Private homepage – Hans-Georg Michna
Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System Information and Data for Germany and East Africa
This project began as the Nature Reserve Waypoint Project and asked contributors to send in waypoints of track or trail junctions. However, nobody came forward, so the project existed only in the form of two of my own waypoint collections.
However, meanwhile a technical detail changed. Newer GPS receives have a much larger track memory, and so there is a new opportunity to revive this project under a new name with some decisive advantages over the old one:
So please join a new project to gather nature reserve GPS information. This is a collaborative project that aims at achieving a maximum of usefulness with a minimum of effort. The idea is that travellers record tracks. The names of all contributors will be mentioned in a list here, provided anybody volunteers.
You can take part only if you have a smartphone with suitable software, like Locus Free or My Tracks, or one of the newer GPS receivers with 10,000 track points, like the following.
Please send me an email if you know another popular GPS receiver with 10,000 or more track points or when you need the tracks in a different file format.
Currently present are 7 nature reserves in Kenya, East Africa, namely Amboseli National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, two large parts, eastern and northern, of Masai Mara east of the Mara River, Samburu und Buffalo Springs game reserves, and the Tsavo East and West National Parks.
|Kenya||Lake Nakuru (updated 2013)||kenya_nakuru.gpx|
|Kenya||Masai Mara Fig Tree, mostly south of Talek River (updated 2012)||kenya_masai_mara_fig_tree.gpx|
|Kenya||Masai Mara North, north of Talek River||kenya_masai_mara_north.gpx|
|Kenya||Samburu (Note that the Google Maps satellite layer also shows most tracks in this area.)||kenya_samburu.gpx|
In some areas the Google Maps satellite map also shows many tracks, so check that as well, provided you have a sufficiently good Internet connection. If the tracks are clearly visible, they are, of course, much more complete.
To use these track maps in Google Maps, even on your smartphone:
Please send me an email if this does not work for you or if these instructions need to be amended.
To contribute actively, install Google's My Tracks program, Locus Free, or any similar program that records GPS tracks, then send the recorded tracks to me, preferably in GPX format, but I can probably use any other common format too.
Download and install Locus Free from Google Play Store or install any other mapping program that can show recorded tracks and waypoints provided as GPX files.
If you know a very good one that runs on the iPhone, please let me know by email, so I can add a recommendation here.
Import or open the files you need and make sure they are visible on the map. For Locus Free put the files into the Locus/import folder and import them into the program's database for intensive use. Alternatively put them into the Locus/mapItems folder and activate them in the data menu for automatic import every time the program is started. That is a bit slower, but easier to handle. It is suitable for occasional use.
If you have Google Earth installed, you can open the Amboseli 2005 example file to have a look at the GPS tracks.
I will replace the oldest ones here with your fresh ones and mention your name in a list of contributors.
GPS (Global Positioning System) is one of the technical marvels of our time. See www.gpsinformation.net for the best source of general GPS information plus a very good collection of Web links and see www.trimble.com/gps/ for an excellent illustrated and animated explanation of how GPS works. More info can be found at the following sites.
NAVSTAR GPS User Equipment Introduction
www.groenveld.de/pub/article.php?artid=148 (Very good, detailed article on the GPS fundamentals in German language)
Books and Technical Documents
Waypoints, Maps & GIS
On May 1st, 2000, the US made a surprise move and switched off the dreaded Selective Availability (SA) distortion of the GPS sattelite signals. This instantly makes all existing GPS receivers much more precise without requiring any changes or upgrades to the devices. With good sattelite reception we now get a position error of less than 15 m with a probability of 95%. The altitude error remains bigger than the position error by a factor of roughly 1.5 but has now become usable for many more purposes for which it was too imprecise in the days of SA. There are no plans to switch SA back on.
If you get a GPS and plan to use the unit extensively, buy three sets of rechargeable high capacity (1,600 mAh or more) NiMH accumulators and a really good quick charger. If you can, build yourself a computer connection cable (search the Web for a source of the special Garmin plug and the schematic) or bite your tongue and shell out for the expensive one available from Garmin. Save the money for the Garmin mounts and for the even more expensive cigarette lighter power cable. Instead buy a mobile phone holder with a suction cup that you can attach to the windshield of a car or aeroplane. This has worked very well for me through thousands of miles in a small jeep over gruesome tracks that almost shook the car apart, and also in light aeroplanes. If you can find it, buy a RAM windshield holder that matches your GPS.
In the descriptions and sometimes in the names of the waypoints you may occasionally find the following single or two letter abbreviations.
|L||Corner, approx. 90°|
|T||Turnoff, approx. 90°|
|Y||Branch, other than 90°|
When both direction and graphical depiction are present, the graphical depiction always comes last.
Some of the approximately 350 east African waypoints may be inaccurate. Please do not rely on them too heavily and please try to verify or remeasure them and email me your results.
In addition, some of the east African waypoints are taken with a lower numeric accuracy or from unreliable sources. Many of the airport waypoints are up to one mile off, for various reasons. I found a few that were some 5 miles off until I corrected them. Sometimes the waypoint designated an airfield but was really positioned in a nearby town or lodge. In one case (Mt. Kenya Safari Club) an airfield waypoint turned out not to be an airfield at all but the mountain lodge itself. (Of course I have already corrected these, but some others will certainly still be inaccurate.)
Below you can download GPS-Waypoints for Germany and for East Africa with emphasis on Kenya and the surrounding areas. Most waypoints are intended for flying, and most of them are airports or airfields.
