Lowrance iFinder Expedition c(+) GPS Unit, Review
For specific questions about this product, log onto the GPSInformation.net FORUM
Return to Home Page * Text by jack yeazel
(Add Transfer Garmin Waypoints to the Expedition -26 June 2006)
GENERAL:
The iFinder Expedition c is about $250; check for latest discount prices (HERE).  One of the first things you notice that it has a very bright and crisp screen.  It has a 2.83" diagonal (7.19 cm) color TFT display, 320v x 240h pixel resolution.  There is a selection of Normal, High Contrast, and Night Viewing screen modes.  (The contour lines are easier to see with Night Viewing.)  When checked in the Menu, there is a Popup Help screen that describes each function when highlighted.  The c+ models add a 64MB SD card, SD/USB card reader, and MapCreate 6 with USA Topo mapping software on six CDs for about $90 more.

The iFinder's electronic compass and barometric altimeter will display direction and altitude for serious hikers and backpacker.  The internal memory is large enough to store up to 100 routes, 1000 waypoints and 1000 event markers. The iFinder Expedition is IPX7 standard waterproof, making it a good choice outdoor enthusiasts.  The unit weighs 8.7oz (247g) with 2 AA batteries loaded.  Dimensions are 5.6 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches, and the unit comes with a one-year warranty.

The 16-channel GPS, color handheld mapping GPS unit includes a unique "Scout Mode", electronic compass, barometric altimeter, built-in microphone, and MP3 player capabilities.  The Expedition will accept pre-loaded FreedomMaps USA (about $100) on a single 128 MB SD memory card  that cover multiple states. They give you all the features found in the MapCreate mapping software, but without the necessity of using a computer.  Simply insert the memory card into your Lowrance GPS unit, and go.  The iFinder Expedition comes standard with built-in continental U.S. and Hawaii background maps featuring interstate exit services.

Also new to the iFinder technology is the ability to use the unit as an MP3 player.  Store your MP3 audio files on an SD memory card, which can be inserted into the iFinder Expedition Color's SD expansion slot.  An SD card is included with only the Plus model; (headphones not included).

SCREENS:
One can with: Menu, Menu, System Setup, Choose Viewable Pages -select any of six different data pages.  These are: Map, Navigation, Status, Compass, Audio Skin, and Position.

.....
The Expedition's screens are quite bright and clear -with the backlight on.  Even in bright sunshine, they are much clearer with the backlight.  Loading screens with dual processors makes it work fast when you need it.

MAPS:
We have obtained Freedom Map F68T "SE USA" on a 256MB SD card that covers Florida, Georgia, and S. Carolina which leaves 37MB free for other storage.  These cards contain all the features of the MapCreate USA Topo software, with land-based topographical data and elevations for use right out of the box. A list of available cards can be seen (HERE).

MapCreate USA 6.3 Topo is available on six CDs representing six regions of the US.  These maps provide searching of POIs, Land features, Airports, Cities, Counties, and Addresses -the same as in the unit itself.  The F68T pre-loaded map card brings up a copyright page of NAVTEQ 2004 maps, and the MapCreate maps appear to be the same maps.  In the Atlanta area, the maps are the same as TIGER maps with the addition of contour, water, and stream data.  These maps do not autoroute.

OPERATION:
For faster map creating, it's recommended that you do a Custom Install of the USA Topo maps, and put the map areas of interest on your HD.  Then under Map Category Options, we suggest you select Topo Boundaries, USGS Quad Grid.  (You must have one of the CDs in the CD drive to run the program.)

Using the Draw Map Border tool, a green outline of an areas of interest can be created (below, left).  Remove the batteries and the SD card from the unit and place the card in the Card Reader.  Click Create Map and the program will create the outlined map.  The program will then ask if you want to register the SD card (MapCreate USA Topo allows five cards to be 'registered').

