Thibaut Wdowiak's Blog

Geoportail.fr maps on android device with Trekbuddy

03 Nov 2012 // how-to

WARNING: You use the software at your own risks. I haven't checked the licenses and terms of use of the different websites and software.

I have been looking for convenient solution to use my Samsung Galaxy S as a gps device to use outdoor.

I often go biking around where I live and sometimes get a bit lost in the forest. I always bring with me a hiking map from IGN but in the forest, it is not always easy to locate oneself.

I finally managed to find good piece of software and hardware that combine maps and geo positionning for a very moderate cost and I wanted to share it, this is the purpose of this article.

First things first, harware

Galaxy S gps capabilities are ... hum ... limited to say it nicely. So I use an external gps device: an I-blue 747 that I hook up with my phone over bluetooth. This has the advantage of saving the phone's battery because the gps function is really a battery sucker bitch.

I-Blue

I don't remember how much I paid it a few years back and I think it is discontinued by now. Anyway, cheap gps devices must still be for sale somewhere.

Hooking the GPS with the phone

  • Navigate to bluetooth settings
  • Activate bluetooth
  • Click on "Look for devices"
  • Click on "pair device"
  • Try 0000 or 1234 when prompted for a number.
  • Your GPS should now be paired with your phone.

Screenshot

Setting up trekbuddy

Ticking the right options

  • Settings/Desktop/EasyZomm: select "layers". This will enable you to zoom in and out through the different zoom layers of your maps.
  • Settings/Location/Provider: tick "Bluetooth". This tells trekbuddy to use the bluetooth gps device.

Adding UI-Profiles

UI-profiles are themes for the screen that displays gps data: position, distance, speed, elevation, etc...

The catch is that Trekbuddy does not ship with a default UI-profile, so the screen displays an error.

You have to go to the forum where people share their themes and download one you like to your phone. This is how I found a nice theme for my samsung galaxy S:

  • Log in to this forum: http://www.trekbuddy.net/forum/. There is a log in as "guest" at the bottom of the page.
  • Download the zip at this address: http://www.trekbuddy.net/forum/download.php?id=3973.
  • Unzip everything to your phone in the "ui-profiles" folder in the Trekbuddy installation directory. On my phone, it is /sdcard/TrekBuddy/ui-profiles/. Do not create subfolders, the theme files must be directly under "ui-profiles".

Getting maps

Here comes the meat of it: maps, good maps. You can use all kinds of maps with Trekbuddy. You could draw maps yourself and save them as a bunch of jpegs and load them in Trekbuddy and use them.

Trekbuddy Map Maker (TBMM) lets you download maps from geoportail.fr, which are 1:25000 maps with every possible detail, height lines and all, they are very readable, if you get lost with these maps, well, you really deserve it. By the way, I suspect, geoportail.fr is not intended for random people to download maps from them since they actually sell electronic maps for money. Anyway, tbmm lets you do so for free (as in free beer).

I only got tbmm to work on micro$oft windows, you have to witch to windows to do the following:

  1. Download and install tbmm
  2. Create a directory structure like this one:
    • The first level is the zoom level: 1 directory by zoom level.
    • The second level is the map level: you can have as many maps as you want, create 1 folder by map in each zoom level directory.
    • Directly under the top level directory (atlas in this example), create a text file named .tba and write "Atlas 1.0" inside.
  3. Launch Tbmm
  4. Choose Webmap / GĂ©oportail / IGN (best hiking, biking map for France)
  5. Move over with the mouse
  6. Zoom in and out with PageUp / PageDown, the zoomlevel is displayed at the bottom right of the screen.

screenshot

  1. Select an area using the right click: this will be your map
  2. In the transparent little window, select the zoom level you wish to save first. Remember, the zoom level is displayed at the bottom right of the screen.
  3. Click File / Save.
  4. Select the folder that corresponds to your map and the zoom level you chose from the transparent little window. Enter a filename. I prefer to save as an "Untarred map set" (*.set).
  5. Click Save.

screenshot

  1. Repeat from step 8 for the other zoom levels you wish to save.

screenshot

  1. Copy your atlas to your phone under directory: TrekBuddy/maps/.
  2. Launch Trekbuddy
  3. Click on your phone options button (bottom left), choose "Maps" and navigate to your .tba file, select a zoom layer, a map. Choose "Yes" to use as default.
  4. Your phone should be displaying a nice map.

Using Trekbuddy

C'mon, if you've gone this far, you can help yourself:

  • Fool around with the UI
  • Go to the main wiki.
  • Do some googling.
  • Have fun!