NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
GPS and Delorme
by Ed Lentz - February 97
Submitted by John Clark

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Several years ago I became aware of a CD-ROM that contained a map of the entire United States. Needless to say I was a bit skeptical that someone would have everything from the major freeways to dirt trails on one map program. That little CD had everything on it that was advertised and was great. STREET ATLAS USA and DeLorme had me hooked. Several months later I found out that Delorme had a CD-ROM with a better map that would allow you to draw objects and use a hand held GPS to follow your location on the map. Since I was a registered user of Street Atlas, I could purchase this other CD-ROM for half price. I think the half price was something like $125 or so. Why not, I was working a job with lot's of overtime and felt rich.

Recently DeLorme updated the STREET ATLAS USA CD-ROM. The latest version, STREET ATLAS USA Version 4.0, opens up a new world to the traveler in an inexpensive package. Along with allowing you to create maps quickly and easily, this remarkable program covers the entire country, big cities, rural areas, and wilderness America all in one CD-ROM. The big plus is that GPS tracking has been added to the program along with the ability to download current weather, construction, and events from the INTERNET.

I have found the weather forecast to be very current and contain the next three days forecast for whatever location's you want. The construction information isn't as up to date as I would like it to be. Maybe the sources for that information are not as organized as they should be. The events list I haven't checked

STREET ATLAS USA will enable you to measure distances, import names and addresses, add notes, symbols, lines and circles, download maps to your hard drive, and link to the Global Positioning System. Search by Latitude and longitude, placename, ZIP code, and telephone area code and exchange. Print maps in either color or black and white.

A bit on the Global Positioning System. The U.S. Department of Defense has placed a series of 24 Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites in orbit around the earth. These satellites broadcast signals containing time and identifier codes. Through an antenna, GPS receivers pickup and interpret the signals from multiple satellites to determine a person's position, altitude, speed, and direction of travel. . For more information than you could ever want on the GPS system I suggest that you connect to http://www.utexas.edu/depts/grg/gcraft/notes/gps/gps.html

Street Atlas USA supports the following GPS Receivers
* DeLorme Tripmate
* Garmin GPS 30, 45 or GPS II
* Trimble Scoutmaster
* Rockwell or a fully compatible NMEA receiver

I am using the Garmin 45 since it's small size is ideal for mounting on the dash of an automobile and also allows for the connection of a special external GPS antenna. I strongly recommend using an outside antenna on the GPS receiver since you need to be in visual sight of the satellites. The DeLorme TRIPMATE is a little GPS receiver that does not contain a display and connects directly to a portable computer. Selling for less than some of the most inexpensive GPS receivers, TRIPMATE is a definite option.

With the new STREET ATLAS USA I am able to use another program from DeLorme, AAA MAP-N-GO, to compute a route from one location to another. AAA Map-N-Go will allow you to include places to eat, sleep, and visit along your route and compute it in the routing. This information can be downloaded into a file that STREET ATLAS will include in it's map display on your computer.

With STREET ATLAS USA and my GPS I have taken little adventures while traveling into unknown areas. Since I am able to see most of the little dirt roads with STREET ATLAS I sometimes venture off the main highway just to see what's at the end of a road. The display on the laptop computer is continuously displaying my current location. Another use while traveling along the interstate is using STREET ATLAS to locate the next nature stop. Even my wife is peeking out of her books and glancing at the maps occasionally.

GPS and DeLorme software have opened up a whole new world to traveling.

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