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How to create Garmin POIs? (for TomTom users to understand)

 
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Privateer
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:00 am    Post subject: How to create Garmin POIs? (for TomTom users to understand) Reply with quote

Hi,

Background
I've used TomTom products and have been creating custom POIs for TomTom since 2003. However TomTom products no longer support custom POIs so I need to move to another brand and Garmin seems to be the one. I've kept using the older TomTom products that do support custom POIs but they will soon not be supported so now's the time to change.

How I make a TomTom POI category
For some time I have been aware of TomTom's lack of support for custom POIs so I've kept my POIs in a master file (MS Excel .xlsx) with field structure (i.e. headings) in first row e.g. ID (automatic incremental number); Latitude; Longitude; Name; Phone; Date 1 (when first created); Date 2 (last updated); Device (device used to capture POI). There's a hidden column which concatenates the name, ID, and phone number (if one exists).

When it's time to create the POI category, I strip all the unnecessary columns and save the file as a .csv file. I then use GPSBabel to convert the .csv file to an .ov2 file.

The TomTom device is then connected to the computer (USB cable or WiFi in the case of the TomTom app for iPhone) and the .ov2 (POI) file and .bmp (icon) file are then transferred to the appropriate folder. I haven't used .ogg (sound) files for proximity warning alerts for many years.

What Garmin programs do I need?
To make things more interesting, I use a Mac and not a Windows PC.

There are three programs I've seen so far:
  • MapSource - old program for maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks
  • BaseCamp - new program for maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks
  • POI Loader - loads POIs but also sets speed and/or proximity warnings
Which of the above do I need, if any?

Can I not create a POI category via GPSBabel and connect to Garmin via a USB cable or WiFi and save in a folder?

What does a Garmin POI comprise of?
A TomTom POI comprises of the following files:
  • .ov2 - the data (coordinates, description of POI)
  • .bmp - icon to identify POI on map and driving screen and also POI list.
  • .ogg - sound file which is optional and only used for proximity warnings
Does Garmin use separate files for each POI or do they get combined into a single file?

What Garmin POI format do I use?
So far I've seen three POI formats for Garmin:
  • .csv
  • .gpx
  • .gpi
Are there any more. Which one should I use?

Presumably I also need a .bmp file for the icon and if I use speed and/or proximity alerts then I'll need either .wav or .mp3 files as well?

Do you transfer the POI file and its associated other files (.bmp, .wav, .mp3) together or do they all get merged into one super file?

How do I transfer a POI category to a Garmin?
I guess you use either a USB cable or WiFi to physically connect the Garmin to your computer but can you just copy the POI using Finder or Explorer or must you use a Garmin program?

How do I update or remove a POI category?
Presumably you just update the POI category and then copy it to the Garmin to overwrite the existing one?

If you want to remove a POI category do you just delete it and its as coated files or use a Garmin program?

I think that's it for the time being. Wink

Many thanks,
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Robert.
iPhone 6s Plus, iOS 14.0.1: iOS CamerAlert v2.0.7
TomTom GO Mobile iOS 2.3.1; TomTom (UK & ROI and Europe) iOS apps v1.29
Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D
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pcaouolte
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Joined: Dec 27, 2006
Posts: 998
Location: South Lincs, UK.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you just want simple POIs with a location and a name it is easy to create a csv file with them in. If you need more detail like custom warning distances then a gpx file is better.

I would create a csv file from your excel spreadsheet, it just needs three columns, Lat, Long, Name (I can't remember which way round the first two columns go but downloading the Garmin csv speed camera files from here would confirm the format).

When you have created the csv file, save it in a folder with a corresponding bmp file (and a wav file if you want a proximity warning). You can save many different csv/wav files into the same folder.

Use POILoader to convert all the csv/bmp/wav files from a folder into one gpi file and load it onto the Garmin. Have the Garmin plugged in when you run POILoader and it will create the GPI file and load it onto the Garmin.

