Plus Codes in Google Maps

Just planning my next SOTA DXpedition :cold_face: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: and noticed Plus Codes in Google Maps - anyone used these or come across these? I don’t know anything about them…


Maidenhead by another route.

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I’ll add support to my coordinate converter, as at least it is all open-source.

I could add what-3-words but that is via an API with limited requests a month without paying, at which point I start switching off rapidly…


Fourkingmaps .co .uk navigation please.

Don’t encourage W3W, it needs to die! :wink:


Either it will never catch on or it will, but being Google they will then drop it. :neutral_face:

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Hear hear


I’ve used Plus Codes but there’s a gotcha. There’s a short and long version, you’ll probably want to use the long as it has the area code embedded.

Say you want a parking spot close to G/WB-004. You might be tempted to copy down just 9CV2+VQ2, but without the town then you might end up at another place like 9CV2+VQ2 near Juniville, France.

So you either want “9CV2+VQ Ludlow, UK” if you’re online, or better still:
9C4V9CV2+VQ” with the embedded area code prefixed.

Annoyingly I haven’t found a way to get the global version on demand from Google maps, but this place seems like the place to go:

Aside: I used to use Mapcodes when I was using a TomTom, but (for some reason!) Google doesn’t support them. It’s a similar idea. As for w3w … I’ll add another click to the dislike button!


i’ve never used What3Words, what are the issues with it?

I’ve noticed when on an G/LD summit that the wind turbines all have a W3W reference on their masts.

It’s being pushed as a useful “safety of life” service but is not open source but a commercial company making money. You can only look up words to location on their site. A third party cannot do it completely free, after a few lookups you have to pay. This like your phone company charging you for 112/911/999 calls.

The words occur in single and plural forms and there are homophones leading to confusions. e.g. circle.goal.leader is only 2km from circle.goal.leaders but if you give one to an ambulance director and he mishears and goes to the other one he is tantalisingly close to you but not not of use.

You cannot tell how far Ant.Aardvark.Aluminium is from Zebra.Zeke.Zinc, next square or other side of the planet.

Anyone who reverse engineers the W3W protocol in a clean way and tries to offer the same service for free will get a fairly strong legal response from W3W’s legal attack dogs. If you persevere with your open version you’d better have deep pockets to pay the lawyer’s bills.


Thanks for your reply. Sorry I hadn’t spotted it sooner.

I always had a (negative) gut feeling about W3W, but wasn’t able to figure out the issues, having never used it.

I can see how it could be of limited use; I got stuck on a SOTA activation, with my car on one of the steepest roads in the UK (Hard Knott Pass) and broken down. I was able to give precise grid references to the police, who were extremely helpful.

I did not have any mobile signal except for an emergency signal via the Isle Of Man. Unfortunately, it was clear to me that the grid reference was not being used by the RAC, as they struggled to locate me.

Perhaps W3W might have helped, but from what you say it shouldn’t be relied upon, merely be used as a backup.

I’ve often wondered, somewhat in horror, what would happen in that situation. Having done RAYNET for the Fred Whitton for a few years I think I’ve seen everything that could happen. Once a lass walked passed in full motorbiking gear. The hill had outfaced her, so her husband was going to have to ride both motorbikes, his and hers, up to the top of the pass.

One thing I will say (not that I think most SOTA activators fall into this category) - I’ve seen the effect that razzing a car/4x4 up to the top of Hard Knott has. Several very unhappy looking vehicles at the top, or part way up.

Respect the mountain. We all know that!


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