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I work with a small non-profit mountain bike trail advocacy organizationand as a result have created a number of PDF-based maps. These are all Mercator projection, built off of OpenStreetMap data, and work great as print maps. For example: Map 1, Map 2

I'd like to georeference these so they can be viewed with something like Avenza PDF Maps on trail users' phones. Unfortunately, something like Avenza MAPublisher is beyond what we can afford.

How can I georeference my existing maps using free/open source/lower cost tools?

  • you can do that by ticking the location information in arcmap export advanced tab. – Brad Nesom May 4 '15 at 19:12
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    If you created the maps, wouldn't it be easier to create the pdfs as geospatial in the first place rather than trying to add that information back in? What did you use to create the maps? As it stands this is basically a duplicate of gis.stackexchange.com/questions/49646 or gis.stackexchange.com/questions/120164 and related to gis.stackexchange.com/questions/9325 among others. I suspect the easiest thing to do would be recreate the pdfs from original source files and enable the geospatial component of the output. – Chris W May 4 '15 at 21:03
  • Thanks Chris, those links are interesting. I created the maps using a combination of OpenStreetmap/JOSM, osm2ai.pl, and Adobe Illustrator. Thus, I have no geospatial component to enable unless I purchase MAPublisher. Based on those threads I've been looking at Global Mapper which -- on first test -- seems to do exactly what I want: georeferencing existing maps based on control points, then confirming with an OSM data layer. I'm going to go down this path for now; thank you! – Steve Vigneau May 5 '15 at 17:25
  • Bah, turns out that Global Mapper rasterizes the imported PDF on export. Time to keep looking... – Steve Vigneau May 5 '15 at 18:54
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    Links to PDF's are broken... If you don't mind, I'd also like to propose another workflow that uses OSM and GPS files with the OSMAND app, with QGIS as the back-end... It might have use for you... – DPSSpatial Jun 30 '18 at 16:25
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Regarding the original posted question - I don't think this is possible without somehow rasterizing the original PDF. In regards to the bounty, I am posting the following as an answer.

Go to http://www.frontenacmaps.ca/Html5Viewer/index.html?viewer=Public, zoom to your area of interest, add bike trails/roads etc., click on the wrenches icon in the upper-right corner of the map, on the 'Printing and Exporting tab, export the map as a GeoTIFF (GeoTIFF has location information stored in the file).

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Open the exported geotiff file in QGIS 3.2 and warp/reproject it to WGS84 coordinates.

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Remove the original Export.tif file. Right-click in Layers menu -> Remove Layer.

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Make sure the Coordinate System is set to WGS84. Click on the coordinate system icon in the lower-right corner of QGIS, set it to WGS84.

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Add a new Layout.

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Set the page size.

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Add a new map canvas, size it to the page, double-check coordinate system is correct, print it as a Geospatial PDF.

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ADJUSTING MAP CONTENTS NOTE: Pan and zoom around in the map window with the tool pictured below. Activate tool, click in map canvas, wheel-mouse to zoom in/out, press/hold mouse button and drag mouse to pan etc. Print to PDF.

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Open in Acrobat. Look for the 'Measure' Tools. Click on 'Geospatial Location Tool' -> click in the map -> you should see values in the coordinate display and be able to take distance measurements etc.

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