/ Key Fob Sized GPS with Ordnance Survey Grid References

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Heatherbentley27 Sep 2016
Does such a thing exist ? I purchased one from Amazon but found it only has Longitude, Latitude and Altitude. I'm looking for a small (and cheap !) GPS which will give me an OS grid reference. Any ideas gratefully received. Thanks
olddirtydoggy 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

There's a MASSIVE demand for this and nobody is making one because as soon as they do, all the GPS units and watches will stop selling. As of last year when I did the search, there was nothing that simple.
1
captain paranoia 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

Do you want the device to have a display? Or do you want a GPS data logger or GPS tracker?
Ridge 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

If you have a smartphone the OSGrid app is excellent. As others have said, no-one wants to make a cheap GPS that only gives grid references as it will kill the £200+ GPS and watch market.
DaveHK 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

> If you have a smartphone the OSGrid app is excellent. As others have said, no-one wants to make a cheap GPS that only gives grid references as it will kill the £200+ GPS and watch market.

I don't know if it would kill the watch market. I think many GPS watch users like the many different functions and data they provide. As you've pointed out there are free GPS smartphone apps and they haven't killed the watch market. Might impact on the hand held GPS units more.
Hooo 28 Sep 2016
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

I don't believe in these conspiracy theories that no one makes them because it will harm sales of more expensive kit. If someone spots a gap in the market with a massive demand they will make something to fill it. If it's a company that don't make expensive GPS units then they won't care about killing sales. It's possible that no one has spotted this massive demand and this is a prime business opportunity. It's not technically difficult, maybe I'll knock something up and go on Dragons Den But, I suspect this "massive demand" is actually only massive amongst a very small set of users, and the real reason no one makes one is that they wouldn't sell very many.
GrahamD 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

My Forunner 310 Garmin watch does this. Main reason I bought it.
olddirtydoggy 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

Interesting thing was last year I was in Go Outdoors talking to a staff member who was pretty hot on that dept and he said it was the number one request they get about GPS devices by far is a simple 'where the hell am I' button. He told me Decathalon had exactly that device for sale for a short time but it wasn't UK OS reference compatable and it was withdrawn. There isn't any conspiracy theories, people want this product.
Dauphin 28 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:
Thought Suunto GPS watches and Garmin Fenix do this? You can pick up an early model for a lot less than a £100. I have a Fenix 3 and sure you can change the Grid system in the nav function to British. It will give you a spot Grid ref if you press two buttons btw. Never uses it for navigation, because I'm a fuddy duddy.

D
Post edited at 18:45
EddInaBox 28 Sep 2016
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

But not all that useful if you're in the rest of Europe, The U.S., China, Africa... etc. GPS makers are selling to a global market and there are cheap devices that just give you a position, but they use the common positioning formats that the rest of the world use. There clearly isn't a commercial case to devote the resources to develop a low-cost product with small margins just for our tiny corner of the world, or the budget, no-name Chinese units would do it.
Heatherbentley28 Sep 2016
In reply to EddInaBox:

Interesting reading everyone's comments. Every one I have asked about this have said they'd like one and most people with fancy GPSs say they use very few of the functions and would prefer something much more basic, smaller and cheaper ! I don't have an iphone, in fact I haven't even progressed to a touch screen phone. One of the greatest joys of being out in the hills for me is NOT having my phone ! The Longitude/Latitude one I bought cost £20 and would be perfect if only it gave OS grid reference but as some one said it was probably made in China and so is for use all over the world !
Heatherbentley28 Sep 2016
In reply to captain paranoia:

All I want is OS grid reference. I'm not interested in tracking or anything clever. As a pretty crappy map reader I just want the back uo to prove I'm where I think I am !
Heatherbentley28 Sep 2016
In reply to DaveHK:

No I don't have a smart phone and one of the great pleasures of being out in the hills is not having to have my phone on !
bouldery bits 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

I have an ancient Garmin Gecko unit that I use for exactly this purpose. Stays in my kit bag unless I want a GR. Then it comes out the bag and gets switched on. It Takes a few mins to find enough satellites admittedly. Maybe eBay yourself one of that works?
Hooo 28 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

Unfortunately for you, most people do have a smartphone.
If I want to do a quick "where am I" check I use a free app on my phone, and get a 10 digit OS grid ref. It doesn't need phone signal to work, although it speeds up the initial lock.
As most people have a smartphone nowadays, there really isn't much of a market for a device that does something a phone will do for free.
You could probably buy a secondhand phone for £50 that would do it. You wouldn't even need a SIM in it. I don't think that's the solution you're after though...
1
Martin W 28 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> My Forunner 310 Garmin watch does this. Main reason I bought it.

