Using a Garmin Nuvi as an ADV GPS

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by trailer Rails, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

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    It is common knowledge that you can't load tracks onto a Nuvi.

    That is not true.

    I have tried a couple different GPS options and I am pretty happy with the Nuvi for ADV style riding for a couple reasons. Mainly because it is cheap, $20 will buy a Nuvi off of Craigslist. On longer trips I carry a spare unit in case I smash one off of a tree or it gets stolen.

    Many people suggest using a phone but I found the downside of that, if it falls off the bike and disappears in an area of no cell service, the phone is gone and you are out $700 for a new one (ask me how I know about that. :/ ). Then you have no communication method once back in cell range. If you rarely venture down a bumpy road or ride in foul weather, a phone might be ok.

    How to use a Nuvi:

    1: Buy any Nuvi that has a memory card slot (most, if not all have that). $20-30 will buy a GPS from Craigslist.

    2: Create or download a GPX track (not a route), a track is like a highlighted route on the map, you can not interact with it. You ride and keep your icon on the track, if you stray from the track, it does not route you back. If I stray too far from the track, I drop a pin on the track where I want to return to it and let the GPS route me back. Dropping a pin and doing different routing will not effect the track that was already loaded. I am getting ahead of myself here.

    3: Now the GPX file is on your computer, what to do with it? Install "Image from GPX" on the computer. http://www.javawa.nl/imgfromgpx_en.html
    Use that program to make the GPX into a file named GMAPSUPP.IMG (a separate box needs to be checked on the screen).

    4: Next take a memory card and create a folder named Garmin on it. Put the GMAPSUPP.IMG file in that folder.

    5: Insert the memory card in the GPS and follow the line. You can experiment with different line colors that work best for you, I prefer lime green. Different colors disappear at different zoom levels on the Nuvi. Green seems to stick around the longest.

    Weatherproofing the Nuvi: clear silicone caulking is mandatory around the edges of the screen and in the ports on the front. Use tape to keep from getting excess on the screen. The memory card slot does not need to be sealed unless it is going to rain real hard. Water will get in and interrupt the connection between the memory card and the GPS. Taking the card out and drying it off will fix that. Some duct tape over the slot will make it waterproof enough.

    One downside is points of interest are difficult to mark in a track. Maybe someone has a different solution but I actually draw a small circle track around the point of interest and label that track as to what that is. Like a gas station. My Nuvis are not real reliable in knowing where every gas station is located. I use my phone for that and then input the address in the Nuvi.

    I would like to credit the folks from this thread a year ago when I first started exparmenting with the Nuvi. http://advrider.com/index.php?threa...-tracks-on-a-nuvi-1350.1112949/#post-28286454
    I wanted to create a more generic Nuvi thread that would be easier for people to search for.
    Since that time, I have done several long trips, including a 2000 mile ride where it rained almost the whole time. I also did a 4000 mile ride with the wife (who has the same setup as myself) that was largely off road and very dusty.
    #1
  2. NorthernTraveler

    NorthernTraveler Long time Adventurer

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    If you have an older Nuvi and want free updated maps, try the maps here -
    https://www.openmapchest.org/

    Some can be loaded on your computer also, some cannot. Some are route-able, some are not.
    #2
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  3. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    I don't have JaVaWa's Image from GPX utility, but I've used several of his other utilities and the guy's a genius. I prefer his apps to Garmin's apps by a long shot.

    After you put the image file into the Garmin folder and insert it, does the track automatically become visible? Or do you have to go into the Nuvi options to select it somehow?

    Also, you don't mention this, but does the app let you put several tracks into the image file so they'll all show up?
    #3
  4. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

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    Thank you, I think one of mine has some older maps on it.
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  5. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

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    Yes, after the memory card is inserted, the track is immediately visible, no need to turn it on or select any files.

    Yes, you can have multiple tracks in one image file, such as the entire Kentucky Adventure Trail, each track can be a different color and have a different name. If fuel is an issue, I will put info in the track name, such as distance to next fuel stop.

    Also, when making a track, make sure to delete all routes from the GPX file, when loaded into the image file, they will show up as a straight line from the start to finish.

    Another note, I am not saying this is the best GPS setup for ADV riding, after owning other more expensive GPS units and being confused by all the features, this has helped me get my feet wet in the world of GPS, it works well and is cheap. I frequently see other people with very expensive units and they have no idea how to use it (I was one of them).
    #5
  6. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    there is a slew of waterproof phones for $30 on eBay. no need to every bit a $700 phone, or $700 gps for that matter.

    can you record tracks on the nuvi ?
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  7. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

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    Yes, the Nuvi records tracks and they can be downloaded back to the computer through Basecamp. I don't know what other GPS units record but after 3 days of riding, it seems to start overwriting the tracks. There is probably a true mileage measurement but I don't know it.

