WinKarst 12.5

DSC00161.jpg (38836 bytes)

Cave Mapping Software

During the development period for WinKarst2010 the older 12.5 version is now freeware and can be used directly by download this zip file.

Upated geomagnetic parameters for the 2010-2015 epoch. Welcome to WinKarst, home of the best software for the study and mapping of caves. Windows '98, 2000, XP and Vista are supported, complete with context sensitive help and printable online manual. It is available to download for your evaluation as shareware. WinKarst can read data created with other cave mapping programs and has been tested with a wide variety of cave surveys. WinKarst's Help File is available in PDF format for easy printing or online. Read the release notes for version 12.5.

The program enables the user to visualize the cave in three dimensional space and provide information as to the quality of the survey. The user can display, print and export to other computer applications various  representations of the cave. WinKarst is undoubtedly the easiest and most powerful software available to map caves.


Registering Sketches

Morphing Sketches

GeoTiff Maps

Three Dimensional Modeling

GPS Tracks and Waypoints

DEM and SDTS Files

Digital Line Graphs (DLG) Files

Summary Information

Sample Images

Key Highlights

Software Links


Create your preliminary map NOW with WinKarst Registered Sketches. Scanned cave sketches can be stitched to the line plot of the cave through registered stations. A registered station is a station from the survey shown on the sketch. The station is matched to a (x,y) pixel location in the image. When two stations are registered, WinKarst can scale and rotate the image to match the line plot. The integrated editor in WinKarst provides an point and click method to register the station in the image. The background color of the images is transparent and where images overlap, an composite image is created. Up to 100 images can be loaded at one time.

The images must be created in the PNG image file format. PNG is a open source compressed format superior to the common GIF image format. The PNG format is supported by all image editing programs and internet browsers.

Once all of the sketches are stitched to the lineplot, the lineplot can be turned off to create a preliminary map. The map can be printed or exported to other applications for drafting the final map. The exported image can be up to 4,000 by 4,000 pixels to provide enough resolution to show fine detail.

If the cave has complex, overlapping passages, WinKarst allows the user to assemble sketches in to collections called Sheets. Each sheet can be viewed separately, eliminating confusing "double exposure" views of the cave.

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WinKarst can Morph Sketches to match the line plot. In a perfect world, a surveyor's sketches are exactly to scale, the angle and length of each shot precisely drawn. Unfortunately, harsh conditions or skill prevents the surveyor from achieving perfection. In those situations, computers and software can help.

The top half of the figure to the right shows several sketches stitched together that does not exactly match the line plot. The center passage is too low and the junction at C14 poorly connects. After morphing, all passages are matched to the line plot, as seen in the lower half of the figure. The true alignment of the passages is revealed in the morphed view. For reasonably accurate sketches, the morphing is almost un-noticeable.

WinKarst requires more than two registered stations per sketch to morph the sketch. Obviously, the more points per sketch, the longer it takes to morph the drawings. However, the software retains the morphed image in memory and only morphs those sketches in the field of view. The sketches are only re-morphed after a edit cycle, since the positions of the registered stations could have moved. Morphing is automatically applied after loop closure. The dream of creating a self adjusting cave map is possible.

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WinKarst can read and write GeoTiff images. GeoTiff images are TIF images with geographic parameters embedded in the file. WinKarst can read the GeoTiff image and place the cave survey within the image as a background. WinKarst can export the composite image as a new GeoTiff image for import into GIS programs such as ArcView.

Alternately, WinKarst can display geographically registered images of maps behind the line plot. The background image is fixed to control points and is always shown in correct relationship to the caves, regardless of scale and position of the view. The background images can be any scanned image, topographical maps, property plots, county maps or aerial photographs.

The Survey Editor contains a map page for creating and registering control points. The control points can be express either as UTM coordinates or as Longitude and Latitude. The simplest method is to place control points at grid intersections or map corners. For maps or images without grids, locations such as road intersections, bridges or peaks can be used as control points if their coordinates are known.

