GPS Q & A

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NigelP
surf god
surf god
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 14:35
Location: North of Bristol

GPS Q & A

Post by NigelP » Mon Jun 25, 2007 18:27

A number of users have asked about GPS and GPS files recently. This posting is in response to these questions.

Nomads are using a GPS for a number of different purposes. In windsurfing the GPS is being used to record maximum speeds. The GPS is also being used by the biking crew, to either record the day’s ride (and capture all the stats.) and/or as a route to navigate by.

Firstly, a warning from personal experience. If you have a high speed fall on water then the pressure is sufficient to break through the 1m waterproof seal on the Garmin GPSs. However, Garmin will replace the unit if it is still under guarantee.

Secondly, if you want to make full use of your GPS, then you will need a software package for your PC. Most Nomads are using Fugawi, although a small number are using Memory Map, Tracklogs and Garmin’s own package. All of these –except Garmin – will display your route on an Ordnance Survey map and some will combine this with aerial photographs and 3D effects. You can also link into Google earth. The PC packages will provide stats on height climbed/descended, distance traveled, average speed etc.

The file transfer from/to the GPS is sent in three different file types: 1) Waypoints are individual locations. 2) Routes are Waypoints linked together to provide a route, which you can follow. 3) Tracks are a record of where you have been, downloaded from the GPS. (You can set up a GPS to record points at set time intervals). Each of these functions has its own file type.

However, just to confuse things a little, you can either navigate using a route file or using the ‘track back’ function with track files.

All the main packages use their own proprietary file formats. So, for example, you can’t import a Fugawi file into Memory Map (or vice versa).

Fortunately there are a couple of file conversion programmes, which will allow you to download a Fugawi file from this forum and import it into Tracklogs or Memory Map (or vice versa).

If there are 500 points or less on the track/route then the simplest way is to download ‘GPS Utility’ (Freeware) from www.gpsu.co.uk

If a Fugawi file is too large, then it is relatively straightforward for the person posting the file to split it into smaller parts. Memory Map looks less user friendly. GPS Utility can convert larger files if anyone is kind enough to pay the license fee.

To convert a Fugawi track file or Fugawi waypoints file into Memory Map or another format using GPSU:

Open the Fugawi track file or waypoint files using File, Open

Then save using File, save as, select file type.

Choose GPX format for Memory Map.
Tracklogs and Garmin have their own file formats.

Finally, import the file into your PC programme

An alternative option is GPS Babel and some people (other than me!) have had good results. This is probably because GPS Babel only claims to support Fugawi Waypoint files.

The on line conversion tool can be found at http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/gpsbabel/ or for the original programme, which you can download (freeware), go to http://www.gpsbabel.org/index.html .

Postscript: if you want to navigate a route, then you have two options; track back (using an existing track file captured by the GPS) or create a Route. Although track back is easier, inputting the route has a number of advantages: if the track crossed back on itself, the GPS will not send you off on the wrong 'leg', waypoints can be chosen where there is a junction - instead of being at set time intervals and finally, you can set up your GPS to signpost the new direction just before you reach the waypoint.

Routes can be input manually in most mapping programmes. I have had difficulty converting a track file into a route file, although this can be achieved using Tracklogs or by saving and re-loading the file as a CSV file. GPS Babel also claims to offer this functionality (but I have not used it)

The website http://www.sharemyroutes.com offers a file conversion facility, although you will need to join (free) and the patience of a Saint.


Happy navigating
Windsurfers do it standing at the bar

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