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crunchewy

Garmin BirdsEye satellite maps worth it?

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I'm new to a "real" GPS, and am use to my iPhone showing satellite images in the geocaching app. So ideally I would like satellite images on my new Garmin GPSMAP 62sc, especially for city caches. Are the "BirdsEye" satellite images worth paying for? How much detail do those have? Is there any other option out there? I will mostly be geocaching in Maryland, US and there about, but will be going to Montreal this summer and want to look for some caches while there, and of course wherever we go on vacation. So need satellite imagery for various places. I know there's a trick you can do with Google Earth (overlaying a screenshot of the satellite image), but that's pretty painful. I'm use to no work at all. :)

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The quality of the imagery depends on the source Garmin obtains it from. Might be worth changing the subject of your post to include locations of interest to folks with that imagery could respond.

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Check the location you will use it for, sometimes it's blurry or cloudy.

My opinion, it's not very useful, because either you're zoomed out to much or zoomed in to much.

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There is a free demo available so you can judge for yourself

 

https://support.garmin.com/support/searchSupport/case.faces?caseId={49179a70-5310-11df-6ec9-000000000000}

 

Dave

Your link gets me this:

We are unable to process your request. Please try again.

 

Also, your signature line could be more descriptive. jbensman's "My Trails" is a custom trail map, but his is a vector trail map.

Edited by seldom_sn

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There is a free demo available so you can judge for yourself

 

https://support.garm...c9-000000000000}

 

Dave

Your link gets me this:

We are unable to process your request. Please try again.

 

Also, your signature line could be more descriptive. jbensman's "My Trails" is a custom trail map, but his is a vector trail map.

 

Fixed (below is a good link, also fixed in my original post above), and I added "KMZ" to my signature...thanks

 

http://snipurl.com/2414d6i

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[rant]

OK, I'll climb down from my rant-box, but IMHO, while the imagery may have some level of usefulness and appeal, the downloading process is a major PITA. It takes an frustrating amount of time to download, the resulting files are very large, I still don't know where they actually download to on the computer (thus tying up a large portion of my hard drive), and the software and files are very processor-intensive. I buried a perfectly good (admittedly not new) laptop with .IMG files, and had to get an external TB drive on which to save the files. I think I read somewhere in my searching that Garmin intended for people to just download an image of a small area that they would be visiting that day, and not try to download large areas, like states. SHENANIGANS! I'm gonna download as much as I can during my subscription! Their server acts as if it's throttled to an extent to discourage folks from getting the most out of their subscription. At the risk of heresy here on these forums, I believe that GPSes are used for things other than caching, and the download process is not geared for downloading images of large areas.

 

The images you get may still be useful, just FYI on how slow the process will be.

 

[/rant]

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Ah - I didn't know they had samples. I will try that. Thanks. As far as map file sizes, satellite images are big. When you use google maps it only loads a portion at a time. If you're trying to grab an entire state at once I'd expect it to be huge. Probably massive.

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I'd lay money that there's a free solution, it's already possible to save other map images as a .kmz and ..erm..do something that makes it useful for a GPS, though I can't remember how off the top of my head, but I bet that can be used with google sat images.

Have to agree though, it'll only be practical for relatively small areas

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As far as map file sizes, satellite images are big. When you use google maps it only loads a portion at a time. If you're trying to grab an entire state at once I'd expect it to be huge. Probably massive.

Ahh, but there's the rub. Garmin has a maximum file size for each tile to be downloaded. At the maximum, each resulting tile is about 10 miles by 10 miles, and about 100MB; give or take. One can only download a single file at a time (per computer), and a single file can take hours to download. Yes, 100MB is a large file, but it should download in minutes, not hours.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to talk you into or out of getting the imagery. But you asked "is it worth it?" I kinda like the imagery, now that I have some, but IMHO the download process is so ridiculously slow that I will not renew my subscription until that part of the deal is improved. Hope this helps!

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As far as map file sizes, satellite images are big. When you use google maps it only loads a portion at a time. If you're trying to grab an entire state at once I'd expect it to be huge. Probably massive.

Ahh, but there's the rub. Garmin has a maximum file size for each tile to be downloaded. At the maximum, each resulting tile is about 10 miles by 10 miles, and about 100MB; give or take. One can only download a single file at a time (per computer), and a single file can take hours to download. Yes, 100MB is a large file, but it should download in minutes, not hours.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to talk you into or out of getting the imagery. But you asked "is it worth it?" I kinda like the imagery, now that I have some, but IMHO the download process is so ridiculously slow that I will not renew my subscription until that part of the deal is improved. Hope this helps!

