Remember when you were a kid and every map you saw showed that Greenland and Antarctica were massive bodies of land? Then you grew up and at some point you realized that the world is a little different than you thought. That is, of course, because we mainly use Mercator maps. These maps represent the globe as a cylinder, which we then press out flat, because flat maps are easy to use, but our world isn’t flat, and its not a cylinder. Its a sphere. Because of this, things represented on a Mercator map appear skewed in size, distance, and in shortest path direction.

Less common, but extremely helpful, is the Azimuthal map. This kind of map is also flat, but it is constructed so that everything on the map is equidistantly projected from the center. If you make the center of the map your current position, then you will have a very easy time of finding an accurate azimuth and distance to any other point on the map. This doesn’t mean everything will be represented in its actual relative size. We still have the problems inherent in converting a sphere to a plane, but at least you will have correct directions and distances to points of interest.

In the example above, we are centered on Antarctica. Notice that it is no longer a massive continent dominating the map.


You can get professionally printed full size color maps from Mike Whitehead, callsign GM0PHW. I bought a map from him a little over a year ago from his website There was some sort of hang-up in customs, or mail, or something. I contacted Mike and he was A+ in customer service. He printed and sent me another map at no cost. I received it and a day later the original map finally arrived – go figure. He makes a great product and will take care of you. Here is an example of his work


Tom Epperly, callsign NS6T, provides a free online tool to generate your own azimuthal maps. You can input a position of your choosing, select a radius distance, and turn on/off city, state and country labels.

I used this to create a few custom maps for use in my shack: 2m VHF with a 80 mile radius, HF NVIS for EMCOMM use with a 300 mile radius, and a US DX map. Check it out for yourself at

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