DIY SatNav

I recently went on a campervan holiday and decided I would get some SatNav to make it a bit easier to get around.

After considering offerings from TomTom and Garmin, I stumbled upon the free Nav4All software which the manufacturers promised would work with my Sony Ericsson K800i – all I would need is a GPS receiver and I would be away.

The Software

Downloading Nav4All was easy, simply type the address into your mobile’s web browser and accept all the download messages you get.  Once saved, you can run it as you would any Java application (check the Nav4All website for phone compatibility).

Nav4All has a few nice features over it’s mainstream rivals – the best being their online account where you can create your destinations.  You can then access these via your mobile’s Internet connection when you’re out and about.  Searching for new destinations is also easy through the mobile software’s search engine.

Nav4All has all the usual options for setting units based on your country preferences but also your driving style so if you prefer to hammer down the back roads, avoiding the motorways, the software will work out a route for you.

The Hardware

For the GPS receiver, I decided on the Navicore Slim SiRF III from Mobile Fun as it offered Bluetooth connectivity to the K800i.  It’s no larger than a pack of Wrigleys Juicy Fruit and comes with a USB cable and car 12v adaptor for charging up on the move (although battery life is a claimed 8 hours when in use).

Turning on the receiver gives you two lights – a blue Bluetooth symbol which flashes when it’s paired and an orange GPS symbol that flashes when it’s locked onto satellites.   When charging you get a red power symbol.

The pack also includes a bright red lanyard for hanging the receiver from your neck or somewhere in the car, although I found reception was fine with the receiver in the glovebox.

On the road

Using the system was a breeze.  Simply turn on the Navicore and when the orange GPS symbol starts flashing, load up Nav4All on your mobile.
Choose your destination from either a list of previous destinations, selecting from your online Nav4All account or by searching from the mobile.

Once calculated, your route is displayed on screen with simple arrows and information showing the distance to the instruction, total time for the journey, etc.  You can also set the voice commands from a number of included voices (female, male, etc).

Accuracy is good, giving adequate warning for turnings.

Verdict

For a solution costing a fraction of the price (plus you can use the Navicore for other GPS uses you may have), this is a serious contender for a TomTom et al.  and you don’t need to worry about having a windscreen cradle on show to intice would-be thieves.
Get one today.

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