legendary. They weren't, however, totally undeserved. It was surely difficult to gain any internal traction with the distraction of knowing if your paycheck was going to bounce. Teetering on the edge of bankruptcy  surely  had a substantial cost on their spirit and metal model.

Neither Explorist 100 nor any of the entire Triton line ever sold enough to demand attention from the interop market (that's us) so they're just kinda of dangling in product history. Neither of those ever worked with GPSBabel, Like you, we can kind of hear the spooky Irish flooky/spooky flutes playing in the background...just before the glugging sound of water mutes them all sink.

Explorist GC and upper x10  geocaching had some potential. They, of course, licensed/bought a lot of that potential, but those little green potato-shaped units had a lot of UI promise that pretty much fell flat on the floor at launch. It was sad because, IMO, it was about the last time a fresh spin on geocaching was taken in the handset market  However, neither of these required any explicit support in GPSBabel (the GC could simply eat our GPX writer's output) so they require no extenuating support from our code..

So, yes. I miss the idea of Garmin having a strong competitor, but those units were never justifiably never supported by GPSBabel - or much else and the illusion of a competitor.

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On 12/9/2022 at 4:29 AM, robertlipe said:

Are there ANY geocachers out there that are still hunting with these units 

What little caching I do anymore is still done with either a 330, Explorist 210 (I think) or a Meridian. Also some with my phone but I usually just use it to remind me of the clues. I guess if I was as gung ho as I was years ago Id go for a modern unit with all the bells & whistles but no more than Id use it I just cant justify it sitting in the drawer. I truly understand why people do tho. Id have loved all these options 20 years ago!! :D

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Well, LtJon, please keep the version of 1.8.0 version of GPSBabel as it's the last to include that support. Of course, since it's open source, if you need to rebuild it for some OS twenty years from now, you have that option since you have the source and can build and maintain it on your own, but this survey (which actually started in Feb of last year) has closed. Magellan serial support in GPSBabel is gone..

I found my first thousand caches (in an era when doing so was hard) with those devices, so I liked mine and had some attachment to them but the maintenance cost vs. the size of the remaining user base (which is, uh, you :-) just didn't justify carrying it around.

Garmin serial, Garmin USB protocol, and GPX support, including Groundspeak pocket extensions and special KML writer, all remain.

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If you ever want slightly more, owing to the days when geocaching with a refurbished Visor was the bee's knees, we do still have the 'html' and 'text' output modes that are super handy for printing.  It's a bit non-obvious but you can "convert" a GPX file to a text file and print it which gives you the minimal text, optionally logs and decodes the hints, and gets rid of all that slow and ink-consuming gibberish around the page.

Get some use from that premium membership. :-)

But I do remember the days when it was about hunting an ammo box in the woods, reading the cache page before you ever left the house, and not wanting to mess with any tech at all because the whole point of hunting tupperware in the woods was to GET AWAY from tech, so I admire it in a sentimental way.

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@WolfWalker, as advised above, please keep your current copy of GPSBabel because as announced on the GPSBabel group over a year ago, the next version won't support Meridian. Indeed, it ends all Magellan-specific formats. X10 units (510, 610, 710, GC) will still eat industry-conforming GPX files, of course.

It's funny how Garmin has sold like a half dozen different devices colloquially known as "the little yellow one". It could be an eTrex10, a Vista HC, an original B/W Serial, a USB- Vista, etc. They don't actually have much in common...other than being, well, little and yellow.

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As moderator, I should fuss that this is a different topic, but it's my thread, so... whatever.

That's an impressive find. Those were epically terrible!

Personally, I'd open it up. IIRC there's a row of pins at the bottom. They're probably of the variety of .100 posts or the crimp-on ends that we all inventory. Crack open the case and find the power and ground.  That'll leave Tx and Rx. TX (from the GPS) will be driven into a mark state when powered on and will be easy to identify with your oscilloscope. Rx will float at high impedance.

Those may or may not work with that code that was removed above. Honestly Trailblazer was gone before I started in '01 and don't think I ever had a single person even ask about them during all of GPSBabel's development. It would PROBABLY work as a plain ole NMEA receiver - just like a modern $3 GPS GPS will. This may be a task for a 3D printer. Honestly, you're going to have to want this pretty badly if you can't just find one.


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2 GPS units that I miss were the Magellan GPS 315 and Meridian Platinum GPS units.  Those were fun to use, when I was mainly a Garmin guy. Back then the Meridian Platinum would zero into the cache location, but the Garmin would bounce back-n-forth with position error.

I have toyed with the idea of buying a used GPS315.

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On 12/23/2022 at 9:28 PM, Atlas Cached said:

I wasn't joking about the purchase.  In fact, I also recently obtained all the newer eXplorist x10 units also.


But,  yes,  Magellan is dead,  just like all these devices. I just wanted them for my collection. Certainly no intention of using them for anything. 

I was a HUGE Meridian fan and collected all the Meridian models ( some multiple like my favorite the Platinum ) many new in the box....I put the newest firmware on them so they could take the 2G card and hold maps of the whole U.S. and you could load over a million caches I believe.

Now they sit in storage.

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