Tag Archives: software

Bushwalking Navigation | Documenting Your Route Plan

How do you document a route plan? How can you use Google Earth to check the route and save pics of critical navigational decision points? How do you use mapping software to plot and export the waypoints to your GPS, print the route and elevation graph? How can you annotate your map pdfs? How do you protect your maps from the weather?

This post is part 2 of  Bushwalking Navigation | A Route Plan Workflow

Getting the “big picture”

The first step in planning any trip is to read guide books, talk to other bushwalkers and search  bushwalking forums, websites and blogs to discover which routes are popular. 

Once you have decided on your intended route you will need to check water availability, weather conditions, locate existing tracks, property boundaries and permitted camping spots.  Don’t forget to check photographic websites such as Flickr, which give a good idea of popular sites and the scenery to be expected.

Next study the terrain to work out your likely speed, keeping in mind height gains and losses, the density of vegetation, the amount and difficulty of any off-track walking, and the presence of waterfalls in creek lines, which may need to be bypassed.  Once you know these you will be able decide how far apart your camping spots can be and determine each day’s starting and finishing times.

I have discussed many of these navigation techniques and route plan design in previous posts (21) and won’t go further into detail now.

Finding a Map

You should never rely solely upon a GPS for critical navigational decisions and for this reason bushwalkers should always carry topographic maps covering the route, and the surrounding countryside just in case you get off track. These can be purchased from a local map or outdoors shop, and are usually available at 1:50,000 scale but sometimes at 1:25,000, which provide more detail, for popular areas.

If you are walking the Heysen Trail in South Australia, there are two excellent guide books (Northern and Southern), with log books readily available available which include maps that are adequate for most walkers. The CFS also publishes (Mapland) excellent map books, and these too are available from map and outdoor shops. Many downloadable walking brochures for our parks are available from the Department of Environment’s Parks SA website.

With digital maps readily available, many people are using mapping software to select just the relevant parts of maps and to enlarge these beyond the 1:50K scale than is usually available in printed maps, making it easier to see the contour and creek lines. If you are lucky enough to live in NZ, you can download 1:50,000 maps free of charge and even Australia has 1:250,000 maps for free download from Geoscience which are useful for getting the big picture and planning access roads.

Using Mapping Software

My apologies to Windows users for the following Mac centric discussion. 

As a MacBook Pro user I have used MacGPS Pro mapping software for many years to import my scanned maps, plot my routes and export the waypoints to my GPS. A print out of the waypoints file is an essential record of each waypoint’s  name, grid reference, comments, and elevation

One big advantage of mapping software is that it is possible to enlarge the map on screen to locate the exact position of known waypoints  or to determine the grid reference to 7 figure accuracy of any point you can see. Once you have decided on your waypoints you can rapidly link these to form a route, calculating distances and bearings automatically by dragging from point to point, and plotting a route elevation graph by selecting the route single click. The elevation graph is useful for estimating time to be taken.

From MacGPS Pro

The disadvantage of using a Macintosh is that without a Windows emulator, such as Bootcamp, and an installed version of Windows, OziExplorer software doesn’t work.

For older Macs (not using intel cpu) use Virtual PC or for new OS X Macs with the Intel CPU use either Bootcamp or emulation software called VirtualBox or ParallelsVirtualBox (Sun Microsystems Inc.) is free for personal use. It works in OS X on Intel Macs. (OziExplorer – Running OziExplorer on a MAC or Linux Computer )

There is a way to overcome this and that is to import the maps from the disc in .ecw format into a graphics program such as Graphic Converter, select the relevant part and then save as a PICT or TIFF file.  Some of the .ecw image files are small enough to import directly into a mapping program such as MacGPS Pro.

Often the .ecw image file will be accompanied by a matching .map calibration file and providing you keep it in the same folder as the ecw file, you can then import into MacGPS Pro and automatically calibrate the map. You could of course still do it the old way which was to scan and process a hard copy of the map.

