Saturday, June 23, 2007

Testing N800's display using Maemo Mapper and testing my new evaporative cooling vest.

I went riding this afternoon, temps from mid-80s to low 90s at one point I think. Sunny with a few clouds and a pleasant breeze for the most part which helped keep the heat down.

Two objectives today: 1. Field test the evaporative cooling vest from Techniche that I bought from for $31, shipped. 2. See how the N800 screen does with a small sunshade in place, me with a clear visor and no sunglasses.

First the evaporative vest, it charges up with water in 2-3 minutes as advertised. Felt nice and cool but not as cool as having just a wet tshirt on. However, the cooling effects lasted well past the two hour mark as I rode in the plains east of Denver, towards Elizabeth, then back west to Parker on CO86, which I took to Castlerock, then Wolfenberger Rd to CO105 down to Larkspur, on the I-25N slab back to founders parkway, back to Parker and home via Orchard Rd just past Arapahoe Rd. The cooling effect was fine until the 2.5 hr mark then I started to feel the heat a little bit and sweat just a tiny bit.

I had been hydrating the whole ride from the camelback as well which helps keep the core cooled down. When I finally got home, I took the vest off and it still felt cool to the touch and still a bit water-laden. I think the 2 hour mark is the point where one should consider "recharging" it with more water to enhance its by then waning cooling effect. So, happy with the purchase, it only made my tshirt very slightly damp.

Now for the N800's display while using GPS. While I am waiting for the license code for the Navicore GPS Software, I realized I could use the included GPS receiver with the N800 using the free software I'd downloaded before called Maemo Mapper. This is GPS/Mapping software that is freeware for this platform. I rigged up a small cardboard shield to help with the sun. See below.

An overall view of where the unit sits when mounted. This was while Maria was parked inside the garage.

Still inside, you can see the image is very usable while indoors

I rode about 120 miles or so today, and the screen was usable for the most part thanks to two factors. One, the cheesy but working cardboard shield I placed into the mount that helped provide shade to at least half the screen most of the time. My realization that the sunlight coming in via the top inch of my clear visor was causing glare on the visor and to my eyes, this was prevented by placing an inch-wide strip of duct tape on top edge of my visor. Once I had the duct tape in place, the screen was then more usable.

The only time the screen was pretty washed out, but still barely usable was when the sun was directly behind me, then it was pretty glaring. I will have to try it again tomorrow without the screen and see how it goes.

It was quite amusing watching the dot that was me, and the track that was created as I moved, move along the maemo maps' roads/streets which I'd downloaded from Google Maps. The freeware is not as sophisticated as I hope the Navicore software will be in that:

a. It did not increase/reduce map scale based on speed.
b. If you touched the screen, autocenter would turn off, had to stop the motorcycle and re-enabled autocenter by lead so that the map would scroll correctly.
c. It always maintaned North on the top of the map. I think it's the same with the Navicore software.
d. I did not try voice prompts since I did not know how to input a route for it to monitor.
e. Maemo Mapper does not carry all the US in the SD Memory card, it depends on Internet access to download maps as you need them if you did not previously download them prior to heading out. So I had to manually move the scales to find maps as I went that I had stored. No big deal if you pre-plan which within WiFi access to the Net.

Still, what do you want for free? It did confirm for me that my speedometer is about 3-5 mph faster than what I am actually going at on the motorcycle. It had a compass rosette but I had trouble seeing it in broad daylight. The maps showed up pretty good, the roads were yellow and the background was white so it showed up pretty good. I can only imagine the Navicore high contrast maps will be even better.

I did find that the display did not detract from safe riding of the motorcycle. A brief glance, such as when I scan all the instruments, also allowed me to periodically check my position on the map.

The GPS receiver that is bundled with the Navicore software worked like a champ, always had at least 9 if not more satellites locked in. It runs on a rechargeable battery and it had no issues to present. It just paired via Bluetooth with the Maemo Mapper software just fine and worked.


Anonymous said...

Great review!
Btw, you can toggle lead/center auto-follow by clicking the middle button on d-pad.

Charlie6 said...

thanks, yes, figured it out, along with the assignment of the hardware keys one can do.