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Messages - Steve All

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GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: New Garmin Edge Touring
« on: April 20, 2014, 03:15:38 pm »
Pat, that's a pretty handy device -- and it's quite inexpensive at under $4.  You'll note that it ONLY accepts rechargeable AA batteries (NiMH, these days) as they are nominally 1.2 volts each, and explicitly does not allow the flexibility to use alkaline batteries, as they are nominally 1.5 volts each.  (So be careful; in your post up there it looks like you plan on using alkalines, when in fact, you shouldn't).  In effect, this device takes 4 AA NiMH batteries (1.2V x 4 = 4.8V) and just pumps out "something pretty close to 5 volts" for a USB device without any additional voltage regulation.  If it had v.r. it would allow alkaline cells, but then it wouldn't cost $4, and it would be bigger and heavier.  But putting in 4 alkalines x 1.5V yields 6V output (unregulated), so you might begin to "fry" sensitive USB devices that are looking for a 4.5 - 5.5 V range.  Don't do that!

Considering I almost never use alkaline cells, this would work for me.  I do also appreciate that the rechargeable cells can be CHARGED in this device by a USB cable (though, of course you are getting the power from that device, whether a laptop battery, or something plugged into a wall that "serves" power over a USB cable).  That is a handy way to make this device a "two way" power source (or sink):  power in (to store it in the NiMH cells), power out (to charge or run your USB device).  For $4 (plus your NiMH rechargeable cells), that's not bad!

I usually carry "spares" of sets of NiMH cells (in handy plastic snap-cases holding 4 or 8 cells) and so just rotate the charged ones in when the others are exhausted, then I just solar-charge them while I'm using some of "the other ones."  Repeat, ad infinitum.  Well, not quite:  but I do get 700 or 800 charge cycles on a single set of NiMH cells.  This works great and is way cheaper and eco-friendlier in the long run.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: Open Street Map?
« on: December 09, 2013, 02:46:55 pm »
There are several which might be suitable for you, depending on other features and the "speed of your wallet."  I'm no Garmin spokesman, but the Edge series (especially the Touring Plus -- which I believe comes pre-loaded with OSM's bicycle map data!) might suit you, but so might also the Oregon or the Vector series.  Check out the "Shop" tab at Garmin's site ( and do some feature comparisons.  Unfortunately, it is hard to tell from the site how big a microSD card is handled, but the newer ones not only are rumored to hold cards larger than 4 GB, but they allow multiple gmapsupp.img files, allowing you to select one (map file) from among many on a single card, using a menu on the device's User Interface.  (Alas, my trusty but seven-year-old Garmin 60Csx only allows only one at a time, necessitating a card swap if I want a different map on a different chip/card).

Before you go, I do recommend using OSM to visually examine those areas where you will travel, to see how well OSM volunteers have improved the map there (or not).  Good luck and enjoy your trip!

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: Open Street Map?
« on: December 07, 2013, 04:28:22 pm »
The best way to know is to take a look at "the area you are interested in" using OSM itself: (zoom and pan the map to where you want).

Select different layers by clicking the Layer button in the upper right (looks like a stack of papers); there are five layers now:
Standard (which more-or-less what you'll get with either the maps or the, though there may be minor differences),
Cycle Map (the Open Cycle Map layer for bicycle-specific routes and amenities),
Transport Map (shows rail, tram and bus routes -- IF these have been entered into the underlying OSM layer -- very spotty in the USA but better in Europe),
MapQuest Open (a version of Mapquest using OSM data which has excellent highway shield rendering, among other pretty features; good for automobile navigation) and
Humanitarian (used when a disaster like an earthquake or hurricane strikes an area and used for "HOT" mapping by emergency NGOs and other activists who want to help).

