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How to Create a Turn-by-Turn Route from Google Directions for the Magellan eXplorist 210 (and other devices)

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How to Create a Turn-by-Turn Route from Google Directions for the Magellan eXplorist 210 (and other devices)


This is a detailed tutorial on how to can get a Magellan eXplorist 210 to follow turn-by-turn Google directions. These instructions are specific for the eXplorist 210, but it can be easily adapted for other brands and devices. (Another example of how to accomplish this in a more generic way has been written by Bev Howard.)


This method requires a computer with internet access and transfer capabilities for your eXplorist 210. Therefore, it obviously cannot provide "on the go" directions or update any changes in your route. However, if you don't have turn-by-turn mapping software for your GPSr, and you know where you want to go ahead of time, this should work.


The following websites will be used:

You will need to install a third-party Javascript bookmarklet called GMaptoGPX. The bookmarklet exports data from Google Maps into GPX format. First, visit GMapToGPX at Elsewhere.Org. Then follow the first step under Instructions:


If your browser is Internet Explorer:

  • Right-click on the GMaptoGPX link in the yellow box and then click “Add to Favorites…” Save the link where you can easily find it again from either your drop-down menu or Links Toolbar.

If your browswer is Firefox:

  • Either Drag and Drop the GMaptoGPX link in the yellow box to your Bookmarks menu
  • Or you can right-click on the GMaptoGPX link in the yellow box and click “Bookmark this link…” Save the link where you can easily find it again from either your drop-down menu or Bookmark Toolbar.

More instructions and information about GMaptoGPX can also be found at Bev Howard's site, as well as elsewhere in the forums.


Once you have GMaptoGPX saved as a Favorite or a Bookmark, you are ready to create an eXplorist route.


Quick Directions:

  1. Get Google directions
  2. Activate GMaptoGPX bookmarklet
  3. Save resulting file with a .gpx extension
  4. Convert file_name.gpx to file_name.upt using GPSVisualizer
  5. Save resulting file with a .rte extension
  6. Transfer file_name.rte to eXplorist 210
  7. Activate route

Detailed Steps:

  1. Get Google directions
    Go to Google Maps, click on Get Directions, and enter your starting and ending points. You can use anything you like for the points, including points of interest, addresses, and latitude/longitude coordinates.
    For the example, we are traveling from the Convention Center, Pasadena, CA to the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA.
    Notice that Google Directions lists 9 turns. Including the destination point, our resulting route file will therefore have 10 waypoints. The maximum allowed by the eXplorist is 30 waypoints in a route.
  2. Activate GMaptoGPX bookmarklet
    From the Google Maps webpage, click on the GMaptoGPX link in your Favorites or Bookmark drop-down list or toolbar.
    You should get something that looks like the following:
    You can click any of the blue buttons at the top to give you different versions of the GPX file, but we are interested in the "Route" file. ("Route" is not displayed on a blue button because it is already currently showing. If you switch to another view, click "Route" to get back to the original one.)
  3. Save resulting file with a .gpx extension
    Click anywhere inside the text box. Highlight everything (Ctrl+A or right-click and click on "Select All") and then copy the highlighted text (Ctrl+C or right-click and click on "Copy"). Open up a text-editing program such as Notepad on your computer, and then paste the text into it. Save the file, naming it and manually typing .gpx to the end. Be sure to save the file_name.gpx in a place where you can easily find it. Close file_name.gpx. You have now created a GPX file containing one route. GMaptoGPX automatically names the route in the file "route0".
    If you are comfortable editing XML or text, you can change the name of the route before you close file_name.gpx. Look for

    The important thing is to find <rte> before <name> to ensure that you are changing the route name and not a waypoint name. Highlight route0, delete it, and type a name for your route. It does not have to be the same as your file_name. Route names can be up to 10 characters in length. Save file_name.gpx again and close it.

