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Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 21 Jan 2020, 10:04am
by Mr Tom
Not sure if this is more than one topic. I've tended away from using my phone for navigation in the past, I think partly from doing my D of E award and really liking the idea of using a map and compass. Last time I met a friend though I was an hour late due to making mistakes from a hastily printed map while he got there on time using some Google thing which he had in his ear his phone. As if to demonstrate the other side of the argument, his phone ran out of power shortly after we met.

So just wondered, does anyone use bar mounted paper maps? I'd always carry one as a backup anyway, but just find that stopping to turn over pages and losing momentum is something to avoid where possible.

If you do use a phone, how do you find the battery life? My battery seems to be on its last legs. Do you attach the phone to one of those power packs or stop to charge it? I have a hub dynamo, but it seems running a phone of them isn't straightforward.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 21 Jan 2020, 1:21pm
by rotavator
The old school way for using maps while riding a bike was to put it in a see-through case on top of a bar bag. I guess these are still available.

As for mobile phone battery life, I am no expert but I think most, if fully charged, will last at least 7 hours using the GPS function, which would be long enough for most day rides I would have thought. As for recharging when on tour, the simplest solutions are either to take a powerpack with you or to take a charger and top up at cafes etc. If the simple options are not good enough then start to look at dynamos and associated kit. You will find threads on here and yacf about the possibilities, pros and cons etc.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 21 Jan 2020, 3:14pm
by Vorpal
rotavator wrote:The old school way for using maps while riding a bike was to put it in a see-through case on top of a bar bag. I guess these are still available.

As for mobile phone battery life, I am no expert but I think most, if fully charged, will last at least 7 hours using the GPS function, which would be long enough for most day rides I would have thought. As for recharging when on tour, the simplest solutions are either to take a powerpack with you or to take a charger and top up at cafes etc. If the simple options are not good enough then start to look at dynamos and associated kit. You will find threads on here and yacf about the possibilities, pros and cons etc.

That depends a great deal on the phone, the apps being used, and what else is eating the battery. I had an iphone for work for a while, and using the mapping function 100% on whilst cycling was only worth about 2 -3 hours of battery time.

My current phone lasts a bit better, but I like to use paper maps, so I tend to use paper, occasionally enhanced by position confirmation using my phone 8)

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 7:06am
by David9694
If the device is continually tracking you, that will take up battery life. I use my iPhone - and you can get handlebar cases to fit - and ViewRanger. It only locates me when I ask -like at a junction. It’s advisable to carry a charging cable and a charged-up back-up battery JIC. printed maps are nice, but I now need reading glasses for them so another layer of on-bike faff.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 8:28am
by francovendee
I plan on paper maps and usually take one with me but navigate with the phone and a battery bank.
I like to get a sense of whats around my route but on my ride it's so much easier with my phone. Map is a 'lifebelt' if the phone dies.
I was given a handlebar mounted map holder. It was OK but I hated the thing, too much wind resistance.
I think the main problem with paper maps at the scale I like you're always re-folding the page .

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 8:46am
by pwa
I am currently close to buying a GPS device that runs on AA batteries and can give you two days on two AAs, which can be rechargeable NiMHs. For me that is the battery issue sorted.

https://outdoorgpsshop.co.uk/product/garmin-etrex-32x/

And you keep your phone in your bag, nice and charged for when you have an emergency and you actually need to make a call.

My daughter's Apple phone stopped working on a walk yesterday due to the cold affecting the battery. She had to tuck it in her clothing to warm it up before it would work again. It had a charge over 50% when we left the house but the battery became effectively flat due to the cold.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 9:46am
by Dwnglasgow
I've just bought a Garmin Edge Explore - cba with paper maps and using navigation apps drains my phone horribly quickly. I've only used it once so far, but worked well and was reassuring that I would not get, even temporarily, lost.

Not that cheap, but I offset the cost a little by selling my Garmin 130.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 11:06am
by mjr
I track rides on my Android phone with AAT. I rarely had low power problems with my 1350mAh battery Sony Xperia Tipo. I expect even fewer with the 4000mAh Redmi 7A.

However, for primary navigation, last year I switched back to cue cards listing waymarked routes, road names and sometimes diagrams of complicated junctions because automated tools never quite get the calls right IMO. These go in the map pocket or get clipped to the brake line, depending on the bike. AAT's map showing a snail trail is a backup.

pwa wrote:I am currently close to buying a GPS device that runs on AA batteries and can give you two days on two AAs, which can be rechargeable NiMHs. For me that is the battery issue sorted.

https://outdoorgpsshop.co.uk/product/garmin-etrex-32x/

And you keep your phone in your bag, nice and charged for when you have an emergency and you actually need to make a call.

My daughter's Apple phone stopped working on a walk yesterday due to the cold affecting the battery. She had to tuck it in her clothing to warm it up before it would work again. It had a charge over 50% when we left the house but the battery became effectively flat due to the cold.

