[aprssig] [APRS] RS-232 GPS, a dying breed. Next steps?

Hawkins, John W. JWHawkins at mccormicktaylor.com
Sat Jan 23 20:13:25 CST 2010

Sorry, I originally posted this on the Yahoo Group list and not the TAPR mailing list.  
Several folks responded to my email below, I thank you for the info.  Unfortunately the units like the Garmin Colorado or Oregon are too expensive for us to get.  Some other options noted were not handheld hiking GPS receivers, what I'm looking for is a handheld unit with display.  I was really looking for something similar to the eTrex series, which can be found under $200.  The GPSmap60 may be the closest, in both price and function, to what I'm looking for.
So I guess my concern is the dearth of *low-cost* display handheld GPSs with RS-232 data out.  
My thought is that perhaps other than the marine community, the need for serial connectivity on GPS receivers, as opposed to USB, is going away, except for the very small niche of APRS trackers.  And what might other economical options be at that time?
Thank you for the input, 


From: APRS at yahoogroups.com on behalf of jwhawk123
Sent: Thu 1/21/2010 10:10 AM
To: APRS at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [APRS] RS-232 GPS, a dying breed. Next steps?


Last week I was putting a grant application together for my SAR team, for APRS field trackers.
Our criteria were:
A normal hiking GPS that can be used with or without APRS connectivity.
A normal VHF HT which could be used as backup to the radio each task team is given.
Ability to receive and plot other APRS units on the GPS is very desirable, but not an absolute necessity. 

So I looked at Byonics and Argent Data for their TinyTrak and OpenTracker products, to go between the GPS and Radio. Are there any others to consider?

The hiking GPS with RS-232 output is a dying breed, am I correct? I can't find any Garmin current production units with RS-232, although it appears Magellan (the Triton series at least) has native serial data output on the back of the unit, and their data cable comes in either RS-232 or USB flavors. The USB cable has the RS232 to USB converter in it.

Is there any consideration in the works for a next step if/when RS-232 GPS receivers are not available? Bluetooth? USB? I've come across this - http://serialio.com/products/adaptors/BlueSnapXP.php <http://serialio.com/products/adaptors/BlueSnapXP.php>  a RS-232 to buetooth dongle, so I guess using a bluetooth GPS receiver would be an option, but that little dongle is kinda pricy, and I would still not have a way to display lat/lon on the APRS TNC unit, plus that little dongle has yet another battery to maintain. 

I know Byonics has the option for an LCD display which I presume could at least display lat/lon position, but there's no mounting case option (yet).

My new cell phone is Google Android OS powered, it's got real GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi (and it makes calls too!). I'd imagine the user base is too small at this point, but it would be really cool to have ability to connect my phone to a radio to do APRS.... But in reality, I think that is where the technology trend is headed. That cell phone in your pocket is going to have more and more ability to replace other battery-powered electronics.

Just a few rambling thoughts.

Any ideas?

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