After I described one of my recent hikes in the Cascades, a friend asked me to share the coordinates of this hike.  I was only too glad to do so.  Bob is a fine hiker but is a new GPS owner.  We had previously spent time marking waypoints, uploading maps into his receiver which resulted in giving him a good feel for this “mini computer’s” functions and capabilities.

Bob had yet to learn about manually entering coordinates into the receiver.  It’s definitely not hard but many find it difficult to translate the owner’s manual information into simplistic button pushing. Manually entering coordinates just takes practice.  Here are a few tips to pass along to new GPS owners like Bob.

The first step is to ensure that both Bob’s and my GPS match in terms of coordinates and datum.  A match to ensure the validity and accuracy of the information entered. We should both literally be on the “same page” to reduce errors and ensure Bob arrives at the correct destination.  When working with a person new to the world of GPS, I usually shift my GPS settings to match the other person.

To get started, we’ll go through a few of the “setup” options of the GPS unit.  Here are the mechanics of the processes.

a)      Turn on the receiver

b)      Select the receiver’s main menu

c)       Look for “setup;” select “setup.”

There are two critical setup options that we will need to match up.

d)      I’ll then go to the “units” selection option. (See the screen shot below, all images are from my Garmin 60.)

e)      At the “units” page I’ll first select “position format.”  With the drop down menu display I’ll have many different formats to choose from.  (“Position format” is nothing more than the geographic grid options available to the user.)  Latitude and Longitude is a type of grid option and several selection choices will be shown.   I will shift my settings to match Bob’s GPS.  Note that when I shift my format to match his, all my saved coordinates (saved in the GPS receiver’s memory) will automatically shift to the new format.  I am not deleting any waypoints or saved data.

f)       The next critical setup is matching the “map datum” selection option (below “position format”) on Bob’s receiver (see image below.)  There are dozens of datum options to choose from.  A GPS can go virtually anywhere and have a datum match to many countries’ maps.  I will ensure Bob is on a viable datum and then shift my datum selection to match his.  If I don’t match his, the receiver could place him roughly one hundred yards away from the correct position.  See the screen shot below and note the “map datum” selection.

Most United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps use the map datum North American Datum 1927.   At some point printed maps will be set to WGS 84.  So, if the navigator is identifying position coordinates from a USGS map, note that the correct datum selection on the GPS will be NAD27 CONUS.  The datum information will be found at the bottom left corner of a USGS map (see below)

At this point both receivers are matched electronically.

Now we are ready for to manually enter coordinates.

g)      To enter the coordinates of my hike, Bob will then depress the “mark” button; note the screen shot below.

h)      Use the rocker key to move the yellow highlighted bar up to the screen where the location coordinates are presented (some models will require the user to choose edit waypoint.)

i)        While the coordinate information is highlighted yellow, depress enter.  An electronic key pad will be presented.

j)        Follow the instructions from the user manual to enter the coordinates.  Essentially the user will type over the old coordinates.  When done select OK and then rocker the yellow highlighted bar back down (bottom right) and select OK.

I recommend giving waypoints that are manually entered a name such at “camp” or “truck” to distinguish them from older waypoints still in the receiver’s memory.

Lastly, verify that the coordinates have been saved to memory; this is critical.  One method is to go to the list of waypoints.  If the waypoints just entered are not listed the user must start over.

Now I am ready to help Bob enter the coordinates in his receiver.

The examples shown are specific to the Garmin 60 series of receivers.  Other models will use similar terms but may not all be done from the same setup page.  For example, to enter the coordinates in some models the operator may be required to select “edit coordinates.”

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