Can I put scanned map images
Adapted from GPS Mapping: Make Your Own Maps.
This is a common question from people who own programs like National Geographic TOPO! or Maptech Terrain Navigator. The short answer is no. But let's take a minute to learn why not and also look at what kind of maps you can place on your GPS.
The programs mentioned above are raster-based.
Raster maps are simply image files; such programs rely on scanned USGS maps. They take a lot of room on your hard disk or in whatever media they are stored. That is why it takes ten CDs to cover all of California. Each point on these maps is represented by a single pixel of a certain color.
The maps you can use on your GPS screen, such as Garmin MapSource products, or Magellan MapSend, are different. These are vector-based maps, which consist of data (lines and points) and not scanned images.
To construct a map of contour lines, the software must establish only the lines, not the background. Hence, these maps take a lot less storage space and will actually fit on your GPS. Of course, they don't look anything like USGS maps. Garmin and Magellan both have preview features on their websites, letting you see exactly what will display on your GPS screen for a given area.
You cannot put raster maps on a GPS screen, but you can purchase vector maps or create your own for your GPS. Step-by-step instructions on how to do this is covered in GPS Mapping: Make Your Own Maps. The book also includes detailed instructions on using 14 popular mapping programs, information on how to download free maps and aerial photos, and the use of 3-D imaging techniques.
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