Assuming there is no matching .map file available, calibrating a digital map using MacGPS Pro requires that you first rotate the map (using GraphicConverter) so the northing gridlines are horizontal and then enter the full 7 figure grid references of four widely spread points, usually near the corners of your map.

Top Left:  Easting 0263000 Northing 6540000, Grid Zone 54J, AGD94

From MacGPS Pro

You must also enter the UTM grid zone and know the projection and map datum eg I am using a portion of the Oraparinna map for a forthcoming trip

From MacGPS Pro

NB UTM Grid Zones is SA are either 52 (far west), 53 (west) or 54 (central and east)

Annotating your pdfs

Annotated portion of Oraparinna map

There are several programs (I use Skim) that allow you to annotate a pdf. This is particularly useful as it allows you to add grid references to the margins of your map (NB MacGPS Pro has a menu item “View/Gridlines” which does this automatically for you) and add notes about the route. Most programs allow you to add arrows showing routes and highlights. Once you have done this, you can export as a pdf and if you have the full version of Acrobat take advantage of its ability to reduce the file size significantly, to as much as a tenth.

Using Google Earth to Plan a Route

Google Earth can be used to visualize the route, finding 4WD tracks, checking whether creek lines are heavily vegetated and to see if ridges would be easier going. Cattle, goat and sheep tracks converging on a creek line probably indicates a waterhole, spring or a shallow crossing. Rainwater tanks, galvanised iron shelters, windmills and bores can sometimes be seen in Google Earth, even if they are not marked on the map.

Flinders Ranges: Google Earth screen capture

Simply import your .kml file showing your waypoints and then zoom in and tilt to see your route in 3D. Use a screen capture program, such as  Snapz Pro X, to capture pics of significant parts of the route, with your waypoints shown. Save these to your iPhone, camera or print, for later reference while on the walk.

NB I can never get my GPS waypoints to exactly match those in Google Earth, as I assume it uses a different map datum

Protecting your maps

One of the advantages of printing your maps from pdfs is that you can print them in A4 format which means they can either be laminated back-to-back or placed in a map case without the need for folding.

Other relevant posts

The Bushwalking Navigation series

Other Resources

Geoscience
Department of Environment’s Parks SA website
Bushwalk Australia Forum
Friends of the Heysen Trail

  Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Photography Workflow Pt 2 | Using iPhoto to Select, Rank and Sort

Ever come back from a bushwalk with a huge number of photos to select, rank, sort and show? The traditional way is to set up a series of folders to which you then drag those you like, to produce a slideshow. Not any more…….there are much more efficient workflows and great software such as iPhoto to help.

The first task with any collection of digital photos is to delete those that are out-of-focus, taken by error or poorly centered on the subject. Next you will want to select the best of the multiple shots you have taken of each scene and decide which you are going to incorporate into your slideshow. You will probably want to remove any movies you have made as they can make the production of the slideshow more difficult. Finally you will want to crop some and perhaps change contrast, exposure, sharpness.

Traditionally this has been done by deleting unusable photos and then dragging the images you want to keep into folders. There are more efficient workflows today that use readily available photo software to allow easier sorting and ranking and which make any changes instantly reversible. The key to an efficient workflow is to assign “keywords” to groups of photos and then rank each using a “star” system or some equivalent. The final step is to establish “smart” albums, which automatically group your selections by searching according to set criteria, rather than requiring that you drag and drop photos, which can easily lead to errors.

The workflow that follows applies to iPhoto, which is available at low cost for iPhone, iPad and Apple computers but there are many alternatives both for Apple computers and those running Windows. The workflow is easily adaptable to any software, including online storage.

WORKFLOW

STEP 1 IMPORT

Import your photos from your camera card into a single album which you have named by location, and date. The fastest way is to use a card reader connected or inserted into you computer.

STEP 2 INITIAL RANKING

Add rankings

Give each photo a single star (*) ranking by selecting all, and then pressing cmd-1  [Photo on left]. Your software may require a different key action.

