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Solution for waypoint and track storage data on long field trips


I am a primate ecologist, no doubt a few of you on here are too! This means long hours spent in the forest usually sleeping at night in a field station without power for up to 12 days at a time. With this comes 2 main concerns in relation to my GPS (which is invaluable to the research). Today I am mainly concerned with suggestions for solutions with data storage.

Based on my survey plan, I can say I will definitely fill up the waypoint allocation on my Garmin 62s before I finish a 12 day trip. As I see it the way around this would be to take a computer with me to camp so that I can use it to download the data from my GPS (on day 6 for example) to free it up for more work. I have looked at high amp batteries as one way to keep my laptop with charge but this whole situation seems kind of clumsy. I have also considered a portable solar panel but I fear to leave my gear at camp un-attended (for the sun), potentially in the rain if the weather changes while I am miles away chasing monkeys...

Does anyone out there have a better idea? Is it possible to make the GPS record waypoints to the micro SD so that I can just take a few spares? What about any type of device that can copy another device when it's plugged in via USB (maybe a bit too James Bond?)

Cheers for your time.


  • nevw 38 Points
    I read that you can set up operating systems like Rasberry Pi on sd cards, so it is may be possibly to set up a cron job from the os, that would trigger whilst the Garmin is switched on, to copy the waypoints from the Garmin to the sd card and to delete those waypoints that are more than 4 days old or so. If this was possible I would carry a couple of cards set up the same way as backup in case of failure. I am sorry to say I have no knowledge in this subject, but have often thought about doing something like this and would like to know if it is possible without using an external source.
  • Boyd 1960 Points
    edited November 2016
    I've never needed to store large number of waypoints. But generally speaking, Garmin still seems stuck with legacy software limitations that may not exist in newer software. So I would look at some smartphone apps as an alternative. There are a number of apps that allow you to store maps and everything on the phone and don't require any cellular service.

    Galileo, OruxMaps and Locus are a few apps that might be worth a look to see how many waypoints they can store. You could get a used Android or Apple phone and a waterproof/shockproof case with a battery. You wouldn't need a particularly new phone just for this.

    Otherwise, I think you would have to bring a computer and offload the data data from the GPSMap 62s as it fills up. If you were only going to use a computer for this purpose, I suspect you could get through 6 days with no battery charging. A MacBook Air can certainly run 12 hours on one charge for example and the 11" version is really small and light (I have one). Apple has just discontinued these, but they still sell refurbs (just saw one for $760) and 3rd party vendors still have new models.

    I'm sure there are Windows "UltraBook" models with similar specs, possibly less expensive too.

    BTW, for track recording (not waypoints), I think you can actually use the SD card - check the menus. I know that my GPSMap 60csx (older version of the 62s) has a menu setting for this. AFAIK, the only limit to the amount of track storage is the 4GB limit of the FAT32 filesystem that Garmin uses.
  • Wow raspberry pi's and cron jobs, definitely Bond style. I wouldn't know where to start with them though. Would it still all be processed using a computer (mac for example) or would the 'computer' be the GPS in this instance?

    Boyd; Unfortunately I have a charge thirsty macbook pro late 2011 running 2 HDDs and on a students budget I just have to learn to love the computer I've got. Great tip for recording the tracks I'll check it out. Do you have any of these apps (for GPS smartphone use) you'd recommend and what type of accuracy I could expect from them?

  • Boyd 1960 Points
    edited November 2016
    The newer phones from the past few years should be pretty good in terms of accuracy, they typically have GLONASS receivers. My iPhone 6s+ seems to be comparable to one of Garmin's Nuvi's using it in the car. For recording accurate tracks, I have used a Garmin GLO, which is a small $100 Bluetooth device that sends data wirelessly to either an Android or iOS phone or tablet. IMO, it is more accurate than a Garmin handheld. I wrote about this here:

    Like I said, the number of waypoints never interested me and I don't see a spec for that in quickly looking at a few apps. You would have to research this yourself. I mentioned a few apps above. Galileo runs on both Android and iOS

    OruxMaps and Locus Map are only for Android:

    But you would need to dig deeper yourself. There are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of apps for iOS and Android. My needs are much different, I make my own detailed maps (something complex that you probably will not want to try) and these programs work well for that.

    There are several companies that make cases to protect a phone. I have a pretty basic Otterbox case that cost around $60. I originally got a different one that is completely waterproof, but thought it would interfere with the phone function too much. And it was not easy to remove the phone from the case, which is something I wanted to do frequently. If only using a phone for a GPS, that wouldn't be needed.

    Mophie is another company that specializes in cases with built-in batteries to extend phone run time.
  • Righto,

    Thanks so much for your time Boyd, really appreciate you imparting some of that well earned wisdom upon me! I definitely have enough to figure it out for myself as you said.

  • truckinguy 115 Points
    edited November 2016
    Seems the easiest thing to do is to figure a small notebook or similar you can transfer back and forth that will have long battery life. Or bring spares. They stay charged for a while. I have a small Dell that charges from my truck. This way you don't have to fool with apps that may be hoaky or incompatable with each other and your doing. Keep it simple...reliable . Phones need to be charged and just can't take the punishment of usage.
  • nevw 38 Points
    That Rasperry stuff was 'Pi in the sky' ... no such method is possible today.
  • well in the end I tried that out. I met with a programmer that said she had set the RPi to copy on boot from the GPS to the boot mSD card. This did actually work a few times but wasn't consistent enough to depend on for my valuable research data. However given more time I think it could be made more robust. Currently, I think a Garmin GLO with the pro Galileo app is the best solution (for simplicity) to not taking a computer with me. Keeping in mind it would require 1 or 2x 25000mAh power banks to keep it up and running for a few weeks, plus the cost of the GLO device, you're talking more than 200 pounds already.
  • nevw 38 Points
    OK, that RPi is encouraging me yet again. Sounds like just turning on the Garmin with the mSD card inserted is enough to be able to boot the RPi setup on the same mSD card and trigger the cron. Could this be done?...I await my next meeting with a programmer :)
  • nevw 38 Points
    You may be interested in a recent discussion on a bushwalking site on solar power whilst in remote areas.
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