Search for decent maps

Submitted: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 12:01
ThreadID: 107908 Views:1621 Replies:5 FollowUps:9
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I'm using a set of GeoScience Natmaps, the government product available from ExplorOz for $49.95.

They are so out of date that locals north of Leonora have bleep themselves laughing at "major roads on the map that no longer exist".

Yet the maps have a feature where you can superimpose a satellite picture over the maps to see the actual condition of the tracks, for the period when the picture was taken. They also have extremely fine detail for tracks that may or may not still exist whereas some of the more expensive map systems list only major tracks. It's the little buggers I'm interested in so I like Napmaps.

Does anyone know of a better electronic mapping system, not necessarily GPS guided?
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Reply By: WBS - Friday, May 23, 2014 at 13:03

Friday, May 23, 2014 at 13:03
I could write a novel about the NATMAP maps but all I'll say now is that I would trust them more for the lesser tracks in remote areas and leave the major roads to TomTom, Garmin etc. NATMAP maps are good but old

Alternative maps? My preference lies with:
Hema
EOtopo200K.

Hema are constantly on the road checking their maps and as a has been map maker I rate them highly for the quality of their products. What I don't like is the lack of contours on their maps.

EOTopo200K is a Work In Progress so I'll hold off with any criticism. They are providing a product which uses the NATMAP data you like and are in the process of updating it. I bought their product in anticipation.

There are other maps around but I don't use them much. If you are in Victoria the Spatial Vision maps are very good too. I don't know about the quality of other state based maps so I won't comment.

WBS
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Follow Up By: Member Kerry W (WA) - Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 08:20

Sunday, May 25, 2014 at 08:20
Just thought I would clarify an interesting point here re EOTopo200k

The updates for EOTopo come from us, the users of this site updating our own expeditions and travels into places and trek notes.

The more we contribute to the database ExplorOz has built up over the last decade or so the better info we will eventually get on the EOTopo maps.

Potentially with hundreds of us out there exploring and amending the existing maps, EOTopo can be far more accurate and useful than Hema or any other mapping regime who can only have a limited no of people out there on the road.

Since I realised this I have started to add more of my own track files and places to the system.

Therefore I encourage everybody to both contribute to and take advantage of, the multitude of treks that can be downloaded and used from this site.

This is how the internet can really work to make information sharing really useful - by contributing to a totally interactive site like this.


Kerry W (Qld)
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Reply By: The Explorer - Friday, May 23, 2014 at 14:54

Friday, May 23, 2014 at 14:54
Hi

Some confusion here between maps and mapping systems/programs. You state that "the maps have a feature where you can superimpose a satellite picture over the maps" .

This is a feature of the mapping software ..not the maps themselves. What mapping software are you referring to? Is it the one that came with Natmap a few years ago - not sure it is still around? Natmap 250K maps can be viewed in many gps/mapping programs e.g. OziExplorer, Memory Map, Trackranger, TwoNav, Global Mapper, CompeGPS Land, ArcView, MapInfo (some of these can utilise both raster maps and vector maps). Some of these programs allow overlay of one raster map on another (map on top is made partially transparent). Hema also have a couple of gps mapping programs for android and/or apple products that utilise the 250K data as well (4WD Maps and Hema Explorer).

Then of course there the range of GPS units that can utilise vector maps (and in some cases raster maps) - main player is Garmin I suppose. Magellan seems to have slipped in recent years...some smaller companies such as TwoNav produce good units. As an example, two Garmin GPS compatible products (Garmin Topo and OzTopo) have capability to show all of Australia with street level detail which neither NatMap/EoTopo have while also showing "outback" tracks/creeks/rivers/topography. Not sure of how up to date tracks are, but no doubt many not shown.

So what is your question - what is the best mapping system or what are the best maps?

Best gps mapping system - no such thing - depends on your particular requirements and what hardware you choose (e.g. do you want/need street by street nav, raster maps, vector maps, in dash, on window, outdoors, hybrid, Hand held, laptop, tablet, phone).

Best Maps - again depends on requirements. There is no fully up to date "map" of all of Australia and there never will be (due to tracks/roads always being built etc). Garmin Topo and OzTopo are the go if you are running a Garmin unit. I think there is an equivalent Magellan product.

As far as raster maps go starting with 250K is a good beginning. There may however be more detailed maps of specific areas so just a case of researching - the EOtopo maps are largely the same as Natmap at this stage but may have some better detail in select areas of some peoples interest. Larger scale maps (100K, 50K and 25K) are available for some areas - but as with Natmap many are getting dated. As you mention it is also possible to view satellite images and for select areas high resolution air photo images. It is possible to cache this data for use in the field in some programs ...or make your our own "maps" for use in same programs.

