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Back Country Horsemen of British Columbia

GPS Help


This information will help you download trail data from your GPS,

and share the data with others.


What you Need:

  • A GPS. 
  • A cable to connect the GPS to a computer (Recommendation - a USB cable is much easier to use than the older serial port cables, and can connect to a laptop. Most of the GPS models above come with USB cables)
  • A computer with an internet connection. A dial-up connection will allow you to send GPS data to others (but will not allow you to use Google Earth. For that you need a high speed internet connection.)
  • A computer with GPStrackmaker installed. Get the latest version free from http://www.gpstm.com/.
  • Optional but highly recommended if you have a high speed connection - install Google Earth on your computer. Get the latest version free from http://earth.google.com/


What you Do:

  1. Go out and ride some trails with your GPS. Collect some waypoints. The GPS will record tracks by itself as long as you leave it turned on and out in the open where it can maintain a signal connection from the satellites. (Make sure you have tracking turned on - it is on by default but if you have been using any of the menu options you may have unknowingly turned it off)
  2. Connect your GPS to your computer and turn it on. Depending on your model, you may have to first install the GPS software that came on a CD with your GPS.
  3. Start GPStrackmaker on your computer. The large white gridded area covering most of the page is where a map would normally be displayed, but for this purpose we do not need a map.
  4. On the GPStrackmaker top menu, go to GPS/Garmin interface (if your GPS is a Garmin)
  5. If your GPS is a USB cable model, it will be automatically detected and should be displayed in the black window. Otherwise, you will have to configure it using the various settings available here.
  6. Press the "Capture" button, then the "All" button. This will download all the data from your GPS to your computer.
  7. When done, click the "Exit" button
  8. The data should now appear mid-screen as lines and waypoints.
  9. Now go to file/save file as... in the top menu
  10. For most purposes, select "Google Earth file (*.kml)" from the drop-down "Save as type" window.
  11. Type a name for your file and choose a folder on your computer to save it to. (HINT - Desktop is a good location as the file will be visible on your desktop.)
  12. You may now close GPStrackmaker and browse to the file on your computer
  13. And now you can do whatever you like with this file which contains all the data collected in your travels - email it to a friend as an attachment, open it with Google Earth, manipulate it some more with GPStrackmaker by loading a map, etc.


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