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GPS Tools

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Save waypoints, tracks and routes in a variety of formats, including Geographic Lat/Lon shapefiles or UTM projection shapefiles.

The Minnesota DNR Garmin Tool 4.0 is a must-have GPS utility for those using Garmin GPS receivers. As a standalone program:

  • Download waypoints, tracks, and routes from Garmin GPS. Save as text files, ESRI shapefiles or dBase IV files. Capture GPS screens as graphics.
  • Upload waypoints, tracks, and routes to Garmin GPS.
  • Perform real-time GPS tracking.
  • Convert point shapefiles to GPS waypoints or convert line and polygon shapefiles to Garmin GPS tracks.
  • Convert point themes to lines or polygons.

When used as an ArcView® Extension, DNR Garmin Tool does even more with theme attributes, measurements, etc. See complete documentation at the Minnesota DNR site.

Note: Wisconsin DNR also produces a version of the Garmin Tool that converts Geographic coordinates to and from the Wisconsin Transverse Mercator (WTM83) system. You can get the WI DNR Garmin Tool here. Otherwise, use the Minnesota version for UTM projections.

OziExplorer® allows you to import any photo or map as a background image for GPS data, including those you make with a flatbed scanner. The program has an easy method of geo-referencing images. You simply provide the latitude and longitude of two or more points. Ozi exports GPS tracks and waypoints as ESRI shape files, making it possible to use your GPS data in other geospatial mapping programs like Global Mapper, Map Maker or ArcExplorer. OziExplorerCE is also available to use with handheld or PDA devices.
GPS Mapping Software
OziExplorer automatically positions GeoTIFF files and other geo-referenced maps or aerial photos. The registered version of the program also works directly with MrSID format mapping products and provides more flexibility in specifying map projections and datums.
TopoFusion™ delivers a versatile suite GPS mapping tools. The software connects to Garmin and Magellan receivers to download or upload tracks and waypoints. Aerial photos and topographic maps are retrieved from TerraServer, over which TopoFusion displays GPS tracks in colored hues indicating elevations of the path (see a TopoFusion track map and elevation profile here). As shown to the left, aerial photos and USGS topographic maps can

be blended. Tracks can be averaged, merged or cut apart and trail networks created. The PhotoFusion™ feature builds interactive pages linking the map and photographs taken along a path by correlating the time stamps of photos to those of the track points (an outstanding tool for anyone who takes a lot of pictures outdoors). TopoFusion will play back an animation of a trek or ride, displaying trip statistics such as distances traveled, speed and elevation changes.

Check the TopoFusion site for a complete list of features and to download the free trial.

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Vito SmartMap freeware is a Windows CE/Pocket PC application that displays live GPS positions, tracks and routes on detailed, custom maps or aerial photographs that you can prepare yourself. The package includes a Windows desktop application called MapManager that creates base maps from JPG images and Geographic/WGS84 vector shapefiles. The program geo-references scanned maps or aerial photos to the lat/lon WGS84 coordinate system if you supply at least three ground control points. You can also make base maps from Global Mapper screen captures, like the one on the left, that combine raster and vector data. MapManager optimizes the maps for use on Pocket PCs, enabling SmartMap to scroll and zoom maps almost instantly. The free version of SmartMap is limited to recording 10 waypoints and 500 track points, but otherwise is identical to the full version.
Without a doubt, Vito SmartMap is one of the best GPS mapping programs you will find for a Pocket PC. By connecting an inexpensive handheld GPS unit (or a GPS antenna/receiver with no screen of its own) to an iPAQ or similar PDA, you can have a state-of-the-art mobile mapping tool. The program is especially useful for resource managers who might want to navigate a detailed property map to collect data at pre-determined locations. They can view their map or aerial photo on the PDA and then switch to their data-entry program (like Kruzer or FS Tally Meter) to record the data. "Pushpins" for each data location can be recorded with SmartMap, which can then export waypoints and tracks as shapefiles for other mapping programs. GPS units using an external antenna can be stowed away and all the map navigation and data recording done on the PDA. Fabulous for field workers with only two hands!

The full version of Vito SmartMap, selling for only $30, records unlimited waypoints and tracks. Vito Technology makes a utility (free to registered SmartMap users) to download waypoints from Garmin GPS receivers and convert them to the "pushpin" format used by SmartMap and a related program called Vito Navigator. The Navigator program is also quite useful as a data collection companion, especially for setting up and following a grid route.

G7toWin and G7toCE are companion programs that manage GPS waypoint, track and route files on Windows desktop or laptop and handheld computers. The programs work with Garmin, Magellan and Lowrance GPS units. The CE version is useful for storing GPS data on a PDA, especially if you want to save data in the field before resetting a GPS receiver's memory.

Functions include the ability to convert GPS tracks to routes/waypoints and a utility to capture the screen image of your GPS unit (like the Garmin GPSMAP 76S screen to the left) to a desktop or laptop PC. Waypoints and tracks can be saved or converted to various formats used by other mapping programs like OziExplorer®, Delorme Street Atlas USA®, Fugawi®, MapTech® and others.

Trimble® GPS Planning: Since GPS satellites move in and out of view as they orbit the earth, you may need to plan GPS data collection to coincide with optimal satellite coverage of your work area. Trimble® offers free GPS Planning Software that determines the visibility of NAVSTAR GPS, GLONASS (Russian GPS) and WAAS satellites. The software includes an almanac that calculates the positions of satellites on any day over any given location. Position Dilution of Precision (PDOP/DOP) charts are produced showing the best/worst times of the day for GPS satellite availability. See the GPS Page or the Trimble Planning Quick Start Guide from the USFS for more information.
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Last Updated 10/13/2022 12:33:48 PM