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Here's a suggestion (and forgive me if someone else already thot of this and I didn't find the posting).


It would be cool if you could click on a user profile and have a map displayed showing all the places where they have FOUND geocaches....

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If you click on the Geocaching.com Maps link for a geocache, it will pull up a map of caches in the area. Ones that YOU have found are supposedly marked with a red check mark if you are a premium member. Personally, I would consider it more valuable to be able to read another geocacher's not-found log entries. I know that was brought up in this forum recently.


As for seeing caches OTHER people found on their profile, you can look at my geocaching.com profile and see a map I made showing all of my cache and benchmark finds. I made it with some expensive software (ArcView) that I use in my work. Too expensive to buy just for geocaching. Perhaps some folks know of some cheaper solutions.

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There are a number of threads where people have posted maps of their finds. Most were either made using MS Streets & Trip (or MapPoint) or on-line mapping services. The finds can either be shown as points on the maps or the states/countries in which caches were found can be shaded.

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You can almost do this now, in the hide & seek page or from a users profile page you can select to view caches found by another user, these caches can be downloaded, 20 at a time, into ExpertGPS (or a simular program) and combined into a single file using cut and paste that can then be viewed.


If you want a PQ of them you need to have the other user create a PQ for there own caches and then put your email address as the destination (I have a friend I go caching with often that has done this for me).


Since the information is already available, it would be nice if you could set up a PQ for caches found by another user.

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Just remembered a program that I showed some teachers how to use. ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education is a free GIS (geographic information system) data viewer that lets you create points from lat-long coordinates in decimal degrees from a text file. Basically make your own map of your found geocaches. You can export your map to JPEG to post on your profile. You can't make any fancy map layouts, but the program is free.


You can get the program at ArcExplorer


You may have to mess with the map projections setting in the program to get your points to display right. If anyone has questions on how to use it, I can help.

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I not long ago created a map of my cache finds using a combination of cgpsmapper, GPSMapEdit and GSAK. This allows me to create a Garmin GPS receiver compatible map of all of my finds that I can keep loaded on to my GPS (and lets me see the cache in Mapsource)


here is roughly speaking how to do it.


Step by Step instructions to create a Garmin map file out of a GPX file.



To the best of my knowledge the following proceedure won't harm anything. But I'm not god (or God or a god or any such supernatural being). So you could conceivably screw things up, I have no idea what the impact of the following is on your warranty either. If you screw things up, you're on your own. If you don't agree to that, read no further (or forget what you've already read)



Most GPSrs on the market can not handle more than 1000 waypoints. This can be a burden when dealing with geocache data. If attempts to keep all relevant waypoints loaded to a handheld unit, one can very quickly run out of waypoints. Most cachers are sooner or later forced to abandon this notion in favour of loading only unfound caches in a given area to their GPS units.

This can be a problem if one wants to quickly judge proximity guidelines in an area where one has already found most of the caches. The solution to this problem is to create a custom garmin map file using existing tools. This allows one to use the map memory of the GPSr to hold waypoints outside of the main waypoint database. While some functionality is lost with this method, the loss is not overly significant for the purposes required.

Out of interest, a GPSMap 60CS can hold approximately 1500000 waypoints in map memory, which is MANY MANY times more than what might reasonably be required in the foreseable geocaching future.


Software required


GPS Mapedit (http://www.geopainting.com)

cgpsmapper (http://www.cgpsmapper.com)

Mapsource/Sendmap (Mapsource comes with many Garmin units, sendmap can be downloaded from http://www.cgpsmapper.com)


Basic Steps:

1. Obtain a GPX file (through whatever means)

2. Convert the GPX file to an 'mp' file in GPS MapEdit.

3. Compile the mp file to an IMG file

4. Load the IMG file to your receiver.


Obtaining the GPX file


The easiest way to get a GPX file is to become a premium member on geocaching.com and generate a pocket query (beyond the scope of this document). Other programs such as GSAK and EasyGPS can save waypoints to a GPX format. The essential thing here is that you get all the data you need in your GPX file by what ever means you have available


Converting your GPX file to a mp file


This is probably the most deceptively simple stage of the whole process, but there are several areas where you can go wrong. I'll try to point them all out here.


1. Open the GPX file in GPSMapEdit.

2. Drag a Rectangle over all of the points shown on the screen.

3. Right click on one of the points and click "Convert to..." -> "Point"

4. Select the type of element you want to convert your geocaches in to. You can't call them geocaches, as geocaches are not a defined "Point of Interest" type for a Garmin GPS unit. Normally I choose one of the "Navigational Aids" listed. This allows me if I so choose to import several GPX files meaning different things (for example one for traditional caches, one for multi-caches) and colour them differently.

5. Now you need to assign the properties unique to the map. This includes things like map name, map ID, levels definition and so forth.

