GPS to PC: tricks and tracks

Article by Matt (gemini), 08Mar12

Hi Yakkers!

For those of you who may be looking to see a bit more info from your GPS, I've written up a guide on adding your data into Google Earth for a spiffy satellite image showing tracks and/or waypoints. I'll also detail how to extract your data to distribute to others for fishing reports etc. This information is useful to include in our trip reports not only for our reference, but also for visitors to the site so they can see where we go and what we get up to (if you wish to show them). Of course, if you want to keep this info secret you can still download the data and use it for your own reference or to show trusted friends.

NOTE: I am using a Garmin Etrex10 and Windows 7 for the purposes of this write-up. The method may be slightly different with your model of GPS or PC, but the basics should be the same. I will refer to Google Earth as GE for the rest of the article.


GPS configuration should be fairly standard across all models bought in Australia. Most of you will have configured your GPS already, but I'll review the main settings you need to worry about. The first is the position setting which needs to be in degrees and decimal minutes format (displayed on my GPS as hddd°mm.mmm') found in the "Setup" and then "Position Format" menus on my Etrex10. Under the same sub-menu is a "Map Datum" and "Map Spheroid" setting. These both need to be set to "WGS 84".

The other GPS setting I use is the automatic tracking feature. When your GPS is switched on tracking begins and continues while it’s in use. All you need to do is make sure the previous track is cleared otherwise it may become part of the new track. Clearing a track can be done from the "Trip Computer", sub-menu "Reset", and the automatic tracking setting can be found in "Settings", sub-menu "Tracks". You don't need to use automatic tracking, but it simplifies things once you're on the water. You will also need to save your track once completed. You can find this under "Track Manager" > "Current Track" > "Save track". Note that the GPS will continue to track whenever it’s turned on, so if you wish to create a track showing only where you travelled “today”, you need to delete the previous track at or before the time you turn on the GPS at the start and then preferably save the track at the end before turning the GPS off. If you leave the GPS on, it will continue to track with the result that your recorded track will likely show the route to your home as well as where you went fishing.

There are more settings on a GPS than you can comfortably poke a stick at, so it pays to play around and see what yours can do. I'll update this article if I come across anything else worth mentioning, but for the moment these basics will suffice.


If you don’t already have GE installed, go here and download GE. Install the program, making sure your computer has at least two gigabytes of free space on the hard disk. GE creates a cache for recently used data, and it can fill up fairly quickly.

With GE installed, there is one option that must be changed before we can start using it. If you open GE you will find a menu bar along the top. Find the "Tools" menu, and then select "Options" from the drop down menu it produces. You will be presented with the following dialogue box:

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The image has a red ellipse around the "Show Lat/Long" option for "Degrees, Decimal Minutes". You will need to select that option if not already selected. This is to keep a data standard for our Noosa Yakkers reports etc, and matches the setting in the GPS as described above. The "Local Marks" page on our blog here already makes use of this standard. Using a different option may put your data out by a few kilometres!

The other areas on the GE options dialogue box are largely personal preferences. The only things I would point out are the Antialiasing and Antistropic filtering options. Make use of those only if your computer system has a high performance graphics card, as you may experience some performance degradation when using GE without the better card if you select these options.


Now you can start importing data from your GPS. When plugged into the PC, using a cable connector, most GPS should appear as another storage device on your system, like a USB memory stick or CD-ROM drive.

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Here Windows has assigned the indentifier “J” to the GPS after connection to the PC.

GE has the capacity to import all data automatically from Garmin, Magellan, and Wintec devices, but I would recommend against using this automatic option as I have found it unreliable. We'll start with the waypoints.


NOTE: The following process assumes you have already entered the relevant waypoint information into your GPS. At a minimum you should have the coordinates for our regular destinations like Jew Shoal, Halls Reef etc (see here but note that this process will allow you to selectively import all waypoints recorded on the GPS, including those newly created on this trip (see image further down).

In GE, go to the "Tools" menu and select "GPS". You will be presented with the following screen.

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Select "Import from file", tick the box for "Waypoints", and click "Import". You will now be prompted to select a waypoint file to import from. The saved file path for waypoints and tracks on my Etrex10 is "x:\Garmin\GPX", where "x" is the letter identifier assigned to your GPS automatically by Windows (in this case, the GPS is identified on my computer as device “J”). You need to navigate to the device (ie the GPS, in this case, device “J”) in GE/Windows Explorer and then select the file.

The files are named for easy identification as either a track or waypoint with an attached date of creation. Select the waypoint file you would like to import and click "Open".

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The waypoints will now appear in the sidebar on the left under "Temporary Places" > "gpx GPS Device" (or similar) > "Waypoints". Within this menu you can delete unwanted imported waypoints prior to copying them into your working data area. Once you are happy with the waypoint data you wish to import, perform a right mouse button click on the "Waypoint" heading and select "Save to My Places" from the context menu that pops up.

