Download and Installation
Data Files
Contour Editing
Panorama Generator

If anyone reading this page would like me to expand on anything covered, please e-mail me. My e-mail address can be found on my home page. At the time of writing, it is being expanded. It was last updated at 20:00 UTC on 4 February 2007. Check it out regularly for updates.


The main software that is available with my datafiles is a program, "4B". A random screendump showing part of this program can be found here.

This program may allow the user, equipped with a PC running Windows XP, the appropriate data files and preferably at least 512MB of RAM, to scroll seamlessly around the world, using conventional mapping or color relief mapping, with a resolution of 3" or 30". It can also generate panoramic maps of views from most locations, and interact with a names database. But the setup procedure is not as easy as it is with most software. The program infrastructure must be downloaded.

Readers should only attempt to download and install this software if they are willing to spend some time learning to use it. Readers who are serious are asked to report any installation problems; to find my e-mail address, see above. Readers who get as far as the world map should contact me before attempting to proceed further, unless they have detailed knowledge of PC's and X86 machine code or are willing to spend long hours scratching their heads.

Download and unzip the VF folder onto your drive "C:\".

Download Program 4B, to sub-folder M within the VF folder.

Download and install MASM32 to hard drive "C:\". The installation process will create a folder "C:\masm32".

Download program RTA, and copy it into your C:\masm32 folder.

Now go into your masm32 folder, and select QEDIT, the file=>open to open program RTA (ASM file). Then go Project => Assemble and Link.

If this is successful, go Project => Run. This should show some multicolored text on a white and cream background, but it is at this stage that some processors may fail. Pentium and Celeron processors should be OK but Athlon processors may not.

Press F12, and this should show a map of the world.

From the map of the world, the following options are available:

F View and edit a list of single character settings. Type the number of the variable, followed by return, followed by the character required. Example: to change setting 25 to E, type 2 5 return E (4 keystrokes). Variables 25 and 27 should point to the drive letter of the device on which the appropriate data files are stored.
Left Mouse View 30" resolution digital elevation model at the mouse location.
F12 View and edit a list of map settings. Some of these are explained in the sections below.
B Generate a panorama.
C Edit a contour file.

These do not come with the software. Without them, the software will take you no further than the world map. For the most part, the required data files are too large to be uploaded, but some sample data is downloadable via this page. I can supply small quantities of sample data for other areas by e-mail or via upload, but any realistic quantity of DEM data should be ordered on DVD's. If large quantities of data or my complete dataset are required, I may be willing to send them on an external USB2 hard drive.

Digital Elevation Models
These are in a proprietary format. They must reside in a folder D on a disk drive specified by setting 25.
The color scales may be adjusted using the "[" and "]" keys, using the shift key to speed up major adjustments.

The available datasets include:

  • 30" worldwide. Called and centred on mouse location by Left Mouse from World Menu, or G from any DEM or Rastermap menu.
    These are arranged in two sub-folders, GLCN (Northern Hemisphere) and GLCS (Southern Hemisphere). Sample data covering Great Britain and Ireland can be downloaded; unzip and copy the folder GLCN to a folder D which must be created on the hard drive specified by setting 25 (see above).
  • 3" SRTM. Called and centred on mouse location by H from DEM30 or any Rastermap menu. These are arranged in two sub-folders, SM2N (Northern Hemisphere) and SM2S (Southern Hemisphere). Sample data covering part of Eastern Scotland between 56N 5W and 58N 2W, can be downloaded; unzip and copy the folder SM2N to a folder D which must be created on the hard drive specified by setting 25 (see above).

    Raster Mapping
    These are in GIF format. They must reside in a folder G on a disk specified by setting 27.
    Called and centred on mouse location by Left Mouse from any DEM menu, or H from any DEM other than 30".
    The call keys below will then call up the required dataset.

    Samples should be unzipped and and copied to a folder G which must be created on the hard drive specified by setting 27.

