Garmin Colorado

We’re taking a few days off here, what with the holidays around the world and all. We know that you’re probably too busy eating and drinking (too much, I’m sure!) to be reading our blog. But there are a couple of things that I do want to share with you.

I purchased the new Garmin Colorado GPS. It’s quite a piece of work and is a GPS receiver that we could only have dreamed about a few years ago. I want to do a full review of it later, but for now I’m very impressed with it, even though it does leave out a few of what I consider to be critical features. Still it does everything I need it to do, plus a whole lot more. I’ll have more info for you in a review later on.

In the meantime, enjoy your time off with your family!

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  1. I would like to see what you think about the Garmin Colorado. I’ve had people asking me about that and the DeLorme PN-40 (which is designed to be used with DeLorme’s Topo USA ssoftware).

    I need to sell off some of my older GPS’s. If you look at the portable GPS trackers that I’ve made for APRS and so on… I have like 8 GPS’s.

    I’ve got a Garmin GPS V (which I currently use on my mountain bike), a Garmin GPS III+, a Garmin Streetpilot III, a Garmin eTrex Vista, a Garmin ForeTrex 201, a Deluo GPS (no screen, in GPS tracker), a DeLorme Tripmate (no screen, in GPS tracker), and a DeLorme BT-20 Bluetooth GPS.

    My main concern would be… does the Garmin Colorado have a serial NMEA output on it (for APRS use)… or is it USB only??

    I guess with all of these GPS’s… I should never get lost 🙂 Unless I come to Taiwan… no GPS software for Taiwan is available in the USA (and I wouldn’t be surprised if everything in it was written in Chinese)

    1. so far i like the Colorado. there are some things missing from it however. depending on circumstances, i may contact Garmin and suggest a firmware update, seeing how i’ve been a professional user of their products since 1994 (as you well know).

      man, i thought that i had a lot of GPS products, lol!

      the Colorado does NMEA but out the USB connector. it also has an external antenna input which i have checked out. my external antenna pegs the RX and works great.

      we have excellent topo maps with road information here in Taiwan. the Colorado comes with 3 map sets (included on disc) and also includes a maritime chart for serious navigation around the island and down into the Philippines. thanks Mike.

  2. If I remember right… the first Garmin GPS you bought was the GPS45… with the white housingand black top where the antenna connected. I thought you had that before 1994.

    NMEA output via USB… won’t cut it for APRS. It HAS to be RS-232 for connecting to a TNC, TinyTrak, or a radio with a built-in NTC (TH-D7A, TM-D700, etc). Unfortunately for the APRS community… MOST of the GPS’s these days are being made with just a USB connection. GPS’s for Maritime use do have RS-232 output for interfacing with a VHF Marine radio to transmit location in an emergency.

    Oh… I’m sure you have excellent topo and street software for use with a GPS. I was looking at the Garmin USA website and they have software (street, topo, and bluechart for maritime) on there for the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe, and so on… but nothing listed for like Taiwan. When I e-mailed Garmin about that… they said it is “illegal” for them to sell their Taiwan mapping software for use with a GPS to someone outside of Taiwan (well… maybe to someone outside of Taiwan and China… I didn’t ask about China). Besides… like I said… the GPS software probably has all of the writing in it in Chinese… so it most likely wouldn’t do me any good.

    1. i bought the GPS 45 in November of 1994. it just seems like it was longer!

      i thought that NMEA was RS-232 by nature. at any rate, it’s time for the ham community to step up to the plate and modernize APRS. it’s been around for 20 years that i know of and it’s time for them to get with what’s available and not the other way around.

      when you come here i’ll show you the topo mapping software we have here.

      cya Mike.

  3. Well… the problem with the ham community to “step up to the plate” and modernize APRS is… with all of these GPS’s coming out with just a USB interface…. things like TNC’s… radios with built in TNC’s… interfacing devices like a TinyTrak… would have to act as a “PC host” for USB to work. Designing these things to work as a PC to work with a USB device… would add a lot to the cost of things. Yaesu is finally releasing an HT (the VX-8R) with bluetooth in it… and there are reports of “bugs” with their headsets working with their bluetooth interface.

  4. Using the handheld Garmin USB port to ouput NMEA sentences that TinyTrak and other TNC’s will recognize should be pretty easy and does NOT require a computer go-between.

    The Colorado, Oregon, and Rhino 520 & 530 all have only USB out… HOWEVER
    Garmin has a special USB to Serial output cable for people to use so long as you go into the unit and change the settings to ouput NMEA.

    It would seem that basically they turn the USB port into a glorified old school slow data serial port broadcasting the required standard good’ol NMEA sentences. I only have a rhino my understanding is that the cable should work for the others, I have a friend’s Colorado and i’ll try it tonight. Garmin also has the “Garmin Spanner” software, but that is for use via a computer host go between.

    1. H, you know, i didn’t investigate it at all (beause i don’t need the functionality) but i would have expected the NMEA output to be just that, no matter what the physical port configuration is. thanks for clearing that up!

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