>How to create a 3D flight track and visualisation

>A mate at work said, your 2D flight tracks are cool, but what they don’t really give you that same sense of perspective that a 3D view would provide. Damn, now that I’ve come to grips with what 3D maps may provide, the old 2D views just don’t cut it anymore…  Great, thanks Conrad!

So there begun the research into creating a cool 3D flight track…

My GPS is a Garmin Edge 305 cycling computer. It basically “tracks” your ride, distance, cadence (pedals speed per minute), heart rate, climb etc. Of course it is logging your location as well. You can then review and compare it to any number of previous rides in the great software about. I’m using Ascent  for the mac primarly (it is not yet in the new Mac OSX Apps Store).  This is the software which  produced the 2D maps on the other blog entries.   It can create Google Earth flyovers, but not cool 3D flight track logs   So, what about creating the 3D maps then…

Using Google, any number of searches found me some interesting info. Google Earth can display great 3D views of flight tracks, some sites provide live flight tracking views direct to Google Earth.  Then I discovered GPS Visualizer.  Let me share what I’ve found to hopefully help others who have the same questions.  So before we being, check out the 3D sample based on the Stalls lesson.

GPS 3D Flight Track Log – Stalls lessons




GPS 3D Flight Track Log – Take off and Landing at Jandakot

The steps to creating such views are as follows:

1. Get the GPS data file off your GPS device
I have to use the Garmin Training Center application with my GPS.  Once the GPS is sync’d with the app, you highlight the given event and then choose “Export <date>” from the file menu.  When it prompts you for a filename, make sure you choose the GPX file type.  Many other GPS devices and their software will let you grab the GPS data.  By the way, make sure you use “track” mode on your GPS, so that it records the entire flight.  My Garmin Edge 305 does that by default, so it is easy.

2. Use GPS Visualizer to create the Google Earth file for you
Goto the Google Earth mapping page on GPS Visualizer website.  Once there fill out the form as per the guide image below.  You can adjust various settings to influence the look in Google Earth.

Using GPS Visualizer to create 3D Flight Track Logs

The GPSVisualizer site will create a KMZ file.  Click on the KMZ file and it will launch Google Earth with you 3d flight log.  If you don’t have Google Earth installed, goto the Google Earth page and click download.

Now once you are in Google Earth, you can easily adjust the various views and even do a fly-over of the route.  Have fun!

I’m enjoying the new 3D views of my flight logs.  It is adding a new dimension to analysing and learning post lesson.  Thanks Conrad, no really, thanks 🙂

ps. to get an image out of Google Earth, choose File -> Email -> Email Image.  When the email client loads, you can save the image out.

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