Terrain Navigator -- How it Works for Me
I am a hiker and canoeist, and use the combination of Maptech's Terrain
Navigator and an Eagle Map Guide Pro in a number of different ways. Most of my
use fits two categories.
I use TN to plan hikes. The process is really quite simple. TN has a route
tool which when clicked on a topo image, creates a way point as part of a
route. I continue creating way points until the hike is complete.
There's good news and bad news about route creation. The good news is that it
is simple and fast. TN allows long names for way points, and these will show
when you print a map. There is also an algorithm to create a short name which
can be downloaded to the GPS. The algorithm is quite clever in that the short
names are mostly meaningful. Both long and short names are easily edited. The
route editor allows you to choose colors independently for the way points and
for the route lines which connect them. These colors are then used on both the
computer screen and on printed maps.
TN maps include a digital elevation model, and you can display and print the
profile for a route. Likewise, it is easy to display additional information
about a route, including its length.
The bad news is that TN is clumsy and not very intuitive in the process of
altering routes. While it is easy to delete a way point, it is a bit of a pain
to insert a new way point into a route.
Download of individual way points and routes and their way points is simple, but
there is a gotcha. When you download a route, the software gives you a default
way point number of 1 for the first way point. If you're only downloading one
route, that's not a problem. But if you download a second route, and don't
change the starting way point number, the new route overwrites the old one. I
have requested that TN be changed to be more intelligent about setting the
default, but I don't know whether they will do so.
Before I go out in the woods, I print the customized topos with any routes and
markers I have established. This has a number of advantages. One is that I can
scale the map to whatever scale suits me -- all the way from getting an entire
7.5' quad on a single page to printing twice as big as an actual topo (when you
enlarge a map, however, you get reduced clarity due to visible pixelation).
The second way I use TN is that after I do an exploration hike, I upload the
trail and any way points I created during the hike. TN displays the trail very
nicely on the topo, and I find this very useful in recording where I've been.
At the moment, TN can only receive track number 1 from the MGP, although they
have told me they will support receiving the second saved track in the future.
As far as I know, TN can save an unlimited number of tracks.
I record new trails I have found in one of two ways. Using the GPS track as a
guide, I either use the track tool to do a clean track (i.e.. with SA errors),
or create a route.
I have been using Terrain Navigator (TN) for about a year. The older versions
(2.x) were useful, but didn't have the GPS support which I needed. It was
certainly tedious to electronically mark way points on a topo, and then have to
enter them manually into the Eagle/Lowrance software.
The latest beta introduced a feature which I asked for. Initially GPS
communication was hard-wired to 9600 baud. LEI units, however, support up to
115.2K. The newest TN version allows the user to select baud rates up to
115.2K, and the higher speed makes transfers of way points, markers, and trails
In non-GPS related features, TN allows juxtapositioning two maps either side by
side, or top to bottom. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow four maps, which is a
pain if the area you're interested in is at a corner. Even more annoying, is
that TN cannot juxtaposition maps when you go to print them, so you end up
having to tape printed maps together. I have been told that this will be fixed
in a later release.
The bottom line is that in spite of a few shortcomings, the combination of
Terrain Navigator and the Eagle MGP works well for me. I have received
excellent tech support, but I don't know how typical this is, since I get my
support through a different channel as a beta tester.