Shack maps

Maps are important to radio amateurs – We like to make contact with countries all around the world so a good map is essential.

Some years ago I bought an Amateur Radio World Prefix map from DXMaps and it’s been on my wall ever since. I noticed that there was a tiny minor printing error on the map and contacted Mike, GM0PHW at DXMaps who very kindly sent me a replacement free of charge. Thanks Mike!

I really recommend these maps, they’re large, easy to read and printed on good quality glossy paper. That makes them quite difficult to photograph and this picture really doesn’t do it justice.

Amateur Radio World Prefix Map by DXMaps

Although this is an excellent map, the one I probably look at the most is the Great Circle map I have stuck to the inside of the shack door. When you look at a flattened map, like the one above, you assume that if you want to work North America from the UK, you’d point your aerial due west. Due to the shape of the earth and how this sort of map projection works, that’s not quite true. A Great Circle map shows the actual direction to point your aerial.

As you can see from the map below, if I want to work North America, the correct direction to point my beam is from 290° to 340° not 270°. Realistically, HF beams are quite wide so that it won’t make a lot of difference to stations on the east coast but consider that New Zealand is anywhere between 10° and 70° rather than the 140° you’d think from the map above and you can see how important a Great Circle map is.

This Great Circle map was produced from NS6T’s web page here. I simply put my latitude and longitude in the Location box (although it will take a grid locator), set the maximum distance to 19500, changed the paper size to the largest available and hit ‘Create Map’. This gave me a pdf file which I took to a local printer who charged me about £3 to print it. The paper isn’t great but it really doesn’t need to be as it’s just a very quick visual aid. I did intend to find somewhere who could do it on better quality paper but this is perfectly adequate for what I want.

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