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Halwg said:
I agree. I never could figure out how to use a compass. ;D
Don't feel bad. Accurate Land Nav is a difficult skill. It takes a lot of training and practice and it is perishable.

Land Nav to within ten meters, by whatever means, isn't all that important to most folks but it was a requirement on me in the service. Try finding a six inch plate in the forest at night after five doglegs! I actually failed a Land Nav course once and had to retake it the next night.

I was first introduced to GPS back when they were about the size of a bible and only us Uncle Sugar dirt stompers could get units that would guide you to "within 10 meters." I never trusted them. Even as they improved and got better and better, I never trusted them. And many a time a compass, map, and protractor came to the rescue when the GPS failed for whatever reason. Batteries, a slap on the rocks, operator error, whatever. I never relied on it. Used it, but I always kept my pace count and headings.

Now, I know they've come a long way and are a useful tool, but I have no real need for one. I roam the vastness of the Colville National Forest but I know the area I go well enough to not worry too much. We're we generally go we can be anywhere from two to fifteen miles off pavement. But if push comes to shove, walk downhill. You'll hit a creek or road sooner or later. So getting lost doesn't freak me out too bad. Been lost before when I was younger but only because I panicked.

I don't bait or stand hunt so no real need to pinpoint those things.

It would be a handy tool for marking points of good sign and such. Easy to be off by twenty or thirty yards in the woods and that can often be a mile when trying to find that spot.

But for navigation purposes, I just don't need one. I always have my compass, a real compass. And if I go somewhere new to me, you can be sure I'll look for two distinct landmarks and odds are I'll shoot an azimuth to each. If I happen to have a topo of the area, I'll mark our spot. If I got that, I can get back.

GPS's are a great tool for many things but I would never depend on one to get me home.
 

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Halwg said:
Most people have no clue how GPS works and some of the inherent inaccuracies. The only way to get highly accurate GPS data is to use a receiver capable of differential GPS. Generally, you are going to get 15 - 30 meter accuracy, which is OK for finding your way out of the woods back to your vehicle. If you get back within 50 feet, you are fine. They will tell you WAAS enabled GPS will get you within 3 meters, or about 10 ft. Maybe. I have checked several WAAS enabled hand held units against differential sub-meter GPS, and it wasn't anywhere near 3 meters. But again, unless you are doing detailed mapping work, it's plenty close enough. But try pinpointing an anomaly on a pipeline with a $200 Garmin, and it's not going to happen.

When I meet with clients to talk about GPS data, I hear all kinds of crazy assumptions about what GPS can do. The elevation on even expensive GPS units is very inaccurate. On a cheap Garmin or Magellan it's basically just a go by. "It is true that GPS elevations are less accurate than the horizontal positions gained from GPS. In fact, GPS elevations generally have two to three times the error of horizontal positions gained from GPS." So the elevation is basically just a go by unless you have base stations established and can triangulate.

A lot of other issues enter into obtaining accurate GPS data. There are times of the day (if you have been out using a unit you may have experienced this) when you can't get satellite reception. When we are doing GPS surveys, this leaves us dead in the water. We also lose synchronization of some of our equipment because of this. Why? Probably something that the government is doing with the satellites.

Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of GPS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System

The whole point is that GPS is a great tool, but I would also take a good topo map of the area along as well. With the topo and the GPS unit you can do a good job of locating where you are as long as you can get satellite reception. I use a Magellan Explorist 500, knowing full well that it has some inherent inaccuracy, but along with my USGS Topographic map, I'm not likely to get lost.
I've tried to explain "inadequacy of GPS" to my bosses for the last 12 years working for three different survey companies. They just don't get it. "GPS IS FAST, FAST, FAST!" is all I ever hear. Experience has shown me that using differential GPS in that manner can get you reams and reams of useless information. Used with a bit of caution, they are wonderfull pieces of equipment, within their limitations. I've used Trimble, Ashtech, Sokkia, Leica and Topcon and proved their strong points and weak points on the job.

