blackadder's Diary

Recent diary entries

I took aerial photos from the plane on my trip back from SOTM in Amsterdam to Birmingham.

The images are free to use and can be found on my server below. The approx centre of each image is provided in the accompanying csv file.

Photo 82 is closest to the airport and 43 (the last one in the csv file) is over near Northampton, the lower numbered photos are probably too low res (due to height of plane) to be of much use.

I suspect that it may be possible to rectify some of the images for use in JOSM using



Mapping + beer + music. Is "The Public" in your plans this w/e?

Looking forward to seeing loads of OSM'ers there :-)

Location: West Bromwich, Sandwell, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, B70 6AW, United Kingdom

Too nice today not to head out on the bike for a couple of hours and knock off another Black Country segment (No 264 if you are interested -

And the result looks very pretty if I say so myself :-)

Location: Castlehill Farm, Aldridge, Walsall, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, WS9 9DA, United Kingdom

Leicestershire Villages

Posted by blackadder on 8 March 2009 in English (English).

As part of the Leicester Mapping party yesterday I decided to knock off some of the villages to the west of Leicester. 6 hours of cycling and 560 photos later they are mapped and after a further chunk of time they are edited. So the villages of Desford, Newbold Verdon and Market Bosworth and now on the map:

Great to have had a day in the saddle :-)

Location: Newbold Verdon, Hinckley and Bosworth, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom

Good to be mapping again

Posted by blackadder on 1 September 2008 in English (English).

The summer has been so busy with lots of OSM and other stuff that there has been precious little time for solid mapping sessions. Anyway, yesterday I managed to get out for a 50km ride and knocked off another block of Birmingham. Most of Handsworth is now complete at last. Great to be out early on a Sunday morning watching the world wake up and go by.

Location: Handsworth, Birmingham, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, B21 9JZ, United Kingdom

Great weekend at LugRadio Live in Wolverhampton where we were "exhibiting" OSM. Thanks to Pymap and some Alex Wilmer printed OSM maps of Wolverhampton we were really able to show the folks something and had a great response from the near 400 there. Watch out for the very last LugRadio broadcast which should be available soon, OSM gets a great plug and short discussion. Thanks guys.

We even managed a one hour micro mapping party with 12 participants adding to the map of Wolverhampton.

Thanks to sward, higgy & 80n for helping out on the stand plus Ron, Alex and the rest of the LugRadio crew for making sure we got set up ok. Hope we can be there again next year.

Location: Heath Town, Park Village, Wolverhampton, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, WV10 0QA, United Kingdom

Last weekend I had a great ride with Etienne (80n), Graham (marinheiro) and Simon Welshie) on the London to Brighton Bike Ride. We got two villages mapped on route and had a thoroughly fine day. Read my report and get the kml/gpx and other stuff from oh and its not too late to make a donation to the British Heart Foundation.

Some more dragons slain

Posted by blackadder on 10 June 2008 in English (English).

I've just completed a mega edit session from my two days in the blistering heat that was the Durham Mapping Party last weekend. Awesome mapping and some great real ale at £1.50 a pint at the end of the first day, doesn't get much better than that! While the others, who were on foot, focussed on Durham itself I headed out both days with the bike to the east of the A1(M) managing to complete the following villages and hamlets in the two days (in order of doing them): Saturday - Belmont, Shadforth and Carrville. Sunday - Ludworth, Haswell Plough, Haswell, Sherburn Hill, Sherburn and High Shincliffe. Some of NCN route 14 also got added, as well as some tidying up on the way in and out of Durham. Stopped overnight on Saturday at a very pleasant small camp/caravan site just of the A181, Strawberry Fields. Thanks to Gregory (Living with Dragons) for setting it up and getting everyone organised. More on his blog at: and

Newtown woes

Posted by blackadder on 3 June 2008 in English (English).

Had just enough time before dark last night to knock off another small quadrant of Birmingham in the Newtown/Lozells area. It has to be one of the most deprived areas of the city. Most of the roads were bounded by derelict flats. I saw one murder location (Nehemiah Bryce in New Croft) and one couple sleeping in a tent in an open garage a short distance away in Rodway Close. Needless to say I'm glad I've reduced the remaining area to be mapped somewhat although I'm saddened that we have areas of our great city that clearly need so much TLC, to improve the area, to make it safer and to offer something to those that live in it. Thankfully the guys playing 5 a-side footy at the leisure centre nearby had something positive to shout about, perhaps all is not lost.

Location: Newtown, Aston, Birmingham, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, B19 2SF, United Kingdom

Every other Sunday while my daughter has a golf lesson I get a little over 30 mins to pull the bike off the rack and knock off somewhere in Warwickshire. Today I managed to wrap up the the village of Kingsbury (pop 4k+). Took in all four of these half hour stints over the last couple of months or so. I think Coleshill (pop 6k+) will be next on my list.

Location: Kingsbury CP, Kingsbury, North Warwickshire, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom

New Garmin Legend HCx arrived yesterday so took it for a test ride this afternoon. Loaded it with the latest mkgmap and set it up to log at 1 sec intervals to the micro SD card. All sweet and easy to set up and a lot easier to download via USB than the old serial connection. A few changes in the layout to my old B&W version but I'll soon get the hang of those.

