Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

GPS and Topo! Questions

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
User avatar
Posts: 1702
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:11 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:40 am

Hey guys,

So I finally broke down and got myself a GPS last week – a Garmin GPSmap 62s – and a copy of National Geographic Topo for the state of Colorado. I also got the Above the Timber software, but I haven’t gotten around to installing that piece yet… anyway, it seems the manuals for these things only get you so far, so I’m hoping that some of you tech-savvy folks can answer a few questions for me.

    1) WAAS: I have this turned off because, as I understand it, it only helps if you have a clear shot of the horizon. Otherwise, it just eats up your batteries. Is this correct?

    2) Even if I do have a clear shot of the horizon, I need to be moving fast enough to rely on satellites (rather than compass) for it to do any good. Is this correct?

    3) To calibrate the barometric altimeter, I’ve been going to the NOAA site and finding the barometric pressure (in millibars) for the area I plan on visiting that day. I set this in my GPS at home, before traveling. Does the GPS retain that information and use it once I hit the trailhead, or does it think the barometric pressure I’m entering is for the location I’m in when I set it, and then readjust it somehow as I travel?

    4) How reliable is using barometric pressure for determining altitude and elevation changes, and does it make more sense to rely on the elevations on a map, and then reset them each time I reach a “known elevation” during my hike?

    5) I’m trying to preserve a “clean track” for each of my hikes. When I hike “to” a destination, I tend to wander a bit, and also I hike a lot slower because I’m usually going uphill. For this reason, I believe the GPS is relying on the 3-axis compass (which I calibrate at the trailhead) to determine my coordinates and set waypoints on the track. However, when I hike back to the trailhead I (a) don’t wander as much, and (b) move a lot faster, so the satellite tracking then kicks in. I *think* this will give me a cleaner track, but I’m not sure.

      a. Is satellite tracking more accurate than 3-axis compass?
      b. What about during times of cloud cover, when I might lose satellite reception? Does it make sense to slow down and let the compass take over then?
      c. In Track Manager, if I Save my “destination to trailhead” track Copy Reversed, does it create a track with the waypoints' numbers reversed, from trailhead to destination? (Please say yes!)

    6) I’m also trying to create a single GPX file that includes (a) the track as freehand line, (b) track as waypoints, and (c) manually created waypoints that I’ve set along the path. I found out (the hard way!) that if I don’t associate the named waypoints to a route in my GPS, then they get overwritten by the automatically-created waypoints in my track, when I import them into Topo! So now I create a route and add the waypoints to it first. Then I import the track as freehand line, track as waypoints, and named waypoints into Topo and edit them (rename, add comments, etc.) so they make sense to me. Is there a way to then Export them in a single GPX file, so that someone else can upload them into their GPS or Topo program? When I create all this in Topo, and then I go to Export, only the waypoints show up – there’s no option for exporting the track.

      a. Do I have to manually edit (and combine) the two files in notepad? (Please say no!)
      b. Or is there a 3rd party solution that can do this for me?
      c. Am I just not doing it right in Topo?

If anyone can answer any ONE of these I’ll be grateful! Thanks so much.

-Susan

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby bergsteigen » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:54 am

susanjoypaul wrote:4) How reliable is using barometric pressure for determining altitude and elevation changes, and does it make more sense to rely on the elevations on a map, and then reset them each time I reach a “known elevation” during my hike?


