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Laser cut wooden maps with public data

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Picture of Laser cut wooden maps with public data

In this tutorial we will be making a laser cut wooden map using open data from Vancouver's Open data catalog. The Vancouver open data catalog has many different shape files that can be used, in this tutorial we will be using the coastal and public street data.

You can use this tutorial to make maps of any city that you have the shp file for. The Github repo has files for some other major city.

I first learned of TileMill and Open data maps from a talk that Denim And Steel gave at The Vancouver Hackspace. Thank guys!

Video version of the tutorial. http://youtu.be/V_0t9ctAAbE

Tools needed

 
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Step 1: Download, install TileMill and start a new project.

Picture of Download, install TileMill and start a new project.

  • You can download TileMill for free from MapBox.
  • After you have installed TileMill start a new project.

Step 2: By default tilemill will give you a blank map with a rough coastal outline of the world.

Picture of By default tilemill will give you a blank map with a rough coastal outline of the world.

Step 3: Download shape data from Vancouver open data catalog

Picture of Download shape data from Vancouver open data catalog

Vancouver has a public open data catalog that has shape files (SHP) that can be download and imported into TileMill. In this tutorial we will be using the “Shoreline 2002” and “Public streets” shape files.

  • Download the shapefiles from the vancouver open data catalog that you want to use, and extract the archives to your project directory.

Step 4: Import the shape files into TileMill

Picture of Import the shape files into TileMill
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  • Open the layer menu by clicking the layer icon in the bottom left of the main dialog.
  • Click the “Add Layer” button
  • On the “Add Layer” dialog, Click the “Browse” button next to the data source. This will pop up a new dialog where you can browse for the shapefile that you want to import.
  • Browse to your project directory and click on the “shoreline2002.shp” data. Then click the “Done’ button next to the data source field.
  • On the “Add Layer” dialog, click the “Save & Style” button
  • You should see the vancouver coastline data in blue.
  • Repeat this step for the public street shapefile and non City Streets

Dr_JFrank2 months ago

Excellent tutorial. I have a problem, I import a shape file but I get moved about 180 meters. You Might I say that?

funvill (author)  Dr_JFrank2 months ago

I am not sure what you mean. can you descrive it in another way?

Farrit3 months ago

Does your laser have an engrave setting? I'm just curious if it does why you would choose to cut the streets instead.

Fantastic project though. :) I'm excited to do this with a map of Detroit, on our 150w laser!

funvill (author)  Farrit3 months ago

Yes it does have a engrave setting. With my laser cutter software the engrave takes an extreamly long time to a full size sheet and i found it much faster just to use the cut function with a very low power. This might entirltly be a flaw in my laser cutter software.

cmcentyre3 months ago

Great project.

I would like to make one of these, but it's for a small town. Any suggestions on how I can get a map to use as a starting point?

funvill (author)  cmcentyre3 months ago
If your town shows up on http://www.openstreetmap.org/ then you can download their database and import it in to tilemil.

JKans3 months ago
Right on. Thanks
JKans3 months ago
Any chance you'd sell me one?
funvill (author)  JKans3 months ago

@JKans Nope, but if you are in the Vancouver area, come down to VHS (Vancouver Hackspace http://vancouver.hackspace.ca) and I will teach you how to make one! Ask for Funvill

If you really really want to spend money, take the files to a techshop or laser cutter cafe or any commercial laser cutting service.