Comment: Types of GPS Receivers

I'm a big fan of GPS used in combination with paper maps for camping and 4WDing. I recently bought a Garmin eTrex 20 handheld device, and purchased the Topo Maps and Birdseye Satellite imagery (subscription) all for about $250. Great unit albeit the screen is a little small. But it is great for marking waypoints (handy for marking future camping spots) but also laying breadcrumbs (so you can find your way back to basecamp when you're trekking deep in the wilderness) and providing info (like sunrise/sunset, best fishing times etc). USB connectivity to your PC to send and receive info to and from the unit using the Garmin Basecamp software (free download). It will never replace the good old fashioned paper maps, but handy to have nonetheless. Only downside is it chews through the batteries, so carrying extra batteries is a must (and a pain).
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Reply By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:26

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 12:26
Nugent,
I agree with you about having some paper maps around. It is a trend we have seen very clearly that paper maps are just not being purchased much any more. This trend is a little alarming as people are heading out with the iPad/GPS (or similar) and nothing else. I am concerned when the device stops working or the car batteries are dead when you out in the wilds. It is when these major failures occur that the problems start and not many people plan for that issue as much as we used to.

The technology is certainly great but when it don't work, it don't work!
Paper or atlas type guides do not fail and I will always have a handy compass and some maps in our vehicle.
David
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 14:56

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 14:56
"Paper or atlas type guides do not fail"

Maybe not, but people do. I was stopped on the Sandstone Menzies Road the other day by some "tourists". They had a paper map/atlas but were lost as they had missed the turn off they were looking for and had proceeded 30km up the wrong road. I provided instructions to get them back on track as knew the turn off they were looking for.

Moral of story - 1: Use what ever navigational aid suits your needs at the time and know how to use it.

This suggest to me that just having a paper map and compass wont save everyone in every situation...and in fact having a spare gps would be best option for some (in case first gps stops working)..easier than carrying every 50K/100k/250k paper map for all of Australia around ...plus you will need a light to read them at night..which could also fail:)

Cheers
Greg

I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: WBS - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 15:40

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 15:40
Let me assure you that what Greg says is just as important as your GPS failing. You can have all the best , most up to date maps in the world but if you don't know where on the map you are, you are lost. How do you go about finding your location? If you just "think" your somewhere when in reality you are elsewhere you could get into all sort of trouble. The word "perish" comes to mind.

My suggestion would be to turn on your GPS, even a humble eTrex will do, to get your coordinates and then pinpoint your location on the map.
That of course is assuming the atlas or map you are using has grid lines showing eastings and northings or latitude and longitude indicators at regular intervals. It also helps to know the difference between the two coordinate systems. Dare I suggest a map reading course?
For an old time map maker like me give me a good topographic map and a couple of reliable GPS and life is good. Upon reflection, I don't know how we coped without GPS on the old days :)

WBS
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:09

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:09
Agree and Agree with all this. Funny I am so versed in map reading and compass use (due to Adventure Racing with no GPS allowed) that I can pinpoint myself on a "good topo" map quicker than my GPS will acquire. But you are right there are not many people that can read a map and there are equally not enough that cannot transpose a position onto a map especially if the datum or coordinate system is different. I can only hope people are travelling safely and that if they lose there primary navigational source that they have a good backup paper or electronic, total failure has happened to me several times on past trips.

Here is a question, just a doomsday thing, could the GPS system go down? Say EMP or targeted attack? I am just curious on this one - I am sure it would not happen but is it possible that the system could stop? I have no idea on how each satellite system actually works and is backed up (maybe needs a new thread)?
David



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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:49

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:49
...suppose the GPS network could be destroyed in some fashion though suspect it would only be considered by terrorists who know how to read a map without the aid of a GPS. What would be worse is if they turned off the earths magnetic field - now that would stuff up all the compass/map reading gurus out there:)

Cheers
Greg
PS: you can use a GPS/GPS mapping program to view maps as well..even without a signal...so all will not be lost.
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: WBS - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:59

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 16:59
David,
In my opinion it would be remotely possible. There are at least two sets of global positioning satellite constellations up now. We have the one run by the US (GPS) which is the one we use, the Russians have the GLONASS System, while the Europeans are developing the Galileo system due to be switched on in 2014. This system will at some time in the future be combined with the US GPS system

The quote from Wikipedia on Glonass:-
"To improve development of the user segment, on August 11, 2010, Sergei Ivanov announced a plan for Russia to introduce a 25% import duty on all GPS-capable devices, including mobile phones, unless they are compatible with GLONASS. As well, the government is planned to force all car manufacturers in Russia to make cars with GLONASS starting from 2011. This will affect all car makers, including foreign brands like Ford and Toyota, which have car assembly facilities in Russia.

GPS and phone baseband chips from major vendors ST-Ericsson, Broadcom and Qualcomm all support GLONASS in combination with GPS.

In April 2011, Sweden's Swepos, a national network of satellite reference stations which provides data for real-time positioning with meter accuracy, became the first known foreign company to use GLONASS.

Smartphones and Tablets also saw implementation of GLONASS support in 2011 with devices released that year from Xiaomi Tech Company (Xiaomi Phone 2), Sony Ericsson, Samsung (the Google Nexus 10 in late 2012), Asus, Apple (iPhone 4S and iPad Mini in late 2012) and HTC adding support for the system allowing increased accuracy and lock on speed in difficult conditions." source-wikipedia

So you see, there is a lot of progress. I'm not sure but I think the Indians are doing something as well and probably the Chinese too. How robust this technology will be in the face of a Mars Attack, Sunspot activity or some other intergalactic cataclysm, one can only speculate.

If you look at Wikipedia it gives you a great start if you want to delve into the world of GPS beyond us travellers. Its a far bigger world than ours.

WBS
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 17:08

Friday, Jun 07, 2013 at 17:08
Gidday

I first got into maps and mapreading in the 1960s when i was in the air cadets and they used to let us loose in the Walyunga National Park near RAAF Pearce armed with a detailed topo map, a compass and protractor and a list of coordinates, we had to plot the course and walk it to reach the pick up point.
Then later i did a private pilots licence and learned to navigate cross country with a map, compass, watch and what was then called a navigation computer --- it was nothing like a Garmin or Hema!
I have done some remote travel but still rely on maps as most of the tracks i have travelled are mapped. If you know where you started and have kept a note of things along the way (like odometer readings for starters) you should have a good idea where you might be.
I dont think I have ever knowingly thrown out a map and still have those i used when travelling in England and Europe in the 1970s. It is great to get out the France map each year at Tour de France time and see if the route passes through an area I might be (vaguely) familiar with.
There is nothing like spreading out a map on the table to do a bit of fantasy trip planning. Somehow looking at it on a computer screen isnt quite the same for me.
Long live the map ... i remember when they said there were going to be paperless offices too!

Cheers
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