    The available datasets include:

  • 1:200,000. Coverage: most of Asia, Africa and former Soviet Europe. Sub-folders: 200N and 200S. Call key: 2. Sample data covering part of north-west Russia between 6640' N 4800'E and 6720'N 5000'E can be downloaded; unzip and copy the folder 200N to a parent folder G which must be created on the hard drive specified by setting 27 (see above). Note that at present there is no 3" DEM data for this area; anyone interested in creating such data should see the contours section.
  • 1:100,000. Coverage: all of Europe outside the former Soviet Union, and much of the Karakoram and former Soviet High Asia. Sub-folders: 100N and 100S. Call key: 1. Sample data covering part of Eastern Scotland between 5610' N 330'W and 5630'N 300'W can be downloaded; unzip and copy the folder 100N to a parent folder G which must be created on the hard drive specified by setting 27 (see above).

    Digital Contours
    These are at the root of the construction of DEM data that is not available from SRTM. Readers who have the 1:200,000 (200N) raster dataset or the N.W.Russia raster sample can download a contour sample. This covers the same area as the sample. Unzip and copy the folder 200N to a parent folder E which must be created on the hard drive specified by setting 25 (see above).

    From the world map, type F12. That should display several settings. You need to change the following:

  • Map Block: Press "M" followed by Q39 and return.
  • Map Scan: Press "N" followed by AE and return.
  • Map Series: Press "ShiftT" followed by R2 and return.
    Press Esc and F12 to return to the world map.
    Press C. This will take you into contour overview mode. You should be able to scroll around the area covered by the 200N sample. Overlying lines should be visible along the courses of the background contours. These have been computer traced. Most of them are dark brown, but some have been coloured in and connected together. This process is carried out in contour edit mode. It is a long process which cannot be completely automated. If you think you can help, then please tell me.

    Before reading on, please read the digital contours section above, and preferably download the sample.

    There are two principal types of contour editing:
    Filling gaps in existing DEM data
    Creating new DEM data
    Outer Screen Editor
    Inner Screen Editor

    Filling gaps in existing DEM data
    This process is described further on my voidfill page. The contour editing menu is the same as what is described in the "creating new DEM data" section.

    Creating new DEM data
    Contour editing cannot be done in contour overview mode. To edit the contours, either click the mouse over the contour to be edited, or press "R" to get the computer to select a contour that needs editing.

    Assuming that the index interval is 100 metres and the standard interval is 20 or 25 metres, the contours are colored as follows:

    Unedited 20m 40m 60m 80m 100m 200m 300m 400m 500m 10m 25m 50m 75m Water Ridge Valley
    Standard Mode
    _ __
    Index Mode
    _ __

  • For 30m,50m,70m,90m contours, see 10m. If there are four standard contours between indices, the 10m color is preferred to the 50m color.
  • For 110m-190m, 210m-290m contours etc, see 10-90m.
  • For 510m+ contours, subtract a multipe of 500m (e.g. 520m, 1020m, etc have 20m color)
  • Contours that are not a multiple of 10m or 25m have the same color as 10m contours, but must be labelled. If there are three index contours between indices, all contours that are not a multiple of 25m mist be labelled.
  • If the index interval is not 100m, all the above heights should be adjusted. For example, if it is 200m, read 40m, 80m, 120m, 160m, 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m , ......
  • Index mode can be switched on and off using the V key, but is often switched on and off by the program.

    The color scheme is devised to ensure that a single spot height will be sufficient to define absolute heights for all contours, provided that all the index contours are 100% solid. All the pixels that make up a solid contour must have exactly two out of eight neighbours, unless they are outside the tile boundaries.

    To begin editing a contour, "hook" it by right click near to its end. This will place the cursor, and centre the screen, at the its end. Now select its code. This should be possible from the table above, although initially a few moments may be required to work these codes out.

  • If its code is S1-4, type 1-4 respectively.
  • If its code is I1-5, type Shift 1-5.
  • If its code is T, type 5. Note that type T contours are usually discontinuous.

    Part of the contour will now be colored. At this stage, it is possible that the coloring may not have remained on the correct background contour. If this has happened, press "B" until the offending coloring has been de-colored. Several options are now available:

  • Move the mouse forward along the correct contour, then left click or press A. This will extend the colored contour from the cursor to the mouse.
  • Press A without moving the mouse from the cursor. The program will then attempt to trace the line forward along the background contour.
  • If a purple dot can be seen in an appropriate place along the background contour, press TAB. This will move the colored line forward, and is a more powerful routine than is available via A. But occasionally it may go too far, in which case press B, as above.

