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 GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails 
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TRA Forum Fixer
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 GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
So after a few posts here and there regarding GPS's, and a few people PM'ing me for GPS info and data, I have created this GPS forum.

There are 3 basic levels of GPS use;
1 - Put a cheap car GPS in a sandwich bag and strap it to your handlebars. This option only really works if you have one that enables track logging. This allows you to record where you have been on the screen. It stops you getting lost, and lets you refind tracks later. The inbuilt maps are useless offroad.

2 - Download an application for your phone to use it's internal GPS. Some phones will come equipped with whereis or other internet based map guidance, this will get expensive fast. There are free java programs like http://www.trekbuddy.net/ that will use the phones internal GPS to guide you through maps that you build yourself and store on the phones memory. You can log tracks as GPX files, and load other users GPX files. You create the maps using a program like http://mobac.sourceforge.net/

3 - Use a real offroad handheld GPS like a Garmin 62. The rest of this thread will cover this approach.

I have a Garmin 62, and while I am very new to this, I have figured a few things out. If you ever want to know anything about GPS stuff in Australia, then head over to http://www.gpsaustralia.net/ . There is a wealth of information there regarding all the different types of GPS's and maps.

The first thing you will have to figure out is what maps to use, and where to get them from. You can buy maps like Garmin Topo maps for $229, or you can use the free maps off the net. Garmin topo maps can be found on their website;
https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=83071
I don’t have this map, but if the preview tool on their website is anything to go by then it isn’t much use for trail bike riding. Below is a screenshot of what I believe is the Garmin topo map of Mt Mee. I’ll show similar shots of the free maps below for comparison;
Attachment:
garmin topo.jpg
garmin topo.jpg [ 129.24 KiB | Viewed 34230 times ]


In the future I think everyone will use open source maps like http://www.openstreetmap.com . These free maps are like Wikipedia in that users add to them and keep them growing. In this sense they are capable of containing way more info than Garmin maps, providing users put the effort in. There are various websites which convert openstreetmap (OSM) data into Garmin maps for you to use. Each download different parts of the OSM database and display them differently, for different purposes. For trail bike riding I highly recommend;
http://openmtbmap.org/
Mt Mee looks like this;
Attachment:
openmtbmap.jpg
openmtbmap.jpg [ 129.74 KiB | Viewed 34230 times ]


You can also download worldwide routable OSM based maps (this link takes about 1 minute to open if you use internet explorer, just wait);
http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/
Mt Mee looks like this, it’s hard to read on a little GPS screen. Other forestry areas are much better and don't have the hatching, so this is still a good map to have. Good for routable maps in the car too;
Attachment:
openroutablemap.jpg
openroutablemap.jpg [ 293.21 KiB | Viewed 34230 times ]


There is also http://www.osmaustralia.org/ but I don’t have a screenshot handy of this one.

Lastly there is Shonky maps - http://shonkylogic.net/shonkymaps/ . These were very popular before OSM took off, and I don’t think these are much use anymore unless you need the topo maps for some reason. Mt Mee looks like this;
Attachment:
shonky maps full topo.jpg
shonky maps full topo.jpg [ 46.08 KiB | Viewed 34230 times ]


If people don’t have a GPS, but are still interested in looking at GPX files, waypoints and the above maps on their home computers, then they can. The easy option is to just go to the http://www8.garmin.com/support/mappingsw.jsp website and download Basecamp. This is the software used to transfer maps, waypoints and tracks to and from the GPS unit. It can also be used to review all that info on your computer.

If you are looking for GPX track logs to follow, then check out this site;
http://www.mctainsh.com/TrailShare/mapgm.aspx
It is run by John McTainsh (a TRA forum member). It contains GPX logs uploaded by anyone from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately push bike people have upload some tracks amongst the trail bike tracks, so don't get the two confused :)

There are also some GPX track logs of adventure style rides can be found here;
http://transaustraliatrail.com.au/
It's a bit messy to use as they didn't break it up by states

If you want to send GPX files to your mates to show them where you went, but they don't know what to do with a GPX file, then send them to http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/ . This is an excellent website which allows you to upload your gpx file and view it on google maps, while also being able to do plots of speed, elevation (if logged) and other cool stuff.

