Offroad Navigation Satellite Imagery - how I do it

darb

Well-Known Member
just wanted to share this.
I've found that offroad, using satellite imagery to find your way very handy, especially when there's a maze of tracks and you're trying to get through somewhere.

What I do is draw up (or use existing GPS logs for garmin) into google earth , save as a kmz file.

Then I open the kmz file onto a spare iPhone or ipad which mounts to my dash (i use dropbox which caches the KMZ on the devive) , view all the sat imagery on it, which caches it... Disconnect from wifi and then head out on trip.

This means that have high res sat imagery , my drawn in tracks , and a blue dot showing current location, available on the dash at all times. Have to ensure there's no 3G connection active or thr device resets cache.

As to non image type navs, I use a garmin GPS , with "shonky maps topo" loaded on it (it's based on geoscience australia tracks and topo data.).

All free.

Typical ipad view (no blue dot because I at home)


Actual screen view sorry blurry but you can see google earth on iPhone showing a track I'm navigating (red line was one I either drew in , or had downloaded earlier from someone else who shared their GPS log). Found it very useful for navigating a maze of tracks late arvo when trying to get home a different way , and a crabby 1 year old who's had enough time in seat for the day.

Topo tracks I found were next to useless, they're barely used sand tracks and such , hardly surveyed or gazetted.

The sat imagery slowly track along with you as you move, blue dot being vehicle location.

Mates with fandangled offroad GPS's seem to struggle because they're relying on man made data that is often incomplete or misleading.

Satellite imagery has a lot more truth to it. Of course aged images and forest cover can be misleading too.



For anyone interested, here's a copy of my kmz file from recent trip ... So basically I'd open that kmz file in google earth (any device with google earth installed can open this kmz file, choose "open in" google earth) ... Zoom down and cache the whole area,, then switch to flight mode or disconnect from Internet ... Voila, it works completely offline. (It asks when you load it if you want to run in cache)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3trd2mzjz70bup1/Brad-Bremer.kmz

Anyone wants a finer point on how to do this , let me know happy to help.
 

iamarok

New Member
I thought this was very interesting and started to see if i could come up with similar results. It really works and began planning a route from Broken Hill to Arkaroola Village via Yunta and Frome Downs. Will be very helpful. Should be all i need for navigation - Compass, Hema maps (hard copy), GPS, and Google Earth, all on an iPad.
 

Cyberess

Active Member
About share tracks etc .. Satellite maps, and sharing track have a look a Google's Map engine https://mapsengine.google.com -- on Myswag I done a tutor on QLandkarte and doing a track on a map etc .. You will need a MySwag login to read the post

"http://www.myswag.org/index.php?topic=26910.0"

What I did on the tutor was to draw and create gpx file

I have now discovered that this can be done directly in "Google Map Engine"

Any way check out the track -- this is exactly what I do when I am working out a map or where to 4WD -- Have a look at the shared map from the link for Google Map Engine
https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zyuue8tYwDm4.k8Yvo8ylbF3c

Anyway check out the link.. have a play in "Google Map Engine"

In the pics below -- just a demo on how to change the base map.





Have fun.
 

Attachments

PJR NSW

Banned
All good and nice to see the mix of technologies. But I think your mates need to learn how to use the gps or get a better one. We never have any hassles.

Simple and extremely flexible. No need for a mobile phone, bluetooth, the internet or Google earth or anything. No stuffing around drawing tracks or even downloading a mates "trip from last year". No need for waypoints our route files. None of that.

Just a paper map, a compas and a good idea of the map and especially the way that you want to use top get where you are going. I have done it this way for decades and it still works. I could even do without the GPS if it blew up.

Phil
 

prawns

Moderator
Personally I just do all the stuff on the phone app itself (downloading areas of satellite imagery etc and plotting/recording/navigating tracks) then when I get home I directly link the GPX file I recorded into normal google maps like so to display
http://goo.gl/maps/lqqQc

Then you can pick what map style you want also

I like paper maps - just not enough detail (my digital ones can list thousands of caravan parks/campgrounds/toilets/info centers/marine park fish sanctuarys etc etc etc unlike the paper ones which would be unreadable with all that info displayed - I just turn the "info" I want on or off to display on the map as required)
 
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PJR NSW

Banned
I learnt a big lesson on the Cape York family trek (3 cars). I made up all manner of waypoint and track files. Even used proximity triggers to play an audio file so that as you reached an "interesting" spot the three cars occupants got an earfull of stuff about the place. Learnt heaps about the trip and Ozi but what a waste.

Just the other side of Cooktown we had to change plans. All the rest of the months files were basically stuffed. We either did them the wrong way or we had to forget them and use a different way to get to the destinations.

KISS is your friend.

Not again.

Phil
 

prawns

Moderator
Take both I reckon, then your covered incase your paper maps get lost or are just flat out too outdated or not detailed enough, and your also covered if your phone/gps unit/charger dies

Being able to use both systems confidently would be the most important perhaps

If tracks and things are important - back the files up to dropbox or another phone (any phone even if it doesnt do gps) and then you will always have access to backup files if the worst happens you can just go online for another copy - or if "out of service" simply bluetooth/nfc/wifi etc the data back over to whatever phone your using
 
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PJR NSW

Banned
Take both I reckon, then your covered incase your paper maps get lost or are just flat out too outdated or not detailed enough, and your also covered if your phone/gps unit/charger dies

Being able to use both systems confidently would be the most important perhaps

If tracks and things are important - back the files up to dropbox or another phone (any phone even if it doesnt do gps) and then you will always have access to backup files if the worst happens you can just go online for another copy - or if "out of service" simply bluetooth/nfc/wifi etc the data back over to whatever phone your using
In our case a major connecting/transport road was closed and we had to go miles out of the way to get back on track. It wasn't a loss of data or need for back up etc it was a change of plans and stuffed if I was going to do all that work again.

We just take two SD cards with copies of all the maps on both. In fact they both stay in the car. The only update/purchase was the specific Canning map by Westprint, and SD cards are already updated.

We still use the GPS and paper maps but no need for all that stuff you mentioned Prawns. And that's using both hard copy and electronic versions.

The paper maps and books and compass always go with the car.

Phil
 

prawns

Moderator
you could of just selected the place your trying to get to and hit navigate...then tell it which road is blocked so it auto routes another way? (shouldnt need to do any manual plotting - mine does auto "offroad nav" though and warns it might not be quite as accurate with directions not possible just a overlay)

Paper maps are also awesome for sitting around a bonnet/campfire and planning (harder with a tiny screen as a map) Each to their own, Im more confident using digital personally but I can see each have their own pros and cons, I always leave my paper maps in my rig just incase as well :) (my phone actually died recently and had to be sent away - that doesnt happen with paper hahahhahaha)

I would love to relearn proper orientation to be honest - I think I learnt way back in primary school and as a young kid in cub scouts but things are very vague regards using a compass properly for me to be honest :D

Hmmm a "How to Use a Compass" tutorial would be awesome on this website from somebody who knows their stuff (hint hint :D )
 
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darb

Well-Known Member
for me the track data is not usually what i'm after... coz lets face it , it's just goat tracks and unofficial dune tracks ... for me it's more just a visual satellite reference when i want to figure out if a track does lead to another track i want to get to ... or come across high tide with a rocky outcrop and want to know if the bypass track goes where i need it to etc (rather than spending hours with a 1year old and mrs getting jumbled around).

thats why i love caching the satellite imagery of the entire region im visiting.
Not so great in forests when the tree canopy obscures the track anyway (from satellite cameras).
 

PJR NSW

Banned
for me the track data is not usually what i'm after... coz lets face it , it's just goat tracks and unofficial dune tracks ... for me it's more just a visual satellite reference when i want to figure out if a track does lead to another track i want to get to ... or come across high tide with a rocky outcrop and want to know if the bypass track goes where i need it to etc (rather than spending hours with a 1year old and mrs getting jumbled around).

thats why i love caching the satellite imagery of the entire region im visiting.
Not so great in forests when the tree canopy obscures the track anyway (from satellite cameras).
We tried that on a property in the NT once. They gave us permission to cross their place but when we got there the Google Earth track wasn't visible. So we went back to the "station tracks" on the maps in the SD cards. Too true about the forrested places like the high Country.

Phil
 

PJR NSW

Banned
you could of just selected the place your trying to get to and hit navigate...then tell it which road is blocked so it auto routes another way? (shouldnt need to do any manual plotting - mine does auto "offroad nav" though and warns it might not be quite as accurate with directions not possible just a overlay)

Hmmm a "How to Use a Compass" tutorial would be awesome on this website from somebody who knows their stuff (hint hint :D )
A bit hard me old mate, when it's off road stuff. Never use the on road navigation myself.

What's hard about - Follow the HUme to Syndey, then follow Cumberland Highway to the stadium and come home the same way. Or drive to Bililuna, turn south to Willuna and then follow the road signs home to Canberra. What would you want a GPS for?

"Compass??? Whats that" - That's the response you would get mate. But a good idea to add to a GPS planning lecture or course. I think our club has a bit on their Ozi course.

We have a nice compass. A real old one in a small wooden box. Could be worth a bit on the vintage circuit by now. But wouldn't part with it for quids.

Phil
 

prawns

Moderator
Googles a bit like that where I am (very outdated aerial shots along with not marking most of the tracks - some tracks now have buildings on them that have been there for years!)

