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A compatible GPS is required for all competitors, either Garmin or Lowrance. The GPS will be used primarily as a backup device for track recording, display of digital compass heading, and guidance to key waypoints in case you're lost or have an emergency where special capabilities are required.
Your GPS may be mounted on your "dash", or for bikes it may be in your backpack. Keep in mind it MUST be recording tracks at all times during the race, so be careful if you are relying on the internal batteries!
No user loaded GPS tracks, waypoints, detailed maps, satellite imagery, or other such data are allowed in the GPS during the rally. If you have any important data in your GPS prior to the event, you should save it to your computer and remove it from the GPS prior to the event. If you have a microSD or SD card in your GPS, you should remove it prior to the event. The rally org will clear out any such data found in your GPS at registration.
Only models that have microSD or SD slot and USB connector meet the needs for Sonora Rally. From a functional and affordability point of view, our favorite is the Garmin 78 handheld, shown to the far left. For the less budget sensitive, the Garmin Montana is a great choice. Other more expensive or older models will work great too (see list below). Since maps and GPS tracks for the course cannot be utilized, a large screen GPS is not of significant extra value. Most if not all of the time you won't need the GPS at all. On "HP" sections, you may want to read the compass heading from the GPS screen, but that can generally be setup to display in large numbers. So, for Sonora Rally, in our opinion a large screen GPS is not worth the higher price.
No smart phone, tablet or similar device will be allowed for navigation. You should carry a cell phone in case you need to make an emergency call, but it will not be allowed to be mounted on your dash area or visible in any way while riding or driving. Some parts of the course have cell coverage, and some do not.
Though not a requirement, it is highly recommended that you use a GPS that allows connection to your vehicle 12V battery. Since it is required that your GPS be on and recording tracks at all times in the race, dead AA batteries in your GPS can ruin your day. So it's a smart move to have backup power, meaning you should have both internal batteries AND a connection to your vehicle battery. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a set of AA batteries in your pocket just in case!
The following features are required for any GPS used in Sonora Rally:
Any Lowrance model that meets the above requirements is acceptable.
Garmin model rundown:
Though not a requirement, it is highly recommended that you use a GPS that allows connection to your vehicle 12V battery. Since it is required that your GPS be on and recording tracks at all times in the race, dead AA batteries in your GPS can ruin your day. So it's a smart move to have backup power, meaning you should have both internal batteries AND a connection to your vehicle battery. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a set of AA batteries in your pocket just in case. Use of a USB connection for power is discouraged since they tend to fail from vibration after a period of time. Many of the prefered Garmin models have a round 4-pin connector that accepts a 12V power connection. If you have such a model, THIS CABLE is the way to go. When wiring to your vehicle 12V power, it is preferred to connect directly to the battery or to a circuit that is not switched by your key, since the GPS will not power back on when you turn the key back on. You have to manually turn the GPS back on with the power button on the unit, and you're sure to forget that in the heat of competition. If you forget to turn it on, you won't be recording tracks and you'll be at risk of receiving a penalty if you are missing those tracks.
Your Garmin GPS may need to be configured in a particular way to support the requirements of this rally. Some required settings may be different than your normal usage.
The ideal setup is to display numeric compass heading on the map page (see screen sample to the right), and keep the map page displayed while racing. The Sonora Rally data that may be loaded into your GPS will not display roads or tracks, so don't expect to see a line on the screen showing you which way to go.
Your GPS must be setup to record tracks at all times while you are racing, without interruption. It is your responsibility to keep your GPS operating and recording, otherwise you risk severe time penalties. Your overall placing in the race depends on your recorded tracklogs being complete for all stages. To validate that you have followed the course correctly (no cheating or shortcuts), at the end of each stage officials may ask to remove your GPS from your vehicle and may download your recorded tracks into a computer.
Best Garmin GPS Settings (varies slightly depending on model):
Use of any GPS device other than the one approved in scrutineering is forbidden. That includes using smart phone apps, tablets, a second handheld GPS of your own, or any other such device.
If you don't already have one of the specified Garmin GPS units, we recommend the Garmin GPSMAP 78. The 78 provides great features at a very affordable price, check out GPS City for great prices.
Garmin also offers the 78S and 78SC. You can research the added features these models bring for a higher price, but those added features will not be of much if any value in Sonora Rally.
For motos or single-seater cars, a RAM mount or similar mount is needed if you want it visible during the rally. Two-seater cars with a navigator may also find a dash mount for the GPS helpful.
Experienced rally competitors wire their GPS power to the vehicle 12V battery so unexpected low batteries in the unit don't spoil your race. Since the newer Garmin 62 series (similar to the 78 series) do not have a 12V power connector, the 62 series is not the best choice. Go for the 78, which has a 12V power connection !