The Whyalla & Districts 4WD Club

OziExplorer


I started using OziExplorer a few years ago, after purchasing a Magellan GPS (we were a little geographically embarrassed on a bush walk one weekend, so I thought that a GPS was the way to go!).

Having a GPS was great, but there had to be more!!!. In planning a walk (or a 4wd trip) it was time consuming to enter all the way points to show the major points of interest/stops etc in a trip, and after some internet searching, I came across OziExplorer. I think that within two weeks of downloading the demo version, I had paid my fee for the full version.

What do you need?
A PC, the OziExplorer software and a great deal of patience and time. The software is fairly straight forward to use especially if you go through the tutorial first. Then you will also need maps, either electronic or paper. If you have paper maps you can scan them into your PC and use them in that way - anyone out there have a B1 or A3 colour scanner?. A GPS and data link cable, assuming you want to put your work into/out off the program. A power supply or batteries for your GPS when communicating with the PC/GPS (I loved Gray's little battery pack he came around with one day!!!!). Generally for upload/download I use batteries, as the GPS in only on for a short time period.

You must know how to use your GPS and your computer to be able to set up both units. 99% of GPS's connect through the serial port (DB-9 pin) to enable communications with the PC.
Side note: a high percentage of new laptop PCs dont have a serial port! - a point to remember if you are contemplating purchasing a new laptop unit.

OziExplorer lets you Geo-reference any BMP, JPG, TIFF etc graphical file. That means that you set up known reference points on a map to a location on the computer screen and the program then displays the coordinates in either Lat and Long or UTM for the mouse pointer position on screen, or what ever.

OziExplorer has grown considerably since I started using it, and I'm glad I started when I did, as the new features now seem easier to understand and learn, and one of the newest features is the 3D ability. This must have been a considerable undertaking for the programmer, as I couldn't even imagine the amount of code that must have gone into this aspect.

The 3D function now lets you show in 3D (with the ability to rotate the image around) to show the mountains etc where your planned track or weigh points are situated. This doesn't have a great deal of practical use in the field, but its great to view what you are planning to tackle in 3D.

And for something really boys with there toys, try this. You connect your GPS up to your laptop, with the relevant map showing and you travel around, being able to instruct the driver when turns or junctions etc are coming up. This function is called moving map and its exactly what the name suggests; the PC will show on screen your location and direction, with the map showing all the roads etc. With this function alone, you should be able to justify a new laptop with your partner, no more getting lost when trying to navigate through the big cities like Melbourne, Sydney, as you can see exactly where you are. And with the new maps coming out electronically as well as paper based, there is hardly any area in Australia that you can't get an electronic map of.

Another strength of OziExplorer is once you have carried out a trip with your GPS logging as you go, you can then upload the information from your GPS into OziExplorer and then replay the track/course travelled. From this, you can call up other graphical representations of the trip from within the program, comparing say speed vs distance travelled or altitude traversed.

OziExplorer is a great product, and its Australian as well. It is constantly being updated and modified. It has great support and there are plenty of Internet user forums to join to get further information etc.

I use an old Toshiba P133 laptop when I go in the field, and this works well, but does struggle updating the maps if you go from one map to another all the time eg, if traveling to Pt Neil, there is a place that goes from the map Randell to Middleback and then to Charleston. But the section on the Middleback map is only for 2 km, so the poor old CD drive on my laptop would be working overtime. Please note, before anyone flames me, I haven't done this particular exercise with the GPS and laptop - I think I can find my way to Pt Neil its just for information.

Now, if you end up trying all this technical stuff, a simple add on that works really well when driving around 4wding using a laptop etc, is the use of a stable table to rest the laptop onto while driving. Works great while in the ruff as the PC stays on the tray really well, and also, allows the quite considerable heat emission from a laptop to escape easily.

I am happy to show/help anyone who wants to know more, or see the program working. But please understand, I am not an expert with this program, and as with all things relating to map reading/using, it can get interesting. Will be a boom if the club does another night navigation exercise!!!!!!

Full version supplied on CD A$130 including P&P. CE add-on also available A$40. 3D add-on A$40

This Page wholly Contributed by Club Member Rod W (who also happens to be the editor of the club magazine), May2003.