Trying some alternatives to double check things can help - Bing satellite maps are generally more current and usually display more tracks actually marked in as well compared to google but YMMV depending on location I guess

As a downfall bing satellite maps arnt as "refined/pretty" as googles with close coverage not available in as many places and some places actually covered with clouds or map joins so are unreadable hahahahha

edit - yeah i tend to use my gps for dirt tracks or for finding somebodys house in a suburb not so much the "highway" style trips either which arnt really required

I reckon you would make a good teacher mate, maybe one day you will get bored and write one out or record a youtube or somthing (no pressure, just thought having a tutorial like that would be a good idea for numptys like me who are fairly clueless with a compass but like bushwalking and offroading)

I bet a fair few of us would "fall on their faces" regards navigation if their digital device died - I would possibly be one of those if things got complicated regards "bearings" and things to be honest. Paper Nav with a actual compass seems a dying art these days which is a pity as it could potentially save lives as well

PS - heres a nice webpage to compare google VS bing for your area incase one is better than the other - you may wish to download different maps depending on the result (I usually just download both, along with normal topo and a paper map)
Bing Maps and Google Maps, side-by-side
 
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PJR NSW

Banned
I wonder how many could tell where north is without a compass. (and not using the GPS etc) And both day or night and even when it's raining and you have cloud cover. I haven't done it in bad weather or fog for years so I would be one in that category. Use it or lose it!!!

There are a lot of blokes around who are more skilled at map reading than I am. I will leave that to them. Me! I sometimes take the wrong track but it's amazing what you find when you do. So it really doesn't matter. Up on Cape York we would never have met some nice blokes working on the Starkie Track if the Development Road was open.

We also very rarely go anywhere new in Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide so we don't need a GPS for that. It's in the back for the grandkids to play with. Got to keep them happy.

Phil
 

prawns

Moderator
I agree mate, sometimes taking the "wrong track" can be the best thing you do for the experiences/locations it offers (you never know whats there till you go and look do you)

The "unknown" is always exciting :)

I wouldnt know north from south unless it was morning or afternoon and the sun was visible myself :D Kind of scary thinking about it (If I get lost bushwalking and my device fails....I would potentially have to wait hours just for a clue where to go)

Yep reckon I need to buy a actual compass as backup thats a nice heads up mate and a great point
 

darb

Well-Known Member
I actually get quite a thrill out of mapping (I use mapsource / shonky topo / google satellite and apple satellite maps) long before I go off on a trip... infact i think i enjoy it as much as actually getting out there.

I know i could easily just navigate around without preplanning a thing or using much help at all, but i actually get enjoyment from doing all that stuff. I love the planning.

Likewise when i am packing the car for a big trip... it starts a WEEK before the trip, i spend hours sititng looking at the car, amd my gear all laid out, pack it in different ways ... have a beer whilst thinking about the next step.

THe mrs thinks I'm nuts.

It could all get done in one crazy hour (like it does when packing up to come home).

I love studying paper maps too, getting ideas. by paper i mean paperbooks.
 
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PJR NSW

Banned
I actually get quite a thrill out of mapping

THe mrs thinks I'm nuts.

I love studying paper maps too, getting ideas. by paper i mean paperbooks.
And so did I Darb. I read things that maybe I wouldn't have done so if I had just looked at a map. But it was annoying when the files were thrown out of wack when a detour had to be used. One could say that I went too far. But I will admit it was fun.

And the Gard's, Canning Stock Route book arrived this morning. So I will have some more reading to do.

Hey Prawns.

What about one of these at: Jacko Boot Polish Solid Brass Compass With Wooden BOX | eBay

Phil

 

hiluxdriver

Well-Known Member
Great use of technology there mate, and awesome that its all free. Good also that you have the time and interest in it to pursue, hopefully some other guys read the thread and find it useful/easy enough to pick up that they can adopt it into their navigational needs. They say that handwriting will one day be redundant, I imagine paper maps will be as well so its good that there are people finding other options.

Good on you.
 

darb

Well-Known Member
yeah PJR , got to be aware of the foibles or any system we use.

I could spend days staring at maps, love it!

also anyone using Garmin devices, there's a map called shonkymaps which is all offroad topo maps and that sort of thing, totally free. Contouring and such.

Bit of fun, though i rarely use it... as the tracks I traverse are so unofficial they tend not to be mapped out. GOod for landmark based stuff, has lots of things like old mines, creeks, fences, pipelines, rocky outcrops and such.

I have my garmin running shonkymaps, alongside my iphone or ipad running the satellite imagery and KMZ overlays.

Shonkymaps by Shonkylogic

Its totally free

""""Shonkymaps are a set of unofficial Garmin compatible topographic maps that cover the whole of Australia. The author was not satisfied with the Garmin base map that came with the Garmin gps, and at the time there were no other topographic products either official or unofficial. He created his own set of downloadable topographic maps as a hobby / labour of love. The data is the 250k scale set from Geoscience Australia (Applying geoscience to Australia's most important challenges - Geoscience Australia) and is licensed for non-commercial use. The author makes these maps available to other Garmin users as a favour on the understanding that the user abides by the copyright agreement and there is no support other than that provided by other users on the GPS Australia - GPS Australia forum. If the maps work for you and are useful for your requirements then great. If they don't work, and break your garmin then you have been warned.

This is the same mapset that some unscrupulous users on ebay are trying to sell under various names such as Australian Explorer GPS Topo Maps for Garmins

If you're not keen on Shonkymaps (after all, it's a 340mb download) then you might want to pay out some real money for a commercial product instead, such as Garmin 'Topo Australia', or 'OzTopo'."""
 
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