Using Custom Map Sources




  • Ron Baldry

    A few weeks back I created map tiles for use around Northstar at Tahoe, using MOBAC.  I chose the TopOSM layers (3) on the OpenStreetMap site and created the required XML file for MOBAC.   The result, loaded on my Droid X, worked fine and I made a trip file of several tracks and at least one route of 8 or 9 way points.  I repeatedly Shared the trip and was able to import the GPX file of a track into Google Earth for display on my PC.

    In general, I like this approach to creating tiles as it gives me (the feeling of) better control over areas covered, file size, etc.    The direct method used in BCNAV is still very useful.

    I aim to make topo tiles for limited areas of the Dolomites prior to a visit this summer, to complement the paper maps and aid navigation.   I started researching suitable map sources (again, an extension of OSM holds promise).   I'd like to hear of suitable map sources for that area.   MOBAC is a very nice tool.

  • Nathan

    Aviators: check this application for custom charts. 

    • Go to this page:
    • Find the list of xml files in the middle of that page.
    • Download any or all of those xml files.
    • Place the xml files in the bcnav/custom folder on your device. 
    • Go the maps menu in BackCountry Navigator. 
    • Choose "More Map Sources"
    • Choose "Custom Map Source"
    • You now have a list of choices such as "cb-secgrids".
    • Choose one.  




  • Carol

    I just downloaded a USFS travel map that is in a '.tif' format.  Can I use that 'tif' type of file as a custom source in the Custom folder? I think this would be easier than using the MobileMFD app the Forest Service mentions, and I already am familiar with BCNav and all of its capabilities. Thanks

  • Carol

    Almost forgot, they also offer a number of their maps as '.shp' files. Can I use those in BCNav? Thank You

  • Nathan

    No, this is meant for choosing your own tile server like the ones mentioned. 

    For tif, this might be

    If it is .shp, that is a different story. If you can get it into kml, we may be able to import it if it isn't huge.  

  • Carol

    OK thanks, I may give it up for now because MOBAC refuses to install on my XP laptop. I get the "can't load the Java virtual machine" error when trying to install the latest version, and my Java is all up-to-date. I had it once before, but hadn't learned to use it. The 'tif' files I obtained from the Coconino Nat'l Forest in Arizona's website, and something I read made it seem as though other Nat'l Forests may begin making this type of map available for free download.  They were 'geoTiff' files, and once I installed the app Mobile MFD from the Market that app converted them to an 'mmf' (moving map file) format that could be viewed within Mobile MFD. I don't like the app, but it DID allow GPS use and viewing of numbered Forest roads and trails. Thank you for the help.

  • Steven0brock

    Is there a way to convert a .pdf to be be used in BCN?

  • Nathan

    Possibly, but this isn't the right thread for it. See this:

  • Jay Holt

    i just discovered an awe inspiring source of topo maps. I just contacted the site to make sure back country navigator will be an acceptable use. In the meantime i would like to experiment with getting the data into BCN. I have been trying to figure this out and it seems like it should be pretty easy but I have had no luck so far. 

  • Nathan

    Try a custom map source with something like this:


  • Jay Holt

    That worked! I thought it should work as a custom map source. I was missing the full url.  It was almost as simple as I thought. Out of curiosity and incase the server ever changes how did you get the full correct url with  the  ?  

    Thanks for fast response buying the paid version now. 

  • Jay Holt

    BCN will now display the caltopo map but there is a new problem now. After selecting a region to download when I click the download box I get a box that pops up saying sorry this application has stopped unexpectedly. The box lets me choose between force close and report. I filled out the crash report form and submitted it. of course it still works fine with non custom maps. It is not just caltopo maps. Same error with OSM . 

  • Nathan

    One question while we investigate. Did you fill out reasonable numbers for min and max? Min isn't zero, is it?

  • Nathan

    I'd suggest 5 and 16.

  • Jay Holt


    I did use 0 and I can see how calculations (mostly division) would not like this value. It is now working with a value between 5 and 16. I am rather excited about this working! Once I get the ok from the owner of caltopo I will post the XML file I used for others to enjoy. I am pretty sure this with in there terms of use and I did read them. These 660dpi scans of the usgs maps are great! caltopo does have a donation link for those that are as appreciative as I am. 

  • Patrickfelstead

    My atlas is not showing up in BCNAV on my phone.

    After I create the atlas, I get directories at different zoom levels full of png files, e.g. "79141.png.bcnav". But no xml file is generated. Do I simply copy the top level atlas directory to my android device in bcnav/custom? Do I have to put the xml file I used in the mapsource directory on my phone too?

  • Nathan
    A Mobile Atlas is a different thing than a Custom Map Source. There are different buttons for them. Put the whole directory on your storage, and then "Choose Mobile Atlas" to browse to it.
  • Patrickfelstead

    Thanks Nathan, mobile atlas is working now. One more question, I tried putting a "cloudMade" xml file in the custom directory, but they don't seem to work. Only the "openCycle custom map.xml" seems to work. Is there a way to get the CloudMade maps to work without creating a mobile atlas? 

  • Nathan

    The most common things that will make a custom map source not work are:

    • Choosing 0 for minZoom. Choose 1 or something bigger instead. 
    • Using a "Multilayer" or "WMS" style map source. 
    To help better, I would have to have the cloudmade xml file. It may not even be designed for this purpose. 
  • Patrickfelstead

    I think the xml file has not been designed for that purpose, but could it be modified so it would work? I just used the file straight from the MOBAC site, please see below and attachment. I guess we need to know the tile URL for the CloudMade service.

    Custom CloudMade map sources

    The CloudMade map service offers a large number of OpenStreetMap based maps with different styles. Each style is accessible through it's styleID . Custom CloudMade maps can be added to MOBAC via a simple XML file containing a map name used by MOBAC and a styleID:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
        <displayName>CloudMade blackout</displayName>

    Example CloudMade1930.xml
  • gahi

    I'm trying to use the CalTopo maps also, here's what I have in the fields. I cant seem to get it going. Any advice?


    tile type: PNG

    tile update: IfNoneMatch

    min zoom: 5

    max zoom: 16

  • Jay Holt


    Try the url I listed above. Your format is good just not the URL location. 

  • gahi

    Awesome, thanks Jay! got it working.  

  • Dustin Landry

    Bing maps seem to be more updated satellite images over the installed choices.  How do I go about setting them up as my map source?

  • Carol
    It's odd, but I have noticed the same behavior as Richard mentions. When I am in an area that I use yearly, one where I have downloaded all the USGS topographic map tiles, I notice the app seems to be having to re-download a lot of them again.
  • Vincent

    Jay, What is the full URL to use caltopo maps with BCN pro? I cant seem to find it in any of your previous posts. Thanks!

  • Nathan

    CalTopo is now an option in the "More Map Sources' menu. It costs us money to provide it, so be reasonable in the size of your downloads.

  • Dirk Beer

    Can custom mapsources that use a quadkey be used? I'm having trouble getting it to work with {$q} in the url.

  • Doug Stephens

    The Geographic Information Network of Alaska has a compiled Best Data Layer (BDL) of aerial imagery. It is a "compilation of the various sources to provide the best available imagery base layer for Alaska for the entire State of Alaska."

    Their web site is:

    More info about the GINA BDL is here at "Alaska Mapped":

    The URL to use with BCN Custom Map Sources is:{$x}/{$y}/{$z}


    Doug Stephens

    Anchorage, AK

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