All posts by admin

17Dec/06

Tracking your Path

Also known as breadcrumbing, tracking is a much requested feature of BackCountry Navigator. As of version 2.0, this feature allows you to mark and save a path, and export it in a GPX file for sharing or viewing. 

To illustrate this feature, we are again making a trek around a neighborhood. When you have a GPS fix, use the GPS-> Track-> On menu item to initiate a track.  You will begin to see a line behind you as you walk around the neighborhood.


Once the track is complete, as in the above right, you can choose Action-> GPS->Track->Save to save it in your map database. Tracks that have been saved will then show up when you load them into the list tab by choosing Action->List->Tracks.   

You can choose one of the saved tracks and edit to choose its display color, name, description.


Any tracks in your current map will be exported along with your waypoints when you export your data in GPX (GPS Exchange Format).

Onced the data is saved to a GPX file, it can be shared with other users or viewed in a variety of desktop software, such as TopoFusion, EasyGPS, or Google Earth.   

15Oct/06

Software Manual

This is the manual for the latest version of BackCountry Navigator. This manual is text only, and explains the screens and menus of the BackCountry Navigator software.   

Pages

Map Page

If there is a map file loaded, the map page shows the map image data along with points of interest. The items that are shown are controlled by the View Menu.  

Moving the map

Moving the map allows you to pan to different parts of it. To pan, drag the image with the stylus. After you lift the stylus, the map will redraw in the new position.

Zooming

To zoom in on the map, press the down arrow key or View-> Zoom -> In. To zoom out, press the up arrow key or View -> Zoom -> Out. Using View -> Zoom -> Zoom to Default will attempt to find a default center and scale  of the map currently loaded. Set Default will set this default.  The Zoom Control at the top of the map allows you to quickly jump to a particular scale. It also marks the approximate size of a small line on the screen to give you an idea of the scale.  

Making Selections

To mark a point on the map, tap the screen (press and release). Small red crosshairs will mark the last point tapped. The Select Menu will then have an option to view a point of interest or create a new one. On the Select Menu, you can also choose to mark lines or rectangles by tapping the screen multiple times.

GPS Pointer

When a GPS has a fix on your current location, the GPS pointer will appear on the map. The center of the circle is the current location, while the arrow within the circle indicates the direction of travel. A line will draw from the GPS Pointer to a Goto Waypoint if one is active.

NavLine

The bottom portion of the map screen contains a panel with brief information about navigation. It contains the following information from left to right:

  •  Bars indicating the relative strength of the GPS signal. These are red for no fix, yellow for a 2D fix, or green for a 3D fix.
  • Bearing and speed of current course as picked up by the GPS.
  • A miniature compass similar to that on the Nav Page, showing direction of travel and direction to waypoint, if active.
  • Bearing and distance to a Goto waypoint, if active.

List Page

The List Page is for organization and lookup of points of interest. Use the menu item Action->List to choose a set of points. The points will display in a grid, for which you can resize the columns. You can choose the following lists:

  • Places: USGS places in the map.
  • Waypoints: Points of interest that you have defined or imported.
  • Tracks: Paths which you have marked and saved, or imported.
  • Nearest WayPoints: The 30 waypoints nearest the current GPS Position or the center of the Map screen.
  • Nearest Places: The 30 geographic places nearest the current GPS Position or the center of the Map screen.

You can use the Clear button to clear the list. The grid view of the list allows you to resize columns if needed. You may also scroll through the list, and select an item by highlighting a row. Once a row has been selected, you can choose a button for the following actions:

  • Edit: Open a form to view or change values of the item.
  • Del: Delete the item permanently.
  • Center: Return to the map screen and center on the point in question.
  • Goto: Activate the item as a Goto Waypoint.
  • Del All: Delete all items in list from your datafile.  

Nav Page

When using a GPS, this page will track your position and movement, and when activated, your progress toward a Goto waypoint.

Course

The left half of the screen shows your speed and direction of travel. Note that this is only valid when moving fast enough for the GPS to measure. You must use a compass to find directions when standing still.

The altitude, longitude, and latitude are also displayed when returned by the GPS.

