BRouter and Locus – The ultimate guide to offline bicycle navigation

BRouter and Locus – The ultimate guide to offline bicycle navigation. Android, guide v.1.1, updated 2015-12-28

So – you are tired of bringing a paper map for every different area of your bicycle tour? I was too. So I decided to find a replacement. I found out that with so many extremely good apps on both the iPhone and on android, there are no reason at all to navigate with the help of heavy, bulky paper maps anymore. On my bicycle tour through Europe – Poland, Slovakia, Czech republic, Germany, Denmark and Sweden this summer, I did not use the paper map once. Heck, I didn’t even bring one. The whole route was completed with no internet – offline – using BRouter and Locus.

In this article I will show you how I did that and which settings I used (both BRouter and Locus can be a little confusing for the newcomer). Obviously you need to download and install both BRouter and Locus before you begin to follow the guide.

What is Locus?

Locus is a ”multi-functional outdoor navigation app” for Android. Sorry iOS-fanboys! Locus is an advanced app and it’s got so many functions that a manual the size of the bible would be insufficient.

For me, the main feature with locus is that it will show you the map, the route, and the interesting stuff that you might be looking for i.e. toilets, camp sites, water refill stations, gas stations, hostels, etc. It can also record your route.

My goal with this guide is to explain how to make a route offline from point A to point B, and how to follow the route the best way possible using Brouter and Locus. Therefore, there is no need to explain all available functions (check the Locus wiki or the forum instead).

Brouter and Locus

What is BRouter?

BRouter (Bicycle Router) is a ”configurable, elevation-aware (bike-) Router for OFFLINE Navigation based on Open-Street-Map ( OSM) Data.” For the less technical this can be translated to; ”an app that helps you make a route without internet connection with the help of free map data”. BRouter is a program running in the background, supporting Locus with data. In combination, BRouter and Locus is a killer GPS navigation combo.

Brouter and Locus

Setting up Locus – the essentials

In this section I will show you which settings I used in Locus while out touring. You don’t have to use the same settings as I, but I found them to be the best for my needs. I will only explain the settings that I have changed (the ones I do not talk about are left as default).

Downloading the maps

You need to download maps within Locus to be able to use the app offline. Locus has it’s built in map-function that will assist you with this. The maps has a small cost, but imho it’s well worth it because the maps comes with POI data. Points of interests. Yes, information about places on the map. You get it. So in the upper right corner of Locus you need to locate the small map-icon and press it. On the offline-tab, press the blue ”+” icon in the bottom right corner and choose ”offline maps download”.

When your map is downloaded, get back to the main screen.

The Locus settings menu

In the upper left corner of Locus you will find the main menu button. Push it and enter ”Settings”.

Display

Tick ”FullScreen” and ”Disable lock screen”. Press ”Screen on/off control”, which will take you to ->

Screen on/off control

Very important settings in here. In short, it enables Locus to turn the screen On/Off when navigating. So, if you are approaching a turn, Locus will automatically turn the screen on and notify you about this turn. This is extremely important for your battery as it will make it last a lot longer.

At the top, enable the screen on/off function. Tick all three boxes, ”turn on…”. Change Auto Screen Turn-Off to 60. Make sure you also set your android-settings to not turn off your screen earlier than 60 seconds while idle.

Map – Controls & Panels

Here you’ll want to tick ”Shift map screen center”, Top panel hiding”, ”Bottom panel hiding” and ”Function panel visibility” should be set to ”Hide right panel if inactive for a while”. When done, press ”Set Functions Panel”.

In the functions panel, scroll all the way down and press ”add function to panel”. Scroll down and press ”Quick new point”.

Back in the functions panel, scroll all the way down again and this time press ”add link to app”. Select Brouter, then get back to the main menu settings.

What we just did makes it easier for us to create a route later on.

Map – Advanced

Tick ”Auto-zoom”

Track recording

Select the ”Cycle” profile.

Navigation

Press ”Navigation data source” and select Brouter.

Guidance

Guidance is actually the function we are gonna use for our navigation purposes, not ”navigation”. So this section is important.

Enable ”Notification”.

Enable ”Set notification of the next direction change”

Enable ”Out of track” notification, and press the Out of track title text, this will take you to an advanced settings area. Tick ”Repeat notification every” and enter 20 in the box. Press SET.

Back in the main guidance settings area, press ”Advanced Settings” and change number of alerts from medium to high.

SENSORS

Make sure that ”use hardware compass” is NOT ticked (uncheck).

Miscellaneous

Tick ”Confirm on exit”. I also change track width to 10px.