STEP 3 ASSIGN KEYWORDS

Select groups of photos and assign keywords according to topic or location. iPhoto allows you to manage your keywords so the a single key press will allocate a keyword(s) to the photo or group you have selected.

Suitable keywords might be the location, birds, flowers, people, photographer, camera, date, person’s name etc.

You can assign keywords to indicate the type of editing that needs to be done eg crop, enhance, sharpen.  I crop all my photos to the 16:9 format for showing on a HD digital TV, but you can save some effort  and card space by doing this automatically in advance using your camera settings.

Once you have assigned keywords you can then create a smart album to dynamically group all photos with a particular keyword.

STEP 4 ESTABLISH SMART ALBUMS

Set up “smart albums” which will automatically group your photos according to multiple keyword(s) and  star ranking.

STEP 4 DELETE UNWANTED FROM ALBUM

Remove photos and movies from the smart albums by removing the single star ranking (cmd-0) but they will still remain in your original album even when they have no star. (See above diagram)

STEP 5 SELECT SLIDESHOW PHOTOS

Go back to your first album and assign ** to each of the photos you wish to include in your slideshow. Set up a “Best of…” album which includes all your two star or higher photos.

Set up smart album

The advantage of smart albums is that they are dynamic with a simple change to a keyword or rating automatically and instantly reflected in the smart album.

NB I have chosen iPhoto as my software of preference; not too expensive, not too complex and usable cross platform (iOS 5, OS X) with both Apple computers, iPhones and iPads.

See also:

Bushwalking Photography Workflow Pt 1| Share the Best of a Group’s Photos Using iPhoto

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Bushwalking Fitness | Pt 4 Motivate Yourself to Train by Monitoring Fitness Levels

How do you motivate yourself to do daily exercise and maintain the fitness levels so necessary for multi-day bushwalks in mountainous terrain? How can you monitor your fitness and see the improvement?

 I have just come back from two weeks in NZ, one week of which included carrying a 25-30kg pack with all my mountaineering gear, in addition to my normal bushwalking gear and food up and down 2400m high mountains. I am glad I spent almost a year getting fit, because with early starts (4.30 am) and long days (11 hours) pushing knee deep through soft snow, not only was strength needed, but also endurance.

My strongest motivator was to monitor my weight and fitness levels on a daily basis and seek inspiration from the long term trends, using a combination of my smartphone training app (iPhone Walkmeter), body composition monitor (Tanita InnerScan), and Polar wristwatch fitness test. In addition, I joined my local gym, when they had a special discounted rate, and they monitored my attendance, sending me an email or phoning when I missed too many sessions. I was able to see progress during these sessions too.

My Walkmeter iPhone app has been used by me on almost every training walk I have done over the last year. It has enabled me to set up training routes and see the improvement in my times over the year. I love the way it speaks to  me during the session and tells me how I am going compared to my best, median and worst efforts on the route, or if I wished, other “competitors” at regular intervals along the walk. My competitive spirit soon had me trying to beat my best! When I repeated the route, it enabled me to compare lap times or perhaps just record times at intermediate stages eg my turn around point. If I wanted to share my progress on Google Maps with others I could have used email, Facebook or Twitter to update them every few minutes and receive feedback.

Walkmeter iPhone app main screen

The main screen can be customised. Mine currently shows

  • Route name
  • Activity: walk, cycle, run etc
  • Walk Time
  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Time remaining
  • From best
  • Remaining distance

At the bottom of the screen, there are buttons for

  • Stopwatch: the start up screen
  • Map: uses Google maps and your inbuilt GPS
  • Calendar: with icons showing whether it was your best, median or worst time. This shows summaries* on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
  • Routes: shows history of time and speed and a leaderboard
  • Graphs: speed and elevation
  • Zones: monitor heart rate, bike speed and cadence with sensors
  • Remote control: using your audio cord buttons
  • Competitors: import your competitors or training partners data
  • Twitter, Facebook and email updates

* Summaries show: Count, Total distance, Total walk time, Total ascent and descent, Total calories, Average walk time, Average walk distance, Average speed, Fastest speed, Average calories, etc

Tanita Innerscan Body Monitor

My Tanita Innerscan has enabled me to monitor my weight on a daily basis and at the same time using the electrodes built into the base plate to measure Weight, Body Fat %, Body Water %, Daily Caloric Intake, Metabolic Age, Bone Mass, Muscle Mass, Physique Rating, and Visceral Fat Rating.  I have found the Metabolic Age to be the most useful, as this measurement has  correlated well with my fitness level measured using my Polar wristwatch. You must measure at the same time each day to achieve comparable results.

