Beginners Education 8 – Testing POI Alerts – Manual mode


Beginners Education 8 – Testing POI Alerts – Manual mode

There are several Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that address the questions posed by users when first trying to get custom POI locations to show up both visibly and audibly on their GPS. One problem some users have is that POI files from poi-factory may not have POIs in your immediate driving area for you to know if alerts really work.

What we are going to do is to build a test POI file that will demonstrate what happens when you approach a POI location with alerts on. Although you can build POI files using many programs like Notepad or Excel, to build our test POI file, we are going to introduce Extra POI Editor which was written by Turbocc, one of out members. One reason for using this tool in this exercise is because it is so valuable that everyone should know about it.

Step 1: Get a copy of EPE
What follows will be a link to EPE - but I would like you to use a special technique to go to the link – a technique that will keep this Exercise active and will also let you access Turbocc’s program.

When you click on the link below, hold down the CNTL key as you left click. This will open a new window in your browser under a new “Tab”. You can then come back to this Exercise by clicking on its tab in the browser.

1.1Access the program at:

1.2Scroll down about 2/3rds of the way on Turbocc’s webpage and download the latest “exe” file into a some new folder on your computer. Also, download the latest help file “zip”.
1.3Run the "exe" file
1.4Then, navigate to Start > All Programs > TurboCCC Tools > Extra POI Editor > Extra POI Editor.exe.

What you will see will be four panels within EPE that are currently empty. Before proceeding,

Step 2: Set preferences.
2.1 Click on Options in the menu,
2.2 Select “4-col CSV Fields”
2.3 Clear out the “Col 4” field (right now we do not want, or need, anything but coordinates and a name).
2.4 Press close.
2.5 Still under Options - click on Preferences. We will be working in feet.
2.6 Under units, change the Editor setting to Imperial/US.
2.7 Over to the right under the CSV Output section, put a check mark in the “Remove Column Heading” check-box.
2.8 Finally, click Close.

Step 3: Create a POI location near you.

3.1 At the bottom left of the upper left panel is the button “Add New POI” – click it.
3.2 Now, you have a dialog box called POI Edit.

Step 4: Find your home
4.1 In the address box at the middle left, enter your home’s address.
4.2 Enter your city
4.3 Enter your State
4.4 Enter the Post Code (aka zip code).
4.5 To see your address on the map, click the big “Geocoding” button (slightly right of center in the dialog box). Behold – a Google map appears with your house under the red pointer.
4.6 Check it out. Change from “Map” to “Satellite” and press the “+” button on the upper left side of the map section to zoom in on your house.
4.7 You may find that the pointer is not exactly where you might expect it (mine was in my back yard). Even thus, it is pretty amazing that technology gets as close as it does.
4.8 Switch back to “Map” view and zoom back out using the “-“ button, because what we are now going to do is to create a POI that is within easy-driving distance from your house. What we want to do is to get out of the residential area and onto a main road. The main reason for doing this is just to give us some space to test out various proximity distances.
4.9 Drag the pointer that is currently over your house to some spot on a nearby main road. You “drag” the pointer by positioning your cursor on the pointer, pressing and holding the left mouse button, and moving to some new location onto which you can drop the pointer by releasing the left mouse button. It is important that you locate the pointer within 98 feet of the road on which you will travel. Any further off the road and the alert will not sound.

To learn a little bit about EPE, zoom in some (by clicking the “+”) and adjust the pointer (you may have to drag the map with the left mouse button to find the pointer after you zoomed it). The pointer ought to be – for the time being for the reason mentioned above – literally right on the road. So, drag it there
4.10 Now, go to the top of the map section and press the “Grab” button. What then happens is that EPE will capture the coordinates underneath the pointer. BUT NOTE: EPE has not adjusted the address (which is your house) so you need clear out your home’s street address (And - unless you really moved the pointer a fair distance, leave the city, state and zip alone).
4.11 Type “Test Point One” in the Name field just below the coordinates.
4.12 Go to the bottom of EPE and click the “OK” button. EPE will create this location and you will be taken back to EPE’s four panel dialog which will now have one POI – Test Point One.
4,13 So that you can save this POI file somewhere, open Windows Explorer (I like to hold down my “Windows” key while also pressing the “E” key). Somewhere on your main hard drive, create a new folder called “My Test POIs”. You may already have a “MyPOIs” folder, if you have read the FAQs on this site. But, what we want to do is make sure that we separate test POIs from real POIs.
4.14 Back in EPE, up in the menu bar, click on File > Save As. Navigate to your “My Test POIs” folder.
4.15 Change the “Save as type” to “4-column CSV”. For the “File name”, use “Test Point One”. (Note: type the letters “One” not the number “1”)
4.16 click “Save” to save the file.
4.17 exit EPE.

