Waze Map Interface
Waze Map Interface

Where Did My GPS Go?

Surprised-300x208 ADD GPS TO YOUR iPAD 2 WiFi How To iPad Product Reviews Tips
Where’s My GPS?

I thought it would be great to use my iPad 2 WiFi as a GPS device.  Its big screen and computing power would most certainly be a big improvement over the aging Droid cellphone I had been using to find my way around Southern California.  After considering this for awhile, my iPad 2 WIFi went with me on my next trip.  Once in the car, I fired up the iPad, clicked on Google Maps, then created a destination and a route. I backed my car out of my driveway, drove about 10 yards, and my great idea, fizzled and died.  No GPS at all.  I rechecked everything.  My entries into the mapping program looked good.  I drove the car back into my driveway, and the map program seemed to come to life.  Great, so I backed the car into the street again, and my iPad GPS adventure once more stalled.  Then it hit me:  when I backed the car into the street,  my WiFi signal went away, and my GPS tracking went with it.  Clearly, a “cause” and “affect”.  How can this be, I should still be receiving a signal from the satellites?  I shut off my iPad, entered my destination data into the old Droid cell phone, and off I went, with no additional GPS issues.

When I returned from my trip, I did some investigating.  It seems that if you have a WiFi only iPad, you do not have a GPS chip inside your shiny aluminum iPad case.  I could see, when I attempted to use the iPad as a GPS device, that a little “positioning” was taking place while the car sat in my driveway.  Unfortunately,  the “positioning” quickly evaporated when I rolled the car into the street.  This is because my local area network from my home was providing the information, through the network itself and/or WiFi triangulation.  When I left the range of my network, any Geo-location for me and the iPad became unavailable.  To get GPS for an iPad 2 WiFi, some additional hardware will be necessary.

Conversely, if you have a 3G or 4G iPad, then you have a built-in GPS chip that becomes part of a hybrid GPS system, called A-GPS (Assisted GPS).  A-GPS, uses WiFi triangulation, cell towers, and satellites to track you and perform the location finding.  There are several advantages to A-GPS when compared to GPS:

  1. By using your data plan, maps (like those from Google, Waze, etc.) are automatically added and cached for you as you merrily drive to your destination.  It may seem to you that you are drawing information from one big map.  You are, but that “big map” is located in a server somewhere.  In fact, you are actually operating on a number of “portions” of that larger map, now cached in your cellphone (or other iOS device).  As you begin to “run off” the the existing map, the next appropriate map portion is downloaded to you through your cellular network.  The end result is a large saving in storage space on your cellphone or tablet, because you only have downloaded what you use, not what is available.
  2. Another advantage of A-GPS is that you have two other sources of data to provide your location.  If there is some obstruction between your device and the GPS satellites, you will still know where you are.
  3. Many mapping programs now use and display information downloaded from your cellular network.  Some examples of this data are:  traffic information, and street names to be used in turn-by-turn navigation.
  4. Finally, A-GPS devices can determine location faster, because they simply are not relying only on satellites.

GPS has some advantages of its own:

