Various makes of SatNav are widely used in the club. We have members who swear by them …and we have members who swear at them. But mostly we have members who use them to enhance their enjoyment of riding a bike or leading a run without the constant worry of missing a turn or getting lost.
Clearly, getting the most out of them is tricky. The free TyreToTravel (Tyre) PC application can help.
Keith Yallop is our “go to” Tyre expert. He knows the software developer well and acts as a Beta-tester for each new release.
You can download it from here: www.tyretotravel.com
Here he shares some of his experience with us:
Route Planning with TyreToTravel (first published in Slipstream September 2014)
Garmins – The point of Points
First, we need to understand the difference between POIs, Waypoints, Via Points and Shaping Points.
- POI – a Point Of Interest. An entry in the internal POI database with a name, location and usually other information associated with it, such as explanation, photo, audio, etc. Examples include railway stations, tourist attractions, ferry ports etc.
- Waypoint. Any arbitrary point on the map that you have designated that you want to keep track of. Your home, girl/boyfriend’s home, work, etc. These are usually stored in Favourites, My Locations or whatever your SatNav calls its waypoint database.
- Via Point. Used to create a multi-point route – to go from point A to point B via some other point or points that you designate. If your SatNav supports multi-point routing, the Via Point can be a POI, an existing Waypoint/Favourite, or any other location that is searchable on your SatNav, eg address, intersection/junction, custom POI, etc.
- Shaping Point In Tyre you can ‘shape’ a route to go exactly where you want. There are a couple of methods. You can edit the route’s properties by typing and inserting Via Points, but more commonly we use the route tool to click on spots on the map to pull out the shape of a route and then place a Via Point. This Via Point then appears in the Waypoint window on the left of the Tyre workspace and should have 2 yellow down arrows alongside it, designating it as a Shaping Point.
How to get around the Garmin 30 Waypoint limit
If you own one of the new Garmin 300 range SatNavs, or a Garmin 590, you are limited to 30 Waypoints per route. If you load a route with more than 30 Waypoints, the device will split the route into two (or more). It’s not clear why Garmin have done this, and it can be a real bind if you are touring. Tyre has a neat trick up its sleeve to get around this problem and will keep a route with 30+ Waypoints as one route on your Garmin.
Between each Via Point we can use up to 150 Shaping Points. So in Tyre, fill your boots with as many double yellow arrowhead points as you wish!
However, a Waypoint that is marked in the Waypoint list with a flag will be seen as a Via Point, and as above you will be limited to 30 of these with some models (in the world of Tomtoms it was originally 48, and with the latest models it is 100).
Loading routes to your Garmin.
There are two methods of loading routes to your Garmin:
- Plug your SatNav into your PC and click the ‘Copy to Garmin’ button in Tyre. This will transfer a .gdb file, which carries all the shaping points, to your SatNav. I have done it successfully with over 100 shaping points.
- I prefer to transfer and store my routes direct to a folder on my PC as a .gpx file. I then copy these files directly into my Garmin’s GPX folder. It is quick, easy and safe, plus it allows compatibility when exchanging with other riders who have Garmins. However, storing this way replaces the Shaping Points with Via Points, which then could exceed the 30 permitted, so you must make sure these routes have less than 30 Waypoints/Shaping Points. Alternatively you can store on your PC as a Tyre Itinerary File (.trf) which keeps the shaping points, but you cannot transfer to other devices, only back to Tyre – which is fine if you are only storing them.
Where to place Waypoints (first published in Slipstream October 2014)
Waypoint placement is probably one of the most important skills to acquire when using TyreToTravel (Tyre) or any other mapping software. It can make a good ride great or can make it a misery.
How to push two SatNavs along the same route.
If you download a simple route going from A to B into two SatNavs, the chances are that they will take you two different ways. For example the newer Garmin devices (Zumo 340/350/390/590) will often show straight lines from one waypoint to the next until the device internally recalculates the route. So how do we make all SatNavs follow the same route? It is fairly simple really. To start with you need to make sure that both the device settings are the same, for example, fastest route, shortest route, curvy route, etc. But the one big difference is to have a sufficient number of Waypoints to make sure that you persuade both the devices to follow your chosen route.
