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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics
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Old 05-17-2010
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GPS to PC (USB) cable for Garmin GPSII+

I have an old Garmin GPSII+ that I want to connect to my Laptop PC to use it as a GPS receiver for PC based GPS software such as OpenCPN. I figure since I have the GPSII+ why not use it as a receiver and make some use of it instead of throwing it away.

Does anyone have any information on the connection diagram from the 4 pin male connections at the back of the GPS to a USB connection on the PC?

Last edited by SeaFever2000; 05-17-2010 at 06:27 PM. Reason: syntax
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Old 05-17-2010
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Get your unity's manual from Garmin website, then find a USB-SERIAL cable for your PC. Your Garmin talks serial (RS-422 or RS-232) and you'll need to emulate such interface on your PC if this doesn't have a native serial port available. It's pretty straight forward, and you should have minimal difficulty in wiring up them. Good luck.
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Thanks for making me read the manual Nave...:-)

The GPS connections are receive, -ve, Transmit, +ve going clockwise. I could perhaps find a female connector for this at Radioshcak. Question I have is which pins of the 'serial' connector do each of these go? Assuming I am able to use a serial to usb cable.

Hence the connection will be PC USB connection--> serial connector-->GPS connector.

Can you help me with the pin connection to be used with the serial connector for the R, -, T, + connections?

Thanks for responding.
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Old 05-17-2010
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Scratch that. I found the pinout information for both the USB connectors and the serial DB9 connectors. Thanks for getting me started. I am guessing that the connections will need to be done as follows:

Transmit on GPS --> Receive Data on the PC serial conn (pin 2) --> Data -ve on USB (pin 2)
Receive on GPS --> Transmit Data on PC side (pin 3) --> Data +ve on USB (pin 3)
-ve on GPS --> Signal ground on PC side (pin 5) --> GND on USB (pin 4)
+ve on GPS --> VCC on USB (pin1)

Please confirm my understanding is correct.

And then to find an application to emulate the serial connection...

Last edited by SeaFever2000; 05-17-2010 at 07:24 PM. Reason: syntax
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Old 05-17-2010
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Fever, keep in mind your NMEA protocol is just v2.0 and some application may not work properly, but I think that for simple positioning that should work. The - and + are the external battery connection. You may connect it to your 12V system, eliminating the need for the 4xAA internal batteries. The USB-SERIAL cable you'll find in the market is, mostlikely a DB9 configuration (nine pins), not the old DB25 one. Anyway, here is the pinout.

GPS DB9 or DB25
R ---- pin 3 pin 2
T ---- pin 2 pin 3
- ---- pin 5 pin 7 (and also to -12V system, optional)
+ ---- to +12V system, optional.

Then you'll need to configure your GPS to None/NMEA connection (page 83), then your PC input to 4800 bps/1 stop bit/ no parity.This would be my suggested initial configuration to check the system . Some parameters may change. You'll need also a Garmin Power/Data or PC Kit cable, and I'm not sure you'll find something equivalent at a RadioShack .....
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Old 05-17-2010
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Hey,

You can buy or build the cable. or you can just buy a cheap USB GPS for your PC. The cheap ones cost about $20. They run on PC power, so you don't need batteries.

I bought one a few years ago that I use with SeaClear. It works fine.


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Note, you WONT be able to connect the GPS dierectly to yourn USB port. You need a USB-Serial cable. There is more than just pinout involved, it has also protocol and voltage. So, you'll need a USB-SERIAL adapter for your PC. The GPS-USB unity, as BarryL says is a good idea too, but you'll need somethig with external antena, or you'll be trapped using the PC outside boat.I would use the TERMINAL application as the initial debugger for this system ....l
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Last edited by negrini; 05-17-2010 at 09:02 PM.
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Thanks Barry and Nave,

I am aware that I can get portable GPS receivers quite cheap that I can connect to the laptop. I might end up going that route. Since I had this GPSII+, I thought I would make use of it to check out OPNCPN...if it was not too much trouble.

Thanks for your help and all the info.
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GPS and laptops

Hey,

IMHO, IF you can buy the cable for your GPS for a cheap price, AND you have the serial to USB converter (or can buy one for cheap), then it makes sense to use your existing unit. Otherwise, you are better off just buying the cheapy GPS. Note that the new GPS units, with the latest SIRF chipsets will work great from inside a fiberglass boat. Just make sure it will output NMEA0183 format.

Good luck,
Barry


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Originally Posted by SeaFever2000 View Post
Thanks Barry and Nave,

I am aware that I can get portable GPS receivers quite cheap that I can connect to the laptop. I might end up going that route. Since I had this GPSII+, I thought I would make use of it to check out OPNCPN...if it was not too much trouble.

Thanks for your help and all the info.
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Old 05-20-2010
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You're really better of getting a cheap USB based GPS puck. The GPS II+ has an old gps chipset and doesn't support WAAS. You'll have a bulky GPS unit, with batteries in it, connected to two cables to get to your laptop. The GPS puck will be a fraction of the size, have no extra batteries (and use a fraction of the power), just one cable to your laptop, and have a much better GPS chip with WAAS/EGNOS support.

Plus, it will probably cost you more to get a cable with the special garmin connector ($20-$30) for the gps and a serial-to-usb converter ($15) for your laptop. Figure $40+, assuming you can still get the special garmin cable. I think they used the same connector on some newer GPSes, so the cable might still be around. You can get a USB GPS puck for $30-$40.
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