Each of these mini-tutorials can be done in the order shown below, but this is not entirely necessary. The lessons are intended as a resource that you can use in whatever order suits you best. When you click on any of the links below, the interactive video will start in its own new tab in your browser.
This mini-tutorial will walk you through the process of collecting x, y coordinates (waypoints) with a hand-held GPS receiver unit.
This exercise is simulated using an interactive widget. It also covers tips for increasing accuracy and recommended settings for the unit.
You have a hand-held GPS receiver unit and would like to be able to record the exact locations of a set of survey locations.
You may not be familiar with the way a GPS system works, and may not be aware of hindrances to collecting points with maximum accuracy. Also, you may not understand the unit’s settings and why they are important. As a result, you don’t understand your results, or you fail to collect useful data points. This simulated hands-on practice will help you learn best practices when collecting data in this manner.
This mini-tutorial will help you take a hand-held GPS receiver unit containing coordinate (x, y) data, plug it into your computer, bring in a file containing the GPS coordinates (also known as “waypoints”) to QGIS (a freely available geographic information system—see information about the software in the FAQ section of this website), check the locations for accuracy, and save the map file for future use in QGIS.
You have a GPS unit loaded with GPS location data that someone collected when they took the unit into the field to do site visits. You want to view that data on a road map in QGIS and use the map file later.
You may not be aware of the importance of checking the format in which the data were originally collected, the hardware and software needed for the task, or the procedure to be followed in QGIS. This tutorial walks you through these steps and then lets you try them on your own. It also gives you troubleshooting tips for the most common reasons why things go wrong.
This mini-tutorial will help you examine an Excel spreadsheet containing coordinate (x, y) data, make sure it is properly formatted, import the data to QGIS and plot the locations, check the locations for accuracy, and save the coordinate location file for future use in QGIS.
You have an Excel spreadsheet of all of your (x, y) locations and waypoint IDs, compiled from some GPS data files on your computer. You would like to view all the locations on a map and be able to use the GIS file later or share it with other GIS users.
You may not be familiar with Cartesian coordinate systems or of the importance of checking the format in which the data were originally collected. Nor do you know the correct method of formatting these points in a spreadsheet, or the procedure to follow when you import the coordinates into QGIS. The tutorial gives you the background knowledge necessary for you to understand the scenario, walks you through these steps, and then lets you try them on your own. The tutorial also gives you troubleshooting tips for the most common reasons why things go wrong.
This mini-tutorial reinforces the differences between raster and vector files for new GIS users, and provides a hands-on introduction to working with “shapefiles”—the most common type of geographic data file.
You will practice transferring a shapefile using a “zipping” (file compression) program, and also learn how to receive such a package and “extract” the files.
You aren’t familiar with geographic data files. You don’t understand what a “shapefile” is or what you can do with it. You’re just getting started in GIS, and need help with basic file management.
This mini-tutorial distinguishes shapefiles and project files and how the project file references a shapefile.
You’ll practice resolving the most common error messages encountered in opening a QGIS project file (“missing data layers”); you’ll practice fixing “broken links” to missing data; and you’ll practice creating a folder that contains all layers and the project file copied to one place, ready for zipping and transport.
This mini-tutorial will introduce new GIS users to the concept of projected and unprojected coordinate systems and explain the most common coordinate reference systems.
You’ll practice aligning layers according to projections, so that data will display properly when used to create maps. You’ll also master using a projected coordinate system in order to make measurements in kilometers and do many kinds of spatial analysis.