Sierra Nevada Airstreams -|- Sierra Nevada Unit

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Sierra Nevada Unit Events

Finding Rally Sites

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Points of Interest – Rally Sites

One reason to have a map is to locate a point of interest as a destination for travel. Being able to remember these Points of Interest (POI) is a significant feature of modern electronic maps. The SNU now provides the means for you to put its rally sites on your electronic map. If you don't have a GPS or a PND or a computer with a mapping program, you can still take the file and use it to find coordinates on your paper maps.

A POI is simply a spot on a map. Its address is most often provided by latitude and longitude coordinates. For SNU territory, latitude numbers range from about 37 for Death Valley to 41 for Eagle Lake. Longitude numbers range from about -116 for Hickison Petroglyphs Campground to -121 for Hat Creek. The minus for Longitude simply means left on the map from the reference.

Many mapping programs will import a csv or comma separated value list directly. For personal navigation devices (PND) and GPS devices, you will need to connect the device to your computer and transfer the file. You may need to convert the file from the cvs type to something your device can understand and you may need a special loading utility or special knowledge about how to install the points of interest. See the discussion about tools below for software to help with this. See also the discussion forums where you can find a lot of help and assistance.

Files with SNU POI's: – rally-locations.kml for Google Earth – rally-locations.gpx in a transfer format – snu-rallies for POI loaders and spreadsheets. An icon image snu-rallies.bmp is also available. The csv has a fourth field (after latitude, longitude, and name) that indicates the calendar information for each rally site on the calendar.

Also available here is a points of interest file for bridges in the great basin that are considered severely deficient. That file is named so that Garmin PND's will provide a warning a quarter mile before you reach them. The poi file is bridge-redlight.csv and the bitmap is bridge-redlight.bmp.

Tools and Utilities

Google Earth and Google Maps - These are freely accessible I'net applications that you can use to browse rally locations and plot routes. The locations for SNU Rallies are in a file – rally-locations.kml – that you can open in Google Earth to place pushpin markers at each rally site. You can select a rally site in the 'Places' list of Google Earth and choose File->View in Google Maps to see the location in your browser. That allows you to create and adjust a mapping route to the rally site.

One way to get a route from Google Maps to your Personal Navigation Device (PND) is to use GMapToGPX. This is a bookmark applet for your browser that will create a GPX file with the routing directions you have set in Google Maps. A GPX file, or GPS Exchange Format file, is a specially formatted text file in a format designed to make it easy to share waypoints, routes, and tracks.

GPSBabel: convert, upload, download data from GPS and Map programs is another utility you may find useful. It will convert the GPX file or the Google Earth KML file to many other file types. That is useful if your PND or mapping program does not understand GPX or KML.

Map accuracy

Every now and then there are stories about somebody driving off a cliff or getting stuck because they followed their PND directions. This is foolhardy. All maps, paper or electronic, have errors and based on data a year or more old. You can generally depend upon major roads and highways on maps but even then it pays to check for current road conditions at state websites to see if construction or other problems exist. Even satellite images such as you can find on many online mapping websites may be out of date. Such pictures can be handy for checking out planned fuel stops so you can determine access but you always need to be very careful until you can actually see for yourself what the situation really is.

Positional accuracy

When you look at your position on a map or by using GPS, there are two sources of error to consider. One centers on the map and its accuracy and the other centers on just how well you know your actual position. Both can be off by quite a distance. With modern a PND and its electronic map, you can usually depend upon knowing a position to within 50 feet or so. The key to keep in mind is that you are the one with the eyeballs and the PND or map just displays what somebody told it sometime.


POI files | – rally-locations.kml – | – rally-locations.gpx – | – SNU rallies.csv – | – SNU rallies.bmp – | – bridge-redlight.csv – | – bridge-redlight.bmp – |

File conversion utility: GPSBabel: convert, upload, download data from GPS and Map programs

Google Map route capture utility: GmapToGPX

Other resources: | GpsPasSion - Reference site GPS POIs Radars – | – POI Factory – | – - The Latest GPS Reviews, News, & Buyers Guides – | – Garmin Nuvi GPS Tricks, Tips, Work Arounds, Hints, Secrets and Ideas – | – Geotag – | – GPX-POI file generator – | – GPS Receiver Information, Software, and Hardware Reviews of Garmin, Lowrance, Magellan and other GPS Receivers – | – Geospatial Technology : GIS news and information on GIS mapping, software, and solutions. | GPS World – | – POI Loader – | – Using Google Earth – | – POI Loader Help | Garmin – | – – Search, Download, Create, Share and Sell Portable GPS Travel Guides and Audio Tours Worldwide – Free to Try, Sign Up Today – |

Discussion, news, blogs, and support | – Exploring Local – | – Garmin Forums – | – Garmin blog – | – navi gadget – | – GPS File Depot – | – TomTom Forums – | – groundspeak forums – | – GPS Reviews – | – GEO Tourguide – | – GPS Underground forums – | – GPS Data Team – | – Laptop GPS World – | – | Mapping the world a better place... |

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