Step 5: Verify Test Point One
Go to Windows Explorer and navigate to My Test POIs. Right-click on the file “Test Point One”, select “Open With” and open it with Notepad or Wordpad. What you should see is one line only. It should have three fields and look something like:

-xx.xxxxxx,yy.yyyyyy,Test Point One

where the x’s and y’s will be the coordinates of Test Point One. (If there is other information showing, you probably did not do steps 2.2 – 2.4 correctly)

Step 6: Load Test Point One to GPS
6.1 Attach your GPS to your computer with a USB cable. When it is ready, you should see - on the GPS screen - a picture of the GPS attached to a computer. Also, your computer will probably have asked you what to do the new drive(s) it found.

6.2 Start POILoader. If you do not have POILoader, go get it at (remember to CNTL-left click)
When you click “run”, it should install itself in “Program Files\Garmin\POILoader. Go to Start, Programs and find POILoader and run it.

6.3 Click the Next button and make sure the Garmin Device radio button is checked.
6.4 Click next.
6.5 Let POILoader find your device, and click Next.
6.6 On the next screen, click the radio button “Install new custom POIs on your device” and then click Next.
6.7 On the next screen, navigate to your “My Test POIs” folder and click on it. POILoader will fill in the name “My Test POIs”.
6.8 We will work in “Feet and MPH” and want to run POILoader in “Manual” mode.
6.9 Click Next.
6.10 Make sure the check-box for “This file contains proximity alert points” is checked.
6.11 Then click the radio button “Alert whenever you get close to a point” and put “1000” in the “Alert at this distance” box.
6.12 When you click Next, POILoader should load the POI file and notify you that “Congratulations! You have successfully loaded 1 custom POIs on your device”.

Step 7: Safely remove the GPS
Safely remove your GPS from your computer using the icon that is usually in your system tray.

Step 8: Check out your file
8.1 On the GPS, make sure that you have Proximity Point Alerts turned on. This will vary by GPS unit, but it is usually something like Tools > Settings > Proximity Points > [on/off]. You should be able to find this in your manual. If you have not gotten a manual, then look at:

8.2 make sure your volume is not “muted” or so low that it would be hard for you to hear. Check your manual for how to do this. For many units, there is a “Volume” icon on your main screen.

If you have done the Beginners Exercise on Simulations, (see then you can simulate a drive past Test Point One starting from your house where you are sitting right now. But, see the notes below.

Otherwise, go for a ride past “Test Point One”. When you get within 1000 feet of Test Point One - "on the road" on which Test Point One is located (let's call this
Road B) - your GPS should “Dong” and a black oval with the words “Test Point One” in white should appear. Note that if Test Point One is less than 1000 feet from the point on which you turn onto the actual Road B, it will not "Dong" until you turn from, say, Road A onto Road B.

Assuming you went for a drive to test the "Dong", you were doing an "Along the Road". Thus, the "Dong" may not have sounded until you actually turned onto the road.

However, if you were doing a simulation, the whole "route" you were simulating is considered to be one "road" So, if Test Point One is on Road B and you have to get to Road B by traveling on Road A, then the "Dong" may sound while you are still on Road A.

To illustrate, I am including below a post that was written by Hornby in 2007.

Hornby wrote:

In this example, imagine you are travelling up the screen on Road A. You could turn right onto Road B and pass a School after 0.5 Mile.
Say Point {X} is 1 mile from the intersections of Road A and Road B (not easy this!)


+-Road B----0.5 mile to [SCHOOL]---->|
X <-Point X

Map mode (just driving with GPS on)
If you set a Proximity Alert for the school at 1.5 miles, the alert will sound when you turn right onto Road B (i.e at 0.5 miles).
If you continue driving up Road A you will probably not get an alert at all.

Routing Mode
If your Route involves making a right turn onto Road B, then the alert will sound at 'Point X' - 1.5 miles from the school, by road.

I Like to describe the "just driving around" alerts as occurring when one gets into a rectangle that is a little less than 200 feet wide at the top of the rectangle and where the side length of the rectangle is the requested proximity alert distance.

You may want to add more points around your home to your “Test Point One” file using EPE and save the new file as, say. “Test Points”. When you load them in “Manual” mode, you should change the alert distance to see what happens – maybe 600 feet.

Typo corrections 8/27/2012

Related links

Change History

  • jgermann - Nov 7, 2012
    11/7/2012 Better method of downloading EPE

  • jgermann - Sep 17, 2012
    9/17/2012 title change

  • jgermann - Aug 8, 2012
    Added discussion of along the road versus along the route from Hornby