Norfolk and Western Y6a

I was up at the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke Virginia last weekend to take a look at the sole survivor of the Norfolk and Western’s Y5, Y6, Y6a, and Y6b classes. This thing is BIG!! It is the strongest-pulling steam locomotive in the world. Too bad it is not operational. I was hanging around talking to some of the railroad guys that work there. This locomotive could actually be restored to a running state. There is no corrosion and only a few missing parts. The only thing missing is the money to restore it – probably several million dollars. The Norfolk Southern Steam shop in Birmingham still exists and still has a crew of workers working on other restorations, so everything is in place people and skill-wise to restore this engine.

Wow. Wouldn’t it be something to see it run again!

Y6a
Y6a
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The map is done

Ok, I finished the map of the Northern Neck of Virginia, showing steamboat landings along the Potomac, Great Wicomico, and Rappahannock Rivers. This map is huge, coming in at 46 inches wide by 37 inches high. When I began the project, I thought I might want to go into the map making business. But after all this effort, I believe I could never turn out maps fast enough to make a profit, especially with the goal to produce custom, one-off maps.

This map is copy 1 of 1. I could print out more, but other than the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington, Virginia, I don’t think there would be anywhere to sell this map in quantity. I’ll take it up to my Mom’s house on the Great Wicomico River and hang it on the wall in her living room. After all, it was my Dad’s project to begin with. He laid out some sketches over 24 years ago but died before he actually got it started. It’s finished now, so thanks Dad for the good ideas.

My wife thinks it is ugly. I think it is pretty neat. It is one-of-a-kind.

steamboat 1
The Northern Neck Steamboat map
steamboat 2
Closeup of the cartographic details
steamboat 3
Closeup of the mechanical details
steamboat 4
More mechanical details
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Eggs

Now here is a fantastic projection of the world onto an egg. I have no idea how Peter Bellerby did this, but it demonstrates without a shadow of a doubt his technical and artistic talent.

An egg
An egg

egg2

shading onto water
shading onto water
It is interesting to note the use of shading. For the egg, the shading runs inwards, covering land, rather than outwards covering water. Personally I prefer the latter, but I can’t explain why.

Longitude
Longitude
If I am not mistaken, I think FRGS stands for Fellow, Royal Geographic Society. That is pretty impressive, and it also reminds me of a movie “Longitude” which I just watched latest week for the 3rd time. Here, we get a taste of British accents, British ships, British museums, and all other things British. Of course, most of my Deutsche Bank work buddies are in London office at Finsbury Circus, so it quite easy to pick up the British character. Cheers.

I am a member of the Washington Map Society and the International Coronelli Society, which is nice but likely not as interesting as the Royal Geographic Society. Hopefully, if I can convince my family to embark on an expedition/vacation to London, we can stop by the Royal Geographic Society to check things out.

The Royal Geographic Society
The Royal Geographic Society
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Projecting from WGS84 to WGS84 Polyconic

After being away from this for a while, I had to re-experiment with MAPublisher projections to get a correct projection for a globe gore. It took a while to remember everything, so I thought I’d make some notes this time.

We start by loading one of the Natural Earth shape files into Adobe Illustrator. I picked “ne_10m_graticules_5_line” so I could see that everything was working as expected. Here is the loaded shp file, with me highlighting the 0-degrees longitude and 0-degrees latitude lines. One thing I noticed with version 3.X of Natural Earth, versus version 2.0, is that the canvas size comes in at 25 inches high and 50 inches wide instead of 5.51 x 11.01 inches. Although, since I re-experimented with a new version of Illustrator, MAPublisher, and Natural Earth, it could be the software rather than the data that might explain the size difference:

ne_10m_graticules_5_line
ne_10m_graticules_5_line

I then had to execute the projection. To do this, I brought up the MAP Views view and double-clicked on the map layer. This is the layer with the little globe icon next to it, not the layer with the Capital L icon. It took a while to figure this one out. After double clicking, the Map Editor dialog popped up. From here, I checked “Perform Coordinate System Transformation:” and then clicked the now-unstippled hyperlink called [No Coordinate System Specified].

The destination coordinate system is called WGS84 Polyconic. This is where things get tricky. You can’t just select this projection and expect things to work. You will end up with a small projection which doesn’t shows a vertical meridian right down the center of the projection. Plus, it looks like the left and right hemispheres are not symmetrical. To fix all this, you must modify the definition of the projection. To do this, I selected and copied it (via the dialog options) to a new copy called “Mark WGS84 Polyconic”. This copy, unlike the original, is modifiable. I set the central-meridian from 78 to 0, and set both the false_easting and false_northing to 25,000,000.

That central meridan modification is the part that fixes everything. Having a central meridian set to 0 now results in a projection at the middle of the map area, which also now produces symettric hemipheres and a perfectly verical line at 0 degrees longitude. The false_easting and false_northing would normally be 0, but I wanted to scale the projection so that the meridian at 0 degrees was 47.12390 inches high. This is the height of a gore needed for a 30-inch globe. When scaling, the projection will expand beyond the artboard, including in the negative direction. I don’t know if false_easting and false_northing values are actually required, but google searches say that you use these values to keep the projection calculation from producing negative numbers. So, those values seem to be harmless offsets, that’s all. I made them 25,000,000 by examining the results of the projection (you can mouse over the graticules to see their x and y coordinates) over the course of several projection tries.

One last thing was how to get the meridian at 0 degrees to be exactly 47.12390 inches. This took some trial and error through several projection tries, but after modifying the scale from 31556692.913260 to 16712440.0, I got as close as Illustrator’s precision would allow. The final length was 47.12389 inches, which is only 0.00001 away from perfection.

dialog sequence
dialog sequence
projection details
projection details

After the project, here was the result:

projection results
projection results

I then resized the artboard to include everything, producing the following result:

final result
final result

Mechanics are working, but is the projection accurate? A valuable conversation is now taking place with my Canadian colleague who is also working through the mechanics of gore construction. Stay tuned…

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