I was going to suggest that same thing. You can get a factory refurbed one with a 12 month Garmin warranty for a bit over £100 off Amazon. You can take the strap off if you don't want to wear it as a watch - it is a bit bulky to have on your wrist in the hills, but you can easily use the watch strap to hook it to your racksuck strap if you want it to be readily accessible. Mine generally stays in my rucksack unless I really need to confirm my location. It's also a good running watch, cycle computer (with the optional speed & cadence sensor) and I use mine for skiing as well. You can even take it swimming (it's designed for triathletes). It's not got all the bells and whistles that some more modern GPS watches have but it doesn't cost as much either.
The New NickB 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Martin W:

I suspect it is the 310xt model that you have rather than the 310. Major differences being better waterproofing and longer battery life.
captain paranoia 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

I was trying to determine exactly what it is you want.

So you are looking for a very basic GPS receiver that has a built-in display of OSGB GR, and nothing else?

I remember that Decathlon did a very simple GPS receiver a couple of years ago (Geonaute?). But it only had lat/long, IIRC... I remember thinking "well, that's not a lot of use with UK mapping"... No, wait; it was a GPS receiver, but without a position display at all...

http://www.geonaute.co.uk/gps-watches-idfam556

The conversion from lat/long to OSGB is tedious, but well-established, so it wouldn't need a great deal of coding effort. Once you go down that route, you need to start adding all the coordinate conversions for other countires (assuming you want their business, too).
1
inboard 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

Have a look at Garmin Foretrex. Fairly small, does basic positions (including OSGB, WGS84, and many other position formats).

I had one in my rucksack for a few years and used occasionally. Sold it earlier this year.
GrahamD 29 Sep 2016
In reply to The New NickB:

Definately the XT the one I have. Easily get a long day out of one charge, provided the backlight is used sensibly. Only slight niggle, which won't matter to the OP, is the wireless synchronisation is a bit of a faff for up loading activities.
Martin W 29 Sep 2016
In reply to The New NickB:

> I suspect it is the 310xt model that you have rather than the 310. Major differences being better waterproofing and longer battery life.

Yes, that's the one I meant. Sorry, I didn't realise that there was any other version.
Jenny C 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

Another user who would love this - being able to confirm my exact location on the map with a accurate grid reference would be handy. Tracking or navigating functions not wanted as I actually enjoy the skill of navigating by map/compass.

Tried a smartphone but battery life is rubbish and it's much less robust and bulkier to carry so reverted back to my old Nokia. Also as others have said I don't want to be bothered by my phone on the hills, it is carried fully charged in a dry bag solely for genuine emergency (999) use.

Appreciate UK is a fairly small market on the global scale, but still struggle to believe the demand isn't there to make it commercially viable.
HeMa 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

> As others have said, no-one wants to make a cheap GPS that only gives grid references as it will kill the £200+ GPS and watch market.

Ah, yes... UK specific use would kill the GPS market... NOT

The main reason why no such thing exists, is that most players wish to make generic products that can be sold around the glove, hence they use WGS84 coordinates... not country specific coordinate systems.
1
Andy Johnson 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:
My personal preference is not to take distracting gadgets into the hills, so I have an old eTrex GPS that can give me a grid reference but is useless for anything else. It is relatively heavy and bulk, though.

Because of this, and using my ninja tech skilz, I recently cobbled together a simple gps device using a microcontroller, LCD display, and a gps receiver. It runs for about 4 hours off a 9v PP3 battery, and does nothing but display the current os grid ref. The hard part wasn't the hardware but writing the code to do the conversion from wgs84 to osgb36.

A project that I never seem to have time for is to package it properly so that it would survive a trip into the hills. Size would probably be about 4" x 2" x 1". Retail cost of the parts was less than £50, so a manufactured equivalent device would be significantly cheaper than that (and would have better battery life - something I never put any effort into optimising).

So the device you want is definitely possible. I just don't think that the players in the outdoors leisure gps market have any commercial interest in producing such a thing when they can make more money from selling feature-rich devices that apparently justify a high retail cost.

Edit: And as others have commented, the limited market for a device that used OS grid references is unattractive for companies that sell globally. Also, smartphones.
Post edited at 11:28
GrahamD 29 Sep 2016
In reply to HeMa:

The Garmin 310XT does exist and is <£100
HeMa 29 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

Yes, and I'm also certain you can get the Garmin to show other coordinate formats...

Not sub 100 quid though, as they seem to retail between 250 and 300 Eur... Bargains are a different thing...
tony 29 Sep 2016
In reply to HeMa:

> Ah, yes... UK specific use would kill the GPS market... NOT

> The main reason why no such thing exists, is that most players wish to make generic products that can be sold around the glove, hence they use WGS84 coordinates... not country specific coordinate systems.

My Garmin 610 has a dazzling array of country-specific coordinate systems, OS included. I suspect other Garmin devices are similarly capable of working with a range of country-specific coordinate systems.
captain paranoia 29 Sep 2016
In reply to HeMa:

> most players wish to make generic products that can be sold around the glove, hence they use WGS84 coordinates... not country specific coordinate systems.

And GPS receivers spit out WGS84 coords in their decoded data stream. You just need to parse the NMEA stream and pull out the data. No need for mathematical conversions.
captain paranoia 29 Sep 2016
In reply to andyjohnson0:

Little GPS receivers can be had for about £6. Stick the 4800 baud NMEA stream into a PIC, run a bit of C to parse the stream and do the conversion. You've got a second before the next one comes long. Dump the results to a small LCD. Maybe add some signal status messages. 12-digit dot matrix LCD?

Battery. Charger. PSU. USB port for charging, and maybe firmware upgrade, or data logger extraction.

Hmmm...
EddInaBox 29 Sep 2016
Bluebird 29 Sep 2016
In reply to EddInaBox:

that is the business!
Andy Johnson 29 Sep 2016
In reply to captain paranoia:
Thats basically what I did, except the microcontroller I used wasn't a PIC. The GPS unit I used was a EM406a and the display was a EA-DOG series LCD that I had lying around. And believe me, the conversion code is far from simple.

My point was that if a random person (me) can build something like this cheaply, then a proper company can do it very cheaply. But its not commercially viable.

I'm not sure what point you're making.
Post edited at 19:25
Andy Johnson 29 Sep 2016
In reply to EddInaBox:
Nice find! If that was a commercial product then I'd buy one.
Post edited at 19:18
Andy Johnson 29 Sep 2016
In reply to captain paranoia:

If you want a position displayed in country-specific system then you have to convert from WGS84. In the case of OSGB, you have to map coordinates from the oblate spheroid used by WGS84 to the Airy 1830 ellipsoid used by OSGB36.
TobyA 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Jenny C:

> Another user who would love this - being able to confirm my exact location on the map with a accurate grid reference would be handy. Tracking or navigating functions not wanted as I actually enjoy the skill of navigating by map/compass.

I was working weekends in a climbing shop in Glasgow in the mid-90s when the first GPSs came in. Can't remember what make it was but it was a thing of amazement both for the price and the technology: "you mean it gets a signal from satellites? Like the ones in space?!"

Of course they were deemed to be useless for winter climbers at the time because the variation that the Pentagon supposedly added to the signal could have you tobogganing down the Orion Face when you were trying to reach the dogleg above Gardyloo. Anyway, I digress - I never got one and just carried on relying on map and compass for about the next 15 years. Since moving back to the UK a couple of years ago I have been using an OS map app on my phone. I buy map tiles via Amazon for I think 69p a tile and have slowly been building up areas where I go walking or biking. Ski touring in Lakes this January in, at one point, thick cloud, snow and very poor visibility, I realised that I was just checking my phone for my position rather than the map. As my phone maps are 1:50 and paper map 1:25 I would sometimes cross reference for looking for skiable slopes etc, but generally life was just easy checking the blue dot on my phone.

If you really can't resist the temptation to phone someone or update instagram while out, you can turn all those functions off on your phone. I guess that saves some battery as well and of course you can still use your map to navigate, but just check you are where you think you are by cross referencing with the map on your phone, then just put it away in your pocket. My phone battery seems to last fine for a day out in the hills, checking the map, often logging my route on Strava and even occasionally calling someone of posting photos if there is signal, but if the battery isn't great power banks are cheap.

I know not everyone has a smartphone, but most people do now - and it seems to me that most people could get exactly the same function - confirming you are where you think/hope you are - from that as from this, so far, non-existent device.

