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BaseCamp & GPS problems I have encountered.

In the below section which is quite long there are several points which I hope you find useful. Its taken me a lot of time to figure out some of the Garmin GPS and software challenges. By listing them up as paragraphs I hope it will save you some headaches and time.

The Headings below are as follows:

GPS Units -  ZUMO vs BMW Navigator

Tips on Using Basecamp

Garmin Express Updates and File Size Issues

Recalculating an older Route to fit latest Map Update

Setting up Virtual Disc space for different Regional Maps

Scroll down to read the different topics



BaseCamp to be discontnued!!

Don't panic though, just like the old MapSource software even though the development has stopped you will still be able to use the software and receive map change updates;  its just that Garmin has decided to stop producing any developmental updates. Apparently the future will be ''Explore", a new software but used now only with a few hiking GPS models produced by Garmin. Garmin will and does still sell new Zumo models with the BaseCamp software so dont worry it will be around for many years to come. Big question for all users is what will come next. As soon as I hear anything it will be on here with relevant links.

GPS Units - ZUMO vs BMW Navigator


 ZUMO GPS units - advantages & disadvantages

Another vital piece of riding equipment I acquired early on when I started riding was a Garmin Zumo 550 GPS system. This unit is now obsolete but to those that had one it was easy to use, in my opinion, simple robust and did what it said on the tin.... it also used the old MapSource software.

Having mastered the art of designing routes via the MapSource software I have found that half the fun of riding these routes is actually in the design and planning process. Not only this but once you have ridden the route, downloading the tracks, checking the diversionary points which you were forced to take as a result of traffic problems or roadworks and then following the final version in google earth is all part of the fun.


I then graduated onto the Zumo 590 LM TP............and the new BaseCamp software, or it was at the time I bought my new GPS unit. Why not a BMW system? Integrated with the fly wheel on the handle bar? Great design and yes, about another EURO 200 over and above the Garmin version. I'll come on to that point later. 

In this section I will explain a little about the struggle I had trying to get to understand the BaseCamp software having mastered the MapSource package so well. I must say after the struggles and hours spent ''google-ing'' the problems has proven that the new BaseCamp "package" actually delivers quite a punch if you get to know it better. 


Garmin 595 (above)

ZUMO or BMW Navigator?

As a then proud owner of a new BMW 1200 GS (2016) I spent a long time deliberating on the purchase of the BMW version of my ZUMO 590 - the Navigator V. A lot impressed me with this unit and in combination with the scroll wheel on the bike I was almost tempted to buy it. A couple of things initially held me back; the price for one - about EURO 200 more than the ZUMO but also the fact that the model seemed to be a bit outdated. With hind sight I am actually grateful I desisted.

However now that I have moved up to the 2021 GSA with its TFT screen I did decide to make the change and switch to the NAV 6. There is still a lot to be said for the old Germin 595 LM again simply because of its price tag and ''up ahead'' function which the NAV 6 does not have but as my new bike came with everything pre-mounted I decided to give it a go. Time will tell if I made the right decision.....

BMW Navigator VI (below)

The Navigator VI was launched back in March 2017 and indeed looks quite the part but there is a feature that BMW still has not managed to incorporate but which the later ZUMO models have and that is the invaluable "Up Ahead" function. For some reason BMW have either not managed to convince Garmin to add this in or simply deem it to be irrelevant. However, from my point of view it is one of the biggest plus points that ZUMO have. For those not familiar, the Up Ahead function allows you to programme up to 3 icons that appear on the right side of your screen. The below picture below shows this clearly. The picture shows in the top right the fuel icon and a number of 0.5. This basically tells you that on your route in 0.5 miles you will come across a petrol station. The next icon shows a knife and fork and the number 0.6.  This means that 0.6 miles ahead will be somewhere that you can eat.

up ahead.png

In a nutshell the Up Ahead function allows you to set specific notifications which will tell you what is available on your route and how far it is to the next parameter you have specified.

Personally the fuel icon has saved my bacon a few times whilst recently travelling in Scotland. My old GS had a rather nice computer on board with a lot of nice gadgets one of which is the fuel tank range. Whilst riding in the Borders last year twice I compared the fuel tank range to the ZUMO Up Ahead fuel or Petrol station mileage. This way I was able to plan my fuel stops better. With the new GSA the tank for one is so much bigger so maybe I will get used to the new NAV 6.

Having said this and even my step over to the NAV 6 I do wonder if its time to review the customers demands BMW?

Some tips on using Basecamp. 

As mentioned in the previous section I have gone through quite a learning curve with the purchase of my ZUMO 590 unit. It has meant a switch not only of GPS unit but also from MapSource to Garmin's BaseCamp software.

Even though I have moved over to the BMW Navigator these unit's are still produced by Garmin so the information below might refer to the 590 LM but in principle can apply to all Garmin Motorcycle navigation systems including the BMW NAV range. 


Garmin have ironed out a lot of the bugs it had in the beginning with BaseCamp but even then for many of us who were pretty ''au fait'' with the old MapSource software it was a bit of headache to get used to in the beginning. However having mastered BaseCamp now after considerable hours sat behind my PC  I must say I would not go back to MapSource. The advantage is that your old Mapsource files can be uploaded and stored in BaseCamp format and then uploaded onto your new GPS. Big disadvantage apparently,  and a clever trick by Garmin to get you to buy a new GPS unit, is that it does not work the other way around. Jury seems to still be out on that one so if anyone can claim this is a myth then let me know and I'll change this paragraph. According to my sources you cannot take BaseCamp files and convert them to MapSource nor can you upload BaseCamp files onto a GPS system which does not work with BaseCamp.

Anyway, irrespective the new 590LM is a good GPS unit. Its a little more temperamental than its forebearers the 550 and 500 because is so much more complex. Its designed to do more thinking for you than the older units. For the "Click and Go" GPS buffs this is surely the best thing but for those like me who still painstakingly like to design the routes on their PC and then upload to the unit its a little less user friendly than it was with the old 500 Series. Anyway I am being exceptionally critical and I must say the unit is first class. A couple of useful and interesting features on the 590 are the Smartphone Apps that link into the unit. There is an excellent weather App which shows an effective rain radar for the intended route; an App for traffic updates and also one for speed cameras. They need to be purchased through your iPhone subscription but you pay once and that's it,  no monthly updates or fees.

For those with older less fancy bikes there is an additional option to have the "TP" additional package with the 590. TP meaning Typre Pressure. This is 2 special tyre caps which have pressure gauges built in and link to your GPS unit. This way you can see what the tyre pressure is in your tyres and also set a minimum pressure so you know when they need to be adjusted. A nice gadget for those that like that sort of thing.

Finally, I did find a quite useful link from another website which gives quite a detailed Basecamp tutorial. I am sure here are many out there but I found this one quite useful as it has been written by bikers for bikers. This one has a US flavor but the principles are the same. Maybe you will find it as useful as I did. Click on the following buttons to get a comprehensive tutorial on Basecamp. This has been designed and set up by a club in the US who I contacted and asked to share their information. I found it a great way to get started. 


Thanks to some google searching I came across some very useful tutorials produced by Joseph Byrne. Click on the picture on the left and it will bring to these. There are quite a few so rather than list here I have attached the link. 

Some basic Tricks which I found useful: 

There are a couple of nuances which are really quite annoying with the 590 GPS unit compared to its predecessor, the 550. These can also be attributed to the Nav 5 & 6 as well as they all operate on the Basecamp software.

I hope the following tips will help you overcome these just like it did for me.


1.     What I did find as being a pain is when I had constructed the route I wished to ride with the BaseCamp software on my PC, when I transferred this to my 590 GPS unit the distances were different implying immediately that the route was also different. I would then follow the route on my GPS simulation option  trying to find where the differences were. What I did notice that helped solve part of this issue was ensuring that the GPS settings were aligned with those you have on your Basecamp Software. This caused the routes to transfer almost 100%. Problem solved!


2.     Another issue which I found irritating was that if I had too many waypoints on a specific route that I had made on my PC using BaseCamp, when I transferred this to the GPS unit the unit would cut the route into 2 or more parts claiming that the route I had made exceeded the maximum number of waypoints for the GPS unit to handle.  I never had this problem with the 550 unit. What I did learn was that in order to eliminate this issue you need to change the waypoint characteristics in Basecamp to ‘’Shaping points’’. So what does this mean exactly and how is it done? Well basically the new Trip Planning software in the 590 and in BaseCamp assumes that the distance in between each way point is in fact a short journey in itself. This also causes the audio announcement to assume the same and advise you of same. So if your route is full of waypoints your GPS unit (if linked to an audio source) will announce arrival at each waypoint you have on your route. If you like listening to music along the way this will interrupt you listening enjoyment and after a few minutes will drive you mad!.....So what you need to do is to change waypoints into ‘’shaping points’’ . So how do you do this?


a.     Double click on the coloured route you have made in Basecamp. This brings up the route properties box.

b.     Right click on ALL of the unimportant waypoints and change the settings to “shaping point”. Make sure you don’t do this for the first or last point of your route!. Also if you have chosen a stop – lunch or petrol as a waypoint, leave this in as a normal waypoint. Your GPS will take this being a normal waypoint and will guide you to this in the normal way.


By doing this,  effectively you are telling your GPS unit to acknowledge that this set of (now Shaping) Points is guiding the way the route has to go but also stating that the route between these points are not to be seen as individual trips.  They are considered as ‘’non-alerting’’ waypoints and do just that – your GPS will not ‘’alert’’ you each time you approach one whilst riding your route. Finally a point worth noting is that you may have 125 of these non-alerting waypoints between each normal waypoint. So basically if your GPS unit has a maximum of 30 waypoints that the unit can hold before splitting the route into more than one section,  you can have effectively 125 x 30 total waypoints taking the above into consideration on one route!

Problem solved!

3.     Finally and probably the most irritating for me was that once all waypoints have been loaded onto the 590 GPS unit and the route cut into 2 sections, if I diverted even slightly from the original planned route for road works or whatever, the 590 GPS had this annoying habit of wanting to take me back to the waypoint I had missed. Even if I had reached the next waypoint, the 590 would still try to divert me to the one I had missed first time. The old 550 GPS unit did not do this but assumed I had missed the waypoint and picked up the next one and would guide me onto that one. The 590 does not do this – or so I thought. However a couple of things did help me solve this problem too:

a.     If you use the same principles as above in point 2. The problem is solved – why – well the unit will only consider normal waypoints as those to be important or relevant.  It will always guide you back to the one you have missed. If you design the route only with “shaping points” the 590 GPS will use these to help form your route but if you miss one it will not guide you back to the one you have just missed.


b.     HOWEVER….. you cannot only have shaping points in your route and you might also have a couple of actual waypoints you wish to have for stopovers, fuel, lunch etc. Say you are diverted due to road works purely by chance around exactly the normal waypoint you have set up as a fuel stop.  Your GPS will automatically try to take you back to it. Say then that you decide that you won’t use that stop for fuel but will find something else along the way; as this waypoint is NOT a shaping point your GPS will continue to try to get you to ride back to this waypoint you have missed. How can you solve this one? You can also manually override this on your 590 GPS unit. 

up ahead new.png

By tapping the 3 bar icon in the bottom right of your screen (see picture top left) whilst riding you then need to tap the icon which shows an arrow going around a map pin.  This is the ‘’skip waypoint’’ function and will tell the GPS that you want to skip the waypoint you missed and carry on with riding your route. (see picture bottom left).  If this icon is not in the screen, go to the set up menu and add it in.   Again problem solved.

The more I learn about my 590 the more complex it seems but also the more logical in many ways. The learning curve is very steep but there are many features that really are excellent and make total sense. Only thing, is you need to find out how they work. The designers have indeed taken the software and hardware to a totally new level. The only thing is they forget the 500 page user manual that is probably needed for people to really learn how to use it to its full extent!

Experience shows that the only way around this is to try and work around and through the various issues and use google if you come across any difficulties.

Good luck!

Garmin Express updates & File size issues

Another real issue that Garmin has is with its downloads of new versions and updates. 

I have a dual SSD / HDD storage system on my PC and in the past have had real issues with the SSD being filled up to the point even windows updates no longer work. At one point I even had to reset my PC to factory settings and carefully reload all my necessary apps and files. 

Recently I discovered in the update process Express has a number of issues whereby it leaves behind unnecessary files on your PC which can easily be removed and take up huge amounts of space. 

As example when you update your file Express leaves recent ''Firmware'' updates on your PC. These are unnecessary and once you know how can easily be removed. Not only this but past versions of maps are also kept. These can be easily removed simply by following some instructions. 

1. Old map version removal. Once you have updated your map you can remove the old version. Simply go to your file manager, Chose OS (C:), go to Program Data, Garmin, Maps and remove the older map version by deleting it. 

2. Old Firmware updates. Go to OS (C:), Program Data, Garmin, CoreService, Downloads, Firmware. Here you can remove all older versions of express updates. 

3. Finally the big one. Removing the old downloaded maps. For some reason Express doubles up on these and the file space taken is huge - in my care 16GB of data! To remove these go to OS (C:), Program Data, Garmin, Coreservice, Map. In this file you will find the latest Map version but this is an unnecessary file that is simply stored. In this Link you can read a bit more about the how's and why's on the Garmin forum but the common opinion is that its not necessary to keep this huge file. If anyone has different ideas on this please feel free to drop me a line!

Recalculating an older Route to fit latest Map Update

Another issue I have found is map updates and getting previous versions of a route onto your device. The issue here is you design your route using the then up to date map version; a few months later a new Map update comes along which you upload onto your computer and your GPS unit but when you try to upload the map made on the older version of thew map your GPS spends a long time recalculating only to find the route has gone completely wrong.

I have had this on many occasions and found my original route of say 240 km has now been recalculated with all sorts of switch backs double back on same roads and is now 650 km!.

So how do you get around this?

Well I used to redraw the whole route on the new map version. Tedious and really annoying when you had 6 days routes to update. Then I discovered the ''recalculate'' button in the Basecamp software. I had always wondered what that was for.... Now I know

So what do you do? Actually it could not be simpler. 

