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  Digital Chart Cartograhy for a Garmin 178C for Inland Lakes in Southern Michigan; Confusion on GARMIN website; Poor Retail Support and Counter Help

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Author Topic:   Digital Chart Cartograhy for a Garmin 178C for Inland Lakes in Southern Michigan; Confusion on GARMIN website; Poor Retail Support and Counter Help
Griff posted 05-03-2007 03:01 PM ET (US)   Profile for Griff   Send Email to Griff  
[Note: This discussion has been moved to the SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL discussion. The SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL discussion focuses on electrical and electronic topics, including digital chart cartography for navigation.--jimh]

I grew up around lakes in lower [Michigan]. I know these lakes like the back of my hand. My wife would like to investigate new territories, however I get very concerned not knowing these areas. I purchased a Garmin 178C assuming I would see a chart in the background with depths and obstacles of my location. I found out that I need to purchase software to accomplish my wants. I visited the Garmin website and am now total confused. They have CD, Memory card, MapSource® and BlueChart®. Please explain these option to me. Are the MapSource® and BlueChart® a second party supplier? I would like the Great Lakes region and the inland lakes of Michigan. I went to my neighborhood Gander Mountain and the kid behind the counter knew less than I did.

Legobusier posted 05-03-2007 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Legobusier  Send Email to Legobusier     
Mapsouce make will need to purchase the maps (Bluechart) and unlock codes for the area(s) you want to unlock...I bought mine about 2 years ago for around $120 and I think it came with a couple of unlock codes...the more areas you wish to unlock, the more it costs.

CD and Memory card are delivery methods - CD will go to your computer which will then download the maps to your GPS via a cable, or you can get the maps on a memory card which will plug right into your GPS - assuming it's memory card compatible.

Hope this makes sense...

Good luck,

Legobusier posted 05-03-2007 03:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Legobusier  Send Email to Legobusier     
should read "Mapsource makes Bluechart"
fourdfish posted 05-03-2007 03:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for fourdfish  Send Email to fourdfish     
Griff- No 2nd party maps! You have to buy the maps. Either on the CD and download them to the card or you can buy them already on the card.
You buy the Blue Chart CD for the region you want and I think you get to download it only a couple of times.
tmatt posted 05-03-2007 03:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for tmatt  Send Email to tmatt     

A buddy of mine went through this earlier this year. He called Garmin and complained about the level of detail in the built-in basemaps. The box & screen shots all show bluechart pics. Eventually they took pitty and offer him a chip at a _very good_ price. Near as I can tell, at about wholesale cost for the area he needed.

Be nice, but just explain it is not what you expected. Its worth a try...


JBCornwell posted 05-03-2007 04:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for JBCornwell  Send Email to JBCornwell     
Realistic expectation, Griff? How many Gigabytes do you think should be in the base map? Want a world map that includes the floor plan of your house? It could be done but it would cost a lot and would be 99% stuff you don't want or need.

I bought Mapsource CDs and blank cards for my Garmin 276C on eBay for well under MSRP. I am quite happy with that, and I recommend it.

Red sky at night. . .

whalercop posted 05-03-2007 05:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalercop  Send Email to whalercop     
I agree with you JB, I did the same, and I have the same unit that Griff has. I bought the mapsource cd from wal-mart online, cheapest I could find, I download any roadmaps that I need right to the data card, and pop it into the unit, and plug it into the car power source, and use it in the car. I bought all my accessories through various online sources and ebay, just shop around for the best prices, and watch shipping costs on the ebay items, alot of times, you can get it just as cheap or cheaper through an online company. The 178c will not plot a road course for you though FYI.
Bella con23 posted 05-03-2007 05:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bella con23  Send Email to Bella con23     
I did the same for my Garmin 178C. Just go to the Garmin website and figure out what model# chip you need, then go shopping. ebay!
Feejer posted 05-03-2007 06:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Feejer  Send Email to Feejer     
You have a few options. If you just bought the 178 take it back and get one of the units that have the maps builtin. (392,492) etc.... Or buy the chip for the section you will be boating Or 3rd, buy the CD and blank chip. You can find the chips for far below what the offer on the Garmin site. I just got one from ebay for my 178C. NJ to Hatteras and all the bays for $82.00
Moe posted 05-03-2007 07:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Here are your options:

You can buy preprogrammed memory cards with a PORTION of the Great Lakes BlueCharts installed. You will need multiple chips to cover the entire Great Lakes. Garmin's website shows what cards cover what regions. You will also need a separate preprogrammed chip for the interior lakes. The preprogrammed memory cards can be used in any Garmin GPS that uses the same kind of memory card, so you can sell them to someone else. On the other hand, you have to switch them out in different regions.

