Using Google earth maps for terrtex?

  cityrail-rulez Chief Train Controller

G'day everyone,

I would like to use some Google Earth maps as a terrtex .ace file in my routes but NOT as a transfer
But the problem is, How far from the ground in Google Earth do I need to be in METERS so that it EQUALS to 512x512 and 1024x1024 pixels this way I can save a lot of time instead of working out how to convert the information as explained in this tutorial if only it told you how far off the ground you need to be in Google Earth/maps, so that way I can take a screenshot and then convert the image right into a .ace file for either a transfer or terrtex file without stuffing around

Thanks in advance

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  Gwabegar Beginner

Location: Toowoomba, Qld
Hi cityrail-rulez,
Your question - "How far from the ground in Google Earth do I need to be in METERS so that it EQUALS to 512x512 and 1024x1024?"
How high is that? I'm sorry, I have no idea, because in my browser Google Maps doesn't indicate altitude or height above the ground. Maybe it's there somewhere but I haven't seen it.
Anyway, I think the problem is one of scale. I use the maps for creating transfers to set out accurate placement of scenery, roads, buildings, etc as discussed in the steam4me tutorial you linked to. However, it doesn't matter whether you make transfers or terrtex, the problem is the same.
The tutorial you linked to describes a method of scale calculation which I found somewhat complicated and frankly, I think it is wrong, but whatever.
In the route building guide (pdf) by Michael Vone (downloadable from steam4me I think) he explains the tile/terrtex relationship and specifies that each tile is 2.048 km square and so each of the terrtex "patches" are 128 m square. So if you're going to make terrtex ace files, what ever the file size, 128, 256, 512 or 1024 pixels square, relate the pixel size to the distance in metres.
Simply put for 128 x 128, each pixel is equal to 1 metre. For 256 x 256, each pixel is equal to half a metre and so on:
128 x 128, scale is 1 pixel = 1 metre
256 x 256, scale is 1 pixel = 0.5 metre
512 x 512, scale is 1 pixel = 0.25 metre
1024 x 1024, scale is 1 pixel = 0.125 metre
Remember that each of the terrtex patches always equals only 128 metres in the simulator, regardless of ace file size.
The only problem you have now is ascertaining the scale of the Google Map image you are capturing. For this, I use the distance measuring tool available on the application (right click?). If you draw a horizontal or vertical line with the tool, it indicates how long it is as you drag it out. If you use a diagonal line, it won't be as easy to use later in the graphics program. For terrtex files use a distance of 128 metres or a multiple of that to define the scale. It will be visible on the screen capture, so place it somewhere not in the area you want, or you'll have to photoshop it out when you want to use it.
Now once you have the distance/scale on the captured graphic, you can then divide up the area into 128 x 128 m squares, use that grid as your guide to slice squares out to whatever file size you want for the terrtex patches.
I hope you won't be disappointed with the quality of terrtex you get from Google Maps, but I have found, even for transfers, the quality is very poor, colour balance is all over the place and of course, vertical objects, buildings, trees, etc are all flat.
Anyway, good luck, I hope it gives you some clues and I hope it works for you. And I also hope I got the mathematics correct.
  SP_Rules Assistant Commissioner

Location: Up here.
Search for the program 'Solution For Real Terrain' by Andres Blaho. It is a program that co-ordinates your route to the actual location in Google Earth and automatically creates and applies the textures. You have to use Google Earth 6.1 or older. I used which can be obtained from various old version sites.

A couple of pointers:

Don't bother doing it if the GE images are blurry below about 50m altitude. They have to be very high resolution to look reasonable.

Don't bother if some of the GE images that will cover your route are in cloud shadow, taken on a different date, or taken at a different time of day. You can reduce this by using the Historical Images slider in GE to show photos that were taken at an earlier date. But the older they are, the less resolution they will have

Be prepared to do a lot of image editing to get the rail bed and roads straightened. For best results, set the program to use 16 textures per tile, so each texture will be applied to 16 sub tiles. This creates a skew at the boundary of each texture.

Pro's and Con's:

Pro: Every thing seen in the GE images will be seen on the route
Con: Every thing seen in the GE images will be seen on the route Very Happy Be prepared for lots and lots and lots of image editing to remove unwanted objects.

I did a test with the Crawford Hill route (USA) because it is short (60km or so) and the default textures were bleh.

Before and after shots:

Some other views:

Is it worth it? Absolutely

Would I do it again? Hell no! Unless it was a desert route with minimal vegetation and civilization.

And I would not even consider doing it to a route that goes through large towns/cities.

Another option is the in progress Open Rails route editor, which should have this option available. I haven't checked on it in a long time and don't know where it's at.

Have fun!

  SP_Rules Assistant Commissioner

Location: Up here.
A couple of things I missed.

Here is a video that shows the results. Look closely and you will see the miss-aligned seam at the texture boundaries. This is reduced the closer the route is to the equator.

The Crawford Hill route only has 68 Standard Terrain Tiles and 7 Distant Mountain Tiles, but there are 1117 unique terrain textures. They suck up a lot of resources and it stutters badly in MSTS. My computer is mid range (Pentium G3258 3.2GHz, 16G Ram, 2G GTX750ti card) and sometimes MSTS would crash when it did the tile load stutter in an activity. It runs well in OR though. All the terrtex .ace files had to be dxt compressed to reduce the overall size of the rioute. With only summer textures, it is still 818Mb
  cityrail-rulez Chief Train Controller

That is absolutely fantastic, David SmileSmileSmileSmile Can you provide a link mate? All I can find is that Software Informer site which I don't trust downloading any software from Bad experience's in the past!!!

As I was just about to throw out all my route projects and you came to me with this excellent solution SmileSmileSmileSmile You never know how much I honestly appreciate this SmileSmileSmileSmile Wished it was around in the earlier year's, I could have just imagine how easy it would have been to build routes hahaha RazzRazzRazzRazz

As for high resolution images, I already have NSW and Queensland SmileSmileSmileSmile If you can let me know a link that'll be terrific, thanks heaps for bring this to my attention mate really appreciated

If there's however no other link to obtain that program, I will pm you my email address SmileSmileSmileSmile
Regards, Phil

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