andygates: (Default)
Every week I do an update to my OpenStreetMap Garmin map.  It's as much for me as for anyone else - the mapping I've been enjoying doing all year (marvelously described as "OCD gardening" elsewhere) is very satisfying when I see the new material on my GPS.  But because other people use the map too, I have to do a bit of quality control.

Each time I've finished the build, I'll do a little pan-and-scan over the whole thing, on the GPS, as an eyeball check.  Every time, I finish off by zooming right into the place where the cursor has ended up, and thinking about the points and place names I see there.  There's something intriguing about being able, if I want, to just click "go!" and be routed there, right now.

This week, it's the Amnesty Cafe in Galway.  I wonder what their cakes are like?
andygates: (Default)
What's the difference between OSM on Garmin and Garmin City Navigator?

(I was asked this on a bike forum, and it's worth putting out wider)

OpenStreetMap is a wiki world map, so it's like Wikipedia: lots of detail in some places, and some gaps.  In general all the useful roads are in place - I've no trouble navigating around using it - but villages may be just dots. 

When some enterprising mapper decides to put the detail in, it can be better than the commercial maps: fresh areas are really fresh, and micro-mapping nerds (the equivalent of fanboys writing about Firefly on wikipedia) get buckets of detail in.  OSM in the UK and Germany is very comprehensive; Northern Europe is pretty good, so's the US. 

OSM's coverage of third-world locations is often better than any commercial map, because there's no money in updating a map of Kinshasa, but a UN intern with a hiking GPS can lay out the groundwork in a weekend.  There was a recent project to update Gaza, which was ever so cool. 

City Navigator is very strong on POI - points of interest, pubs and cinemas and so on.  OSM's POI are a bit variable.  POI weren't the original aim of the project, which has grown way outside its original scope (it was never intended to be on Garmins!).  Now, people are filling in POI and it's fleshing out well. 

Routing on OSM is fairly new.  Sometimes people have mapped an area a bit weirdly, and the routing can go a little mental, but mappers are tidying those up now that routing is maturing.  City Navigator's routing is good, but like all GPS routing, if you set it wrong on the device, you can end up in a pond.

One thing I really like is that updates to OSM get included quickly.  The cost of updating Garmin maps means that I know plenty of people still using a map several years old; OSM is as fresh as last night's edits.  (User edits hit the live map in a couple of hours; most extracts like the ones I use are once-per-day). 

As for my take on the map, it's a heavyweight, busy one aimed at cyclists and hikers: it's got contour lines, and trail/cyclepath obstructions like fords and gates, and cafes and convenience stores and pharmacies and bike shops, for example.  I've added highway points like crossings, lights and mini-roundabouts for walking navigation.  Bus stops and postboxes are also included, mostly because if they show up, you know someone has obsessively covered the area in detail ;)

My map is pretty cluttered and busy at some zoom levels.  300m in a city is ugly.  It's best at 80-120m and 1-3km, which I think are best for walking and riding.  Works fine elsewhere, but it's got lots of thick friendly lines.

In summary:  Garmin City Navigator has proven routing and great POI, but costs a lot and updates infrequently.  OSM has routing, rapid updates, contour lines, and is free, but has the inherent limitations of a wiki in coverage. 

The limitations of a wiki are also its strengths: if you like, you can contribute to the project.  If you like, you can even do your own homebrew Garmin map too, and there are a number of other Garmin UK versions freely available.  Mapping your local patch is addictive!

Purdy maps

Mar. 16th, 2009 03:10 pm
andygates: (Default)
Yes, it's trumpet-blowing but I like how they're coming out :)

This stylesheet is going to use UK road colour standards, bring in some highway navigation points (lights, crossings, roundabouts), pick up some extra POI (bike shops, convenience stores) and especially, it should have cafés and pubs on a wider zoom for targetting en velo.  Need to work out how to blaze some routes where they have NCN, etc references.

Lovingly hand-blown icon, that "i" - pixelwise icon scrimshaw, which is preposterously retro but when you've about 16x16 to play with, you just can't scale it. 

Scarily addictive, this - like discovering desktop publishing and going mad with the fonts, it's an effort to keep restrained.  No magenta skulls for graveyards!

Now, does anyone know how to change the base colours?

andygates: (Default)
Custom icon on Garmin (by andygates)I've worked out how to do custom icons on the Garmin.

This is, of course, for bike shops, which OpenStreetMap defaults to either nothing, or the boring shopping-basket icon. Custom icons are full of fail, because with 32x32 and a full alpha channel to play with, I can see myself wasting huge swathes of time getting my maps just so.

How-to:  It's a two-stage thing.  First, define a mkgmap style for the tags you want to use.  That means that the map objects get marked with the correct Garmin TypeID.  Shops are 2e, with the higher numbers unused, so 2e10 is bike shops (tag: shop=bicycle) to me.

Second, build a custom Typ-file (a Garmin binary that holds the colours and graphics) using the online editor.  The neat thing here is that if you define very little, the rest will appear as defaults, so it's quite hard to break it.  It's very easy to make something hideously gaudy, mind!  The typ-file styles all elements - land, ways and points - so at some point I'll start painting buildings and I'll colour the roads to match UK road signs, which is intuitively right to me.

andygates: (Default)
I've been playing again.  OpenStreetMap user ComputerTeddy runs regular updates of the OSM data into Garmin-friendly tiles.  I've taken his  fresh 15th January 02009 tiles for UK and Ireland, combined them with the SMC's UK topological map, and put them all into a Garmin-installable streets-and-topo map.

You can download it here:

Cut for geeky details... )
andygates: (hellboy)


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