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Trip Planning / Software.

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I am going to throw this out pretty broadly, but if there is interest I can go more in depth. I was emailing with some motorcycle riders who were using a different approach to their trips. They were using a map overlay in a Garmin GPS rather than true routes with turn by turn directions. The problem with turn by turn routes is the GPS tends to focus on getting to the destination by either shortest or quickest route. The motorcycle guys were more interested in following a particular track even if it was not a road. So I learned from them how to create and upload a map overlay that just makes a bold line for the path you want to take.

 

I have used DeLorme software for about 5 or 6 years but was always a little disappointed in the lack of accuracy of the roads and the limitations of how long of a route you can put into it. I had to break Rt 66 into 3 separate routes. Google Maps has great accuracy but limits you to routes about 150 miles long depending on the number of edit points. Google Earth has fewer limits but really sucks doing complex routes and does not do map mode natively. In doing some research I found ridewithGPS. This time it is the bicycle enthusiasts with the great idea. Using their website you can make routes as long as you want. Plus a really great feature is a check box where you tell the software to "avoid highways". Checking this box will give you a route without Interstates automatically. (know you will hate that) When finished and saved the route can be exported as either .kml or .gpx. Each has its own merits. You can upload the saved files into Google Earth to display or for other uses like GPS.

 

Use IMGfromGPX to take the .gpx files and make them into a map overlay that works with Garmin. I use the Nuvi series and am not sure how it works with all other models.

 

A guy contact me about using his software to display my maps. His site is www.mappingsupport.com. You store your .kml on line and then call it using a url that uses the mapping software plus the target file. Like this:

 

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?q=https://sites.google.com/site/route66maptour/goggle-earth/example.kml

 

So the file example.kml is stored on the sites.google.com server and called up by mappingsupport.com in a browser. If your device has GPS you can display your location to assist in navigation. Works great on my iPhone. This appears to be platform neutral. Works on my laptop, tablet and iPhone. You can also use the mappingsupport.com to embed on a website using iframes.

 

So basically you use ridewithgps to draw, edit and export your routes. Use the .kml to display on your web browser with mappingsupport or use the .gpx to create a Garmin map overlay with IMGfromGPX.

 

If there is any interest I can go into more detail on how this works.

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I know there have been times when I wanted to produce an image from a route or track so learning about IMGfromGPX is a good thing. ridewithGPS also seems like a good thing and a reasonable way to deal with GPS limitations. I would think that others could use this too. The GPS limitation I'm thinking of is the inability to follow a route properly.

 

As you've noted, most GPS receivers, including Garmin Nuvis, simply don't do this "right". In fact, the only units I personally know of that do routing properly are Garmin Zumos. This is the reason that turn-by-turn products (such as River Pilot's Route 66 Turn By Turn) specify Zumo. Garmin markets Zumos for motorcycles and blames their higher cost on ruggedized construction and weird mounts and power supplies. I have the impression that most Garmin employees don't even realize that they also contain more powerful processors that are capable of handling the task of proper routing. I really wish Garmin would sell me a routing capable unit without making be pay for waterproofing, direct wire power, or handle bar mounts. They won't but I've decided that the extra money for a bottom of the line Zumo is worth it. As a solo traveler, having a voice tell me when and where to turn is a valuable thing.

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Denny; The site I learned about using the low cost Garmin GPS is advrider.com. Picked up a lot of good info from them. Since many of them are into dual sport bikes they were wanting something other than the standard routing of a GPS. I have not used a Zumo. A little too pricey for me to just "try it out". I can pick up Nuvi for well under $100 with lifetime map updates. I know one of the major differences is that you cannot create routes or tracks on your PC and then upload to a Nuvi which you can with the Zumo. That is why the Zumo is spec'ed for some applications. Do you know what the differences are in the routing methods of the Zumo? One of the issues with turn by turn is that if you get off course it seems to want to recalculate the route based on its next destination. When following Route 66 I am more interested in getting back to the original path I was on and not missing anything. I would like a GPS with a function that takes you back to the point you left the route rather than a new route to the next point.

 

We just got back from a 2,000 mile road trip to New Orleans, Destin FL, Pensacola, Mobile, and Vicksburg. Used a Nuvi and had no issues with the turn by turn routing and directions. Only issue is that you have to create waypoints and navigate to each one rather than a more complex route with multiple stops. So it was great for short distance use like "go to the B&B" or "go to the restaurant" in an unfamiliar town. Our long distance navigation still tends to be DeLorme on a laptop because we also do Geocaching along a route as we go.

 

Here are some screen shots of the Nuvi with an image overlay and some POI loaded into the favorites for places to stop and see. Just scroll through some of my photostream: https://flic.kr/p/pZqbu6 The red line is the primary and the green is an alternate route.

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I think your method is a great way to follow a preplanned route and do it cost effectively.

 

I have used both Nuvis and Zumos and understand some of the basic differences. One of the most obvious indicators that a GPS unit does not handle routing properly is the inability to turn off automatic recalculation. I believe that remains the case with all Nuvis. Some Nuvis used to support downloading routes but I could not tell with a brief visit to Garmin.com whether any of the current models do. In any case, they wouldn't really follow them.

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If interested, you can read my thoughts on a Nuvi here and on a Zumo here.

 

Denny; Excellent info! Thanks for saving me the pain of sorting out the differences. I think we have the same thought process about traveling a specific route rather than a specific destination. Had the same experience as you trying to learn how these units work. The manufacturers were not much help. I have found far more info on forums.

 

I guess my favorite navigation system is still my wife with a laptop. :-)

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