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A Bigger Screen for More Map


Get a bigger screen!

27" ASUS PB278
27″ ASUS PB278

We cartographers tend to get by with regular flat panel screens – 22” or 24” with 1920 x 1080 pixels; they are so much better than the screens used 10 years ago that we are happy. But wait – it gets MUCH better.

Graphic designers have always spent thousands on Apple screens like the 27” Thunderbolt, which has 2560 x1 440 pixels and very high quality colour. We get by without, but now we don’t need to – because these high quality screens are dropping in price.

I now use my 2 year old 24” Samsung for email and the like, while my brand new 27” ASUS PB278 with 2560 x 1440 is for cartography.

It’s fabulous to use; when for whatever reason I transfer to work on the 24″ screen, it seems clunky in comparison. Not just because of the sheer screen size of the ASUS 27″ but also because the pixels are smaller. That means objects are displayed smaller and more of the map fits on the screen. Think of the Retina display on an iPhone.

And it only cost $600.

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Queensland Globe – Nearly Nearmap

Earth from space

Queensland Globe free spatial data

We’ve taken the loss of Nearmap hard but now here in Queensland is something pretty close. I have to say I’m very relieved.

Queensland Globe (QG) is a Queensland Government open data initiative which uses Google Earth (GE) to present a variety of spatial data and they are progressively adding more.

Learn more of QLD Globe

Here is why Queensland Globe is special

  • The aerial photography is reasonably up to date in the areas I have looked; it’s not as good as Nearmap, but a lot better than Google Maps (GM).
  • The aerial photography has been selected for clarity, unlike GM, which can be murky, shadowed and useless.
  • The orthorectification of the aerial photography appears to be quite accurate.
  • Photography is high definition – again better than GM but not as good as Nearmap.
  • It has 10m contours which look reasonably good.

But Queensland Globe is not perfect:

  • No georeferencing information is available, but see below.
  • Contours disappear when you zoom in very close.
  • Cadastre is unreliable and sometimes appears only when zoomed out too far for usefulness. Just keep trying.
  • Images can’t be downloaded, you have to take screenshots.


Here is how to add georeferencing information to the GE / GQ image. Download the Gridlines Manager .kml file.

Gridlines Manager

This one appears in the Place pane in GE (I’m not sure how or why) and will remain there for future use. (It seems to be necessary to load the QG KML file each time.) Switch on 0.1km grid lines as well as the QG imagery and contours, take a screenshot and you have an image which you can easily load into Ocad and print out for fieldworking.

Once again the gridlines are not entirely reliable, sometimes they don’t display, I think because the system relies upon the availability of a server somewhere to provide the data.

How to load the image in Ocad? I find it’s easiest to import a GPX track somewhere in the vicinity of your map, as this fixes up your map’s Coordinate System, Zone and Offset, and locates you near where you want to be. Now in Ocad go to Map | Set Scale etc and set a grid distance of 100m. Switch on the grid and you can now load the QG image and adjust to the gridlines.

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QR (Quick Response) codes for OCAD

Organised Grime QR code

Why a QR code on a map?

A QR code allows a smartphone user to get access to online information easily. For example the QR code could take them directly to the club or state website page for information for newcomers. Or maybe next events. On trail maps it can show on a Google map the location of the main entry point.  Gen Y and Z prefer to use smartphones and tablets to access the web and QR codes facilitate that.

Continue reading QR (Quick Response) codes for OCAD

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Bezier Curves, Illustrator Style

Adobe Illustrator logo

Adobe Illustrator mode for bézier curves

If you are or have been an Adobe Illustrator user, you might prefer to draw bézier curves in OCAD using that method.Bezier curve image

To activate, go to Options | Ocad Preferences | Drawing and Editing | Drawing Bézier Curves | Adobe Illustrator mode and turn it on.

If you have been used to Illustrator on Mac, then be aware that various command keys are different in Windows e.g. Command key in Mac becomes Control key in WIN.


Tradie Tough Paper Notebooks, 160pgs. A7 $2, A5 $3, A4 $3.30. Good for mapping field work notes though I would have preferred a soft cover. @ Officeworks.

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Pan Quickly by Zooming

pan image

Pan 1-2-3, Pan 1-2-3…

When you are zoomed in on a large map, panning to another part of the map is cumbersome.

Here is the fastest way to pan to another part of a large map. This possibly only works well with newer faster computers. If you aren’t already a dab hand (finger) with the mouse wheel, then you will need to learn.

Holding down the Ctrl key;

  1. mouse wheel backwards to zoom all the way out,
  2. move the mouse pointer to the area you want,
  3. mouse wheel forwards to zoom in.

Editor’s note

I’m far from a dab hand with the mouse wheel but having mainly large maps I gave it a try. It’s great! Thanks Mark.