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Garmin Announces BirdsEye Satellite Imagery



  • Boyd 1955 Points
    No problem! Do you have a subscription yet? Even if you don't, you can still download as much as you want and use it on your computer for free. You just can't transfer it to the GPS. And if you subscribe later, all the stuff that you downloaded before becomes available on the GPS.

    I think it's very cool for the $30. They just need to fix some problems, but I'm very impressed by the response from the developers in Garmin's support forum. They are really helpful and are including user suggestions in upcoming releases. It's really smart for Garmin to interact directly with users like this.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Now that I've been downloading BirdsEye for a couple weeks I am able to share some statistics which might be of interest. I have downloaded a total of 22 separate files; they are all at the "highest" quality level. I haven't kept track of how long it takes to download, but it's no speed demon. Nevertheless, it's about what I'd expect for a popular service like this with a low annual fee so I'm happy. My guesstimate for download speed would be in the 30 to 35 MB/hour range.

    None of my downloads have failed; I leave them running pretty much all the time on my computer. On three different occasions I noticed that the download had stalled halfway through when I was away and nothing was happening. I clicked the pause button in the properties window, waited a few seconds and then clicked the resume button. This worked each time and the download resumed where it had left off and ran to completion. So I'm very impressed with how robust the transfer process is.

    I now have a total of 4.845 GB of imagery which covers 1,890 square miles and consists of 284,079 individual tiles. Doing the math, I get:

    2.56 MB file size per square mile
    390 square miles coverage per GB
    150 tiles per square mile

    The file size can vary, due to the data compression. For example, my largest file is 317MB and covers 121 square miles. But my largest coverage area is 126 square miles and that file is only 216MB. In this case, the 126 square mile file includes quite a large area of ocean, so the image compresses more efficiently.

    Again, note that all these numbers only apply to the highest quality BirdsEye data. I have not tried downloading any of the lower quality stuff.
  • Bud1948 0 Points
    Thanks Boyd, I have been downloading in the standard image quality. Its good enough for what I do. But it goes something like this. I have 3 files almost all the same size. Each file is approx. 19,914 images, 8,138 Sq. miles, 9 hours to download each and each file is approx. 285 MB. I have been almost trouble free downloading but the transfer of files to SD card is kind of pitch till you win. Sometimes have to do it a few times to get it to finally go. Is there a way to save these files to a CD or someother place? Thanks, Bud
  • Hi All,

    This is my first post on your forum and I want too give you the information I have to use Birdseye.
    I am a early subscriber since April 2th.

    I find the download very slow but ok for the price we payed.

    It is possible to download without your GPS connected the only thing you need to do is to copy the Garmin folder of your GPS to a USB-stick and Bascamp wil see this USB-stick as your GPS.
    After Bascamp transfert the files to your USB-Stick you just need to copy this files in the same directory on your memory-card (sd) of your GPS.
    With this trick you can go streaght to the memory card without passing by the internal memory of your GPS.

    Hpoe this help you, it did for me so I can download without my GPS been stucked on my PC
  • Sancho 0 Points
    Hi Boyd,

    Could you try the Mobile Atlas Creator? It is freeware and faster than BirdEye, and you can use lot of maps (as Google Eart or MS Bing and more...)
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    I will have to give it a try sometime. I have been making Garmin .kmz custom maps since they introduced the feature and have placed some at GPSFileDepot for download. I used GlobalMapper to create them, which is an all-around GIS/Mapping application. The only problem is the limit to the size of this type of map. Garmin has intentionally limited it, probably so that it won't compete with BirdsEye and their other products.

    There does not appear to be any limit to the size of BirdsEye images, they draw faster on the screen and appear through the full range of zoom settings where custom maps only appear through a limited zoom range.

    So the BirdsEye format is definitely superior. Perhaps one day somebody will create a tool for us to make our own .jnx BirdsEye files? 8)
  • Sancho 0 Points
    Okay, tnx your review! :)
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Overnight Garmin seems to have placed some new limits on how much BirdsEye imagery you can download with a single request. Yesterday evening I began a download of about 300MB, which is close to the old limit (evidently 20,000 separate "tiles"). It completed without error overnight.

    This morning I started a new download and noticed that I got an error message when the file size got larger than 75MB (about 5,000 tiles). So it appears you can now only download about 1/4 of the previous file size at once. This does not affect the total amount of imagery you can download, just the limit for a single request.

    Their servers have been really busy recently and almost every large download I have tried has stalled out at some point. Most of the time you can resume these stopped downloads, but not always.

    So maybe this new limit will actually make the process faster and less error-prone. Time will tell...
  • sviking 141 Points
    Doesn't make much sense to me. And I was not able to send a BirdsEye download to the SD card in my Oregon when I tried - nothing happened - but it worked for internal memory.
    Yes, I know, I know... I don't have an Oregon... :wink:

    But, have you tried putting it into USB mass storage mode, if it has such a mode? This is a way to "force" stuff to the SD card with my 60CSx and Mapsource. In USB mode, only the SD card shows up as a "device" as G:\ in my case. Maybe trying that on your Oregon might get the BirdsEye data to load directly on the SD card. Maybe you've also tried this, but what about sending it to an SD card directly via a card reader?
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    You don't have to "send" BirdsEye anywhere, you can download directly to your computer. Sending it to the device is a separate step, and I just use a card in a reader for that.

    But this has nothing to do with it. You select an area on the map to download and when your selection area gets too big there's an alert. You adjust the size of the selection until the alert goes away. The alert occurred at ~20,000 tiles before and now it is ~5,000.

    This is a limit imposed by Garmin's servers. Your GPS can be disconnected if you like.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Overnight Garmin seems to have placed some new limits on how much BirdsEye imagery you can download with a single request.
    One of the BirdsEye developers has posted the following information on Garmin's forums:
    It is our understanding that the limit for subscribers will be increased once we have a better handle on the server loading issues. The limit for preview users will probably remain at the current level.
  • Any one get this to work on there Dakota 10 ?
  • LOL... I called Garmin today.. They "think" that the Dakota 10 Can do the Birds eye... and it should work... :roll:
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Did they have any suggestion as to HOW to get it working? I really don't understand why they have excluded the Dakota 10. Someone reported that it was due to the lack of a memory card slot. Of course, Birdseye will be of limited use without lots of storage, but it should really be up to the user to decide whether it meets their needs.

    I have filled a 16GB card myself, and need to shop around for a 32GB card when I have a chance (not the kind of thing I can find in any local stores).

    It does significantly slow the startup sequence on my Oregon however - takes around 60 seconds to get to the main menu screen.
  • Not really,
    When I get home from work I will give it a test. I asked why it wasn't able to do it. He said because of the lack of memory card... I said, but its got 850 mb! Not tons, but enough... He agreed, then asked a supervisor about it... They claims its a misprint and the Dakota 10 should ( but no guarantee) work. Didn't seem real confident though.
    Will try tonight and update.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    If your unit is compatible, when you plug it into your computer and start BaseCamp you should see a message asking if you want to setup BirdsEye. It is not necessary to purchase or register for BirdsEye for this to happen; you can download as much BirdsEye imagery as you want on your computer using BaseCamp without a subscription. You only need the subscription to unlock the files on your GPS.

    However, if you don't get that message in BaseCamp when connecting your Dakota, I don't see how you can use BirdsEye. If you try to access BirdsEye and you don't have a compatible GPS connected to your computer, you will get an error message.

    My understanding was that this is what happens with the Dakota 10 - BaseCamp does not recognize it as a compatible unit. Please let us know what happens when you try!
  • gatorguy 325 Points
    Boyd, when I tried it, BaseCamp reported that my Dakota (10) was compatible. It wasn't until I tried to check out that I found it wasn't.

    @NotToWorried: If you try to purchase the BirdsEye sub with your Dakota connected and Garmin asks for the serial number of a BirdsEye compatible device, then your Dakota 10 isn't one. Pretty sure it still isn't.
  • Downloading Basecamp now... I have a feeling Gatorguy is right.. but will confirm.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    No need to purchase anything or place an order to find the answer. If Basecamp says the device is compatible, download a small area somewhere. Then try transferring it to your Dakota.

    Without a subscription, it should let you transfer a one square-mile sample from the middle of the area you select. When you disconnect the GPS and restart, you will get an error message about an "invalid BirdsEye file", but disregard it. Go to the map settings and enable the birsdseye image. then browse the map to the location you downloaded to see if it works.

    If so, then I can't see any reason why a subscription wouldn't work also.
  • Gator is right on. Basecamp works fine with the Dakota 10 Its Garmin that does not have it set up as a subscription. I have had two Garmin tech people tell me that its should be supported...And should work...
    So wondering did garmin just drop the ball?
  • Wonder what would happen if I bought a BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription card online and entered it.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Did you try what I suggested above? When you connect the Dakota, does BaseCamp say you have a compatible device? Can you download anything?
  • BaseCamp say It is a compatible device. I can transfer over a "demo image" No problem there. Works like it should .But will not let me have a subscription. Guess garmin doesn't want my money!
  • gatorguy 325 Points
    Boyd, Basecamp will say any Dakota is compatible, 10 or 20. Basecamp will happily download a sample pic too. But no go for getting the subscription.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    OK, I see. Can you lie and say you have a Dakota 20, or does the software know?

    If what not2worried reports is true ("They claim its a misprint and the Dakota 10 should work"), then I'd think somebody at Garmin should be able to authorize your subscription.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Wonder what would happen if I bought a BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription card online and entered it.
    Funny, when Googling this issue, I was taken to a page of Dakota 10 accessories at "". One of the items is a BirdsEye subscription card.
  • gatorguy 325 Points
    If you try to lie (I did), it asks for the device serial number before proceeding. FWIW, I was advised it was due to lack of an SD slot and so was intentionally restricted from use with BirdsEye.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    edited June 2010
    It is still not listed as a compatible device on Garmin's site. But there is a lot of confusion elsewhere. On the Dakota 10 product page at, it also says, "Enhance your view and understanding of your surroundings by adding Garmin BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (annual subscription card sold separately)"

    Then on the REI product page of the subscription card it says: "Compatible GPS Receivers: Colorado 300, Colorado 400c, Colorado 400i, Colorado 400t, Oregon 200, Oregon 300, Oregon 400c, Oregon 400i, Oregon 400t, Dakota 10, Dakota 20".

    I wonder if activation of the card is different from online purchasing?
  • I'm calling them again tomorrow.... Will see
  • Ok no real answer yet... They said I'm the first to be dealing with this...( strange) The tech said that it should do it ( again) . But not sure... He believe they can make it work... The have bumped my case up... I might have some answer today.... ( in a perfect word). They said if basecamp supports the product that they normal have it set up for a subscription to work. Maybe a work in progress on their end. Maybe Gator should call and ask too.
  • F2 0 Points
    (I have not visited the forum in a while since getting relatively well acquainted with my TomTom920 - which was great in Europe last summer)

    I recently purchased the Dakota20 during the REI sale - whole package, topo, case, whatever at a good price I thought.

    So what is what with this Satellite/Imagery mapping. From this thread it appears that I can demo it. How does one go about getting a small or larger sample loaded on the Dakota.

    And just to make sure, it won't over-write any of my currently loaded map sets? I've created a few different xxx.img map sets.

    (Garmin very generously gave me codes for my fairly old, Europe (CityNavigator Europe v9) and US (City Select North American v6) sets when I called them).

    Thanks in advance.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Welcome back. It is really simple to try out BirdsEye and the file location and format is completely different from other Garmin maps, so no worries there.

    Download and install BaseCamp if you have not already done so:

    Now just connect your Dakota and start the program. A dialog box should open saying that your unit is compatible with BirdsEye and asking if you want to download imagery. Answer yes and just follow the simple instructions.

    I'd suggest picking a pretty small area around your home - choose the highest detail level (the default will be "high"... you want "highest"). I'd also suggest NOT selecting the option to send it to the GPS automatically.

    When the download completes, select the area on the map and send it to your GPS, or to a memory card in the GPS if you prefer. It will only send a small sample about 1 mile x 1 mile from my experience.

    The transfer may take longer than you expected - wait until it is complete.

    Quit BaseCamp and safely remove the Dakota from your computer. When you start up the Dakota, you may get an error message about an "invalid BirdsEye File" which you can ignore. I believe this is due to the fact that you don't have a subscription.

    I think it will be enabled by default, but if not, go to the Map Info menu under settings and make sure that BirdsEye is enabled.

    If you look at your Dakota file structure now, you will see that a BirdsEye folder was created inside your Garmin folder, and that a .jnx file is now in it.

    You can continue downloading as much BirdsEye imagery as you like on your computer and use it in BaseCamp at no cost. In order to use it on your Dakota however, you need a subscription. Imagery that you download before purchasing the subscription can later be used after the purchase - not necessary to download the same areas again.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Evidently there has been a problem with Garmin's BirdsEye servers and users have not been able to download any imagery for several days. No official word from Garmin on this yet. There's some discussion (mostly venting) here on Garmin's site:

    This was just posted by one of the Garmin Developers
    BirdsEye outage 7/24 - 7/26
    We are currently investigating the BirdsEye outage that occurred over the weekend.

    It appears that service was restored around 9AM PDT this morning.

    I'll post again when we have more information.
  • It looks like Dakota 10 now has birdseye view!!!!!
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Yes, it is now on the list here:

    But I wonder if you can actually purchase and activate?
  • Yep its working on My dakota 10 now :)
    But their Servers are awful. But it works.
  • I have been unsuccessful in transferring BirdsEye imagery from my Mac Pro (10.6.4) to the 16GB microSDHC card in my Oregon 450t despite following the instructions in this thread (creating Garmin and included BirdsEye folders on the card, copying GarminDevice.xml to the Garmin folder, using high-speed card reader, etc.)

    I have been using Garmin BaseCamp for Macintosh, version 3.0.2 (the latest Mac version.) Downloads to computer have apparently worked fine. At least they show up on the left hand panel and on the computer map.

    I have also been unable to locate where the BirdsEye Imagery is stored on my Macintosh. Does anyone know the answer? And how to recognize BirdsEye Imagery files?

    How about on a Windows XP computer? If all else fails, I can run Windows on my Mac Pro as a Virtual Machine.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    I have a MacBook Pro which I use for just about everything BUT mapping. Garmin gets points for creating Mac versions of their software, but they have always been significantly slower than the Windows versions, and frequently buggier. I actually just installed the new version of BaseCamp for the Mac but haven't done much with it yet. Maybe it has improved?

    I also have Win XP on my Mac which I can either boot directly into or run under Parallels. I see a very significant performance hit with Parallels (I am a few versions behind), and wouldn't even attempt to use BirdsEye with it myself. If you try, let us know how it works.

    After transferring BirdsEye to your GPS, you will have .jnx files inside the folder. These don't exist in that format anywhere on your computer. They are compiled from cache files and then sent to the GPS. I have not used BaseCamp on XP, but under Vista these files are stored in

    C:\Users\your name\AppData\Local\Garmin\BaseCamp\TileCache

    On the Mac I *think* they are stored in

    /Users/your name/Library/Application Support/Garmin/Basecamp

    Since I don't have BirdsEye on my Mac, I can't be 100% certain. But this won't help you get the data onto your GPS however. Once you have successfully transfered BirdsEye to your GPS, you can back the imagery up by copying the contents of the \Garmin\BirdsEye folder (.jnx files) to your computer.

    For help, visit Garmin's support forum. They have done a really nice job over there. The software developers are active participants and help users with this exact kind of problem. Updates to the BaseCamp programs have featured many of the "wish list" items and bug fixes proposed by forum members.
  • Many thanks, Boyd, for your prompt and very complete reply!

    I had found the BaseCamp folder you suggested. It has two folders in it, Database and GcsOverlays; both contain subfolders with MANY files in the latter, but nothing that I can recognize. (No .jnx files, of course.)

    I do have Windows XP in Bootcamp on my Mac, so I'll follow your advice and boot from there rather than trying to use Parallels. I suspect that the Mac version of BaseCamp (3.0.2) is not quite up to speed yet.

    Too bad, since I have already downloaded several GB of Imagery on the Mac side, and it sounds like I'll have to do it all over again using Windows.

    Thanks again for your very much appreciated help!
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Glad to help. I would take a few minutes to read through past threads in Garmin's Mac Basecamp forum however. This must be an issue that others have dealt with. And if not, start your own thread and the developers will probably help (although usually only during working hours). It would be a shame to have to download everything again.
  • Thanks, I'm reading through that forum now. Will post here if I get a solution.
  • Nothing very helpful yet from the Garmin forums.

    So I booted into Windows XP and was able to do the downloads and the transfers without any problems. The downloads were slow, but the transfers were quite fast.

    I'd still really like to have a Macintosh solution, though!
  • Well, I DID get a useful response from the Garmin forum!

    I should have just tried to drag the BirdsEye icon from the left panel of BaseCamp directly to the SD card. Sounds logical, but I never thought of that!

    I'll try it next time I need to add some BirdsEye.
  • I have a MacBook Pro which I use for just about everything BUT mapping. Garmin gets points for creating Mac versions of their software, but they have always been significantly slower than the Windows versions, and frequently buggier. I actually just installed the new version of BaseCamp for the Mac but haven't done much with it yet. Maybe it has improved?
    I find that the Mac version of BaseCamp is much better than the Windows version. Faster, more features... Hard to use the Windows version now...
  • jhays 0 Points
    The drag-and-drop method worked! Just drag the BirdEye Imagery icon from the left panel of BaseCamp onto the icon of your GPS (or SD card) also in the left panel of BaseCamp. The transfer is quite fast.

    Do not use the "Transfer to GPS..." icon or the drop-down right-click menu. These didn't work, at least for me.

    With this change the Mac version of BaseCamp seems to work as well as the Windows version.
  • dam my memory sucks...
    i read this thread and some how thought it was 500mg per sq mile... wow way off and no idea how i got those numbers (thought it was insanely high).

    I wanted to do at least 50-60 sq miles at 1 time so bought a pricey 32g card...
    should have just bought a few 16g (only 21-28$ right now).

    I need a gps more then i thought the old memory is failing.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    Does the 32gb card work properly in your unit? On another forum, somebody claimed to try several of them and they didn't work.

    I would like to get a 32gb card but have held off for some more reports. No problems with my 16gb card though.
  • Does the 32gb card work properly in your unit? On another forum, somebody claimed to try several of them and they didn't work.
    Well have to wait tell jan 8 or so just ordered up all the stuff and the gps unit wont be here tell jan 3rd, then a few days later the 32g.

    i ordered a SanDisk 32GB microSDHC Memory Card , its only rated at class 2 but a few people that have tested have found its much closer to class 4. i hope so.

    and so others know the unit would be a Oregon 450

    Do you know if most brands are working up to 16g? Transend / kingston / scandisk etc.. My video camera can be picky so why not a gps. I have several brands of cards but all from 1-4 gigs (at least in microsd size) i can test out if people dont know yet.
  • Boyd 1955 Points
    I have a Sandisk class 2. Recording digital video can require 8MB/second sustained data writes. GPS is a completely different beast that reads little chunks of map data at a leisurely pace. :)
  • mr. green 0 Points
    edited January 2011
    edit: deleted off topic
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