    Continue until the background contour ends or its course becomes unclear. This may happen at the tile perimeter, or if the local topography becomes very steep, or if there is dense background detail, e.g. a town. If it is uncertain that the cursor is on its correct contour, i.e. it may have "derailed", it should be discontinued. If it is likely that it has derailed, it should be reverted with the B key. After reverting, the correct contour course may become clear; it can then be continued. Otherwise a new contour should be started.

    If a contour ends where it started, or connects to a contour of the same color, connect it by sing the F key or the mouse. If it connects to a foreign color, an error has occurred. If it cannot be corrected with certainty, it should be marked by pressing T followed by shift0, which will leave a type 0 spot.

    Ringer. If a short and annular contour is encountered, it can often be colored with a single stroke. Place the mouse in the centre of the ring. Now press "7" if its correct code is T, or "8" or any other code. If 8 is pressed, the program will attempt to find its correct color. If it cannot, it will use a cream color, which should be then overridden using the appropriate start-contour key. If the ring is too large, too weak, or too eccentric, or if there is too much intervening detail, the program may not draw the ring correctly; press F8 to revert it. It may have to drawn by longer hand means. Illustration.

    The ringer may also be accessible via the mouse. In a new version of the program, right clicking will activate four boxes, labelled 7,8,7,8. Dragging the mouse into the top boxes will read only the bolder contour pixels. Dragging the mouse into a 7 or 8 will have the same effect as the respective keystroke. Not dragging the mouse will hook a contour.

    Sweeper. If the program takes you to a screen in which it is clear that none of the unedited contours belong over real contours, press D. This will delete the trash and move on to a neighbouing screen. Be careful not to delete genuine unedited contours. Illustration.

    Tailsnipper. This can be used where two ends clearly belong to the same line, but do not connect smoothly via their ends. This routine will clip the appropriate end before connecting and continuing. Illustration.

    More contour editing instructions will be posted here soon.

    Outer Screen Editor

    Screen by Screen Return Moves screen forward. LSh to reset, RSh to revert.
    Import from another scale I go to label: teir

    Inner Screen Editor

    If the arrow keys move the screen outside the tile area, the existing tile will be saved, then replaced with a neighbour tile.
    A Multi-key.
  • If the mouse is over the tracer position, tracer will attempt to find its own way forward, using the background pixels
  • If the mouse is moved to a position behind the tracer position, tracer will move backwards
  • Otherwise, the tracer will move forward to the mouse position

    TAB Forward key. This will extend the color line to the purple circle, then attempt to continue coloring the line.
    RightMouse select a line
    Return to outer screen
    CtrlS Save the current tile to disk


    To create panoramas from locations within the United Kingdom and Ireland, folders K and KA are needed, and should be written to hard drive "C".
    To create panoramas from other locations, folders D, GNPS-N and GNPS-S are required, and should be written to the hard drive specified by F-setting 25.
    In either case, the folders are not downloadable. Please apply for them.


    To enter panorama mode, press B. This should bring up a screen that includes a line that includes "L Load Viewpoint".
    Press L. This should bring up a list. The top (and perhaps only) entry should be "1 A-GOATFELL".
    Press 1 followed by return. This should bring up a screen headed by "Viewpoint X Y Z".
    Press 1. You should now be able to use the left and right arrows to scroll around the view from Goat Fell, the highest point on the island of Arran, off the coast of Western Scotland.
    Press "Return" to return to the Viewpoint screen, and choose a new location. The following fields must be set:

