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streetpilot i5 update

Garmin BaseCamp Florida Map

Yeah, I know I've been talking a lot about GPS stuff lately. It's a thing I'm into, what can I say. I'll get back to the guitar stuff soon.

I totally forgot how well one of these little i-series StreetPilots works when it's in good condition. Once I had everything all set up to my liking, it ended up being a really good little performer.

If I wanted to, I could use the i5 satnav full time now that I have set up to my liking. I won't, because not having a touchscreen on a satnav sucks, but the point is that yes, once set up proper, it could be used full time. Mostly. 🙂

Transferring waypoints (as in favorites) from a nuvi to a StreetPilot

I needed Garmin's free BaseCamp software for this. I wasn't about to spend hours inputting waypoints into the i5, so I connected my nuvi 40LM to my laptop via USB, used BaseCamp to copy all the waypoints, unplugged the 40LM, plugged in the i5 and sent those copied waypoints to it. Done and done.

Using the i5's "secret trick" for better GPS reception

When powered via USB, the way to get an i-series StreetPilot to get better and stronger GPS reception is to purposely enable WAAS/EGNOS, which is a setting in menus you can turn on.

WAAS is Wide Area Augmentation System. It was developed by the FAA for air navigation assistance.

EGNOS is European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, which is more or less Europe's version of WAAS.

Enabling WAAS/EGNOS allows the i5 to use ground-based reference points in order to get a more precise position fix. You would think that using this feature would make the i5 take longer to get a signal on boot, but in fact makes it get a signal quicker, and with more strength.

The drawback to using WAAS on the i5 is that you should never use it while on battery, else you'll have dead batteries in less than 45 minutes.

Quick note on SiRF

The breakthrough that made late model StreetPilots and nuvis be able to acquire a GPS signal fast was SiRF, a company that manufactured GPS chipsets that could decode GPS signals at very low signal levels.

SiRF is now owned by a company called CSR. Do nuvis still use SiRF chipsets? I'm pretty sure they do, even though SiRF is under different ownership. The nuvi 40LM I have now does have a SiRF chipset in it. As for what revision, that I don't know, but it grabs a GPS signal quick like it's supposed to.

For automotive satnavs, everything prior to the StreetPilot c550/c580 does not have a SiRF chipset in it, so the best thing is to enable WAAS/EGNOS, if the satnav has the option.

Tests around town and on the interstate

There were no problems when the i5 was used in town or on I-4. However, it was fairly obvious that the i5 would purposely take "the long way around" more often than not. The reason for this is because it's older navigation technology that was made well before tweaks in the software were introduced by Garmin later on.

Because the screen has no anti-glare coating, it washes out in the sun easily. I remembered this back when I was using an i3 as my primary satnav years ago, so I wasn't surprised at that.

The only way to defeat sun glare when driving with an older StreetPilot is to either buy or fabricate a shade for it. GlareStomper still sells them to this day, and I owned one back when I had a StreetPilot c340. However, I would use black construction paper instead and just tape it to the chassis. Cut 1 long piece, size to fit, tape it on, and you're good to go. Works better than cardboard and can be replaced easily. Also, if I ever had a legitimate problem with sun glare on my 40LM, yes I would use the construction paper to fabricate my own shade. If it flopped around from wind, I'd tape on two pieces instead of one, or cut a piece double-wide, fold over once to make it double-thick and do it that way. Yeah, it's a bit ghetto, but it works and I can make my shade whatever width I need it to be.

Getting used to the smallness

It's human nature not to trust something small to do big tasks. And the i-series is the smallest of the small when it comes to automotive satnavs. You look at it and think, "That tiny thing is supposed to navigate me? Seriously?"

While driving around with it, I did have doubts it would navigate me correctly. A few times I thought, "Is this thing pointing me in the correct direction?" It did, and I was able to get to my destinations without a problem. The doubts came entirely from the fact that the i5 is itty-bitty.

In the end, the i5 worked out just fine and makes for a fine backup satnav. It didn't lock up, it didn't lose signal and it pointed me the right way every time, even if it was the long way around.

It works. I'm glad to have it.


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