  1. Though it takes longer to determine location coordinates, GPS is more accurate than A-GPS.
  2. The GPS device receives signals from satellites for FREE, so your only cost is for the GPS device itself.
  3. GPS devices work where there are no cell towers or cellular service.
  4. When the GPS receiver is configured to use  WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System), GPS signal corrections are up to 5 times better than a GPS not using WAAS.  WAAS corrects for GPS signal errors caused by ionospheric disturbances, timing, and satellite orbit errors, and it provides vital integrity information regarding the health of each GPS satellite.  The following is Garmin’s description of how WAAS works:  “WAAS consists of approximately 25 ground reference stations positioned across the United States that monitor GPS satellite data. Two master stations, located on either coast, collect data from the reference stations and create a GPS correction message. This correction accounts for GPS satellite orbit and clock drift plus signal delays caused by the atmosphere and ionosphere. The corrected differential message is then broadcast through one of two geostationary satellites, or satellites with a fixed position over the equator. The information is compatible with the basic GPS signal structure, which means any WAAS-enabled GPS receiver can read the signal.”  With WAAS you can get position accuracy to within 3 meters, 95% of the time.  Another great benefit, if the GPS is WAAS-enabled, you don’t have to purchase additional receiving hardware, and there is no service contract or cost, – the system is free to use.
  5. You might also want your GPS to be EGNOS-enabled (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service).  Working much like WAAS, EGNOS augments the US GPS satellite navigation system and makes it suitable for safety critical applications such as flying aircraft or navigating ships through narrow channels.  EGNOS is the first pan-European satellite navigation system.  The European Space Agency describes the way EGNOS works:  “Consisting of three geostationary satellites and a network of ground stations, EGNOS achieves its aim by transmitting a signal containing information on the reliability and accuracy of the positioning signals sent out by GPS. It allows users in Europe and beyond to determine their position to within 1.5 meters.”  Also, free to use.  For more information about EGNOS, click this link:
  6. As WAAS is a GPS augmentation system for the US, and EGNOS is the same type of system for Europe, there is also the MSAS (Multi-function Satellite Augmentation System) utilized in Japan.  Like its US and European counterparts, it is also free to use.
  7. Finally, A-GPS is designed to work in mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets.  GPS is used in devices that are mobile, such as cars, boats/ships, and airplanes.  If you are reading this article while traveling in a commercial jet, your plane is probably using GPS right now.

What To Do?

What-To-Do-300x208 ADD GPS TO YOUR iPAD 2 WiFi How To iPad Product Reviews Tips
To GPS, or to A-GPS, that is the question?

For me there were clearly three options:  Either use the old Droid cellphone that uses A-GPS , add GPS to my iPad, or buy a dedicated GPS device for cars, like the Garmin, Magellan, or TomTom devices.

I decided to add GPS for my iPad 2 WiFi because:   I wanted the bigger screen offered by the iPad; GPS is more accurate, and I can use it in a car, boat, plane, or while walking in a secluded forest; it is cost effective; I could further GPS accuracy by getting a device WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS enabled; and finally, I could do it with my budget ($100).

GPS For An iPad 2 WiFi

GPS devices have two ways to get satellite location information to your iPad:  Bluetooth, and through the iPad’s built-in 30 pin connector. Here are some examples of both types:

The Dual Electronics XGPS 150 Universal GPS Receiver uses a temporary mount in your car to hold and secure the GPS receiver, and transmits vital location information from GPS satellites wirelessly to your Bluetooth enabled mobile device.   The Dual GPS receiver is both WAAS and EGNOS compatible.  It uses a 65 channel chipset, and updates positions at least once per second.  It can acquire and lock satellite signals on planes traveling a maximum of 1150 m.p.h., and at a maximum altitude of 59,000 feet.  The device carries its own rechargeable power supply.  Street price around a $100 (US).

The Emprum Ultimate GPS Accessory is designed for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.  It plugs into the iOS device’s 30 pin connector.  It is diminutive in size, about 1″ square.  The Emprum’s chipset has a 5Hz update rate, and is A-GPS enabled (assuming of course you have a data plan, but will still work without it – minus the A-GPS features available in your mapping software).  The device uses 51 satellite tracking channels, and has a maximum altitude for functionality at 59,000 feet.  The Emprum’s power comes from the iOS device it is attached to.  The Emprum is enabled for WAAS, EGNOS, and MSAS.  Configuration software is a free download from The App Store.  Street price around a $100 (US).

