Living with a Garmin:

Waypoint Naming and the Dakota 20

This page also applies to the new Etrex 30. And maybe to other similar models.

Waypoint naming doesn't work as expected on the Dakota. Maybe it's a bug, maybe it's a feature.
Either way, this page shows how to work round it, or alternatively how to go with it and make it work for you.


Some people like to rename waypoints that are part of a Route, to embed turn hints.

On the GPS you end up with a display something like this (this is an Etrex Legend Cx).
Imagine if the turn were still 500m away, rather than 200m - the turn itself wouldn't yet be visible on the scrolling map, but because of that waypoint name, you would still have clear and useful foreknowledge that the next turn is coming up and will be a Left.

In Mapsource, it is easy to name Waypoints (provided they are proper User Waypoints, ie made with the waypoint tool) and all you have to do is make sure each one is uniquely named, and also try to stay within a limit of 6 characters (because more than 6 reduces the font size on the Etrex display).
In practice these limitations mean you have to reserve 2 or 3 characters to make a unique Id - then there needs to be a space or some sort of separator, I use a dash - leaving 2 or at most 3 characters for the instruction itself.
So my turn instructions are typically
L,  R,  LR (left then right),  SO (straight on),  X3 (3rd exit at roundabout), etc.
Which is adequate, so long as I remember that sometimes Left just means not right and vice versa.

This screenshot is from my Dakota 20.
The up-coming waypoint (the blue pin) has been named H02-R (to signify a right turn).

As you can see, this waypoint name is not being displayed on the screen, anywhere.

It's the same on other displays (such as the Trip Computer page) - anywhere you can view the Data Field Next Point - this is what you get, not the Waypoint Name.
On my Etrex the top left box would be displaying H02-R at this point.

Maybe this is just a bug in what is still a fairly new GPS model from Garmin, in which case it may get fixed in some future software update (these are available at intervals, dowloadable from Garmin's website).
Or maybe, just maybe, it's a design feature. (These screenshots are v2.20, and v2.41)

This display was the result of uploading the Route into the Dakota from Mapsource. Ie, connect the Dakota to the PC, in Mapsource use the Transfer menu to Send to Device.
This is the method recommended by Garmin in the Dakota manual, page 34.

Here is the easy workaround
NB the following short section applies to the Dakota, but not to the Etrex 30.

It turns out that transferring the Route using a different method, making use of the Dakota's USB Storage Mode, it works much better and the same Route now appears as in this screenshot (left). The font is still somewhat small for my tired old eyes, but at least it's now working as it should!

So, instead of transferring from Mapsource, use Mapsource to save your Route as a .gpx file.
When you connect the Dakota to the PC, being one of Garmin's more modern units it automatically enters USB Storage Mode, meaning that it appears as an external disk drive. (NB in the case of the Dakota 20, as two disk drives - one for the GPS itself and one for the micro-SD card. The Dakota 10 doesn't have a card.)
Just copy your gpx file into the Dakota.
NB it must go into the   [Dakota]\Garmin\GPX \  directory.
Of course, people who don't have Mapsource are probably already familiar with this way of doing it - however I stress that this is NOT the method described by Garmin in the manual.


An alternative is to make the new system work for you.

What is being displayed, in the first Dakota screenshot above, is actually the contents of the Waypoint Comment field - as opposed to the Waypoint Name field as expected.
This Comment field is easily edited in Mapsource, and the nice thing about it is, it doesn't have to be unique. So you can just use Left and Right as many times as you wish, as long as you do it in the Comment section.
Then just upload the Route from Mapsource in the usual way (ie not via the USB Storage method).

Of course, for many people even editing waypoint names is too much faff.
If you are one of those, you probably won't have read this far!
Certainly, editing the Comments is yet another chore but I've found that actually Mapsource makes it pretty easy to just comment all the Lefts in bulk, with one Paste operation, and then all the Rights ditto.

So an existing big project (up to 1000 Waypoints) could be adapted to work like this with the Dakota with only about 5 or 10 minutes' work. Not bad!

Here's how you could do it:
It helps even more if, unlike me, you have named your waypoints with the direction first -
eg, R-H02 instead of H02-R.

* Open your existing Route project in Mapsource, and in the left panel choose the Waypoints List, making sure that All Categories are being displayed.
* Sort the list by Name (click at the top of the Name column).
* Now (if your waypoints are named direction first) all your L points will be grouped together, so simply select them all (click on the 1st one, then shift-click on the last one).
If (like me) your waypoints are not named direction first, you have to go through the list control-clicking on each L point to group-select them - takes a little longer!
* Right-click on the selection and choose Waypoint(s) Properties.
* Into the Comment area, paste (control-V)   << LEFT   then OK.
* Repeat for all your R points, pasting   RIGHT >>

Use Transfer and Send to Device to upload to your Dakota, et voila.


With the very latest Dakota software installed (as I write, v2.41 beta) you could get something like this rather nice combined Route, Map and Compass view (left).
Similar updates are available for the Oregon series.


Francis Cooke

Some basic stuff:
Living with a Garmin: Etrex Basic Setup
Living with a Garmin: Battery Runtime and Etrex Jitter
Living with a Garmin: The Waypoints Limitation
Living with a Garmin: The Follow Road Trap
Living with a Garmin: The Circular Routes Problem
Living with a Garmin: Declutter the Page Sequence
Living with a Garmin: Living with Metroguide Maps
Living with a Garmin: Waypoint Naming (for direct-style routes)
Living with a Garmin: Colour your Tracks and Routes
Living with a Garmin: Create a Route on the GPS
Top 5 GPS Tips (pdf) reprint of Arrivee article published Feb 2007
Some GPS FAQs web version of Arrivee article published Nov 2008
NEW - Garmin Etrex 20/30 essays:
Etrex 30 review reprint of Arrivee article published Jan 2012
Etrex 20 & 30, Basic Setup
Taming the Etrex 20/30: Restore the 'Page' key.
Dakota 20 review reprint of Arrivee article published Feb 2010
Living with a Garmin: Waypoint Naming and the Dakota 20 / Etrex 30
More Garmin essays - not-so-basic:
Garmin Etrex C Menu Map (pdf, July 2008)
Living with a Garmin: Full Reset
Living with a Garmin: Track, Route or Autoroute
Living with a Garmin: Three Ways to Beat the Waypoint Limit
Living with a Garmin: Three Ways to Beat the Trackpoint Limit
Living with a Garmin: Less is More
Living with a Garmin: Add Contours to your GPS Maps
Living with a Garmin: Struggling with GPX  &...  More GPX
Living with a Garmin: Screens you don't see every day
Living with a Garmin: Downgrade your Mapsource
Living with a Garmin: Put an OSM Map on your Garmin
Living with a Garmin: GPS Soak Test files to test your GPS waypoint capacity
OpenStreetMap and Mapsource Add OSM to your Mapsource collection
A Google Maps Workflow Create, Edit, Save, Share and Export a route