The Germany information was valid in the year 2000 and has been superficially checked, but not fully updated in 2002. There may have been a few changes meanwhile, so check at least those airports that you plan to use before you fly.
The Kenyan and East African waypoints contain some useful driving waypoints and routes (see description further down). The East Africa file is Kenya-centric, but contains a lot of airports farther from Kenya, reaching into the area E 25° to 45° and S 15° to N 15°.
The airspace files are for pilots and were apparently updated in 2010. Cross-check with current information before using them.
|Area||GPX (GPS eXchange format, XML), zipped|
|East Africa flying||east_africa_flying.gpx|
Specific information for the Kenya and East Africa waypoints
If your GPS receiver can only store 500 waypoints, you can easily create a reduced version, for example without the waypoints south of south 7°, i.e. south of the Dar es Salaam latitude. Load the GDB file into MapSource or the TXT file into Excel or some other editor, select all waypoints south of S7°, and delete them.
MapSource is a Garmin program that can exchange waypoint, route, and map data with Garmin GPS receivers. A new version is required. If you have an older version, download the free upgrade from www.garmin.com and install it, otherwise you may not be able to read the files you can download here.
You can use Excel to load the text files and save them in different formats, like CSV. You can also use an editor, like the simple Windows editor, after that to replace commas with semicolons or vice versa for different national versions of Excel, because the data doesn't contain any commas or semicolons---these are only used as separators.
The following table defines the use of the symbols on the Garmin GPS devices. You can use these to delete waypoints by symbol on a Garmin GPS device or in the computer and thus separate the flying from the driving waypoints.
|Garmin GPS 12 Symbol||Garmin eMap Symbol||Use||Description|
|Cross, +||Airplane||Flying||Airport, airfield (Note that the cross symbol is originally meant to designate a medical facility, but is used here only for airports.)|
|Skull and bones||Danger area||Flying||Prohibited areas, airports in prohibited areas; military airports (East Africa only, since military airports in Germany are usually open to civilian use), some unusable airports|
|Anchor||Telephone||Flying||Listed, mandatory reporting point. For example, NAI-MO is the Monastery reporting point for the approach to Wilson Airport Runway 07.|
|Shipwreck||Short tower or medium city||Flying||Orientation or navigation point, like some orientation
points on control zone boundaries, for example, NAI-NW is a point northwest
of Nairobi on the control zone boundary. Although you may have to report
crossing this point, I do not count it as a mandatory reporting point, as
it is an arbitrary point on the control zone circumference, not a listed
In MapSource files the medium city symbol is used only for medium sized cities, of which a few are useful as waypoints to navigate VFR corridors between controlled areas. Other navigational points have the short tower symbol.
|Car||Car||Driving||Branch, turnoff, road crossing, roundabout, car track, river crossing, gate, any other point that is important for driving|
|Petrol pump||Gas station||Driving||Petrol station. Also sometimes used for lodges if they have a petrol station, because that is usually the more important information.|
|House||Residence or hotel||Driving||Building, for example a hotel or lodge|
|All other symbols||All other symbols||Driving||Occasionally other symbols are used. They are only used for driving, never for flying.|
Special reporting points are available for the Nairobi Wilson northeast and southeast access lanes and some other places.
Northeast access lane inbound: NAI-N1 – NAI-N2 – NAIWIL
Southeast access lane inbound: NAI-S1 – NAI-S2 – NAIWIL
Prohibited area north of Wilson airport: NAI-P3
Points on the control zone boundary: NAI-N, NAI-NW, NAI-W
South corner of area 2 (if not using the southeast access lane): NAI-S
Mandatory reporting points for some German airports are similarly arranged, with the digit 1 always designating the outer reporting point of an access route. Occasionally, when an access route is curved and you have to turn at a point that is not a reporting point, I have inserted a waypoint at the turning point. Example: The Hannover departure route “Lima” uses the waypoints HAN – HAN-E2 – HAN-LX – HAN-L.
HAN is Hannover airport. HAN-E2 is a mandatory reporting point. Flying outbound, at HAN-LX you have to turn right (south) towards the next mandatory reporting point HAN-L, but HAN-LX itself is not a reporting point, only a course change point. Thus HAN has the + symbol I use for airports, HAN-E2 (like HAN-E1) and HAN-L have the symbol I use for mandatory reporting points, but HAN-LX has the symbol I use for other flying navigation points.
Here is the Nairobi Control Zone:
Nairobi Control Zone
The following table explains the east African driving routes. The routes beginning in Nairobi all use a shortcut from the western part of the city. If you start on Uhuru Highway in the center of the city instead, then you can simply drive north on Uhuru Highway through Westlands and continue straight in the direction to Naivasha and Nakuru until you meet the route. All routes use the turnoff to the old road down into the Rift Valley to Mai Mahiu, because this road is currently in a good state and more beautiful than the new road to Naivasha.
|NAI-AIRPORT||This is a very simple route leading you from Nairobi city to the international airport. It can be useful when you are there for the first time or have to drive this route at night, because the turnoff from the Mombasa road can be missed.|
|NAI-BARINGO||This route leads you from Nairobi via Naivasha – Lake Nakuru to Baringo.|
|BARINGO-SAMBU||This route leads you from Baringo to Samburu Lodge through
the Samburu West Gate. From there you can use the next route to lead you
back to Nairobi (or you can, of course, drive along any of the straightforward
routes on either side of Mt. Kenya that are not represented here).
