How to record your GPS tracks

Help us keep Tracks4Africa maps up to date by submitting data from your overlanding trip. Here’s how to record your GPS tracks. By Nell Hofmeyr

If you want to record your tracks on your next overlanding adventure, there are a few important steps to follow. First of all, it’s important that your GPS is set up in the right manner.

Prep your GPS

First things first, make sure that you have a strong GPS signal.
Mount your GPS in the windscreen of your vehicle so that it has a clear view of the satellites. Consider getting an external antenna fitted if you think you might struggle with poor reception. A weak signal will lead to low-quality data recordings, and that’s if you manage to record any data at all!

Next, you need to adjust your GPS settings in order to record the best quality tracks.

While there are slight differences between Garmin devices in terms of functionality and user-interface, adjusting the settings should be a fairly similar process across all models.

Steps for recording tracks

Step 1

The “Lock on Road” setting under Setup > Routing must be switched OFF at all times.

If this setting is switched ON then the GPS will follow the road that is already on the GPS, even if you veer off of it. This would lead to an inaccurate real-time recording of your unique track. For example, if you are driving parallel to a road, the GPS will assume that you’re driving on the road itself and fail to record a new track showing that you followed an alternative path. Switching it off guarantees that the GPS lays down your actual position on the earth at all times.

We are aware that some city navigators, such as the Garmin Drive series, are automatically set to “lock on road” and cannot be changed to another setting. However, please do not discard tracks or not submit them just because the GPS is set to “lock on road”.

Step 2

Some Garmin GPS devices have a WAAS function. WAAS satellite coverage is only available in North America, therefore, this function should be disabled when you travel Africa.

Go to Setup > System > GPS and set it to ‘Normal’ (not WAAS)

Step 3

Lastly, you need to adjust the Track Recording settings.
Under Setup > Tracks, change the following:

Track Log: Track/Trip log recording must be ON. It should say ‘Record, Show on Map’.

Recording method: Set it to “Auto”.

Recording Interval: Set it to “Most often”.

Auto archive: Set it to “Daily”. Never save the current track yourself, as only about 10% of the recorded points are saved this way.

Colour: This one is totally up to you. However, the default colour on most GPS devices (light blue) should do the trick as it’s easy to see and shows up clearly on the screen.

That’s it! Now you’re ready to record your tracks as you travel.

T4A tip: If you are concerned about running out of recording space on your GPS, download your data daily to your laptop. Check out our step-by-step guide to getting data from your GPS to your computer.

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