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Hardware / Software Map Making on Laptop
RandyB
I want to map 200 – 300 Waypoints with very descriptive IDs over 35,000 acres. I envision my laptop (Sony Vaio) attached to an external GPS receiver antenna in my vehicle with tracking software that will allow me to enter the Waypoints as I travel through somewhat remote terrain. I would then take the Waypoints and would like to overlay them onto aerial photos, satellite photos, etc.

I’ve seen some software that claims to allow me to overlay the Waypoints; however they all originate from a handheld GPS. I find that the only handheld I’ve experienced (Etrex Summit) is too cumbersome to manage due to the limited description and the motions it requires to enter the IDs. I have some experience with marine navigation tools that allows all of this; however it is expensive and large. I’m not really interested in City directions as much as I want to create my own maps. I would appreciate any direction.

Thanks in advance
Ken in Regina
Hi Randy,

There are a number of ways to accomplish what you want.

First the overlaying part .. do you want to be able to view your waypoints on the satellite images of Google Maps (or Google Earth)? Or do you have some other source of the images in mind?

You can capture the waypoints with either a handheld or a laptop.

The handheld doesn't need to be a big issue. Even your Summit will get it done nicely. Don't worry about entering all the descriptive stuff using the handheld. Just mark the waypoint. When you're done, upload the waypoints to Garmin's MapSource program on your PC and do the rest of the heavy lifting there with the waypoint editing tools and a real keyboard.

You can use a laptop with an external GPS receiver connected. This is more cumbersome because you need to find a place to put the laptop. It's no big deal if you have a copilot to do the laptop work for you. It's a much bigger deal if you're doing it by yourself. Issues of where to put the laptop while you're driving, and then how do you get at it to use the keyboard for data entry.

But if you think the laptop is the way to go and if you're already familiar with Garmin products like the MapSource program .. and especially if you already have the MapSource program .. you can download Garmin's nRoute program for free, connect your Summit as an external receiver and go capture waypoints.

...ken...
RandyB
Ken, thanks for the reply. More than likely, I would be using Google Maps as this is the only image source I have at this time. There are “boundary” maps which were created several years ago, but I’m not sure how I would scan the drawings into a Mapsource like tool. I’m very new to the GPS game and do not possess Mapsource or any other GPS tools at this time. Other than using the GM navigation products in my vehicles, I’m a complete newbie. I will keep reading and experiment with your suggestions.

Thanks again,
Randy B
Ken in Regina
Hi Randy,

Here's a link that will help you get started messing around with your Summit, if you want to. It's all free. Just a little work on your part.

http://www.laptopgpsworld.com/914-how-install-mapsource-add-maps-mobile-pc

Don't be put off by that title. That link will tell you how to get MapSource installed on your computer and once it's installed you can use the maps on more than just Mobile PC. In your case you mostly just want to use MapSource for viewing your waypoints anyway. Once you have a recent version of MapSource installed on your PC you can do two things.

You can upload waypoints from your Summit into MapSource and edit them to add additional detail.

With your waypoints loaded in MapSource, you can ask MapSource to let you view them in Google Earth. That requires that you download Google Earth and install it on the PC, but it's also free. If you ask MapSource to let you view your waypoints in Google Earth, it will launch Google Earth and transfer the waypoints to a Temporary Places folder in Google Earth and display them.

Or you can save the waypoints into a .GPX file from MapSource. Then, whenever you want to view them in Google Earth, you can launch Google Earth and drag/drop the .GPX file onto the planet.

Once you have the waypoints set up the way you want, you can permanently save them in your My Places folder in Google Earth so all you need to do to view them is launch Google Earth.

I'm not sure what sort of printing capabilities are available in Google Earth. I don't do much with paper any more.

If you need help with any of this, just ask. For the Garmin stuff, like MapSource and nroute, it would be better if you ask in the Garmin Mobile PC section so more of the Garmin users will be able to assist with help and other ideas.

You can also ask about maps over there. It's not difficult to get free maps, including topographic maps, for many parts of the world. There are some excellent free topos for all of Canada. More areas of the United States are getting free topo coverage now, too.

...ken...
RandyB
Excellent post!
I’m up and running with Mapsource and nRoute and sure I will be asking questions as I go. Thanks so much!
Randy B
Ken in Regina
I just love it when a plan comes together! I guess that means we'll be hearing from you over in the Garmin section. ... See you there.

...ken...
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