And as I get around to finishing the placestoride/ section of the forum, I hope to have some key waypoints available for each of the popular riding areas

If you want to buy a GPS or mounts for it, try;
http://www.ja-gps.com.au/

I use the basic ram mount which I have screwed to a small aluminium plate which then zip ties to my bar pad. Quite a simple set-up, I'll try to take a photo.

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Wed 03 Aug, 2011 10:52 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
Good thread Wes. Especially for those directionally challenged... like me. :D I will have a look at those openmtbmaps. cheers


Thu 04 Aug, 2011 11:07 am
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
Here is my bar mount. Instead of paying for an expensive ball mount that I figured will probably break, I took the cheap and simple option. I bolts the basic ram mount to a piece of aluminium plate, which I think attached to my bar pad with two zip ties. The advantages being;
* cheap
* easy to swap to other bikes
* bar pad dampens some vibrations
* in a crash the GPS will hopefully just spin around the bar pad


Attachments:
IMG_3846.JPG
IMG_3846.JPG [ 130.42 KiB | Viewed 34196 times ]
IMG_3847.JPG
IMG_3847.JPG [ 118.64 KiB | Viewed 34196 times ]

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Thu 04 Aug, 2011 1:21 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
ball mounts dont break. the gps just pops off... i've looped mine with the ball mount on a few occasions and i just pick the gps up and keep moving.

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Thu 04 Aug, 2011 2:01 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
pneumatic wrote:
Here is my bar mount. Instead of paying for an expensive ball mount that I figured will probably break, I took the cheap and simple option. I bolts the basic ram mount to a piece of aluminium plate, which I think attached to my bar pad with two zip ties. The advantages being;
* cheap
* easy to swap to other bikes
* bar pad dampens some vibrations
* in a crash the GPS will hopefully just spin around the bar pad


You have your mirror held on with cable ties as well.


Thu 04 Aug, 2011 2:52 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
Yep, thats a token mirror. A $2 mountain bike mirror from ebay. :)

Yes, mapsource is another. I have it installed but haven't figured out why you would use it over basecamp anyway. It is a little tricky to get a free copy of mapsource, you need to trick it into thinking you already have a copy of it.

And I should have mentioned in the summary the point of track logging etiquette. If you go on someone elses ride, don't post their track log unless you get their permission first. Some people are emotionally attached to their "loops".

I see uploading track logs of the main tracks (fireroads etc) very useful as then people can explore the minor tracks for themselves, but more easily find their way back to a main track if they get into trouble. icon_thumright

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Thu 04 Aug, 2011 3:49 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
Great info Wes,
I recently bought a GPS for logging the tracks around here locally (Yandina/kenilworth) so Kirstie doesn't know i'm lost :o . Setting it up was interesting :cussing but with some help (thanks Hori) I think it will be useful to tie some loops together.

Cheers


Thu 04 Aug, 2011 7:07 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
Thanks mate im in the process of buying a rider2 for my big bikes and a 62csx for the dirt ones so this is a wealth of info for me


Fri 05 Aug, 2011 7:37 am
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
If you want to use the 62 for navigation on the street you can. Any routable maps will let you enter a destination and it will calculate the route time and show the turns like a normal car GPS. But if you do routing on the openmtbmaps it will tell you to ride down bicycle paths! This is sometimes the quickest route, but I find the other people on bicycles give you a dirt look if your on your motorbike :)

The worldwide routable OSM seem to work good on the road. I've tried it a few times with my Vstrom and it seemed to work well.

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Fri 05 Aug, 2011 7:56 am
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
Frank400 wrote:
Good thread Wes. Especially for those directionally challenged... like me. :D I will have a look at those openmtbmaps. cheers


Hey Wes, I loaded the openmtbmaps on the Dakota for todays ride to use with my tracks Definately better than Shonky maps for Beerburrum. Much better detail. icon_thumright

Are you using this one ? I can't seem to find the contour lines for the Aus maps ? Do you use these ?


Fri 19 Aug, 2011 9:54 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
There are a few sources of contour maps out there, the only ones I have tried are the shonky map ones.