Headed over to Birchfield/Handsworth area (B20) and completed another section before cycling back via Erdington. 40km in all. Very nice trace from the new unit. Easier to see where I stopped at post boxes and for bus stops as it leaves a few more points than the old unit did. Accuracy definately a bit better, mainly because the EGNOS lock is clearly better than on the old unit. Had two heart stopping moments, the first when a bloke opened his car door onto me, just managed to swerve, and the other when the new GPS rattled off its mount and hit the asphalt. Luckily no real damage, just a light scuff. The supplied receiver mount seems to fit a bit more loosely onto the handlebar mount than the old unit did, may have to rubberise it a bit to stop it rattling and annoying me. Looks like the only reason it bounced off the mount was that I did not have it fully home so that it was locked in place.

Location: Lozells, Aston, Birmingham, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, B19 2SX, United Kingdom


Posted by blackadder on 21 May 2008 in English (English).

I got my Sustrans Ranger pack at the weekend. I'm taking on Regional Route 62 which runs nearly 20km between Birmingham to Sutton Coldfield currently but is not yet signed as part of the NCN. So to kick start the process of getting it signed I did a route survey and report which has gone to the local Ranger Liaison officer and the area Sustrans manager. I've set a goal of getting temporary signing for the full length done by the start of the school holidays. Maybe a tall order but its worth having something to aim for. Most of the route is already in OSM as RR62 but the run into Birmingham allowed me to complete a missing section of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal towpath. RR62 on the cycle map is at

The emerald isle

Posted by blackadder on 16 May 2008 in English (English).

Spent a pleasant day yesterday in Ireland. Drove from Shannon to Galway and back and picked up some alternative routes that hadn't been mapped yet. Also a few residential and other streets in Galway itself as well as generally tweaking roads in the area. A couple of observations from the trip, the rural roads in Ireland are as bumpy as hell and a lot more streets don’t have a name than I am used to. Galway seemed to have many small private housing estates where the name of the estate is the name of the road and the format of signage different in each case.

Location: Townparks, Saint Bridget's Terrace, St Nicholas, Galway City, County Galway, Connacht, Ireland

I've had my trusty Garmin eTrex Legend for nearly 6 years now but its really only in the last year that I have seen its true benefits in terms of displaying maps and the benefits to me of having maps on it. I did have some official Garmin maps on the unit for a while but each time I travelled to a new location it was too expensive to get coverage, so for a lot of the time it was displaying only traces over the useless Garmin basmap. With Steve Ratcliff's mkgmap I can create maps easily for anywhere in the world based on the OSM data. I find that even though coverage in many places is patchy its still worth having, partly because it shows what is not mapped yet (so that you can divert to new routes to pick them up) but also because in reality I can still get from A to B, just that the route might not be the one I would take if I had a more complete version of the map.
Downloading the current OSM map data for the wider West Midlands I find I'm now downloading a 200+MB file from Osmxapi which takes quite some time (hours), perhaps I'll need to consider using the planet file soon. For now, the end result is a 6MB image file for the Garmin which is close to the limit for the 8MB of storage that the old Legend has available for maps. Upload to the Legend is also very slow over the Serial connection, which means that the total process from starting the OSM data download to heading out with current mapping is up to 4 hours. A bit long really. I can improve the process by upgrading to the latest eTrex Legend Hcx, which I guess I'm going to have to do sooner rather than later.

Such a fine afternoon I thought I'd continue with some cycle training in preparation for the London to Brighton Bike Ride next month. 43km later and I have Handsworth Wood (B20) mapped. Nice area and some interest when I cam across a young couple blatantly having sex in one of the parks.

Location: Handsworth Wood, Aston, Birmingham, West Midlands Combined Authority, England, B20 2AU, United Kingdom


Posted by blackadder on 12 May 2008 in English (English).

Spent a good part of the weekend in Shrewsbury, but not principally as a mapping event (albeit that Tom Higgy was running one there on Saturday anyway). Introduced someone new to the process so I hope we will see another user doing some edits as he finds the time. The weather really was excellent for mapping on the bike, especially being able to drop into the pub afterwards - although I found that SteveC had got there and mapped that sometime before! or sitting by the River Severn watching a rowing regatta. Mixing mapping with socialising and regular activity has a lot going for it :-)

Location: Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, United Kingdom

gpx is flying!

Posted by blackadder on 12 June 2007 in English (English).

I hadn't uploaded any tracks really since the Rails work came on-line so I thought I'd catch up this morning. It was great to see the import processing working properly (upload and import within the half hour as it should be) and also the amazing speed of point download in JOSM, a big improvement from pre rails where the feed of each page of 5000 points could take ages when downloading an area with tons of gpx data. Another indicator that the project is maturing and becoming more stable by the day. Great work all :-)

Bicycle woes

Posted by blackadder on 9 May 2007 in English (English).

In order of preference my bike is far more productive for mapping urban areas than the car or on foot. So when both my bikes get sick I'm kind of at a bit of a loss to know what to do. Clearly I should spend time fixing the puncture and broken spoke but that requires me to get my hands dirty so perhaps best left till the weekend. Still, got some mapping in yesterday around Kings Bromley as well as some more street mapping in Erdington on Monday and a little canal towpath coverage along the Coventry canal on Sunday. That's what probably did the spoke in!