Free Garmin UK maps updated

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Although it’s been a while in coming, Mapomatic have updated their free UK OpenStreetmap based Garmin IMG files for use on Garmin GPS units.  Although they are still having some trouble with producing the canal map and cycle map versions, they have released an updated (July 2010) main map of the UK for general use (or for use in adding vital extra detail when you are out geocaching).  Importantly, with this release, they’ve also created a version with routing information (although that does make for a large download). I’ve been running Mapomatic files on my Garmin GPS for some while (since they started), and am grateful for the detail it gives; it seems a lot of the early OpenStreetMap footpaths were actually added by geocachers, so whilst last year you would often find the obvious footpath to a geocache on the map (and often stopping at the cache, as they turned round and went back the same way), this year a lot more footpaths (and roads in general) have been added; it’s still not complete (OpenStreetMap that is, the source of Mapomatic‘s data), but it’s a lot better than it was.

If you are interested in loading up UK OpenStreetMap files onto your Garmin then head over to Mapomatic to download the files, especially if you haven’t yet gone on holiday this year, and want to improve your GPS maps.


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Garmin announces GPSMAP 62 to replace 60CSx

Monday, June 7th, 2010

For the last few years, the Garmin 60CSx has been the GPS device of choice for many users; rugged, a decent viewable screen (without the touchscreen of the newer models it’s often easier to read in sunlight), and generally a good device, but things move on, and the new GPSMAP 62 brings a whole range of new technologies to this rugged range.

Although there are 3 models in the US, the top model includes  full US mapping, so may not be available in an equivalent in the UK, so let’s at least look at the two other models to see the spec:

“With a 2.6” sunlight-readable color display, up to 20 hours of battery life and a high-sensitivity GPS receiver and quad helix antenna for unparalleled reception (the GPS receiver features HotFix, which automatically calculates and stores critical satellite information and can use that information to quickly calculate a position), the GPSMAP 62 series features three distinct waterproof models to suit various activities and interests. The basic GPSMAP 62 includes a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief. The GPSMAP 62s adds a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and wireless connectivity for sharing routes, tracks, waypoints and geocaches between other compatible Garmin handhelds. GPSMAP 62s also includes a barometric altimeter that tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude. Users can also plot barometric pressure over time, which can help keep an eye on changing weather conditions.”

It supports the full paperless geocaching options of other recent Garmin GPS, and the Garmin Custom Maps feature that’s also supported on the Garmin Colorado, Garmin Oregon and Garmin Dakota models.

Here’s a nice touch for existing users of other recent Garmin GPS devices; “The GPSMAP 62 series is made even more versatile through its universal mounting system that is compatible with the same accessories as Garmin’s Oregon, Dakota and Colorado products.”

The Garmin GPSMAP 62 should be available in July, although we don’t have any confirmed UK pricing yet (I’d expect it to fit in above the Garmin Dakota range, but less than the most expensive Garmin Oregon models).


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SatMap release new firmware with many new features

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

SatMap Active 10

SatMap have quietly released a new firmware, v1.4, for their SatMap Active 10 devices.  As well as addressing a range of bugs, the full Changelog is included in this article.  Highlights include better Geocaching.com support, better power management, including hibernation support.  For the full changelog, read the rest of the article…

(more…)


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Satmap update firmware and add geocaching support

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

SatMap Active 10

SatMap, the makes of the SatMap Active 10 (and SatMap Active 10 Plus), have this week released a new version of their PC software, and a new firmware for the Active 10 devices to go with it.   For us, the key new feature is the support of geocaching.com GPX files, giving you a full range of information about the geocaches; offering hints, cache descriptions, terrain, difficulty, and logs.  The changes to the PC software include:

  • New graphical display: the new layout of the user interface makes operation clearer and easier.
  • GEOCACHING.COM compatible: users can install either .LOC files or .GPX files. The .LOC files contain the latitude and longitude of the cache, and the .GPX files contain the full information offering hints, cache descriptions, terrain, difficulty, logs, etc. This compatibility allows users to fully enjoy the growing international sport of Geocaching.
  • Google Earth compatible: so users can download .KML and .KMZ files for both routes and POIs from Google Earth onto the Active 10. The .GPX files from the Active 10 can still be uploaded and viewed on Google Earth.
  • Microsoft Virtual Earth compatible: so users can download .KML and .GPX files for both routes and POIs from Microsoft Virtual Earth onto the Active 10. The .GPX files from the Active 10 can still be uploaded and viewed on Microsoft Virtual Earth.
  • Enhanced Windows XP compatible: this allows users to run SatSYNC in guest accounts on their computers.
  • Direct links to Satmap Online Route Planner and Route Share Network: this allows users to access the online web applications rapidly, making it faster and easier to move routes around.
  • SD Card transfer of routes: users can now insert the SD Card straight into their PCs and do the import and export of files (using the Convert buttons) without needing the Active 10. This should make it easier for users to share routes or access routes as it means they don’t have to restart the unit to view any new routes when the card is inserted into the Active 10. It also makes the transfer of route files faster.

