Sunday, September 28th, 2014 at 5:51 pm
Starting with the three week road trip to Perth and back I used the OziExplorer Android app with NATMAP Digital Maps. These maps do not have the best detail, they have been reliable and I trust them. As well as having it show a moving map, I would pore over them in advance to plan where we would go and if there were any interesting things to stop at.
I did pay for the official OziExplorer app, but it always bugged me that it lacked a certain Android-ness, eg it couldn’t stay running in the background so switching over to a browser to look something up stopped the map. I don’t know when it was, but as soon as I found out about Androzic I switched. It is a shame that changes to the OziExplorer app have been around a new proprietary map format instead of a better user experience.
Before I start talking about what I am switching to, I want to point out that you can download the NATMAP maps for free and Androzic is also free. To combine the two you just need to find an older version of the img2ozf tool to make ozf2 or ozf3 files…
When I was in Perth for LCA2014 at the start of the year there was a keynote about using OpenStreetMap tools and data for disaster relief. This along with talking to people reminded me that it had been a while since I had looked into it. After the conference I was hiring a car to spend a few days driving up the coast, in preparation I had made sure that I had the appropriate NATMAP maps on my phone. I had nothing to loose by installing OsmAnd and downloading the map data for Australia, but I could gain up to date map data along with the ability to search and use navigation.
This worked out well for that trip and I played with it a couple of other times, including on a long weekend to Marysville with the camera club (I noticed one missing road in the OSM data). Though when we went up to the high country for the Easter long weekend I switched back to Androzic to use both NATMAP and HEMA maps. On my US trip I relied upon OSM map data while driving through Arizona (as I had no idea what kind of mobile reception there would be) and also used it for the couple of days I had a car in San Francisco.
Over time I have built up a list of potential photo spots, yesterday I headed out to check out a few of them which included the Pound Bend Tunnel, a tower at Kangaroo Ground and The Blacksmiths’ Tree in Strathewen. I had prepared a gpx file with waypoints which I loaded into OsmAnd, it was then a matter of selecting the appropriate point and telling it to navigate…
This worked well except for one location which was a bridge over an old aquaduct, the issue being that the OSM data thought you could drive down a lane and over the bridge, except you couldn’t. This resulted in a wrong turn at the time and today I created an OSM account and made my first edit to show that the bridge was closed to cars, but you could still walk across it.
I also read up about how to use GPS tracks with OSM and have been playing around with the online editor and the JOSM client to compare some of my tracks against the map data and other people’s tracks. In addition to the missing road near Marysville, I have spotted that another track near Bright is missing. Apart from those, I am quite impressed by how many of the forest tracks have data and how well they match against my GPS track. I think I will use OsmAnd on the next road trip, keeping NATMAP data as a secondary source.
The GPS unit that I use to log both the road trips and photo walks is a Garmin Vista HCx (previously I used a Legend Cx) which is intended for bushwalking. Years ago I did buy some Australian maps for it, but they are now out of date so instead the unit now has maps built from OSM data.
It also might take me a while to get caught up with my past track logs (need to clean them up a bit before uploading), but my plan is to include contributing the tracks to OSM as part of my photo geotagging workflow.