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Thread: GlobalSat BT-338 Review

  1. #1
    Maximum Bitrate tom2112's Avatar
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    Thumbs up GlobalSat BT-338 Review

    Hey guys, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on my new Globalsat BT-338 GPS Receiver. This thing is AWESOME!

    First let me say that prior to getting the BT-338 I was using a Deluo USB GPS Mouse (no model name or number that I know of). I bought it about a year ago, and have had no end of trouble with it. The Deluo would take 20 to 30 minutes to get a lock sometimes, and sometimes never achieve lock after hours of driving. Or it would get a lock in about 10 minutes then lose it while I was driving and never get it back. On rare occasions, it would just work the way it was supposed to. I tried tons of different things, from moving it around inside my car, mounting it on the roof, etc. etc. etc. The results occasionally improved but never lasted. I finally got fed up and bought a "real" GPS.

    I've had the BT-338 for about three weeks now. It's a bluetooth device, so I had to buy a bluetooth dongle for my carPC, but that was no hassle. I made sure to get a bluetooth spec v1.2 dongle (better reception, better error handling, and lower interferrence with WiFi signals - - avoid v1.1 or earlier). I bought an IOGear dongle at WalMart for $24. It works great.

    Bluetooth drivers loaded automatically in WinXP, so that was no hassle. Once the dongle was installed I turned on the BT-338. WinXP defaults to NOT searching for new bluetooth devices automatically, so I went into MS's bluetooth setup and "found" the GPS and it installed without a hitch. It installs as a pair of COM ports. Mine went in on COM6 and COM7. COM6 receives and COM7 transmits.

    I fired up my Routis software and set the software to find the new GPS. It was already locked and showed my position perfectly. You can tell the status of the device from within Routis, or from the LED's on the BT-338. One LED shows GPS lock status, one shows battery status, and one shows bluetooth status. One minor annoyance is that the LED's on the BT-338 blink to indicate lock and bluetooth connection. I would have thought they would blink while seeking a lock or seeking a connection, as having them blinking most of the time is a little annoying. No BIG deal, though.

    I don't recall what baud rate the COM ports defaulted to, but the docs for the BT-338 recommended a rate of 38400. So I went into the device manager and set the ports to 38400, 8, N, and 1, even though the GPS was already working. The change seemed to have no real effect, but I felt better.

    Next I drove around and watched the GPS display in Routis. I had a lock on 9 out of 9 satellites, and that was with the GPS sitting on my dash, right in front of my tachometer. My Deluo GPS probably wouldn't lock on any satellites sitting in that position, since it doesn't have a direct view of the sky. The little rubber feet on the bottom of the BT-338 kept it from sliding around my dash while I drove, which is cool because I drive "aggressively".

    I've been using the BT-338 while doing my normal driving around, going to work, the mall, etc. And it works great. The device is always locked before my carPC is done booting and loading the mapping software. Routis has problems with it surviving hibernation, though. Everytime I turn on my carPC, I have to tell Routis what COM port or baud rate the GPS is at - even though the COM port and the baud rate have NOT changed. As soon as I do, the GPS shows as locked and tracks my position. I haven't noticed any time that the GPS has been "off course". My old device would frequently place me about 1/2 block off course for no apparent reason.

    One thing that may bother people about this GPS is that it is battery powered. It comes with a car charger, which I haven't wired in permanently yet. Also, you have to manually turn the GPS on and off. However, the battery has a 15 hour run time. So it can actively operate for 15 hours after you turn your car off - assuming it has a full charge. Also, if it detects that no bluetooth device is connected, it will go into sleep mode which allows a 20 hour run time. I have yet to test this, so let me know how that works out. I figure on wiring the car adapter in permanently, so that the device is charged everytime I run the car, and leaving the GPS on all of the time. If the battery runs out, it will still be able to work once you start the car again, but you may have to turn the power back on manually.

    Another minor annoyance was that my BT-338 came with a European AC power charger (you know, the round prongs instead of the flat blades that plug into a wall outlet). Of course, since I'm in the USA, I was a bit put off by that. But since the GPS will go in the car and use the car adapter, I don't really care. I suppose I could call www.buygpsnow.com and complain, but I probably won't.

    In short: I re-learned the powerful lesson that "you get what you pay for." My deluo GPS mouse cost me $99. The Globalsat was $150 (at www.buygpsnow.com) and I bought an extra battery for it. So with shipping it was $177. In my opinion it was worth every penny.

