March 27, 2008
One of the major challenges we face in the design department is delivering all of the bells and whistles we’d like to provide to our customers, while making sure what we release is not too difficult for the first time user to understand. We worked hard to release a handheld GPS device with the standard features users expect, while offering innovative features based on our mapping expertise.
Despite this effort we still found that our “out of the box” presentation did not always meet the needs of first-time users.How many of you opened your PN-20 box, put batteries in, and turned it on to see what would happen? We know a lot of you did — and we know the first thing you saw was a blank screen with a red arrow. We’ve taken steps to improve many of the user experiences during those first months of the PN-20 release, but we still have some things we’d like to share with new owners when they first open their PN-20 boxes.
Don’t read this post to mean that we’re avoiding design updates by explaining challenging concepts to our customers. We’re very aware that many of our customers don’t read blogs or forums or even the user manual and getting started guide. Those are our average users — people who aren’t looking to read lots of material — people like my dad. So I’m going to cheat a little and share with you the extra tips that I gave to my dad that helped him learn to use the PN-20.
Follow the instructions in the Getting Started Guide. I know it’s not as much fun as running outside while you’re putting batteries in, but you won’t have detailed maps on the PN-20 if you skip this step!
Press down on the SD card latch to open it, don’t pry up.
Change your Battery Type setting on the PN-20 if you’re using Li-Ion or NiMH batteries. Press the Menu button then choose Device Setup and System. Rechargeable will save you money in the long run.
Go outside and stand still to get your first 3-D Fix; don’t sit in your living room and test the strength of the GPS antenna. The device needs good reception from a stationary location to find you the first time.
Get to know your PN-20 before you head out on a big trip. A little practice in the front yard gives you a chance to look for answers before you’re in the woods!
Explore all the buttons and pages, learn by exploring the device and all of the options. Don’t be afraid of messing up the settings; there is a Reset Defaults option if you need it.
Press the Menu button on each page. Notice that the top half of the menu has options specific to the page while the bottom half of the menu is the same for all pages.
Be sure to explore the Map Setup option on the Map page. This is where all of the map management takes place and where you will go to change any of your map settings. Notice that it is a scrolling page!
Use Topo USA to create your routes. The computer calculates faster than the PN-20 and can create trail routes. Use the PN-20 for creating your direct routes.
Watch for update notices; NetLink will tell you when a firmware update is available for your device. Install these updates as they will give you access to all of the improvements and new features that we’ve released.
Before I go, here are a few links that I think people should be aware of…
User Manual and Getting Started Guide
The PN-20 user manual is updated with each release of the firmware and made available on our Support site. The tri-fold getting started guide is also available from this site.
Getting Started Video
The PN-20 Getting Started Video will walk you through the PN-20 setup and the basic features.
Earthmate GPS PN-20 Forum
The PN-20 forum is a great place to learn from all the knowledgeable users and DeLorme employees that help each other with PN-20 questions.
Earthmate GPS PN-20 Tips & Tricks
The PN-20 Tips & Tricks forum is an additional location with lots of great posts from customers who are using their GPS and software in very exciting ways.
I hope you found this information helpful; if you still have questions be sure to visit the DeLorme Forums, there are lots of great answers to new user questions… there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for has already been posted!
March 24, 2008
A quick introduction before I start… my name is Chip Noble; I manage the User Interface Design department here at DeLorme. As part of the Earthmate GPS PN-20 team I’ve had the opportunity to watch the device evolve from an early prototype model through to the powerful handheld GPS device that we’re all using today. This blog will share a little of everything… from tips and tricks to how-tos that I think you might find interesting. I’ll be sharing some of the fun ways that we use the PN-20 during testing and even how we use the device on our own free time. I’m hopeful that you’ll be able to learn some new ways to get the most out of your device… and possibly be entertained by reading about how we got to where we are and how we’re planning to go further in the future…
When the marketing group approached me to see if I was interested in sharing usability and design content through the Earthmate GPS PN-20 blog I thought it might be fun to actually start at the beginning… Here’s a photo of the first PN-20 we used to track outdoors.
This picture was taken toward the end of 2004… A funny story to start things off… I was outside with one of the developers trying to make the green arrow show what direction we were walking… we finally realized the 5 mph movement threshold from our in-vehicle system was still turned on. Imagine the two of us running through the parking lot laughing with excitement when the green arrow finally appeared on the screen! Not bad considering it weighed more than my laptop did!
Here is a picture from further along in the prototyping process. It’s a lot more portable than the previous unit although it hadn’t gone through the IPX7 testing… That’s a waterproofing joke for those of you up on your GPS terms. It means you can submerge the device to a depth of 3 feet for 30 minutes and it will continue to function. The released version is certified; this prototype without the plastics wasn’t… We did use it to find the first Geocache logged with a PN-20!
These pictures sure do remind me of how nice the final device turned out… add in new features like the full page Waypoint Details in the 1.4 firmware and you get a sense of just how far we’ve come since that first run through the parking lot!
Check back from time to time… I’ll be sharing more here for those interested in a little glimpse behind the scenes on the PN-20…
March 23, 2008
Back in November, I found myself with friends at Camden Hills State Park in Camden, Maine.
This is one of my favorite spots for a day hike. There are beautiful overlooks with views of offshore islands and the town of Camden. They have an excellent campground as well. We were a bit surprised to find a light coating of snow on the ground, which turned into a couple of inches as we gained elevation.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the PN-20 had great reception. Nothing new there. I was able to convince my reluctant buddies to follow me on a bushwhack down a portion of the mountain. The PN-20 guided us reliably and when we hit the trail we were aiming for they were visibly relieved. They now have faith in GPS! I can’t wait for some serious snow to allow for some serious creative trail creation.
We capped the day off wonderfully with dinner at Moody’s diner in Waldoboro, ME. This is the real reason I come up the coast, thick chocolate frappes, grilled cheeses with bacon and , amazing deserts, yum yum yum. Moody’s is a quintessential diner, in operation since 1934. Be sure to make the stop if you are in the area, it is not to be missed.
Take it easy!
March 20, 2008
The PN-20 provides BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad) field technicians with access to the company’s track and milepost data, displayed against a background of DeLorme’s USA street-level or topographic base maps. The ability to view aerial imagery enhances field intelligence for better decision making.
Field personnel will be able to search on BNSF data for track defects, view and query track and milepost locations, and create waypoints with basic descriptions. Armed with location data that has been custom-cut for BNSF, field technicians will have the ability to automatically download defect information directly from BNSF geometry cars to the PN-20 GPS handheld.