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North Up Or Track Up

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We have always have used Track Up on our Garmin GPS V's and StreetPilot III - the logic is when you look at them you are going "that way"



I agree. Also, when you are using "North Up", the arrow (you) is centered on the screen ..... when in "track up" mode, the arrow (you) are closer to the bottom of the screen, allowing you to see further ahead on the map (at least thats how it is on my 60C).

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Of course we alway think of the top of a map being north so I usually like that on my 60c. But, usually my routes are north and south and that leaves me with a taller screen. I recently have been trying to retrain myself with track up because I'm planning a 1600 mile trip with east/west travel. Again, the taller screen being the deciding factor.

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I used to think North Up, but recentlly I've found that Track Up works better for me. The shift of the background seems subtler, making for smoother viewing. I think once the paradigm of North Up thinking is broken, viewing progress is much simpler. My opinion, I know it's a real personal choice.

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I like track up for both auto-routing and just plain old traveling. This way when a right turns comes up it shows as a right turn. You can see it a head of time easier. The other reason is on my Vista I am used to the arrow pointing the wrong way when going slow. This way I know up is the way I am going.



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This is a VERY subjective issue. The only thing that changes is the display, and the GPS and software don't care one way or the other. I tend to use track up on the GPS, and North up for my Palm mapping program. I'm used to looking at a map with north up, so I can see what's happening and the relationship of everything quicker. On the GPS, I don't use the map display that often, but when I do there isn't much to see anyway, so it seems easier to have the track pointing up. Which works of you is entirely a matter of preference. As has been pointed out, do it both ways & use whichever you like best.

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I use track up for everything. That way, if I am autorouting, when I look to the right, I can look at the screen, and it will show my exact orientation. If it shows the 192 highway on my right, I know it's actually over there.


The same thing with caching, or using topo maps. I pretend I'm the dot, and everything else is laid out perfectly.

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Thanks for the replys. I think I am going to try and train my brain to get used to "track up". It seems like it should be easier in the long run. Where a left is a left, and a right is a right. Now that I think about it I have held my GPSr upside down to make sure I was turning the correct way.

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Hmmm.....I've really tried to use mine with Track Up, but just can't get my head around it. Must come from years of holding a regular map such that the place names can be read easily - that being north up. :rolleyes: Maps are confusing enough without spinning them around as you're driving. :blink: I would imagine for pilots it would be much easier to do the track up thing as this is what they're used to.

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I would imagine for pilots it would be much easier to do the track up thing as this is what they're used to.
I can't speak for all pilots, but track up is not what I'm used to. I'm used to reading a map or chart with North up. But the Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) sort of gives a track up display, in the sense that you set your course pointer to the desired course and turn to put the pointer up and the needle centered. I can live with either configuration, but on a map display it's easier for me with North up. The map display on the Legend is not the usual map I'm used to seeing, though, so track up works ok for me.
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Now that I think about it I have held my GPSr upside down to make sure I was turning the correct way.


Exactly. It helps a lot to have track up. Dont listen to Volwrath! :rolleyes:


Track up is just more logical. Who needs to use their brains anyway?

That is what is wrong with this world. People using track up :blink:

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Those who can travel using North UP display without getting confused probably could fly a RC model airplane. When you are flying it away from you, left is left and right is right. When you are flying the plane toward yourself, left is right, and right is left. Is that confusing enough??


This can easily crash the model airplane if you can only operate in trackup mode.




If we had a magnetic pellet in our brains, we could have a better sense of direction when navigating.

Edited by GOT GPS?
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When driving on angling roads (non-E,W,N,S; headings other than 0, 90, 180, 270), such as river towns and other 'angling roads', I found that North up helps me to have a better feel for what direction I am heading relative to a MAP or North Up orientation.


I am very used to North Up and rarely even try Track Up, with the exception of :

On trips with basically N,S,E,W driving, then Track up is more tolerable and allows greater use of the screen. I don't have a problem knowing whether an upcoming turn is right or left, just like riding a bike once you're used to it.


YMMV :D Good Luck.

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Maybe it's the whole right brain vs. left brain thing - some of us can relate better to North Up because we have a better spatial awareness, some people relate better to Track Up because of the visual advantage. I don't think that one has an advantage over the other, it's how we process the information that matters.