Compass

The top of the compass indicates direction of travel This indicates a moving direction that the GPS can detect and does not reflect the direction in which the mobile device is pointed. If a waypoint is active, an arrow points in its direction. This aids navigation by indicating if you need to steer right or left to reach the waypoint.  

Waypoint

The right side indicates distance and direction to a Goto waypoint, when active. A waypoint is activated by the Goto option on the Select Menu, or the Goto button on the List page.

GPS Page

The GPS Page lets you connect to a GPS device, and monitor its communication with satellites.

Satellite view

After communication is established, the satellites are shown in a diagram. Colors indicate the relative clarity of communication.

 GPS Time

The time as returned by the GPS satellites.

ER (Position Error)

An estimate of the accuracy of the current position, Horizontal followed by Vertical. Vertical error is usually more than horizontal. This indicates a bound of how far the GPS position might be off.

Detect

The detect button will switch to Automatic mode and begin to detect a GPS Device by checking the serial ports to see if an NMEA Gps deivce responds. If successful, a detected GPS will show up in the drop down box.   

Connect/Disconnect

The Connect button will connect you to the GPS and begin the process of getting a fix on your position. If a detection is still in progress, this will interrupt the detection process and connect to whatever device has been detected.  If a port and baud rate have been chosen manually, it will connect to the port and baud rate specified.

This button will become a Disconnect button after connecting.

< Button

The angle bracket button will switch between manual and automatic mode. In manual mode, the Port and Baudrate selection boxes appear. In automatic mode, a single drop down box appears. This is filled with the names of devices found when you use the detection button.

Data page

Allows you to choose the datafile that is currently loaded, and load data from other files or the internet.

Local Map Datafile location

A map datafile contains image data and points of interest for a specific location of your choice. Files will generally have the extension .db3. You can browse to a file on your device by pushing the Open button or choose a name for a new one by pushing the New button.

You must have an open data file in order to perform many of the operations needed. Some of the buttons below will be grayed until you have chosen a filename.

Download Map Images

Topographic maps and aerial photography can be loaded from Terraserver. Clicking the button will bring up a dialog that allows you to choose center point and region size. The center point will default to the current center of the map screen. You must be connected to the internet in order to download this data.

USGS Places Data

This will download points of interest from USGS geographic features database.You must be connected to the internet in order to download this data.

Find…

This button brings up the Placefinder dialog, to search for a particular place by name and state. Successfull completion of this dialog will add the chosen place to the current map database. This is often a starting point for choosing a region to download.  

Download…

This will download places for the region currently covered by the map screen. It may take a few minutes.  

Import

You can import waypoints from a file in GPX (GPS Exchange) format. This is the format that can be downloaded by geocaching.com members. Waypoint data in GPX format can also be produced by several desktop software programs, and is available at several places on the internet. Some will contain tracks as well as waypoints.

You can also import waypoints in LOC format. This will the waypoint name and coordinates only and will not have the long description.  

The File Open Dialog will appear, allowing you to choose a file on your Pocket PC to import. To explore the Pocket PC and drag files from the desktop, choose the Explore button on ActiveSync.

Export

The Export button allows you to export the data in you file as GPX (GPS Exchange Format). All waypoints and tracks from the currently loaded file are exported.  

Menus

Program Menu

Has the following options:
  • View – submenu controls which items are displayed. 
  • File – submenu for file operations. 
  • Keep Alive: Checking this option will attempt to keep the Pocket PC active while the GPS is running, to prevent power save mode.
  • Registration…: Displays the registration screen. If the sofware has already been activated with an activation code, this will simply display the version number.   
  • Exit: Will exit BackCountry Navigator and free up associated memory. This is in contrast to closing the window, which will simply minimize the program so that it runs in the background.
View Menu

The View Menu allows to you to enable various types of data to be displayed on the map.

  • Topo: Image data from USGS Topographical maps.
  • Aerials: Image data from USGS Aerial photography.
  • Places: Geographical Features downloaded from the USGS database
  • Labels : Shows a text caption for Places.
  • Waypoints: Points of interest defined by you or imported from files.
  • Labels: Shows a text caption for places
  • NavLine: Toggles the NavLine on and off.
  • Zoom Out: Zooms out on the map.
  • Zoom In: Zooms in on the map.
  • Zoom to Default: Centers the map on a default location and scale.
  • Set Default: sets the default for this map. Only used by Zoom to Default. 
  • Large Icons: When checked, icons shown on the map are larger.

 

File Menu

 

  • Create New… : Names a database file to work with, initially empty. The "Save As.. " dialog allow you to choose the name. 
  • Open Existing…: Allows you to open a database fiel you have previously created.
  • USGS Places->Find a place..: Find a geographic place by name and add it to the map. 

  • USGS Places-> Download Nearby: Will download places within the current map view.    

  • Import: Allows you to import Waypoints and tracks from a GPX file, or waypoints from an LOC file. 

  • Export: Will allow you to export all waypoints and tracks to  a GPX file. 

  • GPS: A few options for the GPS.  You can choose to enable a timeout warning if no data is being received from the GPS. You can also choose to bypass the GPS Intermediate Driver (unlikely)

  • Metric Distance: Toggle on to use distances in meters. 

Options Menu

  • Colors: Customizes colors for various items in display. Each one brings upa color dialog with pallette of colors.
  • Degree Format: Chooses the format in which longitude/latitude values are displayed throughout the program.
  • GPS: A few options for the GPS.  You can choose to enable a timeout warning if no data is being received from the GPS. You can also choose to bypass the GPS Intermediate Driver (unlikely)
  • Metric Distance: Toggle on to use distances in meters. 

Action Menu

The action menu contains three important submenus:
  • List: Controls what is displayed on the List page. 
  • GPS: Interacts with the GPS
  • Select: Make selections by tapping the screen and then take actions on the selections. 

List Menu

The list menu chooses which points are to be displayed. 
  • Places: USGS places in the map.
  • Waypoints: Points of interest that you have defined or imported.
  • Tracks: Paths which you have marked and saved, or imported.
  • Nearest WayPoints: The 30 waypoints nearest the current GPS Position or the center of the Map screen.
  • Nearest Places: The 30 geographic places nearest the current GPS Position or the center of the Map screen.

GPS Menu

  • Center GPS: Centers the screen on the last location detected by the GPS.
  • Keep On Screen: When enabled (checked), will recenter the GPS pointer when location updates cause it to drift off screen. This helps you to see the surrounding area as you are moving
  • Track: Controls path marking functionality (sometimes known as breadcrumbing).

    • On:
    • Save…: Will save the currently marked track. This is necessary in order to find a path.  
    • Clear…: Clears the
    • Options…: Loads the Track Options form with options that control how samples are taken for tracking.
  • Mark GPS Point…: This will mark a waypoint at the current GPS location.
  • Stop Goto: If a point has been activated for Goto, this will clear it.

Select Menu:

This menu controls type of selection and allows you to operate on a location that has been chosen on the map.

  • Selection: Determines what is drawn on the screen when points are selected. The color chosen as a Ruler color is used to draw and label lines. Selection points can be cleared by using Selection->Clear Selection. Selection has several available modes:

    • Point: (default) Displays a cursor at a single point
    • Line: Draws a sinlge between the last two points selected, labelled with distance.
    • Multiline: Draws a connected series of line segments between all selected locations.
    • Rectangle: Draws a rectangle with the last two selected points as the corners, labelled with width and height. 
  • Waypoint / Place name: When a Waypoint or Place has been selected, the name will show up in the first menu option. Selecting this option will bring up the Place or Waypoint form.
  • Mark Waypoint…: Brings up the Waypoint form to define a new waypoint at the cursor location.
  • Bearing, Distance: When available from the GPS, the second menu item shows the distance and bearing from you to the chosen location.
  • Center: When shown, will center the map on the chosen location.
  • Activate: Will activate the chosen location as the Goto Waypoint.
  • Delete: Will delete the chosen Waypoint or Place.
  • Clear Selection: Will clear selected points, lines, or rectangles from the map screen.
  • Download Maps…: Will bring up a dialog to download map images within a selected region. To use this feature, choose Selection as Rectangle or Rectangles, and select some boxes on the screen.
  • Create Path: Will create a new track based on a multiline that has been drawn.   