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MarmotAnamation.gif (241200 bytes)WinKarst has complete Three Dimensional passage modeling. Each passage segment neatly meshes with its neighbors to create a view without gaps. The user can spin the model of the cave with the mouse in real time. The view can be seen from any angle and each segment has a top, bottom and sides, yielding a realistic drawing. The bottom is shaded darker than the sides and the sides are darker than the top. 3D visualization and passage modeling can reveal new aspects to the nature and structure of a cave. WinKarst can export a three dimensional DXF model for rendering in programs such has AutoCAD, Corel 3d Dream and Bryce.

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garmin12xl.jpg (5870 bytes)WinKarst generates Track and Waypoint export files of cave surveys for uploading to your GPS unit. Once the survey has been uploaded to a GPS unit, the unit can be used to navigate to possible entrance locations where the cave approaches the surface. There are two types of coordinate export that has been tested with Garmin's PCX5 software, WPT and TRK. Additionally, WinKarst generates a general purpose UTM coordinate export file that is plain ASCII text and comma delimited. The UTM export file can be directly imported to WayPoint+, a freeware program that interfaces to popular GPS units. The file type can also be imported into TOPO!GPS where the cave's plot can be merged with a USGS topographical map. WinKarst can also import ASCII comma delimited track and waypoint files from WayPoint+ and display the track or locations relative to a cave survey. Importing waypoints allows the surveyor to catalog and plot karst features that are part of a larger system.

Get WayPoint+Waypoint.GIF (265 bytes) to connect a GPS unit to your computer.

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WinKarst can automatically determine the elevation of caves with geographic locations determined by your GPS unit by processing Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data. The USGS has made DEM data available, at no charge, every 7.5 minute topographical map of the United States. The data comes in the Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS) file format. WinKarst can directly read the SDTS and older the DEM format. The USGS file server has a clickable map or an alphabetical list for map selection. The data files are gzipped and tarred, unfamiliar users should follow these instructions for unpacking the data. WinZip can automatically unpack the USGS files.

With DEM data WinKarst can draw contour maps, determine the amount of overburden at a survey station or generate a three dimensional view of the cave under a wire mesh model of the surface. WinKarst has a Locator Map in a child window showing the entire DEM or GeoTiff field. The locator maps shows where the user's control points are and where the field of view of the main window is set. Selecting a different area in the locator map changes the main window to the new area. The locator map shades the DEM with either a setting western sun or by relief and can have either rainbow or earth tone coloring schemes. The Locator Map can also show the region as a shaded topographical relief  map by adding a corresponding GeoTiff image.

WinKarst can merge adjacent DEM files into a larger regional model of the land form. Up to eight topographical maps, some 1200 by 900 pixels, covering an area 22 miles wide can be displayed on a monitor at higher resolutions. WinKarst will automatically cut the number of pixels in a large map to accommodate displays with less resolution. The user can export the locator map as a BMP file.

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WinKarst can process Digital Line Graphs (DLG) and display the cave system in a larger context of roads and water ways. Like DEM files, the DLG files are available at no charge from the USGS in the SDTS file format. Roads and streams of different quality are show with different line weights. WinKarst can tile together adjacent DLG files to create a larger area of coverage. The DLG data can overlay the DEM data to create a composite view. WinKarst can process DLG files at either the 24,000 or 100,000 to 1 scales.

The USGS has mirrored the SDTS files to and 7.5 minute files are on a slow free or for fee fast server, sorted by state counties. WinKarst can read SDTS files created after January 2001, which contain data in decimal meters.

Warning: If you use WinZip to unpack the SDTS TAR files, be sure to uncheck the "Smart CR/LF" feature for TAR expansion. Look under Options|Configuration and the Miscellaneous tab to find the check box.

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More about WinKarst....

WinKarst is shareware and you welcome to try it for thirty days. If you like the program, you must register you license for a fee of $25. Previous registered users can automatically upgrade to version 11.0 if they have registered in the past. WinKarst runs on all recent Windows ('95, '98, NT, 2000, Me, XP) versions and requires a Pentium processors. The installation of WinKarst is simple and easy to accomplish with the downloaded install program. The install program contains extensive examples and help files and the user can download WinKarst as a standalone program if download time is a problem. The installation program is also available on CD.

WinKarst can handle the most complicated, out of sequence and confusing cave survey. Duplicate shots are automatically averaged. Void shots are retained for reference. The program treats cave data as a single quantity, not compromising loop closure by forcing you to artificially preprocess and sort the surveys. After loop closure, the data can be saved under a new name to retain the closed form.

WinKarst can read and write six cave survey file types, SUR, KST, SEF, PLT, DAT and TXT and translate between file types. The native file type is an ASCII file which can be edited with any type of text editor, without any hidden keystrokes. The file's language allows a hierarchy of include files. In this way, several caves can be maintained in separate files, while another file with include statements for the individual cave files can be used to view all the caves. 

WinKarst employs a Multiple Document Interface (MDI) which enables the user to view several cave surveys at once. The view shows the plan and/or profile projections of the cave survey's stations from three dimensional space and the shots connecting them. While in this view, the user can enable various options to gain a better understanding of cave's structure and the quality of the survey. The user can compare two versions of a cave survey from different times or processed by different software. Or the user can load two versions of the same cave, one closed and the other not and compare how the closure was performed. 

WinKarst implements the standard Windows functions. For example, the user can select several cave files from the File Manager and drag them on to WinKarst to simultaneously open then all. The file types used by WinKarst can be registered with your www browser to open cave surveys that are emailed to you! The user can create shortcuts on the desktop to quickly open their favorite caves. WinKarst maintains a list of last used files for easy access the next time the program is run.

The installation file (download or CD-ROM) includes help file, PDF manual, cave survey examples and database example.

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Click on images to download WinKarst drawings

Left    Lechuguilla and Carlsbad with merged GeoTiff images

 Right    Wind Cave colored by depth


caca2.jpg (7356 bytes) dipcorrected2.jpg (8594 bytes)Left    Lechuguilla and Carlsbad with lat/long grid, DEM and DLG data

Right    Wind Cave corrected by strike and dip

WindRose2.JPG (13136 bytes) Cave_system.JPG (5931 bytes)Left    Rose Diagram of Wind Cave

Right    Cave System at Trout Lake


Left    Contours at Big Foot Cave

Right    Three Dimensional Surface Big Foot Cave


Left    In cave sketches overlaying line plot.

Right    Topographical map as background for famous cave

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Key WinKarst Highlights.

Integrated cave survey editor. Unlike some cave survey programs, WinKarst has an integrated editor. In an integrated environment the user can edit the survey without saving the file to the hard disk. Not only is the considerably faster, it enables trial and error solutions to be explored for correcting errors without corrupting the permanent record on disk. The editor can be invoked by double clicking on caves, surveys or stations in the graphical view and then the editor automatically opens to the selected object. The editor has two methods to view shot data, organized by survey and organized by a single connecting station. Because the entire cave survey is held in memory, the user can obtain information about any cave, survey, station or property within the data, regardless of with file on the hard disk it came from. The has next station prediction, search for data items, cut and paste, link station warnings and data bound checking. For surveys with fore and back sights, corrected backsights are automatically identified and allowed.

Morphed Sketches. Display up to 100 images tied to the line plot of the cave survey. PNG image format files are read in using the integrated editor and at least two stations locations are registered in the image before the program can display the image. When more than two stations are registered, then the image can be morphed to exactly match the line plot. The background color of the image is transparent and a composite view is created where the images overlap.

Multiple File Formats. WinKarst can read and write SMAPS SEF format as well as each of the COMPASS formats, MAK, DAT and PLT. Keep your favorite survey editor and view the results in WinKarst. WinKarst can also import GPS data as WayPoint+ or Garmin formats and import station property information in dBaseIV format exported from a database program such as Microsoft Acess.

Background Maps. Tile together multiple GeoTiff images for cave systems that cross 7.5 minute map boundaries. Large scale topographical or district maps can be scanned and displayed as a background image to the entire cave system. In this case, two intersections of either the UTM or lat/long grid register the image through control points. Images are displayed in color of the original image. GeoTiff images are automatically placed.

