Author Topic: Anyone using SatMap Active10?  (Read 5946 times)

Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« on: May 22, 2009, 09:21:53 pm »
Going on from my other post, I had a wander down to the outdoor shop today and saw the Active 10.  I think it might do the Bikely route following thing better than the Garmin.  It's more expensive, but I just wondered what users think of it.

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2009, 10:41:30 pm »
There are a few of us on here with Active 10s.  It depends on what you want from a GPS whether it works for you or not.

I don't particularly want a GPS that tells me exactly when to turn, so the somewhat simpler overlayed route onto the OS mapping suits me fine.  I can use it to follow a route, but I can ignore it and divert off and rejoin as and when.

The OS mapping is very good, especially if you want to know what that thing on the other side of the fence is that you've just cycled past (assuming that the OS indicates this on their maps).

The downsides for me are:

(i) the mapping can be a bit expensive, £200 or so for the entire UK at 1:50000.  If you wanted the same area at 1:25000 it would cost you something like £4000 (iirc) !  I've got the London AtoZ at 1:14000 and the bottom half of the UK at 1:50000 (around £100) which suits me fine at the moment.

(ii) The screen can be a bit difficult to see in bright sunlight.  It works great at night, and you can turn the backlight almost off, which improves the battery life. In bright sunshine it can be a bit of a bugger to see from some angles.  Luckily bright sunshine isn't that common in the UK (!), and it's generally fine in dull conditions.

(iii) The design isn't as robust as I'd like.  You can get water behind the screen cover bit, although that can be removed and dried off.  On mine the cover over the sockets, and the rubber bit over the joystick have both failed.  I've had to send it off to Satmap for their General Service, which has cost me £35 (£25 for the service and £5 each way Special Delivery).

(iv) You can only see a limited amount of each map at a time, obviously due to it's portable nature you only have a small screen, and there's not much you can do about this.  I find that I either need a paper map, or something like Bikely to do my large scale planning on, but I suspect this would be a failing of any device like this.

Having said all that, I love it.  As far as I know, it's the only way you can carry this much mapping around with you, and the OS mapping is of excellent quality, so it's great to have the equivalent of 100 or so Landranger maps in a device that fits in your hand.

The Li-Ion battery pack(s) are a good idea.  You don't need to buy the power bundle, just buy a Li-Ion battery, and charge it using a USB port on your PC/laptop and save £20.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2009, 11:33:46 pm »
Mine is fine, though I agree about the screen brightness, particularly in power saving mode. Weell, OK, maybe I should stop using knackered old batteries . . . .

I've had no trouble with robustness.
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2009, 11:37:13 pm »
Well, mine is over 12 months old now, and I've used it a moderate amount, and I guess it's one of the risks of being an early adopter.  Maybe I was unlucky, we'll see how the replacement parts survive.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2009, 03:46:45 pm »
Thanks very much, Tim.  I downloaded and read the manual last night.  It seems pretty good.  I like the idea of the OS mapping, and it looks fairly straightforward to use.  Do you have experience of the Garmin E-Trex (for example) and if so, how do they compare? 

I have an Edge 305 and I’ve downloaded the E-Trex manual, but I find the Garmin manuals to be pretty vague.  I think I’ve ruled out the Garmin 705 as it doesn’t do that much more than my 305, and I don’t really like the internal battery.  I think the E-Trex is better for navigating with than the Edge series, but from what I can tell the SatMap might be better still.  Navigating from a route overlaid on an OS map might be easier than following waypoints – I found it took a lot of work to create them and they didn’t always flag up, plus I couldn’t always read them – not to mention that I might have mistyped an instruction (eg TL instead of TR).

The SatMap website says it’s possible to download Bikely routes into the Active10.  Have you tried that?  For example, one of the routes I know which is on Bikely is

 Bicycle Path - The Snow Roads at Bikely.com

Is it possible to load this GPX file (with the 2900 track points) into the Active10 with no additional editing?

Do you find it easy to read the data screen while you’re riding along (the screen which shows current and average speed etc)?

I was thinking about getting the Active10 Plus as it has the Power Pack with the lithium battery, plus some vouchers, and I’ve seen it advertised with one free map, although I’d probably go for the Northern UK map as well.


Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2009, 05:01:21 pm »
Yes, it's easy to download GPX files, & I've done it a fair bit. Conversion between the internal format & GPX, & vice-versa, is painless, using the Satsync software which you can download from the website (register using your Active10 serial number). You import the file into Satsync, with the Active10 plugged into the PC, & it's converted & copied across in one action. Satsync seems to work well enough. It gives you the choice of copying to internal memory or memory card. Or both, of course.