1. Open your old route that you made on a previous version of the Basecamp software.  

2. Double click on the route itself (not the list but the route in the lower part of the menu bar) to open the file.

3. This will open the box with the shaping & alerting points you have made for your route.  

4. Click the ''Recalculate'' button on the bottom and the route will recalculate using the latest Map update you have on your PC. 

This might mean your route now has a number of minor changes because of the newer version of the map that you have which you can always adjust afterwards but now your old route is updated using the latest Map version. now downloading to your device is simple and will not require your GPS unit making long and incorrect recalculations.

Problem solved!!

Virtual Disk Space for Different Regional Maps

I ride in many places and one of the best places for motorbike touring is in the USA. In the USA Section you can read all about my adventures there. 

However one issue I have is how can I keep the version of Basecamp USA on my PC?

If you wish to buy the maps from Garmin, this is fine but it only allows you to update the GPS unit  and getting the files onto your PC is a completely different issue. I really struggled with this. Not only do I have a second GPS unit - this one is in fact the BMW Navigator,  simply because when I ride in the US we always rent BMW bikes and normally these come with the BMW Navigator cradle attached. Easy then, plan the routes on your PC at home before your trip, upload to the Navigator, take it with you, click into the cradle and off you go. My challenge was how do I get the maps onto my PC in the first place. After much research I discovered how.

In a nutshell you have to create a virtual GPS unit on your PC and upload the files you purchased from Garmin to this virtual file. Once you have this on your PC you use it the same way as you do your normal incumbent Europe Map. 

So what does it mean? Well if you open BaseCamp and you look in the  task bar at ''Map Products'', you will see the version of Basecamp you are using. This should only show the last version you have downloaded provided you have followed the above recommendations. 

What you need to have here is not only your home version - in my case the latest Europe maps, but the one that you bought; so in my case the USA maps 

To do this you need to follow some basics and obtain some new tools. Below will show you how to do this in several easy steps. 

1. You need to create a virtual GPS unit on your PC. To do this you will require some additional software installed on your PC.

Firstly you will need to create a ''private disc''. There are many products out there but the one I recommend is the Dekart Private Disc lite. This can be downloaded from various sources. Once you have this you will need to configure this. 

This can be done by following the ''Create'' button you see once you open the App. Below is a screen shot of the PD lite menu. 


Once you click on the ''create'' button you will be able to create your new virtual disc. You will have to give it a name - in my case I called it ''USA Maps'' and note - you must chose enough disc space to be able to hold ALL of the map you are trying to create a virtual GPS unit for. Example then for the EU maps you need about 6GB of hard drive space, therefore I recommend you using double just to be on the safe side. It will also five you an option for a  path where you can set up you virtual disc. This is your choice but make it easy to find when you wish to open the virtual file. you should have now created your virtual GPS unit or file. 

2. Shifting files from your real GPS unit to the virtual one.

Now that you have created your virtual file now you need to copy the files over from the location they are on your GPS unit to this new virtual location on you PC.

Remember when you purchase the new maps you need to download them to a GPS unit. The dilemma is having these files on your PC without having each time to connect your unit to have access to them. 

The process of copying the files from your GPS units is a bit more complex and rather than detailing this here I have put a link into the picture on the left which deals with this process. 

The JaVaWa software has been developed by a Dutch company and the instruction video as are in Dutch however I have put a link  to the English version.

When you click on the picture the webpage will open. Once you have read the introduction,  at the bottom of the page you will need to download the JaVaWa software to your PC. Once you have done this and the file opens please click on the ''help'' icon in the top right of the menu bar. This again opens a page with a lot of detail. Its worth reading this part and especially the part named ''Virtualise''. This explains in detail the process of connecting your GPS unit which has the maps you purchased on, to how to copy them over to your Virtual GPS file on your PC using the software. Once you have done this then the process is quite simple. In a nutshell, you locate the files on your real GPS unit using the PD Lite icons in the menu bar, copy these to your virtual GPS unit file and that is it. If in doubt just follow the instructions. 

3. Opening your new Virtual GPS unit on your PC. Now that you have created your virtual GPS unit and you have loaded up the maps from your real GPS to this file location you can open this file using the PD Lite software. Open the PD Lite file, click on ''Connect'' (see above picture) and then chose the Virtual File under the name you have given it. If you have set up a password this will be required. Once this is done, you then can open your Basecamp software and again check the toolbar for the Map Version and you should see the Maps that you have loaded onto you virtual device. You can then work these as normal, creating Routes etc. 

NOTE each time you log off you will have to re-connect to your virtual device by opening the PD Lite software and following the above process. For this reason its probably good to create a desktop link especially if you need to access your virtual GPS maps frequently. 

If you are having trouble, follow some of the links in the webpages from GPS Expert NL. There is a lot  there to browse, some in English but some only in Dutch. Good luck and hope above helps a bit!.  

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