I have a Magellan Meridian Gold for my personal handheld and it gives me a comfort zone that I am where I think I am when I'm in new country. I have placed a waypoint on a known monument and let it set there and just watch the coordinates change on the screen over time. Sometimes as close as "right there" and sometimes 50ft away. However, it has always brought me back to "in sight of my truck!" When hunting in new country, I park the truck and turn on the GPS while I'm getting ready so "IT" knows where "IT" is. As I get ready to hike/hunt, I set a waypoint for the truck. Sometimes I leave the GPS running while I hunt, sometimes, especially if I'm low on battery, I'll shut it off until I'm ready to find the truck. Having it with me allows me to enjoy the hunt without worrying about where I am. Also lets me know I don't want to walk back to the truck and call my partner and have him pick me up along a road somewhere closer, or easier/quicker to get to.

A word of caution to the unknowing: IF you set a waypoint before your handheld unit has "found itself", you will have a waypoint at the last place your GPS was turned off! I've read of accounts where a hunter used his gps at home, turned the gps off, drove 160miles, turned the gps on, set a waypoint, turned it off to conserve batteries, turned it back on several hours later to "find his truck" and the gps said it was "160 miles away"! He eventually located a highway and a passing sheriff gave him a lift to where his truck was parked. Not a fun situation. GPS units are not idiot-proof.

Jeff
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I'm glad to see other folks are aware of the inadequacies of GPS. I have this argument all the time, particularly with clients. Where folks get in trouble (the family that used one to take them to an impassable road in the winter, comes to mind) is when they totally depend on GPS and think it's flawless. If you use it with a good set of maps, it's an invaluable tool. With mine, and with WAAS enabled, I have marked points for hunting stands and used it to go back to them. It has NEVER put me exactly at the spot I marked. It's been close, a few times within 15', but more often within 50'. That's generally good enough to get you back to camp, the car, a known road, etc. But unless you have a military grade GPS, that's about as close as you are going to get.
 

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SilverSurfer said:
Eli Chaps said:
Halwg said:
I agree. I never could figure out how to use a compass. ;D


GPS's are a great tool for many things but I would never depend on one to get me home.
Pilots use them to get home every day.
Yeah, that's true. But you and I don't get those GPS's. And near as I can recall, pilots were getting home every day just fine long before the advent of GPS technology. ;)
 

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Eli Chaps said:
SilverSurfer said:
Eli Chaps said:
Halwg said:
I agree. I never could figure out how to use a compass. ;D


GPS's are a great tool for many things but I would never depend on one to get me home.
Pilots use them to get home every day.
Yeah, that's true. But you and I don't get those GPS's. And near as I can recall, pilots were getting home every day just fine long before the advent of GPS technology. ;)
Sure we do they are the same ones you can buy off the shelf.

You are right but about them getting home before GPS but the infrastructure and support they required was far greater.
 

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SilverSurfer said:
Eli Chaps said:
SilverSurfer said:
Eli Chaps said:
Halwg said:
I agree. I never could figure out how to use a compass. ;D


GPS's are a great tool for many things but I would never depend on one to get me home.
Pilots use them to get home every day.
Yeah, that's true. But you and I don't get those GPS's. And near as I can recall, pilots were getting home every day just fine long before the advent of GPS technology. ;)
Sure we do they are the same ones you can buy off the shelf.

You are right but about them getting home before GPS but the infrastructure and support they required was far greater.
Well, I'm not familiar with the FAA so could be that's true, I just figured they had the same one's we used in the military, which are not what we can buy off the shelf.

But I ain't a pilot and I don't need any infrastructure. A compass, topo, military protractor, and my pace count have got me pretty damn close on many, many occasions.

Too many times GPS's failed my team in the field for me to rely soley on them. I like 'em, but I like a back-up plan too.

