Jan 5, 2009
Downloading Waypoints and Tracks with Garmin Geko
I forgot how to do this and it took me way too long to figure it out again, so here are notes for myself and anyone else who has these GPS units and a Mac.
The Garmin Geko 201/301 GPS Units
The Garmin Geko 201 is an inexpensive basic unit. Amazon currently has this unit for $91.40. Garmin has nice user manuals available as PDFs, e.g. the Geko 201 user manual .
The Garmin Geko 301 is also a basic unit, with an integrated compass added. Amazon currently has the unit for $148.95. I bought mine as a reconditioned unit for somewhat less, can't recall.
These units use the etrex data cable, available from Amazon for about $25:
The Keyspan USB to Serial Adapter is a handy and robust adapter, which Amazon now has for about $25:
The purpose of the device, as its "No Serial Port, No Problem!" descriptor says, is used to connect legacy non-USB devices to a computer. The Keyspan unit comes with a utility called Keyspan Serial Assistant, which simply shows the port name after you install the driver:
This helps you learn the name of the driver when you are using software needing to communicate with a target device, and to confirm that it is working. Note the names KeySerial1 and USA19H1a2P1.1, which is how the port will show in software setups -- either one works for this Garmin hook-up.
The product identifier for this Keyspan unit is USA-19HS. The HS designation, for High Speed, marks this unit as a replacement for an earlier version of the device. Some software currently lists the HS version as compatible, but not earlier ones.
This free utility software from ClueTrust of Virginia does the job of downloading tracks and waypoints to your Mac. After the Keyspan driver is installed, check it with the Keyspan Serial Assistant, then fire up LoadMyTracks:
Note that I selected Garmin Serial for the protocol, and picked KeySerial1 as the port where I connected the GPS unit -- the GPS unit uses an old-style serial cable, which is connected via the Keyspan USB adapter. You might think, as I did initially, that it would show up on the Mac as a USB connection, but no, it is still a serial connection. For this task, my normal routine is to check Tracks and Waypoints, and KML for the output format, before downloading from the GPS unit to my Mac.
A key point -- the one I forgot: before the GPS unit is recognized and is ready for the connection, you have to navigate on the GPS unit to Menu, then Setup, then Interface, then select Garmin as the protocol. I sometimes connect to my GPS using the NMEA interface for realtime downloading of data using Python and gpsd, and I forgot to switch it back to Garmin, causing me to chase red herrings for too long. Hence, this blog post!
Now to using the data...