complete noob with GPS so many questions

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by dirt hokie, May 26, 2020.

  1. dirt hokie

    dirt hokie Long timer

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    back ground
    just got a Garmin GPSMAP78s
    going to do the western portion of the TAT
    first time using a modern GPS ( i like paper and will take paper with me )
    1. what maps should i get, it just came with basic no detail map
    I need to see all the regular street stuff, and also dirt roads and trails ( lower 48 )
    how do i know beforehand.... Does it have to come from GARMIN?
    2. what is the difference between a track and a route
    3. If I download the TAT routes from the TAT website, is it automatically compatible with what ever maps I installed on my GPS?
    4. Do i have to have a mapping program on my PC to receive and install tracks, routes, maps onto my GPS.
    5. If i install a better map on my gps, does it automatically use that one

    As you can see, I don't know crap.....hows this shit work
    #1
  2. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    1. IDK GPSMAP78s, but I was going to do large sections of the TAT with a Garmin Montana with City Navigator plus Open Street Maps. CNNA is $72 with Canada, There used to be a cheaper one with just 48 states. https://www.gpscity.com/garmin-city-navigator-north-america-card . (EDIT: that's the price for an SD card version. May be cheaper as download. Download has other advantages.) Open Street Maps is free and works with Garmin if you get them here: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/

    You can get topo maps such as Garmin 24k topo or Garmin 100k topo. The 24k supports routing if you ask the GPS to find gas for you, the 100k does not support routing. You could use 100ktopo plus OSM to get that routing.

    There are also free topo maps other places, but you'll need a Garmin program on your computer to install them on your GPS.

    2. A track is like a picture of a set of points that are connected. The picture doesn't change if you wander off course; you just go away from the line. A route is also a set of points, but the GPS tries to get you to ride over each point in the set. With a route, if your GPS is set to avoid freeways or toll roads, then the GPS will modify the line to "help" you get to the points while adhering to your avoidance preferences.

    So they're both sets of points, but the track never changes if you wander off course. The route does change to get you back on course from wherever you wander, but it's also likely to make changes you don't want when you're riding roads that may not connect on the map.

    3. TAT info from either Sam or GPSKevin is in tracks in GPX format. That is compatible with every GPS that I know of but there may be an odd one out there.

    4. I install maps and tracks without any special program on my PC; I just use the computer's file manager. I do, however, like to have a program on my PC to view tracks of where I've been and tracks I plan to ride. I use QMapShack and GpsPrune most. They work on Linux which is my OS. I don't use Basecamp although I like its capabilities. This choice means I cannot install a lot of free maps from sites like GPSFileDepot. (EDIT: Installing a Garmin map download requires a Garmin program on a Windows or Apple computer. Installing OSM does not.)

    5. IDK your device, but I've had a couple Garmins and they let me choose a map from a list of the maps it finds on the GPS. The Basemap must stay there to orient the others. I switch between CNNA and OSM depending on circumstances, but mostly use CNNA because it's better where I ride.
    #2
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  3. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    1 Google "free Garmin maps" and you'll find several sources. this one is good
    http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl

    2 track = someone recorded it, and it's lots of points. aka "gold"
    route = someone's computer program used mapping data and THINKS THERE MIGHT BE ROADS where it routed you, but it may only give you 4-5 waypoints and expect your GPS to figure out the rest, and recalculate when you least expect it.
    aka "garbage, untrustworthy devil lies, etc"

    3 tracks don't care about which map you're using. that's why they're golden. routes will vary wildly between maps used, that's why they're garbage.

    4 lol yes, this is ancient Garmin technology in your hand, that requires ancient Garmin software called "basecamp" that's infuriating to use once you've figured out all its stupid quirks. years later you'll be doing everything on a smartphone and wonder why you wasted so many hours trying to make basecamp work on the desktop, and with your plugged in gps unit... when there are such better MODERN ways of plotting tracks and routes.

    5 no... the Garmin units don't know what is better, or more appropriate, for your current terrain. you have to select each map to use, and if your using the devil's lies(routes) , be ready for it to go haywire.

    6 you'll know you want a better solution after about 4-5 weekends are the computer googling how to do stuff on it. it will be too late then. ;-)
    #3
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  4. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    Why do you use both CNNA and OSM?

