Creating Custom POI Files top

Advanced users can create their own .csv and .gpx files that contain Custom POIs (points of interest) for use on compatible Garmin devices with MP3 players. Both .csv and .gpx files are loaded to the device using the Garmin POI Loader application. After processing the files, POI Loader uploads a single file called Poi.gpi to the device.  

All POI-related files should be stored in 1 main directory on the computer. One level of sub-folders is allowed for organizing files and creating POI categories. The POI Loader combines all files in the main folder and its sub-folders to create 1 file. Each time POI Loader sends POIs to a device the existing Poi.gpi file is overwritten. 

Creating Basic POIs

A basic POI includes the longitude, latitude, name and an optional comment field. Microsoft’s Notepad and Excel are popular choices for creating .csv files.

When entering the information in Notepad, use a comma to separate the information. This is equivalent to using columns in Excel to separate the data. The longitude is listed first; then latitude, name and comment. The coordinates must be in decimal format (hddd.ddddd).  Each POI in a document must have its own row of data. Garmin BaseCamp™ is a free resource for obtaining the longitude and latitude for a location. 

Creating a .csv File in Notepad or a Text Editor

Longitude, use a minus sign for any location West of the 0 degree line or prime meridian line.
Latitude, use a minus sign for any location South of the 0 degree line or equator.
            -94,50095, 36.35431, Roaring River State Park,  Light-colored worms
            -92,51394,  37,43547, Bennett Spring State Park,  Maribu jigs
            -94.76416,  38,81227, Garmin,  1200 E. 151st St.

When saving, the file name must have the .csv extension (filename.csv) and the file type must be changed:
Notepad:  Save as type to: All Files (*.*) 

Microsoft Excel automatically adds the .csv extension when the file type is changed to CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv) but it must be included in the filename with Notepad.

Creating a .csv File in Microsoft Excel

Column A = Longitude

Column B = Latitude

Column C = Name

Column D = Comment

-94,50095

36.35431

Roaring River State Park

Light-colored worms

-92,51394

37,43547

Bennett Spring State Park

Maribu jigs

-94.76416

38,81227

Garmin

1200 E. 151st St.

When saving, the file name must have the .csv extension (filename.csv) and the file type must be changed:
Microsoft Excel : Save as type:  CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv)

Microsoft Excel automatically adds the .csv extension when the file type is changed to CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv) but it must be included in the filename with Notepad.

Creating a .gpx File in BaseCamp

This can be as simple as creating 1 waypoint then exporting it as a .gpx file, or it can involve exporting a list containing many waypoints as a .gpx file. Adding waypoints to a list will help organize the POIs when they are exported. See the BaseCamp Help menu for information on creating waypoints and managing data\lists and list folders. The longitude, latitude and name are all a part of the waypoint when it is created. Additional information can be added to a waypoint in the waypoint properties window.  The waypoint properties window contains the comments and proximity alert fields. Double-click any waypoint to open the properties window.

To export data:

The default export file type is .gpx. 

Organization:  All related Custom POI files should be stored in 1 primary directory on the computer. One level of sub-folders is allowed to improve organization and create categories. POI categories on the GPS take their name from the sub-folder name. 

Example: POI Collection C:\Users\username\Documents\POI Files\

Truckstops.csv
RVRepair.csv
CampgroundswithWifi.csv
\--SCHOOLS (Sub-folder)
Westside_Speed_25.csv
Eastside_Speed_25.csv
Northside_Speed_25.csv
Southside_Speed_25.csv
\--PAWNSHOPS
Local_PawnShops.csv
\--FLYFISSHING
Open_Seasonal.csv
Open_AllYear.csv

The first 3 files are in the main POI files folder while the others are in sub-folders. The POI Loader will create the categories on the GPS based on the sub-folder names.  The Custom POIs should show up on the device like this: Custom POIs menu > All Categories | --FLYFISHING | --PAWNSHOPS | --SCHOOLS. Depending on the GPS model results may be slightly different.

Using the dashes at the beginning causes the device to put all sub-folders together at the top of the list. By entering a number in the filename, a speed alert of 25 mph has been set for every school POI in the file. POIs that contain speed alert information cannot be used as a destination point. The GPS cannot calculate a route to their location. POIs that contain no alert or only proximity alert information can be used as a destination. The GPS can calculate a route to their location. 

POI Alerts

Speed and proximity alerts trigger an audio and visual notification on the GPS when approaching a POI. Alert information can be included in the POI name, POI filename or added with POI Loader’s Mmanual mode when transferring to a device.

Speed Alert Information

The POI Loader determines if a file contains speed alert information by checking the individual POI names and the filename. If speed information is included, the GPS will display an alert if the set speed is exceeded while approaching the POI. The alert will repeat until the speed drops below the set value or the POI is passed. If no alert information is found, the POI is treated as simple destination POI. The GPS can calculate a route to a destination POI.  If a POI contains any speed alert information, the GPS cannot calculate a route and it will serve only as an alert POI. 

