gpsbabel on ubuntu 16 LTS for Garmin GPSMap 60Cx

Argh! Why is Garmin so awful! They make excellent hardware, that (mostly) works brilliantly, but the software for connectivity and on the website… grrrr.

In the last two/three months I have had to de-upgrade Garmin Connect on my Android phone (it’s at 4.1.7 cos everything so far after that has utterly borked any connectivity to my Forerunner 235); swapped from browser to browser as first chrome, then chromium, and, finally today, firefox, failed to display anything except the headers and footers of any pages after logging into connect.

Deep breaths… breathing in calm, exhaling bullets.

Anyway, after an epic (for me) 50km off road day on my Sonder Camino Al (drop bars, 650Bs @ 30 psi, cable disc brakes, 11 spd SRAM – astonishingly good off-road, must write it up!), my buddy and I were talking about having a more accessible map easily visible without us fishing out the phones, or digging in the bag for the maps. Since we’re goldfish braining, probably due age and adrenaline, we both found ourselves checking nearly every flipping turn and wasting quite a lot of time. We weren’t worried about it, it was a beautiful day, between 16 and 24 deg C all day, and we were not inclined to try and race it. We just thought, at the end of the day, we’d have been more comfortable if we could have had a turn-by-turn available. And probably not stopped halfway down awesome downhills to check we didn’t have to hang a left.

I remembered having some old garmin kit from some years ago that did the job. A handheld GPS that is pretty ancient tech now looking at most phones, but is waterproof, has real buttons you can feel, and a chunky screen with a flipping great arrow or zoomed in map pointing you to the next waypoint. I went digging.

The GPSMap 60cx. I loved and hated it. Loved it for geocaching and tracking my commutes on my wannabe Brompton (Giant something or other). Hated it because getting data on or off it with my Mac (at the time) was an utter crapshoot, and invariably took re-re-re-researching because garmin had broken or repurposed whatever piece of software had kinda worked last time.

So I dug it out today. The mount is no good for getting around this day and age handlebars, so two removable cable ties and it’s firmly attached. And then… dramatic pause… I got it working on both the old Mac and the Ubuntu 16 LTS boxen using gpsbabel! I am so chuffed. It remains to be seen how long it works for, but here’s a cheat sheet of what I did.

Macbook

  1. Install GPSBabel from https://gpsbabel.org
  2. Make sure the GPSMap is switched off
  3. Plug it into the USB port on the Mac
  4. Turn it on
  5. Use GPSBabel making sure to leave it set to “usb:” on the Garmin device connection

So far so simple. Although it did take a lot of plugging in and out.

Ubuntu

Absolutely loads of info on the web from about 10 years ago. Nothing current. What I ended up doing was this:

  1. sudo modprobe -r garmin_gps #not sure whether this was necessary or not
  2. sudo apt install garmin-forerunner-tools garmin-plugin gpsbabel-gui
  3. sudo nano /etc/udev/rules.d/51-garmin.rules
    insert this line (without the single quotes): ‘SYSFS{idVendor}=="091e", SYSFS{idProduct}=="0003", MODE="666"
  4. reboot (yes really) the system and login again.
  5. making sure gpsmap is switched off, plug it into the usb port.
  6. Turn it on.
  7. Fire up gpsbabel and admire how you can import and export data simply and easily with hardly any hatred of garmin connectivity.

Oh happy day! Hope it helps someone.

Thanks to gpsbabel.org (I mean, like loads of thanks, give them some money!), and to this guy on askubuntu.com who got voted down sadly. Some of it didn’t make any odds, but it cracked it for me.

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