During the year, my metabolic age went from 44 years to 35 years, my weight from 82 kg to 77 kg, and  my body fat % from 21.6  to 18.2. I found these results a pleasing confirmation that my training sessions were achieving what I had hoped.

My Polar wristwatch was used initially to monitor my heart rate to make sure that I was exerting myself enough to improve my fitness. It soon revealed that walking on the flat, even at my maximum speed, was not going to improve my fitness much, so I was soon climbing the hills nearby. Without realising the inadequacies of training on the flat, I would  never have achieved my goals.

Initially I set up the in-built programs to decide my training program and monitor my fitness, but soon found that I could not customise the programs sufficiently to match my training sessions, which were largely determined by my immediate environment ie steep roads, hills climbs with steep descents, and flat walking tracks.

Its most valuable feature was its ability to detemine aerobic fitness (VO2) levels to a high degree of accuracy, but simply attaching the heart rate monitor and resting for 5 mins, while it did some sophisticated analysis. Reading the literature shows that the readings it provided closely correlated with those measured by highly sophisticated laboratory testing equipment.

Over the year, my fitness level, as measured by my Polar watch, went from 46 to 52 (VO2 ml/kg/min) which meant that I had improved  from that of an elite 50-59 year old to that of an elite 20-29 year old. Great positive reinforcement!

The training sessions and the pain had all been worthwhile!

WARNING:  Try to make the speed at which you are walking as realistic as possible (3-5 kph) by gradually increasing the weight you are carrying as you get fitter. Walking at too high a speed produces unnnatural leg and arm actions which can lead to soreness and don’t really help your fitness. I monitored my speed using Walkmeter and whenever it got too high or plateaued I added some more weight.

Eight additional  fitness posts available in this blog

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Bushwalking Navigation | A Route Plan Workflow

How should I begin my route plan for a bushwalk? What resources are there available on the web? Are there any time savers? How do I  keep others in my group informed and allow active participation in the decision making? How do I take my route plan with me and share it with others in my group? Who should I tell about my route plan? Do I need an escape plan?

Introduction

A route plan is an essential part of any walk for three reasons; firstly as a way of easily checking whether the walk you have planned is too easy or too difficult in the time you have allowed, secondly as a way of improving the safety of your walk by sharing the route with others in your group, police, park rangers and friends and finally as a practical navigation aid.

Fortunately, few of us need to navigate in a whiteout, but if we do, a route plan which gives the distance and bearing of each leg and has chosen prominent waypoints as end points is an essential safety component.

An Example of  a Route Plan for Skiing and Climbing

Despite the importance of the route plan as a planning requirement, route plans are made to be broken and can become a liability if they are adhered to despite the weather, condition of the group and terrain. A good leader must be willing to vary the route plan to suit the circumstances!

A good route plan depends on the quality of the waypoints it uses, the selection of which needs to be based on sound navigational techniques some of which are listed  below. A waypoint which can only be found with a GPS is useless if your GPS fails and it will!.

Aiming Off

  • Used to find an objective on a feature which is straight eg river, mountain ridge, road
    • Deliberately aim to strike the feature 10 ° to right or left of feature and then turn along feature to reach objective (also called Stefansson method or intentional error)

    Attack Points:

    • A feature which is near but much easier to find than your objective.

    Catching Features:

    • Prominent features which are beyond your objective but can act as safety net. 
    • A bearing on prominent feature at 90 deg to direction of travel can be used.

