This document is part of a manual that covers the complete operation of a Garmin handheld receiver. The full manual is copyrighted by Dale DePriest
A route is a collection of waypoints that are related in a way that permits you to use them to follow a prescribed course. Each section of the course is called a leg of the route. Generally on the Garmin units you can create a route with 2 to 30 waypoints (1 to 29 legs) and the unit will keep track of up to 20 such routes. The etrex, emap, and 76 have up to 50 waypoints in a route. The etrex supports one route, the etrex summit supports 20 and the emap supports 50 as does the 76. There are a number of things that can be done with routes, but the most common is to use a route to guide you to a destination.
Actually many people don't see the need for routes at all. If you need to go to a destination that exists in your list of waypoints you can simply use the "goto" command to guide you to the destination. Under these conditions you have created a route of two points, where you are located now and a target destination. Once you have initiated a goto the Garmin navigation screens will point you toward the destination and the map screen will draw a line from your present location to the target location. Of course, you may not be able to head directly toward the destination since there may be obstacles in the way so you must navigate by working your way toward the destination while moving around whatever obstacles you may encounter. This works surprisingly well even when driving in a car where you use the compass navigation screen to keep the destination objective in mind while traveling down the road. A feature of the "goto" command, on units equipped with this key, is that you can re-initiate it at any time by hitting the "goto" key again and hitting "enter" to repeat the same destination. The gps will recompute a line from the current location to the destination. The emap always recomputes from the present location while the etrex has an option on the local menu so that it can work either way. To force a re-evaluation on the etrex you will need to switch it to current bearing or re-initiate the goto. The gps will keep an updated calculation of the airline distance to the destination and will compute your probable arrival time based on your current speed and heading.
The newest units have no goto key so on these units you would use an object oriented approach, that is, find the waypoint and then the waypoint page will provide a goto button. The emap and other newer mapping units also support direct goto's to map objects without the need to create a waypoint. Use the cursor keys to highlight the object and then press enter to get information on the object. A goto button will be on the menu. The emap also uses a slightly different method of computing your probable arrival time. Instead of using the current speed and heading and computing a velocity made good it use the most recent sustained velocity. Thus it does not change the value rapidly nor does it respond to acceleration or even stopping. The value will be changed when you achieve a new sustained velocity. You can cause the value to be recomputed on this unit by using the stop navigation/resume navigation command sequence.
Many times, however, a closer approximation to the path being
followed can be a big help. A route with intermediate waypoints can
alert you to turns in the route to keep you from getting lost.
Further, an approximation of the actual course will permit better
estimates as to distance and arrival times. These intermediate
waypoints may also indicate probable stopping points such a rest areas
or refuel points. The gps will estimate time and distance to these
waypoints as well as time and distance to the final destination. This
estimate is based on your current speed and an expectation that you
will be following the route vectors.
Creating A Route
The easiest way to create a route is to use the trackback feature
available on your Garmin. This feature is designed to use the log
that was created when you traveled somewhere to create a route that
can be followed to return to the origin. To create a route using the
track log follow these steps. (Trackback on the etrex and emap create
work on a saved track log and not a route so this technique in not
applicable to these units.)
Invoking the Trackback command causes your gps to analyze the tracklog and look for the most significant turns in the log. It will then reduce the number of turns to a maximum that will not exceed the route capacity of 30 waypoints. (Actually I have never seen it go beyond 29.) Trackback routes work by creating so called temporary waypoints. These are like the other waypoints and use up waypoint memory just like other waypoints do. They have a special name that begins with a T and is followed by a unique number and if your unit supports icons they will have a special icon assigned. If you waypoint memory is full then the trackback command will warn you and use the closest match in existing waypoints to create the backtrack. On some units initiating a trackback will erase all temporary that are not part of a route however, on most units temporary waypoints are just as permanent as regular waypoints. The Garmin III says that if it runs out of waypoints in the database if will start removing temporary waypoints that are not part of a route. Erasing the route created by a trackback will not erase the waypoints themselves.
If you have a G-III family unit with multiple track logs you can also create a backtrack route using one of the saved tracklogs. Perform the same steps to select a backtrack and then select the menu item saved logs and follow the messages to select the saved log of your choice.
The advantages of creating a route this way are that you can pick exactly the points where decisions need to be made. Also the waypoints you make will be tagged with the time you made them which can be useful it determining average speed and other trip history data. Note the newest units that store altitude with the waypoint do not have comments or store the time the waypoint was created.