Quad Grids (Correspond to 1:24,000 Topo Boundaries)
.....
The uploaded map (right) includes three other Quad Grid Boundaries, but on a large area, this would not be a factor.

...

After the map is created, you will be asked to give the map a name.  Remove the SD card from the card reader, insert it in the unit, and replace the batteries.  The F68T pre-loaded map card of the SE USA is shown here, but one should purchase a separate SD card for uploading MapCreate maps.  The SD card is locked in place by rotating the circular device in the center picture.

NOTE: all data transfer between the unit and MapCreate is done through the SD card.  No cable connection to the computer is necessary.  A serial cable can be used to output NMEA data to other electronic devices.

The Scout Mode: Is a function to mark out perimeters and create borders for someone looking to map out borders and boundaries for personal use.  While mapping out boundaries and waypoints in "Scout Mode", one can make audio voice notes with the built in microphone.

CREATING WAYPOINTS:
In MapCreate:
From the main menu, select: View, Toolbars, GPS Data, to reveal several icons relating to GPS waypoints and routes.  After selecting the Create Waypoints icon, clicking on the map creates waypoints in a numbered serial order.  Selecting: View, Waypoint List (F2), reveals the list of MapCreate waypoints.  From here the waypoint names can be edited.  (In Win-98, after creating a waypoint, editing the waypoint name causes the program to lock up, but with Win-XP, this isn't a problem.)

To Export waypoints: From the main menu select File, Export, Export Waypoint List ( browse for a place to put the waypoint text file), and press Export.  This text file can be read by NotePad, EZGPS, GPS BABEL and other manufacturers models but cannot be imported into the GPS unit.

HOWEVER:  If you have saved your waypoints to the SD card and inserted it into the card reader, select: File,  Open, Open GPS Data File -you will get a notice that your .usr file has been changed.  Here you can "save the changes", and the waypoints in MapCreate will be written to the card and can be accessed from the card when placed in the unit itself with: Menu, Menu, System Setup, Transfer my Data, (Load).  Using different .usr file names, one can save different sets of data.

In The Expedition c Unit:
On a map page, pressing the Enter key will create a serialized waypoint.  Pressing: Find, My Waypoints, will display the waypoints either by Name or Nearest.  After selecting a particular waypoint, one can (by rockering left or right): Go To, Find on Map, Edit Name, Edit Symbol, Edit Position, Edit Altitude, Record Audio Note, or Delete Waypoint.  GoTo will be a straight line to the waypoint.  To Transfer the waypoints to the SD card:  Press: Menu, Menu, System Setup, Transfer My Data, (Save), type a filename, and Save Data.  This will create a *.usr file on the SD card.

By then placing the SD card in the card reader will allow you (in MapCreate) to use: File,  Open, Open GPS Data File.  This will load the waypoints into MapCreate and replace any other waypoints there.

Transfer Garmin Waypoints to the Expedition:
Obtain (THIS) 1.7MB file which enables one to download waypoints, routes, and tracks from a Garmin unit and convert them to a *.usr file.  Name and copy this file to an SD card placed in the Lowrance card reader.  The *.usr file on the SD card can then be be read into the Expedition as described above except use Load Data.  (For possible later versions of this program, contact the Lowrance customer service department.)

ACCURACY:
Position accuracy seemed quite good, well within 3 meters over a survey marker with WAAS active.  (The actual errors were always less than the "EPE".)  Compass accuracy was equally good - within the 2° Spec. as far as we could tell.

ACCESSORIES:
P/N: PC-D18, contains a 12dc cigarette lighter power plug and a serial cable is that suitable for NMEA outputting.
P/N: PC-D17,  data cable only, and the CA-7 is a power cable only.
P/N: NPA-1, 1/8" stereo headphone adapter.
P/N: FA-8, external passive antenna (about $67).
P/N: RAA-3 external active antenna (about $104).  Our Garmin active antenna worked well with the Expedition.

jack yeazel