IMG_0159-239x300 ADD GPS TO YOUR iPAD 2 WiFi How To iPad Product Reviews Tips The Bad Elf BE-GPS 1000, like the Emprum, is designed for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.  Also, like the Emprum, the Bad Elf uses the iOS device’s 30 pin connector.  It supports WAAS, EGNOS, and MSAS.  It has a 10Hz position update rate, and uses a 66 channel chipset.  The Bad Elf has maximum functionality at an altitude of 60,000 feet, and a 1000 mph maximum as well.  All this from a little cube, roughly 1″ square.  Power comes from the iOS device.  A free app for firmware upgrades and configuration is available from The App Store. Street price the Bad Elf is $85 (US).  This is the device I purchased for my iPad.


All of the external GPS devices mentioned above claim they will work with any maps available from The App Store that use GPS functionality.  That statement is correct, providing your definition of “work with” covers a data plan on your iOS device.  Here, the devices circumvent the internal GPS of the iPad, and iPhone, use the A-GPS functionality available through your data plan, and use the map “portion” approach  mentioned earlier in this article (portions of the map are downloaded to your mobile device as you need them).

If you have a WiFi only enabled iPad, then you need maps that can be used “offline”. These will be an entire maps of the country, or a specific area of the country, as there is no network to support the downloading of map “portions” while you drive to your destination.  Here is a list of “offline” map programs available for use with the external GPS units mentioned above (all are available from The App Store):

IMG_0162-300x225 ADD GPS TO YOUR iPAD 2 WiFi How To iPad Product Reviews Tips
Sample Co-pilot Map

Garmin, TomTom, Europe iGo Primo, Navigon, Magellan RoadMate, MotionX GPS Drive, Navfree GPS, and CoPilot Live USA.

The CoPilot Live USA app was my selection.  Only Navfree is cheaper (free).  CoPilot cost $14.99 (US).  Like many of the maps listed above, you can download entire maps to your iOS device (all free with the program purchase).  On A-GPS enabled iOS devices, you can get free traffic updates for a year, and for all types of iOS devices, you get free map updates for life.  At left is a sample map that is from a screenshot from my iPad.

How It All Works

Smiley-cool-2-300x214 ADD GPS TO YOUR iPAD 2 WiFi How To iPad Product Reviews Tips Though I have not tried my new external GPS/iPad system on any long trips, I have used it on several excursions locally.  It does take it a minute or so to acquire all the satellites it needs to function, which is between 8 and 12 (many “car”  dedicated GPS systems use only 4 satellites).

CoPilot works well with The Bad Elf GPS. The maps offer both 2D and 3D views.  I have purposely avoided following CoPilot’s directions to test how quickly it adjusted and developed another course to my destination.  It developed every new route nearly instantaneously and seamlessly, without any of the annoying verbal “recalculating” remarks found in most GPS devices. The overall look of the maps is fine, though not the level of detail found in Google Maps.   On the other hand, it is much easier to track the movement of my car on CoPilot, and see where it is in relation to turns, cross streets, etc.

In my car, I created a removable console mount for the iPad, and the big screen (when compared to my old Droid cell, and dedicated GPS devices) is great.  I have yet to loose a satellite signal when driving around.  The total cost to add GPS for an iPad 2 WiFi came to $100, – for both the chip and the software (my budget).  Overall, I am very pleased with the entire system, – just wish I had done it sooner.



  1. Hi Leo, great post…. if you had to
    do it all over again, would you purchase
    the ipad with cellular, and not activate,
    or de-activate the cellular?

    1. Glad you like it. Here is a tip for you: Since I wrote the article, I have had several times when Co-Pilot did not connect with my Bad Elf GPS chip. The cure is to do a “hard reset” on your iPad (hold down the “Home” and “Sleep/Wake” buttons simultaneously for 10 seconds). I am pretty certain the connection issue is due to already running programs in memory, and one of them taking a memory slot needed by Co-Pilot. If this is the case, depending on the programs you have installed and running at the time you load Co-Pilot you may never have this issue, but if you do, the Hard Reset is the cure.

