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Maps for your Garmin GPS

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There are many commercial mapping products on the market, but did you know that there are also a number of free, and legal, maps available for you to download?

This tutorial will take you through a few of the options available, how to upload them to your Garmin GPS and you can make them better.

For most maps you will need:

  • A Windows PC or Mac
  • At least 500 MB of free hard drive space
  • A licensed copy of Garmin Trip and Waypoint Manager, MapSource or CityNavigator (PC), or Garmin RoadTrip and Garmin MapInstall (Mac).

 

Contours

If you plan on ‘hitting the trail’ while geocaching, it’s best to have a map with contours. These wiggly lines display the elevation of the land and help you plan the best route to get there.

Paper topographic maps are a great option. They cost around $9 each, and if you have a colour scanner and printer you can make a copy for your trip.

There are electronic versions available for your GPS, such as Topo Australia from Garmin ($250) and OzTopo from GPSOz ($229). Both provide a lot of detail and are updated regularly.

A free option is Contours Australia. You can download maps with contours every 5, 10 and 50 metres from Dooghan's Google Drive folder.

Installing Contours Australia in Windows

  • Download the zip from the website and extract the img and exe files.
  • Double click on the .exe file. This will run an installer that will automatically install the maps onto your computer.
    contour_australia_5m
  • Once installed, open Trip and Waypoint Manager to view your contour maps.

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Installing Contours Australia on a Macintosh

  • Double click on the .gmapi file. This will open MapManager, which will ask whether you would like to install the map on RoadTrip. Press Install.
    contoursmac1
  • Once installed, open RoadTrip to view your contour maps.
    contoursmac4

To upload the maps to your GPS, open the MapInstall application, choose Contours Australia from the pull down menu and click on the areas you want to upload, then press Send Maps.

Once you have installed the maps on your GPS they will appear on your GPS as a transparent layer, which can be switched on or off.

 

ShonkyMaps

Another option is ShonkyMaps (http://shonkylogic.net/shonkymaps/). Like Contours Australia, these maps are in a 250k scale set and are based on data from Geoscience Australia.

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But apart from contour lines, they also include roads, rivers, some trails and general geographical information. The download can be big (up to 340 MB), so only download over a fast Internet connection. You can also order a CD for a small fee. 

Installation instructions are the similar to those for Contours Australia. 

Routable street maps

ShonkyMaps includes main streets with its maps, but most suburban and country streets are missing.

Garmin offers City Navigator® Australia & New Zealand NT ($150), which includes turn-by-turn (routable) instructions to help you drive up to the cache – within reason.

A free alternative is available through the OpenStreetMap project.

OpenStreetMap

Known as OSM, this project is best described as a worldwide WikiMap. Users can contribute geospatial data to the map, as well as modify or delete features as large as a country’s border right down to roundabouts and hiking tracks.

Because it is based on the Wiki principle of crowd sourcing it is prone to errors and abuse. But it on the upside, it has evolved in less than four years to become one of the most used and reliable sources of mapping information.

There is an endless list of software programs and websites that make use of OSM.

OSM Australia provides an updated daily feed of IMG files, which can be loaded directly into your Garmin GPS receiver using third-party software such as GPS Utility (http://www.gpsu.co.uk/). You can also use the data with GIS software. The website also has links to GPS Australia forums and other useful websites.

Worldwide Routable Garmin Maps

If you want easy to use routable maps, the best resource currently available is Lambertus’ Worldwide Routable Garmin Maps (http://garmin.na1400.info/routable.php). To download the latest map, go to the website and clic on the drop down menu titled Oceania. Select Australia.

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You will notice that a block of tiles over Australia are highlighted blue a list of the tiles appears on the left hand side. Click on the Download Map Now! Click on the left hand side.

If you are using Windows, select the mapsource.exe file. Macintosh users should download the roadtrip.zip file.

Once you have downloaded the file, follow the same instructions as for Contours Australia to add the map to Trip and Waypoint Manager (Windows) or RoadTrip (Macintosh), and to upload to your Garmin GPS receiver,

osmroadtrip

Note: Each time you install maps to your GPS receiver, maps previously uploaded will be erased. If you want two or more maps on your unit (e.g. Contours Australia and OSM routable) you must select both before you upload.

Making changes to OSM

Most contributors use software such as JOSM to download and upload sections of the world for editing. This software is available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux and is continually update.

For quick and dirty edits, you can use the web-based tool called Potlatch. There is a steep learning curve in using the tools and learning conventions, but a detailed set of instructions and instructional videos are available of the OSM Wiki (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Potlatch).

osmpotlatch

Note: It is illegal for OSM to include copyright data. Do not ‘trace’ or copy information other copyright maps such as Google Maps, Sydways, UBD, etc. If you have any questions regarding the source of your information, ask the OSM community.

Changes to the OSM map take up to a week to appear - depending of the tool used to view it. It typically takes a further week for these changes to appear on Lambertus’ routable maps.