DriveSmart 55 success with Mac


Someone on Ebay had a too-good-to-pass-up price on a Drivesmart 55 Ex, so I bought one in spite of the possible challenges in gps-to-Mac connections. It works better than I had anticipated.

I did update firmware and maps via Wi-Fi before trying to connect with cables. I did debate whether to do maps via wifi, but decided to try it. It does take 40 minutes to do that map update via wifi. I think wired map updates are slightly faster. It took the usual minute or 2 to do the firmware updates via wifi.

I have a 2017 iMac with both USB-A and USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. My wife has a 2018 Macbook Pro with USB-C ports only. The DS55 connects to either. For USB-C ports, I use a Nonda USB-C to USB-A adapter. It's just barely bigger than a standard USB-A cable end. You can use one of these adapters next to a standard USB-C cable on the side by side USB-C ports on the Macbook. But you can't fit 2 of the adapters side by side on the same side of the Macbook. I have had more consistently successful performance from the Nonda adapters than I get from Apple's. My worst case is SuperDuper backups to an external USB 3.1 interfaced hard drive. I have had adapters that never successfully completed a backup. Apple's usually, but not always will. I have not had the Nonda adapter fail yet.

Both Macs are running MacOS 10.15.4 (Catalina)

Garmin Express works.
Garmin Basecamp works.
Garmin POI Loader works to the extent that I can have it install the .gpi file on a microSD card mounted on the Mac file system, and then physically transfer the microSD to the DS55.
Android File Transfer works.

And for the inevitable Garmin oddities:

If you ever launch Android File Transfer, it launches both an app and a daemon. The daemon keeps running after you quit the app. AFT will always intercept a DS55 system connection faster than Basecamp will and launches the AFT app. So if the daemon is running, I have to let the DS55 connect to AFT, then quit the AFT app, then launch Basecamp.

If you launch Garmin Express after you have run and quit AFT, Express detects the AFT daemon and throws up a dialog that says it has to quit AFT, and you'll have to disconnect the gps and reconnect it before using Express. I did not find the disconnect/reconnect necessary. However, since I don't need file level access to the gps often, I think I'll use an Express launch as a way of quitting the AFT daemon.

Basecamp and Express cannot be running at the same time (documented in one of Garmin's support notes.)

Basecamp does not mind if the AFT daemon is running. (Explaining the success of just quitting the AFT app before launching Basecamp to get the gps connected to Basecamp.)

The first time I connected the DS55 to Basecamp on either Mac, it took more than a minute of the spinning rainbow pizza of death before the DS55 showed up in Basecamp. Subsequent mounts of DS55 in Basecamp were nearly instantaneous (after the obligatory wait for the gps to make it fully into what Garmin refers to as "File Transfer mode"). I even interrupted the initial connections twice while trying to get things working -- once with a Force Quit and once just pulling the cable out of the gps while Basecamp was still trying to connect. The only reason I tried again was I apparently waited about a half a second too little before pulling the cable. I happened to be looking at my screen while pulling the cable, and I saw the DS55 appear fleetingly in the left pane of Basecamp's window. Once I waited long enough for a full connection once, everything has been pretty straightforward and reasonably fast since. Apple's Force Quit dialog will report Basecamp as "Not Responding" right up to the instant Basecamp displays the gps information.

Dave - Garmin model 45, III+, V deluxe, SP2610, Nuvi 760, 1450, 2797

Similar Problems

It only takes me about 5-8 minutes to update the map via wifi. (150mb connection). Quite a bit longer via USB as it's still using USB-2 protocols. Mine has major problems with Basecamp. I find it easier to just keep a good copy of waypoints, (favorites) in Basecamp and upload them to a SD card, then pot it into the unit.

I had a lot of similar problems initially with the connections as you did. But I had no desire to fool with the Android stuff.

2019 MacBook Pro with the lates OS.

Frank DriveSmart55 37.322760, -79.511267

Hmm, gotta fix something on my end.

phranc wrote:

It only takes me about 5-8 minutes to update the map via wifi. (150mb connection). Quite a bit longer via USB as it's still using USB-2 protocols.

I may have to go rattle my ISP's tech support some. Speedtest gives me a stable 290 to 300 Mbps download speeds, but lately any really large file download finishes, and then the app complains that there was a problem with the download. On wifi 6 devices, I can get full wireline speeds over wifi. I didn't have this problem until the ISP 'magnanimously' increased my service speed (because their competitors can final compete on speed in my neighborhood).

While I don't know how my router does at single channel wifi connections, even if the maps aren't compressed, it wouldn't take more than 10 minutes to download + whatever the processing time is to do an update. Your elapsed time gives me hope I can get along without Express if I can stomp the errors that are happening during transmission or reception.

Dave - Garmin model 45, III+, V deluxe, SP2610, Nuvi 760, 1450, 2797


Thanks for the detailed writeup.

Great information, Thanks

Great information, Thanks