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The USGlobalSat GPS unit is small.  It has a magnetic base and a red LED on the side.  The LED turns on when the unit is plugged into the USB port.  The LED was suppose to flash when the GPS is trying to get a fix on the satellites...but we never saw any flashing.  No big deal as long as the unit works.

The CD shipped with the package contained only PC software.  There was a note on the side of the box indicating that we needed to go tot the USGlobalSat site to download the Mac software... did we see the note?  No :-)  We messed around for a while and decided to check the site for drivers.  Guess what?  They had some :-)  You can download the necessary Mac drivers and utility software here or on the USGlobalSat site.

After the download and unpacking you should have what you see above.  The driver is the PL2303_1.0.8b4.pkg.  It is a piece of software that creates a virtual serial port for bridging the USB GPS device and the Route66 GPS software.

The Route66 software installation was also pretty straightforward.  We did wish the installer would let us install the just the necessary portion of the map database for our part of the US.  The entire Route66 install required about 2.4 GB.

We had a little bit of problem getting the GPS to talk to the software, but we cleared it up when we provide the correct baud rate (4800) for the GPS connection.  Once the communication speed was properly set, the GPS quickly acquired the necessary satellite to get a fix on our location.  This was particularly impressive since we were sitting at our desk inside!  Granted it was only able to grab enough satellites to do a 2D fix...it said quite a bit about the sensitivity of USGlobalSat's unit!

We decided it was time to take the GPS unit outside to see if we could get a better signal.  So we loaded all the drivers and software onto the G3 laptop and went out to the test car.  Once outside, we had no trouble getting a satellite fix....excellent!

It was a good sign that we had no problems installing the GPS drivers and software on both the G4 desktop and the G3 laptop unit.  The final test was whether everything would work on the new Mac mini.

We fired up the Mac mini and the DWW700 LCD screen and repeated all the installation steps, plugged in the GPS, launched Route66... and up came our position!  We think this bundle from USGlobalSat is going to work out just GREAT!

We played around with the Route66 software a little bit.  We must admit, it could use a little work on the "ease of use" side.  We'll do a more indepth review of the software once we had a chance to play with it some more.  For now...we are just happy to have a working Mac GPS solution!

NOTE:  We also got super quick tech support from USGlobalSat.  We had fired off an email to them when we had the GPS/Route66 communications problem.  The tech support folks answered within the hour.  Nice!




BU-303 USB 1.1 GPS  receiver

By Wan Chi Lau

There are plenty of Global Positioning System (GPS) for the PC platform, not so much for the Mac.

Therefore, we were VERY happy to come across USGlobaSat's site and found a Mac bundle that ran on the OS X platform.  A few conversations with the folks at USGlobasSat and we had ourselves a GPS unit that should work with the Mac mini.

We did discussed the option of using some of their other units (MR-350, BT-338, etc...).  They all appeared to be fine units, but it was suggested that a permanent install using a USB solution was probably the best way to go for this particular project.

You are welcome to follow along on the entire Porsche Boxster Carputer project as we go from Design to Installation.

The GPS Setup is divided into:

- Hardware Setup

- Software Setup

Project Summary: GPS setup

1. Difficulty - Easy

2. Time - 30 min

3. Tools - none

4. Cost - about $100 for the bundle (GPS + Route66 software)


Other segments of Carputer project:

- Project Design

- Screen Setup

- Mac mini Setup

- OrbitCam Setup

- Installation

Photography by Wan Chi Lau
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