Making Tracks with Garmin Receivers

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by R-dubb, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

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    Sounds easy. Read a couple of pages in the book and go at it. Well sorta like that. The Garmin manuals are fairly simple, but woefully incomplete. In order for a track to be transferable from one Garmin receiver to another it must be of a compatible size and configuration.

    There are two types of Garmin tracks: Active Tracks and Saved Tracks. The GPSMAP series of receivers all include a provision to save tracks from the active log and also to load saved tracks from a computer. The active memory varies between 3000 and 10,000 points and includes time and altitude stamps in the recording. Frequency of track points can be set to a given time or distance interval. More about that later. When the GPS is turned off or looses reception, the track sequence is closed and a new one started. So when you download the Active log to a computer it begins a new track at each break. The breaks are not visible from within the unit itself.

    Within the GPS, the Active Log may be used to save a track. When the entire Active Log is saved it will be condensed to fit the maximum size of a Saved Track. This size is either 500 or 700 points, by model. Be aware that when a track is saved, the time, speed and altitude stamps are lost. This and the size limit is a big drawback of sharing saved tracks. The advantage is that Saved Tracks of no more than 500 points are more or less universal and can be read by almost any receiver. Streetpilot and Quest receivers do not use Saved Tracks. They can load and use saved tracks from a computer, but only to the Active Log. To save a named track to these receivers, the tracks must be renamed to: "ACTIVE LOG, ACTIVE LOG 001, ACTIVE LOG 002, etc". The Active Log is treated as a sequence of tracks which can not be handled individually. New logs are simply appended to old ones until the memory runs out.

    I've found the very best way to share tracks from a GPSMAP type unit is to share both the Active Log and to save condensed tracks at a 500 point maximum. This ensures that all receivers will be able to use your logs with a minimum of hassle.

    Here's how you do it..........easy as pie.

    1. Clear the active log. Go to the "Tracks" page from the main menu on your GPS. By default Garmin units roll over the active log and record continuously. The unit replaces the oldest data with current points. This is fine, but you'll want to make sure the tracking feature is turned on and clear what's already in the log at the starting point of your ride. If you began recording prior to the intended starting point its OK, but you will then need to edit either when you save it or on your computer after it is downloaded. Best to start fresh at the trail-head.

    2. Set the record method. Click "Setup" from the Tracks page. By default the unit uses "Auto" with normal intervals. Either distance or time intervals can be selected. If you want to save tracks and clear the active log at the end of every day, then this setting should work fine. The advantage of "Auto" is that it will use more points when speeds are low with numerous changes of direction, and less points when your moving fast and straight. As an alternative, I like to use time intervals and ration the Active Log over the entire trip duration. Selected interval then depends on the length of the trip and the capacity of your track log. For a quick half day outing on rough trails, four hours will fit into 1000 points at 15 second intervals. Either method works well. I don't recommend distance since it won't work well when your changing direction frequently.

    3. Adding features and waypoints. I like to mark features along the way. This is very helpful in understanding where gas can be found, nice views or lunch spots, hazards, hard to find turns, etc. To do this on most Garmin units, you just press and hold down the "Enter/Mark" key for one second. When you do this the unit pop up a screen with name and symbol information. I don't like to take time for this on the trail. I can usually remember what a mark was after seeing the location on the map at home. So I ignore that screen. It numbers the waypoints in sequence and goes away even if you don't press OK. Then at home I edit the names form the computer, keeping them in numerical order for ease of following them in the list.

    4. Editing Tracks within the GPS. If you forget to clear the log before starting the day, recovery is not so hard. You can save just the part of the log that includes your intended ride. Click save, then when prompted, click "no" when asked if you want to save the entire track. The unit will prompt you to find the beginning and ending point on the map. I try not to do this because its slow and not so easy with bad eyes. After you save a track, it can not be edited from within the GPS. You can also use this method if you miscalculate or forget to set an appropriate resolution and the Active Log fills too fast. Just isolate sections of the ride. Save them each to their own Track. Then clear the memory.

    5. Editing Tracks on the computer. When you get home, connect the GPS and upload your newly recorded tracks into the computer using Mapsource. If your tracks overlap, don't start and stop in the right place, or contain errant data points you can edit them in Mapsource. Just go to the Tracks tab, right click one of the tracks and "show selected track on map". Then using the arrow pointer right click the track point at the beginning or end of your route that you wish to delete. Click "track properties". This will open an edit window. From there, you can delete any points that don't belong in your route. Just start with the point you picked on the map. Highlight (to the beginning or end) the points you wish to erase and hit the delete key.

