At the beginning of 2015, I tried selling statewide BirdsEye(TM)-format maps on MicroSD cards. Because Garmin locks your GPS’s firmware, you need to install an unlocked copy in order get maps from anywhere other than their paid BirdsEye subscription service. A naked cash grab if there ever was one; Garmin would apparently prefer to milk its […]
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Entries by mtjacobs58
The USGS has been adding portions of Alaska to the National Elevation Dataset (NED), and although coverage isn’t anywhere near complete, I finally decided it was time to pull the trigger on an initial buildout of elevation data for Alaska. current coverage footprint The buildout includes: Normal and enhanced relief 40′ contours Elevation data DEM […]
Answering emails has become a growing part of my daily routine, and I’ve been looking for ways to cut back. A support forum felt like the obvious answer, but I didn’t want to force people to signup for forum accounts, and it would be nice if private account issues could be handled in the same […]
One of the advantages of shifting to a paid, commercial model is that it gives you cash to spend on things. In one my first expenditures beyond CalTopo’s regular operating costs, I’ve acquired a copy of nztopomaps.com’s tile set, expanding scanned topo coverage to New Zealand. As with coverage for Canada, none of the elevation […]
While the freehand drawing tool helps, it’s never been easy to plan long-distance trail hikes using CalTopo. The only two ways to get realistic mileage estimates were to painstakingly trace over the map, or import someone else’s GPS tracks. By piggybacking on the MapBuilder database, CalTopo now has an auto-routing feature. There are still a […]
For advanced users, CalTopo offers a number of custom layers: MapBuilder, viewsheds, sunlight, scanned maps, DEM-based shading and third-party WMS and tile sources. A persistent issue with these layers is that they are tied to either the map you are working on, or the URL of a blank page. It’s easy to go wild customizing […]
A lot of people use Google Earth to supplement CalTopo’s route planning features. Given that, I’m happy to announce a big step forward in integration between the two. First, the export menu now has two Earth options – the traditional KML file, and a KML network link, which provides for automatic syncing between Earth and […]
CalTopo PDFs are now sporting a couple of improvements. The most noticeable of those is a title input field on the print page: If filled out, it will show up in a couple places. On the bottom of the PDF itself: on the account dialog: and also in Avenza PDF Maps: Slightly less noticeable is […]
I regularly get asked about using CalTopo layers in desktop programs, often but not always ArcGIS. There are a number of protocols for accessing seamless map data, and one of them (WMS) has been supported by CalTopo for a while. However I always kept it closely guarded – if you asked nicely I’d provide the […]
I’ve never been happy with CalTopo’s reliance on USGS 7.5′ topo scans. While I expect them to remain the gold standard in backcountry navigation for years to come, in some places they’re quite out of date. Even when they aren’t, it’s difficult to use them for high level trip planning – zoom out a couple […]