    1. I don’t know. The issue is not with the software. The issue is hardware, and the type of connector on the external GPS device. Apple used a 30 pin connector for along time, and they updated it last year to a much smaller format. “Bad Elf”, for example, appears not have updated from the Apple 30 pin connector. You might check with the other vendors mentioned in the article and see if they have updated their connectors to the “new” Apple standard. Also, Apple (and others) make adapters that allow 30 pin based accessories to work with the new Apple connector. This should allow you to use a 30 pin GPS on your newer iPad. Best of luck and thank you for your response.

  2. Very helpful article. How do you do the map updates? How do you power the iPad and GPS module, or is it an either/or situation.

    1. Emily,

      Glad you liked the article. Map updates are done from within the map program itself, and all updates are free. The GPS runs off the iPad’s battery, and I usually start with the iPad fully charged. For emergencies, meaning times when I forget to charge the iPad, I use a “Mediabridge” dual USB car charger (plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter and attaches via USB cable to the GPS which in turn is plugged into the iPad). A side note: if you decide to go this route and also buy a car charger (under $20 US), get one that charges at two power levels, 1 amp for cell phones, and 2.1 amps for tablets. If you have any other questions, let me know. Happy Holidays 🙂

    1. After looking at the Tomtom specs, here’s what I have come up with:

      The Tomtom does not mention that is connects to the Wide Area Augmentation System (US), or the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service. Depending on where you are, US or Europe, these free services provide up to a 5 times stronger signal and improves accuracy. Bad Elf connects to these services automatically.
      The Bad Elf uses 66 channels and the Tomtom uses 20.
      The Bad Elf uses a 10 hz position update rate, and the Tomtom uses 1 hz.
      The Tomtom makes no claim to its accuracy in its literature, the Bad Elf is 10 yards or less.
      The Tomtom literature does not mention the number of satellites it uses, my Bad Elf typically uses 9 to 12.
      From the TomTom’s technical specs, and what it’s literature fails to mention, the Tomtom is not in the same league with the Bad Elf. With fewer satellites, its inability to connect to WAAS and EGNOS, and its slower tracking speed, I think the Tomtom might struggle keeping up with you in a car going 70 mph down a highway, and the Tomtom will certainly not be able to accurately find your location. In short, this is a case of getting what you pay for.
      Thanks for reading my article. Hope this helps.


  3. Very nice infoexactly what I wanted to know to use my ipad 2 in my boat thanks.. I downloaded sygic maps to ipad all I need is that reciver. Take care bibi

    1. I really don’t know, but it seems to me if Garmin Blue Charts works with a GPS chip internally installed in an iPad, I would think it would work with an external chip as well. If it does work, some functionality might be limited, like traffic reports, and so on, as these features would come through cellular reception.

    1. My best answer to your question is, “I don’t know”. Your best source will be with the maker of the chip you are considering to purchase. The specs of the chip should also show you what iPads it has been designed for. If this doesn’t work, send an email to the company’s support department. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.


    1. My best answer to your question is, “I don’t know”. Your best source will be with the maker of the chip you are considering to purchase. The specs of the chip should also show you what iPads it has been designed for. If this doesn’t work, send an email to the company’s support department. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.


  4. Hi larry, very good and helpful article, i have and ipad mini with only wifi like you and was searching some info for how use it for gps functionally and this article clear all my doubts, the only question i have to do is how do you charge your ipad for long trips? because if you have the device plugged there is no slot to plug the ipad charger.

    Thanks for all the help

    1. Good question. As you could tell from the article, I use the “Bad Elf” external GPS chip. The chip itself has a “mini” USB port on the bottom of its case. The chip comes with a USB cable as well (“mini” on one end and “standard” on the other). Now to keep the iPad charged: I purchased a Media Bridge Dual USB Car Charger. This little guy has two standard USB ports (one 1.0 Amp port for cell phones, while the other one is a 2.1 Amp port for tablets). So….just plug the charger into your cars cigarette lighter socket; plug in the standard end of the USB cable to the 2.0 Amp outlet on the charger; and finally, plug the mini USB socket into the Bad Elf’s mini port, and your iPad will charge while you are using your GPS. I have used the charger, gps, and iPad on long trips with no problems at all, – even in the Mojave desert where I was getting signals from 9 satellites.
      Glad you found the article helpful.

