By Greg Riker
This document will walk you through several tutorials to create custom maps for Garmin GPS receivers and for your mobile phone. The assumption is that you are a motivated computer user of moderate skill with an interest in making your own digital maps. If so, you have come to the right place. If you get stuck, there are many online resources listed at the end of this document where you can find helpful users of both programs.
Some terms and phrases are used very frequently, so let’s introduce some shorthand to refer to them:
- GM8 – Global Mapper 8, software used to create source files for maps.
- cGPSMapper – software used to compiles map source files. If you want to use your custom maps in your Garmin GPS device you need this software.
- VGPS – software used to compiles map source files. If you want to use your custom maps in your mobile phone you need this software.
- GPSr – a generic term referring to a GPS receiver. Within this document, GPSr refers specifically to Garmin GPS receivers.
- .MP – Polish format source files exported by GM8, imported by cGPSMapper and VGPS.
- .IMG – the compiled file format output by cGPSMapper, which is downloadable into a Garmin GPSr.
- .JAR – the j2me compiled file format output by VGPS, which is installable into a mobile phone.
- GME – GPSMapEdit, software used with .MP source files to define routing information in your maps.
Global Mapper 8
GM8 is a software tool from Global Mapper Software (http://GlobalMapper.com) enabling creation of digital maps. Think of it as a word processor for geographic data. With a digital representation of your data, you can create printed maps or digital map files that can be downloaded into Garmin GPSr’s. Version 8.1 was used in the preparation of these tutorials.
cGPSMapper is a software tool from cGPSMapper (http://cGPSMapper.com) that compiles .MP format source code exported by GM8 into a .IMG file that can be downloaded and displayed in a Garmin GPS receiver. The free version of cGPSMapper supports all features described in this document except routing. There is a 30-day trial version available at the cGPSMapper site allowing you to experiment with routing. Version 0.90 was used during the preparation of these tutorials.
SendMap20 downloads .IMG files created by cGPSMapper into Garmin GPSr’s. A free version is available at http://cgpsmapper.com/buy.htm. There is also a Pro version available with an extended feature set. Version 3.5 was used during the preparation of these tutorials.
VGPS is a software tool from DigitalMobileMap (http://www.digitalmobilemap.com) that compiles .MP format source code exported by GM8 into a J2ME .jar file that can be installed in a mobile phone to display your custom map in mobile phone. There is no free version of VGPS, you need to pay $20 to compile your custom map to use in your mobile phone. If you want to use your custom map in Garmin device, you need to use cGPSMapper and SendMap20. However, if you just want to use your custom map in your mobile phone, you need only VGPS, no need to use cGPSMapper and SendMap.
GME is a software tool from Geopainting.com (http://Geopainting.com). Many of its functions overlap with those of GM8. In this sequence of tutorials, GME is used to add routing data to your maps. Version 220.127.116.11 was used during the preparation of these tutorials.
A text editor can be as simple as Notepad, but a structured editor is a much more powerful tool for a mapmaker. While you’re getting started, Notepad will be fine, but when you’re ready to step up to something more capable I recommend EditPad Pro, available from http://editpadpro.com.
Setting up your computer
Mapmaking is a complex process requiring specialized software tools and a powerful computer. For these tutorials, you are assumed to be operating in the Windows XP environment with at least 512MB of RAM and plenty of hard disk storage. The tutorials will generate about 200MB of data. Larger projects can easily generate several gigabytes of data.
Installing the tools
If you haven’t already done so, install Global Mapper 8 and cGPSMapper.
Hard disk storage
For this introductory tour, you will need at least 200MB of free hard disk space.
For your map data, you may wish to consider using a separate disk storage device. Create an initial directory structure that looks like this:
A broadband connection to the Internet is desirable for downloading satellite imagery.
To display your compiled data, you will need a Garmin GPSr with the ability to display downloaded maps. Additionally, if you want to work with custom types, giving you the ability to control how your features look in the GPSr, you will need a relatively recent model supporting this ability.
Planning Your Project
You may have already experimented with making some digital maps. For this tutorial, we’ll assume that you’re starting from scratch. You’re probably anxious to dive in and starting doing something, but a little planning up front will make the entire process more rewarding.
The scope of your project will determine what data you need to collect. For our introductory tutorial we will create a map with the three principal data types: Points, Lines and Areas. We will download some aerial imagery from online sources to use as a digitizing reference, and we’ll generate some topographic contour lines.
All maps are compilations of data from multiple sources, and yours will be no exception. What makes maps unique is the individual perspective that each mapmaker brings to their craft. Your design decisions to emphasize certain features will make your map unique.
A note about copyrights: Copyright is a serious matter. Nothing in this guide is intended to violate anyone’s copyrighted material. Understand that there is a clear distinction between facts (which cannot be copyrighted) and the representation of facts (which may be copyrightable). Looking at a copyrighted map to understand the fact that a city or street is located at certain geographic coordinates is fair use of that fact. Photocopying the map and selling it as your own work is not fair use. Taking someone else’s compiled map data and representing it as your own work is a crime. Please don’t violate these common-sense principles.
Conventions used in this document
|Bold italics||A program command|
|Pipe (File | Open)||A pipe represents a level in the menu hierarchy. For example, File | Open means to click on the File menu, then select the Open command.|
|SMALL CAPS||Small caps are used for file names (JACKSON.MP) and extensions (.GMW), and Overlays (GENERATED CONTOURS)|
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