Custom Waypoint Symbols for GARMIN products

Buoys and Beacons from the IALA*1 and SIGNI*2 system

*1 IALA: International Association of Lighthouse Authorities, *2 SIGNI: Signalisation des Voies de Navigation Interieure

Jos Pacilly, 24-nov-2005

Some of the recent Garmin products offer the possibility to use personally designed icons with waypoints, so called Custom Waypoint Symbols. Products include Garmin's Windows software MapSource and nRoute and some of the recent models of Garmin's GPS receivers. A very welcome option I think, since even the marine line of Garmin products is not offering many symbols dedicated to navigation at sea. On this page, you will find some short notes on how to use this feature. The page includes a couple of symbol sets for marine use, comprising the most frequently used IALA / SIGNI icons. There are also some waypoints sets demonstrating the use of them. To upload the Custom Waypoint Symbols to a GPS unit, use the Windows program xImage. Feel free to use/distribute the symbol sets, as long as it is not for commercial use.

Apparently, Garmin has not finished development of this option at the moment, since various products have different requirements. Implementation details like file names, color depth and bitmap size are varying among the latest versions of both software and firmware of hardware.

See also the related topic: Icons in Google Earth.

Warning

IALA-SIGNI symbols (v2.0) in MapSource/BlueChart

MapSource 6.9.1

Waypoint Properties dialog box in MapSource General remarks
MapSource (version 6.5 and later) creates a directory "My Garmin\Custom Waypoint Symbols" in "My Documents" containing 8 small bitmap files (000.bmp .. 007.bmp). To use the IALA / SIGNI symbols, replace these files with the ones from the download below.

Download

IALA / SIGNI v2.0 (Small)
IALA / SIGNI v2.0 (Large) (not yet available)

File Properties

  • file name: "nnn.bmp"(note: since version 6.7, MapSource is no longer accepting filenames like "nnnAnyFileNameWillDo.bmp")
  • Width x Height: 16 x 16 (Small) or 24 x 24 (Large) pixels
  • Horizontal / Vertical Resolution: 96 dpi
  • Bit Depth: 32 (but 24 or 8 will do)

Notes

  • Transparency is achieved using magenta (RGB:255,0,255)
  • Do not forget to set the Symbol Size for waypoints to Large in the Preferences tab in MapSource if you use the Large symbol set, otherwise MapSource will display distorted symbols.

 

IALA-SIGNI symbols (v2.0) in MapSource/Worldmap

nRoute 2.6.1

Information Tabs in nRoute
General remarks
Like MapSource, nRoute creates a directory (if it does not already exist) "My Documents\My Garmin\Custom Waypoint Symbols", containing 8 files (000.bmp .. 007.bmp). To use the most frequently used IALA / SIGNI symbols, replace these files with the ones you can download below. Note that this setup is shared with MapSource.

Download

IALA / SIGNI v2.0
IALA / SIGNI v2.0 (Large) (not yet available)

File Properties

  • file name: "nnn.bmp" (note: since version 2.3, nRoute is no longer accepting filenames like "nnnAnyFileNameWillDo.bmp")
  • Width x Height: 16 x 16 (Small) or 24 x 24 (Large) pixels
  • Horizontal / Vertical Resolution: 96 dpi
  • Bit Depth: 32 (but 24 or 8 will do)

IALA-SIGNI symbols (v2.0) in nRoute/BlueChart at night

xImage 2.3

xImage is a Windows program to transfer the Custom Waypoint Symbols (and the splash screen) to or from a GPS device. It can be downloaded from the website of Garmin. They do not offer support though. Note that xImage version 2.3 will only process files which match exactly the original specification, which is dependent of the selected language! You can use the MapSource file IALA-SIGNI.gdb to examine the Custom Waypoint Symbols and to check the communication with a GPS device.

IALA-SIGNI symbols (v2.0) in nRoute/MetroGuide at night

GPSmap 276C (firmware version 3.70)

General remarks

Set the Text Language on the GPS to "English", before uploading these Waypoint Symbols!

Downloads

IALA / SIGNI v2.0 (Small)
IALA / SIGNI v2.0 (Medium) (not yet available)
 

File Properties

  • file names: "Waypoint Symbol nnn.bmp"
  • Width x Height: 24 x 24 pixels
  • Horizontal / Vertical Resolution: 96 dpi
  • Bit Depth: 8

Notes

  • Both the Small and Medium icons will be stored in bitmaps of 24 x 24 pixels.
  • The text "Waypoint Symbol" for all symbols on the GPS276C is not very informative...
  • These symbols can also be used in MapSource, if you select Symbols Size LARGE in the Preferences tab. In that case you have to rename these files from "Waypoint Symbol nnn.bmp" to "nnn.bmp" (a command file to perform that is supplied).
Waypoint Symbols screen on GPSmap276C

IALA-SIGNI symbols (v2.0) on a GPSmap276C/Autoroute at daytime

Examples

IALA-SIGNI symbols (v2.0) designed for a GPS276C,  renamed, and used in MapSource