Dear Capt Paul:

I have a Garmin GPS map 76 handheld, Lowrance hook 5, Lowrance elite chirp 7, and a Lowrance HDs 9 on my various boats. When I purchase your Fishing Edge files, will standard .gpx files work on all four or do I need Lowrance- and Garmin-specific files? 

Thanks.


Capt. Paul’s response:

Yes and No! But, let me explain.

The Captain Paul’s Fishing Edge program for a Lowrance system comes with both a Lowrance .usb data file and a .gpx (GPS Exchange Format) data file. The Captain Paul’s Fishing Edge for a Garmin comes with .gdb (Garmin Data Base) file. The newer .gpx file format is an attempt to have a common data transfer file throughout the GPS industry. This attempt will probably still take a period of time, so most units still have the ability to read their old format as well as the newer .gpx format. 

I was advised by Lowrance Support that you could simply copy either of these files to a SPARE data card and using the MENU in all of the GPS units you indicated. They advised that either the Lowrance .usb or the .gpx data files would work in the units. They said to simply copy the file to a spare data card and insert in the unit. Then use the MENU screen to SAVE From Card feature. This will integrate all of the data into your existing waypoint file. They will show as an overlay on whatever mapping software you have in the unit(s).

Not to doubt the support people, but I like to use the Lowrance data transfer program they call INSIGHT PLANNER. It is available from their web site at http://www.lowrance.com/en-US/Products/Cartography/InsightPlanner-en-us.aspx 

According to the Lowrance web site, “Insight Planner is the ultimate PC software for marine navigation planning with Lowrance chart plotters. Create waypoints, routes, and points of interest (POIs), on a wide variety of supported cartography platforms such as Insight, Navionics, and raster charts using the BSB format. Use it to plan routes using multiple charts for verification and safety purposes. It allows you to Transfer waypoints directly to Google Earth, as a .usr or .gpx file.” 

This program allows you to view all of the waypoints on a rough map, as well as the waypoint name, latitude~longitude position and a limited amount of the remarks about each location.

It allows you the option of creating and deleting any data for your unit. It is an invaluable tool for backing up your data in all of your Lowrance GPS units. It is much easier to enter waypoints with a keyboard and mouse than to try to save the data directly into the GPS unit. 

It will save and or transfer data files as both a .gpx and .usr format. I have the program and use it for/with my Lowrance units. 

As for Garmin units, older units require a Garmin .gdb file whereas newer units can use a .gdb (Garmin Data Base) or a .gpx file as the file format on their memory card transfer.

Garmin, however requires that the specified memory card being used for the transfer, FIRST be inserted in a Garmin GPS unit. After turning the unit on and performing any function, the unit writes a code to the memory card. This allows the unit to later recognize the card for that unit as well as by several of the Garmin data transfer programs.

Garmin presently offers two free data transfer programs on their web site. Their Home Port (https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/64242) is mainly designed for marine use where their Base Camp program(http://www.garmin.com/en-US/shop/downloads/basecamp) is mainly for hand held units used over land. Either program will work with either their marine or hand held units. These programs can digest data in a .gpx, a Garmin .gdb, a Google Earth .kml, a tab delimited text .txt, and a comma delimited .cvs file format. These formats will work with most of the different manufacturer’s data format requirements.

My suggestion is to download the Lowrance Insight Planner and the Garmin Home Port and or their Base Camp program. Then by purchasing the Captain Paul’s Fishing Edge for a Lowrance system, it comes with a .usr and .gpx formatted data, you can import in into your Lowrance GPS units by utilizing the Insight Planner by using either the .gpx or .usb format and transfer it to a spare memory card. By then exporting or copying the gpx format to your computer you can open either the Home Port or Base Camp. Once there and by inserting the memory card that was previously inserted in your Garmin GPS unit and export the data to that card.

After placing the card in your GPS unit, you would transfer the data using the menu features in the GPS unit. These waypoints will appear as overlays on whatever mapping program you have in your unit.

Other GPS manufacturers offer their data transfer program. Most offer them as downloads from their website. Some require that you register your GPS in order to secure their version of the data transfer program. 

Either way, these data transfer programs make the transferring, editing, addition of waypoints, tracks and routes a simple task.

There is also a data transfer converting program that is available on the internet called GPS Babel. (https://www.gpsbabel.org/download.html

According to their web site, “GPS Babel is a Software that converts waypoints, tracks, and routes between popular GPS receivers. GPSBabel is a cross-platform, free software to transfer routes, tracks, and waypoint data to and from consumer GPS units, and to convert between over a hundred types of GPS data formats. It has a command-line interface and a graphical interface for Windows, MacOS, and Linux users.”

GPS Babel offers you the ability to convert a GPS format from one type to another. It is a very valuable tool to have along with the aforementioned manufacturer’s data transfer programs. 

These programs will allow you to transfer data to your unit as well as backing up all the existing waypoints, tracks, and routes to a computer file.

This is a necessary requirement in today’s world.

The only thing you would be missing is the EDGE installation instructions for the Garmin system. It is very similar to the Lowrance instructions but it refers to the Garmin system. If you have any difficulty, contact me and I will be happy to guide you through the procedure. 

Capt. Paul