Once you have plotted your course in TyreToTravel, zoom in and see where different SatNavs could possibly choose more than one direction. Then drop in an extra Waypoint, or Shaping Point (see above), this should force all devices down your chosen route. Remember that your SatNav plots from one waypoint to another, it does not necessarily follow the route line that you see in Tyre. A little common sense is required here. If you are using minor roads out in the country you may need to add quite a few extra Waypoints. But if you are on a tour to Scotland using the M1 then you need very few. But make sure your riders have selected the same settings on their SatNavs.
Waypoints after the junction.
This seems fairly obvious but is often overlooked. If the Waypoint is placed on a junction, or just before, your SatNav screen will show this waypoint on its display until you pass it before giving you the turn required at the junction. So the information for the turn happens very close to, or on top of the junction, and gives you very little warning. Where possible the Waypoints need to be a few hundred metres after a junction, this then enables you to have the junction direction information before the waypoint is displayed.
Make sure Waypoints are on the route. Once again a few extra minutes checking a route in Tyre can save a lot of time riding into cul-de-sacs, round and round roundabouts or up and down dual carriageways. Once you have completed your route, zoom into each waypoint and check that they are where you need them to be. Is it on the right road? Is it on the right side of a dual carriageway? If you reverse a route in Tyre you will need to shift some or all of the Waypoints. For example they will need to be moved to the other side of junctions or to the opposite side of a dual carriageway/motorway. When a route is reversed the distance should be close to the distance when going in the original direction. This is a good way of checking that you have correctly placed all Waypoints on the reversed route.
It helps to keep Waypoint names short. They need to fit into the space allotted on the device and you do not want to be reading a four line document whilst riding your bike. Usually the road name or number is sufficient. I will often put a Waypoint in a town, then use the name of the town.
In conclusion. Remember that SatNavs are fairly basic devices aimed mainly at getting you from point A to point B. They are only as good as the information they are fed. 99.9% of SatNav errors are caused by the wrong information being input. By using a mapping software programme and following the advice above you should guarantee a safe and successful journey – with all riders going the same way and arriving at the same time.
TyreToTravel File Formats (first published in Slipstream November 2014)
Which file format to use?
So which file format should you use when downloading your routes from Tyre to your SatNav? .gpx, .gdp, .itn or .trf. It can be very confusing. Let’s try and simplify this file conundrum.
GDB stands for ‘Garmin DataBase’. It is a collection of everything you currently have loaded into your route program – tracks, routes, Waypoints, Shaping Points and even maps. Garmin Mapsource uses .gdb file formats.
GPX stands for ‘GPS Exchange Format’ and is a common SatNav data format for software applications. It has the advantage that it’s a recognised standard used by many software packages and SatNav manufacturers. It’s a way to exchange track and Waypoint data between different devices and programmes. But it lacks some detail. Garmin Basecamp uses .gpx.
ITN file extension are known as ‘TomTom Navigator Itinerary’ files. Obviously they are used by TomTom.
TRF files are particular to the TyreToTravel mapping software and was developed from the TomTom .itn format. .trf has the best of all three files above imbedded in it with lots of detail.
Where do the different formats fit?
- Garmin Mapsource uses .GDB file format.
- Garmin Basecamp uses .GPX format.
- Most Garmin SatNavs will load both of these formats.
- TomTom SatNavs only uses .ITN format.
- TyreToTravel operates on Tyre .TRF format.
Now here is one of the major advantages of the TyreToTravel mapping software: it will accept all the above formats and download any of them back to your SatNav. It will also convert your route from one format to another. When you plug your SatNav into Tyre it will recognise the device and automatically convert the .trf file to suit your device. You do not need any other software to convert file formats. It couldn’t be easier.
You can send your route by email to a friend directly from Tyre by using the menu or by the appropriate speed-button. You can send the file as a Tyre file (.trf), as a TomTom file (.itn), as a Garmin file (.gpx) or even as a Google Earth file (.kmz).
