How to add an online hi-res topo map to your trip report

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Jelf
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Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:25 am

How to add an online hi-res topo map to your trip report

Post by Jelf » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:56 pm

I enjoyed reading Kauri’s recent TR (http://www.death-valley.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22054) and also posted a link in that tread that shows an interactive high resolution topo map with a symbol at one of the canyons he mentions. Someone else kindly pointed me to this subforum as a better place for map-related info.

There are a small number of enhanced Google map viewers that are free and add various features to Google maps. Some of the add-on features are the same across these different programs, such as the ability to view USGS topographic maps. Other features show up in only one or two of these enhanced Google map viewers.

One of these programs is ACME Mapper and it has been mentioned in this forum before. Here is a link that starts this program and displays a symbol at the mouth of Echo Canyon:
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.45834,-11 ... 116.772780

Another enhanced Google map viewer is Gmap4. Here is a higher resolution topo map for the same location at Echo Canyon. You can decide for yourself which viewer presents a better image.
http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.p ... symbol=prs

Full disclosure time: I am the developer of the Gmap4 software that is showing you the map. This project is part of my way to "pay it forward". Translation: Gmap4 is free for non-commercial use. It is popular with people that enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities.

Gmap4 is a browser app, not a native app. Gmap4 runs in most browsers on most devices from smartphones to desktops. Note that the browser does have to be online. When Gmap4 is running in the browser on a smartphone, it automatically displays mobile-friendly buttons. None of the other enhanced Google map viewers include a mobile-friendly interface.

Anyone can include a Gmap4 link in their forum posts that will display a similar high resolution topo map when the link is opened. Here is the recipe for making a link that will start Gmap4 and display a hi-res topo:

1. Simply use zoom/pan or Menu==>Search to find the area you want to see when the map opens.
2. Click the button in the upper right corner and select "t4 Topo High". Also adjust the zoom to your liking (use your mouse wheel or sliding control in upper left corner).
3. Click Menu ==> "Link to this map". The link that is displayed will reproduce the same map you see on your screen.

These Gmap4 links can be used in forum posts, emails, blogs, websites, etc.

Gmap4 can also display several different file formats including GPX, TPO, KML, KMZ and Google MyPlaces. In addition, you can click the map and save your work as GPX file. (Menu ==> Draw and Save). (ACME Mapper does not display files nor does it produce GPX files.)

The Gmap4 homepage has a FAQ, examples, quick start info (in the Help file) and more to quickly get you up to speed.

Gmap4 default map: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php

Gmap4 homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html

Enjoy!

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
Redmond, WA

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:41 pm

This is obviously a pretty sophisticated piece of map software. I've poked around a bit but of course there's a lot I have not figured out yet. I know about the resolution debate and the CalTopo maps, but frankly I don't really see much difference at the moment between the ones that you are displaying and the ones I see on mapper.acme.com.

OTOH, you have lots of features that I like. Marking a route and getting mileage on the fly is a big win (I am pretty sure CalTopo does that, not sure). Being able to turn on UTM is a must, and you support that, obviously with WGS84 datum. Hmm. I'm used to using NAD27 because that matches up with the gridlines printed on the maps, and so there is less clutter. But you do have the WGS84 grid lines with labels. I might be able to get used to that, we'll see. I always take hard copy maps with me, and for places I frequent, I have tons of map bits already printed out for hikes I have not done yet - when I go to DV for a week I take about a 2 inch stack of these because you never know what you'll feel like doing. These are all NAD27 so I don't know if I'll switch. Maybe.

It is comic to go out with your GPS set to the wrong datum and figure out what the heck is going on :)

You can take in .gpx files and, I think, produce waypoint files. These are very good features.

I've been using ExpertGPS for years to get some of these features. It does have the advantage of caching the map tiles which is nice if I'm going out in the field and will have the laptop - I just fly around the area of interest and them them in cache. Your tool is one I would be more likely to use before and after.

For some reason in the highest res mode ExpertGPS does some strange shifting of the tiles at the page border when I print to my printer at work - but not when I first print to PDF. I'll have to check and see if yours does.

Wow I'd be so happy if I could just use NAD27, then it would be a no brainer :)

Thanks for the pointers and what's obviously a lot of work gone into this project.

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MojaveGeek
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Post by MojaveGeek » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:37 pm

The better res shows up if you look in places other than Death Valley. Then it is a striking improvement.

Jelf
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Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:25 am

Post by Jelf » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:16 pm

Thanks for the kind words.

I took a look at supporting NAD27 and discovered that datum is a mess.
See for example:
http://gis.ou.edu/sympa/arc/okgis/2008-07/msg00018.html
Sorry, but the pain would not be worth any gain.

Over the years the USGS published paper topos with all kinds of different specs. Some do not have any UTM grid. Some have a NAD 27 grid. Some have a NAD 83 (~WGS84) grid.

Now let's bubble up.

By my count there are five free 'enhanced Google map viewers' that have gained significant traction. They appeared more-or-less in this order:

ACME Mapper
GPS Visualizer
Gmap4
Hillmap
CalTopo

The amazing thing to me is that each of us software developers has found some unique and cool features to include. This is certainly a case where one size does not fit all. Anyone interested in this stuff should check out these five and find the one that best suits your needs.

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy

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