Garmin Geko 201/How to get data from a device

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Please see making GPX Tracks for a more general view of loading data from GPS devices, which apply to all Garmin devices including the Geko series.

Once you have recorded tracks on your Garmin Geko 201 you will want to upload them to the project. (Works as well with Garmin foretrex 101 and probably other Garmin Devices.)

This guide is applicable to Microsoft Windows and Linux

Setting up your Geko

For both platforms, make sure your Geko 201 GPS output is set to "Garmin"

  • Press the page button until you get to the page screen
  • Select "Setup" with the up/down buttons
  • Press "OK"
  • Select "Interface" with the up/down buttons
  • Press "OK"
  • Select "I/O Format"
  • Press "OK"
  • From the list select "Garmin"
  • Press "OK"
  • Press the page button twice to get back to the main menu.

Connecting your GPS to the PC

Connect your GPS to the PC using an appropriate cable. For example the Garmin RS232 PC Interface Cable. You can buy good cheaper cables with both power and data from gpsbitz (I got the power/data combo cable from gpsbitz through Ebay for £12 inc P&P and a new Geko 201 for £60 inc P&P.)

For Windows


EasyGPS is a fully free tool for managing data from the GPS [1]

GPS Utility

You can get a a tool for getting data from a GPS device called GPS Utility. The free crippleware version of GPS Utility is limited to 500 Trackpoints.

Set GPS Utility to match the format of your GPS device

  • Select the menu "GPS"
  • Select the item "Setup..."
  • Select "Garmin Serial" or "Garmin USB" as appropriate
  • If you selected "Garmin Serial" you will also need to set the "COM Port Number"
  • Press "OK"

Get the data from your GPS Device

  • Select the menu "GPS"
  • Select the item "Download All..."
  • In the dialog ensure that "Tracks" is ticked.
  • Press "OK"

In the status bar there will be an indication of how much data has been retrieved from the GPS device.

Save the Tracks to a GPX file

  • Select the menu "File"
  • Select the item "Save As..."
  • Set the "Save as type" drop list to "GPX Interchange file (gpx)"
  • Choose a location to save the file to
  • Press "OK"

Using G7toWin

Unfortunately the freeware Version of GPS Utility is limited to 500 Trackpoints. A free alternative without this limitation is G7toWin.

Set G7ToWin to match the format of your GPS device

  • Select the menu "File"
  • Select the item "Configuration"
  • In the "General"-Tab: Select GPS "Garmin" and set the "COM Port" to the matching Port.
  • Press OK

The other steps are quite similar to GPS Utility.

For Linux

Install gpsbabel. On Debian/Ubuntu do:

 sudo apt-get install gpsbabel

This will automagically download and install gpsbabel, which is a program that can download data from your GPS and convert it into a format suitable for openstreetmap.

Open a text editor, cut & paste the following text, then save a file called gpstransfer in your home directory.

  filename=$(date +%y%m%d-%H%M)
  echo "creating ${filename}-waypoints.gpx"
  gpsbabel -i garmin -f /dev/ttyS0 -o gpx -F ${filename}-waypoints.gpx
  sleep 2
  echo "creating ${filename}-tracklog.gpx"
  gpsbabel -t -i garmin -f /dev/ttyS0 -o gpx -F ${filename}-tracklog.gpx

Then turn it into an executable program by issuing the following command:

   chmod 755 gpstransfer

Then whenever you want to download from your Garmin to your PC, run the program you have just created by doing the following in your home directory:


All tracklog and waypoint data will be downloaded from your GPS into two files in your home directory. One will contain only waypoints. The other will have both waypoints and the tracks ('breadcrumb trail'). For example:

* 060314-0140-tracklog.gpx
* 060314-0140-waypoints.gpx

These were downloaded at 01:40am on 14th March 2006. The file name is made up of the date you downloaded the data from your GPS. The format is arranged so the listing will show chronologically and file names will not conflict.


You may need to change


to one of the following, depending on which serial port you are using with your Garmin GPS:

   /dev/ttyS0   (com1)
   /dev/ttyS1   (com2)
   /dev/ttyS2   (com3)
   /dev/ttyS3   (com4)

If you use a cable serial-USB converter, or if your unit has a USB port, try with:


If you have more than one serial USB device plugged in, they'll be named /dev/ttyUSB1, /dev/ttyUSB2, and so on.

If you cannot talk to your serial port (GPS not recognised), it may be because you aren't a member of a group which is allowed to talk or listen to the serial port. You can fix this by changing the ownership of the serial port to you, or adding yourself to a group which can talk to the serial port. This change is normally permanent. For ease, I will suggest:

   sudo chown <username> /dev/ttyS0

where <username> is your log-in name, and /dev/ttyS0 is the serial port the Garmin is connected to.

Also, do not change any settings (units, gps-Datum etc) while tracking. Do a hard reset when you bought a second-hand gps. (For a geko 201: hold down the up, oke, and page key, then turn on your gps).

IRQ troubles

GPSbabel may have trouble reading your serial port if something else starts sharing IRQ lines. It may happen that the serial port works for you one day, then fails. If this happens to you, try going into the computer BIOS and change the serial port address and IRQ, e.g. from com1 to com2.

It is worth remembering that you can debug gpsbabel with the -D switch. For example, gpsbabel -D9 -i garmin -f /dev/ttyS0 -o gpx -F /tmp/myfile.gpx This provides useful information to determine where the problem exists.

I managed to upload my first streetmap GPX within an hour of first unwrapping my first GPS receiver. You will only need to upload the tracklog to openstreetmap at: