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Author Topic:   Garmin Blue Chart and 168 GPS Sounder News
SuburbanBoy posted 10-11-2001 12:04 PM ET (US)   Profile for SuburbanBoy   Send Email to SuburbanBoy  
I have been looking for news about the impending release of the Blue Water CD. Finally, I just wrote Garmin a letter. Their response follows:
Dear Paul,

Thank you for contacting GARMIN International. The Blue Chart CD-ROM will be out in November of this year. The Blue Chart CD-ROM will be compatible with the GPSMAP 168 Sounder. Please verify to have the latest firmware update from our website at .

Best Regards,

Dale Melançon
GARMIN International
Product Support Specialist
Fax 1-913-397-0836

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2001 5:47 PM
To: ''
Subject: GARMIN MapSource BlueChart on CD-ROM

Will the Garmin GPSMAP 168 Sounder ever be upgraded to be compatible with the GARMIN MapSource BlueChart on CD-ROM?
When will the GARMIN MapSource BlueChart on CD-ROM be commercially available/


JBCornwell posted 10-11-2001 02:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Wayyyy Coool!! I just bought a 162 GPSMAP and one of the compromises was the lack of compatibility with some of the Mapsource firmware. Now, no compromise.

Thanks, Sub'boy.

Red sky at night. . .
JB :)

blackdog posted 10-11-2001 03:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
I have been waiting for the blue also.
I have the 162i
triblet posted 10-12-2001 12:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Keep an eye out for a firmware update
for the 162/168 in the next 45 days. There
hasn't been one since March, and I have a
sneaky suspicion that BlueCharts will require
a new one.

Here's a bit more info:

New Product Announcement
Availability for each - November, 2001

MapSource Americas BlueChart (includes CD-ROM and one coverage area) US List
Price $151.65
Americas BlueChart Single Region Unlock Certificate US List Price $116.65

MapSource Atlantic BlueChart (includes CD-ROM and one coverage area) US List
Price $266.65
Atlantic BlueChart Single Region Unlock Certificate US List Price $216.65

MapSource Pacific BlueChart (includes CD-ROM and one coverage area) US List
Price $216.65
Pacific BlueChart Single Region Unlock Certificate US List Price $159.95

"The BlueChart CD-ROM will also be comatible with the eTrex Legend, Vista
and GPS V in 4th qtr, 2001. These units require a software update which may
be downloaded from the GARMIN web site free of charge.

"This new CD-ROM format will allow customers to download BlueChart data
directly to mapping products with built-in memory; specific products include
the GPSMAP 76, GPSMAP 162 and GPSMAP 168 Sounder"

"GARMIN's new fixed mount chartplotters have been designed to fully support
BlueChart data .... Handheld mapping products like the eTrex Legend, Vista,
GPSMAP 76 and GPS V will offer limited support of BlueChart. Chart detail
will be properly displayed, however these units will not display extended
text due to the smaller screen size. The "find" function will not be
supported in these products."


SuburbanBoy posted 12-04-2001 06:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
The update is available for the 162/168 here:

Garmin has not released the Blue Water CD yet.


Ed Stone posted 12-04-2001 08:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ed Stone  Send Email to Ed Stone     
How will the blue charts differ from the
Mapsource waterways & lights?

I know the current waterways was a step
up from the factory setup.I would hope the
blue charts will have water depths.
Thanks,Ed Stone
triblet posted 12-04-2001 08:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
They have much more detail (supposed to look
just like a NOAA chart). There are examples
on Garmin's website. Follow the cartography

They do have bathymetry, I hear.

A couple of days ago someone quoted Garmin
as saying the CD will be out in a a couple of

BTW, the chip form of the Blue Charts has
been out for several months.


blackdog posted 12-05-2001 09:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
I am getting confused. I have the 162i and the Mapsouce Waterways CD. I thought the Blue Chart was another CD with More detail that I could buy, is it free? I have been updating my software and unit online as the new versions come out.

Question- is the new update Blue charts or is that another CD I need to buy. Probably the later as why would it be free.

triblet posted 12-05-2001 03:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The update is a firmware change required
to load BlueCharts from the CD into a 162/168
It has a lot of other fixes in it and I'd
recommend installing it even if you don't
have plans to use BlueCharts.

There have been other firmware updates for
other Garmin models to support BlueCharts.

The BlueChart CD will cost about $160, and
my understanding is that will allow you
to down load one chart area to two GPSs.
You can unlock more chart areas for more
money. Chart areas are big -- the one I'd
want runs from north of San Francisco
somewhere to the tip of Baja. Chart areas
have substantial overlap -- the next one
north overlaps by a couple of hundred miles.

