GPS Tech - Common GPS issues

Mar 14, 2010
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Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Hopefully this will help others with a detailed explanation of downloading maps in Windows 10, as mentioned above.
Downloading the maps was the first thing I did, just never could get s4 or w10 puck to work with them.
 
So I downloaded the GPSDirect and tried it on my BU-353S4 and it worked for the day. As the unit has been dicey I decided to get the BU-353W10. So I uninstalled GPDirect hoping it would work all by itself. It doesn't. Same thing as the S4 - red blinking light and no data coming in to Franson Gate. So I tried reinstalling GPSDirect but now all I get is the spinning wheel of death and (not responding) on the GPSComplete window. So now I have 2 GPS pucks that aren't working and storm chase season is almost over. Any other ideas? I have spent hours trying to figure this out.
 

Mark Blue

Owner
Staff member
Feb 19, 2007
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Colorado
I’ve been thinking about this and believe you could either use the GPS Splitter with one of your pucks or the Plugin if you were inclined to use the Windows Location API. See here for the download of both components and to decide which one you want.

I believe what may be at the crux of your issue is some old and/or outdated settings. I’d locate those settings (usually an XML file) according to these instructions and delete them. Then when everything is connected run the “Setup Wizard” to reconnect your chosen GPS unit and hopefully it will start working again. Let us know how it turns out.
 
I’ve been thinking about this and believe you could either use the GPS Splitter with one of your pucks or the Plugin if you were inclined to use the Windows Location API. See here for the download of both components and to decide which one you want.

I believe what may be at the crux of your issue is some old and/or outdated settings. I’d locate those settings (usually an XML file) according to these instructions and delete them. Then when everything is connected run the “Setup Wizard” to reconnect your chosen GPS unit and hopefully it will start working again. Let us know how it turns out.
I'll probably delve into that, I have Franson Gate installed - at one point it was green and saying data was coming in fine, then it stopped. BUT along with issues of Verizons hotspot data only lasting a few days though unlimited on the actual device I think the best bet is next year to get a tablet with GPS and a sim card.
 
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Mark Blue

Owner
Staff member
Feb 19, 2007
3,147
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Colorado
Me too. I have Franson GPSGate on my laptop but it seems they've changed the names which only confuses most lay people. I ordered the W10 puck but haven't installed it yet. My old BT puck from Delorme works so good I'm afraid to mess with it!
 

Drew Terril

Staff member
Plus with 5G slowly rolling out may as well go new next year. Apparently 5G expected to be as large an impact as 3G was. You should be able to download a full HD movie in seconds - been reading up on stock investing reports!
That's actually why I've been holding off on upgrading my iPhone. My 8 Plus still functions fine (need to replace the screen due to cracks though), but I'm not willing to buy a new one knowing 5G models aren't that far in the future. My tablet (Galaxy Tab S4) will be up for upgrade soon as well and I'll be holding off for the same reason. Figure if I'm going to spend that kind of money, might as well hold off till the next generation chips are in them.

With that said, I do often use my Tab S4 for SN via RadarScope instead of going through my laptop. It's just easier that way for me since I always have both tablet and laptop with me on chase days.
 
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Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
You have to run the application/.exe file again with the GPS Direct driver to uninstall. You still need to run 2 hardware pucks if you want to do it that way, which is what I technically do in my car. I also am running the gpsdirect driver. That .exe file is also how you set input com port... So I created a virtual com port 9 in gpsgate and use 9 as the gpsdirect input. Then I can figure out what port the actual hardware is on and get that into gpsgate.
 
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Mark Blue

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Colorado
Thank you Ben. I’m not sure if I completely understand but you’re running the setup whereas I’m not so I trust your advice. Online support is an animal unto itself as a guy is never quite sure of all of the variables involved. ;)
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
I mean the gpsdirect.exe that you download - You have to run that again to install/uninstall and modify the com port the sensor driver listens for NMEA signal on.

Basically GPS --> NMEA --> USB/COMxx --> COMxx GPSGate input --> GPSGate Virtual Output on COMyy --> GPS direct driver
 

Mark Blue

Owner
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Feb 19, 2007
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Colorado
I thought I upped that to several hours. I'll jump in there tomorrow and give you guys more time to edit. Thanks for doing that for us Ben.
 