    Handrail:

    • Definite features which are roughly aligned with direction of travel and  which make navigation easier.
    • Don’t use creeks or gullies but may run parallel to them.

    In Poor Visibility:

    • Stick to well defined features or proceed from one well defined feature to another. 
    • Navigator 3-4 places from front, with party in single file.
    • In snow, use a cord 50m long and have scout sweep in an arc until next pole found.

    Pacing:

    • A pace is the distance between each right foot hitting ground.
    • For 1.8m person, with pack, ≈ 1.5m ie 660 paces to 1km.

    Bearings

    • Keep navigation legs short, moving from one identifiable point to the next, even if this involves a detour.
    • Align straight edge of compass with 2 features, with arrow pointing in the intended direction.
    • Rotate bezel until parallel lines on its base align with grid lines.
    • To correct for magnetic deviation, rotate bezel clockwise (MGA: grid to magnetic subtract).
    • Set out in direction of arrow with needle centred on its mark.

    Back Bearings

    • Used to see if you have deviated from the intended path.
    • Face starting point.
    • Check that south end of needle is centred on mark.

    Transect Bearings

    • Useful to locate exact position on a handrail.
    • Identify a feature which is marked on your map then take a bearing on this feature.
    • Convert magnetic to grid by adding the magnetic deviation.
    • Rotate bezel anticlockwise.
    • Place compass on map with arrow on base pointing towards the identifiable feature.
    • Rotate whole compass until the parallel lines of bezel align with grid lines.
    • Draw a line back using the edge of the compass until it intersects the handrail.
    • Choose a feature which is as close as possible to reduce error.

    Resection

    • Used to describe process of drawing three intersecting transect bearings to find your present location.
    • Select features which are at a maximum angle to each other. eg 120 deg

    Route Planning Software

    As a Mac user, I have only used the excellent program MacGPS Pro which I have had and regularly updated for many years. Australian PC users have OziExplorer which is also excellent and can be run on a Mac very successfully if you install Windows. If you have an iPhone you have other alternatives depending on your country; Australian’s have Bit Map and Memory – Map, New Zealanders Map App NZ and Memory – Map, the British National Geographics Topo Maps. All of these allow you to rapidly plan a route by simply clicking waypoints  which are linked together and can then be uploaded to your GPS.

    The other big advantage of mapping software is that you can zoom in at a magnification that you would need a hand lens to view on your 1:50K topo paper map. With just one click, you have  7 figure eastings and northings for each waypoint along with the map zone.  Distances and bearings, “as the crow flies”, can be measured by two clicks. Route elevations can be plotted with a few clicks.

    Once you have the route planned you can export it as a .kml file which can be loaded into mapping software such as that found on your iPhone, Google maps or Google Earth for others in your group to view. Alternatively you can export the waypoints as a spreadsheet which can be printed as part of your trip intentions form which you will give to your designated emergency contact and to the local ranger or police station or uploaded to Google docs for everyone in your group to view. Uploading to Google docs encourages participation in the planning process and a sharing of ideas.

    Escape Routes

    These are the routes you will take back to safety if anything prevents your progress to your destination. This could be an injury, the weather, too slow progress or physical blocking of your route by a landslide, avalanche, bushfire or flooded river. These should appear on the back of your route plan and be given to everyone who gets your route plan. Their format is identical to that used in your route plan. While some escape routes can be anticipated and planned in advance eg if a river you have to cross is flooded, others such as following an injury can’t easily be planned. Of course, if you have a PLB or a mobile and reception, then in case of life threatening injury you can always call for help rather than follow an escape route.

    Web Resources

    Online Walk Time Calculator: use this online trip calculator to work out your estimated walk times for your route plan, using Naismith’s Rule and Tranter’s corrections for fitness.
    Naismith’s Rule
    Online Route card  From 1st Kirklevington Scouts
          Automatically calculates times based upon inputted speeds and climbs.
    Blank Route Card
    Escape Route Template
    What is a Route Card
       
    Related Posts

    Online Walk Time Calculator
    Bushwalking Navigation
    Mapping Software

    Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    Navigation Software Release: MacGPS Pro (Version 9)

    Do you own an Apple Mac? Want some outstanding mapping/navigation software that is fully supported by a Mac enthusiast? Want to be able to view EWC maps such as those provided free of charge by GeoScience Australia (250K) and stitch them?

