Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Managing Your GPS Waypoints

Before getting too detailed lets understand just what a waypoint is.  As long as the GPS is on, it will collect information from the satellites of the GPS constellation. The receiver in your hand collects updates about once a second.  When you select "mark", that position information is automatically saved to memory; this is a waypoint. This data is the latitude/longitude of your position, your coordinates. This position information is automatically tagged with a default identification number like 001. Managing these tags is what waypoint management is all about.

Lots of things can happen to a waypoint or data file.  You can put data in. You can take data out.  You can lose it (the GPS breaks or the wrong button entry is selected.)  But be careful, too much data can make your navigation difficult.

In my land navigation class I stress keeping your navigation simple.  Frequent and simple waypoint management is essential to GPS use.  When it’s time to return to the truck, it should be obvious what waypoint to select. 

Dump the junk before the start of a trip.  A GPS receiver can store hundreds of waypoints.  I recommend that as you leave the trail head your GPS should have only necessary data saved on your GPS for that trip.  That waypoint for last year's great fishing trip is important but needs to be saved elsewhere.  

Start by deleting Waypoints that really are not needed.  Free those data bites to the atmosphere.

To save your “got to have, must save Waypoints.” 

1.       Use Garmin’s “Trip and Waypoint Manager.”  It probably came with your GPS.  It can also be purchased from Garmin for about $30.00;  Down load those Waypoints to your PC.

2.        If you don’t have the Garmin program, consider “Easy GPS.”  It is free and available at

3.        Log the important data in a notebook.

Electronic storage allows you to save waypoints and track data (that bread crumb trail on your map screen.)  Further, you can upload old Waypoints another day for a trip to that special fishing spot.  This data can also be down loaded into your friends GPS too.  It can also be uploaded to your new GPS in the future.

When you receive or transfer waypoint data always verify that you have the compatible map
datum and coordinate system set on your receiver.

Finally, give important waypoints a name.  It’s easier to remember a waypoint named  “CAMP” instead of 21 (or was it 25.)

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