    I am not familiar with the $30 waterproof phone option. I will look into it. Maybe you can start a thread on how to make that work. I enjoy seeing options that do not involve cubic amounts of money.
    #7
  8. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

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    :fpalm

    Bruce
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  9. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    that's quote worthy all by itself. i don't wanna derail your thread with more phone junk, I'll PM you some stuff instead.

    the nuvi series always surprise me. thanks for the info
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  10. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

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    I don't want to derail the topic but do I need multiple SIM cards? Do I need to open additional lines of service with my carrier? Do different models have different wifi receivers? Are there recommendations? Etc
    #10
  11. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    You can leave your sim card in your current phone, and use the others offline (offline meaning no data charges, no cellular usage, etc). No additional lines are needed.

    Now, if you wanted to use your iPhone (Verizon) sim in your Samsung (att or T-Mobile) device, you may need:
    1a different SIZE sim
    2a different setup in your internet settings
    3 an unlock cod, if you use subsidized devices that are locked to their carrier

    Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi, some of the newer devices have higher speeds because of the newer hardware, buy you can transfer files between any of them the same. in using for our five year old devices and sharing files between them and brand new devices without issue, other than a slower transfer rate.

    The gps receivers should be glonass if it's newer than the last five years, I believe. I would recommend the Samsung s5 active for its big screen, replaceable battery, ACD rugged design. It's the best that ticks the boxes we talked about, but it's more than i suggested earlier at $100-200. For a$30 device, the casio c811 or Samsung rugby pro are smaller, slower, but still very tough.
    #11
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  12. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

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    Are there any units that remain waterproof when charging?
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  13. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Someday.
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  14. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

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  15. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    there are very few that do. the casio has external charging points, but if it has a replaceable battery, i'll just carry 3-4 extra batteries and leave it sealed during rain.
    #15
  16. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    ohgood romises that any cheap phone will work. Then when you try it yourself or read more, you find that you need a better display and decent battery life and a charging system that will keep up with battery use and it's a good idea for to have a "rugged" phone and more gotchas until the original promise, any cheap phone will work, is barely true.

    But that doesn't stop ohgood from turning every question about dedicated GPSs into a phone thread.

    #16
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  17. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

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    That is the conclusion I came to.

    The Nuvi checks the boxes I need because it is cheap, if I leave it on the bike and it gets stolen, no big deal. If I crash into a tree and destroy it (frequent occurrence for me), no big deal. They are available on any Craig's list, anywhere in the country. People are dumping them, someday that may come to an end. The Nuvi has proven to be mostly water proof, I have had issues with the memory card slot but simply pulling the card and drying it off repaired it. I rode the KAT in a monsoon. Deep water crossings, mud holes, and lots of rain. Not many phones offer a display the size of a Nuvi. The Nuvi is not great in direct sunlight but that might be because all of my screens are scratched and beat up. The Nuvi also works with gloves on but no gloves (using a fingernail) will give more accurate results.

    The phone sounds like a decent option.
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  18. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    You mentioned earlier that:
    Could be different for different models. I've recorded longer than 3 days.

    The first image is 2,100 miles in 8 days. I got the entire trip off the nuvi 1300 after getting home.

    Longtrack1.jpg


    The second image is 5,100 miles in 15 days of a longer trip. The nuvi 1300 was deleting the earliest portions of the trip.

    Longtrack2.jpg

    These images are from screenshots of GpsPrune. This nuvi has CNNA 48 states in memory plus CNNA with Canada in the microSD slot. I suspect that it's not days that determine the nuvi 1300 recording capacity, but the 41,800 recorded points. Other nuvis from other eras may be different.
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  19. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    you CAN use a Nuvi.... i started out using the Nuvi i already used in the car. the power cable kept coming dislodged and had to be siliconed on. it was not waterproof. it washed out in direct sunlight. next!

    you CAN use a smartphone... i switched to using my iphone. the screen was small. screen was not touch-sensitive with gloves on. gps apps were clunky. it was not waterproof. it washed out in direct sunlight. next!

    you WANT to use a motorcycle gps... i bought Zumo 660lm in the flea market for $250. none of the above issues. works a charm. done!
    #19
  20. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    There are lots of different options out there and lots of people doing different kinds of riding.

    I use a Montana now. For me that's a great solution. For you the Zumo seems to be a great solution.

    That doesn't mean everyone needs to use what works for me or what works for you. My nuvi worked well for years. Not everyone needs a Montana or Zumo (or an iPhone).
    #20