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Old February 17th, 2011, 08:34 AM   #1
timh
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Default Android Phone application for MI state provided GPS tracks

Now that some of the Michigan DNR maps are providing GPS route information has any one found a good app for the android phone to import the route into and follow while your out there?

I've just started playing with it. The DNR GPX files are weird (at least to me). They are routes made up of MANY waypoints and not tracks. I haven't found an android app that can open them directly and display them on a map. I know there are other ways to do it but I am going to describe the best method I've found so far for getting them into your phone. I've only been playing with this since last night so I'm very interested in hearing better ways to do it.

Load an app on your phone called "Backcountry Navigator". It has a generous free trial period. It's $10 to buy and I'll be buying it unless I find a better way before my demo expires.

Go to the State DNR ORV maps website and get the GPX files your interested in. Not all the maps have them but the ones I was interested in, in Lake County and St Helens ORV area in Roscommon county have them. They have a Jan 31, 2011 date on them so this is new from the DNR.

Now here's the ugly part and i know there is a better way to do this. You have to convert the route to a track. I did this by uploading that GPX file to Everytrail.com. They convert it into their format.

Then I downloaded the converted GPX file from everytrail and opened that in Backcountry navigator on my phone. Backcountry navigator doesn't have turn by turn directions but I can navigate by looking at my current position on the map and I can see the GPX track I imported on the map.

Moving the file around requires extra software or some massaging. Email it to yourself on the phone is proably the simplest way to get it there. I use Astro as a file manager and I'm a big fan of drop box my moving files around. You can use whatever method you are comfortable with.

I would love to get these tracks into Google maps or find an easier way to get them on the phone. If anyone else has tried this please let me know. I'd love to hear what you've tried and what does/doesn't work.

Mapping apps I've tried that I didn't get anywhere with-
Google Maps
Maverick
OruxMaps (may be some potential here)
Rmaps
MapDroid
Osmdroid
EveryTrail Pro (doesn't seem to handle the huge number of waypoints)
Open GPS tracker (no option to import, makes great tracks to export)

I've looked at lots of other GPS and compass apps but none list the ability to import.

Last edited by timh; February 17th, 2011 at 08:48 AM. Reason: added state specific info
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Old April 11th, 2011, 04:52 PM   #2
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Did not know the DNR was giving out GPS routes of the trail systems... Thanks, I will be using them on my Garmin for riding my Motorcycle...

Have you tried VVMapping http://www.vvmapping.com/ for files that may be easier to use with your Phone????
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Old April 12th, 2011, 08:19 AM   #3
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Did not know the DNR was giving out GPS routes of the trail systems... Thanks, I will be using them on my Garmin for riding my Motorcycle...

Have you tried VVMapping http://www.vvmapping.com/ for files that may be easier to use with your Phone????
Not for $40 I haven't and aren't likely to. It looks to me like all they've done is take the free information available from the DNR and bundled it. I don't doubt they've got time invested in it but $40 is pretty steep for what is likely to be the exact same files that I've already got. They are routable on a Garmin GPS but not so much on a smartphone, at least not with any of the apps I've tried so far.
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Old April 12th, 2011, 02:03 PM   #4
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The app My Tracks uses GPX files as I am understanding the app. The app exports maps you make on My Tracks as gpx so I would assume that you can import gpx files to that app
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Old April 12th, 2011, 03:23 PM   #5
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The app My Tracks uses GPX files as I am understanding the app. The app exports maps you make on My Tracks as gpx so I would assume that you can import gpx files to that app
The files coming from the DNR are GPX. All except one that I have tried to use so far are in an a weird (I think) format. They aren't tracks they are routes made up of waypoints. For a couple apps I've tried it's to many way points for the phone to handle or it takes way to long to open and manipulate on the phone because of the number of points.

They are also few apps on the phone that will import GPX though there are a bunch that will export GPX. I do not think that MyTracks will import a GPX though it can import from google maps. I'll have to look into whether that solves what I'm trying to do. I also don't think MyTracks is capable of caching the maps for offline use, which is something backcountry navigator can do.

It's tough to explain without being able to show you what I'm talking about. If you look at the DNR provided GPX files you can see what I mean by comparing the Dunham lake route to the St Helen's Route.

So far backcountry navigator is working great for me, especially when using what I could call a normal GPX track log file like the Dunham lake route one. That one doesn't need any manipulation to be used on the phone or my GPS.
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Old April 24th, 2011, 07:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by timh View Post
Not for $40 I haven't and aren't likely to. It looks to me like all they've done is take the free information available from the DNR and bundled it. I don't doubt they've got time invested in it but $40 is pretty steep for what is likely to be the exact same files that I've already got. They are routable on a Garmin GPS but not so much on a smartphone, at least not with any of the apps I've tried so far.
Our maps are built with our own recorded data - we've ridden every trail and GPS'd all of them. Constantly updating as well. Our maps are different than what you will pull from the DNR - ours show certified county roads, gas stations, turn-by-turn autorouting support (Garmin GPS units), State and USFS land, MVUM for USFS land (showing which roads are open and when). No smartphone support at this time though.

The DNR started with a major chunk of our data back in '07 (we donated to them to get their maps up to date for the time). Lots of changes since then. I'm usually updated before them, but not always. For example they are showing the new Alcona ORV trail on a map, but the trail is not physically marked on the ground (and not legal until it is) so it's not in our maps until it is marked.

It's nice to see the DNR providing GPS related trail data, but as you've found, it's not a convenient package (lots of futzing to get it into something useful in the GPS) and not complete coverage. If you're only riding one or two trails and like to tinker with technology, it's a great option.
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