If you have a scaled map but no grid or would rather not enter all of those coordinate then you can use the following technique to create a route.
On the G-III family you select a new route page by picking it off the local menu. You could use the active route page for this if you wish since it is always present and is designed to be used for planning purposes. The emap and etrex can only reach the route page from the main menu.
On other Garmin units - To select a new route highlight the route number, hit enter, and use the up/down arrow keys to find a number that is not in use. Hit enter again and move to the first route point entry.
Any receiver that supports panning can use a displayed tracklog to build a route manually. Simply pan to the points in the tracklog where you want the route point to appear and press the enter key to make a waypoint. Then the waypoints can be turned into a route. This can be automated to some degree by using the active route page and the viewmap facility to add the waypoints after the first one is generated. Each time you go back from the view map you will be on the route page. For example the a route can be added to the etrex vista using mappoints as follows:
Another way to build a route is to look at the map display and create waypoints directly on the map either using a tracklog, a displayed map (for units having maps), or using a database of cities or buoys. If you scroll the map screen you can use the MARK key to mark waypoints from the map display. If you select a database object on the screen you can use the menu to turn it into a waypoint for use in a route. Otherwise this technique is similar to the manual technique. On mapping receivers creating a route using the map display is even easier. You select New Route from the route menu and then select map display. You can use existing or new routes and they will automatically be added to the route you are building.
The emap, etrex units, and 76 series can build route using map objects as well. Generally you would start on the route page and then select the object using the find menu for inclusion in the route. Any of the objects can be used and you are not required to convert them into waypoints to use them in a route. If you wish to convert them you can use the showmap command to view them on a map and then a local menu will permit converting them to an actual waypoint. This might be desirable in the emap if the object is on a cartridge that is not always present. If you wish to select the map object graphically then begin on the route page, use find to get to an object that is close to the one you want, and then use showmap to view this object. Once the map is on the screen you can use the arrow keys to select a different object. Once you hit esc to return to the route screen the new object will be the one used. Note that map objects, called mappoints, do not come out of the 500 waypoint database unless you choose to convert them to waypoints. You can have up to 1000 mappoints in use in routes and tracks.
The III Pilot can use database objects from the Jeppesen database as part of a route or as the direct destination. Holding down the goto key on this unit will bring up the Jeppesen database objects similar to the find key on the emap.
The 76 can use points in its city database or navaid database for routes creation.
If you only work with backtrack routes (on units that use routes to do backtrack) then using routes is really easy. You create a route when you need it. The route page will automatically appear in the rotation (G-III family has it in the rotation always) and you use the route until arriving back at the start point. You then clear the route or perhaps just overwrite it with the next backtrack.
Other routes are almost as easy. Select the ROUTE command from the main menu and then select the route number or name. Move to the route you want to activate, select it and then move to the activate (ACT) entry and select (use the local menu on the G-III). Routes can also be reversed using the INV, invert, entry so that the same route can be used to go either direction. (See below for etrex commands.)
On units with numbered routes the active route page is really just route number 0 so when you activate a route the route you chose is copied to route 0 overwriting whatever used to be there. In all other respects route 0 behaves like any other route. Units that use named routes will allow you to select the route from a list and do not have a notion of a special route 0.
Each time you activate a route it will overwrite whatever route might be present on the active route page. If you want to save an active route you must copy it to another route number before overwriting or clearing it. To copy the active route perform the following steps.
Whatever method you use to activate a route the gps unit will use your current location to compute an entry point into the route. It looks at each leg of the route and then projects it into a line and computes a direction that will intersect the closest line. For this reason it will never select the first waypoint in a route as the target for a leg. The navigation screens and map screen will reflect the fact that a route is being used. The map screen will display the route and two new numeric entries will appear identify the bearing and distance to the nearest routepoint on some receivers. Similarly the navigation screens will indicate this data as well as the name of the next waypoint. (See the navigation chapter for more information on using navigation screens with routes.) In addition you will have the route displayed on the active route page. It looks something like the one below.