Speed information in the individual POI name is preceded by the "@" sign: “Speed@20”. Speed information in the filename is preceded by an underscore, “Speed_30”.  Any number below 125 (mph) or 200 (kph) is considered valid speed information.  POI Loader prioritizes speed information from highest to lowest priority:

  1. Speed information included in the individual POI name will retain the alert regardless of the filename or information entered in manual mode. For example, a POI named "SpeedZone@30" will have an alert speed of 30 even if the filename is “SpeedZone_20” and manual mode is set to 20.
  2. Speed information entered in POI Loader’s manual mode is applied to individual POIs with no speed information in their name and will override speed information in the filename.
  3. Speed information included in the filename, “School _20.csv” applies the value to individual POIs in the file with no speed information.

Proximity Alert Information

Proximity alerts are triggered by speed information, keywords in the POI name or filename, information entered in manual mode, or entered in BaseCamp’s waypoint properties proximity field.

Certain keywords included in the POI name or filename trigger proximity alerts. If a filename contains “GATSO,” “mobile,” "SPECS,” “safety,” “speed,” “redlight” or “camera” but does not have any speed information, the POI Loader uses an alert speed of 0 which always generates an alert at a distance of 400 meters or .25 miles. Proximity alert information can also be added to individual POIs using BaseCamp.

To add proximity information to a waypoint in BaseCamp:

The proximity alert information is included in the exported .gpx file.

The POI Loader prioritizes proximity alert information from highest to lowest priority:

In this formula, the speed value represents the value in the individual POI or filename, not the speed of the GPS when the alert is triggered. Convert miles an hour to miles per second.  Prompt distance = 36 seconds * 20 miles / 3600 = .2 miles or 1056ft. Regardless of the approaching vehicles speed the alert distance will remain the same. The same formula can be used for kilometers per hour. In addition to alert information, custom icons can be associated with Custom POIs.

Custom Icons

Custom icons can be used with POIs on a device.  The icons display on the map to mark a POIs location. The POI Loader integrates the .bmp image file into the .gpi while loading.  Custom image files must be in the same directory as the .csv or .gpx files for POI Loader to process them correctly.  The image must also be in the proper format, size, and color palette:

BaseCamp can add a custom icon to an individual point in the waypoint properties window.

  1. Double-click a waypoint to open the properties window
  2. Click the Notes tab
  3. Click Add File button
  4. Browse to the image file
  5. Click Open
  6. When asked to create a new geotagged photo choose No.

When POI Loader processes the exported .gpx file it will include the file in the .gpi file on the device. 

TourGuide Files

TourGuide files are created by private users or third-party developers. Garmin does not create or support the creation of TourGuide files. TourGuide is a feature available on Garmin devices with MP3 players.

TourGuides consist of custom POIs joined with descriptive .mp3 audio files and accompanying .jpg images. TourGuide POI are chosen as a destination from the Custom POI menu, When approaching the POI the device will play the .mp3 file and display the associated image.

A TourGuide consists of 1 .gpx file that includes waypoint information for each location and a matching .mp3 and .jpg file for each location. All files should be saved in 1 main directory on the computer. One level of sub-folders is allowed to improve organization. The POI Loader integrates all 3 files into the .gpi file when loading to a device.

All associated files must contain the word "TourGuide" in the filename to activate the TourGuide feature on the GPS. The letters T and G must be capitalized. Do not use any keywords, or special characters like the “@” symbol in the filenames. For example, "TourGuide.mp3," "TourGuide USA.mp3" or "TourGuideOKCORAL.mp3" are all valid TourGuide filenames.

A common folder structure for a TourGuide:

~\Documents\Main Folder\TourGuide.gpx
~\Documents\Main Folder\First POI\ - separate sub-folders for each POI containing the TourGuide.mp3 and TourGuide.jpg files

When creating the POIs in BaseCamp, use the waypoints properties window to add the .mp3 audio and .jpg image files from their respective folder to each waypoint. BaseCamp includes the proper relative link to the files location. This is a necessary addition for when the POI Loader creates the .gpi file.

To add files to a waypoint:

  1. Double-click a waypoint to open the properties window
  2. Click the Notes tab
  3. Click Add File button
  4. Browse to the image or mp3 file
  5. Click Open
  6. When asked to create a new geotagged photo choose No. (images)

The default proximity alert distance for a TourGuide file is 0.25 miles. The manual mode in POI Loader can be used to override this setting. Individual proximity setting can be set for each waypoint in BaseCamp using the waypoints properties proximity field covered earlier in this document.

Custom POIs are a popular topic with a lot of resources available online which provide hints, tips, and tricks, along with detailed explanations on how to utilize POIs in different scenarios.    

*Except for the basic handhelds and older Rino® 2-way radio GPS devices, all current outdoor and automotive products are compatible with Custom POIs. TourGuide POIs are only compatible with MP3-capable nüvi® and zumo® devices. Check the particular Garmin model’s spec sheet for Custom POI compatibility.