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Author Topic:   LOWRANCE Navigation Software
SJH posted 03-10-2011 08:47 AM ET (US)   Profile for SJH   Send Email to SJH  
I just purchased a HDS-5. Now I'm looking for software for my computer to play with waypoints and tracks. I pulled down a program, [GPS Data Manager version 6.0], from the Lowrance site. It's really a very basic program. I used, the Roads and Recreation program for my Garmin. It has enough functionality for what I do.

What programs do you use or recomment for Lowrance units?


jimh posted 03-10-2011 09:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There is a concurrent discussion about exchanging navigation data among chart plotters of various brands at

The Lowrance HDS series can import navigation data in the GPX format. Most navigation applications can produce way point and route point data in the GPX format. An important distinguishing characteristic for a navigation computer application is to be able to use and show the same cartography that is used on the chart plotter. Typically the cartography data on a chart plotter is protected from being copied by some sort of digital rights management encoding. Unless you have a computer navigation application that can unlock the digital cartography from the chart plotter, you probably cannot use that cartography data on the computer while doing route planning.

Another distinguishing characteristic is how the computer application interacts with the chart plotter. I have not seen an application that connects to the chart plotter using a serial data connection and can read and write files into the chart plotter's file directories. The applications I have used write their data to a memory card, which is then moved to the chart plotter, mounted on the chart plotter's file system, and the data imported from files on the memory card. This approach is more awkward than being able to directly connect the computer to the chart plotter and work via a serial connection. I don't know if that is possible with the Lowrance HDS series chart plotters (or with any other chart plotters, for that matter).

Hoosier posted 03-10-2011 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Since you have an HDS unit I thought you'd be interested in what I've found out.

I have three generations of Lowrance GPS units, an H2OC, 2 XOGs, and the HDS-5. I used the H2OC on the 2008 North Channel cruise without charts, the XOG, with charts in 2009, and I've been using the HDS this year. My HDS isn't portable and I didn't want to buy Lowrance's charting SW. I just confirmed that the data files are transferable between devices of different generations. I laid out some routes in my H2OC and then transferred them into a XOG. Next I'll see if they transfer into my HDS. The XOG is nice for route planning because it has a touch screen, so all I had to do is pick a spot, mark it and go on. For group cruising if there are multiple Lowrance units one "cruise planner" can generate the routes and then everyone can load them. For me the bigger pluses with the XOG are I can take it anywhere, I don't need host computer and it runs off of our cell phone charger. I got a XOG on ebay for $80, a whole lot less than the charting SW, and I can use it in my car.

jimh posted 03-11-2011 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have used an navigation application called POLAR VIEW NS from POLAR NAVY to create routes and way points in the GPX format and upload them to my Lowrance chart plotter (an HDS-8).

It seems to me that the fundamental problem in creating routes or way points on a computer and not on the chart plotter itself is the need to maintain congruence in the cartography. It would be best if the computer application used to create way points and routes was using the precise same cartography that the chart plotter on the boat will use. If a route or way point is created on a computer using cartography that is different from the cartography in the chart plotter on the boat, it could occur that some discrepancies might exist between the chart data.

I saw an example of this when I imported some data prepared by another boater. This route data was prepared with different charts than I had. As it happened, for the particular route and area it covered, the cartography that I had was not as accurate or of the same resolution as the cartography used in creating the data. The result was that when I viewed the route some of the paths were shown going over land areas instead of around them.

Way point data is probably best when you collect it yourself from actual observations. If you reach a particular mark or location, and then store its GPS-deduced position on your chart plotter, you should be able to return to that position with some certainty. If you create a way point entirely from chart data, you are depending on the accuracy of the chart to locate the way point.

Modern chart data is quite good, in some cases. For example, when I plotted some tracks that I recorded on my chart plotter onto GOOGLE EARTH, I found that the accuracy was spectacular. The track data plotted so accurately that my vessel position at certain docks was shown so precisely that you could clearly see to which side of a dock that was six-feet wide the boat was tied.

SJH posted 03-15-2011 06:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJH  Send Email to SJH     
Thanks the replies. I'll check out the s/w discussion notes.


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