If there's a limit on number of track points, I've not found it.  I've not loaded one with >2900 points, but >1000 works with no problems at all.

[edit] According to the Satmap website FAQs -
Quote
On the Active 10 there is no real upper limit on the number of waypoints you can create in a Route, however anything more than 1,000 waypoints can slow down the operation of the Active 10.

I've not edited any routes on the device, only on the PC. I've done that with routes it's recorded as I ride (a little habit I've picked up - switch it on when following someone, in case I like the route), loaded on to my PC, edited (as a GPX file), then copied back. That works perfectly.

Only trouble with reading the data that I've found is screen brightness on a sunny day. But that could be my fault: in the manual it advises switching the backlight off completely in bright sunlight, & I haven't done that. I'll try it tomorrow, I think. The weather forecast is right.

I can't compare it with others. It's the first one I've used: a birthday present from Mrs. B, which I had no knowledge of until she gave it to me. I'm happy with it.
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2009, 10:51:17 pm »
As bledlow says, loading and downloading the routes as GPX is pretty easy.  With the older version of Satsync, you had to plug the GPS into the PC to do this, although apparently the newest version can do this directly to a memory card plugged into the PC (but I haven't tried it yet).

Very large files (for example a track produced by the Active 10 during an overnight FNRttC) do seem to make it respond a bit sluggishly, so I've found it worthwhile to simplify the route down.  Typically I'll reduce a track to a few hundred data points with GPS Babel.  This is normally still a pretty close fit to the actual roads that you're travelling on (or paths etc).  The command I use to do this is something like this:

gpsbabel -i gpx -o gpx -f The-Snow-Roads.gpx -x simplify,count=500 -F The-Snow-Roads-Simplfied.gpx

The -i and -o are the input and output formats.  The -f and -F and input and output filenames, and the -x is the filter, which in this case reduces the route to 500 points.  There are other options for simplify that will keep the points within a certain distance of the route, and use as many points as necessary.

(If you're unaware of it, GPSBabel is a freely available utility for doing all sorts of manipulations to GPS files).

I took that 500 point route and loaded it into Bikely.  It looks pretty close to the original, so ought to be adequate and takes 1/6th of the data points.  The Active 10 shouldn't have any problem with a 500 point route, I've used routes of that complexity before with no significant effect on the performance.  You could also slice the route up into several bits to achieve a similar improvement.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2009, 11:26:26 pm »
Before I go to bed -

I've checked, & my biggest route file has fewer points than I thought: 1031. That was generated by riding with the Active10 switched on, & could easily be pruned. I've used it since, & it didn't seem to slow response, but it is only just over 1000. 2900 could cause performance problems.

The free online course creator at bikehike.co.uk allows you to reduce the number of points very easily, by just typing a value into the appropriate box & saving the route. I've reduced a 1000 point route to 500 with no visible loss of accuracy. bikehike.co.uk - Help - "reduce route" facility.
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2009, 01:24:27 pm »
Do you find it easy to read the data screen while you’re riding along (the screen which shows current and average speed etc)?

I realised that I hadn't answered this.  No, I find the text on the data screen to be too small to read when cycling.  Others may have better vision than me, or possibly I've just got it mounted in a bad location, but I find it difficult to read the text when in motion, although it's easy enough when stationary.

It's probably because there are so many bits of information on there, that the font is quite small.  I normally still have my Cateye bicycle computer on the bike, so that happily gives me the basic information, and big enough that I can reasonably easily read it.

The Active 10 wins out at night, since it's backlit whereas the cycle computer isn't, but the Active 10 does rather more power than the cycle computer!


The issue with large routes slowing down the performance of the Active 10 may not be such an issue as it was.  When I first had it, large routes (typically recorded tracks from the Active 10 itself) definitely caused things to slow, but there have been two or three software updates since then, and they may well have improved this.  I haven't experimented more recently, but keeping the routes small helps save memory space on the device and/or cards, which isn't a bad thing if you have lots of routes.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2009, 06:24:33 pm »
Thanks very much for all the info, and for testing out the Bikely route – much appreciated.  I signed up to Bikely last night and made up a quick route.  I hadn’t realised before that all the track points were created by the software ‘following’ the road.  When I used Marengo with my Edge it only recorded the points I’d put in (at road junctions).  I’d assumed the Bikely routes with all the waypoints had been created by someone uploading a record of a ride from their GPS.  It was useful to see what simplifying the route does too.