Forms

Download Map Data

This dialog allows you to download map data from TerraServer web service. You will specify a center point and dimensions of a rectangular region. The Center Point is initially set to the center of the map screen.

Center Lat: Latitude of center point.

Center Lon: Longitude of center point.

PlaceFinder: This button will take you to the Placefinder to find latitude and longitude by findng a place name. Upon returning, the longitude and latitude of the place you find will be filled in on this dialog.

Layers: Choose from Topos, Aerials, or both.

1:1m Scale: Indicates you want to download the 1:1m scale, where available, for Aerials only. Note that choosing this option may increase your total map size by as much as 16 times. 

Size: Allows you to specify the width and height of the region you wish to download, in miles. Width is specified first.  

Clear Current Database: When activated, clears the existing image data in a database before loading more. Usually not used.

PlaceFinder

This dialog helps you find specific places from the USGS database of place names. You will need to be connected to the internet in order to find places.

Cancel: Exits out of this dialog without saving a place name.   

Lat and Lon: Current longitude and latitude. You cannot directly edit these values on this form, but they will change when you pick a place in the list below.

Place Name: Here you fill out all or the beginning part of a place name.

State: Select the two letter abbreviation for your state in the drop down menu.

Find: Once you have chosen a name and state, press this button to search for it.

Results: The finder will return a list of places that match the name and state. As you click on one of these, the coordinates for it are placed in the Latitude and Longitude spaces above.

Track Edit Form

This form edits properties for a track that is displayed on the map.

Name: The name of a track.

Color: Picks a color for the track. Pressing the Change… button will bring up the Color dialog.

Display: Whether the track should be displayed on the map.

Description: Optional textual description of the track. 

OK closes the dialog and records the changes you have made.

Track Options Form

This form controls sampling for recording of tracks.

Threshold: The minimum time and distance needed to mark another point on the track. The software will record a track if it is a minimum of the specified feet from a previous point, and the time since the last point is greater than the specified seconds.

Max Dilution of Precision: The accuracy needed from trackpoints recorded from GPS readings. Trackpoints are not recorded if the GPS reports a greater horizontal dilution of precision than specified here.  

Registration Form

This shows the version information and the Device ID where BackCountry Navigator is installed. If the software has not been activated, it will also dispaly the days left on a trial period and provide a place to enter an activation code. To activate the software, enter the activation code and press Activate. To skip this step for now, press Skip or OK.

WayPoint Form

The waypoint form allows you to edit the properties of a new or existing waypoint. Push "ok" to complete the edit of a waypoint or Cancel Edit to cancel. You can edit the following properties of a Waypoint:

  • Name: For the waypoint label.
  • Lat: Latitude of Waypoint.
  • Lon: Longitude of waypoint.
  • Description: Textual Summary of waypoint in a text box.
  • Elevation: Height of point in feet above sea level. Push the Estimate point to estimate it with the help of a USGS web service.
  • Notes: A place to put written notes about the waypoint.

Place ID Form

This form contains information about a geographic place. It includes the following information:

  • Name: Place name, underlined at the top.
  • Type: Type of place, such as valley, stream, or summit.
  • Quad: USGS Quadrangle, or 7.5' map containing the place.
  • County: County and state where the place is located.
  • Elevation: Height of the place in feet above sea level. Usually only prefilled for places of type summit.
  • Comments: A place to enter textual notes about the place.  

Region Download Form

This form allows you to download map images for a region you have marked on the screen. It will obtain map tiles over the internet from Terraserver.

Detail level

You can specify the max level of detail as the number of meters per pixel:

  • 64m: 64 meters per pixel
  • 16m: 16 meters per pixel
  • 4m: 4 meters per pixel (default).
  • 1m: One meter per pixel
  • 1/4: 0.25 meters per pixel. Available only for urban tiles in select areas.

Type of tiles

You can also choose the type of tiles you will attempt to download:

  • Topo: A scan of USGS topographical maps, containing countour lines and terrain, available up to 4 meters per pixel, equivalent to 1:24k paper maps.
  • Aerial: USGS Aerial photographs in grayscale, available in most parts on the United States at up to 1 meter per pixel.
  • Urban: Only available in select parts of the United States, this has color aerial photography at a resolution of up to 0.25 meters per pixel.