When exchanging route files you need to know if the recipient intends to directly download it into their SatNav or load it into Tyre. If it is going to their SatNav then you need to know if they are using Garmin (.gpx) or TomTom (.itn) and send them the appropriate format.
However, if they intend loading into Tyre then use the Tyre .trf format which has great advantages over other file types. For example:
- Each itinerary file also contains the Preferences that were used when the file was created (avoiding highways and toll roads, or not, route line colour, etc.)
- Each POI file also contains the image that is used to display the POIs on the map in Tyre and in your navigation device. No need to send a separate image.
- You can mark the file as ‘read-only’ to prevent the receiver from editing the file.
- The receiver of the .trf file can download to their SatNav in any format they require, Tyre will convert it to the proper file type to suit their device.
One of the main reasons for using TyreToTravel is its flexibility of inputting and exporting all the different formats. If your route is contained within a .trf file format as long as possible then you will keep more of its detail, especially the Shaping Points (see above). Only when it is downloaded to your GPS should you then convert the file to either a .gpx or .itn.
Straight lines on your SatNav (first published in Slipstream January 2015)
I have had a number of queries from members over the past few months stating that when loading routes from Tyre, and some other mapping software programmes onto their SatNavs they have found that their route comes out as straight lines from one waypoint to the next. This straight-lining is a known problem, especially with some Garmin SatNavs. Bear in mind that when gpx files are imported they only give the device very basic information such as the location of the waypoints but not the route to use to get from one waypoint to another. The SatNav has to calculate that for you. (See my previous articles.) Your SatNav knows nothing about the route you have carefully drawn on your PC. It only knows where the waypoints are. TomTom itn files do not seem to suffer so regularly with this straight-lining problem.
There are two ways to overcome this problem:-
1. Force the Garmin to recalculate the route.
A quick way of doing this is to import your route into Garmin then go into apps, select trip planner and select your route (same as you would normally do when importing the route). Then select the menu which is the three bars at bottom right or top left. Select route preference. Then change to faster time or shorter distance. Any change forces the device to recalculate the route and all will be ok.
2. Select the track instead of the route.
The track has the same name as a route but has a ‘T-’ prefix. To do, this select apps, this time go into tracks and select your route. When map appears hit the spanner at top left and select convert to trip. Then follow through with the renaming. Bear in mind that you will only see the start and finish waypoints on your device as track uses gdb files with shaping points. Garmin does not show shaping points when using gdb files but it does follow them.
If you feel more comfortable seeing waypoints on your display then use version 1 above. However 2 has the advantage of using shaping points which means it will probably be more accurate. And if you have read my previous articles you will know that you can have as many as 150 shaping points between two waypoints. More waypoints can be added in Tyre.
Skip next waypoint button
How many times has your SatNav tried to turn you around to get you back to a waypoint that you have missed? I find it one of the biggest problems with SatNavs. One way to overcome it is to keep riding on hoping that finally the device will give up on the missed waypoint and go for the next one. Well there is now a button which will solve that for you and it has to be one of the most useful buttons on the Zumo SatNavs. The TomTom, not to be outdone, has a similar button in the Quick Menu Option which allows you to go to the previous or next waypoint.
So on a Garmin how do you get this button onto the navigation screen and make it work? Go into settings, select Map & Vehicle, scroll down to and select Map Buttons. A map comes up with two buttons on the right-hand side with crosses in them. These are the buttons you can add functions to which will then appear on the navigation screen. If you hit the first cross you will be taken into a menu. Scroll down to Skip and select. This then appears on the top button. You can then add another function from the drop down menu to the second button if you so wish. Then Save your choices. When you have a route with three or more waypoints the skip button will appear on the screen.
So the next time your route is trying to take you backwards to a passed waypoint just hit this button. Your SatNav will then recalculate to the next waypoint. If this waypoint is also behind you hit the skip button again. Finally the route should start directing you forward or in the direction you would like to go. It really is as easy as that. This button is super useful when out on TVAM group rides and the run leader has chosen to go off route.