I am pretty sure handlebar-mounted device batteries suffer similarly badly in cold weather too, based on observation of other riders. Those using eneloops suffer less.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 11:09am
by andrew_s
Paper maps work fine, if you know how to read a map. There's no need to pre-prepare a route, or worry about getting off route or how to deal with a road closure or other diversion.
It's probably best to use a smaller scale map (eg OS 1:250,000), and rely on signs and judgement where detail is lacking, rather than use a larger scale map (1:50k or 1:25k) and frequent page-turning stops. The ideal scale for cycling is about 1:100,000 or half inch to the mile (1:126720), but there aren't many maps at that scale.

Phones (with an appropriate app) are good for following pre-defined routes, and will often allow reasonable route planning (data signal/wifi may be required). The screen can be hard to see, and eats the battery especially if you turn the brightness up so you can see it. For all-day use, you'd probably want to have the screen off most of the time, and use an app that will give voice prompts or wake the screen for turns only (full time screen use can result in a battery life of 4 hours or so).

GPSs generally have a reflective layer behind the screen LCD and are much more visible in bright light. The screen itself is generally smaller and lower resolution. They follow pre-prepared routes, and you can do basic routing on the device itself with no phone signal. Basic routing = "go there via here and here", and let it find the intermediate road itself. Battery life is generally around 10 hours (screen on) for a built-in rechargeable battery, or 20+ hours for AA (which also make the device bulkier). GPS are much more weatherproof and tougher than a phone is - all day rain is OK, and you'd frequently get away with dropping in on the road at 20 mph.

As @pwa noted, the cold can seriously impact battery life - around zero is quite noticeable, and it gets worse quite quickly as it gets colder than that.
My record short life was about 2% of normal.

I spend many years using a map in my back pocket. I'd plan a route in a couple of minutes at the start of the club run ("Who's leading? - You are"), and freely alter the route during the ride for delays like punctures, going faster than expected, or to make someone who kept going off the front of the ride have to turn round and rejoin at the back.
These days, I use a GPS, but mostly it's as a tracker and on-handlebar moving map.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 12:04pm
by Mr Tom
I guess it's all about what works best for you in the end. I like the idea of cue cards on some kind of ring binder or something so you could just keep turning them. I find the stopping to refold the map gets irritating at times. Maybe I'll invest in a Garmin kind of thing if I can justify the money. Definitely wouldn't leave without a paper map though. Years ago I set off on a very badly planned ride from London to Brighton and ended up navigating at night with just a few seconds of light from my dynamo standlight to view the map and compass each time I stopped, but I never worried I wouldn't find my way. As a city person I was totally scared by riding round in the middle of nowhere after dark but didn't have much choice by then :D

I love the idea of running all my gear off my dynamo but it seems that it's tricky and especially Apple phones don't seem to interface with the chargers easily.

I'm intrigued by some big map cases I've see which can turn round at 90 degree angles, maybe worth a try.

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 1:33pm
by mjr
Mr Tom wrote:I love the idea of running all my gear off my dynamo but it seems that it's tricky and especially Apple phones don't seem to interface with the chargers easily.

I think the consensus is usually to charge battery pack(s) from the dynamo and then charge the phone from that, so if it all goes wrong you fry a battery pack which is cheaper, but Apple phones don't seem to interface with anything easily except other Apple things and I bet their battery packs are expensive!

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 2:03pm
by [XAP]Bob
mjr wrote:
Mr Tom wrote:I love the idea of running all my gear off my dynamo but it seems that it's tricky and especially Apple phones don't seem to interface with the chargers easily.

I think the consensus is usually to charge battery pack(s) from the dynamo and then charge the phone from that, so if it all goes wrong you fry a battery pack which is cheaper, but Apple phones don't seem to interface with anything easily except other Apple things and I bet their battery packs are expensive!


Rubbish - they're quite happy to charge from any battery pack.

It's a long time since their cables were exclusive as well (I mean they still have to be lightning, but even the generic ones just work)

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 22 Jan 2020, 2:33pm
by mjr
[XAP]Bob wrote:
mjr wrote:
Mr Tom wrote:I love the idea of running all my gear off my dynamo but it seems that it's tricky and especially Apple phones don't seem to interface with the chargers easily.

I think the consensus is usually to charge battery pack(s) from the dynamo and then charge the phone from that, so if it all goes wrong you fry a battery pack which is cheaper, but Apple phones don't seem to interface with anything easily except other Apple things and I bet their battery packs are expensive!


Rubbish - they're quite happy to charge from any battery pack.

It's a long time since their cables were exclusive as well (I mean they still have to be lightning, but even the generic ones just work)

Do they no longer display a warning message that “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPhone” and (in certain versions) stop charging from some battery packs, then? What version did that stop happening in?

Re: Navigation setups - phone or maps etc

Posted: 25 Jan 2020, 12:31am
by nigelnightmare
I run an Apple iPhone 6s that is charged with the dynamo via a B&M USB Werk without any problems, even with the lights on.
It's in a Topeak waterproof ridecase.
The only problem with that is I have to use the speaker phone Or headphones otherwise I cant be heard when making a call.