The Download

After making selections, press Start to initiate the download. BackCountry Navigator will coutn up the number of tiles need of each type, taking into account those tiles which are already in the database (these will not be downloaded again). After the counting phase, it will download the tiles needed, displaying a progress bar and a tally for each type.

If Terraserver indicates that it does not have the specified tile, this tile will be subtracted from the total. If you request Urban tiles in an area that does not have them , for instance, this number will count down toward zero.  

You can push the stop button to stop the download. It will generally stop after the next operation or tile. You can then close the dialog by pushing ok.

After your download is complete, you can push ok to close this form and return to the map screen.

11Feb/06

Purchasing BackCountry Navigator

Android

BackCountry Navigator can only be purchased through Android Market at this time. Buy BackCountry Navigator PRO for an one time fee of $9.99, subject to change at any time. 

If you wish, first install BackCountry Navigator DEMO from the market. This will function for a limited time so you can ensure that it is working.  

You can use the software indefinitely by purchasing BackCountry Navigator PRO in the market.   

There is no plan for transfer of licenses from a Windows Mobile phone to an Android phone.

Note that the Windows Desktop version is compatible with the Windows Mobile but not with the Android version at this time. 


PLEASE NOTE: The Windows and Windows Mobile Products are no longer available for sale. Microsoft abruptly decided to shutdown Microsoft Research maps on May 1,2012.  

Windows Mobile/Desktop

Once you have tried out the software trial, it is a great time to purchase a license.

Current Price: $35 USD

No recurring cost for maps, subscriptions, or anything else.   

You can now purchase a license to BackCountry Navigator through the following link:

This link will take you to CritterMap Software's secure server. Your purchase will show up on your credit card statement as a payment to CritterMap Software.

Upon purchase, you will receive an activation code that will remove the time restrictions from your copy of BackCountry Navigator.

You will also be eligible for all future minor version updates that we continually make to the software. Once activated, BackCountry Navigator will continue to function without limitation even as you install updates.

Purchasing a license permits you to continue to use the software on your device indefinitely. We hope you will have fun navigating in the outdoors for months and years to come.  

Your purchase also supports our efforts to continue to improve the software and incorporate the many great suggestions we have received from our users.

Desktop Version:

The dekstop version is an additional utility that runs BackCountry Navigator on your Windows PC. This is available for registration for a price of $25 USD.

02Dec/05

Receiving email from us

If you have not received a confirmation email from us, it may be due to spam filtering at your email provider. 

Occasionally, a user does not receive a confirmation email after registering at this site. This can be an extremely frustrating experience for both them and us.   

The email may have been blocked or held back by spam filtering by your mail provider or ISP. If this is the case, you may also fail to receive the response when you contact us about the problem.

While your email software (outlook, etc) may have folders for junk mail, it is more likely that you will have to visit the website of your mail provider to adjust settings.

Yahoo mail, for example, has a "bulk" folder, where mail from previously unknown senders often first arrives. You may have to visit this folder to classify messages as spam. Comcast has a similar folder called "Screened Mail" that you can only find if you check email from their website. Gmail may have something similar.   

Keep in mind that having these spam protections in place is not a bad thing. Without them, you might receive a lot more email than you do today. A lot of it would not interest you in the least.    

This topic is also mentioned in the troubleshooting section of the forum.

25Oct/05

Importing GPX Waypoints

BackCountry Navigator imports a variety of waypoint files in the GPX format, allowing you to benefit from GPS waypoints that are freely available on the internet.

Geocaching files are not the only waypoints available on the internet in GPX (GPS Exchange) format. Often you are able to find shared waypoints from people who have been to your destination, marked points, and made helpful notes.

The map below is an area surrounding Celebration Park and Halverson Lake in Southwest Idaho. Initially, it had no waypoints. GPSTrailMaps.com had a great page with pictures and notes on this area. It also had a GPX file for download. When I imported the file, I then had the waypoints shown on the right.