I work for a scientific/engineering GPS company, and from all my experiences with using a GPS and a SUUNTO altimeter watch, the best way to get an acurate elevation is to get the XY off the loaded topo map on your GPS. While vertical accuracy has improved over the years, the horizontal will always be better. Plus if you have any weather changes during a hike, this will mess up the elevation.

susanjoypaul wrote:6) I’m also trying to create a single GPX file that includes (a) the track as freehand line, (b) track as waypoints, and (c) manually created waypoints that I’ve set along the path. I found out (the hard way!) that if I don’t associate the named waypoints to a route in my GPS, then they get overwritten by the automatically-created waypoints in my track, when I import them into Topo! So now I create a route and add the waypoints to it first. Then I import the track as freehand line, track as waypoints, and named waypoints into Topo and edit them (rename, add comments, etc.) so they make sense to me. Is there a way to then Export them in a single GPX file, so that someone else can upload them into their GPS or Topo program? When I create all this in Topo, and then I go to Export, only the waypoints show up – there’s no option for exporting the track.

    a. Do I have to manually edit (and combine) the two files in notepad? (Please say no!)
    b. Or is there a 3rd party solution that can do this for me?
    c. Am I just not doing it right in Topo?
[/list]

If anyone can answer any ONE of these I’ll be grateful! Thanks so much.

-Susan


Hmmmm, A few times when I have had to edit my tracks (one or two bad points) I had to use notepad - and search for the non-conforming needle in the haystack points. I can only hope that the Topo! software will have a better way to do this in the future.
"Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports ... all others are games."
- Ernest Hemingway (or was it Barnaby Conrad?)

http://otinasadventures.com

Moderator
User avatar
Posts: 4886
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:54 am
Location: Woodland Park, Colorado

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby CO Native » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:58 pm

1) Just leave WAAS on it doesn't really impact battery life and improves accuracy when possible.
2)This is only true if you don't have a magnetic compass in your GPS. Yours does so this isn't an issue. If you stay on this screen though using the electronic compass you'll really eat up batteries.
3)I recommend just calibrating off the GPS readings. Wait until you have good signal then calibrate. The next easiest method is to go to a known elevation and calibrate to that elevation. Your method is the hardest of the three ways to calibrate.
4)Using barometric pressure for elevation is reliable on days that weather is consistent and not reliable when pressure fronts roll through. It's fairly accurate though and when you want to know for sure just recalibrate based off the GPS signal as I mentioned before.
5)a)Tracks are purely based off of GPS signal, not on your compass at all. b)Cloud cover doesn't affect satellite reception, however heavy trees or deep canyons will. c)The waypoints will not be renumbered just listed in the opposite order in the track.
6)TOPO cannot export a track into a GPX file. You must first convert the track into a route and then export it. You can however create a GPX file with both a route and other waypoints.
Remember what your knees are for.
http://www.hikingintherockies.com

User avatar
Posts: 1702
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:11 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:30 pm

Thanks for your responses.

Has anyone tried GPSBabel to write tracks from Topo maps? I really don't want to edit anything in Notepad, and would *prefer* to not have to create a route from the track in order to export it, so I'm still hoping there's an alternative solution out there.

User avatar
Posts: 496
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:57 am

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby jomagam » Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:43 pm

susanjoypaul wrote:Thanks for your responses.

Has anyone tried GPSBabel to write tracks from Topo maps? I really don't want to edit anything in Notepad, and would *prefer* to not have to create a route from the track in order to export it, so I'm still hoping there's an alternative solution out there.


For the task I use http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ and have GmapToGPX installed as they describe on their site.

User avatar
Posts: 1702
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:11 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:06 pm

Ha! Figured it out... if I import the route file *and* the track file into Topo, and edit them together into a simple waypoint list (copy and paste all the waypoints from the route into the waypoints folder), then delete the route without deleting the associated waypoints, and save that file... then I can use GPSBabel to read that file *and* the original track file together, and write them as a new GPX file, complete with the freehand track, automatically-created track waypoints, and the named, manually-created waypoints too. Yay me. I need to document this before I forget what the heck I just did!

Still need to test that Copy Reverse thing though...

User avatar
Posts: 1702
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:11 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:06 pm

susanjoypaul wrote:Ha! Figured it out... if I import the route file *and* the track file into Topo, and edit them together into a simple waypoint list (copy and paste all the waypoints from the route into the waypoints folder), then delete the route without deleting the associated waypoints, and save that file... then I can use GPSBabel to read that file *and* the original track file together, and write them as a new GPX file, complete with the freehand track, automatically-created track waypoints, and the named, manually-created waypoints too. Yay me. I need to document this before I forget what the heck I just did!

