Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Austin CityMaps Updated

The City of Austin updated its Parks and Streets layers on their website so I re-processed both the Garmin and Magellan versions of the Austin CityMaps (now called version 2.0) to include this data. It was also discovered that I had a typo in the river/stream linetype name in the Magellan version causing them to display (err, not to display) with invisible lines. That problem has been corrected with this version. I have also removed POI's from the Austin Garmin version for two reasons 1. I do not think anyone found them useful 2. they are very time consuming to include. The Magellan version still has POI's but this is probably the last version that will (unless I hear they are interesting to someone).

Friday, May 13, 2005


Transparent TOPO maps for Garmin Mapsource

A popular request of Garmin users has been to display Mapsource TOPO and Street maps at the same time. This is possible with Garmin GPSr's but so far, they have not released a Mapsource product that actually supports this. These special overlay files are called transparent maps.

A transparent TOPO map of south Austin South (see link on left side) was created as a test. This file ( includes a large area south of Hwy 290/I35 to just North of Kyle (N30° - N30° 20" and W097° 30"- W098°).

The underlying data is from the US Government 1/3 arc second National Elevation Dataset (NED) and is better than anything commercially available for GPSr's. The 1/3 arc second data was translated and 10-foot contour lines created (dashed line). Intermediate contours (solid line) are every 50 feet and Major contours (thick line) every 100ft.

Another popular request I see from Garmin users is the ability to view and upload custom maps with Mapsource. To make custom maps loadable in to Mapsource 3 lines in the Windows registry must be added so that Mapsource knows where to look for the new map files. I recently found a third party utility that makes this less risky for the average person to do. Before you download Austin South, download and install the utility called GPS Map Manager (link provided on left side of this page). This link will take you to a web page that includes step-by-step instructions on how to complete the Mapsource registry process. Note that the instructions request a UGPID. Please enter 5150 as the unique Garmin product ID (UGPID).

As you may know I do not have a Garmin GPS (MeriGold instead) so I have no way to test this on a GPS so I am looking for testers to give it a whirl. Let me know you if you run into any issues.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Part 2: Texas Challenge Custom Maps

The Challenge is over and the Centex Team came in second place. I've updated the Cedar Hill State Park links so that the enhanced Centex Team maps are now available for all to download. The 2 key differences are that they have 10ft topo lines and all the named trails in the park. The Garmin file has 2 maps, one with Topo and one without.

I have also uploaded a PDF file of the Map so you can see the information on your computer rather than your GPS.

Friday, March 04, 2005


Cedar Hill State Park - Texas Challenge Custom Maps

In preparation for the annual Texas Challenge event (see I have created custom maps of the park and surrounding areas for all the teams to use. I started with the NTCOG data mention below but unfortunately for some reason all the roads in the park are clipped at boundary line. This very strange since the other area parks show that data. Maybe because it's a State Park I guess???

Anyway, using aerial photography of the area I digitized all the roads, made corrections to the park boundary, added information on all the trails we will be allowed to use (the Dorba Yellow and Red trails are not included), and also created polygons around the federally protected grass lands that we must stay out of. I also included a GPX version of the park boundary that can be loaded into mapsource, mapsend, etc. for display. This will probably be very helpful to team leaders to verify there tokens are hidden inside the park. You could use ExpertGPS (et al) to upload this GPX track to your GPS, but I strongly recommend against that. It's better to upload the custom map I created.

One important thing to note: I changed the Cedarhill park boundary polygon so that it has no internal fill color. I tried making it a light color but the screen was still too dark, IMO. The other area parks are shaded.

If you are attending the Texas Challenge you might want to load both the Dallas/Fort Worth CityMAP and the Cedarhill custom map and toggle off the big DFW map when you arrive in the park.

If you are using a serial connection to load both maps make sure you have fresh batteries before you start (it will take some time to upload). Just be sure to upload them at the same time since each upload session erases the previously uploaded map(s). This does not apply to Magellan Meridian users with SD card writers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Dallas/Fort Worth CityMAP Now Available

At a whopping 9+MB for the Magellan version the newest CityMAP is now available for download (Garmin version will be available shortly). This is the first CityMAP to include 2 counties of data (Dallas and Tarrant). The data is from the North Texas Council of Governments (NTCOG: goto to see what the data looks like in a webmap).

I also tried something new with this CityMAP by including Trail POI data from the USGS. The trail information is not very complete so don't get your hopes up. Basically if the trail is labeled on a USGS QUAD map *AND* someone was able to tell where the trail started, a coordinate was assigned to the POI (about 10% of the trails only).

Another unique "feature" of the data was that the roads had no attributes denoting if it was a freeway, major road, or a street like the other counties have had. This prevented me from applying road type color, style, and thickness to the base (most accurate) road layer. Therefore, I added 2 additional road layers, freeways and major roads, that turn on and off at different zoom levels. The net effect of this is when you zoom in to the detail levels, all the roads and freeways will look the same. When you zoom out far enough the base road layer turns off and the freeways and major roads turn on.

Garmin maps do not have the capability to turn off layers at detail zoom levels so it will likely show 2 versions of each freeway and major road, one on top of the other.

BTW, Thanks to your donations I purchased a registered copy of the 3rd party Garmin translator I will soon be able to provide more advanced features (like the Magellan version) for Garmin users. To be 100% comparable I would need to purchase the $300 version which is probably not feasible. The good news is that I have also discovered another 3rd party Garmin translator to investigate. Great, another steep learning curve for me ;-]

Monday, January 03, 2005


Austin CityMAP Now Available

It's the new year and as promised the Austin CityMAP (all of Travis County) is available for download. The data is from the Capitol Area Planning Commission (CAPCO) and the City of Austin. Data layers include all 911 roads (all Travis county roads that have names, note: private drives and alley ways will be missing), lakes and creeks, railroads, parks (State, City, and County), and a bunch of POI's with auxiliary data (i.e., Swimming Pools, Entertainment, Historical Sites, Marinas, Museums, Post Offices, as well as 8 more categories). As with all Magellan version CityMAPs, the features can be searched and the POI icons can be turned off/on by category.

Since I am using a freeware Garmin translator, Garmin POI's do not contain any auxiliary data and the all features cannot be searched like the Magellan version. This is the last planned CityMAP demo in Garmin format until donations allow the purchase of a registered copy of the Garmin translator.

The dataset comes in just under 5MB so there is about 2MB more data than in the San Antonio CityMAP. This is mainly because of the large creek layer that was compiled from aerial photography. The CAPCO layers are highly accurate (+/- 10 ft) because they were created from photography but they lack detailed attribute information (i.e., lakes and railroads don't have names). Most of them are probably runoff areas and ditches rather than water features. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 01, 2005


High-tech scavenger hunt finding converts -- from the San Antonio Express-News Metro State

On the front page of today's Express News Metro Section was printed an article on geocaching featuring Cybercat and Bilderback. I went out to McAllister park to help Cybercat with the photo shoot for this article.

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