Virtual Hiker 0.0.3

Virtual Hiker is a tool that can use map data to plan hikes or explore new areas.

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GPL (GNU General Public License) 
3.6/5 14
Joseph A. Huwaldt
ROOT \ Science and Engineering \ Visualization
Virtual Hiker is a tool that can use map data to plan hikes or explore new areas. Includes 3D maps of terrain rendered in real-time; trace trails across the terrain and get height verses distance profiles; tile together adjacent maps to create seamless map areas. Reads USGS SDTS files.

Virtual Hiker is a Java program that allows a user to easily and interactively use map data to plan hikes or explore new areas (currently only in the United States). This program includes features helpful to the hiker such as interactive 3D maps of the terrain rendered in real-time; the ability to trace trails across the terrain and get height verses distance profiles; and the ability to tile together adjacent maps to create large seamless map areas.

Virtual Hiker comes in two parts: Virtual Hiker itself and VH Editor. Virtual Hiker is an end-user program that is designed to easily read maps that have been processed and organized into a coherent database. Virtual Hiker is easy to use, has a simple user interface, and could be shipped with a CD-ROM containing an associated map database. VH Editor, on the other hand, is a bit more complex, but is also more flexible. VH Editor is primarily used to read raw USGS map data and convert it to a form that is easier to work with in Virtual Hiker. VH Editor also includes a small amount of map editing and analysis features (very small, but growing). VH Editor can do everything Virtual Hiker can, but adds additional features that may not be of use to some users.

Here are some key features of "Virtual Hiker":

VH Editor can read most types of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) map data that is on a 24k Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid. This includes Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) images including Digital Orthographic Quads (DOQ), Digital Elevation Maps (DEM) in either ASCII or SDTS format, and Digital Line Graphs (DLG) in either ASCII or SDTS format.
You can load as many map layers as you want (until you run out of memory) and they can be tiled together to form large seamless maps.
When multiple map layers are either overlaid or tiled together, they can be saved to a single Virtual Hiker specific file that groups all the map layers together.
The user can select any location on the map and get latitude, longitude, altitude (if a DEM map layer is loaded), and magnetic offset from true north for that point.
A line can be traced across a map (that includes a DEM layer) and a plot of height verses distance will be generated as well as some other statistics calculated.
DRG images (which are often very large) can be processed to create a tiled image that can be loaded and displayed and zoomed in and out of efficiently while using very little memory.
An interactive, 3D map, rendered in real-time can be generated for any number of tiled DEM map layers (they do NOT have to be joined together into a single large DEM first!). The terrain rendering algorithm renders in real-time even for large data sets (I've tested it with up to nine 30m resolution DEMs loaded at a time -- about 1.3 million grid points -- on a 350 MHz Macintosh G3). Any image can be texture mapped onto the 3D terrain and a feature is provided that will convert any DRG into an appropriate texture map. This allows you to use standard topographic maps as textures as well as properly map aligned satellite photos and map aligned orthographic aerial photographs (such as DOQs).
DLG map elements can be picked by the user and queried against a database. Currently this feature is a "proof-of-concept" implementation only, but could be extended to be a powerful feature. Imagine the user clicking on a trail map element and getting information on the trail; it's name, length, difficulty, description, etc.

What's New in This Release:

Updated to the Epoch 2005 World Magnetic Model used for computing magnetic offset from true north.
Added a method for resampling a DEM at different resolutions.

Last updated on May 20th, 2008

#plan hikes #explore areas #3D maps #terrain #3D #map #rendering

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