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4b. Connecting a Serial GPS to a USB Port

Created: 01/12/2005
Modified: 06/21/2007


Electronics Hookup and Configuration


If you have a Garmin USB GPS,
the 5.08 versions of Offshore Navigator and Offshore Navigator Lite now include a "GPS Wizard" to help you set up the connection to your USB port. See the main support page for links to download the 5.08 update for your product. Please note that you will also need to download these additional GPS drivers.

Garmin USB support is native to all versions of Chart Navigator Pro and Chart Navigator Light - no updates are required.

Garmin USB support is native to current versions of Terrain Navigator and Terrain Navigator Pro - click here if updates are required.

Garmin USB support is not currently available for The CAPN.

Connecting all other GPS receivers, including non-USB Garmins, requires either a 9-pin serial port connection or a "virtual COM port" USB connection.

Many new PCs (especially laptops) have USB ports but do not have the standard 9-pin serial ports found on older computers. This is a major concern for GPS connectivity, because the NMEA specification used by most GPS units is designed for standard Serial communications and not USB.

To solve the problem, you will need to purchase a "USB-to-Serial" port adapter. This device connects to your USB bus and allows you to attach standard PC serial devices (including GPS Data cables, PDAs, modems, serial printers, etc.) to your USB-only PC. These adapters, from Sealevel, Keyspan, Belkin, and other companies, are relatively low-priced ($40-$70.) Please note that the USB-to-Serial port adapter sold by "Radio Shack" is *not* able to handle the data transfer rate from GPS units, and is not recommended for in this manner.

Our subsidiary, Captn. Jack's, offers the Sealevel USB to Serial Adapter along with various other NMEA multiplexers for more complex installations.

Another option to consider is a USB GPS. This eliminates attaching a GPS to a GPS cable to a USB-to-Serial adapter to a PC. Instead, this one GPS unit attaches directly to the PC.

We recommend the Transystem iGPS-M Pro USB GPS which is available through our Captn. Jack's subsidiary.

Please note that for a USB GPS to work with our current software products, it must include a driver for a "Virtual COM Port." This allows the Maptech software to connect to the GPS as if it were attached to a NMEA standard serial (COM) port. The Zenstar USB GPS recommended above works in this fashion, however not all USB GPS units include this feature.

Related Information:
Determining the COM Port of a USB to Serial Adapter
Connecting a Sealevel 2105 SeaLINK+232 Serial to USB adapter
Configuring a DeLorme USB GPS.
User Manual: Transystem iGPS-M Pro USB GPS Receiver.
Connecting a Garmin USB GPS to Offshore Navigator (Lite) and Chart Navigator (Viewer)


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