ATAK for Hikers
ATAK (Android Team Awareness Kit) is an open source geospatial mapping software developed by the U.S. Government for a variety of purposes. It is now available for free on the Play Store.
ATAK can use a wide variety of imagery sources (i.e. maps) and elevation data. It allows for easy route-planning, 3D View of an area, and many other cool features. Most importantly all of this stuff is free — in this guide we’ll set up an ATAK install for offline use. Note that ATAK is VERY feature-rich so we’re only going to cover some of the features here, please poke around in the app and see what works for you.
First you will need to install ATAK-CIV from the Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.atakmap.app.civ
Add Mapping Sources
One of the ATAK Discord users has made a convenient package of map sources, to install these on your device:
- Download this file on your phone: https://github.com/joshuafuller/ATAK-Maps/releases/download/v1.0.0/ATAK-Maps.zip
- Import the ATAK-Maps.zip file into ATAK:
Adding Elevation Data
Elevation data (DTED) can be added to ATAK to allow it to render maps in 3D and to give you information on elevation gain/loss across routes. To add DTED data to ATAK:
- Download a file for your region here: https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AOTcO3xOs07Xftk&id=5B552B8593A4C98B%2126539&cid=5B552B8593A4C98B
- There is also a lower resolution worldwide DTED that is worth having: https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AGU0a369qNZC0Po&cid=5B552B8593A4C98B&id=5B552B8593A4C98B%2135315&parId=5B552B8593A4C98B%2133943&action=locate
- Import the zip files as DTED:
If your region is not available you will need to create your own DTED using EarthExplorer.
3D Map View
Once you’ve got elevation data loaded, you can have ATAK display maps in 3D View:
Unsure whether you’ll be able to see a natural feature from a high point? The Viewshed tool can tell you! To use it:
Downloading an Area for Offline Use
One of the best things about ATAK is the ability to download areas of a map for offline use. To download an area for offline use follow the images below:
Once your maps are downloaded you can see them in the Imagery tab. Maps in different tilesets from the same map source will all show under the same map source name in this tab.
Import a Route / Track
To Import a track (e.g. GPX, KML) go to the Import Manager
Export a Track
Creating or Editing a Route on the Fly
ATAK has an easy to use tool for route creation and editing on the fly. This can be really nice if you want or have to change plans or want to compare alternative routes on things like elevation change.
To work on a route, open the Routes tool:
Creating a Data Package of a Trail / Trip
If you’d like to share points of interest, routes, and even pictures of an area with your friends you can create a Data Package and transmit it to them through a variety of means (e.g. email).
There are a few solutions for off-grid ATAK use in the works. Radacat is planning to release a plugin for their devices and I have written a plugin to integrate with Meshtastic devices that will be available on the Play Store soon.
You can read more about the plugin here: https://github.com/paulmandal/atak-forwarder/
- Using MOBAC to make offline maps: https://wiki.civtak.org/index.php?title=MOBAC
- Creating your own DTED / SRTM: https://wiki.civtak.org/index.php?title=SRTM
- Connecting to the Free TAK Server: https://www.reddit.com/r/ATAK/wiki/index/freetakserver