  4. Convert file_name.gpx to file_name.upt using GPSVisualizer
    Go to the GPS Babel page of GPSVisualizer. Use the following options for the form:
    Type of GPS data you want to convert: Routes [R]
    Input file format: GPX XML [W][T][R]
    Output file format: Magellan SD file (as for eXplorist) [W][T][R]
    The default settings are fine for the other options.
    (If you have a device other than the eXplorist, change the Output file format to the appropriate type.)
    To upload your GPS file, click on Browse, and then find, select, and open your file_name.gpx. The file path should be displayed in the box on the form, ending with the file name.
    Once you've filled in the form, click "Convert the file."
    If you are interested in having the turns marked on the GPSr screen with a POI (Points of Interest) icon, you can click on "Show advanced options" before you convert the file. Type the name of the icon you want in the "Default icon name" box. I've chosen "RV service" because I don't normally use that icon for anything else, and I can pretend that it means "Route Vertex" instead of "Recreational Vehicle." The last page of the Magellan eXplorist Communication Specification PDF has a list of Magellan POI icons and names. (The icons will be black and white on the eXplorist 210.)
  5. Save resulting file with a .rte extension
    You should be directed to a new webpage. To save the file to your computer, right click on "file_name.upt" and click "Save Link As..." (for Firefox) or "Save Target As..." (for Internet Explorer). Save the file as "file_name.rte," by deleting .upt and typing .rte in its place. UPT is the standard extension for Magellan eXplorist Points of Interest files, and RTE is the standard extension for Route files.
  6. Transfer file_name.rte to eXplorist 210
    Connect your eXplorist to your computer with the USB cable. Select "File Transfer" on your GPSr screen. (If the option does not show up automatically, press Menu -> Adv. Features -> Communications -> File Transfer.) On your computer, open the "Routes" folder from the GPSr. At the very least, one file called Default Route File.rte should already be in the folder. Copy and paste or click and drag the file_name.rte that you created into the GPSr "Routes" folder.
    Once you've transferred the route file to the eXplorist, you can exit File Transfer mode and disconnect the GPSr from your computer.
    (If this step gives you trouble, search the forums for more information and trouble-shooting on transferring files to the eXplorist 210.)
  7. Activate route
    When you are ready to use your Google turn-by-turn directions, turn on the GPSr. To activate the route, press Menu. Scroll down and select Routes. Locate the file that you transferred to the GPSr. (You might have to go Up One Level to find it, since the default file is automatically opened.) Select the file by pressing Enter, select route0, and then select Activate Route. After a moment, you will be returned to a main navigation screen. If you have Arrival Alarms turned on (Menu -> Preferences -> Alarms), when the next waypoint approaches, the description of the waypoint from Google maps pops up on the screen such as "Turn left at S Los Robles Ave."

And there you go! Google turn-by-turn directions on your Magellan eXplorist 210.


Warning: Use these routes at your own risk. The eXplorist is not designed to be read while driving. A passenger paying attention to the directions will be the safest way to navigate.


Other things to think about:

  • The route is simply straight lines between waypoints at each turn. Even though Google Directions follows the roads, the route you just created does not. Therefore, the "Distance to Next" is as the crow flies, not driving mileage.
  • If you add points in between the Start and End, i.e. go from A -> B -> C -> D, then the GMaptoGPX bookmarklet currently saves them as separate routes in the same GPX file. All of the above steps are the same, but each route will have to be activated individually one after the other in the GPSr. (They will automatically be named route0, route1, route2, etc.) Some people have had problems with GMaptoGPX while using the "Click and Drag" aspect of changing Google Maps Directions. I haven't tried it, so I can't comment on that.
  • Limitations imposed by the Magellan eXplorist 210:
    - The eXplorist can only hold up to 20 different routes.
    - Each saved route can only have up to 29 legs in the route.
    - The eXplorist can only have up to 200 active waypoints with comments/descriptions. If you already have an active POI file with 200 comments, then your route will be unable to show comments from Google maps describing the next turn in the Arrival Alarm.
  • The bookmarklet GMaptoGPX will also make a GPX file for any Google Maps search, such as pizza places near where you're caching or hotels or gas stations. This GPX file will contain waypoints instead of a route, and it should be converted and transferred differently. (At Step 4, choose Waypoints [W] for the type of GPS data; at Step 5, save the resulting file with the original .upt extension; and at Step 6, copy the file_name.upt to the GPSr "My POIs" folder)

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the above. This method works for me running Firefox 2 on Windows XP. I have not thoroughly tested it. I doubt I'll be able to answer any questions on why the method doesn't work in your case, but hopefully other people in the forums can.


Anyone with an eXplorist can sympathize with the occasional frustrations involved in learning how to use it. (Why oh why doesn't the manual tell you that there is only one correct way to align the USB cable connector pin? Or that it ignores anything over 200 Geocaches? Or...) I've learned countless helpful tricks in these forums, so here's an attempt to return the favor.


Good luck and happy caching!

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Fantastic post. I've been using GMaptoGPX for a while now...


Lately though, it seems to only work for really short routes. If I make a route in Google Maps which is a couple hundred miles long, nothing seems to happen when I click on the GMaptoGPX icon in my Firefox browser. Are there any reported incompatibilities with certain extensions or anything?



