Get Basic knowledge before you start to setup a Laptop / Tablet GPS System:
Laptop GPS system’s Hardware Software partitioning:
- Hardware (GPS Module): It simply uses to receive the RF signal (NMEA Data) from the GPS Satellites in space.
- Software (GPS Map): There are hundreds to thousands of different GPS maps available, select the one suitable for you.
- You need a GPS Receiver to work with your Laptop or Tablet. (A GPS Receiver Module with USB Connector & External Antenna.)
- Not suggest use a USB GPS Stick. (A USB GPS Stick fixed at the back of your Laptop so you cannot get good Satellites signal when you sit inside your mobile. ).
- If your Laptop has Bluetooth then you can think about use a Bluetooth GPS Receiver. (Bluetooth GPS Receiver is more expensive. You have to charge the Battery every time before use. Some end user has difficult to enable the connection between the Bluetooth Receiver and Laptop.)
- The best Laptop GPS Receiver is the one w/ a short USB Cable (0.7 meter) but long Antenna Cable (2, 3, 5, or 10 meters)
Compatible Operation System (OS):
- Windows: XP, Vista, win7
- Mac OS
- Android: (Details about Offline GPS system for Android OS)
- You need to install a driver PL2303 (come with the GPS Receiver) to enable the GPS Receiver work with your laptop through the USB port.
- Drivers PL2303 have difference versions for difference OS of Windows, Mac, Linux ….
- After installed the PL2303 driver and connected the GPS Receiver (Hardware) to your Laptop you can use difference kinds of GPS Map / Marine Chartplotter (Software) for Navigation.
- Android Tablet have too many difference version OS and difference Main Board, Please find details at following page: (Android Tablet GPS with Offline Map, without Internet, without 3G, without WiFi)
You can setup a Laptop GPS Navigator system according to the following step:
- If you don't have a GPS Map in your Laptop you can go to Internet to find a free GPS Map (software) of your city. (or, in the Driver Page of this website to download a Google Map for the testing of the GPS Receiver.)
- Buy a Laptop GPS Receiver (hardware). Usually it is a GPS Module with an External Antenna or Built-in Antenna. For better reception, it is better to have an External Antenna.
- The USB version Laptop GPS Receiver (hardware) must install the Driver “PL2303” (usually included in manual disc) to enable the connection of the GPS Receiver to your Laptop PC. (PL2303 for Windows or Mac are difference. New version of Linux & Android OS no need driver). You can Download & install the latest PL2303 driver from the following wedsite: http://www.prolific.com.tw/eng/downloads.asp?ID=31
- After install the PL2303 driver then connected the GPS Receiver to USB port, make sure you know what com-port number is using for the GPS. (In Window Devices Manager you can find “Prolific USB-to-Serial-Comm-Port(Com?)”. For example it shows it is COM4, and then in after no matter what GPS Map (software) you use the Com-Port must set to COM4.
- You can select any GPS Map (software) that work on GPS Protocol NMEA-0183. 90% GPS Map work on both Baud-Rate 4800 & 9600 but some only work on Baud-Rate 4800. So when you buy a GPS Receiver (hardware) you must select the matching Baud-Rate (just buy 4800 version, it can match with all difference GPS map or ChartPlotter).
A Memorial for Standalone GPS Units – Death by Laptop or Tablet GPS
- If you don’t want to pay for a Standalone Chartplotter that costs more than your boat then just bang it on a laptop, hook up the external GPS Receiver and off you go.
- You can buy a 5" Standalone GPS at >US$200 and usually it included a GPS Map that covered a small area of your city with little function. You have to paid extra money again for the GPS Map of other country or cit
- Just a small money (about US$30) can turn your Laptop or Tablet to work as a Widescreen GPS or ChartPlotter.
- With a Laptop GPS Receiver, you can select lots of GPS Map with special functions you prefer.
- (I want to setup GPS on Android Tablet, Kindle Fire .... ): Android Tablet GPS with Offline Map, without Internet, without 3G, without WiFi
Hints to solve the com-port connection problem in computers:
- Usually your computer has more than 10 com-ports but if all occupied may cause problem. Delete those com-ports that not in use, your system will running more stable.
- Direct connect the GPS Receiver to the Laptop usb port. A USB Splitter or long USB extension cable will cause problems.
- Don't use any wireless Mouse, it has conflict with other external USB devices.
- Some External USB Device’s software you installed in before may still occupies the com-port even you have disconnected its hardware USB Cable. Uninstall all other unused USB Devices’ Driver.
See more information about "How to delete unused com-port"
Links to find free GPS map:
Laptop GPS FAQ:
- First time to setup a Laptop GPS System
- I got a Baud Rate & GPS Mode (NMEA) compatible problem
- How to use Garmin Map on Laptop with a non-Garmin GPS Receiver
- How to setup a Marine Chartplotter on my Laptop or PC
- What is the difference between a Real GPS & a Fake GPS
- How to minimize temporary loss of signal & improve the 3D Position Accuracy
- Android Tablet GPS with Offline Map, without Internet, without 3G, without WiFi
A good external GPS Antenna is the foundation of a good GPS Navigation system.
A good external GPS Antenna capture more Satellites (max. 12) and give higher "3D position Accuracy".
(If you want to use the Laptop GPS in a more sheltered position and leave the Antenna at open space then you need a longer Antenna Cable. The RF Antenna Cable can be extending to 30 meters or longer no problem (just like a TV Antenna Cable). You should never use a USB extension cable longer then 2 meters or you will found data lost and system malfunction.)
Get a Laptop GPS Receiver w/ a short USB Cable (0.7 meter) but long Antenna Cable (2, 3, 5, or 10 meters) from the sole supplier.