Creating a GPX File for My Garmin eTrex

Creating a GPX File for My Garmin eTrex

So what do I do to create my GPX files that I copy into either of my Garmin eTrex devices? I own both an eTrex 10 and an eTrex 20x. When I first got the devices I thought I was going to have to use Garmin software to create the files. One such program is called Basecamp. However, the operating systems I use on my Mac and PCs are not the latest and greatest, and thus Basecamp will not run on my computers. Oh well, I didn’t really want to install that crappy software on any of my computers anyway.

RWGPS is the online equivalent of Basecamp. And I have an aversion to becoming a paid member of the site.  And if I want to use RWGPS to create the GPX files so I would be able to use my eTrex devices to their fullest potential, then RWGPS informs me per a Web Page that I would need to become a “Basic or Premium” (paying) member of the site. I suspect a lot of people will just go ahead and pay the monthly fee. However, I just did a little online research on how to work around RWGPS and get what I want/need in my GPX files without becoming a basic or premium member.

RWGPS allows you to download your RWGPS Route (“RR”) that you have created using RWGPS. One file format is a TCX file which includes both the Track (breadcrumb trail) information as well as Waypoints, i.e., Cue Sheet information. It also allows you to download two versions of GPX files. One is called GPX Track, and the other is called GPX Route. GPX Track includes only the Track information (breadcrumb trail), and GPX Route only includes Waypoints, i.e., Cue Sheet information. What you want (NEED) for your eTrex device is either 1) the TCX file converted to a GPX file, or 2) the GPX Route file with the GPX Track file appended to the end of it. It’s easy to accomplish the first by using either of the two following Web sites: GpsBabel or GpsVisualizer. They are both free services. And you can accomplish the second by using a text editor application and copying the contents of GPX Track into GPX Route. You can visualize how to do this if you take a peak at the file you created when you used either GpsBabel or GpsVisualizer. A GPX file is just a TXT file with XML codes saved with a GPX file extension.

Let’s say I prefer to use option 1 – I download the TCX file and convert it using online software. Before I download the RR I edit the cue sheet line items one at a time. As a free member of RWGPS you are allowed to do this. When in Edit Mode on the right side of your computer screen you will see the option called “Add to Cue Sheet.” Click on this so you can then click on each of the cue sheet items listed on the left side of your computer screen. When you click on an item you will want to change what is in the NOTES box to only the street name. This will be what shows up as a Waypoint label in your eTrex device’s map view. You do not need to say right, left, or straight here since the Waypoint will overlay the RR track in your device’s map view. How you will turn will be very apparent just by looking at the track. If you don’t limit the NOTES entry to the street name, you very well won’t have the street name to go by when using your eTrex.

At first glance you might think it is easiest to edit existing cue sheet entries. However, I have found it to be quicker to simply delete all cue sheet entries at the start and then add cue sheet entries (road names) at each intersection “intersection” of significance. I make entries for each right, left, and straight with name change of road. Some people I know also insert a cue sheet entry for the start of a big hill.

For a long bike ride with control stops or rest stops intermingled, you might want to consider making a separate file for each leg of the route. The eTrex device makes it very easy for you to change from one Track to another during a ride. Takes less than a minute to pull this off. So a 200k brevet with three control stops will have 4 legs to it. Thus, 4 gpx files to create and load into your eTrex before the start. Make the file names logical like 1leg.gpx, 2leg.gpx, 3leg.gpx, and 4leg.gpx.

After you have converted the RWGPS files to gpx format, then copy them into your eTrex device. It comes with a USB cable. Plug it into the device and into your computer. Use the File Manager or Finder program to copy the file or files from your hard drive to a folder called “GTX” in your eTrex device.

Read my NEXT POST to see how I like to set up my eTrex devices so they purr like a kitten.

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