Deluo Hardware Review

This review covers the various hardware GPS products from Deluo Electronics. There are reviews for the CF receiver, The universal mouse and the Remote antenna for the CF receiver. There is a separate software review for the Deluo Routis product.

The CF receiver

The Compact Flash GPS Navigation System is a bundled product that includes the routis software, a CF GPS (Module GPSCFD), and an external antenna. The newest CF receiver from Deluo is made by Fortuna and has replaced the earlier model made by Holux in this bundle but the Holux unit is still available separately.

This receiver is a slightly modified version of the PocketTrack made by Fortuna. I have a separate review of this product. The receiver I tested included WAAS/EGNOS support and the 3D bug mentioned in the review was fixed. It is an excellent CF unit and will work in a car using the internal antenna if mounted near the windshield. It can use an external antenna for easier mounting choices or for cars that have a metalized sun screen embedded in their windshield.

For PC use you can plug the CF receiver into a CF to PCMCIA adapter made for this purpose and install the drivers located on the Rand McNally CDROM that is supplied with the unit. There are drivers for Win98-2000 and for Win XP. Using an external antenna is recommended in this case as it is usually difficult to locate a laptop in a suitable area for GPS reception. If you happen to have a pocketpc with a PCMCIA adapter you an also use on of these CF to PCMCIA adapters but no driver installation is required.

External Antenna

The external antenna supplied with the Compact Flash GPS Navigation System (extra cost if the GPSCFD is purchased separately) is a small (1.75" x 1.75") black mouse like antenna with a 5 meter cable terminated in an MCX connector. It is light weight (about 3 oz including the cable) and has a strong magnet built into the base. It is easy to just stick on the roof of a car and snake the cable in through the door jam. It does increase the reception and is especially useful when using WAAS to avoid any blocked signals caused by the roof of the car. With its light weight it is also suitable for use while hiking. Just place in on top of your cap with a metal washer inside. The magnet will hold well to the washer in this configuration and permit the iPAQ to remain protected in a belt case or comfortably in your hand without worrying about reception. The long cable can be a bit of a hassle in this case. The antenna is waterproof.

The Universal GPS Mouse

The GPSUN arrives with a CDROM and various power cables depending on what was ordered. The CDROM include drivers for the GPS and a copy of the Rand McNally Street Finder product which is reviewed separately. This review will focus on the hardware components. This product can also be purchased in a bundle with Routis software.

This product, shown on the left, will work on a PC, a Mac, a PocketPC, or a Palm. There are many power options which can be ordered as part of the product for standard serial ports, USB ports, or specialized PocketPC or Palm devices. The reviewed product was tested using the iPAQ adapter, the pc cable adapter, and the USB adapter. Each adapter provides power for the GPS and data interface to the device. In the case of the iPAQ adapter it also provides power for the iPAQ from a 12-Volt car accessory outlet. This is also true of most other PDA configurations.

Mounting

The GPS has only a 2.5 x 1.5 inch footprint and is 7/8 inches thick. It comes with a 3 meter white cable that is terminated in a standard 9 pin D-connector. I would have preferred a darker cable as white tends to reflect on the windshield a bit when draped across the dash. It has a magnet inside that will mount directly to the dash if it is metal or it can also be mounted with the supplied velcro dot if the dash isn't metal. The unit is small and not particularly well shielded so unless your dash is metal you will need to find a spot to mount it where there is no electrical interference from your car. A tin-can lid could even be used to provide a place to attach the unit and will provide some shielding and a ground plane for the antenna if it is grounded.

You might be tempted to mount it outside the car on the roof for example. Mounting to the roof will improve reception but the supplied magnet is not strong enough to ensure that it won't come lose at highway speeds. It makes a terrific racket if it comes loose while driving down the interstate until it finally attaches itself again. You could use a disc magnet to attach to the roof and then attach the two magnets together to improve the mounting. Another problem with mounting it outside is that it will not withstand a heavy rain. The two halves of the case are only pressed together and not sealed. You can improve this using a piece of electrical tape to seal the connection. Should water get inside you can restore operation by carefully prying the two pieces of the case apart and then drying the inside carefully. The cable itself is plenty rugged for outside mounting.

