Sunday, July 03, 2005

National Geographic Topo!

Topo! Streets & 3-D Views
Expansion Pack

This package is in fact an upgrade to Topo! main engine.
Previous update available at is version 3.4.3

After installing 3D Views, which includes a revamped installer and will create its own directory (instead of overwriting existing files from previous versions) you get an updated version of its engine: 4.0.0

For $19.95 you are getting a major update with this package.

The main reason to upgrade to this version might be the support for USB-based GPS devices and the new 3D view.

3D Views

The idea with this package is that you already own a Topo! State Series set, so during install you will be asked about it. Down to level 5 provided by the series, you can draw a route in a 2D view. Select from the Tool menu the Route option. Click and release the left mouse button at the starting point and begin to draw your route. Click again at the end and a dialog pops up.

Select "3D Fly-Over" and you will be taken to a 3D view. You can control the speed, tilt and elevation of the observer. That is what your trip will look like.

Elevation Profile

You can also build a profile of the same route showing its elevation. To do that move the mouse over the red route line and right click over it to invoke the Route dialog. Select Build Profile. The bottom of your screen will show the Elevation profile.

USB support

DeLorme provides a Serial Emulator that allows you to use serial ports (COM 0~99 virtual ports on Windows) for USB connections, and obtain raw data and/or sentences, based on NMEA 0184 standard type data.

Delorme LT-20 isn't available in the list of supported devices in the GPS Settings dialog of Topo! 4.0. Select NMEA ($GPGGA) but not NMEA ($GPGLL). But as the GPS Settings dialog warns you, even though no connection was possible the device might still work which was the case with the DeLorme.

Bug on Topo! support for NMEA Sentences

The thing about non-proprietary support from the Topo Engine is that there is a bug on the support for NMEA Sentences of type GPGLL (Geographic Position, Latitude/Longitude). Topo's engine doesn't recognize it.

It should work with GPGGA, at least I could get it working in its current engine version (3.4.3, 4.0.0). The same issue occurs with the Pocket Topo! version.


Requires DirectX9
Free toolfree tech support.
LiveMap Updates over the net.

DataPack includes City layer for State level 5 image data.
Support for USB connection to GPS units. Includes support for
Garmin, Eagle/Lowrance, Magellan

You will need to provide driver from your GPS manufacturer.

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