  5. Cool Larry, thx so much for all the info, i think i will buy all the stuff and later when i try it come back to tell you how works, btw, excellent blog, i become a new follower of it

  6. Hi all from New Zealand . Having a WiFi only iPad 2 and having used NAVIONICS Australia&NewZealand App on my 4s iPhone (perfectly ) and seeing that the websites says the Navionics US&Canada App will work with the BadElf GPS 1000 I went ahead with the Au&NZ Navionics iPad App and the BadElf GPS 1000 .
    It does NOT work , I think . The BadElf App itself suggests that the BadElf works (somewhat inexactly )
    Any suggestions gratefully received …..I read an atricle saying the GPS functionality on the iPHONE will be usable in the iPad IF you Personal Hot Spot it ……. Any comments ??
    David R

    1. David,

      Sorry for the time lag in getting back to you. Here are some thoughts on your problem:

      1. If your iPad 2 was available with a data plan from a mobile vendor, then it already has a gps chip internally. In this case, the Bad Elf, and the iPad’s internal gps chip are not coexisting. Solution: Say goodbye to the Bad Elf.
      2. I use my iPad for many things, and just before I use it for navigation with my Bad Elf, I do a “hard” reset on the iPad. Press and hold the sleep/awake and home buttons at the same time for about 10 seconds until the Apple logo appears, then release. This pretty much flushes the iPad’s memory. I use Co-Pilot for my navigation software, and sometimes it won’t communicate with the Bad Elf, unless I perform this process.
      3. Assuming you have the Bad Elf diagnostic software installed on your iPad, use it to determine if you are accessing satellites at all, and if you are, how many? Install your chip, start the Bad Elf software, and will see and icon of your chip, and some text saying it’s “searching”. Depending on where you are, the searching process can take anywhere from a few to 5 minutes or more. When the text changes to “connected”, push the “gps” icon at the bottom of the screen. At this point, you should see position accuracy, your current Latitude and Longitude, speed, and number of satellites used. Here in the States, I the Elf is using anywhere between 7 and 12 satellites. If you are not getting any readings here, either the Bad Elf, or the iPad has a hardware issue. If the diagnostic software is showing information, the Bad Elf is doing its job.
      4. Check you iPad’s settings: Go to SETTINGS>privacy>location services. Make sure Location Services at the top has ON next to it. Make sure all your apps in the list have ON next to them. Now check and see if Navionics and the Bad Elf are working together.
      5. Still not working??? Go back to SETTINGS>privacy>location services. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and select System Services, and turn SETTING TIME ZONE to OFF. Go back, and while still in privacy>location services, turn the top Location Services setting to OFF. Hard reset your iPad. Go back to SETTINGS>Privacy>location services again. This time turn the top Location Services setting to ON. Make sure all the items in the list you intend to use with the Bad Elf have ON next to them.
      6. At this point, if the Bad Elf is working as determined by the diagnostic’s program, and there is no communication to the Navionics software, then I would contact Navionics support, and possibly Bad Elf support as well.

      Regarding you last questions for using the iPhone as a hot-spot for the iPad, I don’t know iPad will have gps functionality or not (never tried it). It does seem redundant……seems simpler to install Navionics on the iPhone.

      In any event, hope this helps. Good luck.

      1. Hi Larry and THANKS . I have solved my problem . or rather BadElf have solved it for me .
        To detail items above ..
        All you say appears Correct from my experience None of that revealed WHY I had an issue with it , but did encourage me to know the BadElf device was working . ! I wanted to use the App on the iPad because of the screen size . I does work perfectly on the iPhone .
        The discussion about HotSpot GPS availability seems to swing back & forth . I don’t think it works but the “everywhere” WiFi does make it look as though location services work so I can see where the confusion occurs .

