Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Praxis: Maps

From the Trainer:


Here's a good subject for a praxis: AO Maps.

Folks can go to www.mytopo.com and build 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) maps for large AO's.

All they have to do is choose the 36X48 inch size map, orient it the desired direction (tall or landscape), center the area, and they've got an AO map. Subsequent smaller area maps can be generated from the specific AO in question for detailed navigation.

Why 36X48? Because they cover 860.6 square miles or 550,784 acres. If the AO for the group in question is not as large, they should get a 1:25,000 scale which will cover 215.8 square miles or 138,112 acres.

These will come in very, very handy, especially when used in conjunction with a protractor and a lensatic compass. The GPS satellite system is nice, but once is shut down or has a large error programmed into them, it will be irrelevant.

Cost for the larger maps starts at $29.95 and will go up depending on the paper and the detail required, such as aerial photos or hybrid maps, which are great, by the way, but you get what you pay for. In the end, more detail means more accuracy. I used the free enhanced relief on a simple topographical map with MGRS. Some of the Map Source Data is from 2001 (and even later) as you'll see in the example link, so they're pretty up to date.

As is appropriate to Alabama, I used Birmingham. http://www.mytopo.com/review.cfm?mytopoid=499180C8FA

Once the page comes up, click on "View a preview of your printed map". It'll take a couple minutes to load a thumbnail, but click on it and it will be readable quickly.


Dakota said...

I have seen that site to get maps. Something else that you might find interesting is the Atlas Gazetteer maps by Delorme Mapping Company. They cover the whole State that you choose (they make all 50) and show pretty good detail and all the backroads etc. I have one in all my vehicles. They are under $20.


jdege said...

USGS maps are far too out-of-date to be useful for most applications. Most of the maps haven't been reworked in 30 years, or more, and ou can't trust the roads, buildings, or wood-lines.

Anonymous said...

Something else that you might find interesting is the Atlas Gazetteer maps by Delorme Mapping Company--Dakota

The proposed topo maps are proportionately scaled @ 1:50,000 or 1:25,000. My DeLorme topo maps of Alaska feature a 1:300,000 scale.

If the Alaska Atlas & Gazetteer is any indication, DeLorme maps offer insufficient detail for militia maneuvers.

In their defense, they are vastly superior to dead reckoning.


Anonymous said...

I have a map store that sells toppos in my AO. They were in 1/2500 scale, other sizes also 1/5000 etc. I got 1/2500 for compatability with map grids protractor that were also 1/2500 scale.
It took a total of 10 individual maps to complete my AO, plus a little extra outside my AO. The price for all was around $80 plus tax.
I have tried to print maps before, but the printer i use was not able to show all the detail.
Also i have road maps to cross refrence with the toppos since they usualy are not up to date as far as roads, and structures are concerned.
One other note worth mention is having a good ,dry way to carry maps.
I have them in a cardboard tube that has a plastic bag duct taped around it.

Christian Patriot III said...

Cool stuff but the topo's are about 20 +/- years old which means wood lots, roads, structures are not up to date for all locations - - - but the topographical lines should be and if you can print on transparency at the proper scale, it would make a good overlay for a road map.

I agree with Dakota as well. Gazetteer / Atlas's available at Walmart are generally very good and more frequently updated. Print your transparent overlays for use with that if you can get the scale nailed with your printer.

So a couple ideas as to why this might be useful... ever wonder what a cross country walk from point a to point be would be like - the topo can give you an idea. You can also get a feel for water flow, especially across large acreage parcels. And if you need to set up an ambush, sneak up on your buddies camp or just go out and have some fun in the wood- indispensable.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should get color aerial maps of their AO. Use http://www.mytopo.com to create custom 1:2500 48"x36" color aerial maps. Preview the map in the full size. Then save as a jpeg. Repeat until you cover your AO. Then, get a larger topographical map of your AO and have it laminated.

Make sure to get aerial maps of all potential airfields, detention camps, government facilities, major intersections / bridges / chokepoints where there might be road blocks, police stations, etc.

Anonymous said...

Delorme's TopoUSA product has a MAPPACK addon for $29.95/yr http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELibeCCtdItemDetail.jsp?item=28705&section=10462&minisite=10020
Imagery Types Available with a MapPack Subscription

* Hi-Resolution Color Aerial Imagery DOQQ
* USGS 7.5-Minute Quads (not available for use within Street Atlas USA)
* NOAA Nautical Charts (not available for use within Street Atlas USA)
* USGS High-Resolution Cities
* Black & White Aerial Imagery
* 1:50K Canada Topographic Map Sheets

TopoUSA can export these maps in various formats. The map data is not as up to date as I would like.
Spraying paper maps with mapseal or something similar from the art store will help preserve them in inclement weather.
A mailing tube with end caps from the post office sprayed as above is a reasonable way to protect paper maps.

Hugo de Groot said...

Use the 1:2500 scale with the aerial photos in conjunction with your range cards and sector sketches. Gives you a much better appreciation for the terrain covered, where opposition forces have potential ingress/egress routes (cover or concealment) etc. and thus their most likely moves. Sort of "watch here because this is where their scouts will stick their heads out first."

James said...

For those with EMP and backup power provisions, you can use Google Earth on a computer to give very up to date photos combined with topography. I routinely use 3-D overflights that I create and narrate for field training exercises. You can save these overflight files to the desktop or export to memory stick for storage. They can also be printed.


Dakota said...

The Atlas Gazetteer are used for back road travel for my Bug Out. It shows all the backroads. I am pretty much ready to go on short notice but I refuse to use the main roads. The interstate exits and rest areas are convenient "check points" and I won't use them. We have a lot of backroads here and I have marked alternate routes and friendlies that will give help if I have trouble. I don't intend sitting in this city if things get interesting, to many foreigners.

navybadger72 said...

My area map was dated 1996. Thus it didn't show the large lakes created since then. Many small roads had been shifted.

Anonymous said...


If it is of any help, this .kml download places USGS topo on top of GE within the program. Probably of some use, albeit minimal.


Anonymous said...

@ James,

I too have been printing maps from google earth. I press the print screen button and opn paint. In paint I will crop the picture to only show the map. I then paste the picture to a powerpoint slide and print it out. Is there a better way?

This seems to work but I believe I am loosing resolution when I do it this way.

catfish said...

Hey Mike, found this article in my Linux newsletter today. Just taking a brief glance it looks like it might have it's use. It's an open source map project, so if your AO isn't covered you can fill in the blanks yourself.

James said...

@ Anonymous

RE - printing/saving Google maps

YES! There is a much better way!


Allows you to save exactly what you see on the screen as JPEG file. You zoom in or out to your heart's content and save exactly what you want at any angle you want.

If you don't like using keyboard shortcuts, go to FILE menu, down to SAVE, expand the menu and click SAVE IMAGE. Does the same thing.


DaddyBear said...

I've used mytopo.com several times, and their product is outstanding. For a wall map that I will be drawing on with alcohol pens, I took it to the office supply store and had it laminated for about $30. mytopo is now offering laminated maps for about the same price as getting their map and getting it laminated, so that saves work.

I would recommend them anytime someone is looking for a map of a particular area.