Sunday, September 19, 2010

GPS For Forty Dollars?!

On this day, Talk Like A Pirate Day, we say "WooHoo"!  Is that pirate talk?  Probably not, but it seemed appropriate after finding what might be a treasure for less than $40.  After much research, Ken and I came across something that we'd never heard of before - a GPS mouse, or puck.  This mouse connects to your laptop, then you just download the free navigation software from Sea Clear and the free charts from NOAA and you've got a $40.00 GPS!  We wondered how many others do not know about this alternative, so here it is.  The two main drawbacks are keeping your laptop dry and providing shade to keep the glare off of the screen, but other than that we've read a lot of good reviews. So, even though we sold our gold for a gps, we need a ton of things for the boat and thought we'd try this less expensive alternative for now.  Once we sell our house and take off cruising, we can purchase a more expensive GPS.

After reviewing the different brands, we chose the GlobalSat BU-353 Waterproof USB GPS Receiver from Amazon, which had the best price.  We can't wait to test this out and tell you what we think!  If you have any experience with a GPS mouse, we'd love to hear your thoughts.  Again, this was less than $40, so it's worth the risk to us.  Better yet, if you'd like to purchase one of these, you can purchase it right here and we'll get a dollar or two!  It won't cost you any more, just less for Amazon.

On another note, with work and obligations we haven't had a chance to sail Nirvana lately or try out the other recently found treasure... our lost auto-pilot motor.  The new GPS and auto-pilot motor will be a great excuse to break away and try them out.  Hasta luego ... until then!  Mid-Life Cruising!


Steve and Lulu said...

We bought a "hockey puck" GPS so we could use our MacENC charting program on our Mac as a back-up to our Garmin chartplotter. Works great so far. We're GPS-fat. One antenna feeds our GPS/chartplotter, another feeds our Standard Horizons VHF/AIS which can also act as a sort of crude navigation device (displays lat/long, capable of using waypoints and showing you the direction to steer to the next one). Now as long as we're not hit with an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), we should be good. Been watching reruns of Dark Angel on DVD, hence the reference to EMP.


Bill said...

Yes you are correct its a gps antenna and all you need are enc charts on your IBM machine and you are set. I paid about the same and used it last summer on Chesapeake Bay with my Dell. Bad news (for me) is that I have now switched to a Macbook, and such luxurious (read cheap/free) items as enc are not available for macbook. the antenna would work, I just need to buy the software!

i haven't searched in a while, so maybe I go at it again, but the last time I looked it wasn't gonna happen.

Good find.

Verena said...

@Mid-Life: Using charts on the laptop is great because you can always have the latest versions (updated with the latest local notice to mariners) which is a great time saver because you don't have to work through the entire LNM and make manual updates!

@Bill: Go to this website: They make Mac software and you can use the software in demo mode - you just can't save tracks and way-points. They have two versions - for ENCs and RNCs.

Ken n Cheryl said...

We're glad to hear such positive comments about the GPS puck/mouse. Can't wait to check it out. Thanks!

Ray Heath said...

A good backup to your new GPS would be to get an I phone or Droid and download one of the free Nav programs.

We use "Earth NC Lite" and works beautifully using the phone GPS, NOAA charts and Google Maps.

The only caveat is to watch your data usage. When you cruise full time you want want to have unlimited data.

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