If you have a 512 MB to 4 GB microSD card and are interested in quite up-to-date Garmin-ready maps based on OSM data, I recommend a version of the .nl data at .  What you'll do there is choose a map based on longitude (again, in the USA only), your card size, and whether you want to download via browser or BitTorrent (recommended because it helps distribute the bandwidth load).  If you have a 4 GB or larger card, just go ahead and grab either the 4000MB .img file or the 4000MB .torrent file (if the latter, fire up your BitTorrent client to get it).  After that, rename it "gmapsupp.img" and put in in a folder called "Garmin" at the root level of the card, snap it into your Garmin device and there you go:  OSM maps on your Garmin GPS.  These are updated about every two to three weeks, so, y'all come back now, y'hear?  (OSM maps just keep getting better and better over time).

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: New Garmin Edge Touring
« on: November 20, 2013, 09:54:45 pm »
Great, thanks, Nick.  I knew all that, I just wanted to see if you would/could add any more.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: New Garmin Edge Touring
« on: November 20, 2013, 03:03:59 pm »
Nick, that's pretty neat, thanks for your update.

I'm guessing the 4 GB OpenStreetMap (OSM) map used is the one that DaveH publishes every couple of weeks (based on the Lambertus maps), but I'm curious:  how is the "bicyclist specific" aspect of this device?  Does the Edge display something resembling the Cycle Map layer of OSM?  In other words, does it show national/regional/local bicycle routes, bike shops, crossings, restrooms, tourist points like OSM's Cycle Map layer does?

And what are these "several more OSM maps" you want to load onto it?  (OpenSeaMap, maybe?)  Newer Garmin devices now allow multiple maps to be stored on the microSD card and are selectable from the user interface -- can this one?  (That's a big help.  It used to be you could only store one single "gmapsupp.img" file on the card, and to get different maps -- even if there was space on the card to store them -- you had to swap cards.  What a pain to have to do it like that).  My old Garmin 60Csx is limited like that, and its microSD slot maxes out with 4GB cards.  Good enough (for a seven-year-old device), but I've got my eye on a newer Garmin soon!  Just not quite this one, unless they make a model that uses AA batteries instead of a built-in lithium cell.

Any pointers you might lead us to for different ("bicycle oriented" or not) OSM maps that work with Garmin devices are very much appreciated!  Thanks in advance.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: Newb asking for some GPS advice. Please
« on: September 11, 2013, 01:55:13 am »
The new Garmin Edge Touring (uses OpenStreetMap for basemap and routing) might be a contender, too.

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: Open Street Map?
« on: September 11, 2013, 01:53:00 am »

Gear Talk / Re: Solar Panel - Yea or Nay?
« on: September 10, 2013, 02:57:23 pm »
I was asked to share my experiences with solar (AA/AAA) battery charging in another post, so here's the link:

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: New Garmin Edge Touring
« on: September 10, 2013, 12:20:33 am »
I've been an electronics geek since the 1960s when my dad taught me to solder when I was six.  The solar panel setup I use to charge NiMH batteries is "one of many" depending on whether I am at home (roof panels) or mobile -- car or camping/backpacking/even cycling, if touring long-distance enough.  For the latter, a 10-watt rigid solar panel (17.1V charging, 12V nominal) hooked up to a homebrew "Frankenstein Box" (Radio Shack sealed plastic kit box containing voltmeter, 12V 5Ah alarm battery, diodes for polarity reversal protection, fuses, wiring, 2 cigarette-lighter sockets and 2 Adapt-A-Plug sockets (allows 12V to feed almost any device with a jack) works quite well.  I use a Maha/PowerEx 9000 charger, the "Rolls Royce" of NiMH AA/AAA battery chargers (digital LED readouts of everything).  The solar panel, similar in size and shape to a legal size pad of paper, fits snugly in a day pack right against my back, leaving plenty of room for all else I carry in there (an older Garmin 60Csx, a Canon camera, flashlights/headlamp, walkie-talkies, and an AM/FM/SW radio, great for deep woods reception) and Platypus hydration, jacket, etc.  Every one of my devices runs on AA or AAA rechargeable batteries.  True, I can't solar charge while riding or hiking like this, but you'll figure it out.