6. Click File->Map Properties.

7. Enter an 8 digit number in the ID field. This has to be a unique value across all Garmin maps you have on your computer. Normally I prefix all of my maps with a given number, and then have the last digit sequential. Generally speaking you can put any random 8 digit number in there, and you'll be fine (just try to avoid numbers like 00000001)

8. Give the map a name. For example if you're creating a map of found caches, you might want to call it "Found Caches"

9. Click on the levels tab at the top. Click insert before. This will create a default level set for your map. This defines at what zoom level different features are visible as well as the precision that you say the numbers have. If you don't understand this, don't worry just allow the defaults to stand and you should be OK, just bear in mind that if your points aren't visible, at the zoom you want, this is where your problem lies.

10. Click on the "cGPSMapper" tab. Now you want the map to be transparent. Click on the "Map is transparent" checkbox.  This means that other maps will show through your map. In other words, you don't want this map to blank out other maps loaded in to the GPS (for example your road map).

11. In theory now, we should be ready to save the file. Unfortunately I have had problems with files containing only POIs (Points of Interest). So as a work around, here I normally add a single "Polyline object" of any type.

12. Save the file as a mp file (file -> save map as)


Phewph now all the major hard work is done.


Compiling the .mp file


Our .mp file (aka Polish Map file) isn't what our GPS wants. It is just a format made up by the author of cGPSMapper to allow the easy generation of map files that the GPS will accept. You can open the .mp file in a text editor, and change it the same way as you could any other text file (or even write routines to write the .mp file for you) without understanding the complexities of the .IMG format.

To get the files to a .IMG format, one needs to compile them.

1. Put the mp file in to the same directory as you unzipped cgpsmapper.

2. Hit start->run cmd

3. Change directory to where you put cgpsmapper (cd directory name)

4. Type in "cgpsmapper ac filename.mp" where filename.mp is the name of your mp file.


If all went well you should now have a Garmin map file that could be loaded to your GPS. You could in theory use sendmap to load this file now, but I wouldn't I like to use Mapsource, which requires you to jump through a couple of extra hoops.


Generating the 'preview' file


Mapsource requires the generation of preview file. This file is used by mapsource to organize individual IMG files in to products. In the test_map directory under your cgpsmapper directory there should exist a file called test_pv.txt that we will be using as a template for creating our pv file.

1. Create a copy of the text_pv.txt file in your cgpsmapper directory and give it a unique, meaningful name.

2. Open the file you just created (the .txt file) in a text editor (wordpad), and make the following changes.

a. filename: Can be anything under 8 characters (say fndcachs or something like that)

b. productcode: this must be unique to this product. Basically unless you're unlucky pick a random number between 1 and 999 and you should be save.


c. Change the mapsourcename, mapsetname and cdsetname to meaningful values.

d. finally at the end of the file, in the [Files] section, change the img= statements to reflect the actual names of the img file that you created earlier.

3. Exit to the command prompt again (start->run->cmd)

4. go to the cgpsmapper directory, and enter "cgpsmapper pv filename.txt" where filename.txt is the name of your text file that you were just editing (make sure that you IMG files are still in the cgpsmapper directory)


Referencing the file within Mapsource


This requires making changes to the system registry. If this step is done incorrectly, you can render your copy of mapsource unusable until you fix it. Fixing it is generally pretty easy though as I will explain roughly how to do at the end.

When you generated your TDB and IMG file just now, you also likely had a .reg file generated. You will need to edit this file, but first you need to decide where you want your map to reside on your system. Take all the files you've just been dealing with, most importantly the #######.img file that contains the actual data, the .TDB file, and the .IMG file from your preview file, you'll also probably want the .mp file, as well as the .txt file that you used to generate your preview file).

So, take all of these files, and move them to where you want them on your system. I have a folder called "C:\Mapping\Gamin" where I put all my custom maps (under that I create a folder for each map product).

Now, open up the .reg file in a text editor (right click on it, and hit edit)


The contents of the file will be something like what follows:









First you need to change the line in square brackets, the part after products that in my example says "testmap" should read the product number that you decided on earlier when you were generating your preview file (if you need to go back and check what you used, you can always open the text file that you used to generate the .tdb file)

What follows this are values refering to the different paths that mapsource needs to know about. i.e. where it should look to find the different aspects of the map. The first is where to find the numbered IMG file (the one that contains the 'real data'. If you put it where I did, you should put in "C:\\mapping\\garmin\\whateverfolderyouputitin\\" for this value.

BMAP is the name of the preview IMG file, so put in something like "C:\\mapping\\garmin\\imgfilename.img". Similarly put in the name of the TDB file.


Now save this file, close it, and double click on it to add it to the system registry. If all went well, you should now be able to select your product as an option in the top right hand drop down box within mapsource. (note you might not see any map content until you send it to the GPS). Pretty cool huh?


Fixing things you did wrong



If you get an error opening mapsource, you screwed something up creating your .reg file. To remove the changes you made with your reg file, open up the system registry (Start->Run->Regedit)

Now click the plus sign beside "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE", and the find "sofware" and click the plus beside that, down to "Garmin", "Mapsource", and then "Products". Now click on the familiar looking key (you should be able to tell which one you created) and hit delete. All should now be back to normal.

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