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Nearmap | PC warranties | OCAD 12 updates

ANZAC flags

Nearmap now in NZ

Image of Nearmap NZ coverage (grey) as at Mar 17. Click to zoom.
Nearmap NZ coverage (grey) as at Mar 17

Nearmap recently started operation in NZ. Initial flying has been over metropolitan and adjacent areas. The image at right from the Nearmap website shows the coverage in grey. Nearmap images can be acquired at various zoom levels and the highest zoom level provides a clarity of detail I have not seen elsewhere. The images are georeferenced so can be used as background images in OCAD provided you select an appropriate co-ordinate system. WMS can be used to  access Nearmap directly from OCAD.

When Nearmap was first introduced to Australia, free access was provided for a time. When this was pulled, a personal licence was available for a year or so. That was pulled and only business licences are available. It is unlikely an individual would have sufficient use of Nearmap to justify the cost of even the basic business licence (250MB p.m.) but a regional organisation might. Another option is to locate a contact in a company that uses Nearmap and obtain imagery from them if their licence permits.

Note that in Australia, issues were experienced with the transformation into the Australian grid of Nearmap’s Popular Visualisation CRS/Mercator projection. I don’t know if this is still the case.

ACCC hits PC warranty exclusion

This might seem a strange item for this blog but if you are using OCAD then you are using a PC and could easily fall victim to shonky warranty exclusions. (OK it isn’t PC to call an Apple one such but it is convenient).

In essence, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) told Apple that upgrading the software on a computer is not a valid warranty exclusion. I currently have a warranty claim on my new PC and was told by one customer service person that upgrading from WIN8 to WIN10 voided the warranty. The warranty claim seemed to stall until I mentioned the ACCC finding and shortly after received acceptance of the claim. Coincidence?

The ACCC’s decision covers more than just the software upgrade as this excerpt shows;

…having a component of the Apple device serviced, repaired, or replaced by someone other than Apple cannot, by itself, extinguish the consumer’s right to a remedy for non-compliance with the consumer guarantees.

If you have a similar situation then quote this article to your retailer or manufacturer  Maybe it applies in NZ as well.

Recent OCAD updates

Image of some ISOM 2017 symbols
Some ISOM2017 symbols

For the benefit of those not yet on OCAD v12, here are some recent key updates;

  • Orienteering edition > v12.1.2 now has Shape file import  While, unlike Pro edition, this does not import the database and has only one key field for layer identification, the attributes of your selected key field can be examined during import selection.
  • Starter & Orienteering editions now have OSM (Open Street Map) import. OCAD already includes an OSM symbol set and a .crt file for translation to orienteering symbols.
  • ISOM 2017 symbol sets for 1:10k and 1:15k in v12.2.1 plus ISOM2000 to ISOM2017 .crt file for conversions. Also available for OCAD 11  – link then scroll down.
  • Please note it is not possible to convert an ISOM 2017 OCAD 12 course setting project to OCAD 11, because the preview objects have other symbol numbers.

ISMTBO 2010 proposed changes

This MTBO Commission project had suffered delays. Ursula Haeusermann of Switzerland is the new chair. She has advised;

Re the ISMTBOM you may know that they are being reviewed at the moment. A working group is preparing the material to start a testing phase which is based on a proposal. Actually it was planned to launch this testing phase in May 2017, but the preparations take more time than expected so it might become June until everything is ready. When this is the case, all IOF federations, organisers of major events and – if we know about them – other interested people… will be informed.

I would think that it will be possible to give feedback at all levels, from individuals to federations. There will be a questionnaire referring to the proposal, but I guess feedback of a more general nature will also be welcome. We, the MTBO Commission, want to develop our sport further in collaboration with the MTBO community, and we appreciate all the knowledge and experience which different parties and people have. It would therefore be a pity and not in our sense if we restricted submissions or inputs in any way.

You can keep up to date via the MTBO Commission web page. Ursula intends that a subscription facility for ongoing news will become available on those pages.

ISMTBO 2010 rideable areas image
ISMTBO 2010 rideable areas

Here in VIC there are four persons who have concerns about ISMTBO 2010. A call will go out shortly on the AUS MTBO Facebook page to see if others in Australia are interested in exchanging views and/or making submissions via OA. If you are not on Facebook, you are welcome to use this website’s contact form or email me to register your interest in contributing to our federation’s submissions via the proposed testing phase. If there is sufficient interest a limited life e- forum could be set up to enable an Australia wide focused conversation.

