View Full Version : Lowrance & map files
09-17-2007, 02:51 PM
As some will recall I've not been terribly happy with my 2001 purchase of a 3000 MT due to proprietary map files and the total lack of decent maps. My Garmin GPS III's base map had more detail than Lowrance's MapCreate 5 (which came with the unit) could supply for upload to an MMC card. And in that year I needed maps for Baja which did not exist, nor did Lowrance's CS care at all about that. In fact, their CS person's attitude did more to inflame me than the unit's lacking did.
I recently took a $90 risk & bought MC 7 topo. I figured that if this didn't make the unit usable I'd sell off the whole bloody thing & buy a larger Garmin.
Finally this unit is living up to it's 6 year old promise. I still won't recommend a Lowrance GPS to anyone, but if you already have one of their units & do not have MC7 Topo I would suggest that you consider it.
09-17-2007, 06:55 PM
Question for you. I am running the Baja from Lowrance with MC 5, which I admit leaves much to be desired coming from Topo USA as my favorite GIS'ish software.
What have you noticed with the MC7 that is better than the MC5? Also, you know about LB maps, they do have their Baja data available for Lowrance....
thanks in advance....
09-17-2007, 07:12 PM
I've only just started to use the MC7 myself. Being able to even have topo lines on the display is new to me. Having the roads I'm actually driving on shown on the map is something only my Garmin has been able to do until now. I've only had it out for a local desert race last weekend, and I know that area all too well to bother referring to the GPS. I'm in the planning stages of a Fall trip and that will be a better test of how useful the information actually is.
My MC5 used a funky card reader that plugged into a parallel port or serial port (I forget which) and had a jumper in the mouse connector. The reader used by MC7 is simply a USB. They say that you have to use the LEI reader as it does some file translation, but I could see the files on the card just from windoz so I dunno. MC7 comes on one dvd instead of MC5's two CD's. Matters not to my range of trips, but that might to some folks.
I've not run back to back tests, but my SOP impression is that MC7's files may be smaller for the same detail level. Not sure how that could work, but that's impression I've been left with.
As far as I could determine NO ONE in 2001 had Lowrance maps files for Baja. I'd since heard that there were map files available, but I've quit crossing the border so now I've no need.
09-17-2007, 07:46 PM
MC7 is extremely particular in how you create and save maps. It's been my experiance that you must use the card reader, and any file created for a specific card can only be use on that card.
I'm using 2G cards - one 2G card can store the maps for the entire western US - NM, CO, WY, MT, ID, UT, AZ, CA, NV, OR, and WA at your finger tips. That is way cool.
When you create map boundaries they should be saved. Then they can be used to create the same map on another card if needed.
As far as I can tell the map data is several years old. You will find that anything done in the last 3 or 4 years isn't on the maps. I've also found that at least in my area (Prescott, AZ.) that many of the secondary FS roads aren't there, and many old, old non-existant trails are shown. It seems like they just put in the old topo data ane completely ignored the current maps published by the FS. Another thing that bugs me is they left of the high tension powerlines that crisscross the western US. They provide easy visual clues as to where you are, and usually have roads associated with them. From a wannabe Pilots perspective, I don't see how they can possibly have left them out...
Overall the 3500C unit itself is great, but they are way behind on the land mapping detail. I've looked at the navigation portion of the program, and it's real good - and that's what Lowrance's main business is. I hope they come out with an updated map set soon.
I've also seen a version of a map for Baja- didn't like it at all. There sere some serious problems with font scaling. It was an early version - maybe it's better now...I dunno.
09-17-2007, 10:57 PM
Yep, font scaling on the Baja data from LB is a challenge. You have to stick to 3 or 4 different zoom levels to see anything and avoid the others because of the clutter it creates. Looking at Ensenada at the 4 mile zoom looks like someone spilled a Spanish scrabble board on a topo map.
I checked my version, apologies, I have MC6. So it sound like I will wait to upgrade a bit. I wish I was smart enough to figure out how to take De lorme data and convert it to Lowrance data, or otherwise.
This year Toshiba is helping us out so I think I will use the Laptop instead...Thanks for the response....
09-18-2007, 03:06 PM
FWIW the 3000MT is OS limited to a 512 card. In playing around with it I've yet to need more than that. The single map I made that covers slightly beyond my normal range of explorations left a lot of card on the table. I do turn off the features that I don't need, like "wrecks" since I doubt I'll find many of those in the Mojave.
A 2G card would durned near cover all of the 7 Western States!
Curiously, the Sandisk 128 I bought some years ago @ Radio Shack is not recognized by the unit, and nothing I've found to do will change that. Yet, windoz can see that there are Lowrance files on it.
Things like the HT lines being left off is why I dislike the whole proprietary files mess in the first place. Were I faced with making that decision I would have set up the mapping utility to import other file types, mostly so that the company didn't receive the irate phone calls like I've placed to them. If the company plans to be at the fore-front of available map data and be the first on the market with ANY new data, then proprietary files would be OK. Otherwise you are doing your customers a great dis-service and those you've managed to piss off, like me, will continue to point folks thinking of buying such a product to other mfgs.
It would tickle me no end to see someone crack Lowrance's file structure and offer a superior product capable of using any map file type and converting it to something that the unit(s) understand.
09-18-2007, 04:29 PM
yeah, 2G does cover a lot of ground, no pun intended...:shakin:
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