Monday, 30 April 2012

Simple Guide to Installing and Using GE2KAP

Hi everyone,
Another geeky post, this one to describe how to use GE2KAP.  GE2KAP is a great utility program which converts whatever you're viewing on Google Earth to a .kap file.  KAP files are charts which can be displayed by the chart plotter software OpenCPN.  GE2KAP is a standalone program, not a "plug-in" to OpenCPN.

This post originally created in April 2012 was updated in August 2013.  Updates in red.

Here's a step by step description of installing, configuring and running GE2KAP...

  1. Download the GE2KAP file on this page.  A .exe file is downloaded.
  2. Run the file (in Windows) which extracts a set of files to a folder you nominate.  Mine is at y:\ge2kap where y: is a shared folder containing all my chart folders and other sailing data folders.
  3. Navigate to y:\ge2kap and check it contains a "Help" folder plus a set of files including "Readme.html" and "GE2KAP.rex".
  4. Double-click on the file "Readme.html" which should open in your browser.  If running on Mac OS X with Windows in a virtual machine, use Finder to open the page in Safari.  y:\ge2kap is /Users/Shared/data/ge2kap on my machine.
  5. The page will show something like "Click here to open the Help file in English and read the Installation section: GE2KAP", with GE2KAP being a link.  Click on the link to load the GE2KAP Help pages.
  6. Click on the Installation => Prerequisites link, and then on the "ooRexx" link to download the oorexx interpreter.  REX is the software language used by GE2KAP.  Follow the rest of the instructions given below this point in the Installation page to install oorexx and Google Earth.
  7. When finished installing all the prerequisites click on the Google Earth link on the left hand side frame in the GE2KAP Help page.  Follow the instructions given there.
  8. When finished click on the Getting Started link on the left hand side frame in the GE2KAP Help page.  Follow the instructions given there.
  9. The GE2KAP Help pages are good, so no need for me to repeat them here.
  10. Recent versions of GE2KAP have included a plugin for OpenCPN (on Windows only).  This is a DLL file which must be manually copied from your GE2KAP folder to your OpenCPN plugins folder.  After copying it run OpenCPN and check it appears in ToolBox => Plugins.
I write all my GE2KAP output files to y:\googleearth.  I suggest creating a new folder to hold your files too, perhaps with sub-folders for geographic regions.

Once installed, using GE2KAP is simply a case of placing what you want in your chart in the Google Earth window, ALT-TAB to the GE2KAP GUI, enter a destination file path/filename and click "Create Chart".  Creation of each chart can take several seconds, so be patient and wait for the GE2KAP GUI transcript to say it completed successfully.

Once you have a couple of charts generated, start OpenCPN and open the ToolBox window.   In the  Settings tab "Enable Chart Quilting" should be ticked.  Click on the Charts tab and in "Available Chart Directories" navigate to y:\googleearth" (or your equivalent) and then click on "Add Directory".  Tick "Force Full Database Rebuild" and click OK.  The chart database will take a few seconds to rebuild.  When complete, pan/zoom to the geographic vicinity of the .kap files you created and you should see a red box for each.  Navigate into the "chart" as normal.  Hey presto!  ;)

Note that you need to either restart OpenCPN or do a Force Full Database Rebuild for new .kap charts to be visible.

The above is a description of how to get started.  I'm no expert and still have plenty to learn!

1 comment: