Using Oruxmaps on android phone

Discussion in 'GPS Use, Tracks & Maps Discussion' started by mastamax, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. mastamax

    mastamax Ol'Timer


    I haven't any proper outdoor gps device and was thinking about buying one, but then I got a HTC Desire a few months ago and decided to check out the gps capabilities.

    I found the Oruxmaps, which is basically an application that let you import/export gpx tracks, record trails, and load offline maps as well as online maps. The tool I use to create the maps is "Mobile Atlas Creator" and is basically some kind of google maps where you can say what area and what zoom level you want, it then downloads all the maps and you can transfer them on the phone device.

    Now, nothing special up to here, the cool part is that you can choose from about 50 maps sources (all free). In some countries (like Switzerland) you have access to the military maps which are very precise (1:25'000). For Thailand they have topographic maps, with load of off-road trails on it as well (especially around Chiang Mai).

    So now I use this tool everytime I got riding, and until the rainy season comes I can't see any major disavantage in comparaison to a proper "expensive" outdoor gps (that most of the time doesn't have as detailed maps).

    Battery life is also not an issue, it lasts at least 2-3 days when used intensively, and it got lot of other cool features (like geotagging for pictures,...).

    My point is why should one still spend lots of money for an "equivalent in functionalities" gps? The only reason I see is that they are more shock and water resistant.
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  3. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Thx for that info. Sounds promising for those of us in the quest for a device that does it all.

    On my offroad motorcycle trips I normally take a phone, camera, and 60csx gps for laying and following tracks.
    When following gps tracks in remote areas, it's essential for me to see the gps screen at all times given the right turn vs wrong turn can sometimes be a matter of a few meters.

    Therefore, for an Android or Apple smartphone to replace my current combo it would need the following..
    :GPS sensitivity equal to Garmin 60csx or similar.
    :Compact Waterproof case that mounts on the handlebars (eg Ram mount)
    :No overheating issues with phone in case, in gps mode, and sun shining on it.
    :Touch screen functionality thru Waterproof case, with gloves on.
    :Ability to charge Phone from motorcycle's electrical system.(Intregated in Waterproof Case ?)
    :Show incoming calls while in GPS mode
    :Quick remove/install from waterproof case (for taking pictures/calls etc)

    As for my current Garmin 60csx, its a great unit but the small screen makes it useless to plan/review trips when on the road. The bigger screen and smooth interface of the Android/Apple would be much better for that plus one can up/download tracks as required.
    I did take a netbook with me on one trip but the combined bulk of the netbook/camera and associated chargers etc nearly took up one small soft pannier.

    At this stage I think I still need the Garmin 60csx. One compromise might be an Android phone that takes the same SD card as the GPS. That would allow nightly transfer of GPS tracks from the 60csx to the Android Phone without the use of a computer.
  4. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    I have both.. Android Nexus one with some maps.. And Garmin 60CSX. On the garmin I run SEA and ESRI maps and on the nexus I used NDrive (poor) and google maps (not routable). I have also used other phone mapping solutions (nokia omni) etc and the only one thats close is tomtom on the iPhone IMO.

    The garmin is ruggedized.. Its tough.. I can get it muddy.. I can ride in the rain.. I can ford a river.. I could probably drop it.. Etc etc.. Its properly secured in a mount that can be bounced around with confidence at speed on a bumpy Rd. It just feels that much more solid and I wouldnt dare to do many of these operations with the nexus phone.

    The garmins screen works in direct light far better than the Nexus, it has clever screen changes depending on its built in understanding of sunset times (darkness).. Its battery life is about 18 maybe 24h out of a pair of easily bought in most garages AA batteries (tho its wired in now).. The nexus with GPS running full time and a mapping app with the display on to watch it is maybe 4h or 5h on a full charge. (I cant understand your 2 days.. I barely get 2 days of normal standby use with data enabled) Plus I dont want my phone to quit on me so running it flat is less of an option.

    The garmin is also dedicated.. Its not doing double duty, I dont have screenloads to cycle through in gloves.. Its got dedicated buttons for common functions. Its much better at the single purpose of guiding me with maps and making tracks / waypoints and trials. Yes I can do this with the nexus, but its multiple apps, multiple screens, harder to use / see / handle in gloves etc, its all done by default on the garmin.

    Lastly the garmin has better global map support (of course when a garmin app appears that changes) as of now I loaded Morocco maps on the one I bought my dad.. I put the bali maps when I visit my brother in Indo.. I had routable maps through vietnam.. There might be maps for each of these countries but the android solutions seem very fragmented and not as universal yet.

    Where the nexus shines is being out without a GPS and needing a simple rough guide.. In town and need the railway station ?? Fire up google mapping, search the local, get the point and get it shown in relation to your location. I have also started using it for reviews and the like (want an italian restaurant, google it, check the reviews function, pick one, and have it direct you there) the phone solution is far better at being integrated with online information. It is a thing of wonder to a new arrival to a city what these smartphones can do as 'guides'. Using it in Hong Kong made my short stay just so much better, it was worth the purchase price for that 6 days alone, and the push to near field communication for built in credit card / money use will be one more must have in the very near future.

    I love them both for very different reasons, and wouldnt be without either.. But for a purely motorbike based mapping solution the garmin is way superior at the cost of 1) buying 2 devices and 2) carrying an extra lump.
  5. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    I agree with this, but I guess I just feel that we can choose to have a larger / brighter touch screen (like the Oregon) and 6 hours battery life, or the smaller more efficient 60csx screen and last >1 full days use. For my money its the right engineering choice.

    On the same issue a friend saw how we used the 60 in Vietnam and decided to buy one, he sent me many many messages asking about model x or y and I felt the 60 still represented the best option, he bought an Oregon model with bigger screen and the next message I got was him in the phillipines saying how it crapped out about 5 hours into a day and was this normal ?? IIRC that model doesnt even use regular batts so when its low your stuck until you get to a plug point for a few hours.

    For me I either pre plan if its a day or few days ride.. Or I have a small country map to tell me which cities to key in as a days destination and goal for a longer trip. Even with a netbook you cant beat a good old paper format map for getting the overview, and then let the GPS guide you and correct wrong turns in the actual ride.
  6. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Good info. In my research the Iphone and Nexus seemed the best gps phones to date.

    As you would know, the 60csx can be set to automatically log the days tracks into a file on the removable SD card.
    Is it possible to upload those files directly to the Nexus 1, ie, without a computer ?
    I'm thinking maybe an adapter that connects the SD card to the Nexus1,
    Placing the SD card from the 60csx into the Nexus1 then saving the file to the phones inbuilt memory.

    Reason I ask is that would be a nice option when on the road as it would allow one to view tracks/plan the next day on a bigger screen.
  7. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    The 60csx uses a micro SD.. And so does the nexus.. I can imagine you should be able to get into the raw filesystem (use astro or other file manager on the nexus) and find the files recorded garmin format tracks FROM the GPS on the phone. If it makes for complexity you could just email them into your gmail account for storage.

    But going the other way.. Theres no mapsource on the nexus, so if your goal is route planning, and then pushing the route the other way TO the garmin unit, theres a problem as the nexus would, if anything, be using kml kmz google points which the garmin wont understand.

    However theres no reason why the nexus couldnt be used for route design, then just key in the various stage points (cities) by name or co-ords on the garmin ?? Doesnt have to be complex ??

    Since reading and posting on this I just found out that yesterday Garmin announced garmin android apps (they have broken the exclusive asus partnership due to poor asus sales) at CES. So expect full garmin on android within a month or two. But I still will prefer my 60csx hardware for actual touring use for all of the reasons I posted above.
  8. corbay

    corbay Member

    Hi there, I use a Garmin back home, great piece of kit. On my recent trip around Thailand I didn't want to bring it because it needs a power source, instead I bought my Nokia phone with Ovi maps loaded on.

    Worked as good as anything else I've ever used, I bought 2 spair batteries and charger cradle of Ebay for a tennar, I Velcro carry case and away I went.

    No need to have the phone on-line and when it rained I put the headphones on and put it in my pocket, the maps where all free and so is the usage...

    Brilliant, think I will sell the Garmin as it's just another piece of kit to carry, as well as being able to make calls it takes great photo's as well, very impressed with it..

  9. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    All interesting stuff
    I had a look at the Oregon specs. Of all the Garmin Mapping Handhelds, its got the biggest screen, but not that much bigger than the 60csx
    Oregon 3.8 x 6.3 cm
    60csx 3.8 x 5.6 cm
    One interesting feature is the Oregon can wirelessly transfer files to other Garmin compatable GPS's.
    With Garmin now providing Android apps, perhaps there's a future possiblity of wirelessly transferring files from a Garmin handheld to an Android phone ?
    Anyway, technology is not there yet for me to justify a change from my current setup.
  10. mastamax

    mastamax Ol'Timer

    I had a look at the Oregon as well, but the price doesn't justify the functionalities to my opinion. On an android phone I can load any track (gpx, kml or whatever google earth format,...), they use them as a route.

    The main + point is the maps, there are loads of free maps available, including topographic maps. I don't know about the precision, but for what I tryied it's been very precise (there are no routes but when I record a track it is exactly overlaying the actual routes).

    The main - thing is it is not waterproof (and haven't found any waterproof case), and it doesn't handle well with gloves on.

    Again I put the device in my "fanny bag" (how americans call it right?) and just take it out when I have a doubt. And no problems about getting wet so far cause it's not rainy season yet.

    Then again not saying it's better, just saying if you have an android phone it's a very good system and no need to buy an extra expensive handled gps.
  11. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    Totally agree.. For some reason if one person like one style and another person likes another very often these threads go off the deep end. There is no 'right' only right for you or right for me.. I will say the garmin has been a great purchase and I have more than had my moneys worth.. Would say the exact same thing about the android nexus one too.

    And thanks for the Oruxmaps hint.. Its one I must check out..

    Do you have a good KML making / tracking app ?? All the ones I have tried stop tracking when the gps loses signal (in a pocket) and dont start again. I would rather it kept trying to lay a trail even if theres gaps in its info.
  12. mastamax

    mastamax Ol'Timer

    I use "MyTrack" or the tool in Onrux maps to record tracks. Never lost the signal even in the deep forest so can't tell what would happen. Onrux maps give the option of how the gps should use battery (you can tweak to use more battery but it never looses the signal even in bat save mode).
    To create I use google earth, or tracks people share, but you can use your garmin software for pc as well, since you can load all kind of formats.

    Here an example of Mobile Atlas screenshots. To my opinion the OpenStreetMaps are the best maps for thailand (topographic and with a lot of small off road trails on it)
  13. Garet

    Garet Ol'Timer

    How can you use the GPS features on Nexus One when there is still no 3g in Thailand (outside Bangkok)?
  14. LivinLOS

    LivinLOS Ol'Timer

    1) I have 3G in the city no problem.
    2) 3g and the GPS are 2 separate systems.. 3G is for data and the GPS chip is the location fix.
  15. Garet

    Garet Ol'Timer

    So the GPS will work on the Nexus one without any connection?
    Sometimes you can't even pick up a 2g signal on Edge int the hills. The GPS on the Nexus One would still work in those conditions?
  16. mastamax

    mastamax Ol'Timer

    As mentioned you don't need any internet connection for GPS, as for the maps, that's exactly the subject of this thread, you can use the maps (custom maps as well) offline, that's why it's great.

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