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April 22, 1999
Using Your GPSIII With DeLorme Street Atlas 6.0
(Hey! What if I have Street Atlas 5.0?)

"How in the hell does it work? I've been trying for two nights now to get this damn thing to upload a route and I am ready to throw it in the trash."

The GPSIII+ and the DeLorme Street Atlas 6 mapping program work extremely well together. Loading a route into the GPS is sort of like tying a bow-tie - seems hard but once you learn the trick you can do it with your eyes closed.

1. First, come up with a route

This of course sounds easy, but believe it or not this is where most of the work is involved. Coming up with a good route is not as simple as choosing a good beginning and end point. In order to get the most out of your GPS, you need to insert "Via's" in the route. For example, if you were to plan a route from a rest stop on I-95 near Jessup, nepbdist.jpg (27285 bytes) Maryland to the Millstone Pub, in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, you could easily do it by setting those locations as the beginning and end and hitting "quickest" then watching as SA6 figures out and displays the route. It looks something like this:

As you can see, the route goes from 95 to 895 to 95 to 295 to the NJ Tpk to 206 to 68 to 537 to the pub. Now, if you simply upload the route to your GPS at this point you will have 2 waypoints, the beginning and the end (not very useful.)

Instead, use the "Insert Via" function to insert what will later appear as waypoints along the route when the route is uploaded to the GPS. In this case, start by inserting a Via right at the first "turn," the intersection of 95 and 895 (SA6 will actually want to highlight a small length of 95 or 895 at the intersection, choose 895 if that is the road you plan turning onto -- in this case it is.) Now insert a similiar Via for each of the road changes. You should now have 8 Via's and a beginning and an end.

2. Connect the GPS

The GPSIII+ comes with the Garmin serial cable, if you own a GPSIII you will have to buy it aftermarket. In any event, plug one end into the Garmin and the other end into the computer's serial port.  That's all there is to it :)

3. Get SA6 and the GPSIII+ Communicating

OK, here is where much of the confusion arises. There are a bunch of screen captures following of what you will see as you go through the process. Fortunately, once you see this once you will realize how easy it is and never have to see it again ;-)

a. First, fire up SA6. Note, the procedure following is how it was told to me and something that I find works quite well. If you have a better way, let's hear it :)

b. Go to the top menubar and select [GPS] then select [Initialize...] on the GPS dropdown menu. It looks like this:

gps_menu.jpg (39630 bytes)

b. After you select [Initialize...] you will see the following screen:

GPS_initialize.jpg (38955 bytes)

Make sure the fields are as you see above (unless you have some funky COM settings at which point you need to figure out which COM your serial port is using) and click [Finish].

Now, unless you are outside or have no roof, you will have a [No Fix] error.  Ignore it, afterall you are uploading a route not using the GPS to provide GPS data to the SA6 for use as a rolling map (which it can do, and much more!) Here is what the screen will look like:

GPS_NoFix.jpg (24264 bytes)

Just hit [STOP] and it will go away. More importantly though, at this point your GPS and SA6 will be talking.

4. Upload the Route you have built into the GPS

a. OK, at this point you ought to be back at the regular SA6 route screen with your route opened. If it is not opened, open it (note how you can save routes in SA6!)

b. Go back to the [GPS] selection on the menubar. Notice now that your GPS is happily communicating with SA6 there are several new selections on the [GPS] drop-down menu?

GPS_Upload.jpg (38425 bytes)

c. Select [Upload Directions to GPS...] and you will immediately notice two things. The first is the popout screen on SA6 confirming that the route is being uploaded to your GPS:

GPS_Uploading.jpg (6472 bytes)

The second is that the screen on your GPS will go blank, replaced with the words "Uploading Data." When the data transfer is complete (all of about 3 seconds) the GPS will then return to the previous screen with a text box reading "Data Transfer Complete." Of course I am doing this from memory so the wording may be slightly different but you get the gist.

5. Manage the Route on the GPS

Congratulations, you have just uploaded your first route to your GPS. Use the (Page) button to go to the Route page. You will see at the very top of the list (of one ;) a new route, oddly enough called "DELORME ROUTE." By selecting it, then selecting the title you can change the name of the route to something like "NEPB" (or whatever you want to call it.) The up/down movement of the scroll pad with cycle through the alphabet, through 0-9, then through a blank space. If you are changing a name, two blank spaces will automatically erase all of the following character entries.

While you are in the (now called) NEPB route screen, check out your waypoints. There should be one for the beginning, one for the end, and one for each Via you entered. You can rename each individual one, though DeLorme and Garmin have already named them for you, by the name of the road on which they reside. This is especially handy in the "Road" view as you will be able to see not only when you need to turn, but the name of the road on which you need to turn (and a graphical reference of which way you need to turn ... but that is for a different primer :)

OK, time to test your route. Go to the place where the route starts, say at a rest stop on I-95. When you are ready to leave your beginning point, fire up the GPS, click the [Menu] button twice and select [Route] from the main menu. Once in Route, click [Menu] again and select [Activate Route] from the selections. Congratulations, your GPS is now ready to help guide you to your destination.

Personally, I like to look at the map screen and have the following 4 data fields: (1) Speed, (2) Distance to Next Waypoint, (3) Time to next Waypoint, and (4) Trip Odometer, but that is really up to you to decide what you are comfortable with after a lot of experimenting.

One big suggestion is to do what I did, come up with a simply route that covers 40 miles or so around your home town, then talk a spouse/friend/stranger into driving you along the route at least once while you fiddle around with the GPS figuring out what various screens do and what particular configuration you like and works best.

Happy GPS'ing ;)


See Also:
     Joe Mehaffey's GPS Site

(Thanks to some John G.  for this one :))

What if you have Street Atlas 5.0?
Shamelessly Stolen From Ian Schmeisser:

"I have been unable to get the Garmin and the SA5 to work together until I downloaded the program called Waypoint+ (assuming you have Windows, this won't work for Mac) You can get it at:

The program itself is very homebrew... I still had to wrestle mightly with the dark forces to figure out this procedure:

  1. Create a route in SA5 and save it
  2. Use Waypoint+ to open the file
  3. Use the Garmin Setup and select "GARMIN HOST" (this is default, but you should check)
  4. Once the file is open in Waypoint+, use the program and choose Route Upload and blast away. The Waypoint+ will give you a status. The Garmin will tell you when it's done."

Thanks Ian!

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