Oregon and non-latin characters


I do not own a Garmin yet, but the Oregon 550 sounds interesting with the possibility to have a data logger, camera with compass and routing capabilities in one unit.

My question is: does it support non-latin characters? Does it have font support for UTF-8?

I plan using it in South-East Asia, but the question might arise also for people going to Greece or Russia.

All infos I found are related to older units and they seam not to support this showing only “???” for names. How about this new model?


The answer is yes and no ;depending on your language; search for files with .gtt extension. Once you’ve found the required language file just drop it in the \text folder.
My Oregeon comes with 23 gtt files, including Greek and and what looks like Russian.
However, this would only change the menu language not the map.
You need to ensure your img files are created with the language (character set) specified.

Thank you for your answer. As I have written I do not own such a unit yet. So looking in a folder structure is not possible.

I have some more in-detail questions to clarify.

OSM maps are converted using mkgmap, right? Does it create place labels in Unicode (utf-8?) or in a local character set?

The PTT files sound for me just like translation files for strings that are printed somewhere on the screen. There is a Project openPTT that creates new translations.
For me the menu language is not important. I’m fine with English.

I wonder more about map labels, street names and these things. Is it possible to have a map containing characters in say e.g. Thai and Khmer the same time?
I’m thinking that regarding the huge memory offered by the Oregon series that should make it possible to provide a unicode font.

I have found that there are Garmin Oregon units offered for sale in Thailand with Thai menus and Maps. But I sounds this is some sort of hack, the units refuse future software updates. And still this could be iso8859-11, preventing a map spanning more than one country.


You may like tio have a look at http://forum.openstreetmap.org/viewtopic.php?id=4780

mkgmap --charset=name --utf8

‘Is it possible to have a map containing characters in say e.g. Thai and Khmer the same time?’

I cannot imagine this to be the case as each character of a label,name etc is converted generally to 6 bit in the LBL part of an img file to save space; also, there doesn’t appear to be a pointer in the file structure referring to the number of languages used.


are names generally stored in 6 bits? I have seen some screenshots showing a Oregon sold in Thailand by a Garmin partner that has Thai labels. And leaving off numbers it still needs more than 64 characters to do so.

You quote --utf8: In case it’s really utf8 it needs more than 6 bits.

Could it be that this 6 bit limitation applies only to older Garmin units?
How do they manage to show Chinese characters?

I have a bit the feeling that there will be no real answer and I would need to buy a unit to do the experiments by myself…

I would love to have bilingual maps (like thaimap.osm-tools.org). Second-best would be the possibility to switch between maps.
Is there a length limitation? Os is it limited by practical reasons as display space is limited?


Here’s the description of the various mkgmap options relating to labels (from http://svn.parabola.me.uk/mkgmap/trunk/resources/help/en/options))
This option allows the use of non-ascii characters in street names. It is hardware dependant what is actually supported on a particular device. Some devices can only do ascii characters for example. Mkgmap goes to some length to convert un-displayable characters however and by default (without this option) it will transliterate characters to unaccented ascii characters where possible.
This is equivalent to --charset=latin1.
Write the given code page number to the header of the LBL file. Some examples on the mailing list use --code-page=1252.
TODO: explain what this does, and why one would or would not want to do it.
Allow labels to contain lower case letters. Note that this doesn’t work on many (most, all?) Garmin devices.

Finally, one other comment:
Many (all?) Garmin units can display un-rotated non-ascii characters, but cannot rotate them and will substitute them for an ascii character (a ?, in the case of my GPSMap 76csx).

I did say generally 6 bit to be xored by &96; it does go ‘up’ to 10 bit which is undocumented.

To quote from the big book.

‘The encoding also allows
the addition of special characters for a particular language’s character set, specialized symbols on
the map screen (such as highway shields), and specialized functions that modify the text in order
to, for example, hide abbreviations and suffixes that are useful for searching but not intended for
direct display.’

Good luck. There are a lot of other issues with the Oregon you may need to be aware of; it is no doubt a BIG step fw but can freeze up IF you’re not following certain procedures.

Chk http://garminoregon.wikispaces.com/Issues+List

@wilpin: Thank you for the details.

I think I’ll get the unit. We all need sometimes new toys to play with :slight_smile:

Sounds like the right stuff for long winter nights.