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Just an FYI for those thinking about making your own maps...


I wanted a detailed topo for an area I like to hike in that isn't covered by the MapSource 24K maps. Turns out it isn't hard to make a nice topo, or a road map for that matter, from USGS data. No tracing involved. Downloaded data and software are all free.


Also, the latest versions of the "contouring" software (DEM2TOPO) now also supports feet instead of just meters so you don't end up with odd contour intervals.


I got the GPSr yesterday and have several custom maps already loaded! B)

Here's the procedure I've come up with so far: http://home.cinci.rr.com/creek/garmin.htm

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Works like a charm. Takes a while to get the data from USGS (especially depending on the size of the map you’re downloading) but after that everything seems to run very smoothly. It is amazing the detail that you can get with these custom maps. It is also very kewl that you can make them transparent! Although I would not do this for entire states, I will definitely create custom maps for areas I know I will spend some time in. Thanks for the info!


Note to others: the link in the article should be seamless.usgs.gov not seamless.usgs.com ;)

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This is great! I was wondering whether someone had hacked a way to avoid buying Garmin map products! I've got a pretty nice (IMO) topo map of the area we're going to hike in Taos, NM, and added roads, streams, and lakes to it.


Tip: If adding details, download one at a time, so you don't forget that file 12345678.zip is your roads, while 87654321.zip is your streams, etc. And don't get discouraged - it took some trial and error to figure out which shapefile features I needed to select. Should have paid more attention in that GIS class I took a looooong time ago...


Thanks for working out this procedure!

Edited by SquirrelsWillRule
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Can't wait to try it out. For all you (us) Canadians, try this site:




for Canadian DEM data. I haven't dug around this site much yet; so if anyone else has, please post your experiences.


(Oh, he he he ... DEM2TOPO mentions Geobase directly. I wasn't using DEM2TOPO at the time I posted this!)



Edited by BradenW
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Didn't know about the drag and drop thing.....but if you already have the mp file on screen in Map Edit , why not just go to "file", "export", " Garmin image" in Mapedit itself and forego the "drag and drop".


One thing you might want to consider is that sendmap can only load maps you have created, eg your custom map, and as we know, the upload "erases" your previously loaded Garmin maps from the unit leaving you with your custom map and the Garmin "basemap". There is a way to get Mapsource to "recognize" your map in Mapsource as a "normal" Garmin map enabling you to load your custom map along with Garmin std products but that involves windows registry changes and/or some voodoo undocumented software, either of which is risky.


I have created several maps and have never used "transparent". Don't quite understand what that means, but it is my understanding that your uploaded custom map replaces the basemap when it is displayed, and as such you really can't see through to the basemap....waypoints and routes are always displayed on top of and are not a part of any map that is loaded...You can add labels and points to your custom map itself, and affect at what zoom levels they appear, but the display of waypoints and routes are controlled by settings on your individual GPs (map set-up).


I would hope to see many people interested in this development....and although it requires a fair amount of effort to create a map, if you have a few favorite places (we all do), the accuracy and detail level you can achieve with the custom map is incredible. Of course all your maps can't show this level of detail or you wouldn"t even be able to get a small county loaded into your GPS without using your 56M allotment(60 CS). 256K allowed me to do an 8 mi lake with surrounding terrain in 24K topo including all surrounding streams, islands, and Ponds (brook trout) :0). It included 2 "paddle throughs" that Garmin topo showed as solid land, 15 or so islands that garmin didn't show, and numerous small bays and inlets that Garmin either "smoothed out" or omitted altogether. When I paddled the lake with my GPS, my map had every little bay and island I came across. Since I spent 5 days there looking for loons, it was worth my time and effort to make a custom map. For general pupose use, the Garmin maps are just fine, and for the price, a very good deal.



Edited by stevesisti
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thanks for the catch on the .com thing


You're right, using the Export-->Garmin Image option within GPSMapEdit works great. Note that when you first do it it sits there for a minute, thinking, before you see much anything happening. Be patient.


Setting a map to transparent will let you see the basemap under your custom map. If you don't it will look like you overwrote your basemap (which you can't do).


I haven't gone through the hoops to load them through MapSource because you can load multiple maps (including Garmin ones) through SendMap.


The road and stream data from seamless isn't the best (low res, old) so I'm working on extracting data from 1:24K "Topo" maps (DLGs in SDTS format).


Special kudos to stevesisti for helping work out the process. :)

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I'm going to try loading a transparent map to see the difference....one caveat of loading outside mapsource is you don't actually get to see an image of the particular map sections you are loading...I believe you will be looking at just file names...which is a bit awkward at best if you are trying to load particular sections of a given map product.


What would be really nice is if someone wrote a program where you could load the img file and all the registry entries are made automatically....GPs map manager is supposed to accomplish this with just several entries, but there is no manual, and it is less than intuitive.

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This works great. I now have the 24k map of the county I live in and uploaded it to my gps. The detail is unbelieveable. Now I need to know how to get the .img file into a format so mapsource will load the map. When you load the map it wipes out all of the other maps in the gps. Can anyone point me in the right direction to get these maps into mapsource or is there a work around to be able to load the maps into the gps without deleting the other maps already loaded?



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Ok all.... here is the time we have all been waiting for. Putting custom maps into MapSource!


This is done using jacksan’s great link above I’m just expanding on the ending (after the cGPSmapper step). These new steps include creating a preview map, creating a TDB file so that your custom maps show up in MapSource and of course importing them into MapSource.


Adding Maps


Hope you all enjoy and that it makes sense. :)

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