Replacing Garmin MapSource

I use a Garmin GPS-60 when I backpack or hike. The unit came with Garmin MapSource, which I used for several years exclusively. Eventually MapSource was replaced by Garmin Basecamp. Both would extract GPS tracks with relative ease. One thing I didn’t like was Garmin wanting huge dollars for topo maps. They ran $50 PER STATE! I found a project that had digitized maps for all states (and a lot of international locations) and converted them into the format needed by MapSource/Basecamp. They asked for $15 donations, I sent them $50.

But occasionally I forget to bring my Garmin GPS. I use my Samsung Galaxy S3 with the Runkeeper app in that case, which uploads GPS tracks to the Runkeeper website, and can export GPX files. BUT: I discovered quickly that MapSource/Basecamp only accepts tracks from Garmin GPSs, not general GPX files.

I found out from my hike yesterday that when you use Runkeeper, and use the pause function, then restart the app again (we hiked a loop, paused Runkeeper, drove to another trail, restarted Runkeeper and hiked that loop), the uploaded tracks are joined on the Runkeeper website. So I need a function to separate the single GPS track into two. This is pretty common. When a GPS unit loses lock, or is turned off, you need to be able to edit the track information to join segments due to signal loss, or delete spurious track pieces that are generated during the GPS unit startup). MapSource/Basecamp does this pretty well, but again, only for tracks downloaded from a Garmin GPS.

BTW, the issue with MapSource/Basecamp not importing GPX data is clearly an administrative decision made by Garmin. It also keeps me from viewing downloaded GPS tracks to “preview” hikes. So to the Garmin corporation, a general observation: you suck.

I played around with a number of other GPS programs, including those that support GPX files, such as Google Earth, and Open Street Maps. These didn’t do a good job of letting me edit, or they didn’t produce a good altitude plot, or there was some other problem. One good program that had promise was ExpertGPS. It’s $74, but has good topo map support, and would get aerial imagery and overlay it. I got an idea, and had it import the GPX that was produced by RunKeeper. No problem there. I connected my GPS, and transferred the GPX into it. No problem, and the track now showed up on the GPS60. The only issue I had was when ExpertGPS told me that my GPS60 would only take 750 data points, and so the track needed to be edited down. ExpertGPS also told me it had a function to do that, and it worked.

Next, I shut down the ExpertGPS program, and fired up MapSource. I told it to transfer the data from the GPS60, and it did!

So I successfully “laundered” RunKeeper GPS tracks from my Galaxy S3 through the GPS60 and ExpertGPS to MapSource. From there, I was able to make good topo maps, and altitude maps.

I downloaded and installed the EasyGPS program, and was able to do the same laundering thing.

So I am able to use my RunKeeper tracks, or tracks that I have downloaded from the Internet, on MapSource, in spite of the deliberate lack of support from Garmin.

Data wants to be freely usable!

4 Responses to “Replacing Garmin MapSource”

  1. Jeroen Says:

    Hi Bill, I had this similar problem with GPX files downloaded from Runkeeper and loading into mapsource. The solution is simple however.
    When opening with a text editor, look at the header of the GPX (=XML). Remove the <time.. segment right after the <name segment and Mapsource will read it just fine. Takes just a second to do.

    This way you don't need any extra external tools.

  2. Bill Hensley Says:

    Jeroen, thanks for the tip. I tried this with the data I got from the hike yesterday with Runkeeper, and it imported perfectly! I really appreciate it.


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