As a wrap-up to the “Google Earth Plus features for free” series, I’ll briefly comment on the three paid (albeit cheap) options for doing real-time GPS tracking with the free version of Google Earth.
I mentioned GPSGate in an earlier post – it converts a Garmin USB connection to an NMEA equivalent, and also splits a single NMEA connection into multiple serial connections, so that more than one program can receive data from your GPS at the same time. If you buy the Express edition of GPSGate (only two connections) for $9.95, or the Standard edition (unlimited connections) for $29.95, you can also download and install a free plug-in that lets you do real-time GPS tracking with Google Earth. Haven’t tried it, so can’t really comment on it, but from the screenshots and description it looks pretty good.
EarthTracker will run for a few minutes, then timeout; you then have to re-start it. Registration for $10 stops the timeouts. The feature set looks pretty decent: supports NMEA and Garmin USB, fleet tracking then Supports Garmin USB connection, fleet tracking, comes with a data converter. But I was unable to get it to work correctly; with an NMEA connection, Google Earth opens and displays a position marker briefly before shutting down spontaneously; I suspect that one of the Google Earth API revisions broke it. And the Garmin USB connection didn’t work at all. But give it a shot – it might work for you. Comes with a PDF manual.
GETrax has a 30-day free trial period, then requires $9.95 registration. Comes with a wide-variety of features, including APRS support, sending data to Google Maps, file conversion, etc., and worked fine on my system. Comes with a decent help file as well. Don’t know that I’d choose it over EarthBridge, but at least worth checking out in 30-day demo mode. DestinSharks has a review of this program, along with reviews of GooPs, EarthBridge, and Google Earth Plus.