This past summer, our family has spent numerous weekends exploring the mountainous areas of Andalucia. In particular, weâve been exploring the areas around GaucÃn, the valley behind Ronda containing BenojÃ¡n, and the next valley up the road containing Villaluenga. For each location, weâve located tourist maps containing listing of local trails for hiking.
Unfortunately, many of the trails around these areas are not well marked. For some, itâs even difficult to _find_ them at all. And once you find the trail, it is, in many instances, easy to get lost once you start hiking.
The obvious solution to this problem is GPS. There are a couple ([here](http://www.elgps.com) and [here](http://www.rutasyviajes.com) of good websites containing descriptions of hiking trails, and downloadable GPS tracks and routes to aid in navigation. (In fact, as I would understanding it, it should make navigation dead easy.)
So, Iâve recently purchased a Garmin 60Cx GPS device, and have entered the seemingly mysterious world of Global Positioning System navigation.
**Purchase**. I decided to purchase my GPS through eBay, namely via a seller in the US. I was able to buy the device for about 60% of what it sells for here in Spain. Natively containing the US base map, the seller included a version of MapSource MetroGuide. Unfortunately, the software is a bit out of date — version 6, when the latest is version 8. Furthermore, MetroGuide is the least favorable mapping software sold by Garmin, and I will likely soon purchase the CityNavigator product.
In addition, as the 60Cx device accepts microSD cards, I upgraded the stock 64MB card to a better 1GB card. My hope is that I can carry around all the maps and routes Iâm interested in, at all times.
**Setup**. For my purposes, a GPS isnât that useful unless I can have it communicating with my computer. I use an Apple MacBook, and unfortunately Garmin hasnât gotten around to developing OS X compatible software. Furthermore, many of the tracks/routes, etc. that Iâve found use a format compatible with a Windows shareware product, [OziExplorer](http://www.oziexplorer.com/).
Fortunately, there is a great solution — Virtualization! I have purchased a license for the Parallels virtualization program for OS X; however, Iâve had problems getting it to recognize the Garmin device when connected via USB. A friend then passed me a beta version of the forthcoming VMWare Fusion product, and it works perfectly! (In addition, I find the VMWare product generally superior to Parallels, and will certainly be buying a license when it hits the street.)
So, under Windows XP, running as a guest OS under VMWare, on a MacBook running OS 10.4.8, I am successfully communicating with the Garmin 60Cx. Fantastic!
So far, Iâve installed:
* MapSource (from Garmin)
* [OziExplorer](http://www.oziexplorer.com/), a shareware GPS mapping program, which, as far as I can tell, is the main Windows-based shareware utility for managing a GPS.
* [SendMap](/deadlink). A Windows utility for sending maps to the GPS.
**Practical Matters.** Now that Iâve got my system all setup and (apparently) working, itâs time to figure out how all this GPS stuff works. On that note, Iâve already run into a number of conceptual issues Iâm presently trying to figure out.
* Right now, Iâve used MapSource, and the MetroGuide Europe product, to download (to the Garmin GPS) all the maps necessary to provide full coverage of Spain. This was about 40 MB, and more than 50 small map âchunksâ?. Question: How can I determine that the device stored all this data on the microSD card, as opposed to some internal memory?
* Another question: Is this something I even need to worry about– i.e. if the internal memory fills, does the GPS device automatically switch to the card when receiving data?
* Will software that interacts with the device âseeâ? both the data on the card and any internal memory the device has?
* Letâs say I purchase CityNavigator. Should I first delete all the MetroGuide maps before installing the CityNavigator maps? How do I do that? (I didnât see an option in MapSource for _deleting_ maps.)
* Letâs say I have full coverage of Spain via CityNavigator maps, and then I decide to send a special topological map of some area Iâm going to be visiting during the weekend. How can I tell the GPS that for this particular area, to use the topo map instead of the CN map? I have seen in the âMap Setupâ? area a hugely long list of maps, and it would seem impractical, if not impossible, to identify which of the maps are the two that overlap, in order to disable one.
* Iâve seen that MapSource is document based– i.e. you can save and open multiple MapSource documents, each of which can contain any number of active maps, waypoints, tracks, etc. Why would I want multiple documents? Wouldnât I want one single document that perfectly reflects the data presently on the device? If I open another document, and download all itâs data to the device, will it delete any additional data it finds on the GPS– i.e. is the concept of âdownloadingâ? to the device with MapSource the same as âsynchronizingâ? the active MapSource document to the device?
* Iâm a little confused about the practical roles of tracks and routes, and the association of waypoints to each. Letâs say I want to record a path Iâm walking and then publish it on the web– what is the best process for this? Should I simply start the track recording when I begin, and then save it when Iâm finished hiking, and simply publish that? Is it necessary/desirable to add âwaypointsâ? to the track? (Is it even _possible_ to add a waypoint to a track? Does it then become a ârouteâ??) Or, should I use the ârouteâ? concept?
* If a track doesn’t contain a waypoint, how can I tell the GPS to “Go To” the beginning of the track? i.e. how can I use the GPS to help me find the begin point of the track?
As you can see, Iâve still got a ways to go before I have my head fully wrapped around the practical concepts of using a GPS. Any comments would be _greatly_ appreciated — either in the comments here, or via email to matt (at) makalumedia (dot) com.