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[aprssig] Comments on Franson GPS Gate -- A very useful GPS utility with numerous APRS applications

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Sat Jul 23 00:23:58 UTC 2005

Franson GPSgate is a utility used to share a GPS connected to a single 
serial port on a PC with multiple applications at the same time. It  
works by creating multiple virtual serial ports that receive data echoed 
from a real one.  Each application is set to use a different virtual com 

The program can also intercept a USB Garmin, redirect it to one or more 
virtual serial ports   
convert the proprietary Garmin format on USB to NMEA on the virtual 
serial port!     It doesn't need the usual USB-to-serial emultor dri

And the utility can also send from/to TCI/IP allowing you to distribute 
GPS over Ethernet to nearby PCs.  

And the utility can create back-to-back-connected virtual serial ports ( 
in a manner similar to the MIxW serial port bridge) that are needed to 
connect the emulated TNC output of MixW to a program like UIviewGPS.  Or 
connect the OUTPUT of UIview's GPS repeater to another GPS-using app.   
(But unlike the Mix bridge, it works on Windows 98!)

And echo the data from a single virtual serial port (such as created by 
the driver for a USB-interfaced GPS like a current Delorme Earthmate II 
or III) and echo it out multiple additional virtual serial ports.  
[NOTE: Except for the Garmin mode noted above, any other USB GPS used 
this way must output standard ASCII NMEA. It WILL NOT convert formats 
such as Trimble or Rockwell binary.]

And it can act as a GPS logger/simulator that can be used to test or 
demonstrate APRS apps indoors

All-in-all, an enormous amount of useful function for USD $30.  

Full details at:

My current record for GPS port sharing:

A Garmin ForeTrex 201 Wrist GPS  (Real serial COM1 interface running 
real NMEA mode) distributed  simultaneously  to:

o    Visual GPS   "COM3"
o    COAA's GPS TIme (PC clock setting utility)   "COM4"
o    Advanced GPS add-on for MS MapPoint "COM5"
o    Precision Mapping 7.0 (running independently outside of UIview) "COM6"
o    UIview  (GPS on "COM7" , D700 TNC on virtual "COM2" via USB dongle)
o    Delorme TopoUSA "COM8"
o    APRSplus "COM15"
o    Microsoft Streets & Trips "COM17"

Traditonally, COM port numbering ended at COM4 .    Current versions of 
Windows can support large numbers of COM ports but many applications 
can't support ports beyond the traditional first 4.     When I set up 
virtual ports, I inventory all the programs I'm using and assign ports 3 
and 4 to any apps that can't user higher numbers.

o    COAA's GPS Time only offers ports up to COM4
o    Visual GPS, UIview and TopoUSA 3.0 offer ports up to COM8
o    APRSplus offers ports up to COM16
o    Microsoft Streets&Trips, MapPoint, Automap, etc offer any port real 
or virtual
      previously enabled in the system.   This means you have to create 
the port in
      GPS Gate FIRST, before you can select it in MS apps.  [Most of the 
other apps
      will let you select a currently non-existent port in their setup 
and then wait until
      that port appears, courtesy of GPS Gate or the Eltima port splitter.]
o    Hyperterm offfers COM1 through COM4 plus any others enabled in the 
      Same behavior as MS programs.  

This is all run on a Celeron Centrino laptop running Windows 2000 at 
1.4GHz with 512MB RAM.

One flaw I HAVE discovered in GPS Gate is that the help system is only a 
link to their website.  A lot of good that does when you are actually in 
the field where a GPS would be used, and you are out of range of 
Internet connectivity.  A PDF image of
the website-based help system IS downloadable from the website.

Further, it seems to be impossble to determine the program  version 
number without accessing the website.   [I was trying to do the 
customary Windows "Help, About" drill to get the version number when I 
discovered this.]

Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
EchoLink Node:      14400    [Think bottom of the 2M band]
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.com

New APRS Symbol Chart

New/Updated "Rev G" APRS     http://webs.lanset.com/wa8lmf/aprs
Symbols Set for UI-View,
UIpoint and APRSplus:

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