Monday, September 9, 2013

Maps and Software for Garmin eTrex 20

In the few months after coming back from Chengdu, I continued to learn new things about Garmin eTrex 20 and BaseCamp, the accompanying software for the PC.

I have also continued to find more resources on the internet, such as maps and software for the eTrex 20 and BaseCamp. For new users, the following would be very useful:
This was the first website which I know provides free maps of Malaysia and Singapore. I came across this website five or six years back when I got interested in Garmin GPS. That was when my ex-employer bought GPS units for its mapping project.

The original free maps created by a community of Malaysians and Singaporeans
The MFM map covers the whole of Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak and Singapore and parts of of southern Thailand in detail. However, coverage of waypoints of our ASEAN neighbours is not as extensive. Like MSM, MFM is free.

Another provider of free Malaysian maps, this time with maps of ASEAN countries included

If you need maps, say for Myanmar or the various provinces in China, you are going to have a hard time finding good free img maps. There is one great source I know, and that is OpenStreet Map. It has an extensive database of img maps covering all countries.

The free img maps of all countries on Planet Earth
Besides downloading the img maps directly from the website, users can also request for customised maps. There are four different configurations of the maps that are generated and users can download them from links sent to the users' emails.

JOSM - Java Open Street Editor
Before going on a holiday, I would usually try to find out some details about the places I would be going. For examples, I wanted to know the hostels located near Xinnanmen Bus Station in Chengdu and where the boats were berthed in Nyaungshwe town (near Inle Lake). Google Map was useless in these instances because it neither has the detail nor the waypoints I was looking for. Fortunately, we have JOSM. JOSM will connect you to the OSM website where you can download the waypoints and tracks of the locations you are interested in gpx format. These waypoints could then easily be opened in BaseCamp and transferred to eTrex 20, where they can be used for your navigation during your stay there.

Garmin BaseCamp
The problem with BaseCamp is it opens gpx waypoints, tracks and routes saved in the PC but not the img maps. Img maps can only be opened when the gps unit is connected to the PC USB port.

In order to see the maps on BaseCamp, I have to plug my eTrex 20 to my PC USB port every time I used BaseCamp. This was very troublesome. I later read from a forum a way around this is to store those maps on SD or flash drive and then inserting it to the USB port. BaseCamp will read the maps from the USB drive and display them on its window.

A better way is to request for the customised maps with installers for Garmin BaseCamp from OSM website. The installers will install the img maps on the PC and enable the maps to be opened from BaseCamp without having to connect to the gps unit or SD card or flash drive.

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