GPS Plotting On A Budget

Jamie Crawford gives a back-to-basics electronics navigation package a workout.
Over the 20 or so years GPS units have been readily available, they have changed the way we fish, where we fish, and even our target species. Accessing offshore lumps and wrecks is a simple task these days, with marine charts and compass bearings becoming a thing of the past. Even inshore fishing is largely influenced by our electronics; no more lining up that fence post with the third tree. Not only are GPS units a useful fishing accessory, they are also a safety item for navigating during the night, through fog or around hazards – we  put a lot of faith in our electronic devices.

GME is a big name in marine electronics and has been around for a long time, and has a reputation for quality, practical gear. A while back Boat Fishing got hold of this new GME GP450X marine GPS plotter to test. We fitted it to my 4.5m Savage and used it for a few months down in SA.

The unit was straightforward to install. All that was needed to complete the installation was a threaded aerial mount for the external antenna, a few extra metres of wiring and a couple of alligator clips to reach the battery terminals.

The GME unit has a 4.5” silver bright LCD monochrome (black and white) screen, which is easy to see during the day, even with the sun glaring high overhead. There are no charted maps for the unit, it is a straight forward GPS plotter showing co-ordinates, waypoints, track history, range to destination, speed etc. There are some neat screen displays, but overall it’s more of a practical, low-priced unit without all the bells and whistles.

The unit menu is easy to navigate to use the different functions, and the range of seven screen displays offers a variety of viewing options from Plotter, Highway, Steering, Compass, Navigation Data, Speedometer and Large Digit Display. Personally, I used two main screen displays, the speedometer for entering and exiting our harbour, which has a 4kt speed limit, and then the plotter screen for the open sea. The plotter screen shows past track history, which has been valuable for tracking drift lines, for trolling and for safe navigation around shallow channels.  

The GP450X has all the usual GPS plotter functions such as user entry and naming of  waypoints (maximum of 999), route and track creation (stores 2500 track points), setting destinations, plus several alarm settings including anchor alarm (important for overnight stays in anchorages), speed and arrival alarms, plus others. The unit displays the nearest seven waypoints at any one time, and is updated every second for maximum accuracy. The screen zoom has a range from 0.02 to 320 nautical miles.

The GME GP450X has a lot of functions, many of which I am yet to use. It comes with a fitted screen cover, although the cover tends to vibrate off during towing. Overall it has been a top little unit, serving the purpose of a cost-effective, accurate and user-friendly GPS very well. GME’s GP450X marine GPS plotter sells for $479 RRP (incl. GST).

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