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GNSS Devices in Mapping

Geostationary Satellites

GNS 2000 Plus

Key features

I finally found a small GNSS device that met my key criteria of;

  • handles GPS, Glonass and Galileo satellite constellations
  • small enough to affix to my helmet or hat for best satellites view
  • stores track data for later retrieval

Most either store data for later retrieval or transmit live via Bluetooth but don’t store. The GNS 2000 Plus does both if you select to transmit via Bluetooth. Bluetooth transmission is the default. Storing is effected by rapid Off-On after you turn on the only switch on the device. But make sure you observe the light pattern that confirms you are in storage mode. I find both methods work well.

Satellites in view

This was an eye opener. Without access to Galileo, in the forest I was sometimes getting (via Bluetooth GPS app) barely sufficient usable satellites for good performance.

Add in Galileo and total satellites visible was at least 22 with 12 in use. In general, more satellites in use means better accuracy. As the signal from one satellite in use deteriorates, the next best is swapped in.

What’s not so good?

I wanted a POI button on my GNSSr but very few have these. However, to my pleasant surprise I found that Bluetooth to a smart device with OruxMaps as the tracking app, gives me not just POI function but also easy capability for making notes directly.

It isn’t IPX rated for climatic conditions. However if rain is threatening I put it in a ziplock bag.

The GNS 2000 Plus records a track point to the device only every 5 seconds. However, data transmitted to a smart device via Bluetooth, whether or not also recording to the GNS device, gives 1 second intervals – in fact typically 3 records per second. See my correction post for further information.

When setting the function to record on the GNS device, carefully observe that the green light flashes quickly 3 times as the switching to effect this is time sensitive. [This section updated 24 May 2019 to note BT 1 second intervals – thanks Rob Plowright].

For mtbo I find 5 seconds acceptable. I am used to riding at 12 km/h or less while mapping (at a significant cost of disc brake pads) which means a track point every 17m. On detailed track I tend to go slower and at junctions I generally stop. For foot-o, the Bluetooth transmission gives detailed data and if desired, the GNS device recording can also be on as a backup.

Originally I was disturbed at the lack of ability to set various parameters. Now I am a convert to the simplicity.

Tracking against Trimble

The Lerderderg Track (Vic) trail was originally surveyed on foot in 2000 using a professional Trimble with mushroom antenna. So this is a very good standard against which to compare the GNS 2000 Plus while riding. The Trimble track was supplied smoothed. The pic shows a track portion.

GNS 2000 ride vs Trimble walk in bush

The GNS 2000 Plus was on my helmet thus giving it the same exposure to satellites as the Trimble mushroom antenna. I also wore on my wrist my Suunto Ambit 2S and it showed noticeably more variation. My interpretation is that the addition of Galileo satellite access has enabled the GNS 2000 Plus to virtually match the professional Trimble year 2000 model.

Not all plain sailing

Talking of plain sailing, this device was developed mainly for small plane including sail plane use – hence the 5 second interval. Geoff Peck and I worked on resolving a number of issues. These revolved around getting the track data from all of GPS Glonass, Galileo etc from the device through to a gpx or kml/kmz file format for OCAD.

We found the popular GPS Bluetooth app recommended by GNS 2000 Plus did not handle satellites other than GPS and Glonass! Eventually we came across GNSS Commahttps://www.facebook.com/pilablunder app which as you can see from the images above, handles data from all constellations. So we had the means of getting the data and GNSS Commander would also store it and even email it afterwards.

But I wanted the ability to manage the tracks on the phone, especially creating POIs with text info. Also on occasion having a background map whether online topo or my own orienteering or trail map. Many apps were presented but only one suited – OruxMaps. I originally looked at it askance as it had so many functions. But I found it very simple to set up and use for what I wanted. It also will upload your track to their website or GPSies.com or a few others. However, I just connect via cable to my PC and get it that way already in GPX format.

GNSS 2000 Plus with laptop

Judging by some online chat groups, it can be problematic getting a GNSS device to work with an OCAD on a laptop in the field.

So I did a test and found that using Bluetooth as COM6 at max rate on my PC made the connection. I then started OCAD 2019 Real-Time GPS. When I tried the Test function, data flowed through but an Invalid Data message displayed and stayed on for every record. However, I recalled that my trusty GPS Utility software found an invalid NMEA header in a GNS 2000 Plus file so guessed the error message might be staying on despite the rest of the data being OK.

