Converting Decimal Degrees to Degrees Minutes Seconds

Often we are supplied with coordinates in decimal degrees but need to use Degrees, Minutes, and Seconds instead. Luckily, there are several solutions that you can use, here is a simple coordinate converter tool that I use.

Geomatics Acronyms and Abbreviations

Geomatics has become a pretty common term in Canada lately and includes many different disciplines such as  geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, cartography, land surveying, global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), photogrammetry, geography and other related forms of spatial mapping.

Using acronyms and abbreviations is commonly practiced in the Geomatics industry and most of the time people just assume that everybody else knows what every acronyms and abbreviation stands for. Well that is obviously not the case most of the time and over the years I have created myself a little digital cheat-sheet of geomatics acronyms and abbreviations that I use with my work in my writing.

Here is a large collection of common acronyms and abbreviations related to the Canadian Geomatics industry:

UTM Rows and Zones

These UTM key maps can easily help you find out what UTM zone you are working from. Simply click on the map to enlarge it to expose all of the map, then find out where you are located and look for the zone and row that matches your area.

Using Google Earth to obtain NGS CORS site information

Every now and then I come across some little utilities that help to make things easier while working in the field and these pages are mainly my way of sharing them with others while creating a go-to place where I can easily find them when I need them.

Here is a Google Earth file that that contains locations and basic information about all of the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) Continuously Operating Reference Stations CORS. Saving you time from searching for CORS stations in your area and finding out what sampling rate they record GPS data at.

GPS Calendars

GPS or GNSS Calendars are different then traditional calendars that most of us are used to working with, yet they are pretty common these days due to the increased use of GPS equipment. Yet there is never one around when you need one, so if you find your self doing a lot of GPS field work like myself then you may notice that you will working in Julian Days & GPS Weeks frequently so will want to print off your own copy or use an online utility to help you out.

For those new to GPS or GNSS Calendars: Julian Day is simply the numeric number of the day in that given year, example March 5th of the year 2013 would be the 64th day of the year with a julian day of 064 and a GPS week of 1730. The GPS Week # would be 17302 (the # 2 on the end represents Monday from the formula Sunday=0, Monday=1, Tuesday=2, Wednesday=3, Thursday=4, Friday=5, Saturday=6).

Now one can easily calculate this info but I find it quicker to just resort to reference pages or use online utilities and here a few that I use:

– 2013 NOAA GPS Reference Calendar or Canadian Spatial Reference System GPS Calendars (provide PDF versions but do not yet have a 2013 version available) for printing reference pages

– Here is great little online interactive GPS calendar utility that I often use, simply click on a date in the calender and the utility will show you the corresponding Julian Day, GPS Week and GPS Week Number for various years.

2013 GNSS calender


Converting between UTM, MTM and LAT/LONG

Canadian using a UTM map

Geographic coordinate systems enable us to spatially locate features on the Earth using specified set of two dimensional numbers. The coordinates of each feature represent the horizontal position (and sometimes vertical position when elevation is available) of it and one of the most commonly used coordinates is Geographic with values of latitude, longitude. However many different coordinate systems can be used to map the same area depending on various factors such as map extent, scale, end user etc. Therefore we often find in Geomatics that we can have data from different coordinate systems that we need to use together spatially in one reference system.

I am sure that most of us have run into times when we have features that have defined coordinates of one system that we need to use with a different one. (E.g. your map is in UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) but you have been given GPS points in Lat/Long).

If you ever find yourself in need of quickly getting values converted from Geographic to UTM / MTM (Modified Traverse Mercator) or UTM / MTM to Geographic then here is a a free online geographic coordinate convertor tool that I often use provided by Canadian Spatial Reference System

Google Earth Time Zone Clock

Time Zones in Google Earth

Here is a neat little Google Earth file that has often been helpful on many of my field trips when trying to remember where time zones start and stop. Just open the file in Google Earth, then point and click your location to get info on that time zone.

The file overlays a custom polygon time zone map, then allows the user to click anywhere in the world to produce a pop up bubble
containing a running clock with the time zone (GMT) and the current time for that area, although does not seem to make the daylight savings adjustment.

It uses a combination of KML & Javascript to automatically calculate and display the time for the associated time zone. You can download the file here for free or here you can download my working copy here if the other download link does not work (as it appears to not have been updated in a few years).


Every now and then I come across some little utilities that help to make things easier while working in the field and these pages are mainly my way of sharing them with others while creating a go-to place where I can easily find them when I need them. If you know of any other mapping related utilities like this then let me know and I may include it here on my site with the others.

Real Time Kinematic (RTK) Surveying Guidelines

Real Time Kinematic (RTK) surveying with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Over the past decade Real Time Kinematic (RTK) surveying with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) has become common practice in geomatics. RTK surveying can allow people to achieve relative positioning with centimetre (cm) precision, however there are several important factors that need to be considered and thus a need for a good guide of best practices (equipment calibration, errors, multipath, geometry, etc.). Therefore Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) put together a new set of guidelines for Real Time Kinematic (RTK) Surveying.

You can download the 29 page PDF document with the following link

[Find more info on RTK surveying my other website]