Hints for using AZ_PROJ

AZ_PROJ by Joe, NA3T and Michael, NV3Z, is a really neat program for drawing custom maps. I use it for making maps centered on a planned rover location with other stations plotted, so I can instantly visualize the compass headings as needed.

The output format of AZ_PROJ is PostScriptTM, a graphic description language which is ideal for laser printers. Unfortunately, most of us don't have laser printers. Even worse, AZ_PROJ uses a bit of non-standard PostScript so it only works reliably on Sun workstations and HP laser printers; DEC laser printers gag, and other brands may or may not print something useful. With these limitations, I suspect that many who have tried AZ_PROJ have given up in frustration; I would have, except that the things that almost worked were so tantalizing. Also, Joe, NA3T, was extraordinarily helpful in finding ways to work around these limitations. The latest version, 1.04, of AZ_PROJ works pretty well.

Most of us use PCs and affordable printers. There is a shareware program, GhostScript, which interprets, displays, and prints Postscript files on a PC. For standard PostScript, the windows version, GSVIEW for screen display and GSWIN for printing do a great job; however, they also gag on AZ_PROJ.

With DOS version 3.33 of GhostScript and version 1.04 of AZ_PROJ (available from the AZ_PROJ home page) , I am able to viewprint nice maps on my HP DeskJet 660 using the AZVIEW.BAT and AZPRINT.BAT DOS batch files which are supplied with AZ_PROJ version 1.04. Other printers are supported -- if I specify a djet500 printer instead of the color DeskJet, it uses only black ink instead of lots of expensive color ink. I think HP has done a good job of making their printers reasonably compatible, so a similar model number seems to work. At one time, I was able to print on an Epson dot-matrix printer, so others may work with some experimentation.

Customizing your map

The batch file will display the demo map, but the beauty of AZ_PROJ is that you can make custom maps -- the whole world, or just local grid squares. The az_ini.ps file is where all the customizing is done; look at it with an editor and you will see the options. Make some changes, create a new ini file, and substitute it for az_ini.ps in the preview incantation. The .wdb files draw different parts of the world, and the .dat files add other features. My sites.dat file displays 10 GHz rover sites in the Northeast USA.


The easiest way to get this going is to imitate an example. The file FN42BL.PS is an ini file which creates a map of the Northeast USA with a compass rose centered at Mt. Wachusett, MA, FN42bl.

Preview it:

gs386 -q fn42bl.ps -- az_proj.ps n_amer.wdb sites.dat

or create a custom batch file like FN42VIEW.BAT

and print it with another batch file, FN42PRIN.BAT

However, Joe has made an even easier way -- a configuration file. Now you can use a standard ini file followed by a configuration file which changes only the things you want to customize. Joe's example configuration file is called vhf_conf.ps, and the preview command string becomes:

gs386 -q fn42bl.ps vhf_conf.ps -- az_proj.ps n_amer.wdb sites.dat

Just edit the configuration file for each custom map.

You can download GhostScript and AZ_PROJ using the links on the previous page. The installation instructions that come with each are adequate.

73 and good luck

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