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[aprssig] Use Precision Mapping 9.0 To Create Perfectly Calibrated Static Maps For APRS

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Wed Apr 4 04:21:33 UTC 2012

I have recently discovered a feature in Precision Mapping 9.0 that makes 
creating precisely-calibrated static maps for UIview, (or any other APRS app 
that uses static maps calibrated with the lat/long values of the upper-left and 
lower-right corners.

The key is a new feature in the print-time options in Precision Mapping 9.0 . 
The "File, Print" function of Precision Mapping 9.0 (that prints the current 
map) now offers the option to have the exact lat/long coordinates of the 
upper-left and lower-right corner of the map printed in the respective corners 
of the output.

The trick is to capture the printed map from Precision Mapping as a standard 
graphics image (i.e. .BMP, .GIF, etc) instead of sending it to an actual piece 
of paper, or into a PDF file.   Note that the normal  "print-to-file" option in 
Windows printer drivers WILL NOT do this. They only send data formatted for a 
particular printer into a file, so that it can be "played back" later into that 
particular model printer -- it WILL NOT create a standard graphics image usable 
by other programs.

Three freeware tools *CAN* do this!

1)    The freeware utility ImagePrinter is a virtual Windows printer driver 
that can capture print output from any Windows program into a graphics image 
that is an exact replica of what would have been sent to an actual piece of 
paper.  Download this nifty tool here:

. <http://sourceforge.net/projects/imageprinter/>

After install, set the virtual printer to a resolution of 100 DPI.   The 
virtual printer "prints" to a virtual 8.5x11-inch (letter-size) sheet of 
paper.   Even at "only" 100 DPI, you will get an image 1100 pixels wide by 850 
pixels high. (Assuming landscape mode to match the orientation of the screen.)

If you have a REALLY HIGH RES monitor and want to fill the screen with a 
2200x1700 pixel map image, you might choose the 200 DPI option instead.

Go to  "Start,  Programs,  Image Printer,  Options Image Printer". Set the file 
output location to your choice.  Click the middle tab "File Format" to set the 
output file format to "BMP (Windows Bitmap)". These options must be set ahead 
of time -- there is no last-minute option to change these at print time as with 
many printer drivers.

2)     Scroll/zoom Precision Mapping 9.0 to display the area of interest.   
(Note that this is the stand-alone Precision Mapping 9.0 program; NOT PMap 
Server viewed inside UIview.)    Pull down "File, Map Settings", click the line 
for "Scalebar Position". Move the scale bar from it's default lower-right 
position to the upper right; otherwise it will cover up the coordinates that 
will be added to the lower-right corner at print time. Choose any other 
show/hide features desired such as points of interest,  coloration, highway 
route marker shields, relief-like underlays, etc.

3)     Do "File, Print".  In the resulting dialog,  select the ImagePrinter 
virtual printer and make sure it is set to Landscape mode.  Set all the margins 
down to 0.00 inches.  Click the middle tab "Options" and check "Print Lon & 
Lat" in Map Corners".   Then click "Setup" at the bottom of the Printer dialog 
box and
verify that the virtual paper is set to "Letter"

4)     The virtual 8.5x11-inch "page" in the resulting .BMP file will have 
white margins on all four sides.  These need to be cropped off before using the 
map image in the center.   Use a tool like the freeware IrfanView graphics 
utility from

. <http://www.filehippo.com/download_irfanview/>

to crop the image.   The cropping tool is on by default in IrfanView as soon as 
you open a file. Just drag out a bounding box on the picture, nudge the sides 
into precise alignment with your mouse, and then do "File, Crop" to finish the 
job.  Do "File, Save" to capture the changes. You may want to save it into the 
much more compact .GIF file format instead, for use with UIview.   (Uiview can 
use either .BMP images or .GIF.  Other apps may require .PNG format -- 
IrfanView can save into DOZENS of different graphics file formats as needed.)

DO NOT use .JPG for solid-color images like maps.  The fine print in the image 
will degrade into a blurry mess.

5)     View the upper-left and lower-right corners of the image.  You will see 
the lat/long in decimal degrees to 6 decimal places; i.e.  DD.dddddd   
format.    To use/calibrate the map in UIview, these values  need to be 
converted into degrees and decimal minutes; i.e. DD.MM.mm format. (Note that 
this is NOT degrees-minutes-seconds -- you need the GPS/APRS convention of DD 
MM.mm instead.)    If you don't want to do the /sexigisimal math involved to 
convert formats,/download this very useful coordinate convert utility:


This handy tool converts between ALL THREE formats ( DD.dddddd     DD MM SS   
and DD MM.mm). I consider this program an essential component of any 
GPS/APRS/GIS software toolkit.    Convert the lat/long values at both corners 
into the    DD.MM.mm   format, remembering the UIview quirk of the double 
decimal point delimiters; i.e. not like GPS/APRS where it would be    DDMM.mm

6)     Do the usual drag-n-drop cal routine in UIview for static maps - drag 
the file name from the Windows File Explorer into the open UIview window.  When 
prompted, enter the values you calculated above.  Remember that UIview wants  
N/S and E/W and  not +/- values for lat and long.

7)     You now have a perfectly-calibrated static map. Refresh UIview's Map 
List, then "Load A Map" to use the new map (or install it on another system 
that doesn't have Precision Mapping installed).



Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
Skype:        WA8LMF
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.net

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