Pro Tip: Ibycus Topo

Ibycus Mapsource View

Ibycus 3.2, Mapsource

You bought a Garmin GPS (probably handheld) and now you’re looking for maps for it. While Garmin’s Topo Canada is a great product, it’s also $150.00. Lucky for you, there is an alternative (if you are prepared to give up the 3D DEM topo shading):

Ibycus Topo on Colorado 400t

Ibycus Topo on Colorado 400t

A few years ago, Dale Atkin, the geocacher known as Ibycus did the Canadian geocaching community a great favour. He released a Topo map product for Garmin GPS units based on the Canadian Government’s free topo data. This is a free map, won’t cost you a thing outside the bandwidth to download it and a blank DVD. If you make use of the project, you might want to consider sending him a donation though.

He also released a Topo USA map product but I’ll be concentrating on the Canadian one here. Back when Dale started his project, the maps were hosted on his server and you would download them from there …. but due to the overwhelming popularity of this project he had to stop hosting it there. Now, it’s a bittorrent download – note this is 3.5 gigabytes, and will take some time to obtain.

To get started using these maps, you will need to obtain two pieces of software (one you may already have):

You will need to have a copy of MapSource. If you already own a Garmin map product, chances are you already have it. If not, here’s a little trick to getting a free copy of it:

Next you will need a Bittorrent client. I use the official one.

Once you have Mapsource, and Bittorrent, you can use Bittorrent to get the map data.
The torrent links can be a real pain to locate, so I have posted a few of them here. dfx updated the tracker links with improvements, so I’m linking to his version for the download:

*These instructions do not cover MacOS but I included the link for completeness

Once you open the .torrent file, you’ll be asked where to save them and it will begin downloading. Note, due to how bittorrent works, you’ll also be sharing it to other people. That’s how the process works. The download process will take anywhere from hours to days depending on your connection speed and how many people are sharing the file when you request it. It took me four hours to download my copy on a 10Mbps link.

After a long while, you will have a file: IbycusTopo32.iso. Using your favourite DVD burning software, burn this image to the DVD. You can usually just double click the IbycusTopo32.iso file to start this. You want to actually open the ISO file in your burning software – don’t just copy the file to the disc, that won’t work.

When you’re done, you should have a disc with a few files on it:

Ibycus Topo DVD Contents

Find the file called “IbycusTopo.exe” and double click that one.

You’ll be asked if you want to install Ibycus Topo, select “Yes” to proceed with it

Ibycus Like to Install

You’ll be presented next with a licence agreement. This is where you agree that the responsibility for using these maps are yours alone, Dale doesn’t offer a warranty and it’s up to you to watch where you’re going when using this map on your GPS. There are, in fact, known inaccuracies. Blame the Canadian Government for those.

Ibycus Licence Agreement

Pick a place to install it (I recommend you leave this at the default setting) and then hit next.

Ibycus Install Path

This next step takes the longest, as it copies 3 gigabytes of data to your hard drive. This would be a good time to go fetch a coffee. Perhaps fetch it at that coffee shop around the corner with the LPC micro….

Ibycus Installing

You’ll eventually be greeted with a dialog box that tells you the product is installed.

Ibycus Install Complete

Take the DVD out of the drive and put it in a safe place.

Start up MapSource, then pick “Ibycus Topo 3.2″ from the pull down at the top left. You can now view the map in MapSource, or send it to your GPS using the usual methods. We’ll cover sending maps to your GPS in a future tip.

Ibycus Map Select

[ Ibycus Topo Website ] [ Ibycus Topo Forum Topic ]

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  • Gerry

    Hi there: I found your tip very informative. I have downloaded Ibycus Topo Canada 3.2. I have a problem trying to figure out how to open it so I can burn to DVD. 3.2 is sitting here on my computer but I can’t access it. I certainly would appreciate some guidence in how to open the program so I can access the exe. files. Mant thanks.

  • northernpenguin

    Hi Gerry

    You will need to have a DVD burner in your computer, and the software to use it. I use Roxio, but there are free products as well, like “burnatonce”. Once you have one of these programs you can use them to open and burn the ISO

    If you don’t have a DVD burner, a program like Daemon Tools might work for you

  • Roger (rogking)

    I noticed the mention of this on the OGA newsletter, I downloaded it, burned a DVD and installed it on both my computers. Very cool, and a lot more up to date than my old copy of Garmin’s Topo Canada. Thanks for the article Greg.

  • Stephen

    I have download the ibycus topo 3.2 and 4 but I have not been able to open either. I have burned both of the isos to dvd using infrarecorder, but they won’t open. When I try to open them I get an error message: the application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000135). Any help would be most welcome.

    • northernpenguin

      Try using your disc on another computer, or try burning the CD using a different program.

  • Derk

    Is there a Mac version or how do I use 3.2 or 4.0 with a Mac?

    Garmin software does not have MapSource it has MapManager instead for the Mac. I watched the videos but was not sure what to do to install.

    I also use MacGPSPro to create waypoints, routes, and tracks, can I use these maps with MacGPSPro? It is just upgraded, too.

    FYI I found the Garmin Topo Canada maps to have poor detail compared to my topo maps or eTopo maps. I am hoping I can use these maps with my map editing software and would like to stitch them together for use in my Garmin 300. Thanks for all the great work on these maps!

    • northernpenguin

      If you look around you’ll find there is a Mac version of the product. I linked to dfx’s Mac torrent in the article. Otherwise, you need to use a Windows computer to install the maps, then use Garmin Map Converter (on the Windows PC) to convert it to Mac. I have it installed on my MacBook and it works well with Basecamp for Mac

  • Stephen

    I have downloaded the Ibycus Topo 3.2.gmapi to my mac’s desktop and run Garmin’s MapManager, but the Ibycus Topo does not show up in Basecamp or on my GPSmap 60Cx. I assume I am doing something wrong, but I cannot find step by step instructions on how to do this. Can you offer any or direct me to any? I have the City Navigator map on my GPS and I have used Basecamp with that map and transferred routes, etc. success fully, but have failed at getting the Ibycus maps working. If you can recommend a forum I might join that would help me, I’d be grateful for that guidance, too. Thanks.

  • Scott R

    Thanks for the great product and this website’s help! I like how it supplies basic topo data, and fairly complete roads and road names. I didn’t need to get Garmin’s City Navigator after all, IMHO. But the downside is: the topo maps do not have much backroad or trail detail here in BC. Still need to get tracks from other users to make Ibycus4.0 fantastic. I find the trail info on the MotionX GPS on iPhone is much more current, detailed and useful (but obviously not a real GPS). I’ve also ordered the Backroads SD card for BC, because I need that backroad and trail detail. Ibycus4.0 will definitely be useful for me doing a motorbike trip to the Arctic, I hope.

  • macmurphy

    Thank you very much for your work. I just downloaded the Ibycus 4.0 and it works perfectly. We will be in Canada in May and this Map will be useful for us.
    Greetings from Portugal / Madeira