    I have just updated to version 9. (Update: Version 9.2 was released in November) I have been using MacGPS Pro for almost 20 years and can highly recommend it as the best mapping and navigation software for Mac owners. The developer, Dr James Lawrence, continues to take a personal interest in this software which continues to grow in capabilities and user interface. New features are added regularly and the developer is receptive to new ideas such as inclusion of ECW  and the import of some OziExplorer format maps for Australians.

    Attribution: The text below is taken from the MacGPS Pro website with minor modifications to make it more relevant for Australians.

    Features of MacGPS Pro™ navigation software


    Link your Mac with GPS receivers. Whether it’s a daylong hike, 4×4 excursion, geocaching quest, ski trip or sailing voyage — you’ll always know where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going.

    •  Flexibility: Support of open-standard format maps, aerial photos and charts, scan-your-own maps, as well as our own maps and charts.
    •  Real-Time: Connect to NMEA 0183 from Serial port, Bluetooth, and USGlobalSat USB receivers. View your position on a wide variety of moving digital topo maps and marine charts on a Mac.
    • Waypoints, Routes, and Tracks: Create and edit. Use on the Mac. Transfer to and from many Garmin and Magellan receivers. 

    New features for version 9.0:

    • Edit Track Points. Split and Join Tracks.
    • Hide individual Waypoints, Routes & Tracks.
    • Color Waypoint Icons match Newest Receivers.
    • Auto-Open, Margin Removal, Map Stitching, Find, and Guide Maps for NOAA charts, New Zealand, Chatham Islands and Australia Topos.
    • Map Stitching for EWC maps & BSB charts.
    • Revised Help & Alert Messages. New Shortcuts.

    For Australia and New Zealand:

    • Geoscience Australia 250K topo maps: remove map margin, stitch together, auto-open, find by latitude and longitude, map name, or click on provided guide map.
    • Land Information New Zealand 50K and 250K topo maps: remove map margin, stitch together, auto-open, find by latitude and longitude, map name, or click on provided guide map.
    • Chatham Islands: Transverse Mercator 2000 map projection and grid coverage.

    Other must-have features that make MacGPS Pro navigation software one-of-a-kind.

    • Works with many types of maps—even those you scan in yourself—in the most popular file formats, including GeoTIFF, JPEG, PDF, ECW and BSB. For full List
    • For optimum resolution and seamless map stitching, we recommend our MacTopos Maps series. MacGPS Pro is also an excellent viewer for USGS Digital Raster Graphic topo maps, NOS/GEO and BSB versions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 charts, FAA flight sectionals, and many other digital maps.
    • Digital maps come in two different types. Raster maps are a scanned or photographed image of a paper map. This is the type of map that MacGPS Pro uses. Vector map files contain a mathematical description of the lines and areas that make up the map. MacGPS Pro does not support maps in vector format. Garmin “*.IMG” files are vector maps.
    • Maps and charts in raster-image formats such as TIF, PNG, JPG, GIF, PDF, BSB, and ECW can be imported into MacGPS Pro. These images will be automatically georeferenced if they are in GeoTIFF format, in ECW format, in GeoPDF format, in BSB format, or if they are accompanied by a “world” file, a “*.IMP” file (a CompeGPS calibration file), a “*.JPR” file (a Fugawi calibration format) or a “*.MAP” file (an OziExplorer calibration file). OziExplorer OZF2 image files are not supported.
    • Maps may be purchased, obtained by downloading them from the Internet, or by scanning them yourself. Maps can be calibrated and used on your Macintosh screen with or without a GPS receiver connected. USGS, TVA and Teale (California) DRG maps, DOQQs, and many other maps from diverse sources are automatically calibrated. Maps that do not contain calibration information can be manually calibrated with ease by clicking on a few known points. Check our Digital Map Library to help find maps for your area.
    • Please note that MacGPS Pro does not upload maps to any GPS receiver; the maps are used on the Macintosh screen.
    • Seamlessly stitches maps and charts together for USA, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand topo maps, and world-wide BSB-format marine charts. How It Works
    • If you have a map file already open in MacGPS Pro and open another map file with the same map projection and standard coordinates, then both maps will appear in the Map Window. Under the View menu, check “Remove Map Margins” so the margin of one map does not cover part of the adjacent map. With the margins removed, the two adjacent maps will automatically appear stitched together.
    • Calculates your speed and travel direction based on track log locations and times.
    • Capable of handling up to 65,000 waypoints, 250,000 track points, and 50 routes with 300 waypoints on each route.
    • Graphically edit waypoints, routes and tracks. Split or join track log segments.
    •  Link photos, websites or any other files to GPS waypoints.
    • Hide individual Waypoints, Routes and Tracks.
    • Optional large real-time position display makes for easy viewing at a distance or a quick glance.
    • Save GPS data as editable, tab-delimited text files for exchange with spreadsheets such as Excel, database software like Filemaker, and text-editing applications like BBEdit.
    • Elevation feature allows you to plot the altitude profile for track logs and routes.
    • Almost anything can be used as a map. Just scan it, save it as a TIFF or JPEG file, and georeference it with a few known points. Full Instructions

