Question: As Garmin do not provide the ability in the GPS to have a custom prefix added to the waypoint name, is it possible to have the prefix added when importing the waypoints into a computer programme?
Background: Every day around NZ there are pest control contractors, each making hundreds of waypoints a day using the “Mark” button on a Garmin GPS to mark a waypoint with minimum waste of time – making good use of the sequential number waypoint feature.
You can imagine the difficult post processing workload when several field workers return to the office to upload their waypoints to the computer as there are many duplicate waypoint names. For auditing and QC the office needs to know who placed of each waypoint. Yes, they can post process with text editing but that is tiresome and clunky – after all, this is an occupation, not a hobby, so needs to be quick, error free and easy.
After raising this issue on the always friendly and informative NZ GPS Society forum a kind local offered this simple little application to add a prefix to the waypoints in a gpx file here: http://forums.gps.org.nz/viewtopic.php?p=43975#p43975 This is already a big help as you can see by a user comment.
I’ve asked Garmin Support to consider an addition in the GPS Setup area with a separate “Custom Waypoint” menu which would include the ability to add an automated prefix to every waypoint.
For example, Ben would set up his GPS so each time he “Marked” a waypoint the GPS would record the names sequentially like this:
Ben 003 etc etc to say, by the end of the weary day, Ben 427
The Garmin GPS (depending on model) is capable of storing up to 2,000 waypoints (4 digits) and up to 14 to18 characters in the waypoint name so allowing a custom prefix of up to be up to 14 characters should be ample. It would also be easy for the Garmin programmers to add the ability to specify the number of leading zeros in the sequential number. For example:
BenStoatBait 0002 etc etc to
Another easy option(for Garmin) on a GPS custom waypoint menu would be to be able to set the starting number (eg, 0428) so they could carry on from where they left off yesterday even though all the waypoints have been uploaded and deleted from the GPS – the waypoint numbering would normally start from 001 again.
At present the only method the field workers have of prefixing each waypoint is to manually enter their name and then the sequential number – this is not at all practical as it is very time consuming, very prone to error and increases the wear on the buttons / screen in often trying environmental conditions. But I digress – I’ve asked Garmin so we’ll see what the response is. Several have already advised it’s a waste of time suggesting such improvements – but I can only hope.
The users in the field (forestry, pest control, agricultural contractors, search and rescue) are heavy users of Garmin gear but just get on with the job, accepting the gear the way it is and have no collective voice like geocachers.
Now that GPSBabel has an easy to use interface, making it practical for non-geeks to use, I’ve asked them if it is possible to modify their brilliant application so that all the waypoints being imported from a GPS are prefixed with a name. Some contractors use GPSBabel to create a Google Earth file (as required by the employer) so to have the waypoint prefix automatically added would be much appreciated feature.
But in the meantime, thanks again to nzcoozer for his simple little application which I’m sure will save many man-hours every day throughout NZ.
I’ll carry on looking for an application that will do this prefix work during import. Hopefully GPSBabel can be modified. I’ll report here and on the GPS Society of any successful results.
All the best – Tony Savage at KiwiGPS
PS: Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.