Note that this route bypasses Maralal. Unless you want to drive the entire distance from Baringo to Samburu in one day, you should turn off to the north in Kisima and spend one night in the Yare Camel Club or in Maralal Lodge. The Maralal Lodge waypoint is still missing in my database. Please email it to me if you were there and got a waypoint.
|SAMBUL-MWEIGA||This route leads you through a shortcut in the direction
of Mweiga, suitable especially when you want to visit The Ark or Treetops.
It continues to Nairobi.
The waypoints SAMBU2 through SAMBU7 show a shortcut out of Buffalo Springs National Reserve, bypassing the gate, which is only drivable when it is dry. Do not try to shortcut this route by bypassing SAMBU2. It appears easy, but there doesn’t seem to be any suitable track there.
If you don’t want to reach Mweiga, you can still use this route, but ignore the branch towards Mweiga and instead continue to drive on the main road until you rejoin the route.
The route ends on the fifth roundabout in Nairobi, avoiding the difficult and possibly unsafe areas further south. The last bit has no waypoints, but you can simply drive towards the end point of the route as you like, and you will end up on that roundabout.
|NAI-AMBOSELI1 NAI-AMBOSELI2 NAI-AMBOSELI3 NAI-AMBOSELI4 NAI-AMBOSELI5||Routes from Nairobi to Amboseli Lodge
NAI-AMBOSELI1 is the normal path, usable after moderate rainfall, but quite rough and partly corrugated.
NAI-AMBOSELI2 is a much nicer and also a bit shorter track through Maasai country, but it is usable only when it has not rained heavily for at least one month.
NAI-AMBOSELI3 leads through Lake Amboseli, is even shorter and faster, but is only usable when it has not rained for at least one month and when the lake is totally dry.
NAI-AMBOSELI4 is a slower (6 h), but beautiful and interesting route via Kajiado – Imaroro – Mashuru – Osilalei (Selengei River) – Lenkisim Mission into Amboseli and then inside the nature reserve to Meshenani Gate. (There is no gate on this road. You have to turn right inside the Amboseli nature reserve and drive to Meshenani Gate to pay your entrance fee.)
In 2004 there were deep gullys on the last bit that leads almost straight to Meshenani gate, requiring a relocation of that route further to the north. If these gullys grow, you may either have to drive even further to the north or avoid the shortcut and drive straight south until you hit the main road, then turn right for Meshenani Gate.
I would like to know what happens if you drive this route backwards, but do not take the steep turn into the loop leading back to Osilalei. I expect that you will hit the main road somewhere near Selengei. Please write me if you tried this and please send the missing waypoint.
NAI-AMBOSELI5 is the preferred route since 2010, if you want to reach Amboseli as quickly as possible, as much of it is excellently paved, and the remaining gravel track is still relatively good.
However, you end up at Iremito Gate, where you cannot purchase or load the KWS smartcard. On arrival, you probably have to drive to Meshenani Gate inside the park over a rather poor, stony track to solve this problem, then back again the same way, unless Lake Amboseli is dry enough to drive right through it.
|MAASAIMARA FI||This route leads you from Nairobi along the new road (shortest
way) to Masai Mara Fig Tree Tented Camp.
Don’t miss the turnoff at waypoint NAINAR onto the old Naivasha road to Mai Mahiu. You have to turn off to the left and drive down a spectacular road into the Rift Valley.
When you go from Nairobi to Masai Mara, ignore the waypoint MMARA4. It is only useful on the way out of Masai Mara if you want to use a shortcut to bypass Sekenani Gate, because the track through this waypoint leads to the little village just outside the gate. This way is shorter and allows you to save the time spent at the gate. It is not useful when you enter the Masai Mara National Reserve, because you have to pay the entrance fee at the gate. (Do not try to sneak in. We want to support Kenya’s nature reserves, and the tickets are often checked inside the reserve.) MMARA4 is a river crossing, which may be too deep and not usable after rain.
The normal way between Sekenani Gate, waypoint MMARAS, and Fig Tree, waypoint FIGTRE, is a slight arc to the west, as the straight line may cross into somewhat difficult terrain. Besides MMARA4 there are currently no waypoints in the area, but unless you are very short of dailight time, you can always get out of difficult areas by driving further to the west.
AITON1 is a turnoff into the bush from which you can drive northward to AITON2 (not in this route) on the Aitong road. The first part of this route is very beautiful and leads through pristine bush land with many animals (albeit shy), suitable for camping before you enter Maasai country, if you are careful and avoid camping too close to the Maasai.
However, this is a long detour, and the Aitong road from AITON2 to Fig Tree has been destroyed by rain during the El Niño years up to 1999, thus the way is even longer and now extends close to the river Mara through another beautiful area used for game drives from the nearby lodges and still outside the Masai Mara reserve.
If, against all odds, you want to try this track, plan for 6 extra hours and never try to go anything but north on average until you reach the Aitong road, because all westerly tracks end near unpassable rivers.
Here are some thoughts on an emergency that can happen in a light aircraft when flying VFR and have a handheld GPS on board. Assume, for example, that you are flying VFR on top and your single engine fails. Another case in which a GPS can help might occur if you get trapped in clouds, but there you still have your engine at least, which makes it easier. Still the GPS can help.
In IFR-equipped aeroplanes you have very nice things like a big screen GPS, a flight director, etc. In a single engine plane with just a handheld non-aviation GPS you have much less, but with some ingenuity it should still be possible to fly some kind of workable approach.