Or you can buy a blank memory card, a USB memory card programmer, and a BlueChart Americas CD. The latter comes with one unlock code you can use on any one region. You can buy additional unlock codes to use additional regions off the CD. Buying it on the CD, you also get the Windows MapSource program, which will let you do route planning on the PC and then upload it to the GPS. Each unlock code allows you to install that region in only two Garmin GPS units, and when you activate it, each of those two installations is forever tied to the serial number of the GPS it was used on. Going this route, you will also need to buy a CD for the inland lakes. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe these disks are completely unlocked. The advantage of going this route is that ALL your charts are on one memory card (of sufficient size). However, you will have to use the menu to switch between the Great Lakes charts and inland lakes charts.

As mentioned, there's also the option to return the unit and get one with ALL the US Coastal charts built in. The disadvantage on the Great Lakes is that the Canadian charts aren't in the built-in charts, where they ARE included in the preprogrammed cards and BlueChart regions. This option also doesn't include the inland waterways.

I bought the 178C, USB programmer, Americas BlueChart CD, and 128MB blank memory card. I used the included unlock code for the Lake Erie region, which includes the lower half of Lake Huron, Lake St Clair, Lake Erie, and the West end of Lake Ontario (but not Georgian Bay and the North Channel). I bought an additional unlock code for Tampa to New Orleans for when we were down there. Both of those regions only used 18MB of the 128MB, leaving lots of memory for tracking back the boat's past path. For my use, a 64MB card would've been plenty, but working in the IT field I lean toward extra memory.

Hope this helps,

jimh posted 05-03-2007 08:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
CONTINUOUSWAVE does not generally review other web site usability. If you find the Garmin website to be confusing you should consider sending them some feedback on your experience. They may have a web master who will be interested in your comments.

I can sympathize with you: marine chart plotters and the electronic digital chart cartography that goes with them are a very complicated and confusing realm of products. To make things more confusing, manufacturers change models on a product life cycle of about 18 months or less. I hope you can get some advice here. At least you have jumped into the fray and bought a chart plotter. This is half the battle. Once you have a chart plotter, you can get down to the business--and it does seem like a job--of learning how to use it and take advantage of all the features.

Chuck Tribolet posted 05-04-2007 06:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The job of learning to use a GPS is far easier with a chartplotter
than with a non-chartplotter. Plus you will quickly learn the
names of the local geographic points: "Ah, THAT'S Pt. JOE!".


Buckda posted 05-04-2007 06:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Griff -

Unfortunately, the bluecharts don't map inland lakes very well.

The only inland lakes in the great lakes region that are well-mapped by bluecharts are Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, and the Mullet Lake - Burt Lake - Crooked Lake - Pickerel Lake chain in extreme northern lower Michigan.

"Coastal" lakes, such as Holland's Lake Macatawa and the lake in Muskegon are also referenced well. In short - if the lake has commercial traffic on it, it is mapped well in Blue-Charts.

I found that the "fishing Hotspots" CDRom was better for inland lakes, showing some depths, etc, but still not as good as paper charts.

My new 2210C plotter has bluecharts basemaps which is nice, but even it doesn't show a whole half of PawPaw lake in Watervliet - which is a fairly good sized inland lake.

Where I you, I'd buy the blue charts for big-lake cruising - but keep local charts aboard for the inland lakes. Fishing Hot Spots and similar CD's may be helpful.

Good luck.

Griff posted 05-28-2007 07:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Griff  Send Email to Griff     
Thanks for the help! I have one more question. It looks to me that I should purchase a 128MB card and the appropriate CD for my desired location(s). My home PC accepts memory cards. So here is the question, has the industry standardized on memory cards (my digital camera’s card fits my PC, will the Garmin fit also)? Do I need to buy a devise that the Garmin card slides into and has a USB port?

Sorry, I have another question (and you thought you were done) I notices several “map CDs” out there. In fact I have one for my hand held Magellan GPS unit. Can I assume the format of this data has standardized? In other words, do I need to purchase software only from Garmin? Or will any brands software work?

jimh posted 05-28-2007 07:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Digital cartography is not standardized, and formats for the data are varied. Most chart plotters will only work with digital cartography of a particular type. If you purchase digital cartography which is not compatible with your chart plotter it will be of little use to you.
Moe posted 05-29-2007 07:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
In addition to the CD, ou will have to buy a Garmin memory card for that 178C. You will also need a Garmin USB programmer to transfer the cartography from your PC to the 178C, unless your PC has a serial port and you can figure out how to connect that to the Garmin cable that is connected to 12 volts DC power. Then you can program the card while installed in the GPS.