Of course this is only any good for the UK where we can get easily bits of the OS mapping on our phone (20 quid a year I think for a full subscription to OS then all the mapping you can use!), but then again so would be a device that just gives OS map references.

1
Ridge 29 Sep 2016
In reply to HeMa:

> Ah, yes... UK specific use would kill the GPS market... NOT

> The main reason why no such thing exists, is that most players wish to make generic products that can be sold around the glove, hence they use WGS84 coordinates... not country specific coordinate systems.

It's nothing to do with the co-ordinate system or being UK specific. Any GPS watch is capable of supplying co-ordinates, (output in OSGB, WS84 or whatever), but only the £200+ units have that function. It's nothing to do with the GPS or the processing power in the watch, it's a commercial decision on behalf of the manufacturer.
HeMa 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

> Any GPS watch is capable of supplying co-ordinates, (output in OSGB, WS84 or whatever), but only the £200+ units have that function.

Not true, there's a bunch available at a lot cheaper price range... they aren't giving out grid refs though, but the WGS84.
captain paranoia 29 Sep 2016
In reply to andyjohnson0:

> If you want a position displayed in country-specific system then you have to convert from WGS84.

I know. See my earlier comment. I've read the OS guide to coordinate conversion (20 years ago...) and done the maths...

My point was that a WGS84 lat/long display is simple to implement, and therefore implemented as such in cheap receivers because it requires no conversion; you just pluck the lat/long from the NMEA stream.

BTW, I wasn't making any 'point'. I was just idly musing how I would go about making one myself.
Post edited at 23:09
EddInaBox 29 Sep 2016
In reply to All:

How about we crowdfund it then, maybe in partnership with Rockfax/UKC and Alpkit? There's enough technical expertise on this thread and the UKC fora in general to draw up a spec, Alpkit have the infrastructure to sell it and may well have manufacturing contacts abroad and Rockfax/UKC can handle the marketing drive.
GrahamD 30 Sep 2016
In reply to EddInaBox:

> How about we crowdfund it then, maybe in partnership with Rockfax/UKC and Alpkit? There's enough technical expertise on this thread and the UKC fora in general to draw up a spec, Alpkit have the infrastructure to sell it and may well have manufacturing contacts abroad and Rockfax/UKC can handle the marketing drive.

Maybe because you can already get watches which already do what you want that are proven and are waterproof ?
3
jonnie3430 30 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

> Maybe because you can already get watches which already do what you want that are proven and are waterproof ?

But the idea is to get it as simple as possible, I wouldn't bother getting another fancy outdoor watch with all the gizmos and cost just to get a grid reference function.

This suggestion is excellent in its simplicity, the smallest os grid reference provider with reasonable battery would get me buying it for the top of my bag. My camera does latitude and longitude with GPS, but I couldn't get it to do os grids. Lat and long still work for calling an MRT out though.

Any suggestions for the best free android grid ref app would be appreciated.

J
Toerag 30 Sep 2016
In reply to jonnie3430:

> Any suggestions for the best free android grid ref app would be appreciated.

GPS Status. Really useful for proving your GPS works, and will spit out your position in all sorts of formats. You can download assistance data in advance which will give you a quicker satellite lock.
GrahamD 30 Sep 2016
In reply to jonnie3430:

The thing is I'd be very surprised if something with the sort of sale run this is likely to have can be developed (including weather proofing), distributed and sold for significantly less than the £100 you need to buy a proven watch (like mine) with this feature.
Andrew Kin30 Sep 2016
In reply to Heatherbentley:

Wow, cant believe this is still being asked. Over 10yrs ago I was asking on sites like Bikemagic, Outdoors magic etc if anyone knew of something that would stay turned off, be on a key chain and give a grid ref on demand in an emergency.

Best I found at the time were some foreign companies producing cheapish (£25-£30) units which looked ideal. Never followed it up and went with the original Garmin Etrex I had and just kept it in the bottom of my bag.

Used to do MTB nightriding in all weathers and got a bit spooked when (In the snow) I rode straight into a trig point on crossfell because I couldn't see where I was going. If I hadn't I think I was going to be in trouble.

Considering that old Etrex of mine is about 15yrs old and I saw items that 'advertised' themselves able to give grid reference only type devices back then. Surely someone has produced one since.
Ridge 30 Sep 2016
In reply to GrahamD:

Which watch does OSGB grid refs at the £100 price point?
GrahamD 30 Sep 2016
In reply to Ridge:

310XT readily available for <£100. See upthread.

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