Obviously, if you have a moment of time, you should declare an emergency immediately and keep telling the controller what you’re up to.
Assuming that you loaded at least all airfields near your planned route into the GPS receiver, you can quickly find the nearest airfield.
For simplicity the calculations and examples assume a (slow) gliding speed of 60 kt, because at this speed the numbers are very simple. If you really fly 70 kt, don’t worry. All our calculations cannot exactly account for your particular case anyway, so we are calculating roughly correctly and assume a sink rate of 800 ft/min. All heights are above ground, so with the common QNH altimeter setting you always have to deduct the height of the airfield from your altimeter reading.
Use the suitable special features of your GPS. For example, the Garmin GPSMAP 60/76/96 C/CS series has display fields for sink rate and sink rate to destination. Have these activated before you even take off. If you clicked on your desired emergency destination, then on Go To, and see that your required sink rate to destination is lower than your actual sink rate, you know you won't make it, so you have to do something.
Assuming that you don’t have much spare distance to soar and therefore have to try to make it to the airport without flying around aimlessly, but you still want to fly at least a short, straight final approach, one method could be this:
During all this quick maneuvering never forget to keep your speed at the proper approach speed. You don’t want a stall-spin accident now. And keep in mind that 1,000 ft too high is pretty bad, but still better than 10 ft too low.
If your directional estimate turns out to be inaccurate, you will notice after turning in that your flight direction is not exactly equal to the runway direction. If you have some extra height to lose, turn again to compensate for the discrepancy and fly an S-like course that ends again in the runway direction. Of course, as soon as you’re no longer perfectly sure that you can make it to the airfield, immediately turn in and fly directly towards the airfield.
You should never need this procedure when your engine is still running, but in the unlikely case that you do have to make something like an instrument approach on a handheld GPS, lower the required heights above ground to some 600 ft per nm of distance, which corresponds roughly to a 6° glide angle.
That’s a rough plan, but you may find that the mere thinking about it will prepare you for such an occasion. Let’s hope it will never happen, but be prepared anyway.
First of all I would like to state that I like the Garmin GPS 12 a lot and will most likely have bought the very same device again as you read this, after giving my first one away as a gift to a flying club in Africa.
While I will concentrate on things that don’t work as one would expect in the following report, I still think that at the price of around $150 this device is very hard to beat.
I tested the device in an aeroplane in Germany and on more than 4,000 km attached to the windshield of a Suzuki Sierra Jeep in Kenya, East Africa, in extreme conditions of heat, dust and shaking. A lot of the distance was driven on gravel and stony roads in dry areas of Kenya. I don’t think that anybody would use the device in conditions that are more difficult than these. During and after the test the device worked without a hitch, except for the points described below. Essentially the device kept working extremely well and withstood these most adverse conditions perfectly.
I bought a $20 mobile phone windshield holder that attaches to the windshield by means of a suction cup. This little helper proved excellent in both aeroplanes and cars, and I cannot remember a single case when the device lost track, except in cities between high buildings. (No, I don’t fly that way, this happened only in a car <grin>.)
(just the most important ones, in brief)
Very good reception, up to 12 satellites at once.
Sensible, ingenious user interface, however still bent towards technically oriented users, requires a considerable amount of learning
Moving map display of user waypoints, routes and covered track
Particular dislay pages for particular purposes, very well tailored to the purpose
Very low price
The map shows only the 9 waypoints closest to your current position plus those on the active route. If you pan to a different area, you do not see the waypoints in that area, which makes trip planning very difficult.
I believe that this is by far the most severe shortcoming of the Garmin GPS 12.
Workaround: There is a way to go to another place in simulator mode, but this is very awkward. You have set the device to simulator mode, then travel in simulator mode (use a very high speed to save time) or enter the coordinates of the desired position by hand.
A whole range of problems exists in connection with ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), usually leading to the ETA being extremely optimistic and being changed to later times continuously while you travel.
The most severe of these problems arises when you bypass a waypoint of your route. The Garmin GPS 12 then makes certain assumptions which are rather unintelligent. When you begin to bypass a waypoint in some distance, the device assumes that your speed component towards the waypoint will remain constant, which in reality would happen only if you moved towards the waypoint in a converging spiral.
This might be bearable, but the device also makes the assumption that you will approach all further waypoints also in the same way, even if you are already moving directly towards the next waypoint. This is utterly nonsensical and renders the entire ETA prediction questionable.
Workaround: Take the ETA as a very optimistic estimate, especially when closing in on a waypoint.
When you change some characteristic of a waypoint, the waypoint is changed in memory. However, this does not work for the name of the waypoint, which initially confuses every Garmin GPS 12 user. What inevitably happens several times to the newcomer is that he attempts to change the name of a waypoint and instead creates a new waypoint at his current position.
There is a separate, unintuitive rename function.
Workaround: Learn to use Rename and bite your tongue every time you forget to use it.
Sometimes some of the rubber buttons hang. When you press them, then release them, they stick and remain pressed.
This went away again on its own on my device. I don’t know how frequently this occurs.
Workaround: Push the hanging button sideways, such that it pops out again. Hope that some dust and dirt and wear will resolve the problem over time.
Sometimes the device switches itself off when shaken in a car (attached to windshield). This happens up to three times after a battery change, then the device stabilizes. After some shaking apparently the battery contacts get scratched enough to yield good contact.
