Fun without wires

GPS Unit Received!

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My GPS Puck Unit (photo by me!)

Well, my new GPS unit arrived at work yesterday by Express Courier, and all is well. I got it installed easily on both my workstation at work (XP Home, didn’t need driver disc) and on my laptop (Windows 2000, used driver disc without any problems). I can’t pick up any sort of signal inside, but considering the unit, that’s no great surprise. As soon as I go outside and have a clear ‘line of sight’ straight up, it starts hunting for a signal and locking in satellites, and then gets a lock on position within about a minute. When I get a chance, I’ll post a screenshot of the little utility (the appropriately named ‘GPS Information’) that comes with it, showing the satellites it’s locked to and current location.

A couple points I noticed with the unit;

  1. The indicator LED on the side flashes when it has a locked signal, this is really cool because you know when all is well and when it can’t get anything, although when I’m driving around with it, I won’t be able to see it, because it’s on the actual unit, which will be on the roof 😛
  2. The base of the unit is entirely magnetic, and is quite strong. This is great for temporarily mounting it on a car roof, stair railing etc, but means that I’ll need to be careful with storage and transport, that I don’t leave it near my laptop screen or any magnetic-storage or anything like that.
  3. The cord is a good length – plenty to get out through the door seal of the car and onto the roof, with length to spare so you can move the lappy around in the car.
  4. It’s nice and small, only about 6cm x 4cm x 2cm or something like that.
  5. The signal is very dependant on having a clear line into the sky. Even inside, on a windowsill or something, it gets no signal, but in the clear, it picks it up without a problem. I’ll be interested to see how it goes on a war-drive.

I haven’t taken it out war-driving yet, just trialled it from my balcony, scanning my own WAP. Hopefully I’ll be able to go on a short test-run either tonight or this week sometime and see how it goes 🙂

Next Step: Got to get some sort of mapping software for my region and figure out how to export information from Net Stumbler into a useful format for mapping the WAPs that I discover.

Also, for those interested, I bought the unit from someone who runs a store on eBay, and there appears to be a lot of things like GPS units for laptops, PDAs etc – you might find something you like!

Written by Beau Lebens

January 10th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

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