          Follow these instructions for importing your own scanned maps:
             1. Scan in any paper map.
             2. Save the scanned image as a TIFF, PNG or JPEG file.
             3. From the File menu, choose “Import…” and select your file.
             4. The software prompts you to enter map data, including projection and datum. (This is typically found along most outer margins of a printed map.)
             5. The scanned image is then displayed in the map window.
             6. Click on a known point and enter its latitude and longitude. (Refer to the MacGPS Pro Help menu).
             7. Repeat with at least one other known point (four points is ideal).
             8. Click “Done”.
             9. Your map is now georeferenced and ready to use.

    • Coordinate conversions to-and-from 123 user-selectable datums and 25 map projections plus user-defined datums and grids to support maps for a broad range of countries. Full List
    • For Australians:  Australian Geod ’66    Australian Geod ’84    GDA94     WGS 84
    • Sky chart shows current and projected Global Positioning System satellite overhead positions at any specific location and time.
    •  Includes Maptech® World Marine chart and NASA Blue Marble World Topo Map.
    • For those new to GPS, MacGPS Pro includes its own easy-to-follow, comprehensive illustrated tutorial in its Help menu.

    For more information visit the MacGPS Pro website

    Why use navigation software with your GPS?

    MacGPS Pro screen capture

    Navigation software has many advantages over using a map, compass and measuring device to plan a route. Two of the best are the time savings and the increased accuracy.

    For many people a key advantage will be the ability to zoom in and enlarge what you see, making it easier to count contours and recognise symbols. For others it will be the ability to position the cursor on the map at a point of interest and read the grid reference with high accuracy, without any need to physically measure.

    For most, it will be to plan a route, by clicking a series of carefully selected waypoints, naming them and then exporting the waypoints to a  kml file, which can be viewed in Google Earth. If like me, you have a lightweight small screen GPS eg Garmin Geko 201,  then the time saving is enormous, compared to having to enter each waypoint manually using the rocker button, to repetitiously scroll through the alphabet.

    Garmin Geko 201

    Want to get a bearing between two points? Simply click your cursor at the first point and drag to the second and read the result.

    Want to measure the distance along a route? Simply click a series of points along the route, the closer together the more accurate,  and then read the result.

    Want to see how your actual route compared with that planned? Simply import your GPS data back into your computer and look at the points on your map.

    Your mapping software is your interface between your map and your GPS and as such, the quality of your map is critical, but that’s another story for later.

    References

    For Mac users:

    Navigation software: MacGPS Pro
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    This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.