Workaround: Wipe the battery contacts clean and keep switching it on again. Fasten some soft material like foam rubber or sponge under the holder if it knocks against the dashboard.
The device very often detects random walk movement when there is actually no movement. This renders statistics like trip time useless.
I think the device should instead register movement only when it actually leaves the random walk range.
Workaround: Don’t trust the statistics. Apply some corrections. Add a bit to the average speed, subtract a bit from trip time, etc.
Altogether, especially considering the very low price of the Garmin GPS 12, I consider the device eminently usable ond of high value. It can be a life saver.
I also had the opportunity to play with a Garmin III Pilot for one day, which I used to compare the two devices and find out whether the 4 times more expensive device adds considerably more value. Again, the test was done in East Africa, reflecting the point that you probably need the device more in an unfamiliar area than at home.
The Garmin III Pilot has an airport, city, water and road database and was the old world variant that covers Africa, not the North American version.
The result of the test was very disappointing, mainly because the airport database lacks 95% of the required information, and the remaining 5% contain many severe errors, like even big, important airfields missing (Arusha) or the busiest airport of all Africa outside South Africa, Wilson Airport Nairobi, being shown with one runway instead of the two runways it has had for half a century.
An additional problem is that database information often is not displayed until you zoom in to an improbable zoom factor. In the limited time I didn’t find out whether this can be changed by the user, partly because there are many settings, and these do not always seem to be arranged well.
Yet another problem is that after I loaded the missing database information into the Garmin III Pilot as user waypoints, the few actually existing database waypoints were overlaid by the corresponding user waypoints, leaving no way to select them on the map or even know that they are there at all.
Altogether I consider the Garmin III Pilot severely deficient to the degree of actually being dangerous and recommend not to use it, at least not outside your backyard. I also think that the offer of an airport database borders on fraud if almost all existing airports, even quite important ones with big hard-surface runways or lots of traffic, are actually not in the database.
For those looking for an inexpensive handheld GPS receiver this is good news. It means you can save a bundle by buying the much cheaper Garmin GPS 12 and save yourself a lot of trouble at the same time.
I have not looked at the usefulness of the Garmin GPS 12 XL or the Garmin GPS 12 CX. It is possible that either of these offers additional useful information, but on the other hand I guess that a city database may not be overly useful, as it is usually not too difficult to find the nearest city without a GPS receiver. And these devices are already much more expensive than the Garmin GPS 12.
I received this message in response to the above review:
Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2000 21:19:18 -0500
From: Colin Rasmussen <email@example.com>
Organization: University of Saskatchewan
To: Hans-Georg Michna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: GPS Pilot III
I was surprised to read your negative review of this GPS on your webpage. I have one, and have found it to be very good. While it lacks some features of the Garmin 195, it is significantly less expensive.
Just to let you know, you can change the display to show various items at different zoom levels. Depending on what is important to you, you can have the things you navigate with available at the zoom level you typically use.
As far as the database goes, I live in Canada and it is excellent. On occasion I find some of the data re: ATC frequencies and procedures different, but this is rare.
I now have an eMap as well, which I use for driving, walking, and flying. It is not perfect for flying but I still prefer it over the GPS 12, because the larger, higher resolution screen of the eMap outweighs its lack of certain functions. One obvious deficiency is the lack of the highway page of the Garmin GPS 12. This means that it is more difficult to fly precisely along a straight line. A workaround is to zoom in for precise straight line navigation along a preprogrammed route and zoom out for the normal map view. Autozoom is confusing, and I recommend to switch it off for flying.
Hint: For flying switch off all maps except the base map and WorldMap, because they clutter your screen and cause unwanted road lock. An easy way to do that is to press Menu twice, select MapSource Info, press Menu again and select Show Base Map. Show Base Map also shows WorldMap if loaded. Use Show All to reactivate MetroGuide and other detailed maps.
I have a Garmin GPSMAP 76C, and am very impressed with this handheld device. This device is functionally equivalent and has the same firmware as the Garmin GPSMAP 60C, Garmin GPSMAP 60CS, Garmin GPSMAP 76CS and possibly the Garmin GPSMAP 96C.
In 2006 newer versions have come to market, which have an additional lower case x appended to their names, like the Garmin GPSMAP 60Cx (now my recommendation), Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx, Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx, and Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx. These newer devices use a highly sensitive Sirf chip set and have removable memory modules with up to 512 MB of map memory, possibly more in the future, when higher capacity modules become available.
I had the Americas version (the one that has the Americas base map) bought in America, because it's cheaper, and have the relevant parts of the European City Select v6 map loaded, plus some parts of Garmin's WorldMap for the rest of Europe and parts of Africa.
Compared to the eMap with a 32 MB memory module that I used before, the 115 MB map memory is much better (though I wouldn't mind ten times as much).
The display is a pleasant surprise and contributes a lot to the long battery life (up to 30 hours). It is smaller than the eMap's, though the device is quite a bit bigger, but it has color and more pixels. It works and looks very good in external light like daylight, sunlight, and has backlighting for the night.
The essential function over and above the eMap is the auto-routing, also called turn-by-turn routing, which works excellently. The firmware design is impressive, the screens look almost like Windows and work similarly, with dialog boxes, etc.
The GPS receiver is even quicker and apparently more sensitive than the one of the eMap. It can use WAAS, EGNOS, etc., for 2 to 3 m (7 to 10 ft) accuracy.
