Saturday, 26 December 2009

Mapping Software for Northern Ireland

For a variety of reasons tourism, in particular the outdoors side of things isn't well catered for in Northern Ireland, there are a few areas of interest though with the most promising being the Mournes. It's not surprising then that Digital Mapping software hasn't been available from the major brands like Memory Map, Tracklogs etc.

Call it an unexpected Christmas present but I recieved an e-mail earlier in the week informing me that that had released mapping software based on the Northern Ireland OS (OSNi)1/50,000 Discoverer series maps. The software is free to download and comes with a free XYZ UK Mainland map (1:1.000.000)

OS maps for Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Mainland UK can be purchased as sets or as 40 x 40 km tiles. Mainland UK is obviously better catered for with maps available in both 1/50,000 and 1/25,000. At present only 1/50,000 scale are available for N.I. but hopefully Mapyx can make the 1/25,000 scale Outdoor Leisure maps available in time.

I downloaded and installed the software and purchased the full set of OSNi maps which cost £39.99. The maps installed easily and initially looked good, the software being easy to use and fully compatible with my Garmin Geko 301. I did however run into a few problems some of which are easily sorted.

First the heights given were about 10m out, second there are no gridlines, third the searchable database feature didn't work and fourth, the coordinates given do not correspond to those found when using an official printed Discoverer map.

I posted a few question on the Quo forum and managed to find the answer to and the way to solve some of the problems. In addition to the actual maps I needed to purchase the OSNi 50k DTM (Digital Terrain Model) which sorted the height problem, and the OSNi Gazetteer which provided the information to allow the searchable database to function. These cost £7.99 and £4.99 respectively which brought the total cost to £52.97.

Unfortunately the coordinate issue is unresolved at present due to the format used by Quo. The Irish Grid format used is technically correct but isn't the same as commonly used in practice and on printed maps. When used on maps, Ireland (North and South) is split into 100km x 100km squares, each of which is designated (much like the British Grid) with one or two letters per square which results in a vastly different grid ref, for example, Trostan when using QUO is E318903/N424154 while on the printed map it is D179000/236000. In response to a question on their forum Quo have indicated that they intend to add the relevant information in a future update. I should point out that if I type a waypoint from an OSNi printed map into my GPS and upload the information the Quo displays the waypoint in the correct place, that said I'd much prefer to have the option of displaying gridlines on Quo printed maps which relate to official OSNi maps.

I haven't had a chance to try it out yet as I've been playing around with the various features, so far I'm generally pleased with it (apart from the gridline/grid ref issue). I've posted a few screen shots below which hopefuly will be useful.

Above. Using the 'Search' facility (Note Coordinates, OSNi map Coordinates would be 17900/23700)

Above. Relief Enabled, Accessed from 'Explorer Icon' on Toolbar.

Above. Route Summary, To Display, Right Click on last Waypoint and select 'Show Summary' from list.

Above. Route Card pt 1. Information

Above. Route Card pt 2. Summary

Above. Route Card pt 3. Gradient Profile.

Above. Route Card pt 4. Waypoints

Above. Waypoint Information Displayed, Options Selected from Explorer Tab

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