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Use MOBAC to create Sectional chart images of any size

jmaeding

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I've run across a few threads where I think people might like to print out their sectional charts. There are likely many ways to do this.
I'm a civil engineer that works daily with CAD and GIS, so we are pretty good at finding the simplest and freest ways of doing things.
However, I am definitely curious at how others do this.
So if you wanted to make an image (jpg, png whatever) of an arbitrary area of the sectional charts (wide and terminal area), here is my process:
1) download the free MOBAC tool from Mobile Atlas Creator (MOBAC)
I'm a windows user, but it runs on linux and OSX also. Go down to the Download title, and pick the Latest Stable Version link. Unzip that.
2) Run MOBAC, its the Mobile Atlas Creator.exe. You don't "install" the program, it just runs. You may have to get an update on the java runtime engine though, do that.
3) Set image source to Chartbundle US Sectional Charts on pane in upper left.
4) Zoom with mouse to area desired (pan wigh right click drag) and drag a window over the area you want. ANY area. Whole state of Texas if you want.
5) Pick zoom level for the image, look at the tiles count listed. You want about 1k to 2k tiles for most purposes. I start with highest zoom level and go down. Only have one level checked at a time or you are doing two levels at once.
6) Change the Atlas Content window by picking new, and then OziExplorer format (png and map).
7) Pick Add Selection to add your area to the todo list
8) pick Create Atlas. It will make the png in your documents folder, and you can convert to jpg or anything as desired using GIMP, photoshop, paint....

Once you do that once, you can do different areas by:
1) delete the item under your atlas. Keep the atlas there, its the blue sphere item.
2) select a different area and zoom level as desired.
3) Pick Add selection
4) pick create atlas.

Now, for fun, notice you can change the map source to Terminal Area Charts, ESRI sattelite, and others. They are all online image sources anyone can use.
I can post the code to add google earth there too. It does not come with the download, as google made them take it out.
Its perfectly legal though, just like using google earth is, if you stay within their 2gb or so daily limit per person.
I bet QGIS could hook to those sources too. I do that for google earth all the time.
Thx
 
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I use GIS and CAD daily as well. Why not just download the Geo-tiff from the FAA? It'll drag right into QGIS then you can re-project it if you need to bring it into CAD at a different coordinate system, or crop out any portion you need and make a nice layout in the QGIS layout manager/print composer.

If you need just a quick paper print you can open the tiff with Irfanview and print whatever selection you want to (left click and drag a box then keystrokes "ctrl + y" will make a cutout). Irfanview will also convert to any image format, but you will lose the use of any world file when you crop.

FYI - Take a look at the QGIS "QuickMapServies" Plugin. Install it, go to settings under the plugin menu, then the "more services" tab and click on the "get contributed pack" bar at the bottom.
 
Hi there,
Those geo-tiffs are regional, right? The MOBAC process hooks to the online images so is seamless and you can just zoom to where you want.
Having said that, I am sure QGIS can hook to the online sectional charts easily too. Oh, you mention that, perfect!
thx
 
Hey, that plugin is great. I searched ESRI and Google keywords and found lots.
One important detail that MOBAC does nicely:
You can choose the zoom level of the output, no matter the zoom on screen.
Also, it tells you the tile count at that zoom which is important so you don't waste time making over or under resolution images.
Also, I'd like to know how to grab any area in QGIS and make a single image of it at resolution of some level. When I do Export map to image, its lets me pick zoom level, but not the same as how MOBAC does, which is the exact level, not a scale. Its like you have to know the zoom levels by scale, and the dpi you would want at that scale. Curious if there are tricks.
 
Hi there,
Those geo-tiffs are regional, right? The MOBAC process hooks to the online images so is seamless and you can just zoom to where you want.
Having said that, I am sure QGIS can hook to the online sectional charts easily too. Oh, you mention that, perfect!
thx
To create tiles in QGIS from existing raster imagery you need to go into the processing toolbox and select "generate xyz tiles (mb tiles)" under the "raster tools" menu. You will get a single file as a result, with the extension of ".mbtiles". That's probably not what you want, but you can also use the "directory" algorithm under the same raster tools menu to mimic what you are doing with MOBAC.

You'll have to experiment with this to get what you want, since you are starting with a single raster image and are just tiling it arbitrarily. Generally you would only be using tiles in a mobile device of some sort so that the loading of images will not consume excessive memory. For larger raster datasets I would generally just use a catalog, or what would be a VRT in QGIS, and set my scale dependent visibility appropriately.

All that being said, you can just go to Chartbundle Chart Viewer and generate a PDF directly from the web page. Make sure your pop up blocker is turned off. There are additional options for download under the "chart download" menu item on the aforementioned page.
 
You may have misunderstood, I want to make one big image from the tiles that get supplied by online sources.
It does not matter though, as we hit both sides which is even better.
That chartbundle viewer is handy, thx for mentioning!
 
You may have misunderstood, I want to make one big image from the tiles that get supplied by online sources.
It does not matter though, as we hit both sides which is even better.
That chartbundle viewer is handy, thx for mentioning!
Okay, then I'm thinking backwards. I thought that since you were going through all the motions to create tiles that your desired final product was in fact the tiles. Since you can already freely download native resolution rasters I don't know why you would go through the trouble of downloading thousands of tiles and then combining them back into a large raster. It's probably just an engineer thing, or perhaps a California thing.
 
Well, MOBAC does not create tiles, it downloads them from online sources. It presents them as continuous in the viewer, and you can drag a shape over any area. The tiles are generally fairly small, and for my typical images they include between 1k and 2k tiles.
So when you say you can download native res rasters, yes you can. They will always be some different extents than you really want, so you have to then trim and so on.
QGIS almost does what MOBAC does, it downloads tiles and shows on a map. I just have not figured out the export process to keep it from down sampling the tiles though, or even upsampling by setting dpi high.
Note that MOBAC was made for creating offline map sets for various mobile apps. My favorite one for android is Orux Maps. The Oziexplorer format just happens to be one image so that is what I use for that.
Sorry to confuse anyone, thx for your patience.
 
Well, MOBAC does not create tiles, it downloads them from online sources. It presents them as continuous in the viewer, and you can drag a shape over any area. The tiles are generally fairly small, and for my typical images they include between 1k and 2k tiles.
So when you say you can download native res rasters, yes you can. They will always be some different extents than you really want, so you have to then trim and so on.
QGIS almost does what MOBAC does, it downloads tiles and shows on a map. I just have not figured out the export process to keep it from down sampling the tiles though, or even upsampling by setting dpi high.
Note that MOBAC was made for creating offline map sets for various mobile apps. My favorite one for android is Orux Maps. The Oziexplorer format just happens to be one image so that is what I use for that.
Sorry to confuse anyone, thx for your patience.
I've been using OruxMaps for years. It has the Chartbundle VFR Sectional web service built-in, and you can add your own WMS/WMTS services as well, which I've done for my state orthoimagery and USATopo.
 
Right on! I need to add those sources. I do use the built-in sources like you mentioned, it caches them too which is cool when away from internet. One thing I wish I knew how to do was get an auxiliary GPS reciever that worked better when hiking in rugged mountains. My S8 phone gps is not great there, takes forever to lock signal.
 
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