:)
 

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Back up plans are always a good thing! Too many people get a GPS and think their world all of a sudden got uncomplicated - only to find out in reality it just got more complicated. My handheld has saved me some steps in getting back to the truck and gave me some comfort that I knew for sure where I was when confronted by irritated land owners while surveying, not while hunting ;)

Like a lot of things we get to use; learn the limitations of the unit and our limitations with it and all is well. Again, I will state, they are not idiot-proof - the GPS notes are full of Idiot stuff attributed to a GPS unit. Whenever I read them, they always shout out, "Not the GPS's fault!! IT WAS THE IDIOT OPERATOR!" Now THAT I can believe, having listened to plenty that the uninformed believed the GPS was capable of. I've run commercial grade (survey grade) GPS for 12 years now and have probably seen every conceivable kind of wacked out data. All of which helped to mold the level of understanding limitations that I have today. Consequently, I have never gotten into trouble with a GPS - only with what a boss thought it could do - helped put me on unemployment this time. Still don't think it was the GPS's fault.. ;) :mad:
 

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Eli Chaps said:
SilverSurfer said:
Eli Chaps said:
SilverSurfer said:
Eli Chaps said:
Halwg said:
I agree. I never could figure out how to use a compass. ;D


GPS's are a great tool for many things but I would never depend on one to get me home.
Pilots use them to get home every day.
Yeah, that's true. But you and I don't get those GPS's. And near as I can recall, pilots were getting home every day just fine long before the advent of GPS technology. ;)
Sure we do they are the same ones you can buy off the shelf.

You are right but about them getting home before GPS but the infrastructure and support they required was far greater.
Well, I'm not familiar with the FAA so could be that's true, I just figured they had the same one's we used in the military, which are not what we can buy off the shelf.

But I ain't a pilot and I don't need any infrastructure. A compass, topo, military protractor, and my pace count have got me pretty damn close on many, many occasions.

Too many times GPS's failed my team in the field for me to rely soley on them. I like 'em, but I like a back-up plan too.

:)

The ones off the shelf and the ones the military use today are the same accuracy.
 

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SilverSurfer said:
GPS's are a great tool for many things but I would never depend on one to get me home.


Pilots use them to get home every day.


Yeah, that's true. But you and I don't get those GPS's. And near as I can recall, pilots were getting home every day just fine long before the advent of GPS technology. ;)


Sure we do they are the same ones you can buy off the shelf.

You are right but about them getting home before GPS but the infrastructure and support they required was far greater.


Well, I'm not familiar with the FAA so could be that's true, I just figured they had the same one's we used in the military, which are not what we can buy off the shelf.

But I ain't a pilot and I don't need any infrastructure. A compass, topo, military protractor, and my pace count have got me pretty damn close on many, many occasions.

Too many times GPS's failed my team in the field for me to rely soley on them. I like 'em, but I like a back-up plan too.

:)



The ones off the shelf and the ones the military use today are the same accuracy.
They are if you are willing to spend $25,000 - $30,000 for sub-centimeter accuracy. You aren't getting that with a Garmin or Magellan you buy from Wal-Mart.
 

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Halwg - can't count how many times I've had that same arguement with my bosses about GPA accuracy. They want to stake out a wetland with a handheld or they want to topo a stream and chase it for a mile. I can do with a set of Trimble's or Leica's, even Ashtech's have proven very capable. The Trimble and Leica spoiled me and I had to retrain myself to use the Topcon's. They just didn't have the multi-path handling capability of the Trimble or the Leica. Therefore, results were not as consistent.

No way do we do this with a $300 handheld! All you have to do is set the handheld in a parking lot or other expansive area with few obstructions and let it set for a few minutes. Have it set on the screen that displays the coordinate and elevation. Don't move it and just watch the coordinate change as you observe. If that doesn't convince you, set a waypoint, walk away, and try to come back. Normally 25ft or more. Sometimes as close as 7 or 8ft. Not pinpoint, but surely close enough for what they were designed to do. Locate your truck at the end of a hard day of hiking! I use them to locate section corners while surveying. I figure if I can get within 50ft of the corner, I can find it if it's there. Then, IF there is enough opening without obstruction, I'll use the high dollar units to data collect it's location and expect within a couple inches or less for repeatability. Depending on sky, satelite geometry and ground network.