    I have always considered OSM kind of inferior to CNNA, but it makes up for that by being free. I guess there may be some locations where users have contributed tracks that aren't in CNNA?
    #4
  5. dirt hokie

    dirt hokie Long timer

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    thanks for the replies
    let me ask this a different way
    1. How does someone determine which Garmin map product has the info they want/ need prior to spending $ on it.
    2. It seems like you need software on your PC to download a map from Garmin and then get it installed on the GPS? Cant you download directly to the GPS?
    3. Same question with downloaded tracks or routes.

    I have tried to find tutorials in the internet, but none i can find start from the absolute beginning and walk you throw step by step....Garmin website is garbage when it comes to help.
    #5
  6. flamingm0e

    flamingm0e Long timer

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    Welcome to Garmin, where you are tied to a computer.
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  7. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    As noted above IMHO the most useful Garmin map products are City Navigator and Topo 100 and/Topo 24k in that order.

    If you buy the download version, you probably do need to have Garmin Basecamp/MapInstall to prepare and transfer the maps to the Garmin gps deivice.
    (I have a Garmin Montana. And it is the only model I am very familiar with.)

    If you buy the SD card version, I don't think you need Basecamp. You can just plug the card into the GPS device. But you can't see the maps on your computer unless you have the gps device connected to you computer.

    If you already have tracks and routes, you do not need Basecamp to transfer them to the GPS device. You can just a file transfer program like Windows Explorer to do move them.

    For many of us Basecamp is a good trip planning and track/route/waypoint management software tool. I can't imagine planning any kind of complex trip on a gps screen.
    I use it almost daily for planning rides. Seeing maps and tracks on a large screen works for me.
    (disclaimer: I actually use the program Mapsource for creating new tracks. Mapsource was the predecessor to Basecamp.)

    But as I am sure you will quickly hear, some people absolutely hate it.
    #7
  8. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    1 you'll have to specify your wants/needs, and ask other people to help determine which map to BUY from Garmin. otherwise, you can use the Osm map database to pull one and try it out, or use it forever. no time limits, no restrictions about using it on either the GPS OR the desktop, etc

    2 yes and no. if the map is tiny, out you buy JUST the sdcard, you can drag/drop it onto your stand alone GPS, it pop it into the sdcard slot. the problem is..... route planning on Garmin GPS units is terrible. so you'll want to do your planning on a desktop/laptop, and subsequently you'll have to use basecamp or BETTER mapping software.... which means the sdcard purchase won't work there.

    3 gpx files (tracks or routes or waypoints) are just files. you can drag and drop them just love any other file, but yes, because the Garmin can't do Web browsing or download tracks on its own (in 2020 LOL!) , you'll have to plug into a computer to do that process also.

    4 if you think the website is garbage, wait till you start trying to use basecamp lol
    #8
  9. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    Sounds like some knowledge here. I have a Garmin Montana T. I do not have City Navigator and want maps mostly for road riding. Is this routable that would give me directions from say a highway through a city? I don't want to wire this to the bikes battery directly. Can I just run this off of a 12v lighter plug or via a USB off the trickle charge USB connection? Is there any reason I should get a basic car/motorcycle GPS if I have the Montana? Thanks

    As you probably know Garmin was a victim of a ransom attack for 10 million on Thursday. Today I read they are gradually opening back up their services after having everything down in the meantime.
    #9
  10. RoninRider

    RoninRider Nippon

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    I also have a Montana 680T and would like to know if this can hold the entire TAT track. I used a 60CSx in the past and it did not work well after a few days due to memory capacity and routing issues.
    #10
  11. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    I loaded all of Sam's tracks from NC to CO in my 650 a few years ago. I do not know the remaining capacity but the 650 worked very well. I did that portion in my truck in early spring and ran the 650 on the dash.
    #11
  12. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I am virtually positive that you could load all of the TAT tracks onto your Montana. And even if you couldn't fit them onto Internal Storage, you could put them on an SD card in the Garmin\GPX folder.
    I vaguely remember that Internal Storage is limited on the 68x models due to the topo maps.


    I don't know what you mean by "Is this routable...". If you don't want to buy CN, you can try OSM maps. They are free and available from a couple of sources. I don't use them and don't know too much about them.
    I understand they are good in some places and not so good in others. Should be worth a try.