        Para 2 above .
        BadElf tell me that the problem I have is in the iPad IOS 6.x which is known to have some “bug” in this respect . The fix of a reset is the solution ……. and certainly with Navionics if you don’t start with a reset (not everytime ?? , but certainly at least once ) the App does not work . The reset fixes it .. and for the subsequent five uses I tried it stays fixed without doing the reset each time .
        An upgrade to IOS 7 is said to deal with the issue anyway…. I will wait on that .

        thanks cheers from NZ David

  7. Hello Larry sir,
    What a wonderful article. Seriously I was scratching my head to find out what happened to my iPad Air 2 wifi. I took my I pad with route selected using my home network, during my drive I was trying to locate my position but all in vein. I asked some friends they said you should get it they were telling me that you have not installed the Google maps properly . Today after reading rout article my problem solved. It left some doubts
    Larry sir,
    1. Please tell me why Apple will not provide this in iPad Air 2 wifi? (Even after paying that much money)
    2. Will it work in India effectively? ( because I am using it in India)
    3. From where to buy this ?
    4. Additional navigational system for car is better or this one is better?
    5. Suppose if I purchase additional navigational device which one do you suggest?

    1. I am glad you liked the article. In answer to your questions:

      1. It seems, at least for the iPad 2, that built-in WiFi is only available in devices designed for connection to carriers (in the states, this would be, for example: AT&T, Verizon, etc.). In this setting, the iPad comes with an internal GPS chip, and triangulates position from both satellites and cell towers. If the iPad was sold as WiFi only, the gps-chip was not installed.
      2. I am not sure if an external chip, as mentioned in the article, will work in India or not. That being said, if cars in India are using gps devices like Tom-tom, Garmin, etc., then they are using satellite gps positioning, and in that case, the external chip for the iPad will most definitely work.
      3. I use the Bad Elf gps chip. You can find it here: You will also need a map program that works with satellite triangulation only. I use CoPilot, about $20 US, available through the Apple App Store. Map updates are FREE!!!
      4. The Bad Elf or similar items are a better choices, offering triangulation from more satellites (up to 12 satellites, while Garmin uses 3, as do gps systems fromoriginal manufacture installations), and allow for adjusting for satellite positioning as well. Finally, using the iPad, you have a larger viewing area, making the maps are more visible.
      5. As far as an additional navigational device, Garmin would be the choice. Like Bad Elf, Garmin also make gps devices for airplanes and marine applications, – both are serious specialized gps applications; hence, their products should be developed for accurate measurment. You might want to check into the cost of map updates through Garmin, they did cost up to $85 a year.

      Hope this helps. Best wishies.


  8. Larry, I enjoyed your article that described adding the Bad Elf to your ipad and co-pilot. Question: Can my wifi-only ipad air use my iphone and its hotspot to navigate in marine apps like Navionics? That is, does the iphone 6 have a built in real GPS or A-GPS and, if so, will it broadcast its location signal via hotspot to my ipad air? If it has only an A-GPS in the iphone then it seems I could get actual navigation on my ipad air only as long as my iphone could get cellular signal. Correct? If I lose cell service I lose navigation on my ipad? But if the iphone 6 has an actual GPS (not A-GPS) then I could continue navigating after losing cell service?

    1. The iPhone 6 is, as far as I know, A-GPS, so once cell service disappears so does your GPS. Also, I do not know if it would broadcast GPS info as a hotspot to an iPad without software to both send (from the iPone) and receive (on the iPad) the signal. It would seem an app like Navionics would be looking for an on-board GPS chip at startup, and would not know to search for data from another GPS chip, and do so over a wireless network. In this case, as the iPhone’s GPS is only receiving data from the satellites, the iPhone would have to determine the location and then transmit

        that data to the iPad, requiring specialized software on each end, and the ability of the GPS chip to transmit.