After a bit more playing... I realize you don't have to edit the route and track files together - you can just edit the route file and then merge it with the track file in GPSBabel. Pretty slick :-)

Still need to test that Copy Reverse thing though...

Just tried this, and it *does* actually reverse the numbering of the waypoints for you, so you can use your track back to the trailhead as a track from the trailhead. I think all my questions have been answered, so thanks everybody!

Moderator
User avatar
Posts: 4886
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:54 am
Location: Woodland Park, Colorado

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby CO Native » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:09 pm

You should try looking into using the Map Source software too. It's not great for mapping but much better at handling the files. You can get it for free as well through this quirky method.

Download the Training Center:
http://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=835

Install it

Then download the MapSource update:
http://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=209

Install it.

You now have full blown MapSource.

You can also download Garmin's basecamp which will allow you to delete sections of a track or shift parts of it or fill in sections.

These instructions can be found on Garmin's website (after a lot of searching) so it appears to be sanctioned by them.

Then you can get free 1:24,000 topo maps (Uploadable to your GPS) here:
http://www.miscjunk.org/mj/mp_cotopo.html
Remember what your knees are for.
http://www.hikingintherockies.com

User avatar
Posts: 1702
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:11 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:48 pm

CO Native wrote:You should try looking into using the Map Source software too.

Thanks! I do have Training Center and MapSource on my PC - it's required in order to install Above the Timber - but I haven't had time to play with it yet, or load any maps onto my GPS (just using the preloaded ones that came with it.) I've never heard of miscjunk.org though, so I'll have to check that out. Free is good!

Still, I'm pretty impressed with how easy it all is to use once you get the hang of it. I hiked 37 miles over the long weekend and only got off-track once, and corrected myself within an hour. I *still* find myself looking at my map and compass at every stop though, mostly to identify peaks, figure out where I am on the map and make sure I'm still headed in the right direction. Old habits die hard...

User avatar
Posts: 1702
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:11 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby susanjoypaul » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:36 am

Another question... hoping someone out there has an answer for this one:

I'm saving my manually-created waypoints in NatGeo Topo! and since (under Properties for each waypoint) the Name field is limited to a certain number of characters, I'm instead using the Message field to write short descriptions of each waypoint. For example, I would use the Name field to assign a unique identifier for the particular route, and then number each waypoint in order (starting at the Parking Lot or Trailhead), and then in the Message field write something like "Trail Junction - Go Left." However, when I export these to my Garmin GPSMap62s, I don't see these messages. Is there a way to display them in my Garmin? Or are messages not supported on the 62s?

I have been perusing numerous GPS user forums (no luck with this particular question so far), and trying tech support (which, at least per their website, doesn't appear to be particularly friendly toward users that aren't using their devices and mapping products *exclusively* - although they have promised to get back to me in 3 business days), and "expert sites" (that want to charge me $30 for an answer).

Has anyone else figured out how to do this?

Posts: 519
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:44 am

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby bob863 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:02 pm

unfortunately, i don't have an answer - my GPS12 (coordinate display only) that I purchased in '94 has never given me any trouble with TOPO!CO.
I can upload and track my GPS coordinates without any problem.

User avatar
Posts: 277
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:32 pm
Location: Peyton, CO

Re: GPS and Topo! Questions

Postby Waggs » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:16 pm

My lowly Garmin eTrex HC displays the note with the waypoint:

SAM_0988_r.jpg
SAM_0988_r.jpg (48.86 KiB) Viewed 798 times


Though it does appear to truncate. To achieve this, I'm using the Mapsource software that came with the GPS.

Waggs
Gloves are optional. Mittens mandatory - S. Gladbach

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests