Start to Finish - Create a Map

This tutorial will guide you through the process involved in creating a map for your GPS unit; from importing the raw data, through defining and configuring the map project, and on to exporting the finished map to a device for viewing on the water.


It is recommended that you start this tutorial with an empty workspace - see The Workspace for how to to create a new workspace:




Collect Track Data on your GPS Device

Before creating your own map, you need some track log data for the area you wish to map. See Collecting Data to Make a Map for tips on how to go about this.


To follow this tutorial, you can use the same demo files that we have used by downloading them here.


Importing the Track Log Data into ReefMaster

Configuring an Equipment Profile

To make a map, we first need to import some track log data but, before importing track data we need to configure a GPS Equipment Profile with some settings about the GPS/Sounder unit that was used to make the track recordings.



Open the Global Settings window by clicking on the Settings button in the File menu, or by clicking the settings button in the quick access toolbar at the top of the ReefMaster window.

Select the Import/Export page by clicking the tab header.

Click the Edit button next to Default Equipment in the GPS Import section of the global settings window.


The Edit Equipment Profiles window is displayed, which shows a list of all of the equipment profiles that have been created. By default, a single equipment profile is present with the name My GPS-Sounder.



Select the default profile, which will have the name My GPS-Sounder (if you have not yet edited or deleted an equipment profile).

Once the profile has been selected, the Delete and Edit buttons are displayed. Click the Edit button.


The Edit Equipment Profile window is displayed, which contains a range of GPS-device-specific options.



The demo tracks were recorded on a Humminbird 997 GPS/Sounder combination unit, that was configured to record a new track-point every second. We'll set a couple of options in the import profile to reflect these settings.


Replace the name of the profile with something more descriptive. Here we are just using the make and model of the sounder unit (note that the name of a profile doesn't matter, it just makes separate profiles more easy to identify within ReefMaster).

The Regular Trackpoint interval is for units that record track-points at regular time intervals. Check the Regular Trackpoint interval check-box and enter 1 into the seconds field. This setting is only required for Humminbird HT and GPX files and is not used when importing sonar log files.

Click OK. You will also need to click OK on the profiles list window and the global settings window. Note that the OK button in ReefMaster is shown as a tick(check) symbol.


Importing the Tracks

To import the tracks for the map, select Import Logs and Waypoints from the File Menu, and click the Browse... button:



An Open File window will be shown:



Navigate to the location in which you stored the downloaded demo files, and select files AngleLakeOne.gpx through AngleLakeFour.gpx. (To select multiple files, click on a file with the left mouse button whilst holding down the control key).

Once the required files have been selected, click Open.


The Import GPS Assets window is displayed, where all of the assets in the selected files, such as tracks and waypoints, are shown in a list (circled), along with some further import options. Hold the mouse pointer over the icon of one of the tracks in the list to display a preview of the track, showing the path of the track with track-points coloured by their relative depths.



We do not need to modify any further settings in the import GPS assets window, so go ahead and click OK.


A progress window will appear, whilst the tracks are imported into the ReefMaster database. Once the import has completed, the import GPS assets window is closed, and ReefMaster returns to the main application window.



The Tracks list in the Asset Library now contains the four Tracks that we have just imported, and the tracks are now also displayed in the global view:




Zoom the global view, so that the imported tracks fill the window, by clicking the Fit Window button in the View menu bar, or by double-clicking with the mouse anywhere within the global view.



The location and relative positions of the imported tracks is now clear; they are all within a small lake in Washington State. The tracks are displayed as semi-transparent rectangles, indicating the bounding box of the track area, with a track icon in the top-left corner. If you hold the mouse pointer over this icon, the track path and depth colours are shown. The track can be edited by double clicking the icon, when the mouse is in select (arrow) mode.


Cleaning up Track Log Data and Applying Water Level Offsets

The tracks used in this tutorial do not need to be edited, and water level offsets are not required as all of the tracks were logged from a lake on the same day. When using your own data, you may need to remove bad data points and/or apply water level offsets to adjust for tide or lake level variations.



Creating the Map Project

The Map Project is where the imported tracks are combined, and the map is created and viewed.


There are a number of different ways to create a new map project, from the asset library or the File Menu. For this tutorial, we will create the map by first selecting the tracks that we want to use:



In the Asset Library, select the four tracks that were just imported. To select multiple tracks, either: Hold the control key down, and click each track individually or select the top track, hold down the shift key and click the bottom track.

Once the tracks are selected, click on one of the selected tracks using the right mouse button. The context sensitive menu is shown; select the option Add Tracks to Project/New Project.



Enter a name for the project. If you are using the demo files, the lake we are mapping is Angle Lake, so type that into the Name field.

Click OK.



A new project is created, called Angle Lake, and the project edit window is opened to the Tracks and Boundaries view. This view displays all of the tracks that are members of the project, and is where the map area and shorelines and islands are defined for the map project.


Note that a new menu bar, the Project Menu is now visible at the top of the window. Menu bars can change, depending on what type of asset is active in the main editing window.


Project Views

The tracks and boundaries view is one of three project views, the others being the Map View and the 3D View, which we will use later in the tutorial. The active view can be selected by using the view selector buttons in the Project toolbar.


Note that nothing will be shown in either the contour or 3D views until the map has been built, so do not change views just yet.


Tip: As we will not need to use the Asset Library for a while, we can make a little more room to work by hiding the dashboard. Click the Pin button in the Workspace header to hide the workspace panel. The workspace panel can be restored to view by clicking the workspace tab at the left of the window.


Defining the Map Area

Defining the map area means specifying the bounding box of the region we want to map, which is is done by drawing a rectangle with the mouse:




Click the Define Map Area button in the project toolbar. The mouse mode will change to a tool that can be used to draw a rectangle, and will remain in this mode until we either draw a rectangle or click the Define Map Area button again.

We want to draw a rectangle around the entire lake. Zoom the view out slightly using the mouse-wheel, so that the it is easy to see all of the lake edges.

Position the mouse pointer at one corner or the lake area, press and hold the left mouse button and draw a rectangle that covers the whole lake. Don't worry if the region is larger than the lake - just make sure that all of the data points are included in the rectangle.

Release the left mouse button when all of the lake is in the drawn region:



The rectangle that has just been drawn remains as part of the view, with "grab handles" in the centre and around the edges that allow the area to be moved or modified.

The Generate Map button in the project menu bar becomes enabled, and has changed colour to orange. This indicates that the current map is out of date, and needs to be built.


Generating the Map

Generate the map by clicking once on the Generate Map button. The map will start to generate, and the progress will be shown in the status bar at the bottom of the application window. Once the map has finished generating, the project will switch to the Map View, where all of the generated components can be viewed (if necessary, zoom the Map View to fit the generated map by double-clicking within the view):



The map view


As you can see in the image above, there are a lot of gaps in our map where depth values have not been calculated. This is because these areas lie between track-points that are further apart than the Maximum Interpolation value (which defaults to 50m). We can improve the appearance of this map by increasing the maximum distance over which ReefMaster will interpolate depth values, up a maximum of 250m.


Note that high interpolation distances can give rise to significant inaccuracies in the finished map; more data is always better.


In the Map Settings section of the project menu, adjust the Max Interpolation value to 75m, by either clicking on the up/down arrows, or by entering the value by hand:



Regenerating the Map

When map parameters are changed, the map needs to be regenerated by clicking the Generate Map button in the project toolbar. When the map is "out of date", this button is shown with an orange background. When the map is considered up to date, the button has a green background.



The regenerate button should have changed to an orange background as the maximum interpolation was adjusted, to indicate that there are changes to the map settings that have not been included in the current map.

Click the Generate Map button to regenerate the map. The map will be regenerated, and all of the empty areas should now be filled with colour:



Map Layers and the Map View

Map projects are generated as a set of map layers, each of which contains a set of components that can be displayed in the finished map.

Each Map Layer can be configured within the map. Layers visibility can be toggled on or off, layers can be moved forwards or backwards in the drawing order and the colours and visual style of map layers and components can be edited.


Open the Layers tab at the right of the workspace window:


The top section of the layers panel holds a list of all of the map layers in the current project. Here, map layers can be moved around the drawing (Z) order by dragging them up and down the list, with the bottom-most layer in the list being drawn at the front of the map. Note that line based layers, such as contours, are always drawn on top of area based layers such as isobaths or raster backgrounds.


The type of the map layer is indiacted by an icon, and the visibility of the map layer can be toggled by using the check-box next to the layer name.

Try toggling the visibility of the map layers present - e.g. hide the isobaths layer and show the shaded relief layer, which gives a pseudo 3D look to the map.



Generated Map Layers

Generated map layers are map layers that have been generated as part of the map build process, and include layers such as major and minor contours, isobaths, shorelines and land area. The important distinction between generated and non-generated map layers is that the components within a generated map layer will be replaced when the Map Project is rebuilt. This means that any edits to individual components or component styles within a generated layer will be lost when the map project is rebuilt. Any changes made to a layer's style will be retained across builds.


Configuring Contours



Adjust the contour spacing using the Contour Spacing slider in the Map Settings section of the project properties window.

The map must be regenerated for contour spacing changes to take effect. Click the regenerate button in the graphical view.



The 3D View


Switch to the 3D View by clicking the 3D View button in the project menu bar:



Manipulating the 3D model

Rotate the 3D model by grabbing the image with the left mouse button, with the mouse in select mode (the default).

The model can be moved by dragging it with the middle mouse button, or using the left mouse button with the mouse in pan model (the hand icon).

Zoom the model using the mouse wheel, or by holding down the right mouse button and moving the mouse up or down.

Try exaggerating the depth scale of the map by adjusting the Z-Scale Slider.


Adding a Shoreline

Although we have the beginnings of a nice map already, we can improve the map significantly by adding in a shoreline.


Shorelines and Islands

Shorelines enable us to add a series of depths to the map, in areas that would be too shallow to navigate with a boat; a typical scenario would be adding zero depths along the perimeter of a lake. These additional depth points mean that we can then interpolate the depth of the lake between our shoreline and the nearest logged track and, if the shoreline and track are within the Max Interpolation distance, the lake will be filled to the edges with depth values.

Shorelines also allow us to define the edges of a map project. The detail to the left shows an area where depth values have been interpolated across land, as the lake shoreline turns sharply. By defining a shoreline, we can stop these depth values from being generated.


Return to the tracks and boundaries view by clicking the button in the project menu bar.


Further map project options are available in the Map Properties panel, which is found under the Edit tab at the right of the workspace window.


Expand the Map Properties window  by clicking on the Edit tab.

Expand the Map Boundaries pane within the properties window by clicking on the Map Boundaries header. You may want to collapse the Map Settings section to create more room. Again, just click on the header.

It can make things clearer when working on the map if the background map is hidden. To do this, click the Background Map button View menu bar.



We are going to import a shoreline that has been created in Google Earth, by tracing the lake outline as a polygon. This polygon was then saved as a KML file, which can be read by ReefMaster. It is also possible to trace a shoreline directly in ReefMaster, or, for the best accuracy, to walk the shoreline with a hand-held GPS and import the saved track.



In the Map Boundaries section of the project properties, click the Import button.


An Open File window will be displayed, showing files of type KML, KMZ and GPX.




Select the file AngleLakeShoreline.KML and hit Open.



A window is shown showing the number of successfully imported boundaries. In this case, just one boundary has been imported, but it is possible for a single file to contain any number of shorelines or islands.



The new boundary is visible in the Define Map view, but is not selected by default in the Map Boundaries pane.


Select the new boundary by clicking the shoreline in the boundaries list, or click the shoreline itself in the graphical edit area (with the mouse in select mode); the boundary properties area is populated with the details of the new boundary.


Shorelines and islands - key points

A shoreline excludes all areas outside of it. There can be at most one shoreline per map. When a shoreline is defined, nothing outside of the shoreline will be included in the map.

Islands exclude the area within them. There can be any number of islands in a map project. The area inside of an island polygon is excluded from the map.

The shaded area of the map in the Define Map View shows areas that will be excluded from the map generation. In our example (at the moment), that is the area inside the lake - the opposite of what we want - because;

Imported boundaries are set to be islands by default. The reasoning behind this is simple; there can only be one shoreline per map, but possibly many islands (tens, or even hundreds in big lakes). Setting the default to island means less work changing boundary properties when importing a large number of islands.

Shorelines and islands are always treated as closed polygons. ReefMaster will close a boundary, by joining the last point with the first, when using the boundary to calculate which areas to exclude from the map.

Changes to map boundaries do not trigger automatic regeneration of the map project. If a boundary is added to, or removed from, a project, or edited in any way, then the map must be regenerated by re-drawing the map area.


Our new boundary is configured as an island, but we need it to act as a shoreline:



Making sure that the boundary is selected, select Shoreline from the list to the right of the boundary name. Notice how the shaded area of the map inverts when the island is changed to a shoreline, indicating that the area outside of the lake will now be excluded, and the area inside of the shoreline will be included in the map:


All of the other values can be left with their defaults; we want this boundary to provide a depth value of zero, and to show in the finished map.

Regenerate the map by clicking the regenerate button. The map will regenerate, filling interpolated depth values right up to the shoreline.



Now that the map has a shoreline, a land area is shown around the generated map in the 3D view.

