Friday, July 30, 2010

Custom Map

I have been wanting to write a blog about hiking in Michigan. I guess today is the day.  :) Nathan and I are headed out to Nordhouse Dunes this weekend.  We'll be hanging out with friends, breaking in my new boots, giving Chopper some exercise and testing our gear before our trip to Isle Royale.

We learned that you can create a custom map using an image overlay and load it onto a gps!  So cool! This worked really well on our Garmin Oregon GPS.

To Overlay an Image (picture) onto your GPS:
Directions:  Garmin Custom Maps 
Some notes that will help you along:
1) Click on the instructions tab once on the Garmin Webpage.
2) .kmz files are containers that can hold many .jpg images. Garmin's spec allows each .jpg to be a max of 1024x1024 and there may be as many as 100 of these inside the .kmz file. You are limited to a 1 megapixel image.

(Note: We purchased a very large map for Isle Royale, I scanned the map in with an industrial scanner. I ended up with a enormous jpg. Reducing this jpg to a 1 megapixel image was very grainy and pretty much unusable. Instead I took this image into photoshop and broke it up into 20 images that were 1024x1024.

Trace Overlay and Only Import Routes and Waypoints:
Since then we have decided that the map is a bit confusing because it is a floating image with a lot of background wording/etc. So now we load the map into google earth, add waypoints and trace the routes that are available on the map, then only load the routes and waypoints that we want into the gps.  You will have to follow all the same instructions as above except you do not need to worry about image size, because you will delete it before loading it to your gps.

You will also have to follow these steps:
1) In google earth create a folder under my places. Put all your waypoints and routes in this folder for organization. This file will be automatically saved as a .kmz file. Once you add all your waypoints and routes go to File > Save Place As > and change the format to .kml (Don't forget to delete the image you orginally used to trace.)
2) Download GPSBabel and convert the .kml file to a .gpx (gpx xml) file.
3) Put the .gpx file on your gps. The folder on our gps is:  Garmin:\GPX
4) Turn on your gps and select "Where to" and you should be able to see your routes and waypoints.

Put map in Google Maps:
If you are not interested in putting the map on your gps you can put it in google maps following these instructions below:

Note: If you have an iphone you can also send the custom map to your phone and use the google earth app to view the custom map!  (Note: You will need a wi-fi connection to use google earth on your phone to show your current location, however it can still be used as a reference)

If you created the custom map yourself:
1) Export your custom map to your computer: Right click on My Places > Save Place As... > save .kmz file to computer (it saves as a zip file so you will have to extract the contents)

2) Now open and click on My Maps > Import > Navigate to the kmz file.  You should see your map !

3) When you open google earth on your iphone click the little i in the bottom right hand corner, click on My Maps Account > Grant Access >  put a check mark on the map name you want to display, then click done.  It should automatically fly to that location... if not just move to that location and you should see all of your data points.  :)

If somebody else created the map:
- Click on the link to open the map in google maps.  This one is for Nordhouse Dunes: Nordhouse Custom Map
- Click on Save to My Maps
- Follow step 3 above to view map in google earth from your phone!
Here is the link to the map I used, it also has detailed information on Nordhouse: Dunes

Happy Trails!

P.S. If this is too high-tech, my husband says I can do this for you... for a very large fee.