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Old 03-03-2013, 07:19 PM   #1
kramsetac OP
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Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Seattle
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Ipad as an auxilary navigation tool

Greetings. This post is half information sharing, half a search of additional information.

Each year, several inmates and I take a long unsupported trip across large sections of Nevada (see last year's 1200 mile trip here:

Last year, in addition of having all of our maps, routes and tracks loaded on GPSs, I created a series of custom maps via NG Backroad Explorer and sent them to the plotter at work. The maps helped in a few instances where we had to try to re-route around gates, wash outs, or roads that plain old didnt really exist (most of our routes are very sketchy two tracks).

This year our routing is a little different, as we are trying to cover some major distance rather than so much tight technical riding (as tight as you can muster on 600-style bikes). That said, the route is still over 1200 miles and is all dirt BLM roads and the like -- the only pavement are some small in/out connectors for gas. Given the much larger overall distances, custom maps become impractical -- you need too much paper to provide the needed detail to problem solving.

So, this year I planning on taking an Ipad along with numerous maps downloaded. This will not be a primary navigation tool (Garmin Montana is), but will be used as a reference tool when needed each day, and for viewing route information each evening in camp. The setup so far:

  • Ipad 4 (wi-fi only) with 32gb
  • Otter Box case -- beefy as hell, but almost as heaving as the Ipad itself (Defender Series)
  • Gaia GPS app.
  • This setup will sit in the top of my tankbag.
The Gaia app is pretty slick. It uses layers to allow viewing of various Topo, Open Street Maps and satellite image data. Routes and waypoints can be downloaded to the application. The coolest feature, though, is the ability to download the maps surrounding each route, thus making the application completely self contained for off-line use.

Using the Gaia application in the field, you can see your route and can dynamically switch back and forth between topo, street maps and satellite views -- which is a lot more helpful in debugging a routing problem than trying to peer at the tiny GPS screen (even the Montana is a pain) or dealing with paper maps. And having the satellite imagery is a real plus.

Some downsides I've encountered so far:

1. My Ipad is wifi only, so does not have a GPS on-board. Only the cell versions have integrated GPS capability (even though you dont need a cell signal for the GPS to work. This has a workaround for my purposes, however, as it is easy to type in the current location using the Gaia app (I have the lat/log displayed in large letters on the Montana trip screen).

2. Ipad battery life. An unintended benefit of no GPS is that i can run the ipad in airplane mode, where it will last for many days on a single charge. If it runs low, I can charge it off the motorcycle battery in camp also. questions to anyone who has similarly used an ipad:

  • Anyone with experiences with the Gaia application in the wild?
  • Anyone used a Bad Elf GPS chip for an Ipad. While I dont really need it, I might pop for one of these so I dont have to enter GPS coordinates into the Ipad directly. Bad Elf makes two types of units, tethered and bluetooth. I would go tethered so as not to burn ipad battery with the bluetooth.
A couple of other things I should mention. This 1200 mile trip will take eight days to loop around a large section of southern Oregon, Northern Nevada and Eastern Idaho. We will be camping off of the bikes, which are all 600-ish machines (mine is a TE610 with a 5.5 gallon tank). I mention this as someone will surely comment on the added weight of the ipad -- when hauling around that much gas and gear, the ipad is "a rounding error" -- not going to make a difference in noticeable weight!



'06 TE610
'05 R1200GS
'02 200EXC
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Old 03-05-2013, 06:26 AM   #2
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Can't help you with Gaia application in iPad, because I don't want to spend $20 right now to test it, but I will say that I use my iPad for assisting with navigation when on the road. I have a Zumo 660 on the bike for live navigation. Whenever I stop I look at the iPad to see where I am, what's around, where to eat, sleep, pee and other points of interest. I take the iPad into restaurants or to a picnic bench when stopping to catch up on email, etc.

So far this is all for on road navigation because that is all I do with my 600lb pig R12GSA. I fear the dirt, but no reason it wouldn't work for you.

I also have Navigon mapping application on the iPad and with the inbedded GPS I can use the iPad for primary navigation if I bluetooth it to my helmet headset (Sena). It works if the Zumo takes a dump, which has happened.

I strongly recommend getting an iPad with GPS built in. Sell your current iPad WIFI only and get one with the GPS chip in it, so much more convenient than a GPS add on dongle (another thing to charge). Maybe get a used older model on on ebay and sell yours, at a small premium.

I keep my iPad in my large tankbag, and it stays charged with a Powerlet SAE 12v connection and small charger that also charges my iPhone. Yes, I know.....Apple Geek - but the app also runs on Android phones/pads for $9.95
Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
2009 R1200GS A, 2008 K1200GT
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:27 AM   #3
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Location: Central MA
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External antennae

I would suggest an external antennae for the iPad you currently have. Garmin has one now that includes the ability to use GLONASS satellites, basically doubling the amount of satellite's most antennea's use.

It's an external (wireless) antennae that connects to the iPad via Bluetooth. It has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 12 hrs, or you can plug it in using a cigarette lighter adapter (or hardwire).

I have read reviews online about other Bluetooth enabled GPS antennae's for the iPad, but haven't seen too many people actually using the GLO.

The two main reasons I'm extremely interested in this model, is for one, it is able to use GLONASS satallites for better accuracy and reliability in addition to regular U.S. satallites. The second thing I like about it is that it's made by Garmin, and I've always had good luck using their GPS' and equipment.

GLONASS just refers to the Russian GPS satellite's that we now have access to, so in essence, it gives us the ability to use an additional 24 satellites for GPS navigation. It's more reliable and more accurate.

This would be more a lot more accurate than any internal antennae that the 3G/4G versions come with, as well as use a lot more satellite's for a position solution.
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“What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sink before him. His courage does not exceed his temper and generosity, and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race.”
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