    You can also edit the Active Logs to combine tracks that have become separated by interruptions to the signal. By cutting an entire section and pasting it into another section the fragment disappears. This effort cleans-up a lot of weird stuff and can make the tracks much easier to use. By the way, all of this stuff applies to tracks you download from here and still need cleaning.

    After doing this I edit or insert waypoints with the flag button similarly to what is described in the section above. Keeping them in sequential order with a name that starts with number 1 is the easiest to follow. Now is also a good time to delete waypoints from other rides that may have been in memory on the GPS. I also generally delete any routes or map titles that may have uploaded in the process. These are of very limited use for sharing and may not work from a GPX file anyhow.

    6. Saving the file from Mapsource. After editing the file, it needs to be saved and named in the GPX format. Pick "Save As" from the file menu. Then in "File Type" pick .GPX from the drop down list. I suggest naming the file by starting location. You can also include the length and say loop in the name if you want to. Now your file is ready to attach to an ADVrider post from within the forum region. You must be using Mapsource 6.0 or above to create or open .gpx files. If you don't have this version you should get a free upgrade: Mapsource 6.xx

    That's about it. Go out and "Make some Tracks!"
    #1
  2. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    Thanks R-dubb. I was trying to figure out how to get .gpx files to work with my older version of Mapsource and then found point #6. A quick download from http://www.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=209 and I was in business.

    Thanks!

    Dave
    #2
  3. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    R-dubb

    The cheaper units only have 250 tracks points per saved track. We have had several problems on D37 Dual Sport rides with the promoter saving 500 points per track then downloading them to riders. They get out half way on the track and it quits. On this forum riders can down load the 500 point tracks and split them if necessary but they should know what they need.
    #3
  4. mars

    mars Starbucks anyone?

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    i have a Garmin V and will be leaving on a long trip in a few weeks. i would like to save the track logs for each day during the trip. is there any way to off load them from the gps without taking a laptop computer?
    #4
  5. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

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    Mars,

    You have to download with a computer. You could take a copy of EasyGPS on a memory stick. Then just use a cafe computer to download the tracks onto the stick. You might need to also take a serial to USB cable so that you can plug the GPS V into a USB port rather the the nearly extinct serial method. Try it before you go!

    -dubb
    #5
  6. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    Yep, the GPS V will reduce the track to 250 points if you save it.
    Also, if you have an old III+, when you upload tracks it will stick them all in the active log as one big track (no provision to save tracks other than the active log). The III+ can still be useful like this. I just used to turn off the tracking so I didn't overwrite my uploaded track. Downside is you can't record a new track while riding then.
    R-dubb, this is probably the best explanation of Garmin tracking I've seen.:thumb
    #6
  7. mars

    mars Starbucks anyone?

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    when it reduces the track to 250 points is that the first 250? i might just set it to time and record less than 250 per day and save them.
    #7
  8. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    No, it removes some of the points so it won't follow bends as accurately. The start and end points will be the same.
    #8
  9. Fin

    Fin Kahoon's my daddy!

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    Hey R-dubb

    I just wanted to say thanks for your above explanation. I've been playing with my new 276 for a month or so and was still having trouble getting my head around so many aspects of what it can do for me. Your pointers on tracks has made more sense to me than the manual and all the googling I've done since I bought the dam thing. The only problem is that it's January here in Toronto, it's cold and I have to wait til spring to get on the bike and play. I'm dying here!

    Cheers

    Fin
    #9
  10. Nitzo

    Nitzo Long timer

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    One question. I'm not given the choice of picking a .GPX file from the "save as" drop down menu. I'm using Mapsource 6.3

    Thanks
    #10
  11. Nitzo

    Nitzo Long timer

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    I got my question answered in another Thread. I downloaded the current version of Mapsource (v6.9.1).

