We have a Lowrance GPS / Fish finder (Elite 4) which allows you to save your tracks to a data file on a SD card, it also allows waypoints to be uploaded to the GPS or downloaded in the datafile. However once you have the data file it is in a prioporty format which makes it difficult to import into another mapping program such as Google Earth or Mapsource from Garmin. Having paid for Mapsource I didn't think it should be necessary to purchase another mapping program.

The Lowrance Eite-4 also does not have a USB as other GPS units have which would allow you to upload / download waypoints directly to it, having 100s of existing waypoints logged it would be a large task to manually log each waypoint in the unit.

So heres how I produced a simple solution which allowed me to upload / download waypoints and tracks between computer and GPS.

 Warning: An micro SD card is required for this process - however do not use the SD card which contains your GPS maps, eg that provided by Naviconics. Use another blank card !!.

Obtain and install the following two free GPS ulities to manage / convert waypoints or track data.

  • EasyGPS: Allows easy creation or editing of waypoint list files.
  • GPSBabel: Allows of GPS data files between various formats. I.e. Lowrance .usr data files and generic format GPX XML format and a stack of other formats such as Garmin Mapsource gdb.

To upload a file with waypoints or tracks to lowance GPS:

On your computer create a file with EasyGPS which contains the waypoints and or tracks you want to upload to your lowrance GPS, usually created in GPS Exchange format (.gpx). For example you may have xpert fishing spots books with waypoints you want to upload to your GPS.

The open this file in GPSBabel and use it to convert it to Lowrance .USR formate, note for older GPS units use "Lowrance" USR formate this does not include depth data. If you want to include depth data (depends upon GPS abilities) use Lowrance .USR version 4 format. Note before converting you can select if you want to include waypoints and/or routes and/or tracks. Save this file on your SD card.

Then insert SD card into Lowrance GPS and use the feature upload "waypoints/tracks/routes" to your GPS, if successful you will now have have the waypoints etc in your EasyGPS file in your Lowrance GPS.

If it fails check:

  1. You do have waypoints in the original file.
  2. You created correct .USR file in GPSBabel, if one version does not work try the other format.

To download a lowrance data .USR file and save or view in other mapping program.

 Using a blank SD card (not your mirco SD card which contains your maps for Lowrance GPS), insert card into GPS unit. Use the feature download "waypoints/tracks/routes" to a file on your SD card, different units allow this to be saved in different formats - chose the one that best suits you e.g. Version 3 (no dept info) Version 4(includes depth info) or in some cases GPX format.

Then copy this file to you computer, use GPSBabel to convert it to the generic GPS Excahnge format. You can then view it in other mapping progrms such as google earth or Garmins Mapsource etc.