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running GPS with laptop

Started by heyyou325, March 25, 2010, 06:57:09 PM

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I know I saw directions somewhere to hook your GPS unit up to a laptop while traveling  to use the monitor to read the maps, and have it available when you need to change maps on the GPS.  I can't find the article,and am having no luck figuring it on my own.  I have a GPSmap76CS if that matters.  Have I missed something basic (that's usually what I do)?  or is it even doable?  Thanks for any help, my wife and I are leaving on a trip of about 5000 miles round trip to see both of our kids, one is graduating law school, in less than a month.  It's almost coast to coast.


Dan Blomberg
Administrator - GPSFileDepot
GPS Units: Garmin Dakota 20, Garmin GPSMap 60csx, Nuvi 255W, Nuvi 250W, ForeRunner 110, Fenix 2, Tactix Bravo, Foretrex 401
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Thanks for the comeback, I'm sure that is what I'm looking for. 


I'm surprised you found that old page. Garmin has removed the program from their site, when you click the download link you are taken back the index page. But you can still download nRoute here:

I have been playing with this a lot recently and am running version 276. It works fine under Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. Your 76cs should work fine with it, my 60csx was no problem although you may need to change a setting under Menu > Setup > Interface IIRC. I am using a little USB gps with it now, along with GPSGate which translates the output into Garmin's proprietary format.


I have to admit.  I didn't check all the way with the download as it will have to be on my wife's laptop.  She won't let me take my desktop.  I checked on your link, and I have a question.  Which download do I need.  I have satellite  and am nearing the limit on my bandwidth so was going to wait til it dropped.  Can't get cable or broadband as I'm in the hicks here.  I don't want to download more than necessary, and it doesn't really say what is in each download on the page.   Thanks for your time.


nRoute_276.exe (the last one on that page) was the final version that Garmin released. I tried one of the older versions myself and it crashed under Vista 64. As they say, "your mileage may vary". :)



No the voices are not necessary, and probably most times not wanted.  I'll have enough in my head and my wife will probably be the co-pilot.  She hasn't tried downloading the link from Boyd yet, but may need another to try also.  I appreciate all the help I get here.  And thanks Boyd for the comeback on which one.


I think computers and GPS'es should be seen and not heard. All of mine are on "mute". nRoute evidently gives voice directions but I have never used it.

Maybe you need to explain what you want to do a little better though. Many people will feel that nRoute is pretty "retro" by today's standards. The only reason I use it is because I like the way it renders my own topo maps on the screen (they look pretty much identical to their appearance on my Oregon, and better than Mapsource can display them).

If you want real turn-by-turn navigation, it is probably not your best choice. Garmin's City Navigator is locked to specific gps'es, although it can be used on different computers. But when running nRoute, my understanding is that your copy of City Navigator must be locked to the gps that you use. Do you already have City Navigator installed on your 76cs? If not, you will have to buy it.

If that's the case, you might look at Garmin Mobile PC instead. You can get a version of it along with a USB GPS for under $100. You can also get a software-only version to use with your own GPS for even less. It is more like a Nuvi with some additional features. I find that it mangles my own topo maps since I break a lot of rules in making them :)

You could also check out Microsoft Streets and Trips. I grabbed a copy of the 2009 version recently at Staples for about $70 and it included a small uBlox USB GPS which I also use with nRoute.

Then there's also OziExplorer which I like, but it works with raster imagery, so you have to make your own maps and they are not routable.


What I want is to run the GPS screen on the laptop so we can see things better.  It will be larger so we can read it better, and won't be on the dash.  I have a GPS76CS that needs to be flat on the dash to get satellites so that's is a little hard to read.  I can get myself lost without a GPS or my wife to help and a voice constantly telling me what to do is irritating.  This will give us a lighted map when we want to look, and be hooked up when we need to change maps on the GPS.  I have turn by turn navigation (it's called a wife).  I appreciate your help as it takes me awhile to grasp new things (I'm old).  I mostly mastered downloading maps and putting them on mapsource on my computer (32 bit and XP professional), now I have to put them in windows 7 with 64 bit (her laptop).  So you can see the simpler the better.  Going to see our kids.  The last one left home a year ago and left me on my own to figure this stuff out.  Thanks again for the help.


I'm not old, I'm 60.  ;)

I think you may be misunderstanding something here though. nRoute does not "run the GPS screen on the laptop". There is no way to do this. nRoute is a completely separate navigation program. It only receives position data from your 76cs, and uses that to display maps that are installed on your computer.

Honestly, for what you're describing I think you would be better served by getting an automotive GPS unit. The Nuvi series can use the maps that you have in mapsource as well as the City Navigator maps which are pre-installed.

It will be a lot less awkward than using a laptop with cables and stuff, and the touchscreen will be a lot easier to use than menus and keyboard commands. You will need some kind of mount for a laptop in your vehicle, and a power supply if you want to run it for very long. These things will cost as much as a dedicated auto GPS. And you will also have to be concerned about theft of your computer.

You might stop by a store like Best Buy and play around with the Nuvi's on display to see what you think before going too far with the laptop idea. You should find a number of models in the $100-$150 range.


Well thanks, not the answer I wanted but I guess I might have to accept it.  GPS wouldn't have to be hooked up to the laptop much, only when we needed directions.  An inverter powers the laptop fine.  And only one cable to hook up.  I will need a way to change map areas anyway as my GPS only holds 115mb so will need laptop with us anyway.  When I purchased my GPS I read about this software, but now that I need it I can't find it anywhere.  Not sure if it was in or out of production, or a concept as I didn't pay enough attention.  I bought my GPS for fishing, hunting, four wheeling in the mountains, and hiking in the mountains, but this one or the GPS60 series was also supposed to be good for maps.   Now I would like to have this software, mostly for in cities, or rest areas.  Thanks again.


If you like using Garmin maps and want to use your laptop with them, then MobilePC is a good solution I think because it's very user-friendly. Shop around and you can get the version with the USB GPS pretty cheaply. The software only version is maybe $20 less, but both versions will include Garmin's City Navigator maps.

One problem with nRoute for your application is that it doesn't support the NT version of City Navigator. Garmin has stopped making the non-NT version now, so it will be pretty hard to find. But if you already have the non-NT City Navigator and it's locked to your GPS, you could give it a try.

But as I said, it won't actually display the screen from your GPS. It just uses the position to draw its own maps. I think some of the really old Garmin GPS'es had a feature for connecting to an external monitor, but none of the newer models have this.


Very cool - I didn't know you could do that.  8)


Perhaps the Nuvi 5000 would be more user friendly than a laptop and a gps in the front seat. The 5" screen is big (and for us 60 plus guys that's important) and it will give directions.