  • X, Y, Z, in metres, relative to sea level at Ordnance Survey Grid Reference SV 000000. Type X followed by the X coordinate, Y followed by the Y coordinate and Z followed by the Z coordinate. If you are not familiar with the OSGB grid, you should not attempt to proceed. There are other ways of entering viewpoints, but these require additional data files which must be applied for. Otherwise, enter the coordinates of the viewpoint of your choice. Example: X=216713, Y=771274, Z=1344.
  • Type F1 followed by the viewpoint short name. This will appear on the viewpoints list seen earlier. Example: "NEVIS".
  • Type F2 followed by the viewpoint address. This will appear on the output panorama.
  • The vertical scales are entered with F3,F4 and F5. F5 should always be set to 5. For an exact likeness, set F3=100 and F4=100, but most of my panoramas are vertically enhanced along the horizon (to reflect the tendency of the eye to do this in the field) and compressed at lower levels (to permit a wider vertical aperture to be shown). F3=150 and F4=70 is usually about right, but for areas of lower relief a higher F3 may be desirable to bring the flat horizons to life.
  • F6 and F7 are advanced settings which should not be amended.
  • For best color-distance contrast, the white distance M should be the likely distance of the furthest point visible. For Ben Nevis this is about 120 miles.
  • The central radius C facility is available to cut out any local flat plateau that may be partially obstrcting the view. For pointed summits, a low value is sufficient, but for moorland locations, higher values may be better. If C=20, the ray tracers will ignore all land within 20 x 50m, i.e. 1 km, of the viewpoint.
  • The bearing range is for generating partial views. 0000 0000 will generate a full view. No instructions for amending this are currently available.
  • For British locations, set the Data Source to B. For Irish locations, set to I. For other locations, set to Z. It is assumed that a British location has been set. Instructions for other locations are not yet uploaded.

    Now press V to generate the panorama. To generate the view from Ben Nevis should take about 8 seconds, although this is dependent on hard disk and processor speed. During this process, various 100km x 100km K-block names will appear on the screen before the viewpoint screen is restored, but it is possible that the screen may turn white. If this happens, press to return to the 4B text editor, F12 to return to the world map, then B to return to the viewpoint.

    From the viewpoint screen, press 0. This should give a screen that includes part of the unlabelled panorama, and a line that includes "Z Zoom". This should be set to 1. If it is not, press the "less than" and "more than" keys until it is set to 1. Then press return to bring back the viewpoint screen, and press ctrl-A to set the vertical angles on each of the eight strips that will appear on the panorama.

    Now press 1 to call up and edit the first strip. Dots should appear, mostly along tops of mountains. If they do not, press Esc, F12 and B, then retry 1. If there are still no dots, something has gone wrong, please contact me.

    Depress the mouse above a dot on the horizon, then drag the mouse upwards before releasing it. The feature under the dot, and its distance, should be identified. Scroll around using the arrow keys and try to identify more features.

    To save the view and labels, press S. A prompt "Save (number of) bytes to C:\VF\PAN-DATA\(name of viewpoint) should appear. Press Y. This is necessary, otherwise the panorama may be lost. Then press return. Now press O and the output image should show up. Scroll around. If it is OK, press S. The panorama should now appear as a .GIF file in the folder C:\VF\PAN-IMAGES\(name of viewpoint),


    First, the viewpoint must be entered. Click on the map of the world close to the viewpoint to see a 30" DEM of the world, which can be scrolled with the arrow keys. Then position the mouse close to the viewpoint location and press H. A 3" DEM should now appear. (If it does not, check the directory of D\EL3N.) Reposition the mouse and press H again to see a map of the area; if only names appear, press 1 to see a 100K map of the area. If the 100K map still does not appear, check the directory of G\100N. Position the mouse again and press H to return to the DEM. Now hold down the right shift button and press P followed by a digit from 0 to 9, this should save the location.

    From the map of the world, press B followed by L. A list of viewpoints should appear, initially there should be only one entry. If there is not, check the contents of folder C:\VFDAT\PAN-DATA. If this path does not exist, or is empty, the program will crash. If this happens, download a viewpoint here, create the above folder and copy the viewpoint into that folder, then restart the program. On seeing the single entry, press 1 and return to select that entry. A screen starting with "Viewpoint X Y Z" should appear. Most of the green labelled fields can be set as for UK locations, but X and Y can not. Press D then Z, to set the data source to Z (international), then press P followed by the viewpoint digit. The viewpont's coordinates should now appear, and fields X and Y will be set to the viewpoint's UTM location, centred on the viewpoint with X=1000000. Now you can type V followed by return, and the view will be calculated; this may take a few minutes. When this is completed, the viewpoint can be edited and saved in the same manner as UK viewpoints.