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I created an account and made my first wiki edit and track upload on 14th May 2006

I will probably focus on trying to map Canterbury, UK first, in particular the Hales Place area. Check my progress here: OSM Map ;)

I am also trying to improve the beginners documentation while I do this, as it seems slightly non-trivial to gather the required info currently.

Getting Started With OSM

For now my mumblings can live here, when i've worked out the structure of the wiki, and if they still seem useful i'll migrate

Seems like there are 3 kinda phases to getting something useful done

- Get a GPS and track logging environment
- Get the tracks (in GPX format) on OSM (or perhaps held locally depending on the next step)
- Convert the tracks into useful data

However, that's after only a couple of hours of playing, so I might change my mind (Ok, a day later I'm collected a few tracks, found a few issues with what I was doing and changed my mind slightly, but here we go:)

My GPS setup

I've got a (relatively aged) iPAQ 3850, unfortunately only the next model up has bluetooth and I wasn't able to get that one. To go with this I have a Silver Slider 5 expansion sleeve (silmilar to but a bit thiner perhaps, and silver) that allows use of 2 compact flash devices at once as well as the SD card. This means I listen to music from the SD card, store tracks on a CF card in one slot, and into the other put my CF GPS unit.

My GPS receiver is a BC307 - will link to hardware page and put details there

Getting tracks from my setup

I use Visual GPS (VisualGPSce)to record the NMEA sentences from my GPS while i'm out recording. This software was pretty easy to setup, the only slightly tricky bit being finding which COM port to use, but that's probably partly due to my setup. In the end I needed COM5 which i think the listings suggest is a modem of some kind. Having created a few tracks now I've found that sometimes after a softish period of being off the PDA/Visual GPS won't notice any fresh data from the GPS receiver. I've solved this so far by choosing to "end this task" for Visual GPS and then starting it again.

These are saved onto a Compact Flash card (doesn't need to be big, so at last one of those 32Mb jobbers you get with cameras has come in useful)

I then copy these onto my PC via an "all-in-one" memory card reader.

If at this stage you want to see if your tracks are any good then try using the map creator at I found the colour by speed option pretty nice. You can push plain nmea or gpx (or a multitude of other things) into this utility.

I have found more recently that on a couple of occasions I haven't got a file of proper nmea sentences, looking at the file in a text editor shows lots of non printing chars, I haven't found a way to recover these even though the file size is about what i'd expect from the amount of time that i was recording.

Making these useful

This bit is a bit more of a bother, currently once they're on my machine as a timestampplace.nmea file I use Making_GPX_Tracks to convert them from .nmea into another folder of .gpx files with the same name.

At the moment I'm using the GUI to do this, so i simply downloaded the packaged, installed and created a shortcut to GPSBabelGUI.exe I expect to have a poke at the cli soon however, as putting the source file type, destination file type and destination file name in by hand is getting somewhat tedious. Really I'd just like to run a line which will take any new .nemas from the last week and spit out the required gpx files.

Contributing these to the project

By now you'll need an OSM login, you should already have made a wiki login a while ago so you can start correcting and updating documentation while you're learning, if it's confusing for you then make it easier for whoever follows. Login to OSM and choose GPS Traces ( Browse to wherever you stored the .gpx file and upload it. I'm not sure what the reccomended way to tag is, so far i've been using "town county country suburb walking" (obviously if I wasn't walking then i'd say car or something, I'm not sure if this is useful for most people? but see below).

Having done this wait a while, (up to 2 hours?) and you'll see the status of your track change from pending to showing how long ago it was uploaded.

Making tracks into maps?

Online Applet

Currently I'm using the online applet to make the tracks into maps, but I don't see that lasting as I'm finding it quite frustrating. However, the video created by lmi which is available under the Getting started with editing section of the Editing page is very informative, and a good primer.

Find your part of the country, and zoom in, allll the way in, get in there. Then change to edit mode and you'll see lots of yellow blobs (hopefully), these are your tracks. Follow the editing instructions to start adding streets. When I have been collecting tracks on foot I tended to go up one side of the street and back down the other to could then stick the road pretty much in between the marked points. This is partly why I have tried to note if i'm on foot or in a car, as it does make a difference. I'm undecided as to whether it's worth making streets etc if you don't know the name of the street to add, or even what kind of route it is


After a week or so of the applet I started using JOSM along side it, I now use both as they seem to manage different aspects of things better. JOSM is pretty easy to use, and is advancing rapidly, see JOSM

It's 2007 now and I don't use the online applet at all, all my editing is done via JOSM

Making maps that look like maps

I can't do this yet I don't really do this, I just let the project render what I've tagged up.

This user uses or has experience with a GlobalSat Compact Flash Card (309??) with a PDA and Windows Mobile 5 and is willing to answer questions on it from OSM users.

This user uses or has experience with a GlobalSat BT-359 with a PDA and Windows Mobile 5, and with an O2 XDA Exec and WM5 and is willing to answer questions on it from OSM users.