How to Make Your Own Maps With a GPS Navigation System

By Contributor

Updated July 21, 2017

Most Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation devices are already equipped with built-in maps. Many of these maps lack sufficient coverage and detail, but you can make your own maps by following a few simple steps.

Download the GPS TrackMaker software, a free program available at the GPS TrackMaker Web site (see Resources below).

Open the map image and launch the TrackMaker program. From the "Tools" menu, select "Insert Map Image" and select the image you wish to edit.

Calibrate the map by clicking the "Map Adjust Tool" button and moving the cursor so the crosshairs intersect at the latitude -1 and longitude -91 margin labels. You can also click to insert the coordinates. Repeat the instructions for latitude 0 and longitude -90 and save your work in the GPS Track Maker format (.gem).

Import map data from the Digital Chart of the World Web site (see Resources below) and select a country. Click "Download Data" and select layers such as roads or drainage. Press "Continue," then "Compute Data" and wait for the files.

Import the data to the GPS TrackMaker program. From the "File Menu," choose "Merge File" and select one of the layers you downloaded. Click "OK" and save your work. Repeat the procedure for every layer you downloaded.

Select and delete unnecessary tracks and save your file.

Transfer the map to your GPS receiver. Download tracks and waypoints using the GPS Interface tool found on the main menu of your GPS unit.


Use the "Pencil" option to create map waypoints. The program has numerous sets of symbols that you can use to describe and locate a place. If you encounter multiple tracks in a particular place, give them the same color, line or name. Try simple maps you're familiar with before moving on to more detailed or unknown areas.


Always check the format of your GPS device because GPS TrackMaker does not support all GPS formats.

Items you will need

  • GPS navigation system

  • Internet access

  • Personal computer