Quantum GIS – using a USB GPS device

In reposnse to an email question on the TZGISUG list “I am trying to get my Garmin GPS etrex Vista HCx to communicate with Quantum GIS through my pc with window 7. I will appreciate your comments and tips on how to get this working. Mtemi H. Miya M.Sc.”:

First of all, check the following:

  • Your GPS communicates with your PC normally, e.g. using MapSource, Google Earth or GPS Utility.
  • You have the “GPS Tools” plug-in for Q-GIS.
  • You have GPS Babel installed (I THINK this happens as part of the Q-GIS installation).

In GPS Tools, the default GPS device is a Garmin serial connection; so if you have a serial cable and connector, you’re in luck. However, most of us now have USB cables, which complicates matters. You need to define a new GPS device in GPS Tools, as follows:

  • GPS Device > Edit devices > New device >
  • Name = Garmin USB (or whatever name you want)
  • In the following six command lines, paste in the following (user-friendly, eh?!)
  1. %babel -w -i garmin -f usb: -o gpx -F %out
  2. %babel -w -i gpx -f %in -o garmin -F usb:
  3. %babel -r -i garmin -f usb: -o gpx -F %out
  4. %babel -r -i gpx -f %in -o garmin -F usb:
  5. %babel -t -i garmin -f usb: -o gpx -F %out
  6. %babel -t -i gpx -f %in -o garmin -F usb:
  • Update device > Close

Then still in GPS Tools:

  • Set the GPS Device to the new one you’ve just made (in this case, Garmin USB)
  • Specify the new filename and new layer name. This is where I got stuck for ages! If there is a space in the file name or path name, you’ll get an error message ? This isn’t documented anywhere. So, avoid the desktop, my documents, etc, and check the full path has no spaces.
  • Finally click OK. And hope for the best!
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10 responses to “Quantum GIS – using a USB GPS device

  1. PS This was written for QGIS 1.4. I haven;t checked how things stand for 1.6, recently published.

  2. Thank you for information. It works in QGis1.8.0.

  3. Gerardo Jiménez

    Thanks for your tip. I am facing problems with the new garmin series (e trex 10) Do you know a workaround?

  4. Thanks! worked with my GPSmap 76CSx in QGIS 1.7.4

  5. Any help on etrex 20? Can’t figure it out

  6. On this subject, there are some helpful notes here from Giovanni Manghi:
    http://hub.qgis.org/wiki/quantum-gis/Gps_units_download_data_and_live_tracking#On-MS-Windows

  7. sorry; but when tray re connect gps usb qgis display error, and i´m generated new conection device and tray connect gps port usb its accept to qgis !!! understanding this problem!! by qgis work this form?
    my inglis es bad. sorry

  8. Still having problems with this in 2014!
    Could you explain the second last point and provide an example?:
    “Specify the new filename and new layer name. This is where I got stuck for ages! If there is a space in the file name or path name, you’ll get an error message ? This isn’t documented anywhere. So, avoid the desktop, my documents, etc, and check the full path has no spaces.”

    I receive:
    test.gpx?type=waypoint is not a valid layer and can not be added to the map

    ???

    • Thanks Jonno. Might you have a space in the path to the output file location? For example, I found (in Windows) that “c:\Documents and Settings\Me\GIS\test.gpx” wouldn’t work. also, I haven’t tried this for some years now; it might have changed how that we’re on QGIS 2.2. I hope it works out!

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