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UK In-car navigation


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Does anybody in this forum use an in-car navigation system (one that is built-in rather than the laptop PC option)?


I was looking through what was available and everything seems ludicrously expensive - you are looking at over a thousand pounds for something decent. You could buy a laptop, software and a Garmin for this sort of money and end up with more functionality.


What I think would be good would be if someone invented a relatively cheap head unit that is mounted in the car with a display and software built in. To make it cheaper is has no GPS receiver built in but instead has a serial port on the front. You then plug your handheld GPS unit into this port and there you go - cheap, in-car navigation (without all the hassle of having a laptop sliding around on the front seat all the time).


While I am thinking of good ideas, why don't GPS receivers have IR ports on them? It would be very useful for transferring waypoints to friends devices.


(patent pending on both items icon_smile.gif )



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I'd say that the PC and GPS solution is difficult to use to the point of being dangerous to use in a car when you're on your own. The displays tend to be hard to read during the day and you shouldn't be looking at them when you're driving anyway. The PC itself is a bulky object which has a tendency to fly around under sudden braking.




We're going to need a bigger boat!

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Here's another in-car related idea to improve safety.


What you need is for Garmin to have a "mirror display" mode on their Vista, and then you should be able to leave the backlight on full-time. You could then place the unit on the dashboard and the reflection of the display in the sloping windscreen would act as a crude HUD.



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Originally posted by el10t:

Does anybody in this forum use an in-car navigation system (one that is built-in rather than the laptop PC option)?




I use a garmin street pilot 3 it is an excellent piece of kit and gives you verbal directions as you go ie turn right in 200yds.


I bought mine through http://www.gpsw.co.uk/ however it does seem to have gone up in price since I bought it!!


Other +'s are that you can transfer it from car to car unlike the radio style navigation systems





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Maplin Electronics are selling 12V to 230V inverters for £40 for the 150W model, and £50 for the 300W model.


I have just invested in one as I am using my laptop more and more in the car, and it means I can charge it on the go.


I can also take a (small) kettle with me for when its cold outside (every day!).



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I used my Etrex and a Psion series 5. Software was StreetPlanner Millennium. It shows you the way to go when a route is planned.

The downside is that there are too many cables floating about. Also Batteries are needed But being a smart *** I built a device that plugged into the cig socket that powered both bits of kit. Again more cables.

I got fed up with this and have now got a StreetPilot Atlantic Mono. As stated this can be transfered to other motor when needed.

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I have long thought that a useful addition for those who already have a laptop would be a small screen which could be placed on the dashboard while the laptop was put elsewhere.


Tim & June (Winchester)


To cache, or not to cache. That is the question !

Oh to hell with the work. icon_smile.gif

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I have investigated numerous ideas for in car navigation and have found a suitable alternative, especially if you don't want to spend out on a laptop, also a laptop will more than likely get in the way if you have a passenger.


The alternative is a PDA (palmtop PC) like the Palm M505, most of these will take windows based software (cut-down/pocket versions) also the new Auto route 2002 has GPS and palm top capabilities.


the cost of a palm top will be about half the price of a new laptop and the software is about £60 depending on where you purchase from.


if you are unsure about palm tops, beware of cheaper models which are glorified data banks that only hold names, addresses and calendar type info. Always look for windows/mac facilities.


also if you want there are plug in units which convert a palm top to a GPS (just the receiver part and the palm top becomes the screen and controls as on a Etrex or Vista) these unit are a little expensive though. I will check the price and post again.



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Thanks Rincewind.


I already own a Cassiopeia PDA. Trouble is, cnnecting it to the Vista will cost an extra 99 quid for the CF serial port.


Also, I'm not sure this would get over the problem of it not flying around the car as I go round corners etc.



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Originally posted by Monz:

This is the way I intend to go... and a lot cheaper than in car nav systems if you already have all the gear.



picture of mount


This bracket looks really good however what do you mount it to. My Focus only gives the option of fixing to the plastic dash, I would not like that sort of weight & leverage fixed to 1/4 inch thick plastic.


I was very concerned when I fixed a RAM mount for the SP3

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I think you just have too small a car. I have an Espace that we use with the laptop on the dash - passenger side. Don't forget UK laws state that you cannot watch a screen whilst driving.


Anyhow - GPS linked to Autoroute 2001 means that the missus can never say 'I don't know where we are', plus we get MP3's to listen to through the car stereo when the radio's rubbish.


Works great in France etc.


P.S. Just got back from CeBit & a german firm was advertising laptop mounnt that clip to the steering wheel for when you stop. They also have PDA mounts similar to mobile phone ones. I'll get the details later.

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I have read the replies given to the original question with some interest. The long and short of the argument is to either pay lots of money for an in-car system, or pay not quite so much money for lots of peripheral items (PDA's, etc.). Which is the best option?


There are several factors to take into consideration.


In-car systems ARE more expensive. The reason? Manufacturers of products for the automotive industry are besieged with rules and regulations that restrict them to the way an in-car system must be built. The electronics in these systems have to comply to stringent heat-tolerance and emissions tests. Also, the safety aspect of an in-car system has to be thought through in order to prevent people entering destination information whilst traveling at 80mph down the M3. These are just SOME of the things that these manufacturers have to consider when building their systems. There are many more. Belieive me. I've been there.


OK, why is this important? Well, leave for Compaq or IBM in a car on a hot day (inside temperatures can reach up to 80 degrees Celsius), and expect it to work reliably and consistently. Before you all yell back at me saying you have done it and nothing has ever gone wrong, all I can say is lucky you. I will bet my bottom dollar (or pound) that for every one person that has not had a problem there are ten that have. Another consideration - try viewing a PDA or laptop screen in direct sunlight!


Another thing to consider is that of security. Imagine the scenario: You have just arrived at a Geocache parking spot and you are keen to jump out of the car and find the cache. What do you do. Leave it all in the car or put EVERYTHING away? Laptop, leads, battery charger, inverter, etc., THEN you have to get the kids out of the car, get their wellies on, get their coats on (coz it's just started raining!), and so on. Alternatively, you simply remove the security panel from the in-car system and put it in your pocket!


Personally, I prefer the thought of an in-car system. I have used several through my work and have found them easy to use, reliable and accurate (especially in the days of Selective Availability).


Would I have an in-car system? YES! Can I afford one? No! So it's back to the cranky old IBM, three way cigar lighter socket, inverter, Etrex, data lead, power lead, blah blah blah. And look - it's just started raining!

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Thank you Team tate for a well constructed response.


I suspected as much - the built-in systems seem so much neater so I might go down this route.


I have traded in the old geocache mobile (Rav4) in P/X for an MR2 Roadster so might have to get the system built into this at some point.


Geocaching this summer will be less capacious but more fun icon_smile.gif




mobilis in mobili

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I thought about this too, Ive currently got a "soon-to-be-replaced-with-Garmin" prehistoric Magellan 3000XL (courtesy of ad-mag & a bloke in a lay-by off the M1 - dirt cheap). Was wondering what was inside it and if it could be separated out into LCD / Keypad / Receiver and redistributed around the car & dashboard.


Sadly I have neither the guts to rip it apart (more than just unscrewing it, its well moulded) or the technical expertise to rewire it.


Pity the things just too bulky to dashboard mount in a half-decent fashion.


Anyone ever get curious to see inside theirs and do this sort of thing ?



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