Merged Digital Elevation Data. WinKarst is the only cave survey program that automatically merges DEM data with the survey. No clumsy third party software or extra steps required. The user can display the amount of overburden for stations within a DEM or plot elevation contours. WinKarst can draw a shadow the cave line plot on the surface calculated from the DEM or draw a surface mesh in the three dimensional view. WinKarst can merge adjacent DEM files into larger model. The user can open an external and linked child window to  displays the entire DEM. The software can export contours, surface shadow or mesh as BMP or DXF files. WinKarst will automatically calculate the elevation for control points within a DEM.

Merged Digital Line Graphs. WinKarst is the only cave survey program to utilize DLG data files showing roads and water ways layers. Adjacent DLG files are merged into a larger composite view. Roads and streams of different quality are displayed with different line thicknesses on the cave survey plot.

Geographic Projections for use with your GPS unit. Cave entrances can be specified in your survey data file by longitude/latitude pairs and plotted in one of five geographic projects using one of twenty datums. No more difficult surface traverses. Perfect for overlaying on USGS topographical maps. WinKarst includes UTM, Trans Macerator, Albers Equal Area, Lambert Comformal and Polyconic projections. The mouse's position in longitude and latitude can be displayed in the status bar. WinKarst can display either UTM grid lines or 2 minute longitude/latitude grid lines on plots for registration on published maps.

Automatic magnetic declination calculation when cave survey has a geographic reference point. The declination calculation is valid in the period from 1600 to 2005, anywhere on the Earth.

Export your cave maps in either BMP, PNG, DXF, TXT, Garmin TRK and WPT formats, TXT and DBF spreadsheets or ERSI shapefile themes. BMP and PNG image export can be of any pixel dimension size. Exported files have been successfully imported into programs such as CorelDraw, AutoCAD, MS Word, DesignCAD, WayPoint+, TOPO!GPS, Bryce, MS Excel and MS Access. The DXF format includes the wall dimensioning, if enabled, to provide the important step up in drafting your cave map. The Garmin formats allow you to upload your line plot into your GPS unit for use in the field. The TXT or dBase DBF spreadsheet can be imported into a database program, e.g. Microsoft Access, for combining with all cave data needed for resource management. The ERSI shapefile themes include identity, caves, surveys, shots, stations and control points and can be view with ArcView or ArcExplorer.

Three Dimensional Rose diagram. Like the traditional rose diagram, the density of survey shots at an azimuth are plotted on a circular diagram. In a three dimensional diagram, the radial distance on the diagram plots the inclination angles of the survey shots. Then at each intersection of an azimuth and inclination angle on the diagram, the color of the intersection indicates the frequency of shots that occur in the survey. The diagram can show bedding plane dip in addition to joint and fracture orientation.

Vertical Passage Distribution diagram. The vertical extent of the cave is divided into 256 slices and the passage in each slice is totaled. The diagram displays a histogram of the slice totals. The individual peaks of the histogram are identified, labeled and colored. The coloring scheme is then applied to subsequent color by depth plots.

Calculation of Strike and Dip. WinKarst can calculate the best fit strike and dip and apply it to level the cave's station and passage distribution. Often, a cave's development is governed by local geology characterized by a strike and dip. By leveling the cave's distribution, it is possible to determine where the cave is approaching the geologic limits.

WinKarst provides the user with immediate access to many cave parameters and statistics. These items include cave length, extremes, shot count, station count, loop count, survey count, loop closure error, expected loop error, loop shot sequences, loop length, number of shots connecting to a station, the location of a station, the shortest distance of a station to the entrance, the length of a survey and much, much more.

While viewing the cave plot, the mouse can be used to query stations, loops and surveys. Once selected, a dialog box will appear with information about the station, loop or survey. The box also gives the user the choice to open the survey editor prefixed to the selected object. The user can measure the distance between any two stations with the scale cursor. The inspector cursor causes station names to appear as floating hints above the line plot. The ruler cursor can measure the distance between any two stations.

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Pointers to other cave mapping software

Windows Based Software

CAPS - by Hubert Crowell. WinCAPS can be used for caves with up to 100 stations before registration is required and is compatible with cave maps created by CAPS. Watch the CAPS location for updated versions in the future.