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The waypoints will now appear under the heading "My Places" at the top of the sidebar in GE.


Importing tracks is largely the same as the description for waypoints above, but instead of selecting waypoints when importing from the GPS, choose to import "Tracks", and output "KML Tracks" and "KML LineStrings". The file you need will have "Track_" in the title, rather than "Waypoint_" as before.

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In the sidebar, in the same place where the waypoints appeared in "Temporary Places", you will now find "Tracks". In here you will find two dated tracks matching the file name you imported. One will have sub-folders (click the triangle next to it) containing "Points" and "Path", and one will not. The track without a sub-menu is a basic path of your trip, and is the track you will most likely use if you want to produce a quick image of your journey. The second track is where the guts of your trip data is contained (altitude, time stamps, direction, speed etc). If you click the blue "link" style heading for that track in the sidebar, it will popup a window over the map displaying track information.

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Let's leave the complicated track for now (it has useful info, but we'll get to that another time), and focus on getting an image of our track. If you want to, you can also save these tracks to "My Places" as you did with the waypoints.

Double click your track in the GE sidebar on the left. The map window will now zoom to your track and magically display the track centered on screen. Tick the boxes in the sidebar to display or hide any relevant waypoints near your track if you desire (locations, fish captures etc). You also have the option to make this map slightly larger by turning off the toolbar, sidebar, and navigation menus from the "View" menu at the top left of the screen. I recommend removing the navigation menu at least, as it will appear on your image otherwise. Go to the "File" menu at the top left, select "Save", and then "Save Image". Give it a name and you're done! If you're planning to use it for trip reports it will need to have a maximum width of 700 pixels, so a bitmap editor will need to be used to crop the image and tidy it up. This is something Sunshiner has covered on the blog already here.

After all that you should now be able to produce some colourful images of your adventures on the water. If you're writing a trip report, maybe grab the GPS data from your trip-mates (who can email the track files to you) and produce an image with multiple tracks for added effect! Be creative and have some fun out there... the first 5km wide smiley face overlaid on Laguna Bay wins a prize.

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Matt (gemini)

Preparing photos for the blog

By Kev Long

Now that waterproof digital cameras are pretty common among Noosa Yakkers, many still (ie non-video) pics of great kayak fishing interest are being recorded and passed on by email. We still get many queries about how best to prepare a digital still image (henceforth in this article called “photo”) for emailing and for the blog, so this post has been created to help you master the necessary skills to manipulate your images and hence successfully pass the photos on to the group.


At the very start, you need to be aware that the devices (PCs, tablets, smart phones) which display your photo use PIXELS, not mm or inches, to determine how much space the photo uses on its screen. You also need to understand that most devices can effectively use a maximum of up to about 1600 pixels wide as that is the maximum number of pixels which can be displayed in width on the device (Note that a typical basic notebook computer has a display width maximum of 1024 pixels, as do most tablet computers such as iPad).

All of this means that, when display of the full photo on a typical screen is the objective, any pixels more than 1600 pixels width in the image are wasted. A photo which is 4000 pixels wide will still be displayed (in some cases not all at once -- you'll have to use a scroll bar to see the whole width), but the vast majority of pixels are unused in a full screen display. This also means that most of the considerable band width (ie your broadband, which you’re paying for) and extra time consumed by transmitting and receiving the 4000 pixel image are wasted. Time, money, storage space, all wasted by anyone who sends or receives photos which are wider than absolutely necessary!


Not only do display devices have maximum display widths, but so also do some applications (such as web pages). Given that many of Noosa Yakkers’ photos will hopefully end up in Trip Reports, and/or in Our Favourite Pics, it makes sense that the yakker providing the photo in the first place should prepare that image for that purpose before sending it on.


Once the limitations are understood, the process of optimizing the photo for the display device is easy. All users of Windows 7 and Windows Vista have a built in application which will allow you to do this. If you have an iPad there’s a great and low cost App called Photogene which you should install. Mac owners have a program called Preview which allows the adjustments needed to be made easily.

As statistics show that most views of our web pages are by Windows users, I’ll use the Windows 7 built in software “Paint” as the means of demonstrating how to optimize your pictures. But before going on with that, here are three basic rules for Noosa Yakkers photos you wish to send by email or post on the blog.


Whether you’re intending your photos to be viewed only in an email or intend that they be displayed on the Noosa Yakkers blog you don’t need photos which are wider than 700 pixels. This is because 700 pixels will display very well in an email and is the LARGEST size which will fit the available width on any of our blog posts.


Most photos have stuff that can be cropped out (demonstrated below). The cropping (usually a process of selecting a rectangular shape on the photo and keeping that part of the photo, discarding the rest) should be done on the ORIGINAL photo, before resizing, because that process will give the maximum photo quality for number of pixels, and thus display quality will be optimized.

