Better living through riding!

2012-04-09

Managing maps on Garmin - Hooray for JaVaWa tools!

Having previously used Garmin MapSource (Win) and RoadTrip (Mac), following are my initial impressions on Garmin BaseCamp and managing maps downloaded from Garmin Store to my recently purchased GPSMAP62st.

Purchasing maps from Garmin Store
Garmin GPSMAP62st comes with preloaded European 1:100k scale recreation maps. However, more detailed topographic maps are necessary for planning MTB trail rides. Therefore, I decided to download TOPO Sweden Svealand v3 from Garmin Store. I noticed that before a download was possible, I had to create MyGarmin account which I didn't have from before. Even though I own and use several Garmin GPS units, I had never before downloaded maps from Garmin Store. MyGarmin account is accessible from Garmin home pages and it lets you see your all registered Garmin devices and maps purchased from Garmin. Garmin gives you one year from the date of map purchase to download the map from MyGarmin. It appears that during that time you are allowed unlimited number of downloads. However, notice that Garmin lets you legally use purchased maps only with one Gamin unit. In case you need the same map in several devices you need to purchase equally many copies of the map.

Internal memory vs. microSD vs. Base camp installation - The choice is yours
Because of the very limited internal memory of GPSMAP62st, I wanted to download the TOPO map to a 4GB microSD card that I had inserted at the time when I bought the device. During the download and installation procedure, which in itself was very well implemented by Garmin, I was surprised to note that I was not given an option to install the map to the microSD card but only to device's internal memory. I suspected that my microSD card could be incompatible with my unit (even though it shouldn’t be but you never know). Eager to see the TOPO map in flesh I decided to proceed with the download to the internal memory of my GPSMAP62st and solve the microSD issue later.

WIth the map downloaded to the handheld, in order to display the downloaded TOPO map in BaseCamp the GPS has to be connected to your PC. Thereafter you can use the Maps menu in BaseCamp to select the map you want to display. Worth noticing is that, as far as I know at least, Garmin does not directly let you copy maps downloaded from Garmin Store from your device to BaseCamp. Not a big deal even though I would prefer to be able to do route planning in BaseCamp without being connected to the handheld. Things are probably different if you buy a DVD/microSD version of the map.

Quest of map removal
Noticing that Svealand TOPO filled almost the whole internal memory of GPSMAP62s, I really wanted to install the map to microSD instead. I opened the battery box, removed the card and re-inserted it even more carefully than previously. And indeed, that solved the problem, rendering the SD card visible under My Garmin Devices in BaseCamp. Having the map now on the SD card, I wanted to free memory by deleting the TOPE map from GPSMAP62st's internal memory. I didn’t find a way to do it in BaseCamp and therefore deleted three files (Svealandv3.gma, .img and .unl) corresponding to the TOPO map from the device using Finder on my Mac. That made the Svealand TOPO map to disappear from Maps on the device.

I then went back to MyGarmin to download the TOPO map again, this time to the microSD card. What I noticed now was that MyGarmin indicated that, strangely enough, the internal memory of my GPSMAP62st was still almost full, despite that I had just removed the TOPO map. However, I continued with downloading the map to the microSD and it worked very fine.

Removing maps: Time for JaVaWa
Next, I needed to find a way to properly remove the Svealand TOPO map from device's internal memory. After some searching on Google I came across a very neat website (http://www.javawa.nl/anderstalig.html) with several tools to manage Garmin devices and maps.

I installed JaVaWa Device Manager (available both for Mac and Windows). It helps to manage contents of Garmin devices and accompanying SD cards. The program performs an exhaustive check, reports potential conflicts and provides a wealth of information about the maps in your device or on your SD card. Also, JaVaWa Device Manager offers the possibility to delete certain non-essential files. Exactly what I needed!

Clicking Manage Maps in JaVaWa Device Manager shows whole lot of useful information. To me it revealed that the TOPO map still rested in my device’s internal memory. Removing it properly was as easy as selecting corrupted files indicated by JaVaWa and clicking Remove. I highly recommend you to have a look at JaVaWa tools if you need easy-to-use and efficient tools to manage your Garmin devices and maps, including backing up your device and maps, and moving maps to a new PC.


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    JaVaWa Device Manager home screen

    http://www.javawa.nl/jdm_en.html
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    JaVaWa Device Manager Manage Maps page

    http://www.javawa.nl/jdm_en.html

Lessons learned
To be completely honest, I have not come to expect that streamlined and user-friendly handling of maps (installation, activation etc.) from Garmin on basis of my previous experiences (admittedly dating back a few years). Therefore, I was positively surprised by implementation of MyGarmin account and map downloads from Garmin Store. Having said that I still would expect Garmin to provide simple and efficient tools for basic tasks like properly removing maps from the device. I don't know if it is possible but I didn't immediately find a way to do it in BaseCamp. Instead, I came across with JaVaWa tools which performed that and many other useful tasks in a very simple manner. It's about learning by doing and I learned the following:

  • Properly insert your microSD card
  • Think about whether you want to purchase a download or DVD/SD version of maps
  • Have a look at JaVaWa tools
  • Start playing with BaseCamp
I now continue to play with BaseCamp. My initial impressions are that the software feels smoother and nicer to use than the old RoadTrip.

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