Shonky maps will give you 4 map sets;
* Shonky full topo maps
* Shonky large scale
* Shonky with no contours
* Shonky transparent contours

Generally the OSM types of maps have more detail than the shonky maps, but on some occasions I have found the shonky maps actually show more minor dirt roads than the OSM maps. The OSM maps show much more unnamed trails though.

So what you want to do is install multiple maps on your GPS. I tried for ages to get multiple maps to work and couldn't. Whenever you send maps to the GPS by basecamp or mapsource, it overwrites whatever maps were already there.

On my 62 I have found a simple solution. Just send the first map to the GPS as normal. I have been using basecamp, selecting the tiles I want and sending it.

Then access your GPS from windows explorer. When basecamp makes the map file, it makes a file called gmapsupp.img in the Garmin folder of the GPS. Simply rename this file gmapsupp2.img.

Then repeat the process. Send a new map from basecamp to the GPS, and then rename that to gmapsupp3.img. Keep doing this until you have all of your maps on your gps. I have the following on mine all at once;
* OSM world routable
* openmtbmap
* Shonky full topo maps
* Shonky large scale
* Shonky with no contours
* Shonky transparent contours

Now when your using the GPS you can go into the select maps menu and enable or disable whichever maps you want. You can use any of the OSM maps with the Shonky transparent contours in order to add contour lines to them.

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Sat 20 Aug, 2011 8:41 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
pneumatic wrote:
On my 62 I have found a simple solution. Just send the first map to the GPS as normal. I have been using basecamp, selecting the tiles I want and sending it.

Then access your GPS from windows explorer. When basecamp makes the map file, it makes a file called gmapsupp.img in the Garmin folder of the GPS. Simply rename this file gmapsupp2.img.

Then repeat the process. Send a new map from basecamp to the GPS, and then rename that to gmapsupp3.img. Keep doing this until you have all of your maps on your gps. I have the following on mine all at once;
* OSM world routable
* openmtbmap
* Shonky full topo maps
* Shonky large scale
* Shonky with no contours
* Shonky transparent contours

Now when your using the GPS you can go into the select maps menu and enable or disable whichever maps you want. You can use any of the OSM maps with the Shonky transparent contours in order to add contour lines to them.


You have to be extremly careful playing with the files on the GPS. Pretty easy to screw it and lock the GPS at the load screen. I locked mine up dumping tracks into a folder called tracks???? Go figure

The contours on shonkymaps are actually called Contours Australia produced by Dooghan. He now has made 5m contours (massive 2gb file). If you want to load multiple maps there is a safer option for everyone if you have the IMG file handy. Use sendmap http://www.cgpsmapper.com/download/sendmap20.zip as follows. As Wes said you can disable any maps you don't want to use at the time. I currently have bluechart marine maps loaded to mine as well.

Open sendmap. Click add maps. Select all the maps you want on the GPS. You have to load them all at the same time, not one by one. On my GPS I can disable maps so only relevent ones are shown. Shonkymaps is always a good one to have.
Click "connect" then "upload maps to GPS". Once its all done you should have it all on and ready to go. Don't close any screens unless it says its finished


Sat 20 Aug, 2011 10:43 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
I've heard it's easy to lock them up too, but by renaming files your not actually adding or removing an files, your just changing the file name. Hopefully that's relatively safe.

I did try sendmap20, but it wasn't that straight forward to use. When selecting the map to send you need to select the maps by img file. So for OSM worldwide routable I have this big directory of img files and have no idea what each of them are. dontknow So I guess you have to send them all?

By using basecamp you get the map of Australia which you can use to transfer only the tiles in the area that you want. So you don't have to transfer the whole of Australia every time. I only have SE QLD maps on my GPS.

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Sun 21 Aug, 2011 3:56 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
Yeah I send all the maps over. Takes more time but not too worried. Using basecamp is awesome if you have an older GPS with a small memory. I suppose it gives you the oportunity to view or dump a lot of different maps for your specific area.


Sun 21 Aug, 2011 8:17 pm
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Post Re: GPS for dummies - a guide to using GPS on the trails
I think the GPS loads up faster with less / smaller maps on it. Also the OSM type maps are regularly updated, so it's quicker to put an updated area on your GPS if your only uploading that small area each time.

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Sun 21 Aug, 2011 9:32 pm
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