Dec 8, 2003
1,380
388
11
Southeast CO
www.youtube.com
Here's a semi-off-topic post about GPS. I am still using a Garmin GPSV (V meaning 5) unit I bought in 2002. I like using its display. It has only a serial (9-pin) port. In 2002 I connected it through the serial port on my laptop. My next laptop was bought in 2008, and I had to buy a serial-to-USB adapter. I didn't read the package carefully when I bought the adapter, and later found out it wasn't even the correct type of adapter for that, but after a phone call to someone I was able to get it to work.

Every time I buy a new laptop (two since) I expect that no WAY that old setup will work, but it still does! I just plug it in, the driver downloads automatically, and voila!
 
Mar 30, 2008
1,274
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
One more update to this; If you install a new feature update to your Windows installation, it seems to pop the GPSDirect driver out. I am not sure why, but a reinstall works and takes literally a minute. This is probably a problem you will run into over time, so I wanted to document it here for folks.
 

Matt Hunt

EF3
Aug 2, 2009
249
101
11
Twin Falls, ID
I'm still lost after reading through this thread. Got a new laptop coming, what do I need to do to have GPS on GRL3?
With my old laptop I had 2 GPS receivers that had come with 2 different versions of Streets & Trips. I had to use a different receiver for S&T and GRL3. Not sure those receivers will work on the new laptop, though. I know S&T won't.
 

Lou Ruh

EF2
May 17, 2007
198
49
11
SE PA
I'm still lost after reading through this thread. Got a new laptop coming, what do I need to do to have GPS on GRL3?
With my old laptop I had 2 GPS receivers that had come with 2 different versions of Streets & Trips. I had to use a different receiver for S&T and GRL3. Not sure those receivers will work on the new laptop, though. I know S&T won't.
It has been a while since I have done this (I have been using the GPS pucks ... yes ... I have GPS redundancy in my setup ... for many years with many different computer hardware and it has worked fine for me, so, I have not had to use things now available) ... but ... https://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Receiver-Laptop-Interface-Gain/dp/B071XY4R26 looks like it should work fine to connect to GRLevel3 . The key is something that will present as a Windows COM port since GRLevel3 expects the GPS to be connected as a COM port. From the questions/reviews, etc. on Amazon, this one looks like it does that.
 
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Matt Hunt

EF3
Aug 2, 2009
249
101
11
Twin Falls, ID
Also, it seems GPS software has been retired. I know you can download Google Maps on your phone, but I don't see a way to do it on the computer. Nor do I see a way to get rid of the satellite view on Earth (and more importantly, show all of the roads). Windows Maps looks incredibly difficult to see, as they've colored the smaller roads nearly the same as the map background. Are there any better options?
 
Dec 8, 2003
1,380
388
11
Southeast CO
www.youtube.com
I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure I'm repeating myself here (if not in this thread then elsewhere): The way I do it is certainly NOT everyone's cup of tea, but I use an old Garmin, connect with GPSGate so I can split the signal into two com ports, and display my position on GRL3 and SN concurrently.

I have always used TIGER shapefiles that I downloaded "here" (quotes because the files from different years will have a different URL):


After browsing around a bit I see that 2021 shapefiles are apparently available but farmed out to "partners"? That is new. Anyway, after you download you have to load them + stylefiles into GRL3. I won't go into instructions here, now.

You can download by county or state, or even USA, but I prefer to do it by county so I can choose which counties to load for each individual radar site. If you load entire states at a time it will slow your computer down by requiring massive files to be loaded each time you bring up a radar, and there are other reasons, too, but this is EXTREMELY time-consuming to prep each radar site county-by-county. It took me somewhere between 40 and 60 hours to load all the counties for each radar site that I may potentially use. That doesn't include the time spent downloading all the files from the census.gov website... county-by-county, one at a time.

99.9% of you would think I'm insane to do it that way, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love the way it works for me. Every time I buy a new computer I have to do it all over again, except for the downloading part.
 

Dave C

EF2
Jun 5, 2013
122
176
11
Denver
www.davidcrowlphotography.com
The GlobalSat BU - 353 - S4 works as simple as it gets, by plugging into any USB port and selecting its COM port from GRLevel3 in the GPS menu. Machines not running Windows 10 (8, 7, XP, etc) might have to install a driver which is easy to find and install.

I've used the aforementioned model of receiver for 8-9 years so can vouch that it is reliable and rugged.

As for maps: GR3 shapefiles are exceptionally detailed with the only drawback that names are not shown on each road unless you mouse over (has never bothered me). The roads files have every dirt patch and side road that existed up to the year the shapefile was made. New census data updates them every few years. I am able to navigate almost entirely with GR3, although I run my car nav screen or google maps as a second view.

