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"Do it yourself" Map Making

Making maps the way it was done "in the old days"

I offer a number of discussions of this topic. *I* find the subject "interesting". Make a bit of an effort, and you might add a new "interesting" (*to you*) thing to your life.

It isn't hard! Doesn't require much.

You can make a remarkably successful map with just two pizza boxes, a pin, a pencil and some tracing paper. A ruler would help, too... it's optional!

Of course you can take things further. The fancier you get, the more accurate the maps you make will be.

But you really can do a "quite accurate" map with nothing more than I listed.

Your map will accurately show the relative positions of things. To add an precise indication of where north is adds a very slight extra chore, and you'd need a compass. To add a SCALE to your map requires a bit of extra work, but it isn't hard, only a tape measure is added to what you need.

The pages listed below will tell you how. And a lot more!

As you explore them, please remember: You don't need to do everything you see on them. You can start with very simple map making, and get fancier as slowly as you like.

Of course, you also need a bit of countryside to make your map of! Or you could just map a large back garden, a field, part of some school grounds.

But that's not your limit. I have a map, made as below, showing lots of the things that are spread across about 250 square miles of countryside.

For big areas, besides the equipment, you need two hills or similar, from which you can see all the things you want on your map. and you must be able to see each of your hills from the other. Alternatively, if you live near the ocean or a large lake, if there's an area with a bay... the bigger the better, you could find two places "on the beach" (or above it), that would "do" as the "hills".

One part of the fun is making your map. Another part of the fun is devising... within a sensible budget!... better "tools" than the pizza boxes and pin. (There's a lot on this in my web-pages.)

Any map you make from two hills may or may not be right. It is hard to check. And how happy can you be with a result when you don't know how close to "right" you've got?

Good news! If there is a third hill... or spot on the beach, or spot on the edge of the field... where you can also see the other hills, and the things you want to put on the map, you have a way of telling how big your errors are! (There will always be errors. If you do a map of a 4 acre field, even with pizza boxes, you can probably get things to within 10 feet of where the ought to be. Can you get them right to the foot? To the inch? No. There will always be errors... but are your errors large or small?? Are some of your objects close to where they ought to be, others not very close? With a third "hill", you can have an answer to these questions.

Two pizza boxes?

What you need to make a map of the pond, the shed, and the flagpole is summarized below.

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(The description assumes that North is at the top of the diagram.)

You go to the NW corner of the field. Set up first pizza box on a table or something... it must not move while you draw four lines on it. The lines all start at the pin, and go in the direction of the features shown.

Then you go to the NE corner, repeat the exercise with the second pizza box.

You now have all you need to draw a map showing the positions of the two pizza boxes, and the pond, shed, and flagpole. How?? That's explained in the pages you have links to further down this page.

(Well... depending on how fancy you want the map to be. If you want to put "North" at the top, you need to know what direction just one of the lines points. And if you want to know the scale of your map, you need to measure a distance. The distance between the pizza boxes would be the best one to measure. See also my page on William Roy's baseline over Houselow Heath, 1784.

Resources available

You might want to start with my Overview of making maps by measuring angles.

Then, for an extended discussions, with details, visit any (or all!) of the following...

Making maps from measured angles... and ways to measure those angles... an explanation from September 2019. (Mostly the "plane table" answer, in this one, but that's only a small part of the essay.)

Making maps... a multi-page explanation, online for a very long time... but revised and extended from time to time over the years. Origins a bit dim... before 2000!) This, eventually, brings you to a challenge: Make your own theodolite, and when you've had a chance to come up with your answer, gives some ideas to help you make a good one. Cost? Under $40. Resolution: not worse than a half degree.

More to come... ! (You can get to most of them from links in the above, anyway, but this is going to be the "master" table of contents for what I've provided on these and related subjects. Someday!



I also offer other pages, starting at my old main "mapping" page, about other aspects of the science and art of mapping.

What do you think of all any or all of them? BDon't miss!!... at the bottom of my old main "mapping" page there is a bunch of links to more "maps" pages, not just making them... lots of aspects. (Well at least there was! If I've moved them without revising what is says here, please tell me, and cite "In Aru/MappingArms.htm..."

Another set of links to pages about map-making by me is in my Flat-Earth-Academy "Geography Department" page.

Apologies for the current tangle! (^_^)


Please tell others?

Creating this was a lot of work. Wasted work, if no one sees it. Please tell people it is here?? The following is just another way to reach this page, but is easier to remember, easier to pass on, than "http://www.arunet.co.uk/tkboyd/MappingArms.htm", I hope. "MakeMYmap", note... not "MakeYOURmap". And all one word. All in lower case works, but I write it with the upper case letters starting each word to make where "makemymap" comes from more clear.

http://bit.ly/MakeMyMap




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