Note that now we have defined the water body and land areas through the use of a shoreline, three new map layers have been generated. These are Water Body and Land polygon layers, and a polyline Shorelines layer:




Try displaying the land and water body layers by toggling their visibility using the check box in the layers list.

Experiment with the Grid Smoothing value in the project properties. For maps with sparse track-point data, such as this demo map, a larger smoothing value can help to reduce the visibility of artefacts from the map-generation process, and produce smoother looking contours.



Exporting The Map

Maps can be exported in a range of different file formats, including high-resolution image files and formats suitable for use on GPS devices.


In this tutorial we will export the map in Google Earth format, in vector mode, and then export the map again as a set of contours overlaid on a raster background in AT5 mode (for use in Navico devices only).


Exporting the map in Google Earth format


Configure the contours as you would like to see them on the finished map; set the contour spacing, and turn minor contours on or off as required. Note that when exporting a map, only the components that are visible will be exported.

Click the Export button in the project menu bar, and select the option Export Using Preset Style:




The Export Map Using Preset Style window is displayed, which contains a gallery of export formats which can all be exported with a single click:



Select Google Earth Map Vector Map from the list of export formats by clicking the right or left navigation arrows until the right option appears.

Click Save, which is the disk button in the bottom-right corner of the window.




You must read and accept a safety warning before the map export will proceed.

ReefMaster maps are not suitable for navigation.



Choose a file name for the export, and click Save. Files for Google Earth export have the extension kmz. You do not need to add the extension when entering the file name in the Select filename window.


To view the file, either open it on a desktop PC running Google Earth or, to view it on a mobile device:


If running an Android device, either use a file manager to copy the file onto the device, and open the file from there, or

If running an iOS device, email the file to yourself and download and open the file using the email reader on your mobile device. This method can also be used for Android devices.


Lake contours as viewed on the Google Earth mobile application, running on a Google Nexus 4 smart phone. The contour interval is 5 ft.


Minor contours, at 1 ft intervals, are displayed when the map is zoomed in.


Exporting a map in AT5 format for use on a Navico device

There are a number of different preset map styles that target the AT5 format, including contours over a raster background and all-vector solutions - see Exporting Preset Map Styles for a full list of map styles and their uses.


In this example, we are going to export a contour-over-shaded-relief map, directly from the map project. This style of AT5 map is only compatible with later Navico units, such as the Lowrance HDS series, Elite HDI range and the Simrad NSS and NSE.


Ensure that the palette and major and minor contours are configured in the way that you would like to see on the finished map.

Select the option Export Map Using Preset Style from the screen right-click menu.

          Select the AT5 Map with Colour Gradient Shaded Relief map style:



Ensure that the most recent version of the Navico Insight Map Creator (IMC) is present on your computer.


The Navico Insight Map Creator

In order to create AT5 maps, the Insight Map Creator (IMC) application is required. ReefMaster needs to know where this application is stored on your computer, so that it can be called during the map generation process.


If you do not have the Insight Map Creator installed on your machine, download it from the Navico website (it is a free download, although you need to register to download it. The IMC can be found on the Insight Planner tab).

Once the IMC has been downloaded, unpack the zip file and remember the location to which you unpacked the files.

Click Save (the disk icon, at the bottom-right of the screen) and acknowledge the safety warning.

If you have not previously told ReefMaster about the location of the IMC, a window will be shown asking for you to specify the location of the InsightMapCreator.exe file. Locate this file and click OK.

Select a location for the finished map files. The easiest way to create maps for your unit is to write files directly to the root directory of a memory card. Note that any existing AT5 map files will be overwritten.


Click the Save button at the lower right corner of the export window. The navigation warning window will be shown, to which you must agree before the export can continue.



The IMC will be launched, and the raster and vector layers created for the map. Note that this process may take some time. You can observe the progress of the operation by clicking on the IMC icon in the Windows task bar, which brings the IMC application to the front of the screen.

When the map has finished exporting, Generating AT5 Map Complete will be shown as a message in the status bar underneath the main window.


Vector and files are written to the files at5.xml, Large.at5  and raster files are written to the folder ShadedRelief.

If you did not write directly to a memory card, then you should copy all three of these files to the root of a memory card


Insert the memory card into your Navico device.

In order to see AT5 maps on your Navico device, you must select the option Settings/Chart/Chart data/Lowrance.

To see the raster background, select the option Chart options/Imagery/Shaded relief.


Shaded relief AT5 map as shown on a Lowrance HDS10 Gen1

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