Jan Poland  →  Software  →  LightMap


This is a software for displaying small-scale maps, together with waypoints and tracks downloaded from a GPS receiver. Waypoints can be created, edited, and uploaded to the GPS receiver.


This software has been developed and tested with a Garmin eTrex GPS receiver. It might work with other GPS receivers, in particular if you adjust the scripts used for communicating and/or the software. Please also compare the section problems below.

This is for small-scale maps (e.g. 1:25000) only! Each map is equipped with the geographic coordinates of the upper left and lower right corner, and all coordinates in-between are calculated by linear interpolation (not valid on large-scale maps). LightMap can be used e.g. for the offline planning of hikes, biking tours, etc.

Operating System: LightMap is implemented under QT and therefore can be compiled where QT is available. It has been tested for Sharp Zaurus and Linux. It should run on other Unix systems and Mac. Please see below for Windows.

Interfaces: The user interface of LightMap exists in two versions. The standard one is intended for usual computers, while the light one, which is optimized for a small screen and low memory consumption, has been designed for the Sharp Zaurus (and possibly other PDAs). The above screenshot shows the standard version. The light version is optimized for the small screen of the Sharp Zaurus and therefore adds the buttons to the menu. Also, it runs in full-screen mode.

Installation of the standard version: Please make sure that gpspoint by Thomas Schank is installed. This is necessary for up- and download of waypoints and tracks (probably you can also use a different software, if you modify the communication scripts). Also make sure that QT3 is installed. Then download the LightMap sources and unpack them into a directory, compile them by typing ./build-qt, and put the resulting binary to a place of your choice. Also put the three scripts upwp, downwt, and downwp from the connect subdirectory into the path of your system and make sure that they correspond to your setup (ports etc.), such that they can be used to communicate with your GPS receiver.

Create a directory ~/lightmap (~ means your home directory) and subdirectories res and maps. The latter directory will be referred to as the maps directory. Place the resources from the subdirectory res of the sources into the just created ~/lightmap/res directory. In the maps directory, you need to create a subdirectory for each map collection you want to install. Here the example maps/fujisan is used for explanation, which I built from maps from the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute (however the full maps are not reproduced, since they are copyright). Each such collection directory (e.g. maps/fujisan) contains the following files:

  • For each map in the collection, the map as .png image and a file containing the geographic location. This file must have the same name as the map, with the extension .co. It contains two lines specifying the geographic coordinates of the upper right and lower left corners of the map. Each line contains the longitude (north is positive, south negative) and the latitude (east ist positive), in degrees, as a decimal number. Longitude and latitude are separated by one space.
  • The waypoint file wp.txt and the track file tr.txt (the former may be downloaded from the GPS receiver, the latter will be most certainly downloaded from the GPS receiver). Please note that there are no waypoint an track files provided with the fujisan example. The waypoints and tracks shown are instead directly painted on the maps.
  • (Optional) The file colors.txt, containing three lines with the hex codes of the colors of waypoints, marked waypoints, and tracks. If no colors.txt is available, then the following defaults are used:
    corresponding to red waypoints, pink marked waypoints, and green tracks. Please adjust the colors if necessary in order to improve visibility on your particular maps.

Installation of the light version on Zaurus: Here you can find gpspoint for the Zaurus, please install it. Then download the LightMap IPK and install it on your Zaurus, or download the sources and compile them by using an appropriate cross-compiler and typing ./build-qpe. The rest of the installation is similar as above, with a few differences. The maps now go into ~/lightmap/map1/..., so it is recommended to set a symbolic link to somewhere with enough space if necessary (e.g. on a SL-C1000, you may set a link to your SD card). The space issue is important on a small PDA as the Zaurus, so the IPK does not contain the example maps, you have to install them by hand!

The maps have to be cut into pieces before the light version of LightMap can use them (already done for the map1/fujisan example). This can be done e.g. by installing them first to ~/lightmap/maps/... and then use the Octave script cutmaps provided with the sources. The current cutmaps script cuts the maps to fit onto the 640x480 screen of the Sharp Zaurus C1000 and C3x00. If you need a different resolution, please modify the script. As the Zaurus is quite slow, this is preferably done on a usual computer. E.g., to cut the maps of the maps/fujisan example, type

cd ~/lightmap/maps/fujisan; cutmaps

Using LightMap: This is hopefully intuitive :-), so here is just a short overview. Please compare the above screenshot. Maps can be displayed in three zoom levels, this corresponds to the top three buttons on the left of the screenshot. If a waypoint is marked (the pink one on the screenshot), it can be renamed with the button "N" and removed with the button "X". Please note that the waypoint symbol, selectable within the rename dialog, is not displayed within LightMap, but transferred to the GPS receiver and displayed there. The bottom-most button hides the waypoints and tracks in the detail view. In the detail view, clicking on a waypoint marks it, and clicking on a space without waypoint adds one. In the other views, clicking on the map zooms in. Finally, waypoints can be up- and downloaded to and from the GPS receiver. To this aim, the scripts upwp, downwt, and downwp are used.

Obtaining maps:

  • High-quality small-scale maps for Japan are freely available from the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute. When viewing a map, click on the upper left and lower right corners in order to obtain the geographical coordinates.
  • In other countries (e.g. Germany, Switzerland, ...) digital maps are offered for sale.
  • Certainly you can also digitize (scan) your own maps.

LightMap on Windows: As QT3 is available for Windows, LightMap compiles on Windows. The sources include a batch script build-qt-win.bat for this, you have to adjust the settings in setenv.bat to your installation. I used MinGW as a compiler. However, although I succeeded to compile gpspoint using MinGW, I did not get it to communicate with the eTrex so far. As there is other software with the same purpose of LightMap available for windows, e.g. GARtrip by Heinrich Pfeifer, it is probably easier to use one of those programs. If you still want to use LightMap on Windows,

  1. just compile it -- that's not difficult
  2. please note that under Windows, the lightmap directory must be c:\lightmap (unless you modify the source), so maps go into c:\lightmap\maps
  3. compile gpspoint, that's also easy
  4. and finally tell me how you got gpspoint to communicate with the eTrex!
Also note that unfortunately so far, no QT is avaliable for Windows Mobile, so LightMap will not work there.

Disclaimer: I created LightMap for my own needs. I published it with a minimum of efforts, since I was not aware of another software for the Sharp Zaurus that offers these features. Probably LightMap will not exactly fit your needs (for instance it is not dealing with routes at the moment). If you miss a feature, feel free to add it yourself. Also, I can of course give no warranty of any kind.

Problems: I have only tested the software with the basic eTrex receiver. I therefore don't know how it behaves with other eTrex variants. One detail I suspect not to work correctly are the waypoint symbols, as different eTrex receivers seem to use different sets of symbols.

License: LightMap may be freely obtained, modified, and redistributed under the terms of the Gnu GPL v2.0 or later.

Last update: Fri Mar 9 05:09:33 2007 GMT by Jan Poland, Page = "LightMap"