Print BSB Raster Charts the Easy Way: NOAA Charts for Free

print bsb charts such as this one

For kayakers, buying multiple full-sized charts is not only expensive (at $25 a chart), but the full-sized charts are impractical for folding and carrying in a map case. I much prefer to use free NOAA bsb charts and print them on my own. I’ve written an article about how to Print Your Own NOAA Charts using a command line bsb converter, and I’ve also used an graphical interface for NOAA Marine Chart converting. If you have a lot of charts to convert, you can set up a script using the command line bsb converter to make quick work of it. If you have just a few, you can use the graphical interface as it’s much easier to use. For printing bsb raster charts, one of the commenters on the first article pointed out an open source program that slices up large images into smaller page sizes that you can print at home or at a photocopy store. Although, I still like the control of doing my slicing in Photoshop, so I can get the exact area I want, PosteRazor makes printing a full chart on multiple sheets easy.

Programs Needed to Print BSB Raster Charts

  • BSB Reader (graphical interface) or Libbsb (command line)
  • PosteRazor
  • Photoshop or another image editing program to add ports to your charts if you desire, and to save your charts at 300 dpi.

Steps to Print BSB Raster Charts the Easy and Free Way

  1. Download and install the software listed above.
  2. Download your charts. If you don’t know how to get NOAA charts for free, then read my Print Your Own NOAA Charts article. Electronic charts for countries other than the U.S. usually need to be purchased. I priced out the Canadian Great Lake’s charts and the CDs run about $50 per lake.
  3. Convert the charts using the command line or use the NOAA chart converter tool.
  4. Import the converted chart into Photoshop or an image editing program, copy and paste in the ports if desired and change the resolution to 300 dpi without  resampling the image. Save the image. In Photoshop, you can set up an action to change the dpi and then run it on all your converted charts automatically.
  5. Run PosteRazor.
  6. Load your image using the “Input Image” dialog box.
  7. Verify that the resolution is 300 dpi in the “Image Information” box.
  8. Click “Next.”
  9. Select your paper size under “Format,” select “Orientation” and “Borders.” For tabloid-sized paper, select a landscape orientation and give yourself margins of 0.5 inches if your printer needs a border. If you can print right to the edge, then enter zero for each border. Most photocopying machines can go to the edge of the paper.
  10. Click “Next.”
  11. Choose how much you want each sheet to overlap the other. For a tabloid with a border, I suggest 0.2 inches of width and 0.1 inches of height. But, you can vary these to fit the chart onto fewer pieces of paper sometimes.
  12. Select where you want the overlap. I selected bottom right. This is the only area that will overlap on the chart. I’d have preferred overlap on all the edges, but it isn’t an option with this program.
  13. Click “Next.”
  14. Click the checkbox next to “Size in percent” and change the percent to 100% for a full-sized chart. You can modify this if you don’t need it full-sized.
  15. Set the “Image Alignment” by pushing one of the buttons and seeing how it moves the chart. Do this to taste.
  16. Click “Next.”
  17. Click the oddly shaped button under “Save the poster” and type in a name and click save.
  18. The program will save the chart as a pdf, which you can open in any pdf reader, such as Adobe Reader.
  19. Print the chart full-sized from Adobe Reader or take it to a photocopying store to print it full-sized.
  20. Go kayaking.

Example BSB Raster Chart Converted to Adobe PDF


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