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Author Topic:   Garmin GPSMap 545S: Creating Waypoints On Computer
afinelli posted 02-20-2011 01:28 PM ET (US)   Profile for afinelli   Send Email to afinelli  
[This author tells us he is] looking to create way points [and] routes on my Garmin GPSMap 545S via computer in advance of the coming season. I've assumed this is done by connecting the device physically to the computer via a cable, but can't seem to identify the cable part (which would presumably have a USB connection at one end, and a 19-pin connection at the other end). Or do you first create routes via software you load on your computer and then save the routes onto an SD card that can be loaded into the Garmin device? To my dismay, the Garmin user's manual provides no help on this topic, and I can't seem to find the answers on-line.
Can anyone point me in the right direction?
bluewaterpirate posted 02-20-2011 08:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
You can buy Garmin's Homeport Software .... enter all your waypoints from your computer then transfer them to your 545 via SD memory card.
afinelli posted 02-20-2011 10:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for afinelli  Send Email to afinelli     
Thanks for the tip. I take it there is no means of direct connection between the 545s and a computer?
jimh posted 02-20-2011 11:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Most of the chart plotter systems I am familiar with do not have terminal servers or provide terminal sessions with connected devices. You usually interact with them by using memory cards to transfer files. In some cases you can load executable files onto the chart plotter and install updates. Typically interaction with the chart plotter software is limited to importing or exporting waypoints using the memory slot and memory cards.
jimh posted 02-21-2011 10:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Connection to a chart plotter device is possible by using a NMEA-0183 serial port, if the chart plotter device has one. I believe that the NMEA-0183 specification provides for creation of way point objects on the chart plotter from input on the NMEA-0183 serial port. I cannot say this with certainty because I have not spent the thousands of dollars necessary to actually see the NMEA-0183 specification myself.

To accomplish this you will need the following:

--a serial port connection between computer and chart plotter (which usually stops about 90-percent of boaters from proceeding further);

--software on the computer that knows how to talk to the serial port using the NMEA-0183 WPL sentence, and, of course,

--a chart plotter that permits way points creation via NMEA-018 WPL sentence

For more information see:

jimh posted 02-21-2011 11:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you dig deeper into the realm of the chart plotter and way points, you will find that there is something of a universal format or language for way points and a utility that can convert to the universal format from various proprietary formats and vice versa. In this way you can exchange way point information between different chart plotter systems.

By way of an example, last summer I had several thousand way points saved from my cruise in Lake Superior on my LOWRANCE chart plotter. Using the operating system of the chart plotter and a memory card, I was able to export to the memory card from the chart plotter all of these way points. I was then able to move the memory card to my computer, where I imported the way point data to another application, GPSBABEL, and then converted the data for use in a different chart plotter system, GOOGLE EARTH. In this way I was able to see all the way points from the cruise--several thousand of them--plotted on my computer in GOOGLE EARTH. This is actually quite useful and entertaining at the least.

A good place to start with manipulating GPS files is the program GPSBABEL. See

for more information. GPSBABEL can convert data between many formats.

jimh posted 02-21-2011 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I must also mention that GPSBABEL is really a wonderful piece of software because it is available for many operating systems. Often the proprietary software from a chart plotter manufacturer is only available for a particular operating system, and you are held hostage to using only that operating system to run the proprietary software. That is not an obstacle if you happen to own a computer with an operating system supported by the proprietary software, but there is a reasonable chance you may not. With GPSBABEL the chance you will be able to run the program on your computer is very much in your favor.

Using GPSBABEL also will allow you to export your way point data in formats for different chart plotters. For example, if you were planning a route for a cruise with several other boats, you could share the way points among all the other boats in the fleet even if they were using a different brand of chart plotter. Usually the proprietary software will not export to formats for competitors' products.

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