Magellan GPS Import Extension for ArcView 3.x
formerly known as Import DataSend
New in this version: Support for MapSend waypoints and routes
Create metadata fields
by Andy Lyons
Overview of Magellan GPS Import
Using Magellan GPS Import
A Few Tips on Using MapSend/DataSend
Using DataSend to Group and Rename Waypoints
Mapping Boundaries and Linear Features with GPS
Customizing the Background Map in DataSend
Download Magellan GPS Import
The Magellan GPS Import extension for ArcView 3.x enables you to import GPS waypoints and/or routes from Magellan GPS units so you can save them as standard shapefiles. The extension does not communicate directly with the GPS unit. You must first download your waypoints to a computer using Magellan's DataSend© or MapSend© program, and then save them to the hard drive. Then you can switch to ArcView and use the Magellan GPS Import extension to read the GPS waypoints and routes from the waypoint file, and convert them to shapefiles.
The Magellan GPS Import extension has several helpful features including:
- reads waypoint files created by the MapSend, DataSend, or DataSave programs (MapSend users should export waypoints to text format)
- imports both waypoints and routes
- users can select by name which waypoint(s) and route(s) to import
- waypoints and routes can be saved in new shapefiles, or appended to existing shapefiles
- when appending waypoints/routes to existing shapefiles, the extension checks to make sure the waypoints and/or routes are not already in the shapefile, so you don't wind up with duplicate features
- all attribute data from the waypoint file is preserved (e.g., waypoint name, comments, elevation)
- when importing waypoints into a view that already has projected data, the extension provides an option to automatically re-project the incoming GPS data to a user-specified coordinate system
- option to create additional metadata fields in the attribute table and fill them with ancillary information (e.g., date of acquisition, name of collector, GPS unit, etc.)
- Sept. 2002: Version 1
- March 2003: Version 2
- includes two bug fixes which caused problems reading waypoint files created by DataSend Version 2
- May 2005: Version 2.1
- support added for waypoints and routes exported from MapSend as text files
- elevation data imported
- latitude and longitude coordinates saved in attribute table
- extension renamed Magellan GPS Import
- June 2005: Version 2.2
- added support for creating metadata fields
- fixed a bug caused when global variables not set
- Future work: support for track files
To install the Magellan GPS Import extension, copy the magellan_gps_import_v22.avx file to the ArcView extensions folder. This folder is usually located in C:\Esri\Av_gis30\ArcView\Ext32. If you have the previous version of the extension, Import DataSend, uninstall it by deleting the corresponding .avx file from the extensions folder.
After the extension is installed, start ArcView and select File -- Extensions. You should see the 'Magellan GPS Import' extension listed. To load the extension, put a check in the checkbox and click OK (Figure 1). After the extension is loaded, when you open a view in ArcView you will see a new "Magellan" menu on the View menu bar (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Magellan GPS Importt in the list of available extensions
Figure 2. New Magellan menu on the View menu bar
Using Magellan GPS Import
To import GPS wayoints, first download the waypoints from your Magellan GPS unit using a PC data cable and either MapSend, DataSend, or DataSave. If needed, you can use MapSend/DataSend to rename the waypoints to something more meaningful, and/or save them into different waypoint files based on feature type (see grouping waypoints below). If using MapSend, export your waypoints to a text file using the 'Export' command on the Waypoints menu. If using DataSend, save your waypoints to a standard waypoint file.
Next start ArcView, load the Magellan GPS Import extension, and open or create a view. When you select the one of the waypoint import options from the Magellan menu, the extension will walk you through a series of choices to convert your waypoints and routes to shapefile(s). It will ask you to:
- Select the waypoint file you wish to import.
- Select (by name) which waypoints/routes you wish to import.
- Choose whether to save the waypoints/routes in a new shapefile or append to an existing one (must have same fields)
- If you import routes, decide whether you want to save routes as lines or polygons. (Polygons will be automatically 'closed' by connecting the last point of the route to the first.)
- Decide whether you want to add the waypoints/routes to a new shapefile or append them to an existing shapefile.
- Choose whether any additional fields should be added to record metadata (e.g., date points were collected).
- Select whether you want the extension to project the waypoints to a different coordinate system (if it detects that the other themes in your view are not saved in latitude-longitude coordinates.
- Choose whether the new layer should be added to the current view.
When you import waypoints, the following fields will be saved in the attribute table. If you choose to append waypoints/routes to an existing shapefile, these fields must also be present.
- latitude and longitude*
- elevation (value and units)*
*fields used for waypoints only (not routes)
Note the time and date of point acquisition can not be imported because they are not saved by MapSend/DataSend. However the extension will allow you to create additional field(s) for metadata, such as date of collection, GPS unit used, person collecting the data, etc. You can also enter a value to be saved in these fields, in which case all points imported will receive the same value.
Also route names are not preserved in MapSend export files, so they will automatically labeled Route1, Route2, etc.
As stated above, MapSend users must export their saved waypoints/routes to a text file in order to be readable by ArcView. The reason for this is because the native MapSend .wpt file format is binary and not readable by ArcView's scripting language. However users who need to read from a MapSend .wpt file directly can use VBA, see http://nature.berkeley.edu/~alyons/mapsend for more details.