So it proved and in live mode it worked fine. OCAD Inc should have fixed the persistent error message problem by now.


I have had a breakthrough with the Holux situation on windows 10.  
I started with installing the drivers below and my RCV-3000 now works with the ezTour software. Then to my amazement the 1200e now works also.
https://www.silabs.com/products/development-tools/software/usb-to-uart-bridge-vcp-drivers
I still can’t get the data off in Ocad although the real time gps works but this is not a major issue for me as the export can be done from eztour.

The above from Andrew Slattery for all those Holux GPSr users out there

GNS 2000 Plus In the field

The GNS 2000 Plus got a good workout in the final stages of preparing the Lerderderg Track map. I have since used it on other maps. I mostly ride with the device on my helmet. More recently while walking to check the map for the Daylesford permanent orienteering course, I fixed it to my cap using a combo of velcro strap and 2 safety pins.

GNS2000+ on hat

With my mobile strapped to the bike bar I mostly use Bluetooth – GNSS Commander – OruxMaps principally to enable recording of POIs on the mobile along with comments. I haven’t bothered to date with loading a map of the area into OruxMaps. When in mobile range I can use the generic online maps but find they are of little or no assistance.

Getting OCAD maps into OruxMaps is simply a matter of exporting in GeoTiff format (TIF including World file), then copying those two files into my mobile OruxMaps MapsFiles folder per image below.

OruxMaps files on mobile
map files in OruxMaps app on mobile

The wrap

Despite it’s apparent limitation of recording every 5 seconds, I have found the GNS 2000 Plus to be highly satisfactory for my use in developing mtbo maps and trail maps. When I used it in checking a foot-o map, I found that it delivered dramatically better results than the original mapper’s GPSr – checked via NearMap and my many prior mappings of those tracks over the years. So I believe it is quite likely at least as good as any other GNSSr in its price range – if there is such a thing.

Geoff Peck and I have been sharing experiences re access to Galileo, SBAS, Beidou etc on GNSS devices. We have managed to surmount a number of hurdles along the way and are pleased to share our experiences. Use the Comments section to ask and we will reply there to share with all users of this blog

I bought my GNS 2000 Plus, $175, from a company Geoff recommended – Melbourne based Oz Pilot. Their online shop doesn’t specify the GNS 2000 is the Plus tri-ceiver model, but just specify that in your order and that is what you will get.

Off course

Latest knOCAD post

Symbol Set Conversion warning.

7 thoughts on “GNSS Devices in Mapping

  1. Hi there,
    Interesting reading! I came onto your website since I got the advice to get a DNS 2000 plus to use with ocad on my surface pro as a multi system gnss. I see you write in your articles about using the device as a tracker, and apps. But do you use it directly with ocad as well and are happy with it? I would like a device similar to the Garmin GLO – but preferably with Galileo, that can interact directly with ocad running on a surface pro tablet with windows 10.

    1. G’day Stefan. I did a successful test of the GNS 2000 Plus with OCAD – see the section GNSS 2000 Plus with laptop in https://ocad.com.au/gnss-devices-in-mapping-gda2020/

      However I don’t map with OCAD in the field so am unable to comment on that. I trialled it successfully with Oriboooklet O mapping app on a mobile. My work these days is mainly trail mapping and I use the GNS always with OruxMaps and Bluetooth GPS on my mobile. Best trail mapping combination I have ever had. The 1 second recording is same as Garmin Glo but the inclusion of other constellations on the GNS 2000 Plus makes a big difference. The other feature that the Garmin Glo doesn’t have is the ability to also record on the device as a backup. I have had to use that a couple of times when I made a mistake in activating OruxMaps recording. Best wishes, Ken

      1. Thank Kenny,
        Looks like I should get one of these. Still a few questions to sort out but that’s part of the decission process. I see articles from some years ago about the GNS 2000 not transmitting new locations unless you move faster than 3,5 km/h or have moved more than 15 meters – which would not work really for me… And then they just are about to launch the GNS 3000 – but from what I see the only difference is a slot for a sd-card, and that would be for the internall logging, at the speed of once per 5 second – so still not something I think I will miss.

        Thanks again for the article and feedback!

        1. I am not aware of the early article you mention but it may refer to the earlier model which did not have the Plus designation. The 2000 Plus certainly records when you are stopped – but it might drop coincident points. I’ll check a recent file for that in the morning & report back Stefan.

