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Maps & Geospatial: Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

This guide provides a description of GPS, library resources, and web resources for learning about GPS.

Borrowing a GPS Unit

At the University Park campus, the following GPS units are available for borrowing:

Accessories available for use with GPS units

  • GPS Pole: GPS poles are available for use with GPS unit
  • Tripod: Tripod is available to attach unit and/or GPS pole
  • Tablet mounting bracket: Tablet mounting bracket is available to attach to tripod
  • 1 iPad and charger: iPad available to use ArcGIS Field Maps, Bad Elf Flex App, and connect to RTK network (State College Borough's RTK base station)

GPS Borrowing Policy

GPS units may be borrowed by Penn State students, faculty, and staff. Patrons will receive a brief orientation to the GPS unit at the time of check-out. See equipment to borrow section for loan periods.

Trimble GeoXH 6000

Contents of Trimble GPS box


Trimble with cords

Trimble unit contents

GPSMap 64st

Garmin GPSMap 64st Manuals, Help Documents, and Guidance. The GPSMap 64st are accurate +/-3-4m. 

Garmin GPSMap 64st

Using Garmin GPS unit and Computer Software

The Garmin BaseCamp software enables the user to display downloaded maps to add to GPS units.  Users are able to install this software on their own computers to use to download additional maps for the Garmin units and/or display waypoints and/or tracks collected from the Garmin units. Garmin Quick Start Manual is located in bag with GPS unit.

Loading Maps to GPS Units

Search for Topographic Maps and/or Other maps to load to GPS Unit
1.      Navigate to the GPSFileDepot:
The GPSFileDepot contains custom maps, articles, tutorials, and additional information.
2.      In the Search for Maps box on the upper left side of the screen:
3.      Select State of interest in All States.
4.      Example: Select Pennsylvania Topo
5.      Review source information for the PA Topographic Map
6.      Install Topo Maps by the Download option.
7.      Right click and install topo file.

Additional source for maps for loading onto Garmin units
Garmin basemaps with OpenStreetMap data

"The goal of these maps is to advance the OpenStreetMap project by providing free worldwide Garmin maps based upon OpenStreetMap data."

Loading Maps on GPS Units
1.      Connect GPS unit to the computer
2.      Open Garmin BaseCamp
3.      In the left side panel, click on the internal Storage folder to view contents of GPS unit.
4.      Right click the Internal storage icon related to the unit and Click Install Maps.
5.      The MapInstall Wizard appears. Select the Garmin GPS unit device and continue.
6.      When complete, disconnect Garmin GPS unit from the computer.
On GPS Unit, zoom into the map to see the features of the added basemap. Click the map option on the GPS unit to identify available maps on the GPS Unit.
Exporting GPS Data
Data collected in the form of waypoints or tracks can be exported from the GPS unit for use in other software applications.
1.       Click File on the top toolbar.
2.       Click Export.
3.       Click Export Internal Storage or Selection.
4.       Save the .gpx file to the desired location.
5.       Multiple software applications have the ability to load a .gpx file.

ArcGIS Online
1.      Navigate to
2.      Create login or login with username and password.
3.      Click the Add Data button, In the Layer from File window
a.      Browse to the desired .gpx file
b.      Click Import layer.
4.      Expand the Table of Contents on the right side panel to adjust colors of symbols.

ArcGIS (ArcMap)
Use the GPX to Features Tool. This tool converts the .gpx file to a feature
1.      Open the ArcToolbox from the top toolbar.
2.      Expand the Conversion Tools
3.      Select From GPS
4.      Select GPX to Features.
5.      Navigate to the desired GPX File
6.      Specify the desired location of the output Feature class.
7.      Add a desired basemap by clicking the add data on the top toolbar.

Enabling and Disabling Maps on Garmin GPS Unit (box)
1.      Press Setup → Maps
2.      Press Map Information Select Map
3.      Press the desired Map and press: Enable or Disable
4.      When complete, press the back bottom on the bottom left side of the screen.

To Reset Unit to factory defaults
1.      Press Setup →Reset→ Restore to factory defaults

To Delete all Tracks
1.      Press Setup →Reset→ Clear Current Tracks

To Delete All Waypoints
1.      Press Setup →Reset→ Clear Waypoints