Creating planned burn lines – GPX/GPS

Shapefiles can be converted into the .gpx format for use in GPS devices, however, .gpx files can be loaded and symbolised for viewing in QGIS3 anyway, so why double up! It is probably best to simply keep all burnline data (both planned and recorded) in the .gpx format. Rather than shapefiles, planned burn lines can simply be created as .gpx files ready to be loaded to a GPS device.

First ensure that the GPS tools Plugin is turned on.

You can now create a new GPX layer to use on your GPS.

Unlike shapefiles where the geometry (line/polygon etc) needs to be defined, .gpx files can accommodate three ‘geometries’ (waypoints, routes, and tracks) within the same file. When you create a gpx file it is loaded into the Layers panel with these three versions listed.

Remove both the ‘waypoints’ and ‘routes’ layers. We want to make tracks.

Edit as you would a shapefile, but unlike a shapefile, you don’t get to define the attributes titles. There are pre-set standard gpx fields available.

Change symbolisation and add labels

  • Double click the Layer and open Layer Properties – go to Symbology.
    • Change the colour and width
  • go to Labels
    • select from drop-down ‘Single labels’
    • open the expression dialogue to the right of ‘Label with..’
    • in the expression dialogue enter
      • concat(“comment” ,’ – ‘, “description”)
      • note the ‘Output preview’ at the bottom.
    • check the ‘Draw text buffer’ check box
    • ok

Note: The ‘name’ attribute is what the GPS will use as the track name, and so should be what gets listed in your device. Also, you can add multiple tracks to this one gpx file, and while this one gpx file will be loaded into the GPS, there will be multiple tracks available, individually named with this ‘name’ attribute.

Use the ‘comment’ and/or ‘description’ fields for operator names, dates etc.

When finished creating all of the burnlines Toggle editing again to finish and save the file.

Now, the easiest way to load this file onto a GPS device is to simply copy the .gpx file from wherever you saved it, into the appropriate space on the device. On most Garmins there is a folder somewhere called “GPX”. Put a copy of your file in there and it should be available when running the GPS.