I think I’ll pop into a few local shops and see if they can do a deal with the SatMap Active 10 Plus, bike mount, and northern or full GB map.  Have you come across any good prices online?

I would probably use the SatMap instead of a bike computer, so the small display of the current speed (etc) might be a slight problem, even though I don't often look at a computer when I'm riding - I often have it on a 'Trip Time'.  On an audax I might reset the second odometer so that it tells me how far I've ridden since the last instruction.  I thought the manual described being able to overlay either 2 or 4 items of data, so I hoped it might display current speed on the main screen at a half-decent size. 

I’ll be fitting it to a recumbent with a fairly upright seat so it’ll probably be positioned more like a speedo in a car – fairly close and in front of me. 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2009, 07:19:08 pm »
It can overlay two or four items, picked from a very long list, on top of the map, but I guess they kept it small to avoid blocking too much of the map.

I'd take a photo of it next to my bike computer (they're pretty close on the handlebars), but my Active 10 is in the post between here and Satmap, on it's way to be serviced!

(I presume when referring to a second odometer, you meant on your existing bicycle computer, since the Active 10 only has the one set of trip values).
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2009, 09:43:16 pm »
Yes, I was referring to a Cateye Strada computer.  Last year I decided to ditch the Garmin for long audaxes in unfamiliar country and just use a route-sheet in combination with a simple bike computer.  The Strada is really useful in having an easily reset second odo.  However, I’ve not fitted it to the recumbent, and there’s not much room on the narrow handlebars for a route-sheet.  I’d hope to use the SatMap as my main device, and have a route-sheet as a backup - in a pocket, or in a pouch slung around my neck. 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2009, 09:48:08 pm »
You might be able to use something like the Topeak Bar Xtender to reposition or mount both a cycle computer and the Active 10.  I use them on both straight handlebars and drops to allow more things to be mounted, and in more convenient locations.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2009, 10:06:30 pm »
I’ve collected a few ‘handlebar extenders’ and various brackets, so I have a few options.  I have some Minoura Space-Grips which are similar to the Top-Peak.  Also a TerraCycle equivalent which is much more solid:

http://www.terracycle.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=T&Category_Code=Acmts

It usually takes me a few long rides to work out how to position lights, route-sheet, computer and water bottles etc.  I was really happy with the ‘cockpit’ of my last bike, but the recumbent is something else!  The bars are angled down slightly on both sides, and my knees come pretty close to brushing the bottom of them.

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2009, 11:41:20 pm »
The Topeak can be useful, since it seems to be a bit more rigid than the Minouras, and you can adjust some of the positions at 45° angles, so it can be used sometimes for unusual positions.

Recumbents can be absolute buggers to fit things to, depending on the handlebar positions and types.  I paid an extra £10 (iirc) to have a computer mount fitted on the tube of my old Trice some years back, it was dead simple but without it, it would have been damned hard to find somewhere to fit a computer!
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Rob S

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2009, 12:26:21 am »
I would probably use the SatMap instead of a bike computer,

Mmm I wouldn't...the whole trip data page isn't overly accurate. Says you are moving when you're not, speed fluctuates in relation to the cycle computer when going up or down hill....but then I always planned to use a cycle computer with it so I'm not disappointed.

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2009, 12:58:55 am »
...and GPSes tend to under-read distance compared to bicycle computers.  On the other hand, if you only have room for one device, then a GPS can, at least partially, do the job of a computer, whereas the opposite isn't true.

But yes, I'd agree with you, it's better to have both if you can, and the computer takes up little space compared to a GPS, so it's not normally that difficult to have both.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2009, 09:57:13 am »
Okay, you’ve convinced me!  I’ll try to fit the computer on the recumbent in addition to the GPS.  I bought a rear wheel fitting kit for the computer which I’m hoping will have enough cable to allow me to fit it to the front wheel of the recumbent (the front wheel is a loooong way from the handlebars!)

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2009, 11:33:36 pm »
I would probably use the SatMap instead of a bike computer,
I don't. It drifts slightly when stationary, & I believe this is inherent to all GPS systems, because your position is not absolutely precisely known, & where it thinks you are changes slightly. You'll get a lot of track points in a cluster if you stay still for long, e.g. at lunchtime. Satmap recommend you switch it off during long stops, to get round this, if you're recording your route.

I think GPSes assume a straight line between each position reading, & that causees the under-reading of distance TimO mentions. Messes up average speeds. Inaccuracies in height measurement can cause the speed reading to be affected by gradient, as Rob S mentions.

