Macintosh with Virtual PC Loads Garmin GPS
that have a 9 pin SERIAL interface
How to make them communicate effectively
by Rick Klain
Here's a quick guide on how to get
Garmin's software to work on and interface with their standard serial
interface (NOT USB!) GPS devices on a Macintosh running Virtual PC.. In
my case I am using a 12-inch, 1.33MHz G4 PowerBook, OS X 10.3.7,
Microsoft Virtual PC 6.1.1 and Microsoft Windows XP Pro with all the
latest updates (getting the Microsoft configured and updated takes a
long time, and is probably impossible without a broadband connection to
download all the updates). I also have a big hard disk (80 GB) and 1 GB
of RAM, of which 512 MB was allocated to Windows. Disclaimer: if you're
running a different configuration, you may have to discover your own
solution. My configuration seems very solid and it takes no longer to
download MapSource maps segments to the GPS than when using my Windows
laptop (an HP 1.6 GHz Mobile), also running XP Pro. Here's what I call
the "short list" on how to do this:
1. Make sure you're running the latest
version of OS X and you've run the OS X "Disk Utility" and performed a
"Repair Disk Permissions".
2. Make sure you've installed Virtual
PC's latest updates (v. 6.1.1 at this time for G4's running OS X and a
flavor of v. 7 for G5's). Also if you're running Windows XP Pro (which
has the best driver support both built-in and otherwise), be sure
you've updated with all the latest service packs and critical updates.
Note: all this may work with older
Machines (G3 Macs), older OS's (including flavors of Mac OS 9.x); But..
I've got no experience with these...
3. You'll need to purchase a USB to
Serial Converter. Suggest the Keyspan P/N USA-19HS, which you can get
4. Install the Keyspan USB Serial
Software for OS X and turn to page 27 in their PDF manual, which
describes in "7.1.cx.03 - Virtual PC" how to configure a USB-to-serial
port using Keyspan's included software (included on their CD). You'll
need to use Keyspan's Serial Assistant for OS X to "discover" the
attached Keyspan USB-to-serial hardware and note what name it gives
this new serial port. This Keyspan application is used to create a COM1
serial port for virtual PC to use.
5. Launch VirtualPC and go to the
"Settings" panel, usually found at the bottom of the "Edit" menu
pull-down, as well as on the Virtual PC List window. Select the COM1
Port and under COM1 Port Settings (on the right) select "Mac serial
port:" and you should be able to see the same name that Keyspan used
under OS X. If you can't find the Keyspan port, you may have to also
install the Keyspan Windows drivers and configure. But, be sure to
re-boot before you try anything fancy -- this might solve the problem.
6. Be sure you're running the latest
update of MapSource (currently v. 6.3) and you then should be able to
find your Garmin GPS device. At this point you may want to also make
sure that your Garmin GPS unit has the latest firmware installed.
7. You can also configure Windows XP
Pro to run faster by doing at least two things that I did:
--A. Go into the "System" control
panel and to the "Advanced" Tab. Click on "Settings" under
"Performance" and choose "Adjust for best performance". This allocates
more of the Mac's processor power to Windows.
--B. Disable the "Themes" service by:
clicking on the control panel and then double-click on "Administrative
Tools" , then double-click on "Services (shortcut)" which brings up the
"Service (Local)" window and then select "Standard" tab at the bottom
of this window, and then scroll down to and double-click on "Themes"
and then select "Status type: disabled", then "Apply" and
then "O.K." Whew!
Clearly, if you're not detail
oriented, patient and persistent, you can just spend your time waiting
around... for Windows...
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Here's what I'm doing with the GPS
stuff. I've got two 2005 motorcycle trips planned in Europe
(Sicily/Italy and then Ireland). I'll be taking along my Garmin GPS V
and will be mounting it on the "rental" motorcycles that the tour
company provides (www.edelweiss.com). Since I'm only taking one computer along
with me, mostly for handling digital photography and some "WiFi
hotspot" and hotel DSL connectivity, and it's the Macintosh noted
above, GPS map downloading was a secondary, but essential need. On
these motorcycle trips we ride in small groups, where for the most
part, the daily start and finish destinations are the only thing for
sure. On some "layover" days, we're free to explore. We've got local
maps, but getting lost and exploring is part of the fun.
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