Personally I prefer North Up - guess that means I can fly a plane no problem, anyone wanna lend me one :D

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For people who have used maps a bunch tend to prefer North Up. I rarely used maps and switched to track up on my first day using my GPS and have never looked back. When in the car, with the GPS on the dash, I like to have to roads on the GPS to be oriented in the direction of the actual roads in front of me.


The geeky thing to do is try ALL the settings and see which one you prefer. :D



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With my Vista I use North up while driving and Track up if I'm retracing back to a start point using the breadcrumb trail. On the road, I like to know where I am relative to everywhere else and track up just makes everything topsy turvy. Even in a familiar place, with track up I have no idea where I'm going except that I'm going correctly. But is it west? east? who knows? In the woods, I really don't recognize one tree from another (or care) so Track up works better.


Now that I'm using a PDA navigation system that speaks to you; (Turn right onto Main street in a half mile. Main street on the right in 120 feet" with big visual arrows that tell you which way to go on the next turn, you don't even have to look at the map so North up seems to be even better to orient yourself with your surroundings and not get confused.


After going nearly blind squinting for years at the Vista screen on my dash, the large PDA with arrow and voice is just thrilling! It's the cat's meow. Now I'm reserving the Vista for off road use only or to provide the satellite signal to the PDA.



Edited by Alan2
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The way I see this is every one is right first of all there is Prefaces if it works for you then go for it.


As far as North Up it does force you to think more in some situations at least it does for me hence the way the Brain works and process information and People are Different in that category.


And for Track up for me it’s a thing of Situation Awareness be it Flying or Driving especially with a map view while you are following your track the map is oriented to the direction you are traveling so just a glance will tell you that the lake or road on the right is where it should be with no further thought process your Brain has to make. Hence Safety and work load in this mode while Driving or Flying for me is the answer


Now as far as myself I use both it depends on what I’m doing and if it depends on (NEWS) such as if your at a waypoint or point of interest and need to go south then the orientation is already set up for you with North UP.

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I'm a North-Up fan. If I'm doing a lot of turns on the way to a destination, it's easier to keep of the map features if they're not constantly rotating. I've gotten used to doing the right-is-left/left-is-right flip when the position indicator is pointing down. Either that, or I always hunt caches in a south-to-north order. :D

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I have to say that in all my years on the hill I have NEVER (except when I'm traveling north)used a map North up. It just doesn't make any sense. When map reading you need to learn to 'see' the ground on the map. The only way to do this all the time is to have the map orentated to the direction of travel. That way what you see on the ground is what you see on the map. Same thing for GPSr in my mind.




I know nothing about flying so North up may be better in that situation

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Something that I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is that you can get the best of both worlds if you use north-up while autorouting on the 60C/S (maybe other units too?). The map page is north-up, but the two turn warnings that you get at each turn are track-up. If you have a 60C/S, you should give north-up a try. I like it better.

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I'm of the opinion that if I'm the navigator, then I want track up. I'm very used to ordinary maps (been competing in orienteering since 1972). Since in that sport, quick map reading is essential, we always use Track up. Everything else wastes time.


But if I'm flying (as a passenger), then I like to see the big overview in North up. In that case, I'm not taking the turns myself, so then the schoolbook view works fine.


Going in a car, I think North up is appropriate, if you don't have to make any turn for a while. But when you are approacing a turn, then I want Track up, since the GPS then does orient the map properly automatically.


So in my auto-routing GPS, I use the combination of Autozoom (zoom in so the next exit is always just within the map limit) and Track up when scale is below 30 km. This gives me North up for the large overviews, and Track up when it starts to matter.

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It does really come down to personal preference and how you process the information.


I'll agree that for land navigation with maps you turn the map to make it match the terrain - so this would equate to track up.


Being a formal naval officer with my Command Ticket we navigate with the charts north up - we don't rotate them. So I guess my brain is used to that way of thinking and I'll always work in a north up mode.


Of course if you're talking blind pilotage situations and running under radar only then you could be talking a whole other ball game depending on the type of radar you're running :D


All in all - you have to try both settings and decide for yourself. No one else can tell you which one is better for you, only you can decide that.

Edited by Curious George
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