 

Each of the waypoints from the file has descriptive notes that let me know what to see along the way.

As of 2.0, you can also bring in any recorded tracks from the GPX file.

 

22Jul/05

Creating a Map File

One of the first steps in using BackCountry Navigator is creating a map datafile. This file will contain all the images, places, and waypoints that you will use for an outdoor adventure in a particular area. You can create as many as you need, name them anything you want, and use one of them at a time.

When you first run BackCountry Navigator, you will be prompted to choose a filename for your first adventure with BackCountry Navigator. Do not be initimidated by this choice, you can always create more later. For best results, choose a storage card or builtin storage for the location.

Also when first started, the trial screen will appear. At some point, you may want to get rid of this dialog by purchasing the software and entering a code. For now, press  the Skip button to enter the program.

If you have not chosen a filename, not all the options will be available to you.

Do not panic if you see these screens; simply choose New… from the Data page to choose a filename. Once you have chosen a file name, more options will be available to you on the Data screen.

Coming up, we will load map data into this file.

19Jun/05

Connecting a Windows Mobile GPS

BackCountry Navigator works with Windows Mobile GPS receivers. Many of the modern Windows Mobile Phones have a GPS built in. For others, they can be equipped with a bluetooth GPS Receiver, that adds the GPS capability. Common once, although less common now, are GPS receivers that fit in a compact flash card space. 

For Windows Mobile 5 and above, there is a GPS Control Panel to setup your GPS for all applications to use. Generally accessed from Settings->System->External GPS.

GPS Control Panel Settings.
GPS Control Panel Settings.

If these have already been set up by you or the manufacturer for an internal GPS, don’t touch them. If, however, you have setup a bluetooth GPS, setup the Hardware port as the “Incoming Serial Port” from your bluetooth setup, and set the Program port to an unused port. (yes it is a bit of a guess to find what is unused). 

GPS Control Panel Settings.

The last screen should normally be setup to Manage the GPS Automatically.  Under this setting, BackCountry Navigator will generally find something like “Shared NMEA device on Port …”. 

The GPS Tab has a few ways of finding and connecting to your GPS. You can explicitly specify a port number and baud rate. You can also use the Detect button to search for a list of devices on your system. Connect will also automatically trigger a detection if no settings have been chosen. 


When you push the Connect button, the pretty lights fire up on the little GPS. For a while, though nothing else seems to be happening. The GPS is establishing communications with the satellites. This can take up to two minutes the first time, but is usually faster at subsequent starts.

Once this has been done, satellites come into view in a number of formations. It is not important to know exactly what the colors or numbers mean in this view; it is just to keep you entertained while you get a better fix on your position.

Moving back to the map view, we see that our position is now marked on the map. Since your first practice with a GPS will probably be around your own neighborhood, we’ve chosen a neighborhood here as well.


Since the topo view of this neighborhood is not very interesting I switch to the aerial photograph view and zoom in closer. Now it does look like a neighborhood with a bunch of houses, bordered by a forest and a rock quarry.

Now I would like to navigate to a waypoint, in this case a house up the street. Forget for a moment that you probably already know how to get to another house in your neighborhood. You can tap on a waypoint, place, or arbitrary point and select Point -> Activate. A line appears connecting the GPS point to the point in question.


As I navigate to the destination, I switch to the Nav screen, a view that will be familiar to most people who have used a GPS.

Compass Navigation with Windows Mobile GPS Software

The top of the compass indicates our direction of travel, while the purple arrow indicates the direction of the waypoint. This allows you fine tune your travel toward the point in question.

You can also see at a glance your speed and bearing, and compare that to the direction and distance to your destination.

19Jun/05

Defining Custom Waypoints

BackCountry Navigator allows you to define custom waypoints as easily as tapping the screen of your Pocket PC. Once defined, you can add the elevation, custom description, and notes.

Although using a basic GPS can be a lot of fun, the interface to add waypoints often leaves a little to be desired. Entering them using a few buttons can be quite tedious.

With BackCountry Navigator on your Pocket PC, you can add waypoints as easily as you do addresses or appointments.

