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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
There's lots of free navigation software out there, but so far I've felt it was a little hard to find the exact kind of software that I wanted and getting it to work properly. I've tried to make an initial list below (with links to where to get the software), but it would be great to hear other experiences with what works!

Geographical viewer
  • Google Earth - brilliant, of course. But wouldn't mind if Google would allow cache size over 2GB and make it skinnable.
GPS enabling Google Earth
  • Google Earth can now do this even in the free version (from version 5.0), but the functionality is quite limited.
  • Earthbridge - works well. Current version is 0.9.4.29. The guy behind the software (Dylan Bennett) was supposed to get back to work on a new version 2.0 based on user input (feedback forum) but nothing has really happened since.
  • GooPs - if Earth Bridge is not sufficient or doesn't work well for you then try out GooPS. It does the same and seems to be more continuously developed. If you care to cough up the 15/20 $ it costs to get their Plus/Pro version then you get some additional features like a track color-coded to show the speed you were travelling, and a view that can be set to depend on your current speed ('zoom in when going slow' for instance).
  • Navigator - same same. Can simultaneously use more than one GPS receiver.
Auto-caching of Google Earth images for offline use
  • Google Earth Voyager (program files attached below) – This software is really useful for caching whole regions in Google Earth. You basically define a square you want scanned by giving it 1) the gps coordinates of the top left (NW) corner; 2) how many km East and South you want it to go; 3) from how high up it should fly over the area; 4) how far the viewpoint should move each time it takes a snapshot; 5) how long it should wait before moving on to the next snapshot. With the new version (attached) you can also change the cache file directory to manage several caches. (Remove the pdf extension and save as a .zip file, unpack and follow included instructions)
Converting between GPS file formats
  • GPSBabel - Great! Can convert between this list of formats. Useful for getting someone else's gps file and converting into something you can use or for simplifying GE tracks (advanced automatic editing).
  • GPS Visualizer - Simple web-based tool to convert gps formats including making them into Google Earth KML files
Other useful and free software packages
  • GPS TrackMaker - more comprehensive gps mapping program, but haven't figured it out yet.

There is of course also the commercial, PC based GPS software like
  • Garmin Mobile PC
  • DeLorme Street Atlas
  • Microsoft Streets & Tips (US) or Autoroute (Europe)
 

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aND HOW ABOUT THE CREEPS OF MAGELLAN!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

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Magellan offers an aweful customer service.:flame:
NO updates for the Explorist GPSs.
They tell you they'll have the update ready in 2 days, 2 weeks, next month, .....still waiting.
BUT, they still allow the sale of these gps units. Poor people that are buying them.
Corporate doesn't care.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ok, gottcha. I think I've heard a lot about bad customer service and ineffective product updating from Magellan - and come to think of it - also about Garmin.
Anywho, do you use any of the free software in conjunction with Google Earth then feel free to add your experiences.:)
 

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Try USAPHOTOMAPS. This program is free and works great. I have had great success and it is very easy to use. You can even have people track your location sorta like SPOT.

Its free so check it out!

JDMCOX dot com
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The guy behind Earth Bridge (Dylan Bennett) is just now getting back to work on a version 2.0. He has set up a feedback forum to make and vote on suggestions for version 2.0 features. Be sure to share your ideas to make Earth Bridge even better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I was never able to get Earth Bridge to work, though I really wanted it to. I reinstalled GE and EB many, many times trying to work it out.

GooPs worked great for me, but I like the options offered in Earth Bridge a little better.
dunno if it helps but Earth Bridge works fine for me when I use Windows XP as the OS. I found out that with Vista you have to right click the application, select properties, select Compatibility, and set the application to run in compatibility mode "Windows XP (Service Pack 2)". Also I never got it to work with Google Earth Pro, it only works with Google Earth Free.

Anyway, a new version of Earth Bridge is coming out soon (which should work on Vista) and I know the guy has a lot of focus on stability this time round. There are also some really cool new features being added, I'm looking forward to see the new app.
 

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Air2air use google earth with earthbridge and has had great luck with it. He has a thread around here some where on it.
 

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dunno if it helps but Earth Bridge works fine for me when I use Windows XP as the OS. I found out that with Vista you have to right click the application, select properties, select Compatibility, and set the application to run in compatibility mode "Windows XP (Service Pack 2)". Also I never got it to work with Google Earth Pro, it only works with Google Earth Free.

Anyway, a new version of Earth Bridge is coming out soon (which should work on Vista) and I know the guy has a lot of focus on stability this time round. There are also some really cool new features being added, I'm looking forward to see the new app.
I'm using XP SP2. There's a conflict somewhere that I can't find. I'll try the new version at some point. It really is a cool chunk of code.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Updated the list in the first post: Added a new tool for GPS enabling Google Earth:

Navigator - same, but explicitly supports both WinXP and Vista, and can simultaneously use more than one GPS receiver.
 

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Have Earthbridge working on Vista and XP. Have to do different techniques to get it to start tracking sometimes. Have to play with it and the Delorme serial port replicator proggie.
 

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I also have Microsoft Streets & Tips. It works pretty well, but I hear the usb gps unit they offer is junk, though I don't know that first hand. I bought a Holux GR-213 to go with MS S&T and have no complaints.

IMPORTANT: If you use MS S&T, download S&T Keys as an add on. It adds so many things to the program that MS should already have in there. Download here: S&T Keys
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Update: New version of Google Earth Voyager in the first post, including the actual program files and a brand-spanking new user guide with practical tips.

New features include:
  • 'Change Cache Folder' so you can set up new caches as you need them!
  • Automatic notification when the cache is full so you don't overwrite it
  • 'Open Cache Folder' opens the actual folder, not the default
  • Shows how big the current cache file is (as well as maximum)
  • Calculates how long the scan is expected to take
  • Various bug fixes and improvements to ease of use
This is the tool to really get going with Google Earth off-line. Before going to a new area I just set it to scan the area. I end up with one or more new cache files. I have organised the cache files in directories so it's easy to get to them.

An example could be like this: C:/GECache/State/Area_Trail_No/
C:/GECache/Utah/Moab_Trail_1
C:/GECache/California/Mojave_Trail_1

or for those in Europe probably more relevant with: C:/GECache/Country/Area_Trail_No/

Some quick guidelines for how much you can store in one 2GB cache file:
  • In high resolution areas expect around 50x100 km at 800m altitude will fill the max. 2GB in one cache file.
  • Including points of interest does not take up much space. Typical is +5%.

It will take some time and storage to scan the planet. Based on my previous scans and the total land surface of the planet Earth it will take up about 61 TB (that's 62.950 GB).:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Google Earth Voyager was updated from version 5.5.4 to version 5.5.5.

The new file has been attached instead of the old one.

(Changes are only a bugfix to how the software calculates how many degrees the snapshot should move based on the entered snapshot width and the latitude at which you are scanning.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Google Earth Voyager was updated from version 5.5.5 to version 5.5.6. As before, the new file has been attached instead of the old one.
Only change is a minor fix so that GEV now also works with Google Earth Pro.
 
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