A common concern so far is with the four proposed ‘rideable area’ symbols. I evaluated these when preparing the map for the VIC MTBO Champs at Barkstead. Later I formalised my evaluation and you can peruse the text and samples on this Dropbox page. What is best for Barkstead’s rideable area may not be best for other maps and rideable areas. So maybe we need more than one rideable area symbol.

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Auto Generated Orienteering Maps for WOC 2016

Topo socks

Really? Auto generated orienteering maps?

Well yes and no. Read all about it on the WOC Sweden 2016 website. If you haven’t seen such maps before you will be surprised if not amazed. Continue reading Auto Generated Orienteering Maps for WOC 2016

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Office Digital Printer – OKI C321dn

Stochastic screening

Using Printech Project test 2006 sheet to test

OKI & Printech Project sheet
OKI & Printech Project sheet

Having just posted some new print and colour guides in the Resources section of this website, I was most interested in a print quality test experience on Swiss O-map blog O-Zeugs.

The author (presumably M Lerjën – I’m writing this under the shade of our plum tree and the combination of light colour text and myriad screen reflections makes it hard to be sure), has just bought an OKI C321dn colour laser printer and is now checking it out as to map print quality. Interesting to buy first and test later but as highest quality wasn’t a primary motive to buy, then I can understand that process.

The blogger then put the OKI through its paces via the Printech Project test sheet. While his conclusion is that

with my OKI I will never reach the high end.

the process he goes through and the explanation of the results he gets is definitely worth a view by anyone faced with checking out a digital press for O maps. This applies whether it is an office press like this OKI or a commercial press.

That particular blog post is OKI C321dn and the Printech Project Test Sheet.

Colour matching

Colour test prints
Colour test results

The  later print quality test blog post Mappers Blog: Color correction of the OKI c321dn for printing maps covers his attempts to colour match the OKI output to Swedish O colour specs. The result is the same as reported in my guides – yellow and pourple are very difficult to match.

Orienteering Australia has available a similar offset printed colour matching swatch. I included that with most Pretex despatches in December. They can also supply offset printed Printech Project test sheets for comparison testing.


[typography font=”Merienda One” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”008000″]Post script[/typography]

Re “… his conclusion …” in the 3rd paragraph above. Often I would put his/her but it struck me just a couple of weeks ago that I don’t know of any female orienteering mappers. I’m sure they are out there.

Wouldn’t you know it. Just a few hours after writing the above, via O-Zeugs I read of a female mapper.


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OCAD Adds Co-ordinate System for Nearmap

NearMap logo

A Mercator projection for Nearmap imagery

Grounded Patterns near Bendigo
Grounded Patterns near Bendigo

In testing Nearmap’s not-for-profits’ plan, Russell Rigby of NSW reported that after analysis;

  1. The Google Mercator units aren’t even close to metres so current Nearmap imagery cannot be imported straight into OCAD at a meaningful scale.
  2. The OCAD transformation [via registration of image corners to OCAD map] from Google Mercator to Map Grid of Australia is good, but needs testing in more areas to be sure.

Following further investigation by Russell and myself we determined that the EPSG code 3785 referenced by Nearmap was not present in OCAD’s co-ordinate system range. Further detective work showed that OCAD contains the original version of the Google Mercator projection (EPSG 900913) but it is no longer officially in use. Not that a cursory search of the spatial world would tell you that. Fortunately Russell came across this post in Alastair Aitcheson’s spatial blog.

Popular Visualisation CRS / Mercator

I advised OCAD hq of the issue along with the background we discovered and they got onto the matter immediately. Their recent service release of 2013-09-04 contains the co-ordinate system referenced by Nearmap images available under the latter’s Basic plan. In the OCAD co-ordinate system list it is named Popular Visualisation CRS / Mercator (EPSG 3785). Note this addition is not documented in the release notes.


Images previously downloaded via Hypertiles

If you downloaded images via Hypertiles before Nearmap closed off the free service, then you should find those images are georeferenced. Thus if used as a background image, the images will register nicely with a georeferenced map.

You can check the co-ordinate system of such images by opening the .vrt file that is in each Hypertiles data set. The first few lines show;

[quote] <VRTDataset rasterXSize=”75677″ rasterYSize=”113090″>

The EPSG reference can then be looked up at In this case [quote]EPSG:28355: GDA94 / MGA zone 55[/quote]

However, whichever you selected when running Hypertiles, OCAD should convert nicely.