ACTIVE ROUTE or HOME-GAS ROUTE ----------------- ----------- PLAN HOME TO GAS WAYPNT <DST> ----------------- HOME _.__ WAYPNT ETE DST LAKE 2.18 HOME __:__ _.__ TRAIL 4.05 LAKE 33:04 2.18 GAS 7.24 TOTAL TRAIL 01:01 4.05 ______ _.__ 7.24 GAS 01:50 7.24 ______ __:__ _.__ (commands are on a ______ __:__ _.__ local menu) ______ __:__ _.__ ______ __:__ _.__ ----------------- CLEAR? INVERT?If you have a later model gps the bottom line might read: CLR? INV? ACT? and if you have a unit from the G-III family the table has only one entry instead of two. Of course the names will be different as well. The entry data in the center of the active route table is scrollable to the extent needed to display all of the waypoints in the route and will be adjusted dynamically to display the current leg at the top and the next few waypoints for as many as there is space to display.
In the example above the field marked ETE is actually customizable. It can be toggled by selecting it among three choices. ETE displays the estimated time enroute given the current speed. You can also choose ETA which will display the Estimated time of arrival to the next waypoint (Scroll to the last waypoint in the route to see the ETA for the entire route.) or DTK which is the Desired Track (Bearing) to reach the next waypoint. The DST field shows the cumulative vector distance to the waypoints computed in your current units and assuming you are actually following the route.
The G-III family shows only one entry but the choice for what that entry displays includes much more information. Since this is also a planning screen, in addition to the 4 entries above, you can check the to see if there is sunlight (sunrise, sunset times) at each of the waypoints, fuel usage to that point, fuel usage for each leg of the route, distance between each waypoint, and estimated travel time to that point.
While following an active route the gps will automatically sense the next leg of the route and switch to guide you on the new leg. This is done mathematically by computing when you cross a line that is projected halfway between the course you are on now and the course for the next leg. You don't actually have to reach the exact waypoint for the switch to occur. Please study the figure at the left. Consider that you are following a route to get from point A to point C. The leg AB and leg BC that are part of this route with a common waypoint at point B. The unit projects a line through points BD that bisects this angle. Once the gps detects that you have crossed this line it will switch from navigating to point B to navigating to point C.
If you have alarms turned on and arrival alarms set to automatic you will receive a warning when you get within one minute (15 seconds on the etrex and variable based on speed on the emap) of each waypoint based on your current speed toward the waypoint. On some units it is possible to have arrival alarms turned on but set to a specific distance. In this case the there will be no alarm sounded for the intermediate waypoints but the unit will still switch automatically to each new leg. Routes are turned off automatically for etrex and emap when you reach the final destination but are not turned off automatically on other units and will continue to point to the final waypoint in the route even if you drive past that point. You can clear the route by selecting the clear (CLR) command from the active route page menu. This will remove the route from the active route status but will not remove the waypoints used in the route. On the G-III family there is a deactivate command which will leave the route available on the route planning page. On the emap and etrex you can use the local menu selection "stop navigation" to do this. If you power off while stop navigation is selected then then the active route will be stopped permanently otherwise you can use the "resume navigation" to restart it on the emap.
If you intend to go back the way you came you might prefer to just invert (INV) the route rather than clearing it. This will reverse all of the waypoints for the route and compute a new entry point into the route. Inverting an active route twice is a way to force the gps to recalculate its entry point in the route which can be useful when you have left the route for a side trip and wish to return but not to the exact point that you left. The G-III family has a reactivate command on the menu that performs this function so you don't have to invert twice. The emap can use the stop/resume navigation command sequence to do this.
If you can't get the unit to aim at the correct waypoint or you wish to take a side trip you can force the unit to use a particular waypoint using the "goto" key or goto function. Setting a goto will override the current route setting and allow navigation to that waypoint. Once the waypoint is reached the route navigation will automatically continue except on the etrex model where you will have to restart the route.
Some of the Garmin units also have an activate (ACT) command on the active route page. This can be a very powerful and very dangerous command. The best way to understand how it works is to consider an example. Suppose you selected route 4 and activated it. (This copied the route to route 0 and shows it on the active route page.) It is possible to edit the route on the active route page. If you want to re-copy route 4 and reactivate it while you are navigating the active route you can select this command from the active page. If you had made any changes to the active route they will be lost. So one use of this button is to reactivate and recompute the active route. If you were to switch the route display to route 5 after activating route 4 and some time later decide to select the activate command on the active route page you will automatically switch to route 5. In this way to can easily have a route that consists of up to 60 waypoints or parts thereof. Just pick a route number, activate it, and then pick a different route number. Later when you are finished with the first route selecting this single command will start the second route and enter the route wherever you need to be in the second route.