The routing is very good, although people always seem to find a few places in which they would drive differently. It knows turn-off lanes and directs you into them before actually reaching the turn-off itself. It knows about one-way streets, etc., but that's more a feature of the very good and apparently very new maps. The device only has to support these features, which it does.
The 76C is marketed as a marine device. It floats and sustains some submersion in water. I preferred it over its very similar, but different-looking brother, the 60C, because the latter has only 56 MB map memory, but with the newer x versions this reason no longer exists, so the 60Cx could now be the prime choice.
The display screens and the data fields are extremely customizable. You can change the number of fields and the content of each display field to your liking. Pilots will welcome display fields like vertical speed and required vertical speed to destination, which should work when the altitude of the destination is known. Haven't tried that yet. Anyway, when your engine fails and you see that the required vertical speed is lower than the actual one, you know you have to do something.
I recommend it to everybody who wants an outdoor GPS that doubles as a car navigator, or vice versa, and who doesn't want to spend two to four times the price on a device permanently mounted in the car. In the car I use it with a suction cup holder that attaches to the windshield.
Garmin's page for the 60Cx is at http://www.garmin.com/products/gpsmap60cx/.
The 60Cx and its brethren come with a 64 MB memory module installed, which is far too small for my taste, so get a bigger one, preferably the biggest you can get.
I hope that 1 GB modules are becoming available some time in 2006, and I hope that the device will be compatible with them. Make sure you don't buy a module, only to find that the device is not compatible!
Regularly check for and download the latest firmware from Garmin. They often upgrade the firmware, and it's usually worth getting the latest, because of bugs removed and features refined or added.
On www.garmin.com click on Software Downloads, select your device, download the latest firmware, and load it into your device, using fresh batteries.
The device has a memory. When you calculate a route, it uses your previous route, even if it led elsewhere, and tries to improve it. Due to the limited memory and processor resources, it cannot find the optimal route in the limited time it tries to keep. First of all, set it to Best Route, with the following commands: MENU, MENU, Setup, ENTER, Routing, ENTER, Follow Road Options (rocker switch up), ENTER, Calculation Method, ENTER, Best Route, ENTER. Now press PAGE, PAGE, to get out of the menu again.
Try to recalculate several times. In one of my examples the device regularly
found a shorter route in the fourth recalculation.
Another method is to calculate an entirely different route, perhaps an extremely short one in the wrong direction. This makes the device forget the previous route. Then calculate the one again that you originally wanted. It is my impression that these methods help particularly when calculating the shortest route.
If you want to calculate a route that doesn't begin where you currently are, use the following method.
First switch the device into demo mode. To do that, go to the satellite page,
press MENU, Use Without GPS, ENTER.
Still on the satellite page, press MENU, New Location, ENTER, Use Map, ENTER.
Zoom in and move the pointer to your desired start position. Put your starting point to the side of the road you're starting from, not in the middle of the road. Press ENTER.
Now let the device route to the desired destination.
I tried a few things on the Garmin GPSMAP 76C with the European City Select v6 loaded (should work equally on the 60C, 60CS, 76CS, 96, and 96C) and found a pleasant surprise, which could, however, not been reproduced with the US City Select map. Seems to work only in Europe. Please drop me a mail if you find out about other maps.
The problem is this. You're driving on a freeway, guided by your friendly GPS, when you suddenly learn about a traffic jam in front of you.
So you drive off the freeway at the next opportunity. However, the GPS doesn't understand your intentions and only proposes that you turn back onto the freeway. Of course you don't know the area and have no clue where to turn. Exactly when you need your GPS the most, it fails you.
It seems though that the designers were cleverer than I first thought. They only failed to communicate this to us and they didn't quite make the function obvious. What I found is that the following function doesn't mean what it says:
MENU, MENU, Setup, ENTER, Routing, ENTER, Follow Road Options... (rocker switch up), ENTER, Avoid Highways (rocker switch up 2 times), ENTER to set the check mark.
PAGE 4 times to get back to the map page, MENU, Recalculate, ENTER.
If you have set your device to prompt you for the recalculation method, try Shorter Distance first. This worked better in one of my tests. Or set up the routing for shorter distance before you begin.
It seems to me that the Avoid Highways function actually has the much nicer meaning, "Avoid Highways for about 10 miles ahead". The device, in demo mode, nicely routes me off the freeway at the next exit, then routes me parallel to the freeway for something like 10 to 20 km, then it routes me back onto the freeway and keeps me on the freeway thereafter.
1 statute mile = 1.6 km
1 km = 0.621 statute miles
Don't forget to disable the Avoid Highways function again afterwards by removing that check mark, otherwise you'll be routed off the freeway again every time you calculate or recalculate a route.
When I use this function without being on a freeway, a similar thing happens. The device avoids entering any freeway for some 10 to 20 km, and after that distance it happily routes me via freeways.
The result is that there is no way to force the device to avoid freeways throughout, but the actually more useful function of circumventing a blocked road is there. (You can tell it you're riding a bicycle, which could have the effect that you're routed along rather narrow paths and tiny streets, but even that doesn't keep you off freeways persistently. It still leads you onto a freeway, albeit much later.)
However, I have tested this only with the European City Select v6 and have one report from the US where it didn't work with the US City Navigator v5. It is as yet unclear why it doesn't seem to work everywhere. Please send me an email if you have tested this and let me know how it worked for you.
There is a workaround for the defect in these devices in the Find City function. It does not work outside the main base map area.