Garmin also makes an AC power/data cable you can use to power the 178C in your house, and you can also connect a PC serial port to that. It takes much longer to load the cartography through a serial port than through the USB port.


Griff posted 08-09-2007 03:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Griff  Send Email to Griff     
OK I broke down and purchase a data card from West Marine for the Great Lakes region I wanted. I opened up the lid on my 178C and pushed the card in. I then turned the unit on and waited and waited and waited. Without the card in place the unit asks me to “agree” with their “not our fault if your stupid” statement by pressing “enter: When I use the card I get a comment “reading card or data” or something close to that. It seems to be locked up. I can’t get any activity out of this unit until I pull the data card out. Once I pull the data card out I press “enter” to agree and it works (without my $150.00 worthless investment). Any help? Am I doing something wrong? The manual that came with my unit doesn’t have much info on data cards. By the way I have a Magellan hand held unit for 5 years with no issues. I’m half tempted to put this 178C at the shooting range. It would be the first good felling I had with this unit! I tried going into thier web site for support. After reading 268 questions I could find a responce that would help.
Griff posted 08-09-2007 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Griff  Send Email to Griff     
Sorry The website COULD NOT help
Moe posted 08-09-2007 06:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe

tmatt posted 08-10-2007 08:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for tmatt  Send Email to tmatt     

Use the Garmin support phone number. Both e-mail and telephone support has been helpful for me in the past. E-mail can be real slow, so use the 800 number and you should get an immediate, meaningful reply.


PeteB88 posted 08-10-2007 10:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Sorry boys, this pay to play deal with all these companies is crap. Even if I were rolling in big cash money I'd be chapped about having to throw down another hundred here, and another hundred there and a buck and a half again and one more time. IT just ain't right, sorry.

I have a Garmin 76 CSx sitting right here I bought a couple of weeks ago at Bass Pro in Denver. The sales people told me all kinds of stuff including "you can hook it to your fish finder if GPS capable and get the same read out . . . it has more features . . . " Yep, it's got a lot of features and for the geek world it is probably super bad ass. I just want it to work, I don't want to feel like I need a shower after spending $400 and now I need to roll another $300 out to MAYBE get the maps and charts or whatever to make it work. Plus, punching buttons on a handheld GPS while going 80 on the interstate, steering with your knee etc is much more dangerous than working a cell phone.

My old man taught me how to dead reckon inland lakes before I was 12, I draw maybe a foot of water w/ the 13 and I have a pretty good memory and have enough experience to know how to read the water. I think I'm going back to basics.

How the hell did we get along all those years without cell phones, computers, tetrabyte hard drives and the internet? How could we have possibly caught a fish or find our way home in the dark without sonar and GPS? Jeeze, why do I need to punch a button to find out if there is a Burger Death at the next Exit.

And then I gotta spend time doing Ebay searches or wait for sales to buy chips - do I need chips or do I need unlock codes? Do I need more wires? Making this worse, I am a Mac guy so I need a PC or some emulator.

When do I get time to fish or tie flies or make up my own lures, oil my reels, wax my boat - take the dog for a walk?

This afternoon I'm going to Bass Pro 75 miles with my 76CSx and my receipt. I am going to give it one more chance. Then I am going to make my decision - keep it or combo? I might even drive down to Cabella's -

Finally- we do things with urban kids and try to take them fishing, kids who have never been exposed to some of this stuff. They love to see the electronics and I will say that often times it's the electronics that gets them excited which gives us an intro to fishing. Once they hook a fish they tend to forget all about the electronics.

Griff posted 08-10-2007 02:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Griff  Send Email to Griff     
PeteB88,Sometimes if feels good to let it all out. I have to admit the box was misleading. Now that I bought it they have me as a captive audiance. It's crap. It is last time I purchase Garmin products
Griff posted 08-10-2007 02:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Griff  Send Email to Griff     
Oh how stupid of me! I purchased what West Marine told me to buy. Garmin told me that my part number 2USO16R is not compatable with my 178C like West Marine said it was. I should have purchased a USO16R. The 2 stands for generation 2 I have a generation 1...Da

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