Let’s suppose we want to mark the marina on the Lewis River where we will be starting our trip. We can mark it with a crosshairs by tapping on the map. Using the menu item Action-> Select -> Mark Waypoint . . . will then bring up the Waypoint dialog.

 Here, we can enter the name and descriptive information. If we are connected to the internet, we can even estimate the elevation by pushing the Estimate! button.

The dialog has retrieved an elevation estimate from the USGS Elevation Web Service, based on the longitude and latitude This is something you’d normally have to estimate from a map or guidebook, or wait and measure with your GPS.

The Waypoint and label now show up on the map.

Here are some addtional things to note about defining Waypoints:

  • If you wish to enter the coordinates for a point, perhaps from a paper map or guidebook, simply change the latitude, longitude, and/or elevation after bringing up the dialog.
  • The elevation estimate is not available in all areas (though it is in most), and is only accurate within 30 meters or so in the horizontal directions.
  • You can later add notes to a waypoint or change the description based on your experience there.

 

10Jun/05

Geocaching with Windows Mobile

Do you have a Windows Mobile Phone or PDA, and want to do some paperless geocaching? Here’s an example of how it is done.

Simply importing your GPX file (pocket query) into BackCountry Navigator will put you well on the way to this high tech treasure hunting adventure. Once you’ve done this, you can:

  • Preload maps of the surrounding area and see all the caches on the map. 
  • Navigate to each cache on your target list. 
  • Read clues and descriptions 

Geocaching is a treasure hunting sport where you find caches that others have hidden at specific geographic coordinates. Your GPS guides you to hidden places where you can swap trinkets and sign logs. To learn more about geocaching, please visit www.geocaching.com.

Once you have a GPX of a single cache or pocket query, you want to put it where BackCountry Navigator can read it. To explore the file system on your Windows Mobile, press the Explore button on ActiveSync. You can then place the GPX file in a directory on your storage card.


Once you’ve done that, it is easy to import the GPX file. Choose the menu item Program->File->Import->GPX. This brings up a file dialog. Here, you find the file that you have previously placed on the storage card.  


Once you’ve imported the file (may take a moment if it is a big one), a good sized cluster of geocaches appear on the map. You can then focus on a particular collection of these caches. In this case, I want to focus on some of these caches for a scout troop orienteering event. I draw some rectangles by using Action->Select->Type->Rectangles and then tapping the screen.  


It’s time to get some free outdoor maps for this area. I choose Action->Select->Download Maps to begin the process. I’m soon downloading maps from TerraServer-USA.com.


Soon, you are able to see the caches in context of the surrounding terrain, either Topographical maps or Aerial Photography. Color Aerial Photography (Urban Areas) is also available to download in some areas, including this one.


When navigating or planning a trip, its helpful to see what caches are nearby. Selecting Action->List, allows tyou to identify the Nearest Waypoints.


 

From here you can choose your next cache to find and select the Goto button or menu. BackCountry Navigator will then give you guidance as you get closer to this waypoint.


You can also choose Edit to see the full description of the cache. Note that the cache information is formatted in html as it would be on the geocache web page. This includes logs of people who have recently tried to find the cache and a clue provided by the cache owner.



Does this all sound like fun? Download a trial of BackCountry Navigator today.

Loc files (.loc) can also be imported into BackCountry Navigator. Note that they are waypoint files only and do not contain the caching specific description information you see on this page.

Note that obtaining cache GPX files will require you to sign up for a membership at geocaching,com. It is worthwhile if you plan to get into this exciting sport for GPS users. 

10Jun/05

Adding USGS Places Data

You can instantly download geographic places from the USGS database, marking important features on the map at the touch of a button.   

From the Data page, choose Download next to USGS Places Data. An hourglass will momentarily appear as data is downloaded from an internet server. That’s all you need to do. You will then see that the map is now populated with a number of symbols. While some of them are other symbols, many are a small triangle.

Data Tab on BackCountry Navigator

To find out what each of the places are, you can turn on Labels under Places in the View menu. You can also select a point by tapping the screen and selecting the name of the place in the Point menu. A dialog will appear, where we see that this is the historical Indian village of Chathalpotle, encountered by Lewis and Clark.