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Monday, November 7, 2011

Things You Can Do With A GPSr

HeadHardHat's Garmin 60CSx GPSr
In the Geocaching World there are many different GPSr handheld units available. Many of them have common features that may be useful to you as either a geocacher, hiker or outdoors enthusiast. Note not all GPSr units may have everything described though it may help you in your next GPSr purchase.

Marking a Waypoint -
Simplest way of noting exactly where you are on a GPSr map.
For many GPSr units if you click the MARK button the coordinates of where you are standing will be turned into a waypoint. It will contain your coordinates, altitude, distance from waypoint and any other pertinent information. Note it is very important that you allow your GPSr unit to settle before marking your spot. In other words set your GPSr unit down from a couple of minutes so it can pick up as many available satellites as possible and allowing the greatest accuracy.

Projection -
The ability of creating a second waypoint based off of an original waypoint using the coordinates of the first waypoint, distance and bearing.

So say you are creating a multi-stage geocache and you have stage one all plotted nice and neat. To be a bit creative you don't want to give up the next stages coordinates because that would be too easy. Instead you have the finder do what is known as a projection. That is they use the coordinates of stage one and then face a particular bearing or direction and then walk a certain amount of distance to find the next waypoint or stage.  Kind of like the old pirate days of walking so many paces north west from the big tree to find the treasure chest. Projection has many other uses but for geocaching this is one of the more popular.

Use with GPSr:

Use with GCC smartphone app:
The GCC smartphone application is very handy for all sorts of calculations, encryptions and so much more. It also has the ability to do different aspect functions of projection. for example:

(Coordinates-> Projection) Tells coords similar to on a GPSr
(Coordinates-> Bearing) Tells the compass direction based on two coords
(Coordinates->Distance) Tells the distance between two coords

Tracking Also known as Electronic Breadcrumbs -
You read about people getting lost while out hiking all the time. It is really easy to do, go on a few miles of hiking in an area that is unfamiliar and all it takes is one missed left or right to get somebody confused. Add in the terrain mixture a mountainous situation and not only do you have to contend with left or right but up and down too. In those situations people who even have a GPSr can get lost because your car may be a short distance away but 300 feet above or below you and your are staring at a cliff face or swamp. Now what?

The best thing to do is to avoid the whole situation by turning on your tracking or what is also known as electronic breadcrumbs. Basically what happens with tracking turned on is a trail is created wherever you walk and stored digitally. When you want to get back to your car or campsite all you have to do is look at your GPSr map and follow the line (or breadcrumbs) by retracing your steps. That way you know for sure exactly where you went in the first place. In fact on many GPSr units you can upload your route into a computer and maps program and see exactly where you went including distance and elevation.

Topo Maps -
A topographic map is a type of map characterized by large-scale detail and quantitative representation of relief, usually using contour lines in modern mapping, but historically using a variety of methods. Traditional definitions require a topographic map to show both natural and man-made features. A topographic map is typically published as a map series, made up of two or more map sheets that combine to form the whole map. A contour line is a combination of two line segments that connect but do not intersect; these represent elevation on a topographic map.

Topo maps are great foe telling you which side of a river or stream a geocache may be hidden. Also knowing how much of a climb that may be involved with your trek can be a great help as well.

Satellite Imagery Maps-
Satellite imagery consists of photographs of Earth or other planets made by means of artificial satellites. Ever want to see exactly where a geocache is before getting onsite? Satellite maps are perfect for giving you a very good visual representation from above. It also may help you with how you want to approach a geocache site by seeing what may be in your way or discovering an easier path.

Advanced handheld GPSr options-
There are many new and developing features that will be utilized in current and up and coming GPSr unites. Below is a list of functionalities you might want on your GPSr.

  • 3 Axis Tilt
  • GPSr Wireless Waypoint sharing
  • Messaging - SOS functions
  • GPSr direct .gpx file downloads
  • Built in microSD card
  • Autofocus Camera
  • Voice Recorder
There are so many new GPSrs becoming available to everyone. As always I suggest you do your research and read up before purchasing yours. I hope this basic list helped you.

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