Charting progress


Hi folks,

Here is where I stand with the maps. We are working on getting a 10-foot-high version of the entire SF Bay using NOAA Navigational Charts as inspired by Peter’s wall. At first we were going to scan the physical maps and rescale them to achieve 10 feet. Peter suggested that we just find them on CD-R from the likes of West Marine.

A chart snippet at full scale. Click the image to download a 3.5 Mb sample PDF. This PDF would be my source file for printing.

I chatted with a friendly fellow at West Marine and he described their products. While you can buy a CD-R of charts from them for around $50 it turns out that the same charts are also available without charge from NOAA’s WWW site in both vector (ENC) and raster (DRC) formats.


With map data in hand you need chart reading software to display the map and print it. I found a freeware package named Chart Navigator that does a fine job from Maptech.


Chart Navigator can convert the NOAA DRC data files into Adobe PDF documents compatible with the E-size color plotter at school. I have now downloaded the entire set of DRC files for the Bay Area.

Regarding scale:

After a test print or two it is clear the assembled map of the entire Bay Area will be taller than the 10-foot wall at the 1:20,000 scale. I think we might end up truncating the Bay a bit. At 1:20,000 both Heron’s Head and Greenbrae Boardwalk are pretty small.

Note that the scale decision will shape the panel module that we have been discussing as 7.5” x 9” – a dimension that scales to grid representing 2 minute by 2 minute sections of the map.

Feedback requested:

I have posted a sample E-size PDF made with this technique at


This is a large file at 3.5 Mb. Marina and Pete – could you let me know if this conforms to the ideas that sprung from Pete’s map. I know that the PDF version lacks the visual, tactile, and even olfactory nuances of the older originals. It is likely that the fresh prints will too. Do you think these PDFs will work when printed out and spliced?

I plan to make some prints tomorrow.

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