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Author Topic:   Exchanging Navigation Data Among Different Chart Plotters
jimh posted 03-05-2011 01:48 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Recently I received some navigation data from another boater who had prepared it on his GARMIN chart plotter and perhaps in conjunction with a GARMIN software utility. The data consisted of several rather complex planned routes which covered hundreds of miles and included many hundreds of way points. This complex set of data was exported to a file in the GPX format, and the file was emailed to me as an attachment.

Upon receiving the file I copied it to a removable memory card that I had mounted on my MacOS computer. I then put the memory card into my Lowrance HDS-8 chart plotter. Using the facilities of the chart plotter (see details below) I imported the data to my chart plotter. Voila! I now could see and make use off all the route planning my colleague had done.

There were many steps along the way where this exchange could have failed, and it is gratifying to see that at no point did any data loss occur (so far as we can tell) or incompatibilities arise. To make the conversion more interesting, the origination and transmission of the data was done in the Microsoft Windows operating system, and the receiving of the data and transfer to memory card was done in the Macintosh operating system. The process was

Garmin --> Windows --> Email --> Macintosh --> SD card -->Lowrance

Having end to end compatibility when dealing with so many different components was very gratifying. This is a good example of a standard file format for information exchange being a very helpful convention. The GPX format appears to be a linqua franca for exchange of navigation data among recreational boaters.

I will briefly describe the process of importing the data to my Lowrance chart plotter from the file on the memory card:

HDS Import
--push the button PAGES
--cursor to FILES and push ENTER
--select source from MEMORY CARD-1 or MEMORY CARD-2
--select file to import from listing of file
--push soft-key IMPORT
--confirm import

Buckda posted 03-05-2011 06:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
To add additional detail to this thread, I will reveal that I am the individual who shared these files with JimH.

One of the frustrating things about planning for last summer's Isle Royale trip was the inability to share GPS route planning information to arrive at consensus before the trip, so I'm happy we now have a way to collaborate details of routes, waypoints and other information.

I generated the routes and waypoints using Garmin's Mapsource Software on my computer. I've been using various editions of this software for about 5 years now, andm while it does have its quirks, it is a very useful tool for wintertime daydreaming and trip planning.

I'm running Windows XP Service Pack 3 on my laptop, and running Garmin Mapsource 6.14.1.

The Mapsource software allows me to [export a file containing] my trip plans to a data card via a card reader-writer that can be inserted into my Garmin unit.

There are, however, some limitations. Route and waypoint names, for instance, are truncated in the data transfer to the card (or truncated by the GPS unit itself), so you have to be careful in the naming conventions for specific items. For instance, waypoints that are alongside a channel entrance, for example, have to be truncated, so "Abeam North Entrance, Wabuno Channel" must be renamed something like "ABM N WAB", and you have to remember that! It helps if you make a note on your chart once you've saved waypoints.

Buckda posted 03-05-2011 06:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I'll also note that the waypoints along a route path are automatically named. I only call special names out for waypoints that are used to mark specific locations that I could use for "on-the-water" navigation if I take a side route or choose not to run a pre-set route that may have been planned months earlier.

In 2008, when we ran into the northern reaches of McGregor Bay, we navigated on plane through a "minefield" of rocky underwater shoals because of very careful route planning the months before the trip (and after checking to make sure the accuracy was within a few feet on that day)!

jimh posted 03-06-2011 06:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Further in regard to GPX files, I should add that you can easily import them to GOOGLE EARTH. During the import process check the option to include the route track, and the GPX file will display as a track in GOOGLE EARTH.

Files in GPX format are also easily read by humans. The file format is in eXtended Markup Language (XML) and is simple to grasp.

SJH posted 03-15-2011 10:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJH  Send Email to SJH     
Great instructions/directions on moving GPS files.
I used the garmim program, converted the files, put on a chip, placed in my new HDS-5, loaded the file..Done...
Saved me a lot of time.


jimh posted 03-15-2011 05:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Stan--Thank you for the kind words. Sharing good, accurate, useful information is the fundamental purpose of this website.

Having a bit of fun comes second.

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