A Few Tips on Managing Waypoints with MapSend and DataSend
MapSend and DataSend are designed to work with a variety of Magellan GPS units. DataSave is a freeware version of DataSend which has slightly fewer functions, however is no longer available on Magellan's website. MapSend and DataSend have four primary functions in managing waypoints and routes:
- downloading GPS waypoints and routes to and from the handheld unit through the PC connection cable
- deleting, renaming, and sorting waypoints into different files
- grouping waypoints into routes
- saving waypoints on the hard drive so they can then be imported into a GIS application such as ArcView
Using MapSend/DataSend to Group and Rename Waypoints
Once you download waypoints from your GPS unit, it may be helpful to save them in separate files based on the type of feature. For example you may download 78 waypoints which represent schools, restaurants, trail junctions, buildings, etc. Your first step should be to take those 78 waypoints and save them into different waypoint files, with each file representing a different type of feature. You can do this by deleting all the points you don't need, and saving the remaining points as a waypoint file under a new file name. See the MapSend/DataSend online help for more information on selecting, deleting, and renaming waypoints.
Mapping Boundaries and Linear Features with GPS
Many landscape features can be represented by points, for example road junctions, wells, gardens, camps, etc. However other important features can only be represented by lines (e.g., roads, streams, transects) or closed polygons (e.g., boundaries of a field, boundaries of a parking lot, etc.). In order to map out these features using Magellan GPS units, you have to create routes. A route is simply a series of waypoints which are connected together in dot-to-dot fashion to form either a line or polygon boundary.
The easiest way to create a route is to save waypoints on the handheld as you normally would, and then connect-the-dots in the computer. For example suppose you were mapping the borders of a proposed park. You could simply walk along the proposed boundary, and stop and save a waypoint at the corners and a couple of points on each side. You should give these waypoints consistent names such as PK001, PK002, PK003, etc. Then you would download these waypoints from the GPS unit to the computer using MapSend/DataSend, and use the 'build route' tool to connect-the-dots for your boundary (see online help for details). You would then save this file as a waypoint file, and then start ArcView and use the Magellan GPS Import extension to open the waypoint file and convert the route into a polygon or line.
Steps by Step Instructions for Mapping a Boundary Using Waypoints
Method #2: Using Backtrack
- Walk along the boundary and record waypoints at the corners and a couple of points on each side.
- Give the waypoints meaningful names like BNDRY01, BNDRY02, BNDRY03.
- Back in the office, download the waypoints to the computer using the PC cable and the MapSend/DataSend program.
- In MapSend/DataSend, find the points which comprise your boundary and use the 'Build Route' tool to connect-the-dots.
- Go to Tools -- Select Waypoints/Routes, and right-click on the name of your route, and rename it to something more meaningful.
- Save the waypoint and routes as a waypoint file.
- Start ArcView and load the Magellan GPS Import extension (see above).
- Select 'Import MapSend text file' or 'Import DataSend waypoint file' from the Magellan menu.
- Find the waypoint file you created, and pick the route for importing. Indicate whether you want your route to be converted to a line feature or a polygon feature.
A second way to build a route is with the 'BackTrack' feature on the handheld. When you select "Backtrack" from the routes menu on the handheld, the unit will create a route from your current position to the point at which you turned on tracking. It will only take 10-30 of the tracking points or 'bread crumbs'. See the users manual for details, but the basic procedure is to:
- walk to the start of the route and turn on tracking
- walk or drive to the end of the route. As you walk, the tracking feature is "dropping bread crumbs" (i.e., recording points in memory as you go).
- when you get to the end of the road/boundary, etc, go to the Routes menu and select backtrack. You will then see your new route in the list of routes.
- rename the route to something more meaningful
- download waypoints and routes to a PC using MapSend or DataSend
- save the waypoints and route as a new waypoint file
- use the Magellan GPS Import extension to import the routes into ArcView as either a line or polygon
Note that in general you have more control and precision over the route if you build a route by stopping and recording waypoints, and then 'connecting the dots' in MapSend/DataSend. Building a route with the backtrack feature should only be used it is not be possible or convenient to stop and take waypoints (e.g., you are driving along a road or traveling in a boat).
Customizing the Background Map in DataSend
Note: this tip does not apply to MapSend. When you first open DataSend, it displays a map of the whole world as the background for importing GPS points. The country boundaries in the background map provide a reference for GPS waypoints, however you may wish to display a different, more detailed background map, especially if the points you are working with come from a relatively small area. You can display additional background maps by selecting Tools-Select Waypoints/Routes/Backgrounds. Furthermore, if you have a GIS program such as ArcView, you can also create additional background maps by heeding the following guidelines:
- All background maps must be in standard ESRI shapefile format. Thus to create new background maps you need a software application like ArcView which can make shapefiles.
- All background maps must be a line or point layer. If you try to use a polygon layer, it will appear filled in the background so you won't be able to see your GPS points. If you have a polygon layer that you want to use as the background, first convert it to a polyline layer using the Xtools extension.
- Background maps must be saved in C:\Program Files\DataSend\Backgrounds.
- DataSend uses the first 'word' in the name of the shapefile to sort the layers when they appear in the list of available backgrounds. So instead of calling your new layer 'Zambia Villages.shp', call it something like '0900 Zambia Villages.shp'. The '0900' won't appear in the list of available backgrounds, but it will be used for sorting.
- The Magellan GPS unit saves waypoint coordinates in latitude-longitude format. Thus any background layer must also be saved in latitude-longitude format.
Downloading Magellan GPS Import
The Magellan GPS Import extension can be downloaded from the ESRI script archive. Once you download the zip file, expand it to your local hard drive and install as described above.
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