As for the firmware, which is needed to support these new features, it also includes:

Updates

  • Zoom Floor lowered from 1:1,000 to 1:500 for improved viewing of aerial photography products when released.
  • Support for Spanish and Catalan languages.
  • More flash memory freed up for map handling, allowing bigger maps to be loaded in future.
  • Updated support for German, Italian and French languages.
  • Routes now saved by default to SD card (if present), allowing for optimal use of memory resources.
  • Faster screen responses as soon as the Active10 acquires satellite lock, allowing for faster cold start times under certain conditions.
  • Minor improvements for use with the SatSYNC application.
  • Better handling of routes which have been “reversed”.

To us, the addition of the geocaching support really brings this device forward as a single, all-encompassing device which provides the benefit of OS maps as well as acting as an all-round device suitable for anyone who spends time in the countryside.


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SatMap launch Active 10 Plus

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

SatMap Active 10

When we covered SatMap‘s new Route Planner and Route Share last week, we noted that this would no longer be free to new purchasers of the Active 10 from today (and existing purchasers only have until the end of March to register for free access).  Well, SatMap have today extended their range with the Active 10 Plus, which will include free access to both these services.  On top of the standard Active 10 device, it will also offer postcode based lookup facilities, a new function not previously available on the Active 10, and due to license limitations, will not be available for retro-fitting to the Active 10 either.

The Active 10 Plus will retail for £379.99, compared to £299.99 for Active 10.  As well as access to the Route Planner and Route Share services (via a voucher in the box), the Active 10 Plus also ships with a World Base Map, a Lithium Polymer Battery (the unit will also take AA Batteries), a wall charger (with multi-country adaptors), and another voucher for 1/3 off a 60km² site-centred map (worth £35).

The new 1:5 million World Base Map allows better use of the device outside of the UK (or the main area you have bought maps for), providing some basic level of mapping.  For comparison, the Active 10 Plus ships with this 1:5 million base map, a UK 1:1 million high level OS map, and a 1:250,000 raster road map of the UK.  For those existing Active 10 users who would like this world base map, it is available as an upgrade for £39.99 plus postage.

The World Base Map is part of the European wide launch of the device, with plans to release OS type mapping for a number of Western European countries by Easter this year, including The Netherlands and Norway, where the device is already on sale.

Given the range of extras the Active 10 Plus ships with, it’s likely to count for the majority of sales moving forward.

Although still a little expensive (even as a waterproof GPS unit with access to UK OS Maps), if SatMap improved their geocaching support within the device’s software (and their FAQ says they are looking to incorporate in the future), we think they would sell even more units.

More information direct from SatMap here.


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Mapomatic release Garmin Oregon review

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Garmin Oregon 300

Mapomatic, who produce free Garmin maps from the OpenStreetMap data, have published their review of the Garmin Oregon, and considered whether it, or the Garmin Colorado is a better device for going geocaching.

Head over to read their review, and if you own a Garmin device which can have additional maps loaded onto it, then you might want to try out their Garmin UK OSM Map, or their specialised Garmin UK OSM Cycle Map (which puts greater emphasise on cycle routes) or even their Garmin UK OSM Canal Map (which adds lots of additional canals and rivers, and even shows lockgates; useful for those planning a summer trip on the water).


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Travelling information and iPhone integration

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

FlightTrack Pro

I’ve been a big fan of TripIt for the last year or so. Whenever you receive an email confirmation of a flight, a hotel booking, hire car, even a train ticket reservation, you can forward this email to TripIt and they will convert it into a travel itinerary for you. This puts all your travel information into one single location. As they support iCal and RSS feeds, you can then get this information into other sources, such as your Calendar or other services.

About a month ago, TripIt announced a developer API program, which allows other companies (with your approval) to access this data, and the fruits of this are already starting to show with 2 iPhone applications now offering TripIt integration to enhance your travelling…

FlightTrack Pro (shown above, currently £5.99) is the first such app, which is designed to track all your flight details for you, with the ability to not only access the flight information, but also live weather, flight route maps, real-time flight status updates, airport time difference information, airport delays and closures, and will, in their latest version, also support importing the flight information from TripIt. Some of these features, including the TripIt support only come with the Pro version, so this is likely to be more useful to the regular traveller.

Now, most of this information is already available, but this app brings together a whole raft of different websites to bring that information onto a single screen, and that’s key to us; that little extra effort in integrating all that information can be so useful to some people. FlightTrack Pro should be able to link your TripIt information to airport information, thereby providing additional information such as last minute gate changes etc. It even features an offline mode to work whilst you are travelling at 30,000 feet and want to check the details of the airport you are arriving at, or even your next flight (although you won’t have information to the real-time updates).

If your travel plans don’t always revolve around flights, then TravelTracker (below, currently £11.99) may be a better app…

TravelTracker

This covers all type of travel, allowing you to enter information on flights, trains, hotels, car rentals, meetings and driving, but again, offers that ability to integrate with TripIt to collect the data. Given that TripIt can pretty much handle all of those types of travel, it seems a nice combination to provide easy access to your trip data. It’s not as polished in some areas, eg accessing real time flight status takes you to a web page, whereas FlightTrack Pro builds the information into the application itself, but it does support some simple expense management, and even will track your frequent traveller cards and programs. As well as supporting the iPhone, they also support the iPod Touch.

