Creating GPS maps can sometimes prove to be a tough task. However, with the right tools and some level of computer literacy and expertise, you can easily do it. Making your own personal maps is fun, entertaining, a learning experience and satisfying. The amount of detail on the map, scale and features can be customized according to your needs. Completed maps can then be published or printed later. When a printed map becomes worn out, you can always print another one. This article gives you the steps on how to make your own GPS maps.
Select A GPS Unit
If you do not have one already, you should select a GPS unit at this stage. GPS units are manufactured by different companies. They come in different styles and sizes. Some of the most common brands that manufacture GPS devices include Trimble, Magellan and Garmin. A hand held GPS device is the most preferable for mapping purposes. This is because of its portability. It can also be set to map out a route which can be downloaded into a computer and you can later import it into mapping software.
Choose a Good Laptop Or PC
Mapping software requires some certain specifications in terms of memory, processing speed and storage. The machine selected should meet the requirements listed on the software. Some software used in mapping includes Google maps and Arc GIS.
Install the Software
After you have selected a computer that has the right specifications required, you can then proceed to install the data and mapping software that comes with the GPS device. This will include data such as highways, roads, rivers, points of interest and marine data.
If some of these data is missing from the basic GPS software, then it can be purchased separately. If the map you are making is for biking or hiking, then topographical data is the one that can provide the required level of detail.
Connect the GPS to Your Computer
This should be made according to the style and brand of the device. Many GPS devices provide a standard USB connector on one end and a micro or mini USB on the other end. Other brands also include a microSD that can be inserted to your computer using an adapter.
It is important to make sure that the cables or the microSD are correctly inserted so that the data is transferred correctly. Disruption of data transfer or improper connection might lead to corruption of data on both ends therefore jeopardizing the whole process.
After the GPS is connected to the computer, you can then import the route that you had selected directly into the mapping software. You can then go ahead to customize the map with the objects and features that you want. There are different features that are available at the mapping software library. You can then go ahead and print the map on a inkjet or laser printer. Do make sure that the printer selected provides full color. A full color printer will display all the features as they appear on the mapping software.
It is clear from the above description that it is not hard to make your own GPS maps. You just need to have the correct software and hardware.