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Hi ryleyinstl,

Someone in the Comments at the GMapToGPX site posted a possible "fix" for issues with the "Click and Drag" aspect:

greg says:

I found a work around!!!


I just made a map with vias, created a return route and tried gmaptogpx.

again failed.

then I hit the gmap “get directions” grey button again, this time it displayed the map as my vias showed it but with it’s own points along the way.


gmaptogpx worked perfectly on it!

hth others…



June 12th, 2008 at 1:00 pm Comment #486

Let us know if it helps...
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Jeesh. Is it just me? I create a route and drag the roads to where I like them. I click on "Get Directions" and Google Maps pauses for a second, but nothing changes on screen. I still can't use GMaptoGPX.


I'll continue to fiddle with it to see if I can get it to work.



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I think I figured out my issue. Google Maps has a limit to how many via points can be in a route, but you can drag and drop the route as much as you want. When I make my long route and drag it around, there are too many via points, so Google Maps won't put it in a format which GMaptoGPX can handle.


Glad I figured out what was wrong, though it doesn't help me with a solution.



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Hi Jamie,

While probably not the best workaround, here's a method that I was able to cobble together to convert long Google Maps directions to a Route file. I'm not sure what you want your end product to be (since the Magellan eXplorist 210 RTE file can only have 29 legs, I'm guessing that's not what you're interested in), but hopefully you can start from here and tweak it.


With Google Earth, the main gist is Google Maps -> KML file -> KML file re-saved -> UPT file -> RTE file


Without Google Earth, it becomes Google Maps -> KML file -> GPX file -> Editing in Notepad -> GPX file -> UPT file -> RTE file


From another thread:

HOWTO: Convert from Google Maps (with easy routing) to Google Earth KML

By benh57.


0. Create your route on Google Maps - maps.google.com. Use the slick route-dragging feature to create the perfect route.

1. Once you have a route, click 'Link to this page'. That will give you a direct link to the route.

2. 'Copy' the direct link. Paste the link into your browser location bar. Don't hit return yet.

3. Add the parameter: &output=kml to the URL. Including the & character.

4. Hit return. Google Maps will create a KML file of your route to open in google earth. (but not geocaching.com!)

5. Once you are in google earth, click on the little triangle next to the route on the left sidebar.

6. Find the 'Route' - usually at the bottom of the 'directions' - little triangle icon

7. Right click the little triangle icon and save as KML

(as an aside, this KML file can be used on geocaching.com for Caching Along a Route.)


If you have Google Earth, GPS Visualizer will more than likely be able to convert directly from the re-saved KML file to a Magellan UPT file or any format you like, as mentioned above by adamschneider. (There is an Input file format of "Google Earth (Keyhole) Markup Language [W][T][R]" on the GPS Visualizer GPS Babel conversion page.) And then you can stop reading here.


However, I don't use Google Earth, and GPS Visualizer won't convert the KML file saved directly from Google MAPS after Step 4 to a UPT file that can be saved as an RTE file.


So instead I used GPS Visualizer's Main Conversion page to convert from the Google Maps KML file to a GPX file. (Upload the saved KML file on the first line, click Output format: GPX, leaving the rest of the settings as default, and click Convert.)


I still couldn't get GPS Visualizer to convert the resulting GPX file to a UPT file that could be saved as an RTE file. The newly created GPX lists Waypoint and Track points, so there aren't any "Route" points to be picked out. If you are interested in Tracks, not Routes, then this GPX file is as far as you might need to go.


I wanted a Route, so I opened the GPX file in Notepad. Then, I went to Edit -> Replace (or Ctrl+H), and replaced trk with rte, so it changed all of the track points to route points. (One of my test files had 14,000 points, and Notepad kept hanging and then quitting, but I was able to copy and paste the text into Word, do the replacement there, and copy and paste it back into Notepad to save it as a .GPX file.)


After that, I also had to Find and Replace both </rteseg> and <rteseg> with a " " (a blank space without quotation marks) in order to delete them. (They originally were "<trkseg>" for Track Segments, but they become unreadable since there is apparently no such thing as Route Segments.)


After saving the GPX file, this GPX file CAN be converted to a UPT file, which can be saved as a RTE file. Upload the GPX file to the GPS Visualizer GPS Babel conversion page, choosing GPX XML [W][T][R] as the Input file format and your desired end product for the Output file format.


Hope this helps point you in the right direction towards a viable solution...

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