    Thanks
    #11
  12. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

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    What he said (except Streetpilot III, and UK not Toronto and therefore wet but rideable, not cold). SPIII was a cheapie from e-bay as a try-out, and I'm completely hooked.
    #12
  13. summerinmaine

    summerinmaine Hells Atheists MC

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    I'm trying to save the active tracks from the SCORE Baja 500 site (8K-10K points per track) into a form that I can load onto my GPSMAP 176C with the LB Baja map and the Baja500 waypoints, but having no luck. I've tried filtering the track down to 1000 points, tried saving the filtered version as a .gpx file (which just locked up MapSource), and any number of other tricks but no luck so far. I thought I might be able to save the tracks as a route, but that's not working either.

    I've only been playing with this for a little while, so it's not yet intuitive. Anyone have any suggestions?

    TIA
    #13
  14. MookieBlaylock

    MookieBlaylock Long timer

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    wow 8k points per track. When i was using a gps v that allowed only 250 points per track i would go in manually on mapsource, goto properties and use the first 250 points, save that as a track then go on to the next 250 and repeat unril done. With 8k points per i dunno, Helpful hu?
    #14
  15. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

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    This should be no problem. Of course the total size can not exceed 10,000 points. First clear the active log in your unit. Rename the original track in Mapsource to "ACTIVE LOG" (yes, all caps). Then, you should be able to load it with a track transfer from Mapsource. You can load multiple tracks to the active log if they are named "ACTIVE LOG" then "ACTIVE LOG 001" and so on. For your unit a filtered log with a name may not exceed 500 points.

    Get it??

    -dubb
    #15
  16. summerinmaine

    summerinmaine Hells Atheists MC

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    I think so. Larry provided three .gdb files that cover the course in thirds, so I would need to save three "active tracks" each limited to 10K points (each file is less than that). It seems from my prior fiddling that MapSource will only accept one of these tracks at a time, so I assume I'll have to handle each one separately. Any trick in doing a track transfer, or is it just a data transfer of a selected track?

    And if I understand the process, I can load the track(s) to the unit's internal memory, and it won't wipe out the maps I have loaded onto the data card. As I understand it, I can only display one of those active tracks at a time on the unit (if so, no big deal).

    And by filtered log, you mean a "saved track" right?

    Thanks for all your help!
    #16
  17. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

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    Yes, a filtered log of 500 points or less with any eight (maybe more) charater name will go to saved tracks.

    You can have more than one Active Log load as long as the total is less than 10,000. As I mentioned, if there are three active logs you want to load at the same time. Put them into a single mapsource file and name them "ACTIVE LOG"; "ACTIVE LOG 001" &"ACTIVE LOG 002" The names must be exactly that and sequencial.

    Let me know how it works. :D
    #17
  18. summerinmaine

    summerinmaine Hells Atheists MC

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    Thanks, I will try it tonight. But it sounds like, if the total points in the active log is limited to 10K, that I will need to filter the three log files (10K, 8.5K and 8K IIRC). I'm pretty sure that reducing it to 35% won't significantly alter the appearance of the track on the unit screen (it will show up on the screen, won't it? If not, then I'm just wasting my time (and yours :lol3 )).
    #18
  19. summerinmaine

    summerinmaine Hells Atheists MC

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    For some reason, MapSource will only allow me to open one track file at a time. Each time I have one loaded, and try to open the next one, the first one disappears, both off the screen and off the track tab list.

    I've tried saving them as different names, and stitching them together, but nothing seems to work.

    Obviously I'm missing something.

    I've now tried filtering the tracks down to 3K points each, and save them. But the filtering doesn't alter the file, as when I call it back up, it's still full size. I've also tried saving them as .gpx files, but when I try to open them, MapSource freezes again. Yet when I open other .gpx files, downloaded from various sources, they open just fine and include multiple tracks, both active and saved, and waypoints.

    Something strange goin' on around here. :lol3
    #19
  20. Thagua

    Thagua Let's go adventuring...

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    Hi Dubb... my Street Pilot III + does not have a save feature for my tracks and also I can't set the track log for time... is there a way to get this GPS to work saving tracks for a whole day work?... I use it to lay down tracks for mapping companies in off road terrain...
    Many thanks for your clear explanations
    Roberto

    You can have more than one Active Log load as long as the total is less than 10,000. As I mentioned, if there are three active logs you want to load at the same time. Put them into a single mapsource file and name them "ACTIVE LOG"; "ACTIVE LOG 001" &"ACTIVE LOG 002" The names must be exactly that and sequencial.

    Let me know how it works. :D[/QUOTE]
    #20