I am moving all of my Google Earth animations to: tourmaker.wordpress.com. Be sure to visit if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
Pay a visit to the Island of Flowers.
Best viewed at 1080p HD on your largest screen.
Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2014
This video is best viewed at 1080p HD resolution on your largest screen.
This video shows the results of experiments animating a model aircraft in Google Earth. You can view the content in Google Earth here: LearningToFly.kml
This YouTube video demonstrates the script in action:
You might want to do this, for instance, to create a path for a Camera to follow. I thought at first I would use such a curve to define the flightpath of an animated model aircraft but I realised quite soon that aircraft don’t fly along cubic splines and I needed a different approach to that problem. That’s partly why I’ve only taken the solution this far; I may come back to it later to describe how the camera flies as it follows the aircraft.
All I’ve done is to bring together bits and pieces from the following resources:
- The Google Code Playground
- The earth api utility library
- cubic spline functions provided by Ivan Kuckir at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University in Prague.
Fragment 1: initialisation
In this code fragment scripts are imported, variables defined, and Google Earth loaded. Note that in the version displayed here the spline calculations are in a separate file, whereas in the source code on Pastebin I’ve dropped them into the main script; this was purely to reduce the number of file downloads you need to get started.
Two buttons are added to the screen:
- A button to fetch a KML file that holds Placemarks. This could be expanded into some sort of file-open dialogue, but I haven’t done that.
- A button to run the spline calculation.
Line 29 is the call to create an instance of the Google Earth plugin; it names the <div> element where it should be displayed and identifies the callback function if the plugin is successfully loaded.
Line 34 calls the resize() function to maximise the size of the Earth viewer.
Fragment 2: resize the screen and initialise the plugin
Line 39 defines the function to resize the Google Earth plugin so it uses most of the available space. A little room is needed beneath the plugin to show the control buttons.
Line 50 defines the callback function which is executed after the plugin is created. The variable ‘gex’ at line 51 becomes an instance of Google Earth Extensions, which is a utility library that the script uses to navigate KML objects.
This is followed by setting up event listeners to monitor the user’s mouse, detecting mousedown, mousemove, and mouseup actions. Together these allow Placemarks to be dragged to new locations. This code was mostly copied from the Google Code Playground, but the code at lines 83 and 84 are extra. The ‘clearLineStrings’ method will remove any existing spline curves from the view, while ‘calculateSpine’ recomputes and redraws the curve based on the new Placemark positions.
Fragment 3: Fetch a KML file containing Placemarks
Line 93 defines a function to fetch and display a KML file. Line 96 sets the URL of the file. The address shown here will be valid for a while but is not guaranteed so, if you want to play with this code, you will need to copy this file (available on Pastebin), or create your own.
If the file is fetched successfully, the object returned is assigned to global variable ‘designInput’. If there’s a top-level view available, either a <LookAt> or a <Camera>, the plugin viewer navigates to that view using the code at line 106.
Fragment 4: Extract Placemarks to an array
The ‘getPlacemarks’ function, at line 111, is used to find the Placemarks in the input file and copy them to an array. Line 120 makes a call to function ‘getObjectById’. This function searches the input file for a Folder node with id set to ‘PlacemarkFolder’; this is how the input file happens to be structured; you might have other Placemarks in it but this method only operates on those that you place in the ‘PlacemarkFolder’. You can change this behaviour easily enough.
If the Folder is found, the GE Extensions API is used to find all the Placemarks it contains. Each Placemark is added to array ‘result’ which is returned to the caller.
Fragment 5: Cubic Spline Part 1
When the KML file has been loaded, you click on the ‘Fit Spline Curve’ button and this action calls the ‘calculateSpline’ function. Line 142 is where ‘getPlacemarks’ is called. If Placemarks were found, the longitude and latitude of each Placemark are extracted and added to their respective arrays (x for longitude and y for latitude). Sorry about the typo at line 144; how unprofessional
At line 160, Mr. Kuckir’s cubic spline algorithm is called to calculate the required derivatives. It is beyond my ability to describe how this works, so I’m using it as a black box of tricks (see his article for more detail).
Fragment 6: Cubic Spline Part 2
With the derivatives calculated, it is possible to generate the cubic spline curve. This will be displayed as a KmlLineString, so the first thing to do is to create a Placemark to hold the LineString geometry. Notice that the Placemark is created, at line 163, giving it a unique id which begins with the string ‘SplineCurve’. This makes it easier to remove when the input Placemarks are dragged and we want to show the new curve.
