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Loading Shapefiles Onto a Garmin GPSmap76

Flags in a fieldWe use a Garmin GPSmap 76 to mark soil sample points. Unfortunately, this GPS does not allow for direct uploading of shapefiles. A shapefile on the GPS can be useful for finding fields or areas of fields.

These workaround convert shapefiles to tracks for upload to the GPS.

The DNRGarmin tool can read shapefiles and even upload them directly to the GPS. Sometimes this works perfectly, at other times you end up with weird shapes that look as though someone tried to draw all the fields without lifting their pencil from the paper. I recommend using DNRGarmin to load the shapes onto your GPS, then pulling them back onto your computer using Garmin’s Mapsource software and checking the shapes.

Loading Shapefiles Directly via DNRGarmin

  1. Start DNRGarmin
  2. File/Load From /File…
  3. Change Files of Type to ArcView Shapefile (*.shp)
  4. Find and select your Shapefile, click Open
  5. Turn on and connect your GPS
  6. GPS/Open Port
  7. Track/Upload
  8. Exit DNRGarmin
  9. Start Mapsource, download and verify tracks from your GPS

Alternate Loading of Shapefiles

If that doesn’t work, I suggest the following

  1. Start DNRGarmin
  2. File/Load From /File…
  3. Change Files of Type to ArcView Shapefile (*.shp)
  4. Find and select your Shapefile, click Open
  5. File/Save To /File…
  6. Change Save as Type to GPS eXchange Format (*.gpx)
  7. Save the file
  8. Start Mapsource
  9. File / Open
  10. Change Files of Type to GPS eXchange Format (*.gpx)
  11. Open the file you just saved
  12. Delete or move points, rename tracks, and so on till the tracks look right.
  13. Turn on and connect your GPS
  14. Upload the tracks to the GPS (Transfer/Send to Device, Find Device, make sure Tracks is checked)

If anyone know of a better way to do this, please let me know.  I know that a lot of the newer GPS devices can handle shapefiles but for those of us with older devices these are the best ways I’ve found of uploading shapefiles.

EDIT: I forgot to add the obvious disclaimer here.  This method will not give you great accuracy.  Double-check the tracks as you load them and use common sense when walking around the field.  I’m almost certain that this method will sometimes give you errors resulting in shapes being WAY off from where they should be.  Don’t follow your GPS blindly.

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