New User here with some general questions.

I’m looking to map out all the walkable paths on my campus to create a map that will help people get around and find places easier. Basically, something like this, with some minor modifications (better support for traveling through buildings, etc.). I was looking at some of the GPS device options, but I didn’t see anything under $100 or so, but I only looked at a fraction of what was available.

I’m basically looking for suggestions on a device to pick up and start recording the paths. I know for something like this that I can also map out paths on the web interface, but I think the paths will be much much cleaner if its mapped with a GPS device. From what I can tell from reading the help documents, I just need something to record alot of points and then go back with JOSM and edit the information on the points like tags and location descriptors, right? I saw that you can do point recording stuff with an iPhone, and I have a few friends with those, if the mapping apps on those are any decent.

I appreciate any suggestions.

Hi bjared,

maybe the overview in our wiki can help a bit? But it really depends on what you do want from the device. If you will only ever use it to record a lot of points and don’t plan to do anything else, a plain GPS logging device might be the best option (personally, I’m using a Globalsat DG-100). But even those are rather expensive if you aren’t sure yet whether you will keep using it.

Are there other mappers in your area? (You might check whether there is a wiki page for your town/area or use the “nearby mappers” overview that you get after entering your location into your account details on They might be willing to let you experiment with their GPS tools if you ask them. Smartphones, such as the iPhone, are also worth a try - I haven’t personally used one for GPS tracks, but there are people who do.

It’s also a good idea to check out other data sources. For example, Yahoo aerial imagery might be good enough in your area to get you started with mapping if you are lucky - that way you could find out if you like contributing to OSM first and buy a GPS later.

The idea is: You first record the points and import them into the editor. You then manually draw roads and other stuff on top of them, and that’s what will make it into the map. Even a good GPS track will have straying points and inaccuracies, so there is some need for human intelligence to perform abstraction.

By the way, both GPS tracks and aerial imagery can be used in the online editor (“Potlatch”, the flash app on as well as the desktop apps (JOSM and Merkaartor).