Russell Rigby on trialling Nearmap’s Basic plan

(Nearmap’s Basic plan offered to orienteering appears to be the same as, or very similar to, their Photomaps Standard Plan).

There is no equivalent of Hypertiles now, where you can nominate the area and resolution level that you want ( at least at the subscription level that is in any way likely).

The current subscription model has a download limit (50MB/month basic, next level 250MB/month). Any image displayed on the screen is included in downloads, to the extent that Nearmap suggests reducing the size of the browser window as a way of reducing the downloads. Panning or zooming adds to the download, as does viewing an image sequence. Using the screen tools (measuring, area, lat/long etc) does not add to downloads as long as the image is not moved.

There are two choices when saving an image. The first is to effectively capture the screen, the second is to define a box to download at high resolution. Both options can generate a world file, in the format attached to the image I sent previously. The only indication of the size & resolution of the resulting image file comes after the download has been requested and performed, so working on a tight download budget could be difficult.

The jgw is the only world-file format – there is no equivalent of the vrt file. Nearmap help suggests loading the output files into a GIS system (ESRI, Mapinfo etc) to work further with the image.

In the test data area Level 17 corresponds to approx 1m pixel size (1.19 “units”), and each change in level corresponds to a factor of 2 eg level 18 == 0.5m pixel. The only way I can see to control download size is to measure the max dimension of the area I want, & do a quick calculation of which scaling level will give between 3k & 6k pixels along that dimension, or I get to level 21 (approx 6cm) which is the smallest pixel size available.

The quality of the imagery is very high, and for capital city areas, very frequent. Regional coverage is less frequent (3-6 months for Newcastle), & is patchy and one-off for other coastal & inland towns in NSW. Many towns are not covered, or are only photographed in flood time! Some areas I have looked at have more recent coverage on Google or Bing, but usually not as high resolution.

The terms & conditions for the licence say that the first 2 months have unlimited downloads.


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VIC, NSW, NZ Release Free Spatial Data

data.vic home page extract

Recent releases

July saw Victoria follow NSW in making available online, free spatial data free. New Zealand’s LINZ released a significant amount of aerial imagery with more to follow. I checked out the VIC release and created a quick guide for those not familiar with accessing spatial data.

Apart from being useful to create base maps, spatial data makes it easy to georeference existing maps. The most useful data sets for orienteering and rogaining are elevation (contours, spot heights), transport (road, rail, tracks), hydro (lakes, streams, watercourses), property boundaries and vegetation density. Most of those data sets have associated infrastructure but some might be obtained from a features data set.

The remainder of this post deals with my quick survey of the VIC offering. The situation is likely to be broadly similar in other states.


900 data sets released on

While Orienteering Victoria has had a free data licence for some years, acquiring a data set cost $200 for the work involved. Not to mention the time of orienteers in preparing and submitting the application.

Now you can download seemingly any or all of the six data sets useful to map sports to some degree.

Rail data on map
Preview of rail data overlaid on map

[unordered_list style=”green-dot”]

  • Elevation
  • hydro
  • transport
  • vegetation
  • features
  • property.


Another 100 data sets will be available by September.

Locating your data sets

Easiest is to download the Guide below and search using the ID attached to each recommended data set. If you wish to peruse at leisure then read on.

Each data set may appear in multiple categories. For sport purposes, it appears easiest to search for or select a data set name that includes the words VicMap 1:25,000. These data sets include subsets that otherwise you would need to locate and order individually. For example, Vicmap Hydro 1:25,000 includes subsets watercourses (rivers, streams, channels…), water points (ponds, dams…), water areas (lakes, reservoirs…).

However, the listings are not perfect. For example at time of writing, the Spatial | Transport section does not include VicMap Transport 1:25,000 but does include VicMap Vegetation 1:25,000 (I have notified this).

A quick guide

For the uninitiated, selection of an appropriate data set may seem daunting when you first hit For example, if you select Transport from the category list shown you end up with social data sets, not spatial data sets. You first have to select Spatial, then the relevant sub category.

And which data format you select depends upon your edition of OCAD. For Professional, select ESRI Shape. For Standard, select Autocad DXF.

To assist, while watching the exciting Tour de France Mont Ventoux stage, I delved into the web site and prepared a quick guide which you can download. It will not be perfect but it should help you avoid long detours. I will update it as necessary (let me know of any errors) and am working on some short video guides.

[ilink url=”” style=”download”]Guide to access free VIC spatial data.[/ilink]    1 page pdf. Updated 17 July 2013.

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