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foxtrot_xray

Another helpful utility..

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..From the people (person) that brought you the new and improved program to convert datasheets to GPX files, I present something I hope that THIS TIME more than a few people will use... :lol:

 

Topo Maps in Google Earth! A better version than what's already out there! And without any other cool features as of yet!

 

Since Topozone died, and I live on Topo maps, and I use Google Earth way too much, I decided to see if anyone had gotten topo maps into GE. I found one guy who did, however, I could only get it to work half the time. So, I took what I knew of KML and map queries, and came up with my own little Topo map viewer.

 

Eventually, I want to hook the KML generator into my database and show Benchmarks as points on the map in your view, but that'll be a little bit. For now, only the Topo maps are available.

 

Go here, and download the KMZ file, load it in Google Earth. You must be over the US (of course) and not zoomed in to "see the fly on the window" level, or zoomed out to see the entire country. :lol: There are some small "todo"s in the works, including improving the map quality somebit, and getting rid of the option to disable the logo (for copyright purposes and such.)

 

Enjoy,

Mike.

 

[Edit: My server ocasionally will time out, trying to work on that. Also, here's a screenshot:

screen1.png

Edited by foxtrot_xray

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Bravo! Well done, foxtrot_xray!

 

This is going to do even better than

'fill the gap left by topozone's demise'!

 

I LIKE it! Looking forward to your tweaks on this one for sure!

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Very cool!! :lol: :lol: :D

 

This is an excellent accompaniment to Monkeycat's benchmark viewer.

 

A tip I just discovered: since it can take a while for Google Earth to find the new topo map when you scroll, you might want to temporarily disable the Benchmark Overlays if you're going to scroll quite a ways, zoom out to find your new target area, then turn them back on after you zoom back in. That way, you don't have to wait for it to redisplay when you're still scrolling to find the area you want.

 

Patty

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Thanks guys. B)

 

Patty - You can do that, certainly. There's a forced wait of two seconds when the screen is moved. (i.e. It won't try to refresh until the screen's been still for 2 seconds.) If you think it should be lengthened let me know. I figured it was okay at 2. :)

 

 

As an aside, I need some math help from anyone reading.. I'm trying to get the image on a 1-1 pixel mapping to preserve sharpness. (As it is now, Google Earth resizes pulled images..)

 

So, the scanned images are 1 pixel per 2 meters. So for example, 600 pixels covers 1200 meters. What would 1 pixel be in decimal degrees? :)

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Patty - You can do that, certainly. There's a forced wait of two seconds when the screen is moved. (i.e. It won't try to refresh until the screen's been still for 2 seconds.) If you think it should be lengthened let me know. I figured it was okay at 2. :)

Well, maybe Google Earth just doesn't like me, because when I scroll the map even a little bit, it takes 30-60 seconds (or longer) to display the new topo map. Meanwhile, I get big curved arrows in the map window, and a little spinny thing in the Places window. If it only took two seconds, I'd be happy! So if it's that fast for everyone but me, then you're right, no need for anyone else to temporarily disable the overlay while scrolling long distances.

 

Patty

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Well, maybe Google Earth just doesn't like me, because when I scroll the map even a little bit, it takes 30-60 seconds (or longer) to display the new topo map. Meanwhile, I get big curved arrows in the map window, and a little spinny thing in the Places window. If it only took two seconds, I'd be happy! So if it's that fast for everyone but me, then you're right, no need for anyone else to temporarily disable the overlay while scrolling long distances.

 

Patty - I understand what you're saying now. You can still scroll the screen when the large white arrows appear on the screen. ;)

 

The KMZ file actually causes GE to do two internet queries:

1. The first is to my site that has the CGI script. GE sends my script the bounding box of the visible screen. My CGI script then returns a KML file with two items (visible in the tree on the left). One item is the USGS logo in red or green, depending on the status of the view. The other is a formed image link to the USGS topo maps.

2. GE then contacts terraserver - via the URL I provided.

 

You can continue to move GE around while iut's trying to pull up the image, it will just scroll out of sight. Once you stop, it'll re-try with the current view.

 

If my site is down, you'll never get the large white arrows - you'll get a message saying it timed out. If Terraserver isn't responding, those large arrows will turn into a huge "X". :D

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Maybe I'm missing something, it's quite possible. And I'm sure not being critical (no way I could write the KMZ). In terms of benchmark hunting, what does F-X app do that the Scaredy Cat Benchmark Viewer site doesn't do, using the Topo tab on that site?