Setting up BRouter

Downloading data

Start BRouter and press ”Download Manager”. You’ll be taken to a map of the world. You need to select the areas which you are going to navigate offline. You will see a big green ”X” over the areas you selected. When you are happy with your choices, press ”Start Download”. As with the maps, the download will take a while since the data is quite large. When the data is downloaded, you’re done. Yeah, that’s all you have to do to setup BRouter.

How to make a route

Do you remember that we earlier in this guide added some things to the functions panel? We added ”quick new point” and a link to the Brouter app. I’ll now tell you what this is.

Get out of the settings and back to the map in Locus. On the right, you will see some icons that were not there before. One is a small GPS symbol with a red and with cirkular flash-symbol – the ”quick new point”-button. The other one is an icon with a map on – the link to Brouter.

We need to make a few more settings before we can start (this is only done once). Press the quick new point button and then press the ”+” icon in the upper right corner.

Where it says ”Name of the defintion”, enter ”from”. Be sure NOT to use CAPITALS. The press the yellow star and choose ”Add new folder”. Enter ”brouter”, and change the icon if you wish. Then press ”ok”. Where it says ”icon & name”, enter ”from”, again. Change the icon by pressing the small brown thing with the ”i” on, I usually pick the green small circle icon at the bottom. If I forgot to write it earlier, don’t use CAPITAL letters.

Press the ”+” icon again. Repeat what you just did, but now enter ”to” instead of ”from”. Also, choose a different icon. I like to use the blue small circle icon.

Press the ”+” icon again. Repeat what you just did, but now enter ”via1” instead of ”to”. Also, choose a different icon. I like to use the yellow small circle icon.

Continue like this until you have created ”from”, ”to”, ”via1, ”via2”, ”via3”, all the way up to ”via9” quick points. Also create the quickpoints ”nogo”, and ”nogo50” (more about those later on).

If you are having a hard time understanding what I just wrote, there is a great wiki post explaining it in a different way, and even a german youtube-video that is understandable even if you do not understand deutsch.

When you are done and you push the quick new point button, you should see something like this:

Brouter and Locus

Let’s make the route

Get back to the map.

Find a spot where you would like your route to begin. Press the quick new point button, and press your ”from” icon.

Find a spot where you would like your route to end. Press the quick new point button, and press your ”to” icon.

If you want your route to go via certain places, add your ”via1”, ”via2” etc. quick points.

If you DON’T want the route to go via certain places, for example via a bridge that you know is broken, or a heavily trafficated road, just add your nogo or nogo50 points at those places. Brouter will never route through nogo points. The ”nogo50” covers a bigger area than just ”nogo”, 50 meter radius from where you were adding the nogo50 point on the map. Lets say you want to avoid a whole city, then you could add a ”nogo10000” point in this city, meaning it would not be able to route through this 10000 meter radius circle.

You don’t need to add via- nor nogo points if you don’t want to.

When you are done adding the points (normally I just add a from and a to point), press your Brouter icon on the right. Choose ”BRouter App”. Choose trekking. This might take a few seconds. When BRouter is done, press exit. In Locus again, press the main menu button in the upper left corner. Select ”Points”. Choose the ”items” tab and click on brouter0.gpx (the route BRouter just made for us).

Get back to the map in Locus and you should now see the route you just created!

From now on it is very easy to create a route. Add quick points, push BRouter icon, click the gpx file, done.

How to navigate the route

I found that the easiest way to start my navigation is to tap anywhere on the route so that you get a small popup window. Press the ”>” icon on the right side of the popup. Press ”Navigation / Guidance”, then press ”Guidance”.

Also, in the lower left corner (when you are back at the map), press the first icon in the lower left corner, which enables Locus to follow your position. Also press the second icon (choose rotate view), which makes it a little bit easier to understand the map.

Start pedaling. From now on your screen will light up and alert you with a small beep sound everytime you need to make a turn! Even if you for some reason get offroute, your phone will alert you with warning beeps and get you back on track!

Overkill and extras

If you want to dig deeper into the world of BRouter and Locus I suggest you join the Locus community at their forums.

Even better maps can be found at http://www.openandromaps.org/

For a better experience, learn how to use custom themes.

For a better experience, learn how to customize the style of the routes within your folders.

Good to know: in the world of Locus, a track and a route is the same thing.

BRouter can use different ”profiles” to achieve different routes between two points. Poutnik put together a bunch of useful BRouter profiles which you can find at this location. For example there are profiles for MTB and Alpine-hiking…

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