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I thought it would be cool to overlay a geological map onto a topographical map.  And maybe a property map onto an aerial image map.  Then I would like to put these custom maps onto a smartphone GPS app.  That way when I’m in the field, I can see that I’m in a favorable rock type area or approaching a private property boundary.

I see that MapWindow is a free GIS software that will let me make map layers.  And for smartphones, it seems that Gaia GPS is a popular app.

Does anyone have experience making custom maps on their desktop then downloading them onto a smartphone GPS app?  If so, what desktop software and smartphone app do you like?

Google Earth has layering capability... has anyone use GE to create downloadable map files for a smartphone?

PS, if you have done this for a handheld GPS instead of a smartphone I'd enjoy hearing about that as well.


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I use an app called MapsPlus on my iPhone and Ipad.  I import and geo reference in the app so no need for a desktop program with it.  Of all the apps I have used I like this one the most, good stability with large imports, can run a large amount of overlays at the same time, and a cheap one of price to access all features.

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I use oziexplorer and have just today finished creating and calibrating a huge number of detailed goldfield maps whilst locked in with covid restrictions.

Ive been using the online state geological maps (australia based) which have a lot of data such as old mines, geology ,topography etc. but have used google earth overlays too and that worked well.

found it fastest to take a screenshot of GE image or map and , edit the map in ms paint, then calibrate it with Oziexplorer.

Its pretty accurate ,but there may be better stuff out there. works well on my android phone n tablet

there is free versions and you can pay for full featured version


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Oziexplorer is a great  program and I have used it since it first started as shareware decades ago and would recommend it. It lets you do nearly all GIS  features. Global Mapper v21.0 is a professional  GIS (Geographic Information System) that can do every thing with maps and location but is very expensive. I have done a lot mine data for Aust. using it, some of my work is available on another forum.


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Hello Denver Bryan,

I do alot of mapping using ArcMap and shapefiles on the desktop.  I have also used the free version of Gaia GPS for the smartphone.  Its pretty easy to use, as you do all the work on the computer, and only use the phone for viewing.  You just upload your .shp or .kml files to your account and it will load on the phone when you open the app.  It comes with a Topo / trail Map.  One big benefits is that it does not require cell phone coverage to operate.

I also upload and download shapefiles and .kml files to my Garmin handheld GPS.  I used to use the free Garmin BaseCamp software, but I recently found this good tool from the DNR University of Minnesota that converts the tracks/waypoints from my handheld GPS straight into shapefiles and .kml files, as well as lets you load those files straight on the handheld.  I really wish I had found this tool earlier.



DNRGPS Application


DNRGPS is an update to the popular DNRGarmin application. DNRGPS and its predecessor were built to transfer data between Garmin handheld GPS receivers and GIS software.

DNRGPS was released as Open Source software with the intention that the GPS user community will become stewards of the application, initiating future modifications and enhancements.


Best of luck,


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Wow thanks everyone for the suggestions!  For now I've been using Maps Plus.  Here's some of the stuff I've done with it so far...

-Took a screenshot of a geological map, did an image overlay in Google Earth, saved it as a KMZ and uploaded it to Maps Plus.
-Grabbed a topo map from USGS topoView, save as KMZ and uploaded it to Maps Plus.

I'm liking Maps Plus so far but I'll keep the other app suggestions in mind.

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Thanks all, will check out Gaia GPS.  I also had used G Earth a good bit and found that some counties have kml or kmz file export capabilities on their online tax assessor mapping applications which help a good deal with locating boundaries.

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2 hours ago, shellhouse said:

Thanks all, will check out Gaia GPS.  I also had used G Earth a good bit and found that some counties have kml or kmz file export capabilities on their online tax assessor mapping applications which help a good deal with locating boundaries.

The difference between KML and KMZ is the KMZ is a Zip file of a KML and much smaller but can't be edited but a KML can. 

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