          I recently checked the 3000 specs against those of the 2000 Plus and the only difference I could see is that of the SD card. I don’t have a need for SD as the Plus has never got anywhere near exhausting internal storage when I use that facility.

        2. Stefan, my promised check of a recent file took place but I realised it didn’t contain sufficient information to get a clarity on the frequency of trackpoints from the GNS 2000 Plus. One of the issues was that some apps in the process have parameters that can change the rate or circumstance of recording. So I refreshed my knowledge of my settings, found nothing of concern and set out on a test walk of 6km.

          Summary: GNS 2000 Plus track point recording via Bluetooth was 90% 1 second interval and mainly 2 second the other 10% except when stopped. Track point recording to the device was at 4 to 5 second intervals.

          Detail:
          The recording to the GNS 2000 Plus device is in NMEA format. It recorded 993 pairs of records at 4 to 5 second intervals. Whereas the GPX and CSV records via Bluetooth recorded 4382 track point records for that walk. My surmise is that the lower rate of recording on the device is simply due to software/hardware capability. There are no settings available to change that.

          The recording via Bluetooth went through the Bluetooth GPS app and onward to OruxMaps. I produced a GPX file and a CSV file which were identical in terms of records. The GPX file generally had track points at 1 second intervals with a break of 2, sometimes 3, points every 9 seconds or so. I noted that at the start of the walk there were many multi-second breaks perhaps partly as the satellite fixes settled down and partly due to my being stationary or nearly so as I got ready to walk. Overall the 1 second patter dominated. It did vary when I stopped. At one stop there was a 15 second break and some short breaks. At a longer stop of a minute or so there was a 65 second break followed by a 34 second break before resuming.

          So my expectation that there could be rationalisation of track points identical in location. or perhaps even very nearly so, was confirmed. This is a similar process to my handheld Magellan GPSr of 15 years ago.

  2. Note that since the latest (2.8.?) version, GNSS Commander has been renamed to PPM Commander, and now *only* works for PPM devices. So no general Bluetooth GPS device support anymore.

    You can still get an older version via Aptoide though (2.6.0.2), that one still works with the GNS 2000 Plus or the Garmin GLO 2.

    Interestingly the Garmin GLO 2 doesn’t even display GLONASS satellites as such, even in GNSS Commander. They all show up as GPS satellites, although their PRN number indicates they are indeed GLONASS satellites (e.g. 80 and up).

    Unfortunately I’m not terribly happy with the GNS 2000 Plus so far when riding my MTB in the woods. In the last couple of rides it’s been even slightly worse than the Garmin GLO 2, although it connects to more satellites (around 2-4 more) and has support for Galileo ones, which the Garmin doesn’t have.
    Sadly that doesn’t mean that the Garmin is much better, just slightly. I’ll have to do more tests and also have to compare it against my mobile’s internal GPS again (Samsung Galaxy A3 2017, which also supports GPS/GLONASS). I have two identical mobile phones (one with a broken screen…), so I can make two recordings on the same ride and compare the tracks.

    Although I admit I haven’t gone as far as taping the GPS devices to my helmet, I put them in the side pockets of my hip bag (one left, one right).

    Maybe it’ll get better with the GNSS Commander, although you mentioned that it doesn’t actually do anything better than the GPS Bluetooth app, which I’ve been using so far. We’ll see.

  3. Geoff Peck submitted this enlightenment re Bluetooth GPS app which I discarded in favour of GNSS Commander.
    ———–
    “Bluetooth GPS app will only DISPLAY GPS and GLONASS satellites, BUT it’s position is taken directly from the NMEA file sent from the GNSSr (e.g. your GNSS 2000+) so will INCLUDE ALL SATELLITES that the GNSSr receives. I have this direct from the app developers and have checked accuracy by comparing results using this app and GNSS Commander (which does display all satellites). The reason is that Bluetooth GPS app uses the old NMEA format in the days before Galileo, but the NMEA still contains the position direct, calculated from all satellites (i.e. the Bluetooth GPS app does NOT DO ANY CALCULATIONS it just displays data from the NMEA file).”
    ————
    So the well used Bluetooth GPS does handle Galileo, just does not display. I will keep it in mind as a backup as I like to assure myself that there is good coverage and quality.

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