Overall, I think the inaccuracies are probably small, but I'm one of those obsessive people who actually measures wheel circumference. I want it right!
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

Rob S

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2009, 09:03:36 am »
I don't think the Active 10 (maybe other too) takes in to account the height change when worrking out the distance or speed....probably not a problem in Norfolk but anywhere hilly and it'll understate your ride distance.

Frankly I don't see how a Garmin Edge 305 can be that good for a training aid if that's the case except if you are doing circuits when I guess the inaccuracy is consistent.

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
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Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2009, 10:31:12 am »
I think its as least as likely that the bike computer would be the less accurate.

I think GPSes assume a straight line between each position reading, & that causes the under-reading of distance TimO mentions.

But if each reading is not absolutely precise, then a rapid succession of readings will lead to a zig-zag line when the cyclist is actually travelling straight, which would tend to over-read the distance covered.

If the distance calculation is based on the average of several points (I don't know if this is the case, but I think its likely) that should smooth the zig-zagginess but can lead to a kind of 'overshoot' on sharp corners which again would lead to an over-read.  I have seen several examples of this overshoot on laid down tracks - more often than the corner-cutting effect.

In other words I suspect there are inaccuracies both plus and minus which must cancel each other to some extent.

Added distance due to non-flat roads is surely negligible (well, maybe not in Cornwall) and its certainly a minefield - a cyclecomputer or car odometer will record any such added distance but that wouldn't be cartographically correct.
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2009, 11:29:21 am »
When I've used GPSes, they have consistently under-read the distance compared to the cycle computer, or following it on a route planner like Bikely.  The route planner and the cycle computer tend to be consistent, so I'm inclined to believe them.

I think with the GPS, it's simply a matter of the GPS lock being lost occasionally, and the GPS does not count the distance during this period as part of the route, ie it only integrates time and distance when it has a good lock to the signal.  Since you always get a few short periods when you loose the signal (under bridges, around tall buildings etc) then route information is often slightly wrong.  The route itself tends to be OK, since most of the time you are going in a straight line, so you don't notice these gaps.

Having said that, FNRttC routes going East from Hyde Park through some areas of London with a lot of large buildings tend to go nuts, where the multi-path and obscuration buggers up the lock big time.  I normally have to hand edit those routes to remove the more extreme diversions from the actual route.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2009, 11:44:29 am »
GPSes use a smoothing algorithm to go from raw data -> distance travelled as each individual position point has a small error1. The smoothing algorithm can never be perfect and will tend to under-read.

Not by much really. The GPS tracklog, recording one point ever 20 seconds, for the Bryan Chapman recorded about 614km for a 619km route. That's only a 0.8% error.

However, I'd trust a cycle computer for distance travelled over a GPS any day.

1. And the error is in 3 dimensions, not just 1. So the under/over readings will not "balance out" over time.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Rob S

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2009, 12:12:00 pm »
Quite simply with the GPS it'll tell you you're moving when you've stopped. If you turn the unit off at the cafe stop then turn it back on you'll get a spike of movement and speed when it finds where you are (even if you didn't move)...if you just stop the data recording function you WILL forget to restart it......it won't consistently record your distance but as I say it's not a problem for me as I bought it for navigation.

Re: Anyone using SatMap Active10?
« Reply #24 on: May 26, 2009, 07:45:49 pm »
I managed to fit the Cateye with the rear wheel mounting kit – with about one inch of cable to spare.   

As a result of the above comments I reset both the Garmin Edge 305 and the Cateye at one point during a short ride tonight.  I set them both to record in km/h.  I noticed that their Current Speed readouts were pretty much the same, but that the Garmin was lagging behind by half a second or so.  When I was gaining speed the Garmin was under-reading relative to the Cateye by about 0.2km/h.  Similarly, when I was slowing, the Garmin was over-reading. 

At the end of the ride the total distance shown on the Garmin was 27.15km and on the Cateye it was 27.10km.  It’s possible I’m a millimetre or two out on the wheel diameter I entered into the Cateye.  I’ve never really had a problem with the Garmin’s reporting of speed and distance – it’s not as if I need great accuracy, and it’s always been pretty consistent between rides.  The ride tonight wasn't too hilly, and it wasn't in a built-up area, although there was slight tree cover in places.

On the SatMap where does the bike mount fit – is it around the mid point of the unit, or more towards the bottom half?  Also, is the bike mount bulky?  I really am short on space on the handlebars!