If you want to use roads shapefiles from within GR3, then adding shapefiles , in my opinion, is best done by state or radar site, not county. I'm not sure what benefit there could be to doing that on a modern computer but we each have our ways of working. With several statewide roads shapefiles loaded, almost any computer made within 3 years will have only a very slight slowdown when starting GR3 or switching radars, but we are talking seconds here (5 seconds average, or even less). Not AT ALL worth spending HOURS loading these by county for a couple seconds of perceived lag when starting up or changing radar sites to another state, but maybe that's just my opinion. I'm using a middle range Surface Pro 7 here with an i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, nothing fancy at all and I never have any lag or issues when loading roads by state into GR3. My previous extremely underpowered netbook was also able to handle loading roads by state, but the starting of GR3 or changing radar sites to another state could sometimes take 20-30 seconds (especially huge states like TX); again that netbook was very weak and had Windows 7 on only 2GB of RAM and a slooow processor. For any modern machine, typical delay of is going to be 5-10 seconds or better only at startup and when changing radar sites to another state- not something that has ever bothered me chasing. The files also are not large compared to RAM on most current machines. Almost all states shapefile size are between 100 and 220 MB. You can load up a few states before a chase in ~two minutes. No noticeable performance issues at all.

Note: road shape files only show up when you select a radar that covers the road area. So, for example, you cannot browse the detailed Kansas road networks shapefiles in GR3 with a Colorado radar selected.
 
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Dec 8, 2003
1,380
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Southeast CO
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I can't argue with Dave's point about the lag. I was also previously using computers with slower CPU's, etc., and that's when I saw slow load times.

I don't know if Dave is doing something differently than me WRT neighboring states. If, for example, I use the KGLD site, my GRL3 displays the roads in CO and NE too, no problem.

Loading roads by radar site is something I've never heard of. How is that done? That could maybe save me a lot of time.

As I alluded, there is another reason why I don't want to load entire states for radar sites, and that is that by limiting the loaded roads to counties within about 100 miles I can be alerted to when I need to switch radar sites. Let's say I start the day on KDDC and chase over into Harper County, KS. As I am zoomed in on GRL3 and focused intently on the sky I may inadvertently not realize that it is time to switch to either KNVX or KICT. Then I drive off my mapping, my shapefiles, and this alerts me to switch to one of those other sites. Personal preference.
 

Matt Hunt

EF3
Aug 2, 2009
249
101
11
Twin Falls, ID
I've never tried using the shapefiles, because I didn't know if they were complete, and the lag issues you speak of, but that shouldn't be an issue with the new laptop. I may try that. I like the idea of having the roads and radar together in one, rather than flipping back and forth. I've found when I'm on a storm, I'm usually on the map rather than the radar, as I'm trying to plan ahead 2 or 3 turns.
 
Dec 8, 2003
1,380
388
11
Southeast CO
www.youtube.com
I've never tried using the shapefiles, because I didn't know if they were complete, and the lag issues you speak of, but that shouldn't be an issue with the new laptop. I may try that. I like the idea of having the roads and radar together in one, rather than flipping back and forth. I've found when I'm on a storm, I'm usually on the map rather than the radar, as I'm trying to plan ahead 2 or 3 turns.
Oh my gosh, having the radar and mapping on the same screen is priceless. As was mentioned, the shapefiles are detailed to the point of being ridiculous. You won't see the dirt roads until you zoom in, but you don't want them cluttering up a zoomed-out screen anyway. That would be entirely terrible. It is all user adjustable so that you only get the dirt roads at a zoom level of your choosing, though it is set by default with GRL3 at a reasonable setting. IIRC, the setting is located in the style file, where you can also choose what colors the roads appear. The interstate default color is white, for example, but I have changed mine to light blue, just as they usually appear on road atlases. The shapefiles often even show you where people's driveways are.

The caveat is that you cannot trust your life to the shapefiles being accurate. They are correct 99% of the time, but there was a notorious incident in NE some years ago when some chasers trusted them and they were wrong. The chasers found it necessary to drive across a corn field to escape a wedge and got stuck. Fortunately everyone survived, but the farmer called the sheriff and it got ugly.

The real beauty of it, the thing that makes it priceless, is that you can see your exact position relative to the storm right there on your screen. SN shows you where other chasers are, too.

Use the owners' forum for instructions, where you can ask questions. You'll have to create an account.

www.grlevelx.com/owners/

You can also ask me, to a limited extent.
 
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