        Glad you liked the article. Hope this helps.


      1. Have tried this and can report that wifi hotspot linked iPhone 6 and iPad2 do not share GPS data – frustrating as I assumed they would and did not purchase a mobile enabled iPad ‘cos I already had an iPhone.

      2. I use my iPhone 6+ GPS while hiking in areas where there is no phone coverage with no problem. I can’t, however get my wifi only iPad to make use of the iPhone’s onboard GPS via a hotspot connection. Looks like external GPS, e.g., Bad Elf is the way to go. One question, though. If I’m relying on solar power for recharging, which would be the best way forward for my external GPS – bluetooth or lightning connection? Bad Elf sell both types. Thanks.

          1. Thank you for replying. Ideally, I’d like to use Bluetooth and tuck the GPS safely into the top of my rucksack. However, if Bluetooth wasn’t as energy efficient as lightning, I’d go with a wired connection.

  9. Not having GPS capability on a iPad is downright stupid. (There is probably a market reasons for this is; making more money !!?)
    This is ideal for outdoor places, being able to compère your location Accuracy against the battery free paper Maps.
    Get it together “Apple” give this very expensive piece of kit the full Monty.

  10. Brilliant. We thought we were going nuts. Had an Ipad 2 (3g & wifi) that works with Google Maps, brilliantly, long drives etc all over the world. Never used the 3g function though and recently bought an Ipad Air 2 with wifi only (cheapskates we are). Which doesn’t work with the maps hardly at all – even when in the vicinity of wifi. They could use this as a selling point! Would have got the 3g option if we’d known.

    1. Looks like the June 30th scheduled update for iOS will fix the port problem, and external GPS devices like my trusty Bad Elf will once again be functional. It certainly took Apple long enough to resolve this issue.


  11. Hi Larry, Great article. I am a sailor looking at cruising around Asia and the Philippines and would like a backup navigation system. Can you tell me in your experience what I pad and nav chip would be best and or App like navionics.
    Im looking at the i pad 2 with Emprum Ultimate GPS Accessory. (GPS is better than A-GPS right?. As there won’t be many ground augmentation stations in the Asia area.

    I do have wireless onboard, but don’t won’t the rely on that or a Sim chip (which I will have) because I may be out of range.
    I want a completely separate system, that if all goes wrong I still have my iPad to navigate safely.
    Please give me your feedback.


    1. Sean,

      I would use an iPad or iPad Air….the iPad Mini is too small for my tastes (and vision). Navionics should function well on an iPad. I would purchase a newer model (the iPad 2 has just been discontinued), retina screen, and as much on-board memory as your budget allows (there are no memory upgrades as the iPad is a “closed” system). New iPads have faster processors and a different accessory access port than their older siblings. This “access port” was recently rendered useless by an iOS update for the older 30 pin external GPS chips (Emprum included), while chips for the newer ports work fine (iOS 8.4 will correct the problem, releasing tomorrow, but my older iPad 2 has been without GPS for over 30 days). Note: the newer Emprum chips that access the “current” iPad access port format were working after the the last update.

      Hope this helps. Glad you liked the article.


      Emprum is a good chip, and could work with or without a data plan (A-GPS or GPS). For your use, A-GPS serves little purpose. I would verify that the Emprum chip you purchase is MSAS enabled, and that the MSAS signal reaches to the points where you are sailing. WAAS, EGNOS, and MSAS, among other things compensate for irregularities in satellite information (changes in orbit, clock drift, signal delays etc.) All three services are free to use. WAAS is from the US, and EGNOS in Europe. MSAS signals originate from Japan.

  12. This isn’t about Bad Elf but I have run into a strange situation with my iPad (wi-fi only) and Magellan Roadmate. I use a Dual Electronics XGPS150A external GPS unit with my ipad via Bluetooth. This has worked well until yesterday, in the middle of a trip, the map went from full screen to a credit card size display. All other functions of the iPad are full screen but the Roadmap is small. Any idea what could cause this in the middle of a trip?

