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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Garmin GPSMap 62S under Ubuntu

I recently picked up Geocaching, thanks to my wonderful parents. It is a highly addictive sport in which caches, mostly small containers with (at a minimum) a paper log sheet inside, are hidden all around the globe. Once a cache is hidden, the cache owner will post its coordinates to, at which point other cachers can use a GPS receiver (GPSr) or a GPS enabled smartphone with the geocaching app installed to search for it. Once found, the cacher will log it as found on the app or website, sign the log, and move on to the next cache. The smartphone way is great for beginners, but oftentimes one must log a DNF (did not find) because phone accuracies are usually no better than 16 ft. This is where the use of a handheld GPSr comes in handy. Models like the Garmin GPSMAP 62s have a geocaching feature, and users can log a find with it and then upload that data once back home and connected to a computer.

This tutorial is meant for users of a Garmin GPSr who also use Ubuntu.  It will install the Garmin plugin, as well as QLandkarte GT, a very useful GPS program written for the Linux OS.


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:andreas-diesner/garminplugin
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mms-prodeia/qlandkarte
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install garminplugin qlandkartegt qlandkartegt-garmin

For the most up-to-date location of install files, head on over to:
You will still need to add the repository, like in the above steps.

A quick run down of someone using QLandkarte GT for geocaching:

Open QLandkarte by searching for it within the Ubuntu window, or execute qlandkartegt from terminal.  We must first get a map to use within the program.  There are many ways to go about this, and are all based on your preference.  My first stop would be GPS File Depot.  They have many custom maps for Garmin that are ready for download.  Another way to obtain maps if they don't have what you are looking for is to export one directly from OpenStreetMaps (OSM).  The problem with doing it directly from their website is that you are limited to a small number of tiles (I was unable to download the entire island of Oahu).

In order to download larger regions than what OSM allows, I recommend using this link to select the region you would like to download.  From there, you select the region / state / etc, and then go to the download page.  Since we will be using QLandkarte GT, download the "" file.

  1. How to load a map and caches into QLandkarte GT:
    1. Copy this URL:
      1. I originally starting writing this article based around Google Maps, but after reading this, I decided that the best support is given (and free) by OpenStreetMaps.
    2. Download your desired region from the link above or here.
    3. Once your zip file has downloaded, unzip the contents into your desired directory (/home/user/geocaching/maps).
    4. In QLandkarte: File > Load Map
    5. Select the file with .tdr as the extension.  Another file dialog will open, and it will ask for an img file, where you will choose the filename_mdr.img (ie 63240000_mdr.img).  Your map will now load into the software.
    6. Generate a Pocket Query on for the caches you wish to load to your GPSr
    7. Download the pocket query, unzip the GPX file(s), and load those into qlandkarte
      1. File > Load Geo Data > select the GPX file.
      2. To add a second GPX file: File > Add Geo Data.  You will have to choose 'Add Geo Data' vice 'Load Geo Data' when loading waypoints as the GPX data will replace the caches you loaded in the previous step.
    8. You should now have all of the caches that were created in the pocket query layered on top of the Map in QLandkarte GT
  2. Exporting Caches:
    1. File > Export Geo Data > name the file something.gpx (I used 20130311.gpx to indicate the date on which it was created).
    2. Ensure all waypoints are selected, and click OK.
  3. Exporting the Map:
    1. Ensure you are still on the map tab
    2. Choose Map (menu) > Select Sub map
    3. Select an area to export.
    4. Click the name of the selection in the Maps tab, and then click Export map
    5. Select the folder you wish to export to, create a name, select Garmin Custom Map, and click Export
    6. Connect your Garmin to your computer and copy the newly created img file to the Garmin folder on your GPSr's SD card.  Please note that you must have the same directory structure on the SD card as in the default Garmin internal storage.
      1. As you can see, I have two volumes mounted, GARMIN and 7.9 GB Volume.  The 7.9 is the SD card and the GARMIN is the GPSr internal storage.  I drop the .img files in the 7.9\Garmin root directory, and the cache file into the GPX directory.  The CustomMaps directory is empty, and is probably left over from previous experiments.  I had no success in being able to open the custom map on the GPSr when I copied the img file to that directory.
    7. While you are here, also upload the GPX file to the GPX folder.  Both the GPX folder and the Custom Maps folder are under the Garmin directory.

That's it!  Unmount the GPSr and try it out.

If you run into problems with QLandkarte not doing something because of permissions, try running it as sudo from the terminal: sudo qlandkartegt

As always, please leave a comment below if you find any of these instructions incomplete or wrong.  I would greatly appreciate a more efficient way of going about updating the Garmin within Ubuntu, so if you have any tips, please let me know.  I keep looking at Open Cache Manager as a way to manage things the way the Windows folks do with GSAK, but it has no map export feature as of yet, so that's off the table.  However, it's a great cache manager tool, and you should check it out at their website.

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