 

Ah. Yeah, that is slow. Hmm. I'm probably going to give it a try anyway as it will be convenient (other than that) and hope they improve the download speeds.

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i did end up paying for it and, yes, it is pretty ridiculous how long it takes to download the images. There seems to be long pauses where it's doing nothing at all. I guess maybe their servers are overwhelmed? They need to add capacity if so. Still, the satellite images are pretty good. They are not as detailed as google maps satellite images, but they are good enough for the most part and I'm glad to have them. So it takes a long time to download them, but I think it was worth the money anyway. Still, if there was a good free solution that offered higher resolution images, that would obviously be better. I just don't think screenshot-ing Google Maps pages and pasted them in place is terribly practical.

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i did end up paying for it and, yes, it is pretty ridiculous how long it takes to download the images. There seems to be long pauses where it's doing nothing at all. I guess maybe their servers are overwhelmed? They need to add capacity if so. Still, the satellite images are pretty good. They are not as detailed as google maps satellite images, but they are good enough for the most part and I'm glad to have them. So it takes a long time to download them, but I think it was worth the money anyway. Still, if there was a good free solution that offered higher resolution images, that would obviously be better. I just don't think screenshot-ing Google Maps pages and pasted them in place is terribly practical.

You've pretty well summed up the state of geo-referenced raster images inside a GPS. Googe images are much better, yet impractical. Too bad Garmin doesn't care. As always, we need competition to wake up the 800-pound gorilla.

 

Near were I live Google has gone from 2005 images to 2011 images, those 2011 images are awesome.

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I really wish I could resize and/or move the selection box for Birdseye downloads. Trying to line up several sections is a real pain. Is there a way to do that and I'm just missing it?

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I really wish I could resize and/or move the selection box for Birdseye downloads. Trying to line up several sections is a real pain. Is there a way to do that and I'm just missing it?

Yep. Start a new download, and in the popup window you should see 5 icons above the "Imagery Information". The pan tool (looks like a hand) lets you move the rectangle, and the create or re-size tool (in the middle, arrow going cross corner in the icon) lets you resize the selection box by hovering your cursor over the edge of the selection. The pencil icon next to it allows you to draw free-form boundaries.

 

So, I'm in Kansas and it was very easy for me to work with squares. I tried to not use the pan or free-form tools at all, just realign the edges of the download area to match up. I did a few dozen of these before I learned to zoom in on the edges before starting the download to ensure there's no gap between the images. In the end, I think I was zooming into about 200 feet, and having an overlap about the width of the arrow-head on the selection tool cursor. I also hope that you've figured out how to setup a bunch of areas to download as a "group" instead of one by one. Well, not really, but you can draw several areas and have them queued to download when one image gets finished, rather than waiting for one image to finish before starting the next. And, you can also do this simultaneously with multiple computers. Hang in there!

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i did end up paying for it and, yes, it is pretty ridiculous how long it takes to download the images. There seems to be long pauses where it's doing nothing at all. I guess maybe their servers are overwhelmed? They need to add capacity if so. Still, the satellite images are pretty good. They are not as detailed as google maps satellite images, but they are good enough for the most part and I'm glad to have them. So it takes a long time to download them, but I think it was worth the money anyway. Still, if there was a good free solution that offered higher resolution images, that would obviously be better. I just don't think screenshot-ing Google Maps pages and pasted them in place is terribly practical.

 

So, have been doing geocaching with my iPad. Now have a Garmin Rino 610 (wanted the two-way radio and gps in one unit). So far, I am nothing but disappointed. Looking around my small city, Garmin is just hopelessly out of touch - and you have to find that out yourself. The birdseye imagery for this area is from 2002! Google maps are 2011. I could not find the date on the garmin images, so had to look at construction sites to date the images. Seriously, 2002!

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Why pay for obsolete images? The most recent image available (just downloaded 2 weeks ago) is from 2010 or earlier for my hunting land and cabin because the cabin was built in 2010. When I contacted BirdsEye support, they told me they just updated their software in 2014. I replied that the image I downloaded was 2010 or earlier. They replied that their software was updated, not their images. In fact, they have no idea when their images were captured. When I complained that both Google and Bing have very current images, BirdsEye support replied that they don't get their images from servers but directly from the satellites. What an inane and ridiculous answer! How stupid do they think we are? Directly from the satellites? Only every five years? Come on! SAVE YOUR MONEY UNLESS YOU DON'T MIND OBSOLETE IMAGES!

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