Hooking it up

As mentioned the end of the cable is terminated in a 9 pin D-connector. The user will then add whatever adapter is required to hook this connector to their computer. For example my iPAQ 3970 has a cable adapter that is Y shaped. One end mates with the D-connector, one end mates with the iPAQ serial (hotsync) connector and one end is terminated in a 12-Volt adapter plug. The adapter plug reduces the power down to the voltage needed to power both the GPS and the iPAQ so all of the power and signal needs are met in this one cable. This cable worked well except that they had placed the plastic shell backwards on the iPAQ end so that I have to remember to turn it around each time. They have lots of Y cable adapters for various models of pocketpc's and palm's.

For the pc there are two cable choices. A serial port adapter permits plugging the unit directly into a 9 pin D-connector while provided a T connection to pick up power from the keyboard/mouse ps2 bus connector. And finally for units that only have a USB port there is a USB port adapter. This provides the electronics to adapt the the serial port on the GPS mouse to USB. It also supplies power to the GPS via the USB connection. This is the only adapter that requires a driver which can be found on the Rand McNally CDROM that comes with the unit. For XP systems just plug the adapter into a USB port and an install wizard will start up. Insert the CDROM and the wizard will locate and install the driver automatically. For me the driver picked COM-5 for my serial connection but this may vary for other systems depending on what else is hooked up. The Rand McNally software will find the port automatically when the GPS option is started. There are USB drivers supplied for XP, Win98-2000, and Macs. No driver is needed for Linux boxes.

Using the GPS

Once you have it mounted and hooked up you can then use it with the supplied software or any software that supports NMEA GPS operation. When you first turn it on (apply power) a red led light on the side of the unit will start flashing. Once the ephemeris data is collected and a position computed, about a minute or less, the led will turn solid and remain this way for the rest of the session even if you subsequently lose a lock. The unit does have a rechargeable backup battery for the GPS almanac so, unless you move more than 300 miles before turning it on, it should provide rapid locks. It may even seem more rapid than this since the clock starts the instant it receives power and does not wait until the application starts. (The very first time you power it up in a brand new location it will take longer, of course.)

The chipset is from Evermore and seems to be based on their GM-305 product. However, the Evermore site documentation is out of date as the tested product included corrections for geoid separation and magnetic variation which means it can support true MSL altitude and compass headings if desired. As shipped the product supports NMEA messages GGA, GSA, GSV, and RMC at a once per second rate. This should satisfy any of the programs I have seen. Here is a sample stream.

This GPS will perform really well in an open environment normally associated with cross country driving. It performs with a bit more difficulty in tougher terrain like forested areas or urban canyons. Having a ground plane under the unit will really help its reception. It will try really hard to maintain a lock and will work for a few seconds even with only 2 satellites in view although the accuracy is generally not as good under these conditions. With 2 satellites it seems to do a form of dead reckoning with a preset last known altitude and a dependence on the local clock which continues to be accurate for a little while using the last known corrections. On Routis this can and will sometimes cause an off-road error message.

Conclusions

The universal GPS Mouse from Deluo is an inexpensive product that performs well. It offers a solution that is well integrated with a laptop or PDA via a common power/data cable for a complete solution in a vehicle. Since it has no source of power it does need an external cable connection to power.

Other GPS receivers

Deluo offers other models of GPS receivers including the Holux CF GPS receiver and a new bluetooth model made by Fortuna but I have not reviewed them.

Final Note

I have obtained comments on this review from Deluo to ensure that it is technically accurate, but the opinions and ideas are mine.

Dale DePriest - all rights reserved.