The next step is to iterate through successive pairs of Placemarks. The difference between their longitudes is calculated, and that difference is divided into 100 intermediate points (line 172). For each intermediate longitude, a latitude is calculated using the ‘CubicSpline.interpolate’ function (line 181). This point on the spline curve is added to the LineString with the function call at line 187.
When all pairs of Placemarks have been processed, the resulting curve is displayed by added the LineString Placemark to the plugin’s feature list.
Fragment 7: Supporting functions
- addToLineString adds the given point to the given LineString.
- clearLineStrings navigates through the features added to the plugin instance and removes any Placemark that has an id beginning with ‘SplineCurve’.
- getObjectById searches the features in the plugin for an object with the given id.
Fragment 8: Completing the head element and defining the body element
There is one more function to describe; this is the addButton function which was copied from the Google Code Playground. It provides a way to add command buttons to an HTML page.
Finally, the body of the HTML page is defined. The div with id=’viewKML’ is the place where the Google Earth plugin is displayed.
The script has its limitations and, in many ways, it is a first crude attempt at providing a way to draw spline curves between Placemarks. You will need to take it further if you want something more general purpose. The major limitations are:
- The spline curve interpolation assumes that longitude is monotonically increasing; it calculates the latitude for a given longitude.
- The script takes no account of altitude when generating the LineString; all line segments are set to an altitude of 1.0 metres.
- No way is provided to extract the LineString coordinates.
Don’t forget, if you do download the code, I’ve commented out the URL of the KML input file and I would recommend that you create your own and place it on your own server.
Good luck, and a happy new year.
Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2014
In 1747 John Wesley wrote a book called Primitive Physic being an ‘easy and natural method of curing most diseases’. To this he added a ‘general receipt book containing upwards of four hundred of the most useful and valuable receipts’. This book offers an entertaining insight into mid-18th century medicine and domestic life.
While doing the rounds of charity shops on the lookout for a book restoration project, I was asked to see what I could do with a very distressed edition of Wesley’s book published in 1847. The following images show that the book was in a poor state of repair and virtually unusable; the covers were falling off; the first half-dozen signatures had come adrift, and the whole thing felt very fragile.
The first stage in repairing a book in this condition has the frightening title of ‘tearing apart’. In this instance it was very easy to remove the covers; I simply looked at them and they fell off. Slightly trickier was cutting all the threads to separate the signatures and then easing away as much of the old glue as possible. This was particularly difficult and slow work because it felt as though the pages would rip easily; but my confidence grew as I learnt the strength of the paper.
With a clean set of eighteen signatures, the next step was to work out where the tapes and the new stitches would go. Holding the signature in a clamp between two pieces of cover board, I could judge where to place the tapes so as to avoid all previous holes. I measured the positions and transferred the readings to a piece of board. It’s important to pierce holes in the signatures before starting to stitch. My technique for this is to clamp the signature and the marked-up board to the bench and pierce the signature at the positions marked on the board (see the illustration below).
With the signatures pierced the relaxing task of sewing them back together could begin. I say relaxing, and mostly it was, but I had to stop a few times to reinforce some of the pages where they were worn out; you simply cannot sew fresh air; it has no grip. This was the first book in which I had to use more than one length of thread. I attached a second piece with a bowline, positioning the knot over one of the tapes (see the image below). After the text block was sewn, I attached a strip of mull with a generous amount of glue. The project was beginning to feel more like a book again.
While the mull was drying I thought about how the cover would look. I searched the web for photos of the original covers, but none were to be found. I came across somebody selling a copy of Primitive Physic on ebay, but its covers were just as unattractive as those I had removed. However, the spine image was decent enough, so I decided that I would put a fairly plain cover on the book itself and create a dust jacket to give it some character.
When the mull was dry I attached endpapers, made from 100gsm vellum laid paper, and rounded the corners to match the book. I trimmed the tapes and mull and started to make the case using 1mm grey board and black buckram for the rounded spine.
The next task was to cover the boards with a suitable card. I chose a colour that matched both the endpapers and the somewhat discoloured pages of the book. The dust jacket was made creating the design in Word and printing on a Ryman P1 label (A4 size). I attached the label to an A4 sheet of 100gsm bright white paper and then covered the label with self-adhesive cover film (sticky-backed plastic). After trimming to size, I scored the inside faces of the jacket so it would wrap easily around the book. Finally, I cut bevels in the flaps and the job was done.
Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2013