 

The only think that occurs to me, is that if you are talking geocaches, or some other file

of waypoints, then, yes, I can see it is very useful.

 

Just to round out the thought, USAPhotoMap is an alternate way to go, rather than Google Earth. With this, the Topos or DOQQ's end up on your own personal confuser, which is real handy if you want to hit the road with your laptop, and won't have wideband internet handy.

 

With all these goodies, who needs Topozone anyway?

 

P.S. In CA, I use Delorme Topo USA, and have both N & S CA 3D TopoQuads (USGS Topos), and it is great. I only need to think about using the above possibilities if I'm heading out of state.

 

K

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Maybe I'm missing something, it's quite possible. And I'm sure not being critical (no way I could write the KMZ). In terms of benchmark hunting, what does F-X app do that the Scaredy Cat Benchmark Viewer site doesn't do, using the Topo tab on that site?

 

The only think that occurs to me, is that if you are talking geocaches, or some other file

of waypoints, then, yes, I can see it is very useful.

That's exactly the benefit I'm seeing, Larry. I have a KML file that displays customized pushpins for all the benchmarks in Tuolumne County. Remember the awk script that Black Dog Trackers made for us last year? By turning on or off various lines of that script, I can color-code the pushpins by when a mark was last found, how old it is, the last reported status, etc.

 

So as soon as I loaded Mike's new KMZ file and zoomed out from my default location (my house, of course :-)), there were my Tuolumne County marks. I zoomed in, and there was each and every benchmark displayed on a topo map. Of course, I also have all the Tuolumne County marks in a waypoint file that I use with MacGPS Pro, but being able to color code them in various ways is extremely helpful, so that, for example, I won't bother looking for marks that have been reported found in the last few years.

 

I really, really like the ScaredyCatFilms benchmark viewer, too. I just used it a few weeks ago when I was looking for marks in the NGS database near the Pinnacles. I rarely get to San Benito County, so using that viewer was a lot easier than downloading the whole county .dat file. Mike's new viewer serves a slightly different purpose. We are very lucky that so many talented software coders have created all these tools for us. They've all been immensely helpful!

 

BTW, Mike, thanks for letting me know that I can move the map even while the gray arrows are displayed. You're right, I just tried it and it works fine.

 

Patty

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Maybe I'm missing something, it's quite possible. And I'm sure not being critical (no way I could write the KMZ). In terms of benchmark hunting, what does F-X app do that the Scaredy Cat Benchmark Viewer site doesn't do, using the Topo tab on that site?

Honestly - and no offense taken - absolutely nothing. :D

 

For me, I don't like using the web interface, as GE will allow better printouts and scrolling and easier mouse controls. (As well as your own non-geocaching / benchmark placemarks and such.)

 

I've heard non-official reports that the satellite imagry in GE is higher-quality, but I don't know if that's a "benefit" or not. :mad:

 

The only think that occurs to me, is that if you are talking geocaches, or some other file

of waypoints, then, yes, I can see it is very useful.

Eventually, like I said above, I want to tie it into my database so that it will provide a few layers for benchmarks - like intersection stations, horizontal marks, etc. In this case the only benefit would be not having to change pages to go to a different state.

 

P.S. In CA, I use Delorme Topo USA, and have both N & S CA 3D TopoQuads (USGS Topos), and it is great. I only need to think about using the above possibilities if I'm heading out of state.

That's what I use to transfer maps to my GPS - I'm in the process of saving up to get DeLorme's offering of the entire US in USGS Topos. :P I like the GE ability to have the Topos over Satellite imagery. :P

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Hey you guys! (The Electric Company. Am I a geek or what?)

 

I finally got my sorry a** around to getting the benchmarks in Google Earth.

 

If you go here, download the 1.5.0 KMZ, and load it into Google Earth. There are links to screen shots on the index page there, as well as basic information on using it. (And two known issues.) It operates JUST like the Google maps viewer online, save that: 1. It runs in Google Earth and 2. You don't have to change pages when sliding to a new state. :D

 

Comments, suggestions, and donations welcome! Complaints, deal with it, it's free. ;)

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I clicked the download link that said, "Download: v1.5.0 (716bytes, 5/07/08)," but I ended up with v1.0.0 again...

 

Maybe this will be obvious when I get version 1.5.0, but how does one turn off the topo maps and still view the benchmarks? Aren't they both controlled by the same KMZ file?

 

Patty

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Good catch Patty. I was wondering where the benchmarks were but never thought to look at the version.

 

From foxtrot's screen shots the three things he provide can be checked or unchecked--the status, the topo maps, and the NGS Benchmarks.

 

Matt

 

edit--on a whim I copied the link and changed the version--you can get 1.5 here.

Edited by mloser

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edit--on a whim I copied the link and changed the version--you can get 1.5 here.

 

Yeah, I was an idiot. Didn't even noticed until I tried to download it, and saw the old version of everything. D'oh. It's all fixed now, the link is correct..

 

The altitudes are fixed, and the stability issue will be fixed soon. ;)

 

And Yes - each item can be individually turned on or off. There is an issue with Google Earth (not sure if I don't have something set up right or if t's the nature of the beast) but if you have a layer loaded (benchmarks or map) and then turn it off and move the map, then turn it back on, the new location won't load. You have to manually refresh it. I'm looking into that, too..

 

Me.

Edited by foxtrot_xray

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Got it now, thanks! The info boxes are very helpful, and I like the ability to turn the topo maps and the benchmarks on and off separately.

 

Patty

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Got it, but MAN is it S L O W! :D

Obviously, no point in complaining about the quality of free products! :D

I don't know yet if I prefer it to the scaredycat viewer or not, but I suspect each has their advantages. Time will tell.

Thanks for another tool on my belt! :D

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Got it, but MAN is it S L O W! :D

Obviously, no point in complaining about the quality of free products! :D

 

Which part? If it's the maps, I have no control over that, unfortunately, since it's not my server and it's all but unmaintained. :D If the marks themselves are showing up slowly, let me know what state(s) you were looking at. My tables may need cleaning. :D

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GE tends to be a hog on its own, and I will agree that the topo maps take a while to load, but it only took about 10 seconds to load a good section of topo when I just tested it. The bench marks take only a couple seconds to load. Overall I like how it works. I am not sure which viewer I prefer right now. Both have a lot going for them, but both also have some flaws (not all the programmer's doing!) My biggest issue with Scaredycat viewer is that the window is not resizable and it sits just low enough on the page that I have to shift it up to get it all in my screen. What I like about Scaredycat viewer is that it uses Google Maps, which are quicker, and that it has terrain data, which looks cool. The Foxtrot viewer uses GE, which means easy navigation as well as the other features of GE that are cool. It is hard to choose!

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For those interested.

 

I was able to get the BM Viewer and Google Earth to work together.

 

If you add a file with a link to the State in your Google Earth file and make it open in the same window you can use both the programs at the same time.

You just have to link to each State.

Like GSAK split screen.

 

I have just started looking into it so I will try to update flaws and changes.

 

I wish there was a way to add it as a network link but am not computer savy enough to do that yet.

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FYI on Google Earth:

A year or two ago, when I looked into looking GE more seriously than I had been until then, I signed up for Google Earth Plus. It's $20 per year. At that time, one of the selling point was priority access to their server. Faster response time. I re-newed again this year (maybe 3 or 4 months ago). It also gives a few other features I like (direct GPS downloads, higher resolution printing). Seems worth it to me.

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FYI on Google Earth:

A year or two ago, when I looked into looking GE more seriously than I had been until then, I signed up for Google Earth Plus. It's $20 per year. At that time, one of the selling point was priority access to their server. Faster response time. I re-newed again this year (maybe 3 or 4 months ago). It also gives a few other features I like (direct GPS downloads, higher resolution printing). Seems worth it to me.

 

Yup this is my 3rd year with GE +.

It is well worth it to me.

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At that time, one of the selling point was priority access to their server. Faster response time.

Is this still the case? Is the speed increase noticeable?

 

Cheers,

Mike.

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Is this still the case? Is the speed increase noticeable?

 

Cheers,

Mike.

 

It is for me but I am the slow one.

 

Have you talked to the creator or looked into incorperating the BM Viewer?

 

I will ask but do not know if I will understand but,how do you network something(BM Viewer) into something else(GE).

 

The networking linky in GE thingy does not do worky.

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Have you talked to the creator or looked into incorperating the BM Viewer?

Which 'BM Viewer' are we talking about?

