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[aprssig] Really CHEAP Puck-type USB GPS Receiver -- WORKS GREAT!

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Fri Jan 27 19:42:19 UTC 2012

  On 1/23/2012 8:57 PM, wa4sca wrote:
> I ordered one since I was ordering some other stuff.  It arrived, and after some fiddling, got the drivers working on my WIN7 machine.  It works fine with APRSIS32, Precision Mapping S&  T, and my dumb terminal program.  UI-VIEW32 sees the port, and complains when the GPS is not plugged in.  However, it does not appear to be seeing the data.  Show GPS Input just shows a blank screen.  $GPRMC data is present and valid when I look with another program.
> Alan

I received my USD $25 Globalsat BU-353  USB GPS today.    Within 3 minutes of 
delivery, I had it plugged into a USB port on my Panasonic CF-51 Toughbook (15" 
CoreDuo 1.6 GHz laptop), and working perfectly with  Visual GPS, MapPoint, 
UIview, TopoUSA 8.0   --AND-- Precision Mapping 9.0.   All simultaneously via 
the freeware XPort GPS port splitter.     Get this extremely useful GPS utility 

. <http://www.curioustech.net/xport.html>

As soon as I plugged the BR-353 in, the existing Prolific driver on my system 
(used with several other USB GPSes and Argent Data's generic serial<-->USB 
dongle) immediately enabled it.   One reboot, and it acquired lock in about 1 
minute positioned by a BASEMENT window under an overcast Michigan winter sky.

Normally, I have XPort intercept the physical COM 1 port on the Toughbook (that 
I use for a serial GPS) and output virtual COM4 through COM12 which I use with 
the various apps. All I had to do was change XPort's INPUT port from COM1 to 
the virtual COM16 created by the Prolific driver to get everything to work with 
the USB Globalsat instead.  No changes to any of the apps required at all.

The unit is very small, lightweight but nicely finished, with a beveled round 
case that looks like a tiny flying saucer about 2 inches (5 cm) diameter.  
Should be fairly aerodynamic at high speeds mounted to the roof of a vehicle. 
The magnet embedded in the underside is powerful enough to stick to a textured 
vertical surface such as a refrigerator without slipping.

Interestingly, the plastic case does NOT have the usual sonic-welded closure.  
It is actually held together with 3 tiny Phillips-head screws, so opening & 
hacking the device (serial output???) non-destructively should be possible.

A single small low-intensity red LED (thank god not one of those 
screamingly-bright blue LEDs currently fashionable on digital gadgets!) lights 
solidly during acquisition (verifies USB power)  and starts flashing when lock 
is achieved (like the GPS legend on the Kenwood D700 screen).    This indicator 
will NOT be a blinding distraction on top of a car's dash at night.

I have run it with both the Panasonic Toughbook and an Acer ZG5 netbook 
successfully.   This gadget is definitely an excellent value.



Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

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