Saturday, October 23, 2010

HOWTO : GPS Grid Reference (Android App) with offline maps

*** This HOWTO is updated for the version 2.6 or later of GPS Grid Reference ***

What is MGRS?
Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) is the geocoordinate standard used by NATO militaries for locating points on the earth. It is also widely used by hikers.

What is GPS?
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides reliable location where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

Most Android smartphone equipped with GPS and it is functioning very well and reliable. It works very well with Google Maps but internet connection (wifi or 3G) is required to make it work flawlessly.

How about there is no internet connection when you are outside your home country or at the mountains? An offline map is the best choice.

Why paid for GPS Grid Reference?
There are many free offline map apps available in the Market but why bother to pay for "GPS Grid Reference"?

The main reason to use "GPS Grid Reference" is that this app supports Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) completely amongst in the Market so far. MGRS is widely used by military and hikers.

How to make an offline map

Step 1 :
First of all, download the Mobile Atlas Creator at SourceForge. The current version is Mobile Atlas Creator 1.8 RC 1 at the time of this writing.

Extract the zip file to the directory "mobac". Go to the directory "mobac". Load the program by executing the following command :

chmod +x

Step 1a :
Run the following command to execute the program for creation of offline maps.


*** Well tested on Ubuntu 10.04

Step 2 :
Locate your area that an offline map will be made. Highlight the area on the map on your right hand side.

Step 3 :
We are going to make an OpenStreetMap Osmarenderer offline map. Select "OpenStreetMap Osmarenderer" at "Map Source" on your left hand side.

Step 4 :
Select all zoom levels at "Zoom Levels", such as from 0 to 17.

Step 5 :
Add "Hong_Kong" (or any name of your selected area) at "Name" on "Atlas Content". Press "Clear" button and then press "Add selection" button.

Step 6 :
Select "Mobile Trail Explorer" at "Atlas settings".

Step 7 :
Change the setting of the program at "Settings" of "Saved profiles" when necessary.

Step 8 :
Press "Create atlas" and wait for the finish of the offline maps creation.

Step 9 :
Once the process is completed. Go to "mobac/Hong_Kong_<current date>_<current time>". Rename the sub-directory "TilesAtHome" to "Osmarender".

How to get GPS Grid Reference

GPS Grid Reference is an Android app that is developed by Luck. The Full version of the app supports offline map. You are required to purchase the app from the Market at 4.99 pounds (or about $75-HK). Download and install the app after the purchase.

However, I have a problem to search and download the app on Dell Streak which is running Android 2.1Update1. The app can be downloaded on Nexus One that is running Android 2.2.1.

How to install the offline maps

Step 10 :
Connect your Android smartphone to your computer with USB cable. Select "Turn on USB storage". The content of the SD card of your Android will be displayed.

Step 11 :
Create a directory namely "GPS Grid Reference" on the root directory of the SD card.

Step 11a :
Create an empty file namely ".nomedia" under "GPS Grid Reference" in order to prevent the Gallery from reading the offline maps.

touch .nomedia

Step 12 :
Copy the directory "Osmarender" and its sub-directories to the SD card under "GPS Grid Reference/tiles".

sdcard/GPS Grid Reference/tiles/Osmarender

How to make the offline map working with GPS Grid Reference

Make sure you have enabled GPS on your Android. Start "GPS Grid Reference" app on your Android. Select "GPS". Press the icon on the lower left corner and select "OSM <default>" at "Map Mode" which is located at the top of the lower right corner. Press "Menu". Select "MGRS" at "Change datum" and select "10" at "OS Grid Figure".

Please allow several minutes for the positioning. You are not required to activate the wireless or 2G/3G on your Android. That is OFFLINE.

Where to download Hong Kong (includes Shenzhen) and Macau offline maps?
You can download the maps here which are created on October 25, 2010 (GMT +8, Hong Kong time).

Hong Kong (includes Shenzhen) offline map (created from Osmarenderer)
Macau offline map (created from Osmarenderer)

** The offline maps are well tested on Nexus One with Android 2.2.1 and GPS Grid Reference 2.6.

** Hong Kong and Macau offline maps cannot be co-existed as they will overwrite each other

** Make sure you have at least 110MB free spaces on your SD card for the Hong Kong offline map while 10MB for the Macau offline map (Osmarender format)

Do I earn money from promoting GPS Grid Reference?
No. I am not working for GPS Grid Reference or Luck. I got NOTHING when you purchase GPS Grid Reference or any app from Luck.

Do I also need compass and map during hiking?
Yes. Make sure you bring along with your compass and map when you are hiking. They act as a backup in case your Android or the app is out of order or out of battery.

That's all! See you.