CaveRender - aus Jochen Hartig. CaveRender eine Entwicklung der DAV Höhlengruppe Frankfurt/Main und ist urheberrechtlich geschützt. Die Weitergabe und Benutzung der Vollversion ist gegen einen Kostenbeitrag von 10 DM pro Kopie erlaubt. Registrierte Benutzer erhalten regelmäßig Updateinformationen und Hilfe bei Problemen. Kommerzieller Einsatz bzw. Verkauf ist nicht gestattet. Erfahrungen, Verbesserungsvorschläge und Darstellungsprobleme bitte zwecks Weiterentwicklung zugänglich machen.

Compass - by Larry Fish. COMPASS is a software package designed to edit, process, analyze and view cave survey data using an IBM PC compatible computer. The programs in the system allow you to enter cave data, revise the data, generate statistics on the cave, close loops, view plots from various angles on the screen and finally, print finished quality plots on almost any of dot matrix, laser, ink jet printer and a variety of line plotters.

Visual Topo - par Eric David. Bienvenue sur le site Web de Visual Topo. L'objectif de ce site Web est d'améliorer l'assistance fournie aux utilisateurs. Diverses ressources ont été mises en place pour vous aider à résoudre vos problèmes, signaler des bugs et suggérer des améliorations.

Walls - by Dave McKenzie, Walls is a Windows-based program designed to help cave surveyors organize their data and prepare maps for publication. The mainframe-based precursor of Walls, Ellipse, supported those same projects in the 70s and 80s. The programs features have been in place since early 1994 and are documented in the program's help file. These include data entry and verification via an integrated text editor, grouping of surveys into hierarchical project trees, displayed or printed maps with coloring and annotation based on named vector and station attributes, and import/export capabilities.

msprompt.jpg (1585 bytes)Survex - by Olly Betts. Survex is multi-platform, freeware, cave-surveying software. It has been designed, rather than simply written, and is based on a certain philosophy. This article explains how the software came to be, its intended purpose, what it can do at the time of writing (early 1997), and the direction of future developments.

msprompt.jpg (1585 bytes)Hades - de Jean-Pierre Cassou. Un enjeu de taille: Proposer au spéléologues une solution libre Windows et Linux pour le traitement des données TOPOROBOT. A l'heure actuelle, l'excellent outil TOPOROBOT n'existe que sur Macintosh jusqu'à Mac OS 9 et son développement semble en sommeil d'après le site officiel.

Apple Based Software

Toporobot - aus Martin Heller. Toporobot ist ein in der Schweiz entwickeltes Computerprogramm zur Auswertung von Höhlenvermessungsdaten. Es erleichtert die Arbeit bei der Planerstellung wesentlich und bietet Darstellungsmöglichkeiten, die ohne EDV-Unterstützung undenkbar wären. Daneben ist Toporobot auch eine vereinheitlichte Vermessungsnotation, welche sowohl die automatisierte Auswertung ermöglicht, als auch das praktische Vorgehen in der Höhle vereinfacht. Die Toporobot-Methode bewährt sich seit Jahren auf zahlreichen Expeditionen und ist inzwischen weitverbreitet.

Java Based Software

msprompt.jpg (1585 bytes)Tunnel 2 - by Julian Todd. Tunnel is a Cave Survey program which extends the data format used by Survex by associating a realistic passage volume to the centerline survey. It has its own graphical editor and is able to produce output in VRML form. Current developments are working towards a ray-tracing algorithm to render gray-scale images that could in theory replace hand-drawn surveys, and stereolithography output so that an actual physical model of the cave could be built.

msprompt.jpg (1585 bytes)Carto by Ralph Hartley, is a tool for making cave maps. Carto has two main parts. One is a mechanism for warping digitized sketches to fit the survey data, and combining them to form a composite. The other is a CAD program designed specifically for drawing cave maps.

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In 1997 the International Union of Speleology (UIS) published the official list of cave map symbols. Download a PDF version here! Or go to the interactive web site and select individual symbols.


Links to other pages at this site:

Use RosettaStal to convert your cave data.
Lechuguilla Photomap and virtual cave images.
Calculate Magnetic Declination with GeoMag.
A basic Digital Elevation Model viewer.
The Perfect LED Lamp.


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