Cheers
Greg

I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: Mick T3 - Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 11:54

Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 11:54
Maps that load onto my laptop rather than a mapping system is my priority.

With NapMaps the satellite picture can be layered over the map to show the actual, though dated, condition of the tracks. (I might not have been clear about this.)

I can use a Garmin hiker's GPS to get my coordinates then apply these to the NapMaps in the bush on the laptop. Cumbersome, but effective.

What might be ideal is a system where travellers put updates on the maps themselves, providing they aren't added by people who change road signs on the Tanami Road, for fun.





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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 17:11

Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 17:11
Hello again

Your were clear regarding overlaying sat maps onto Natmap...maybe I wasn't clear.

My question is what actual map viewing/gps program are you currently using to view the maps on your laptop - you dont say. Natmap is a map...not a mapping program.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Mick T3 - Monday, May 26, 2014 at 12:24

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 12:24
I'm not sure, Explorer. It was the one that came with the DVD from the map shop, and produced by GeoScience, the government mob. It does excellent place name searches and show the GPS position where the pointer is place.

It cost $99 five years ago.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, May 26, 2014 at 13:01

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 13:01
Hi

Thought that's what you were talking about...I dont know the name of it either. Never bother to use it.

Most of the programs I mentioned before (e.g. OziExplorer, Memory Map, TwoNav) have the same basic functions...but a heap of additional ones as well...and also allow you to view other maps besides Natmap.

As an initial suggestion would recommend you have a go at using OziExplorer on your laptop. There are free demo versions available on their website. The other software providers also have free versions so if Ozi doesn't float your boat you can try them as well.

What additional maps you may find useful will depend on your location and intentions.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Mick T3 - Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:16

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:16
I looked again and found the Napmaps viewing program is Napmap Map Viewer 1.6

My initial mistake in using the EOtopo map on-line was not to zoom in enough to see that the fine details of the seismic lines in the Great Sandy Desert are actually shown, and that the clarity of EO topo maps appears superior.

So I will spend the $99 on EO topo.

I wonder if you can plonk it on multiple devices like with the GeoScience Nap Maps.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:19

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:19
...yes you can use the EOTopo maps on as many devices/programs as you like.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: Robin Miller - Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 12:58

Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 12:58
You know Mick , it can be a bit of work but we have had sucess by scanning paper maps into Ozi-explorer and then calibrating them.

On some occasions I even draw on tracks or draw tracks onto paper then scan them in.

Generally though I like to be able to use the really versatile track following features of my Garmin 276c GPS.
So for anything where I can't get a known good map/track I go thru this process and create the tracks manually into a *.gpx file which can then be used either in laptop or GPS.

By doing above - while it takes time I get the latest stuff with all the little specials that often don't not even get included or deliberately left off some maps.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 17:55

Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 17:55
Hi

Another way to so it is load your new tracks into OziExplorer and then save the image (use File -> Save Map to Image file). This produces a new image with the track (or waypoints etc) as part of the image. Probably more accurate than hand drawing them (assuming you have track log). Then its just a case of creating a new calibration file for the new image and away you go. This is simply done by editing the original *.map file to reflect the new image file name.

The "Track following feature" is available on many gps units (and gps mapping programs) these days. Be careful though as some (in particular the older discontinued units like the 276c) have a limit of track points they can load and follow (in the case of the 276c - 700 points) i.e. track points are filtered out, possibly making the track a bit inaccurate.

The other problem with these older units is there limit on data storage - e.g. 276c can only store 15 tracks in total - bit sad. The newer crop of Garmin handhelds including hybrids like the Montana/Monterra can store up to 10,000 points per track...and 200 saved tracks - much better. Not sure if or how they filter tracks when you "back track" (i.e follow a previously recorded track) but unlikely to be worse that the old 276c. My TwoNav Aventura can store unlimited amount of waypoints, tracks and track points (dependent on SD card size - but we are talking 10s of thousands)..and it also has the track following features (but doesn't filter out track points - so kills the 276c) though its not a feature I use much as using your eyes to navigate (i.e look at view in format of you and gps to see if you on track ...not "turn left in 50 metres" etc) works better for me.

I often load multiple GPX files (on PC and handheld) to show unplotted road, tracks and features, all the Garmin handhelds have this capacity, not sure about the Nuvis.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: Mick T3 - Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:18

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:18
You old guys are pretty smart.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:20

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 15:20
Whats you definition of "old"...and "smart" :)

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Mick T3 - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 12:57

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 12:57
Smart = anyone who knows more than me.

Old = anyone older than me, or thinks they are old.

Mick, 63
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