Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting the UK Topographical Maps into the GPS

The Garmin Nuvi we purchased in 2005 came with the road maps of UK pre-installed.  They are great for driving around the UK but not much use for walking or on the canals.  This actually wasn’t much of a problem when the the Nuvi was the only gps unit we owned as it is only capable of navigating on defined roads.

This screen dump shows the detail obtained using the maps from “Garmin City Navigator”

City Navigator UK Map

The situation changed with our purchase of a Garmin Oregon 550 gps in 2009.  It is a multi-purpose gps and can use topographical maps.  You can purchase the Garmin Topographic series for the UK however it much more fun installing non standard maps.

This screen dump shows the level of map detail from the Scottish Mountain Club topographical maps of the UK

GP Topo Map

Exactly the same location, however there is considerably more terrain detail in the second set of maps.  Notice how the watercourses are more accurately portrayed in the terrain map.

So how did I install the free maps?  Well actually it was very easy and this is how I did it.

I downloaded a complete set of free topographical maps from the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) <click here>.  On unzipping them I discovered they were in IMG format.  I now needed to compile all the IMG files into one file and load it into Garmin Mapsource.

This was done by placing all the unzipped files into one folder.  Make sure the *.TDB file is included.  This latter point isn’t critical but it makes the process easier.

Download a copy of MapSetToolKit V1.77 <here>.   Unpack and load it.  The instructions for using the program to compile and load the maps into Garmin Mapsource are here <clicky>.  Note; some problems with using MapSetToolKit in combination with Mapsource have been reported.  However I used MapSetToolKit v1.77 without a problem.

Once you have installed all the maps into Mapsource you can transfer all (or some) of them to your Garmin gps using the standard method.

The SMC maps provide me with a much better set of topographical maps by having the contour lines which I so desperately wanted.

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