One more difference between Waterways and
Lights vs Blue Charts: $80 ;-)


triblet posted 12-06-2001 12:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The BlueChart CDs are out. Darryl at e-mailed
me tonight that he had limited numbers. I'll
let you know when he gets back to me with
a price. Darryl is a good guy -- I'd asked
a while back if he knew when they would be
out, and he'd filed that old e-mail.


triblet posted 12-06-2001 10:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The BlueChart Americas CD with one unlock
is $110 at TVNav. Additional unlocks are
$85. Atlantic and Pacific are a bit more.
Mine should be here Tuesday. Watch this


SuburbanBoy posted 12-06-2001 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Can the "BlueChart" also be used solo on the PC? This would provide additional value. The
Waterways & Lights do not contain the depth and other detail provided by the BlueChart maps. The Garmin web page will let you take a look at examples from both CDs for evaluation.


triblet posted 12-06-2001 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I THINK BlueChart can be used standalone
on the PC. It's a MapSource chart, and
all the other MapSource products can be used
that way.

I'll let you know when mine gets here

The other question is can you look at areas
you haven't unlocked using the PC.


SuburbanBoy posted 12-11-2001 02:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
OK Chuck, lets hear your assessment of the new Blue Chart CD and it's integration with the 168/162. Also, how does it look on a PC screen? Can you review non unlocked areas? Your holding out on us... This usually means it is real good, or real junk. I hope you are just overloaded.



triblet posted 12-11-2001 06:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The CD isn't here yet. Should be here later
today -- UPS does residential deliveries
relatively late down here.

Watch this space.


triblet posted 12-13-2001 01:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
My Garmin BlueChart CD came today (one day
late, UPS tracking shows it was UPS's fault)
It loaded on to my PC (Win2K SP2) just
fine, except for the very annoying reboot
that Garmin insists on doing. It's just an
application, it shouldn't need a reboot.

All the Americas charts are on one CD. You
can't see a region on the computer until you
unlock it.

I went to Garmin's website and got an unlock
code for Region 21, most of California, all
of Baja, and some of the Mexican mainland
Pacific coast. The folks on the East coast
get regions that are MUCH less generous. On
the west coast, three regions cover Seattle
to Mazatlan. On the east coast its nine or
ten regions Canada to Key West.

NOTE: The map on the inside of the box (and
the same map on their unlock pages)
incorrectly shows the boundary between
regions 21 and 22 about 200 miles south of
where it really is. The words on the box
are correct. And the map of just region 21
that they show when the they ask "is this
REALLY what you want" is correct.

It checks the level of firmware in your GPS.

The charts look quite nice They look pretty
much like NOAA charts. There's more
shoreline detail than the Topo maps, which
in turn have more detail than Waterways and
Lights. But there's no detail on land at
all (the NOAA charts of Monterey show
streets near the water). You download
individual NOAA charts to the GPS, not the
whole region, which is good on my 162 which
only has about 2.5M of chart space. I don't
have any way of telling how big they are,
but based on download times, they seem like
about 200K each.

I got my unlock code for Region 21 and
entered it into MapSource. That made
MapSource display the charts for the area of
interest. I then went to load some charts
into my GPS 162, and I get "The following
map(s) have not been unlocked for your GPS.
<<List of all chart numbers I was trying to
download>>. Press OK to transfer anyway."
I press OK, and then the GPS complains that
it can unlock the maps.

YES, the unlock code is correctly entered --
I cut and pasted it from the e-mail Garmin
sent when I unlocked. And I've eyeballed it
a dozen times. Yes, I gave it the correct
GPS serial number.

So, I haven't seen what the BlueCharts look
like on a monochrome GPS yet. Watch this


blackdog posted 12-13-2001 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for blackdog  Send Email to blackdog     
What’s the reason for the unlock codes? Probably to prevent copying the charts, ah very smart.

Thanks for working out the bugs for us Chuck :)
I’ll be looking for your updates.


triblet posted 12-13-2001 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
The US coast is about 25 regions. You get
to unlock one region with the CD. Additional
unlock codes are about $80. An unlock code
will let you load one region into TWO GPSs.

West coast regions are quite big (three cover
Seattle to Mazatlan). East Coast regions
are smaller (ten Canada to Key West).
You can see the regions by going to
and navigating from there.

I've had four e-mails and a telephone call
from Garmin this morning (and it's only
1000). It looks like there may be a mismatch
between the internal (electronic) and
external (people readable) serial numbers on
my unit.


triblet posted 12-13-2001 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
After five e-mails and a phone call from
Garmin today (can you spell C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R
S-E-R-V-I-C-E ?) we determined that the
external serial number (people readable) and
internal unit ID (machine readable) don't
relate in the way Garmin thinks they should.
The unlock code I got off Garmin's website
was calculated from the external s/n.
Garmin sent me a new one calculated from the
internal unit ID, and all is now well.

