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An Introduction to GPS Data transfer # 1134 Back to Directory   Review Date:2019.02.28
Help Category: GPS - Download to GPS

Summary: Read this first!! It is the master document for all .gpx downloads and uploads.

"GPS Data Transfer" means transferring GPS track logs to and from Bivouac. Before getting into this document, there are two things you have to do. First, make sure you have breezed through Introduction to Bivouac. I now assume you know how to find your way around Bivouac and know how to look up GPS operations in Standard GPS Operations. The second thing is to go outside and made a waypoint and track log. It's hard to do this while sitting in a room. I prepared a separate tutorial for this, see Introduction to GPS - Make Waypoints and Tracks.

Now we assume you know the basics of Bivouac and of your GPS, we are ready to talk about transferring track logs and waypoints between Bivouac and your GPS. You should also know the Difference Between Bivouac Waypoints and GPS Waypoints.

The basic method of transferring data back and forth between GPS and Bivouac is .gpx files. The things you are transferring are track logs and waypoints. For example, when you click the "download gpx" link on any Bivouac trip page, the trip waypoints are converted to a .gpx file. You then import that gpx file into your GPS and it becomes a track log, just as if you had created the track log on your GPS. Note: most track logs in .gpx files that come from Bivouac have considerably less track points than the "raw" track logs you would collect with your GPS. In many cases, the Bivouac "track" was created by clicking points on a topo map or satellite view. You can tell how accurate it is by looking at in on the map.

Going the other way, from GPS to Bivouac, your track is converted to a .gpx file. Then when you plug your GPS into your computer, you see your GPS as if it were a disk drive. You then drag the .gpx file onto your computer. Once on your computer, you can browse to it using a link called "Upload Raw Gpx" on your trip report or working file.

Now that we know the theory we can do it:

DOWNLOAD (from Bivouac to GPS

  1. Download to a smart Phone:
     On a smart phone, you can do the entire download operation on the phone, without ever using your computer. On your phone, browse to any mountain page and click the "gpx20" link (or KML20 link). This puts the file into your phones "download" folder. Then import the .gpx into your GPS app. Eg: Import into Backcountry Navigator. The app usually knows the location of the download folder. See Download to Smartphone GPS

  2. Download to a Garmin:
     Click the "Download GPX link in Bivouac on your computer. It goes to your downloads folder. Then connect the Garmin to your computer. Your Garmin now appears in your file manager. Find the file and drag it into the Garmin/gpx folder. Once it is imported, it is like any other track log. The Track Log manager on your Garmin allows you to change the color, or hide or show individual tracks. See Download to Garmin GPS.

UPLOAD (Up from GPS to a bivouac waypoints field)

  1. Upload from a Garmin:
     First make sure you have saved your track log. It's not automatic like on a phone app. Once you save a track, it will be immediately visible as a .gpx file when you connect to your computer. On a Garmin GPS, there is no "export" step, the translation is already done. Plug in the unit. Now on your computer, go to your trip report and click "Upload Raw Gpx". See Upload from a Garmin

  2. Upload from a smart Phone:
     Go to your Track Manager and find the track you want to upload. The first step is to "export" the track to an "Out" folder on your phone. "Export" means translate from the internal data format to a .gpx file. The "Out" folder will be where you pick up the gpx file when the phone is plugged into your computer. You will pick it up with the "Upload Raw gpx" choice in your trip report. [In Backcountry Navigator, "export" is a menu choice and the "Out" folder is called "BCNav/out".] See Upload from a Smart Phone

Regardless of what type of GPS you have, once you have uploaded the .gpx file into a trip report or Waypoint Working File, a new link appears, called "View Raw GPX". The link is right beside the "Upload Raw Gpx" link. Click that link and you'll see your raw GPX on GMap. Now you need to trace it using GMap "Draw and Save" to turn it into Bivouac trip Waypoints. See GMap Draw and Save.