While this feature is very powerful it can also be dangerous. If you
were to have a backtrack route enabled that you haven't saved yet and
accidently selected this command on the active route page you will overwrite
your trackback with whatever route was last selected on the route menu.
There is no warning. To prevent this you might want to ensure that the
last route selected on the route page is route 0 since reactivating route
0 won't erase anything on the active route page. (If route 0 is the
current route then this command will behave like the G-III reactivate
command.) Taking this precaution is especially recommended if you plan
to directly edit the route on the active route page.
Etrex route activation
The etrex route activation represents the newer thinking about the menu system used to activate routes. In particular the fact that the summit has no real local menu option means that all of the buttons must be on the screen and the screen won't hold many buttons. To activate a route on the Summit you must select the follow button. A second menu list will appear that permits you to choose the direction you wish to go but it does say that. Instead it offers choices of beginning and end. These are the destination choices so they are really reverse and forward and no permanent change in the route direction is made.
Etrex units with a local menu such as the local menu on the banner
of the Vista contain the direction reverse on the local menu as well
as other choices such as remove all, copy route, delete, calculate
route area, restore defaults. The reverse command will make a permanent
change in the direction of the route.
Editing A Route
As has already been mentioned, a routepoint and a waypoint are the
same (except that the emap and etrex can use a mappoint as a
routepoint). If you edit the contents of a waypoint, its location or
its name, this information will automatically be reflected in any
route that uses this waypoint. If you delete a waypoint it will
automatically disappear from any route that used it. Note that early
Garmin multiplexing receivers won't let you delete a waypoint if it is
used in a route, some other units may warn you but let you do it
anyway, but some units will delete it without any such warning.
Before you get into trouble you should try this out on a temporary
route to see how your particular unit performs. Note that you may
want to repeat this test if you do a software upgrade. If you have a
multiplex unit you must delete the routepoint first and then you can
delete the waypoint. When working with waypoints that were set by the
automatic backtrack function I often like to move them slightly to
correspond with a freeway exit or some other map identifiable feature.
I do this on my next trip by watching the approaching waypoint on the
map screen and noticing that it is close to some map identifiable
boundary. I then select it and move it (using techniques described in
the waypoint chapter) to the exit. The route is automatically updated
by this procedure.
Normal route editing commands are reached using the local menu or are available at the bottom of the screen for some commands in some units. Using editing commands you are able to review the contents of a waypoint, delete or insert a new waypoint, exchange one waypoint for another in the route, delete the complete route or copy the route as the starting point for another route. These editing commands are available for regular routes and for the currently active route except that you can't delete a routepoint that is currently your target destination. Deleting a routepoint from your route does not remove it from the waypoint database. To use the routepoint editing commands just use the cursor keys to move to the routepoint you want to work with and bring up the local menu (Either the menu key or the enter key depending on the unit). The choices will be displayed and will effect the current routepoint. If you already have 30 (50 on the emap and etrex) routepoints in your route then you will be unable to select the insert command otherwise selecting this command will shove all of the following waypoints down to make room for the new one.
The "copy to" command will permit you to copy the current route to a
new route number (on the G-III family it is the route name with an
added number). Select the route you want and then select the copy
command. You will only be given choices of empty route locations.
This feature is most often used when saving a backtrack route. It can
also be used if you want to edit a route by beginning with an existing
Trackback always create new routepoints if there is room in the
waypoint memory. This is not efficient so you will probably want to
change them for existing waypoints if part of your route covers the
same ground you have used in another route. To do this easily I
activate the route and then run it in the simulator mode, since I can
never remember the names for these routepoints. As these double
waypoints show up on the map screen I select them and note their
names. I then go to the route screen and change the entry for the one
I want. (You need to run the simulator or actually traverse the route
to get the waypoints to appear on the screen since only the closest 9
Adding route points from the map screen on the G-III
(A special thanks to Marvin Thorman for this technique.) You can add new
waypoints to a route directly from the map screen on the G-III family.
First, make sure that the ACTIVE ROUTE LINE option is ON for the level of
zoom that you want to work in. (The ACTIVE ROUTE LINE option is set in the
MAP SETUP SCREEN.)
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by Dale DePriest - all rights reserved.