I've downloaded the interesting BlueCharts,
and a bunch of topo maps for lakes that
aren't on the BlueCharts and around my
house, and it all fit in my 162. I've
managed to not get tide data loaded, but I'm
sure I'll get that figured out by and by.

OK, now let's get down to what's
interesting: what do the BlueCharts look
like: Better than the topo sheets I was
using, which are in turn better (here, YMMV)
than Waterways and Lights. The charts are
readable (though color would be nicer, but
I'm going to wait a bit -- the bottom has
dropped out of the color LCD market and I'm
predicting $500 640x480 (VGA) color
chartplotters in 2003.) I'd like to be able
to turn off individual features like bottom
type and rocks so they don't clutter the
screen and take time to draw. There are a
few features that can be turned off
individually (spot soundings, parks, and a
few others, but it would be nice if there
were 10-20 classes of features that could be
individually turned off.

The charts suffer from the same problems the
NOAA charts suffer from, mostly calendar
lag. The Army moved out of Ft. Ord a few
years ago, but the area off the Ft. Ord
rifle ranges is still shown as a prohibited
area (so boaters wouldn't get shot by the
recruits trying to figure out their M16s on
the ocean-facing ranges). But that's a NOAA
problem, not a Garmin problem.

The charts appear to be from Transas Dataco,
or at least I've suddenly acquired a
copyright from them at power-on.

All told, well done, Garmin.


triblet posted 12-13-2001 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
OK, solved the tides problem. One of the
things Garmin had me try was a factory reset
on the unit (hold down four buttons at power
on). That made the unit forget where it was
and what time it was. It decided it was in
Kansas with Toto and that it was Dec 31 '06.
That apparently confused the tides program.
Once I took the unit back down to the boat,
hooked the antenna back up and let it figure
where and when it was, all was well with


SuburbanBoy posted 12-14-2001 12:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Good Show!
Now, how do they look on PC? The display should mimic printed copy.


triblet posted 12-15-2001 08:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
On the PC, the maps look pretty much like
the NOAA charts, except that there's very
little land detail. I haven't had a chance
to actually compare my paper charts and
what's on the PC screen.

I have figured out how to find out how big the
maps are. Typical NOAA charts are 90-250KB.
Topo sheets are 140-220KB. Three topo
sheets, five NOAA charts, and the Western US
tide tables are 1.3MB.

That covers everywhere my boat went this
year (and it's in the water most every


Ed Stone posted 03-12-2002 10:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ed Stone  Send Email to Ed Stone     
I picked up the Bluechart Americas.
Now I have to decide which area to unlock.
Our area is over laped with 4 diffrent
First I'll have to download the latest
firmware for the 168.Are all the saved waypoints safe when I start downloading
the firmware and bluechart?
I'll have to decide between region 11
or 12.Region 12 is not far enough south,
and region 11 may not be far enough north
and west.
Ed Stone
triblet posted 03-13-2002 09:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Yes, your waypoints are safe when you upgrade
the firmware, but you should make a back up
with Mapsource anyway. Every time I hook a
GPS to Mapsource, the first thing I do is
create a file named something like
gpsnameYYYYMMDD.mps, for example if I backed
up the 162 today, it would be
GPS16220020313.mps. (Note: I have three
Garmin GPSs used for different purposes, so I
have to keep them straight). I haven't needed
the backup, probably because I have them --
Murphey ignores those who are prepared for him.

Pick the Region that's most interesting to
you. You can get an additional unlock code
later ($100 list IIRC) for the second region.

Don't use the region map on the back of the
box. It's wrong in some cases.


Ed Stone posted 03-13-2002 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Ed Stone  Send Email to Ed Stone     
Do I need to download both sounder
software 3.03 and mapsource 4.06?
Its to late tonight to start but
I hope to have it ready for Fridays
fishing trip.
Wow! I see here they have a 25 digit
unlock code.
Ed Stone
triblet posted 03-14-2002 01:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
You will need to download firmware 3.03 to
the GPS. It's on the BlueChart CD. I'm
pretty sure that the CD will install
Mapsource 4.06.

Yep, big long unlock code, but you can
cut and paste it into Mapsource, so it's
not too bad. Be darn sure to write it down
where you won't loose it, like on the
BlueChart CD itself (use a fine point
Sharpie) on the printed side, of course.
Also note which area and GPS s/n it's for.

The unlock code is so long because it has
your GPS s/n and the mapsource area code
and some other info in it.


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