Note also that photos which are 700 pixels wide but a lesser number of pixels deep (eg 700x250) will always display better on typical display devices than photos which have more depth than width. Sometimes, however, you must use photos that are deeper than they are wide, as in photos of the Eiffel Tower, for example.


One of the simplest ways of doing this is to NOT delete the photos from your camera/card when you transfer them to your computer. (They can always be deleted later, when you’re happy you have the originals stored safely.) ALWAYS save your modified photos to a different folder and file name than your original after you’ve cropped and resized them. That way you’ll be able to find them easily when you want to email them, and you’ll still have the originals stored on your computer, in a different folder, for safekeeping.


Firstly, always save the photos to your computer otherwise you take the risk of modifying photos on your camera/card and therefore destroying the originals. You can ensure this is the case by disconnecting the camera/card from the computer before starting to edit the photos. It’s always best to create a new folder for your fishing photos and store your photos in there (in subfolders named for the date they were taken, if you’re really well organized).

Here's the photo we’re going to use as an example for cropping. It’s an old favourite...

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This photo’s original size is 3648x2736 pixels (in order to show you the whole photo in this space I’ve had to reduce this copy to 700x525 pixels). The original photo requires 3.2mb of storage space, while the smaller version, as displayed above, requires only 55kb, about 1/60 of the original!

You will see that in the subject photo there’s a lot of “empty” space around the subject. We could display this photo a lot better if we could get rid of this space, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

The Windows program which allows us to do this is called “Paint” and it can usually be found under Accessories in the Program list.

Start “Paint”, and open the file. You can do this with some sample files provided or with any other suitable file on your computer.

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The view after opening. Note that the actual tools/items displayed in the upper tool bar and in the information bar depend on the overall window width, so adjust if necessary. The annotated notes in B&W are mine.

Now we’re going to crop the photo, to get rid of the stuff we don’t want.

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After you choose CROP, the photo will display as below:

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OK, nicely cropped, but still too big. Now to resize it.

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Nicely done! Now the final step after resize...

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Now let’s compare the two pics, the original, uncropped, and the cropped version, with both at 700 pixels wide

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Above, the original, uncropped

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The cropped version, much better, I think you'll agree

So there it is, easy as! But please make sure you select the cropped and downsized versions of your pics before sending to us. If anyone's having difficulties, please get in touch with me.


Preparing your Trip Report

Our trip reports have proven to be a valuable source of information and amusement among Noosa Yakkers, their friends, and since late 2011, visitors to the NY TR blog from all over the world. No doubt in years to come some of us, in the old folks' home viewing this blog, will be able to relive the old times and go fishing vicariously with the latest batch of Noosa Yakkers while boring to death all of the other inmates with tales of derring-do.

Only members of Noosa Yakkers can submit Trip Reports and on this page I provide a few tips about how best to create them and prepare them for publication. Most importantly, the report should be made available ASAP after the event, as old news just doesn’t cut it.


In the report title (email subject) include the date of the trip.

Use the headings below at the top of your report

Launch point:

Then fill them out something like this.

Wind: light westerly
Swell: low N
Current: at Jew Shoal, easterly, 1kph
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: richmond, eyetag, gemini, windy, carlo


Relate where you went and what time, what happened and include what your mates did. Tell us the methods used and their effectiveness. Enthral us with the adventures you had. How did you handle the surf zone? Mention anything of safety, wildlife, good idea, nature, which occurred on the trip.


Try to take pics on and under the water. Decide what the subject is and act accordingly. In any case, get as close to your subject as safety permits (try to fill the viewfinder with the subject without zooming, and get the whole fish in the frame). Make sure your camera focuses before taking the pic. Turn off the flash unless absolutely necessary. Look for shadows intruding on the subject and adjust so that they are avoided. If it's action you're after shoot movie with sound as individual movie frames may be useful and the edited movie can be placed (by one of our NY skilled operators) in a live link to YouTube on the blog post. Get your subject facing the sun and have hats and sunnies removed (watch out for your shadow falling on the subject). Use Google Earth to provide illustrations of where you went and other software and tricks to provide other interesting images (eg Seabreeze forecast graphs). Practice, practice, and be ready to shoot stills or movie at short notice. Leash your camera!

For every picture include a caption in your report. Don't discard the original images as we might ask you to provide them for better presentation on the blog.


Please reduce image size before sending. [Don't know how? Click here.] Nobody likes to receive 10mb emails when plainly, with a little care, 1 mb would have done the job. If you don't know how to resize images please contact one of the old hands and we'll try to help you, or click here.

If you have authority to use the Practice blog, post it on there and tell turtleboy by email that it has been posted on the Practice blog.

If you do not have access to the Practice blog, send your report by email to turtleboy in the first instance. Remember to crop and resize images, make the width no more than 700 pixels then either embed in or attach to your email.

Don't email movie files but contact turtleboy, gemini or sunshiner and arrange for transfer. If you have a movie already on YouTube send us the link to the movie and we'll embed it into the blog entry.

Have fun with it!