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Garmin G2 lack of PC planning tool

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Have Garmin marine shot themselves in the foot?

As of yet they have no tool for PC route planning with G2 or G2 Vision marine chart cards. They are the only one of the big three lacking a PC tool (ie Garmin, Navionics, C-MAP).

Their previous plotter range worked brilliantly with MapSource and BlueCharts on CD/DVD. You could view charts on large laptop screen at home or away from the boat, plan routes and then transfer saved waypoints and routes to the on board plotter using memory cards or USB cable. Now all this is gone with the newer 2007 gear. They seem to have strategically abandoned MapSource for off boat PC route planning - a big mistake imho!

Any ideas or views on this?

PS: I know you can still buy Bluecharts on CD/DVD, but that means you end up paying for charts TWICE (ie a G2 card for the boat, and a CD with unlock codes for the PC/Laptop) pure nuts!. It's been suggested that the CD/DVD charts may be withdrawn anyway which leaves one up a gum tree without a kite! :)

15 Replies

  • I share your pain, OceanFroggie. I really liked the BlueChart/Mapsource/plotter connection; I used it myself a fair bit, and set it up for some friends. Garmin trail blazed this capability, and it likely pushed Navionics and C-Map to develop their planning products (both pretty mature at this point). So it's quite ironic that Garmin has been so slow at coming up with planning program for their current generation plotters.

    BUT I am pretty darn sure it's going to happen. The evidence: I'm beta testing a 640 right now and there is a menu item for "Copy Built-In Map". The manual describes the function thusly:

    "copy the pre-loaded basemap on the GPSMAP 640 to an SD card for use with compatible Garmin PC-software products."

    I think there are also ways to achieve a similar end. I suspect, for instance, that Maptech Offshore Navigator, $100 w/ all US raster charts, will play nicely with Garmin MFDs via a NMEA 0183 serial connection. There's an install hassel involved, but then you have two types of charts aboard:

  • Hmmmm...Garmin has new PC (and Mac) software for use with topo maps, maybe a sign of things to come on the marine side:

  • Interesting. GPSTrackMaker pro has been able to do that for years.

    Spoke to a chap in Garmin Europe yesterday who's view was that CD/DVD chart solutions and MapSource for marine use were going to be history and were not going to be replaced. Very focused on "useability" stating many customers not geared up to use PC's for planning and transfer of data between boat and laptop. Also pushing the idea that their newer plotters made PC planning redundant, and went on about the auto-route feature, which could scare the living daylights out of any self respecting navigatior. Pure nuts!

    Folks like to decide the best route for a passage taking one huge ingrediant into account on the day - WEATHER and tide. It seems daft to apply a modified car route calculation logic to marine, especially when weather and tidal stream are not in the formula. Like most navigators I want to draw routes on my large PC screen at home, stuff the routes on a card, and pop it into the boat plotter when I arrive, not spend 1/2 hour looking at a small 12"-6" screen without a keyboard or mouse at the helm of my boat.

  • G1 will disappear, a new G2 will appear with a CD Rom release (in June, and a new firmware for all handled to become compatible), and G2 Vision will be improve.
    It's what Garmin Fr tell us (we are reseller).

  • Froggie, I wouldn't be surprised to see Garmin CD/DVD charts go away (I'd guess the unlocking complications cost the company a wicked amount of customer service).

    And I'm actually a big fan of Garmin's "Where To" approach to route making, even the auto guidance. Why duplicate pencil and parallel rule style routing on a computerized platform that can do so much more?

    But I also think that an integrated PC/Mac planning tool would be of great value, at least to a portion of the Garmin MFD users. I hope they create it.

  • Sure, I don't mind if they ditch the CD/DVD products as long as there is a way of putting G2 Vision chart cards into a laptop SD port for route and passage planning (ie view charts on laptop). Large screen, full qwerty keyboard and the comfort of home or the boats saloon for planning work. As of yet, Garmin have said that they will not do this and therefore be the only major marine chart vendor lacking this facility (ie card reader/PC planning tool).

    The marine version of auto route guidance doesn't take weather and tidal streams into account. In real world marine navigation, leisure boaters will often choose routes to offer the greatest comfort for the prevailing weather conditions rather than the shortest route distance between A and B clear of obsticles.

    I've been a Garmin fan for years, but afraid they are shooting themselves in the foot denying a PC planning option for G2 Vision, and what about the plotters with pre-loaded Bluecharts G2 - users won't even have a chart card to place in their PC - what then! :)

    PS: Not looking for real time nav on PC, just route planning by drawing routes onto visible chart without having to purchase other PC chart products.


  • If I follow correctly, Garmin may have made a good or at least mostly harmless decision in prioritizing PC planning very low.

    I use MapSource, maybe getting a bit long in the tooth, but good PC planning tool. Also use it to download maps and waypoints into my two garmin handhelds that I take on friends boats or leave in my boat as a backup to my e-series chartplotters.

    I am not sure what is the big deal between using a PC planning tool at home with free maps, say like Coastal Explorer (I want to relook at the ETA calculator based on tides in the new release for planning), and seperatly using the 3D enhanced cartography and pictures in the chartplotter. Lat/Long is Lat/Long, right ?

    Of all their priorities ... possibly Garmin made the right decision to leave PC planning to other tools and focus on the other aspects of their strategy to win market share in marine electronics.

    Yes ? No ?

  • No free charts over here in Europe.

    I've used Garmin kit on various boats for years as our primary sat nav system, with raymarine for radar. Usually garmin fixed plotters, and portable and/or handhelds for backup/grab bag. All have worked very well, and imho are better plotters than the competition, especially because of their PC integration with MapSource. Eliminate MapSource for planning and IMHO 40% of the edge Garmin had is gone. I was about to order two 5xxx series plotters but stopped as soon as I realised the problem. Having a serious look at new Raymarine widescreen C, and particularly impressed with NavNet.

    PS: Agree only need basic marine charts for PC planning (ie BlueChart G1), all the other 3D and aerial stuff is just "nice to have" but of little real use in navigation. It's just marketing.

  • The 4208 firmware update 5.2 now contains the option to copy internal maps to a memory card. But I din't have a big enough memory card when I tried it.

  • Thanks, that's interesting. Wonder if MapSource can now read and display charts from an SD memory card reader. I'll talk to the UK guys and see if they have any update.

  • Can't see anything about writing pre-loaded charts to an SD card on the Garmin website (ie 5.2 update page). Garmin Europe were not aware of it. Any more info on this? The only thing I spotted on the update list was improved RS232 interfacing with popular 3rd party PC navigation tools.

    What is really needed is a newer form of MapSource that works both with G2 Vision cards and/or pre-loaded cartography such as on the 42xx, 52xx and 450 and 550 series. The suggestion option of saving preloaded bluechart G2 charts (ie not even "vision") could go towards this if MapSource was updated to read charts from an SD card reader.

  • I suspect the problem lies with a contractual agreement between Garmin and their Chart supplier. I also suspect that a solution is near.

  • Problem sorted. Garmin "Home Port" due nov 2009

  • Garmin "Home Port" available now for purchase and d/l on their website.

  • The phase-out of Mapsource CDs by Garmin probably has profit motives that go beyond just the customer service load associated with unlocking--it's actually pretty well automated on their website. 1.) A PC with Mapsource works very well as a nav table realtime display, reducing the need for a below-deck MFD. 2.) Hacks for unlocking regions have been popping up on the Internet, and if they work, this is obviously a problem.