    1. Joe,

      I am mystified by this, as I am sure you are as well. Odds are this is not a GPS hardware issue. Here is how I’d trouble shoot your problem:

      1. Try the “open” gesture to see if you can get the display back to normal.
      2. Double tap the display, again to see if it will return to “full” size.
      3. See if a setting changed in the Magellan Roadmate (maybe from iPad mode to iPhone mode).
      4. Perform “Hard Reset” on the iPad: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time until the Apple logo appears. Has Magellan returned to full size?
      5. Totally uninstall Magellan Roadmate, do another “Hard Reset”, then reinstall Roadmate again.
      6. If all else fails, in a final act of desperation, contact either Magellan or Dual (maybe both??) for support.

      Sorry that I couldn’t be more help?


  13. Hello, I have the iPad Air 2 Wifi and I like the idea of the Bad Elf. I did try using my iPhone 6 as a hotspot while using Waze and noticed a message of no GPS. Also, it did track me on the roads and freeways but it was slow – not “real time”. Plus it showed me on the other side of the freeway but going the correct direction. The only problem I see using the Bad Elf is if the iPad battery needs charging since it uses the same port. Is there a “Y” adapter and would that work – using the Bad Elf and charging the iPad at the same time?

    1. Alex,

      The Bad Elf has a “mini” port on one side that allows you to charge the iPad while the Bad Elf is installed and working. The “Elf” came with the cable, so all you need to purchase is the charger to plug into a cigarette lighter socket in your car. The chargers are cheap, – I think I paid under $10 for mine.

      If you have any other questions, please let me know.


    1. According to Hema, their Australian maps will work with Wi-Fi only IPADS and Bad Elf Devices.

      I apologize for the length of time it took to get your response.

      Best Wishes,


  14. Hi Larry, great article. I am a cyclist and would love to use my iPad for turn by turn navigation when touring. Apart from battery life issues, do you foresee any other reason why your solution would not work for me? What do you suggest?

    1. Roy,
      First, I apologize for the length of time for this response…., I have been buried in projects. Now, to answer you question: The “Bad Elf” is a good solution. As you are a cyclist, you might find a map program with both “driving” and “walking” instruction usable.

      Best Wishes,

  15. Thanks for a great article…just what I was looking for. Hard to believe you put in that kind of effort. Plan to use the system for flying….any comments?
    Merry Christmas.

    1. Delano,

      Glad you liked the article. I wrote the article several years ago, and with the exception of some map updates, am still using the same setup and hardware. As for flying, the only thing I “pilot” is a 13 year old, and much loved, sports car.

      Best wishes and Merry Christmas to you and your family.


  16. I was going to use the XGPS 150A with the MotionX app which worked well a few years ago. But MotionX has discontinued their app due to competition from the other services. I need a real time map on Google maps or other map app for my iPad Air when I travel in my truck. Comments here said the Google maps won’t hook up.

    Also, would you go with the XGPS 150 or one of the Bad Elf units? And, which map app would you use that is most clear and accurate for the iPad? Thanks

    1. I have been using Co-Pilot Live for several years now. On my iPad, its fast, accurate, provides voice turn-by-turn directions, and updates are free. I think I paid $20 for it from the App Store. I haven’t tried Google Maps as Co-Pilot works perfectly for my needs. That being said, it would be worth a try, and the software is free.


  17. Great article and very informative, as are your responses to others’ questions. We recently took our iPad 2 off our cellular data plan. It has Co-Pilot on it which we rely on when we go RVing. Even though SIM card is not activated, will we still get GPS if using wifi via a mobile hotspot as we travel?

    1. JudyR,

      iPad2’s on a cell plane had a GPS chip in them. That being the case Co-Pilot should work, but……I would test that theory before depending on it to work.


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