    After trying a few different options I have found that having my Montana direct-wired (unswitched) to the battery works best for me mainly because I do not have to wait for it to power up again after every stop.
    But others prefer switched power. The main problem with the direct connection is that you have to remove the Montana from the bike or disconnect it from the battery after each day of riding.
    The Montana continues to draw power from the 12v input even when off and will run down your mc battery.

    I use the Montana for navigation in my truck. But lately I have found Google maps on my cell phone much better for street navigation, especially in cities.
    #12
  13. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    I meant to say 600t not 650 t.
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  14. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    By routable I mean that with just the contour maps if you put in a town it will draw a straight line not give you the roads. In any case I don't mind buying the CN as I think it would be worth it. Agree the phone is best in my vehicle but despite many attempts I cannot find the phone readable in most bike uses so was thinking of sticking with the 600 and loading the CN as I read it better on the bike. It will run without charging for me 3-4 hours which in many cases is all I need.
    #14
  15. RoninRider

    RoninRider Nippon

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    According to GPSKevin, the Montana is not routable and he doesn't recommend it. Kevin wrote:

    Garmin Montana (Not recommended anymore) They stopped selling internal maps, so you must buy only Garmin maps in SD card. This then locks out all the other great adventure maps. That's bad.

    [​IMG]
    The Montana can work fine. but it is not my recommendation. I see this unit on my rides a lot and several have failed. They have two problems. First, their cradle and connector seem to fail and second, they seem to hang and need to be reset. Additionally, the touch screen is not very good with gloves on and, as it gets dusty riding, people are often wiping the dust off the screen and then the gps becomes confused. Do not get Topo maps as even the new Topo maps are based on old data and often the routes are not there anymore. Topo maps lead riders to the wrong places too often.
    #15
  16. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    Thanks for this info. Roninrider! Since I no longer need a backcountry GPS very often I now may look at a cheaper automobile GPS that I can plug into my 12V since it doesn't have to be on the bike all the time. Or maybe an updated Garmin as I still get off the road on occasion.
    #16
  17. deserteagle56

    deserteagle56 deserteagle56

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    GPSKevin is totally clueless.

    "Stopped selling internal maps"??? Obviously never heard of the models with the "T" in the model number.

    "Maps on SD card locks out other maps" NOT!

    "Cradle and connector seem to fail"......not my experience nor the rest of the guys in our Search and Rescue unit. Mine has survived several bad crashes and works just fine, thank you!

    "Topo maps lead riders to the wrong places too often"??? Don't know how to even answer that. Outdated as Garmin's Topo maps might be, I would put this on the rider, not the maps. I use several different map sets depending on what I have to do; there is no such thing as a current, up-to-date map set. Make sure you have more than one map set on your unit and compare the data - if you can, check it against a satellite view. But even that won't be a cure-all.....just because a road/trail appears in a satellite view doesn't mean you'll be able to travel it!
    #17
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  18. EmmEff

    EmmEff Long timer

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    That is not what he's saying... you can get route guidance on a Montana, the same way you get it on any of the handhelds. Will it be as "good" (subjectively speaking) for navigating city streets as an automotive GPS? No. Will it work marginally well? Yes.

    BTW, you don't need Garmin CN maps. You can download the free OpenStreetMaps Garmin routable maps and use them with a Montana.
    #18
  19. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    Clarification is good. I think I may consider the Zumo XT as I can use it on the bike or in my truck/car and off-road as well, more robust for highway travel. It has an automotive conversion for 12v so I don't need to wire it to the bike. There is nothing wrong with the 600t and still good for many things.
    #19
  20. RoninRider

    RoninRider Nippon

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    I tried installing open source maps today on the Montana 680T and it didn't take. I didn't know the opinion of GPSKevin. I used Sam's routes from TransAm Trail. When we tried it we had problems with the track capacity of the GPSMap 60CSx. I ended up with this Montana 680T and I am confused if it will work well since it has the track capacity.....but then read it wouldn't be a good choice. I would really like to know if the 680T could contain all the rounds from east to west coast and be reliable. From what ya'll are writing, I think I may try the 680T with a cradle and stick with the Topo maps.
    #20