All of the POI management is done on the computer by changing the csv files as required and then using POILoader to overwrite the old files on the Garmin with new files. You can't manage POIs on the device itself like you could with the TomTom.

If there is a bmp file corresponding to the csv file then the Garmin will display the icon from the bmp file. If there is no bmp file then an unobtrusive white flag is displayed instead. You can't select which icons are displayed on the device like you could with the TomTom and the map gets very cluttered if there are lots of POIs in an area. You may want to omit the bmp file for some POI categories to keep the map display cleaner.

You can have more than one gpi file on the Garmin. I have two; one contains all my POIs and the other contains the speed cameras from here. Files are displayed in the order that they are first loaded to the device so it is best to load your POIs first and the speed cameras second. This keeps the cameras at the bottom of the list.
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Privateer
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul,

Many thanks for your detailed reply.

So to recap:
  1. You need to use the POILoader software.
  2. POIs can be either .csv (basic) or .gpx (more advanced i.e. more detailed)
  3. POI category can comprise of just .csv or .gpx but may optionally have .bmp and .wav files.
  4. A .gpi file is a single file that may contain one or more POI categories (and thus each category's associated .csv/.gpx, .bmp, and .wav files.
  5. You can have more than one .gpi file on a Garmin.
  6. If I update a POI category then I need to know which other categories use the same .gpi file and then reload them into the .gpi file and then load that update .gpi file back onto the Garmin.
It sounds complicated on paper, but I guess that it actually makes things neater on the Garmin. For example, I could have four (if allowed) .gpi files:
  1. PSPGW custom POIs
  2. My own custom POIs
  3. UK speed cameras
  4. Europe speed cameras
Am I correct or have I got it wrong?

Finally:

Are there any naming conventions for the .gpi container files?
How many gpi container files can you have on a Garmin unit?

Many thanks,
_________________
Robert.
iPhone 6s Plus, iOS 14.0.1: iOS CamerAlert v2.0.7
TomTom GO Mobile iOS 2.3.1; TomTom (UK & ROI and Europe) iOS apps v1.29
Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D
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sussamb
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Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 4407
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can have numerous .gpi files

I think there is a limit but most folks shouldn't reach it. You may find this useful

http://www8.garmin.com/products/poiloader/creating_custom_poi_files.jsp

Note the bit about POI Loader overwriting files. This doesn't happen provided you rename them.
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Privateer
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi sussamb,

Many thanks for your reply.

I think that I have the general idea. The sub folders for sub category POIs sounds interesting.

I would also like to include the telephone numbers for POIs that have known telephone numbers. I suspect that I can create .gpx files from GPSBabel and then import the .gpx file(s) into POILoader to do the work.

While the process is different from TomTom, I can see similarity and I guess that once done a few times it becomes second nature and much easier.

I think that I'm at the point where I need to roll my sleeves up and handle a Garmin so that I can experiment further.

Regards,
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Robert.
iPhone 6s Plus, iOS 14.0.1: iOS CamerAlert v2.0.7
TomTom GO Mobile iOS 2.3.1; TomTom (UK & ROI and Europe) iOS apps v1.29
Garmin Camper 770 LMT-D
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pcaouolte
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Joined: Dec 27, 2006
Posts: 998
Location: South Lincs, UK.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you have it right.

It really is quite straight forward once you have done it a few times.

Call the gpi container files anything you like, the Garmin device doesn't show the gpi file name it just shows the category names within the gpi file.

POI loader includes an option to delete all the gpi files from the device and start again should you wish to do so.

If you follow your plan and upload the gpi files to the device in the order you have listed then the Garmin will display all the PSPGW custom POIs followed by all your own custom POIs followed by the UK speed cameras and the Europe speed cameras when you are trying to navigate to a POI.

You may prefer to mix the PGPSW POIs and your own custom POIs together in one gpi file so that the Garmin will display all of these categories alphabetically followed by the speed cameras (which you don't normally want to navigate to).

It's just a case of experimenting until you find something that suits you.
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