Wednesday, July23, 2014 L-36.com

Printing your own NOAA Charts

(for free)


Introduction

Wouldn't it be great if you could print your own NOAA navigational charts, just the size you want, up to date, and do it for free with free software? I did it and here is how I did it.

My First Chart


Getting the Charts

NOAA charts are available for free in two formats: Raster Navigational Charts (RNC) and Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC). The RNC versions which are the same as the paper charts we are all familiar with and the ones we want.
  • Go to the NOAA online chart viewer.
  • Follow the link for your area. I selected "Pacific Coast."
  • Find the chart you are in. I liked 18649. Click on the chart to view it. Make note of the chart numbers you want.
  • Go to the Interactive Catalog and select the region you want. I clicked on California. On the right side of the page, click on "Download RNC's
  • On the bottom of the user agreement, click on "OK" (read it first).
  • That should save a zip file on your computer. Unzip it to a directory of you picking. I used F:/charts.
Or, you can download regions, states, or districts to get a large group of charts. Visis THIS PAGE and select either RCN or ECN charts and follow the instructions.

Conversion Tools

  • BSB2PNG -- The program that converts the files is called libbsb. Download it from Sourceforge by clicking on Download. Unzip them into a directory. I used F:/libbsb
  • BSBREADER -- A newer easier to use program is called bsbreader. Download it from Sourceforge by clicking this Download Install it.

Running bsb2png

  • Open a command prompt. Click "Start", "Run", and type "cmd" then hit enter.
  • Navigate to the directory that has the image you want. I typed "F:" then "CD /charts/bsb_root/18649" Use the number you remembered from before in place of 18649.
  • Run bsb2png.exe from this directory by typing (in my csae) "/libbsb/lib2png.exe 18649_1.KAP 18649.png" again change 18649 to the number you remember. You might want to type "dir" to make sure of the file name. The main map has the _1. The other maps are the little inserts that go into the blank spaces on the main map. You may or may not want those. It is nice to have the detail maps separate as that way you can put them some other place if you want.

Running bsbreader

  • Run bsbreader. I had to open windows exployer and navigate to "c:/Program Files/ BSB Reader" and click on BSBReader. Later the program was listed in "All Programs". Maybe I missed it the first time.
  • Select the source and destination directories and PNG as the format.
  • Click "GO"

Print your Chart

  • Open Image in Paint, Photoshop, or any other image program. Crop it, resize it, print it. That's it.
  • Note: If you are pasting together two or more charts to make a chart that covers the area where you sail, make note of the map scale. If you resize them to the same scale, they fit perfectly. For example, with a map that lists the scale as 1:40,000 and another with 1:20,000, if you resize the larger one to 50% it will line up with the other one when you go to stitch them together.
  • Once the maps are the same scale, I lined them up by aligning something that has a precise position on both maps, like a buoy. The sketches of the shoreline and the shipping lanes etc were not the same on my two maps but when I lined up the mark, everything was very close.
  • I used Photoshop and combined the images by setting the layer property to "Darken"

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Disclaimer:
The information on this web site has not been checked for accuracy. It is for entertainment purposes only and should be independently verified before using for any other reason. There are five sources. 1) Documents and manuals from a variety of sources. These have not been checked for accuracy and in many cases have not even been read by anyone associated with L-36.com. I have no idea of they are useful or accurate, I leave that to the reader. 2) Articles others have written and submitted. If you have questions on these, please contact the author. 3) Articles that represent my personal opinions. These are intended to promote thought and for entertainment. These are not intended to be fact, they are my opinions. 4) Small programs that generate result presented on a web page. Like any computer program, these may and in some cases do have errors. Almost all of these also make simplifying assumptions so they are not totally accurate even if there are no errors. Please verify all results. 5) Weather information is from numerious of sources and is presented automatically. It is not checked for accuracy either by anyone at L-36.com or by the source which is typically the US Government. See the NOAA web site for their disclaimer. Finally, tide and current data on this site is from 2007 and 2008 data bases, which may contain even older data. Changes in harbors due to building or dredging change tides and currents and for that reason many of the locations presented are no longer supported by newer data bases. For example, there is very little tidal current data in newer data bases so current data is likely wrong to some extent. This data is NOT FOR NAVIGATION. See the XTide disclaimer for details. In addition, tide and current are influenced by storms, river flow, and other factors beyond the ability of any predictive program.