If you are using "less," I suppose you can do it (charge rechargeable NiMH batteries for your gadgets), but I have always liked building my own when it comes to electronics.  I know not everybody can do so, but I say all of this to show that it can be done, what I have is a fairly low-tech (though nice) setup, doesn't cost too much, and except for replacing the alarm battery about once every three to six years, will probably last another fifteen after already lasting fifteen years.  There are some rather cheesy solar battery chargers out there as ready-made/turnkey solutions, and those probably are disappointing to most consumers.  But take heart:  once you figure out a way, it is doable, reliable and cheap-cheap-cheap.  Even after the initial investment, I'm sure I save serious coin.  Remember, the newer, better sorts of NiMH batteries last a good 500 to 1000 recharge cycles.  With almost-free solar power, that's pennies per juice-cycle.  Compare that to several bux for an 8-pack of alkaline disposables, and you'll realize it's your money you are throwing away.

Find a good solar solution to charge the batteries for your devices.  I don't know what a good commercial ready-made one is, having built one myself, but shop, look, read reviews, build what you have to, get a quality DC or DC/AC charger, spend a bit of money on better NiMH batteries (guaranteed, and at least 2500 mAh for AA, 900 for AAA) and "be free" (of battery tyranny).

(Back on topic).  Thanks for pointing out that the Edge family of Garmin devices uses a built-in Lithium pack.  Boo:  I probably won't be buying one for that reason alone.  But thanks to all for the lively buzz about the device.  It is exciting Garmin is using OSM for its basemap data in at least one device -- and for bicyclists, too!

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: New Garmin Edge Touring
« on: September 09, 2013, 06:47:52 pm »
I'm wondering if/how the new Garmin Edge Touring allows for updates of its underlying OpenStreetMap (OSM) data.  Can you hook it up to a desktop/laptop via USB cable and slurp up "newer" OSM data from Garmin's web site?  Can you do this wirelessly via Bluetooth or WiFi or maybe a 3G/4G cellular radio chip (the first two maybe, the last one not very likely).  Is there a microSD card that can have newer gmapsupp.img files written into the Garmin folder (and then popped back into the device)?

Or is this device just "stuck" with the OSM data that was fresh a bit before you bought it, but is getting older and more obsolete every single day?  That would be a bummer, considering how lively are bike route updates to OSM.  I don't expect "real-time" updates (I'll fiddle a chip or a wireless/wired via web connection if I have to), but I do want updates.  The biggest bummer would be if Garmin requires money to pay for a subscription to update the OSM data.  Hey!  Those data are cost-free!  Garmin WOULD have the right to do this (you'd be paying for their services for "compiling" the OSM data into a Garmin-specific format, though those tools already exist), but doing so feels like it violates the spirit of the OpenStreetMap project.  Yet, I know Garmin has got to make a profit.  But, Garmin, if you charge for OSM data, might you reconsider -- recouping profit on the device only?  (Leave free data to be free!)

I'm not a lawyer, just an OSM volunteer/contributor.  (Recently finished updating the USBRS in OSM!)

BTW, I'm an owner of more than one Garmin GPS device, and I REALLY do prefer the much-greener NiMH (rechargeable via my solar panels) AA batteries.  If a device doesn't use AAs (and NiMHs well), I might not buy it, and I'm not alone!

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Connect PCH with SC
« on: September 09, 2013, 06:15:08 pm »
I second klittau's suggestion to choose State Route 36 over State Route 299.  Beautiful part of the world you have selected!

OpenStreetMap (.org) does provide a way to produce maps as a shared fabric via the Internet.

USBR 45/MRT (in Minnesota) was recently added to OSM and is believed to be correct.  You are welcome to join the project and contribute map data that are accurate and helpful, even if it is correcting errors in the recently-entered 45/MRT data.  (In fact, you are encouraged to do so!)  However, if a more local or regional (statewide) bike route is missing or wrong, you are also welcome to tap-tap-tap on that or those, too.

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