I am not sure whether the workaround works in all 60/76/96 C/CS devices. I tested it only on the 76C. But since they are quite similar, I guess it works on the others as well.
The defect is that these devices with their default settings do not use loaded maps to find cities by name. They do find the nearest cities in the loaded maps, but that's a different function.
Why would you want to find a city outside your base map? Mainly because you're travelling or because you bought the Americas version for use in another area because it's cheaper.
First of all, if you know any street address in the city you want to find, then you can use the Find Address function instead. But what can you do when you don't know any street name?
The function you need is actually there, but it is improperly implemented and therefore hard to find. Use the following sequence:
It looks like two programming defects to me. One is that the Best Map doesn't work, the other is that the first time you select Find By Name, the map choice is reset. It works only the second time.
First, when you save the track, the device asks you whether you want to save the entire track or only a part.
If you select a part, it asks you to point to the beginning and end points of the piece you want to save. You only have to point roughly near the right spot, and it will offer you a menu choice of precise times of track points near your pointer.
After this you have a saved, non-directional track, something like a piece of road to drive on.
Now you have to set the device's routing method to off-road or prompted routing, otherwise the saved track will simply be ignored and a new route calculated.
When you select the TracBack function for that saved track, the device will ask you to point to your desired destination on or near the saved track.
The device will then route you from your current position towards the nearest point in the saved track, then along the track to your destination point.
I found the manual totally useless. It doesn't contain any information you cannot deduce from trying out the device and going through the menus. It doesn't give any useful hints. It doesn't contain any detailed information about any function, like for example the Avoid Highways function, it doesn't contain the assumptions behind some settings—nothing. I think, Garmin could do a bit better here.
I guess that the functions or workarounds I described above is actually quite useful, but 90% of all users will not get this idea because they don't have the time to play around with the device like I just did. What a pity! Naming the functions better would also helped. Instead of Avoid Highways it might have been named Circumvent Road Block on Highway or simply Highway Blocked, and it should not be a check mark, but a one time button.
Magne W. Mathisen did some more tests and found a few useful facts. Thanks, Magne!
I also found a few more little tricks.
For general information on geocaching please see www.geocaching.com. The listing of this geocache on that site is here. For more information on travelling in Kenya please see http://michna.com/kenya.htm. For travel reports please see http://michna.com/kenya2010/ and others.
This is a description of the first equatorial divine (a fun abbreviation of “dividing line”) geocache, i.e. the first geocache placed where an integer meridian crosses the equator, which is at the same time the first virtual geocache. The coordinates are N/S 0° E 36°.
Due to the people who live in the area, it is not possible to actually stash away anything. Thus we have the first virtual geocache now. Approx. 40 m to the south of the meridian-equator crossing there is a tree. I carved a short message into its bark on the northern side in big letters, several inches in size, easy to read, but the time has meanwhile taken its toll and rendered the letters difficult to decipher. Hence a photo of the tree will do. Please take the photo from the north, from the actual confluence point.
Whoever sends me an email with a photo of the tree will get entered into the virtual logbook for that geocache, which is published right here.
A small hint—at first I went there the hard way, by pointing my jeep straight towards the point, off about 90° from the nearby main road, and driving straignt towards it. It’s only a few kilometers, but it took me hours of rather difficult driving including turning back once and crossing a river, where I had to drive through the water, then up a steep slope such that I was seriously worried about the jeep falling over backwards.
After finding the place, it turned out that there is at least one easier way to get there. Getting back to the road took me much less than an hour. A good map would help. So don’t do it the hard way. The shortest way is not always the fastest.
Twice I found it impossible to reach by car after it had rained.
But then I don’t expect this geocache to be found all too often, if ever. (Now that it has been found already several times, my preceding sentence, of course, looks overpessimistic.)
The virtual geocache logbook is here:
|2000-06-15||Hans-Georg Michna created the first virtual geocache.|
|2002-02-27||First finder: KLifeDad, alias Dan, along with two missionaries
and one visitor from the US.
Finder’s email with my comments added in cursive text in brackets:
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 12:55:30 EST
YOUR CACHE HAS BEEN FOUND!! The team that visited the site said the message was [text of marking withheld, it was correct]. The team also wanted to be sure to tell you that they spent time carving on the message to make it deeper. There were some additional scratches at the bottom of the tree but they don't think it was a message. [Indeed I didn't add any further markings below, just the obvious one.] They took a picture just in case. We'll forward photos to you -- hopefully this weekend! Thanks for a GREAT adventure. Following is the write up that Dan (KLifeDad) composed for the adventure:
This find is dedicated to KLifemom who has been the driving force behind our family getting into geocaching. Due to the remoteness of this site there was substantial effort involved. Because Klifemom wasn’t able to come along I thought it would be appropriate for me to put a picture of her on the tree –thus the world’s first virtual geocache had the world’s first virtual visitor.
Accompanying me were two missionary friends, and another visitor from the US. We left Nairobi and traveled to Lake Naivasha to spend the night. We had reservations at a place called Crater Lake. The last 8 KM were VERY rough. The road had deep ruts (6-10 inches) and was thickly covered with volcanic dust. The only directions were a hand lettered sign about 5 KM from the entrance. When we got to the hotel there was another hand painted sign pointing to a Snake Farm. Several Africans materialized to take our bags and we began along descent into a crater. The surroundings were just amazing. There was a 5 acre lake with flamingoes on it, and about 15 huts that were very luxurious. The setting was just breathtaking, and the service was impeccable. One of the things they asked us before we went to bed was what time we would like to have coffee set out on our patios. The only warning was that we should be sure and get the coffee, otherwise monkeys would grab the bowls of sugar and make off with them.