Which one would we choose; well that’s the nice thing; use TripIt to automatically process the emails you are sent when you book the travel in the first place (they also support the major travel agents which are commonly used by corporate travellers), and then get the data fed seamlessly into both application; given you the best of both worlds; FlightTrack Pro for the best handling of the flights, with TravelTracker handling the rest of the travel.

What about once you’ve arrived, and you want to make notes and record information about where you have been, and what you have seen; well, maybe Geotags for iPhone is a good solution for you…

Geotags for iPhone

Geotags for iPhone is a free map-based application for the iPhone, allowing you to keep a record of places and things you have seen of interest, by marking on the map where you found them. As well as written notes, it supports photos and short audio files. Once you have collected the information, it can be viewed in Google Earth. Of course, you can achieve similar things with other services, such as Brightkite, which also offers a wider variety of method of locating yourself, and offers more of an overall social networking experience via their Brightkite for iPhone client, which is also free.

Finally, if geocaching is your thing (and if not, why not?!) then we’ve covered geocaching for the iPhone before here.

This level of integration with services such as TripIt, potentially resulting in not having to enter the information by hand on any system appeals to me, and I hope that over the next few months, we start seeing similar TripIt integration into Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile applications for non-iPhone using travellers.

Some content about Geotags for iPhone from TUAW; thanks to Mark at Automated Home for the link.


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Geocaching client for the iPhone

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Although it won’t appear for a few more days whilst the app goes through Apple’s review, the team behind Geocaching.com have written their own iPhone client.  The cost of the application is $9.99 (UK price to be confirmed) and has the functionality you need to look up and seek out caches using the networking and location-based features of the iPhone 3G. It also works with the iPod Touch and first gen iPhone though you will need WiFi for the Touch and the compass won’t work.

The first release will not have the feature to log caches or filter hides and finds, but it will be included as a free upgrade as we add that functionality – hopefully over the next month. We wanted to get the application out as soon as possible since the demand was so high for it.

Some non-obvious features:

  • You can look up travel bugs and find out their goal while out on the trail
  • Saved Items allows you to save a cache listing and navigate to it, even when you are out of network range
  • The application starts in beginner mode which only shows traditional caches. Advanced shows all types
  • To help with speed issues on, say, the Edge network, you can restrict the number of results to 5, 10, 15 or 20

Some more screenshots:

Pictures courtesy of Geocaching.com.


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Geocaching on your iPhone

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

If you like geocaching (see geocaching.com for more information if you don’t know what’s involved), and have recently purchased an iPhone with GPS, then this article will be for you. TUAW have written up a full step by step guide on Geocaching with an iPhone. We’ve since heard at least one person is working on a true geocaching application for the iPhone, but until it’s out, this seems the best option.

Picture courtesy of TUAW, Story via Multimedia-PCs, and thanks to Mark at Automated Home.


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Garmin Forerunner 405 software update

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Forerunner 405

Although it’s only been out a few months, a new software update has been released for the Garmin Forerunner 405, Garmin’s newest GPS based training watch. If you head off to the Forerunner 405 software page, you’ll find more details about the new version. If you have already set your Forerunner to connect to your PC, then you should be able to simple connect your ANT USB Stick, and update the device wirelessly. Unlike most Garmin GPS / SatNav units, this device does not use the traditional Garmin WebUpdater to update, but does take advantage of the Garmin Communicator plugin (which is commonly used to get geocaches from sites such as Geocaching.com into yoru GPS). Right now, this plugin is Windows only, but Garmin assure us they hope to have Mac support in Autumn 2008.

The feature list of v2.2 includes:

  • Added timeout setting to the Training Options menu that disables the automatic timeout to power save mode when the watch is in training mode.
  • Changed all settings in the Training Options menu to be specific to the current sport mode setting.
  • Made adjustments to instantaneous pace filtering.
  • Calculate calories, averages, and Virtual Partner time ahead/behind only when not auto paused.
  • Added small navigation arrow on course timer page.
  • Added locating satellites page before allowing user to mark location or mark position for the mark and lap auto lap by position option to ensure that the user’s current location is the one that is saved.
  • Improved reliability of unit-to-unit transfers.
  • Fixed issue where watch could freeze with bezel, accessories, and GPS not working.
  • Fixed issues that could occur when using back to start feature.
  • Corrected issues related to using the foot pod and GPS at the same time.
  • Fixed issue where auto pause would not work if GPS was off and user was using only a foot pod or a bike sensor and not a heart rate monitor.
  • Corrected issue with auto wheel size calibration for bike sensor.
  • Fixed issue where total times greater than 24 hours could be displayed incorrectly on the totals page.
  • Prevent start/stop or lap/reset from triggering if one button is released before the other after locking the bezel.
  • Automatically classify activities with a foot pod as running and activities with a bike sensor as biking before sending data to the computer.
  • Updated translations.

Like many software updates, we would recommend you think carefully before applying this update, although we’ve generally found Garmin updates to be well worth applying.


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