GPSr + Mac

Communication between your GPSr and your Mac. 











Choose your weapon 
















1: Download 










2: Create workflow 

























3: Let'er rip. 



Expandable memory 








Track Logs 



The main headache. The bane of this coexistence. Our topic for the night. And it's not half as bad as you think.

To link your eXplorist to your Mac, attach your cable to your GPS with the cord leading down over your battery pack. Plug the cable into the USB port. Turn your GPSr on and click the Menu button when you get past the first screen (it is not necessary that the eXplorist be locked into any satellites before you can move around inside your GPSr). Choose Adv. Features and then Communications. Choose File Transfer to activate the USB connection. (The NMEA sets up a modem-like connection between the GPSr and the Mac, but I've yet to use this.)

Disconnecting is weird. To avoid getting the "You've removed hardware improperly and you may have erased everything/you suck at this" message, have one hand on the mouse and one hand on the GPSr. Drag the mounted volume icon to the trash and a fraction of a second later, click on Power Only on the eXplorist.

As of today (3 June 2007) there are, in my mind, three technically viable ways to get geocache information from to your eXplorist GPSr. They range from the "very simple but limited" to the "slightly more involved but limitless" My preference lies with the latter so that's what I'll cover here. But if you'd like to take a look at the other methods, be my guest.

The star of this show is a little wonder we like to call GPSBabel+. But first a story.

I was a little scared of GPSBabel+ at first - the website doesn't look that pretty, one glance at the documentation yielded scary words like "command line" and "Terminal", and I saw weird lines of code like gpsbabel -i geo -f foo.loc -o kml -F blah.kml -o maggeo -F /Volumes/Magellan/MyGeocaches -o magellanx -F Volumes/Magellan/MyPOIs. The result was that I only used GPSBabel+ for very basic conversions and didn't realize it's amazingness.

That is, not until I had a chance to exchange a dozen emails with Robert Lipe (Chief Babel-Head). I've now come to the conclusion that this is MUG gold, and I'd like to share it with everyone else (in perhaps less scary terms).

For various reasons I prefer to geocache using the Point of Interest file system found on the eXplorist rather than the Geocaching file system. The method outlined here follows suit.

1.) Log in to and locate a cache you wish to find. Download the .loc file for the cache and save it to your desktop. Rename if you wish.

2.) Start up GPSBabel+ and open the Advanced GPSBabel window. Working in this window is kind of like working in Automator - simple. Build your workflow by dragging commands from the column on the left into the large Execution Order window. Just drag and drop in the following order, or watch the clip on how to do it:

Click here for the video. If that doesn't work, click here for the YouTube video.

  • Mode>Formats
  • Mode>Shortnames
  • Input>File - Add as many of these as you need, one for each file to be uploaded to your GPSr. Add these one by one, using the Properties window on the bottom to specify which file you're going to be sticking into this workflow. Selecting the file first should autopopulate the File Type field.

  • Output>File - This is where we tell GPSBabel+ that we want to upload these files - after it converts them to .upt waypoint files - onto our eXplorist. Create a name for this new .upt file (containing all the downloaded caches), add the .upt file extension, then save it to the My POIs folder in your GPSr.

3.) Once you've created your workflow and told it how and where to save the final product, click on Process. Congrats.

There is another great aspect of the eXplorist - you can have basically unlimited memory on your GPS via SD cards. These can be bought fairly cheap (I saw some in line at Target - $16.99 for 256 mb. Right next to the Purell hand cleanser and the gum).

The first benefit that comes to mind when considering SD cards and your eXplorist is that you don't need to make sure your Mac recognizes your GPSr using the exactly correct cables, or you don't need to search high and low for that one app that recognizes your GPSr. All you need to transfer info between your GPSr and your Mac is an external SD reader/writer like the one I have.

You will need to do this to work with your Track Logs: after your eXplorist is finished logging it in Internal Memory, highlight the log the press the Menu button. Save the log to SD\Track Logs\ then remove the card and use the external SD reader to place the .log file on your desktop. Then have fun with it.

Fortunately the eXplorist comes pre-loaded with maps. This works pretty well when geocaching in urban areas because it includes street names, city names, etc. Unfortunately I haven't found a way to put topo maps on the GPSr, which would be useful when you're out of the city. If this happens it will most likely be through the SD card. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm on the case. Stay tuned.

















 What you need:




Use GeoToad to generate one single .gpx file which contain multiple caches. It also has other benefits.
















Omit Mode>Shortnames if you prefer to work with waypoint codes.

Feel free to mix file types among Input>File commands.

You're squishing all the individual cache files into one .upt file which will go on your GPSr.

  • Waypoint files: .upt
  • Geocache files: .gs
  • Route files: .rte
  • Track Log files: .log