The next morning we took off and stopped at Lake Nakuru for lunch. Based on the warning of the difficulty of reaching the site I had pored over maps, and we were able to get quite close. There is a huge sisal (hemp) farm around this cache so we got within about 2 miles of the site, and then began driving down rows of plants. We passed an African who just stared at us (4 white men in a 4 by 4). The African asked us in Swahili where on earth did we think we were going. My missionary friend knew enough of the language to understand the question, but didn’t even attempt to explain geocaching.
We got within ¼ of a mile and finished the journey on foot. They had been burning grass around the tree, and we had no trouble finding it. On the way back we were walking through grass that was about a foot high. I stepped near a snake and saw the grass rippling as it took off. Since we had just seen a green mamba at the snake farm I was very paranoid the rest of the way back to the car. We continued our trip up to Lake Bogoria where we spent the night at a nice hotel. That evening hippos came up to within 100 feet as they grazed on the grass. There was no fence between us and the hippos, so it was quite an experience.
I bought the missionaries a GPS of their own as a gift, and one of them is going to be planting some caches, look for Kenya to have more caches in the future. This was an awesome trip, incredible scenery, and the opportunity for old friends to reunite.
Thanks to Hans for the great cache, thanks to Klifemom for encouraging me to make this trip.
[And KLifeMom, alias Dee Anne, later wrote:]
Thanks again for an incredible journey. I can't wait to hear Dan's stories, and see photographs! Your creativity and the cache you placed impacted the lives of 4 men in a very positive way. They renewed friendships, tested adventure and courage, and created wonderful memories.
|2002-05-12||Second finder: Carlson in Kenya. He writes:
I was one of the venerable four who found this site. Our powerful 4-wheel drive vehicle was not even challenged with destruction as we parked it and walked the last 1/2 mile through the thick grass and towering hemp plants. Maasai with their herds of cattle milled around. The air was hot but clear and clean. The intense equatorial sun made its presence and power known. There at the esxact spot designated, we found the mark. After due photos and water vortex experiments we walked back to our trusty vehicle and drove North for a delightful stay at the nearest hotel (not too near).
Check out what is going on up there before you go as the local tribes are frequently at war over the land and whose cattle is whose.
|2003-06-16||Third finder: BumBum (Jörg Müller) from Germany, riding
a bike through Kenya. Please see
(German language web site) for more information.
He writes that he found the cache on the shortest way directly from the junction, cycling the mud road towards Bogoria. Where the river was near, he went right into the sisal plantation. But the whole area was flooded, and he had to cross a stream. The area around the cache was completely, 30 cm, under water. There were a lot of cattle around, but no herders.
I admire his persistence—I had given up twice in similarly wet situations.
|2004-11-11||Fourth finder: Jurjen & Mike, Nightfire, from the
Netherlands. One of them writes:
The last cache that I wanted to do in Kenya. I found this cache yesterday around 11:30. We took the matatu to Mogotio and from there we walked to the cache. It's a walk from 6 km, a very nice walk. It was a long time ago that somebody make the message better visible. This was the reason that we could not see the whole message. We make the message more clear for the next customer.
The idea of the cache is really good! We enjoyed the cache. Thank you
Jurjen & Mike
P.s. I took a lot of pictures, I will put them on the internet on the 16th of november (then I am back in the Netherlands). The site is http://nightfire.geocacher.nl/
|2009-01-19||Helmut Resch and
Babs Coleman were only
the third regular
visitors to the 0°N 36°E confluence, but apparently were not aware that the
tree only 40 m south, which they apparently even photographed in their
I'm no longer absolutely sure about the tree photos, because this one looks different from the one in the geocache listing, which somebody else took. Anyway, the nearest tree bears the cache.
Toppluvsmonstret from Sweden, the fifth finder, wrote:
Found the tree! After a long car drive we got there. All the othters were really excited. It was my taxi driver, three of my kenyan friends and one other friend from Sweden. we didn´t see the inscriptions first and looked at some other trees but then my friends screamd that they have found it. When we got back to the car we had get a flat tire but Titus our Tixi drivers fixed it quite quick =)
TFTC /Toppluvsmonstret (Sweden)
|2012-01-28||Ondřej Beránek, the sixth finder, wrote:
I have planned the acces route according Google Earth and it looks almost like a drive in cache (see attached pisture). I got by car cca 350m close and then i walk straight to the cache between the sisal plants.
|2012-06-15||cache bonus came close, but did not quite get to the actual confluence, because he was in a tour group and because there had been a lot of rain. Read his log.|
Klara&Werner also came close. They wrote:
We went to the Rift Valley on 2.8.2012 and we really tried to reach the cache and drove into the sisalplantations, but the road became so muddy, that our car was just sliding. So we finally returned back to the main road as we could not really reach safe. To go by foot, we didn't have the time, as we still wanted to reach Nyeri the same day. We will add a picture to proof it when we will actually log the cache—but now it is up to you to decide, this is a Found or a DNF.
It is an almost-found, I would say. Unfortunately this one is really hard to get to when it is wet. Your effort is appreciated anyway.
Please measure the waypoints again if you pass by and let me have your coordinates, so the accuracy can be improved. Of course I am always interested in more good waypoints and routes. Please click on the E-Mail symbol below to send me mail.
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