Introduction: CNC or 3D Print a Topographical Map

Picture of CNC or 3D Print a Topographical Map

You can use this as a guide to make maps of mountains you climbed, places you've been or places you will go.

I did this project as a present to my father, I thought a topographical map of his home would be pretty cool.

Step 1: What You Need:

Picture of What You Need:
  • So because of who I am as a person cheap is quick are my goals when working on a project. For this project you need the free version of Sketchup.

--You will also need to download a Sketchup extension called Sandbox

--And an extension called Sketchup-STL to convert your file is also needed.

  • Besides software you need access to a CNC machine or a 3D printer. There are many places that offer CNC and 3D printing use for a small fee.

Step 2: Enable Location

Picture of Enable Location

    Now to get to work:

    1. Open Sketchup
    2. Make sure your location toolbar is turned on. (it is circled on the second Image). If you cannot fine it click: View > Toolbars > and make sure is checked Location.

    Step 3: Chose Location

    Picture of Chose Location
    1. Click the highlighted button in the picture above. It should open a new window (shown in the second image) of a map.
    2. Stretch the screen out until you see the "select region" button.
    3. Type a location into the search bar and zoom out on the map until you see a white square. This white square shows you what terrain you will be using. It will not become any larger but I will show you how to increase the area of the topographic map in the next step.
    4. When happy with the area click "select region", then select "grab".
    5. You should end up with something similar to what is seen in the 4th picture.

    Step 4: IF You Want More Land

    Picture of IF You Want More Land

    If the area picked out is to small for you you can make it larger.

    1. repeat the previous steps but when you select land this time shift it of to the side. (mak sure they over lap though so there are no holes in you map).

    To do this I like to find a landmark and use it as a reference point when selecting the regions as you can see in the photos above.

    YOU CAN DO THIS AS MANY TIMES AS YOU LIKE.

    MAKE SURE TO GROUP THEM TOGETHER BY RIGHT CLICKING AND SELECTING GROUP FROM THE DROP DOWN MENU.

    Step 5: Lets Get Rockin

    Picture of Lets Get Rockin

    So now you have a flat map. To make it follow its real land form go look at the location toolbar we opened earlier and select the "toggle terrain" button which is also highlighted in the first image.

    Now you can orbit and marvel at the form of the mountains.

    Lastly select your entire map and right click it then select unlock.

    Step 6: Birds Eye View

    Picture of Birds Eye View

    Now we need to somehow get that shape onto a flat rectangle.

    Don't sweat, I figured it out fam.

    1. Orient your view so you are look directly down at your map. Or you can open the "views" toolbar in the same manner we opened the "locations" tool bar in one of the earlier steps, and use that to get the desired view. Which ever way you used you should see something resembling that of the first picture.
    2. To make things easier make sure parallel projection is turned off; to do so click camera > parallel projection.
    3. Now beside your map draw a rectangle with the rectangle tool. Make sure it's bigger than your map.
    4. Then using the move tool and place it over top of you map.

    Once you have something similar to the third image you can proceed to the next step.

    Step 7: Eye Level

    Picture of Eye Level

    Now shift your view so that you are looking at your model from the side.

    ensure that only the rectangle is selected and using the move tool. Move the rectangle down so it is below the map.

    If you are struggling to bring it down with out moving it in the other planes just the hold the down arrow while you are moving it to lock its movements to the blue axis.

    Step 8: SandBox

    Picture of SandBox

    Now its time to finally bring it all together. Using the sandbox extension which can be found under the "tools" drop down menu select the stamp option.

    Using the stamp tool select the map.

    Note this may take a couple minutes. You can see the loading time in the bottom left corner of Sketchup.

    After the map has been selected click on the rectangle.

    Again this will take some time depending on your computer and the size of your map.


    Finally when it is finished loading you will be able to chose the height of your map. You should have something that looks like the 2nd image.

    Step 9: Scaled the Mountain

    Picture of Scaled the Mountain

    All that's left to do is delete the google earth map and save your work.

    To do so, because of the .STL extension we downloaded at the beginning click the STL export button shown in the second image and save your model.

    Now all you have to to is take the file to someone who has a CNC machine or a 3D printer.

    side note: It is also very important you take the time to make sure the model is a reasonable size. If it need adjusting you can easily do so using the scale tool.


    As soon as I get my model out of the lab I'll update this with a photo of the final product.

    Comments

    makerguy 13 (author)2016-11-26

    Thank you very much

    You just opened a window to a feature in Sketchup I've been looking forward to learning to use. And crafting maps fascinates me :)

    yazi33 (author)makerguy 132016-12-21

    Glad i could do so :)

    yazi33 (author)makerguy 132016-11-26

    Glad I could help!

    mosix (author)2016-11-24

    thanks for sharing! :)

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    Bio: student in industrial design struggling to focus because my dog is so cute
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