 

Quick update: On my last database update, I deleted Idaho and Michigan. I'm sorry, those states are temporarily not available. They will be re-instated soon, promise. :D

 

I'm getting data loaded in right now, so by the end of the day the BM info-balloons will have a little more infomation:

1. It will display the marker type (the marker code from the datasheet)

2. It will display the setting ('Bedrock', etc..)

3. It will display a lits of all GEOCAC initials that have filed a report for the marker. (Status won't matter. Not Found, Found, they'll still all be listed.)

 

Regarding #3 - The data may be up to 18 months out of date. I had to pull this info from archived datasheets, and some haven't been updated since Oct 2006. If anyone knows an easy way to get CURRENT sheets for an entire state (shape files won't work as they don't have that info), please, please let me know. :D

 

Cheers,

Mike.

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Mike:

 

You are not the only one wondering. See here for the same issue that we raised just yesterday on the NGS board.

 

Klemmer

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Mike:

 

You are not the only one wondering. See here for the same issue that we raised just yesterday on the NGS board.

 

Klemmer

Thanks. I just added my voice to that. :)

 

I could do it by county, but since I'm handling a database of.. well, EVERY COUNTY, by the time it takes me to get to the end of everything, the beginning would be out of date. ;)

 

Update - NEW INFO added to the info balloons, and organization of the balloon a little easier to read. Everything possible is listed now. New things added:

1. Marker Type ("DB - Benchmark Disk" to "R - Rivet".)

2. If station is an Intersection station. (If it's not, nothing will appear.)

3. Marker Setting ("Drill Hole in Large Boulder")

4. Initials of GEOCAC reports. (If there are none, nothing will appear.)

 

A note on #4 - Because of a code typo, ANY STATE BEFORE Montana, alphabetically, won't have any GEOCAC initials listed. This will be fixed on Monday. I have to reload those entries. I'll also have Michigan and Idaho up on Monday. :D

 

After that, that is about it. There isn't any more info I can safely add without causing some kind of issue. (Data delays, server load, space issues) so that about sums it up. If there are any questions, or notice anything funky, PLEASE let me know. I'll always be up for doing maintenance on it. :D

 

Cheers,

Mike.

Edited by foxtrot_xray

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I could do it by county, but since I'm handling a database of.. well, EVERY COUNTY, by the time it takes me to get to the end of everything, the beginning would be out of date. :ph34r:

:blink:

Oh yes, definitely too much work for the whole country! Larry and I have downloaded a few individual counties, but even doing all of California would be tedious, much less the whole country! By all means, wait for the NGS .dat updates.

 

Update - NEW INFO added to the info balloons, and organization of the balloon a little easier to read. Everything possible is listed now. New things added:

1. Marker Type ("DB - Benchmark Disk" to "R - Rivet".)

2. If station is an Intersection station. (If it's not, nothing will appear.)

3. Marker Setting ("Drill Hole in Large Boulder")

4. Initials of GEOCAC reports. (If there are none, nothing will appear.)

Very cool! BTW, I thought we had lost the monumentation date in this rev, but then I spotted it. Do you think it might be better to call it "Monumentation Date" instead of "Set On"? The former is the standard terminology, right?

 

Patty

Edited by Wintertime

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Very cool! BTW, I thought we had lost the monumentation date in this rev, but then I spotted it. Do you think it might be better to call it "Monumentation Date" instead of "Set On"? The former is the standard terminology, right?

 

Patty

Hey! I went ahead and changed it back. The datashape files actually had it listed as "Set Date", and I had changed it to save space, but since you brought it up, and space wasn't at a premium, I went ahead and changed it back. ;)

 

Some things changed this morning:

1. Fixed an issue where the 'Marker Type' and 'Setting' were displaying incorrect labels. (i.e. Many types had a SETTING of "Lookout Tower". D'oh.

2. Updated the existing BM icons. They look a little prettier.

3. Added Intersection station icons! Colors follow same rules as the BM icons. I stole the Intersection icon from GSAK, that wonderful little tool. (To make things easier, it's the same icon that is used is you use my NGS->GPX program to import into GSAK.)

4. States that I had broke on Friday are in the process of getting fixed. They should be all complete by the end of the day. I went ahead and updated California first, since I know many live out there and it's a HUGE (benchmark wise) state. However, remember also that my records for MOST states are only up to '06. :laughing:

 

If anyone sees any issues, please let me know. ;)

 

Edit: All changes take place internally. You do NOT need to re-download anything. :lol:

Edited by foxtrot_xray

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