    Globalsat BT-338 (Bluetooth GPS Receiver)
    Pros:
    - New SiRF star III GPS chipset
    - Great reception
    - Very short lock times
    - Accurate positioning
    - 15 hour battery life (20 in sleep mode)
    - Small footprint (smaller than most non-bluetooth GPS mouses)
    Cons:
    - Runs on battery
    - No "auto on" with car power adapter
    - blinky LED's
    - Euro power adapter
    - no magnet included (unlike most GPS mice)

    That's my 2 cents worth, I hope it does someone some good.

    Later,
    Tom
    So far:
    M10000 Nehemiah, 1Gb RAM, Opus 90w PS, Buffalo Tech WLI2-USB2-G54, 160 Gb HDD, GlobalSat BU-353 GPS, iGuidance, Zippy EL-610, Panasonic CW8123B Slim Slot CDRW/DVD, 10" Lilliput, Sony XA-300, Sony CDX-MP30 Head, OBD-II

  2. #2
    Raw Wave Defiler's Avatar
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    Great review. Thanks for the info.
    Aura MR62 (F and R)
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    IamDefiler.com

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate tom2112's Avatar
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    Update: I just received a Euro to USA power adapter for my BT-338. Evidently, they normally ship with the BT-338, but they were out of stock. It's not a full blown power adapter for the GPS, it's just a plug that the Euro adapter plugs into, and the adapter plugs into the America style outlet.

    Too bad I didn't know it was coming. I already soldered a pigtail with an American plug on it to the Euro adapter! It is nice to know that you're safe to order the BT-338 from www.buygpsnow.com and you'll (eventually) get the correct adapter for US power.
    So far:
    M10000 Nehemiah, 1Gb RAM, Opus 90w PS, Buffalo Tech WLI2-USB2-G54, 160 Gb HDD, GlobalSat BU-353 GPS, iGuidance, Zippy EL-610, Panasonic CW8123B Slim Slot CDRW/DVD, 10" Lilliput, Sony XA-300, Sony CDX-MP30 Head, OBD-II

  4. #4
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    Ordered mine today- should be with me tmrw

    Made sure it was the later firmware with static navigation disabled as will be using it walking with my 7610 and TomTOM mobile too. (although you can use sirf demo to disable yourself too)

    Contacted Globelsat in taiwan to see when they are going to release the latest Sirf firmware 3.1.1 but its not planned for a while so couldn`t be bothered waiting. (Royaltek already has this - fixes the "jetlag" bug and a few other minor things.

  5. #5
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    arrived early morning. used it and very pleased- works extremely well.

  6. #6
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    worth comparing it to the rikaline or holux equivalents?

    i'm in the market for one.... but can't decide which to get

  7. #7
    Newbie
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    I have the Holux GM 210 USB and it's great! Just got it yesterday and drove around with it. Kept locked on 8 sats the whole time. Hell it locked a sat in my apartment.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ummagawd
    worth comparing it to the rikaline or holux equivalents?

    i'm in the market for one.... but can't decide which to get
    dude use google to check the pro`s and cons of each.

    eg:
    Bt-338 is battery life, rikaline has latest firmware etc

    All good- Sirf 3 rocks!

  9. #9
    Maximum Bitrate tom2112's Avatar
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    I agree totally with organasised. The advantage to the BT-338 is battery life.

    GlobalSat is coming out with a NON-Bluetooth version that is just a USB "mouse" style. After using the Bluetooth version for a while, I think I would have preferred the "mouse" style, since I wouldn't have to turn it on evrey time I get in the car.

    That's the one downside to the whole bluetooth GPS setup. If you leave the GPS on, the device eventually goes to sleep (10 minutes). It doesn't wake up when you turn the carPC back on, so you have to manually turn the GPS back on. That stinks.

    There is one bluetooth sirfstar III GPS receiver that also has a USB conenction, but I can't find it right now.
    So far:
    M10000 Nehemiah, 1Gb RAM, Opus 90w PS, Buffalo Tech WLI2-USB2-G54, 160 Gb HDD, GlobalSat BU-353 GPS, iGuidance, Zippy EL-610, Panasonic CW8123B Slim Slot CDRW/DVD, 10" Lilliput, Sony XA-300, Sony CDX-MP30 Head, OBD-II

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