Alas, again I preach to the choir.

Jeff
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GPS .... don't leave home without it.

What sold me on the concept was a hunting trip years ago. I had no "problem" finding the truck again, but I walked an extra 3 steep uphill miles doing it. Went out and bought one as soon as I got home. Not that I don't need the exercise, but I don't need that sort of frustration.

Cheers,

Carl
This is why I want one. If I park my quad off the trail somewhere, hike 2 hours into a hunting spot through rough terain etc, I want to be able to find my way back... I always carry e-gear to spend a night or two if I 'have" to but with the GPS I will have a little more security. I carry an ELB for the bad stuff.....
 

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Halwg - can't count how many times I've had that same arguement with my bosses about GPA accuracy. They want to stake out a wetland with a handheld or they want to topo a stream and chase it for a mile. I can do with a set of Trimble's or Leica's, even Ashtech's have proven very capable. The Trimble and Leica spoiled me and I had to retrain myself to use the Topcon's. They just didn't have the multi-path handling capability of the Trimble or the Leica. Therefore, results were not as consistent.

No way do we do this with a $300 handheld! All you have to do is set the handheld in a parking lot or other expansive area with few obstructions and let it set for a few minutes. Have it set on the screen that displays the coordinate and elevation. Don't move it and just watch the coordinate change as you observe. If that doesn't convince you, set a waypoint, walk away, and try to come back. Normally 25ft or more. Sometimes as close as 7 or 8ft. Not pinpoint, but surely close enough for what they were designed to do. Locate your truck at the end of a hard day of hiking! I use them to locate section corners while surveying. I figure if I can get within 50ft of the corner, I can find it if it's there. Then, IF there is enough opening without obstruction, I'll use the high dollar units to data collect it's location and expect within a couple inches or less for repeatability. Depending on sky, satelite geometry and ground network.

Alas, again I preach to the choir.

Jeff
NRA Life

Survey grade GPS and a quality consumer grade handheld really aren't that much different in terms of accuracy. The survey grade GPS will have a much better antenna which helps but without post-processing or running a differential setup neither will get you centimeter accuracy. But if you setup a base station or post process in the office a survey grade GPS can be very accurate.
 

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I use a handheld GPS when I hunt and fish streams.It is a great tool. I also carry a map or two and a compass (or two).
A GPS is a tool, nothing more. "A man's got to know his limitations." I would not take a 300 yard shot at a buck with my 336 35rem. 200 yards, yes, but that's because I have done it more than once at the range.
I have my blind marked as well as others from our camp and from the neighbors camp. Last Nov I was walking west from my stand, was slowly drifting north and could see I was getting too close to anothers stand. I turned south so not to disterb his hunting.
I like 'em but they are just a tool. A hand held GPS does not make you a surveyor. I know some of you will agree. My hunting partner is a surveyor and he carries a compass.
 

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My experience with GPS did not leave me with a good impression. While hunting with a friend who was using a GPS unit we got into very thick cover. He was trying to find a spot he had found before. I didn't think anything of it as he would stop and look at his GPS. We walked around in a big sweeping arc for about an hour and a half. He finally looked at me and asked me where we were. Fourtunately I knew and we were able to come back out where we went in. In more open country they are probably fine, not in thick timber.
 

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I'm sort with Eli on this one. It is a very good idea to learn how to navigate in the woods without a GPS and then always take a compass. If your batteries fail or if you have a software glitch or forget to set something or load your maps, etc., you will get lost unless you have some way of finding your way home. I have both, but I confess my nav skills are rusty, because my GPS is a good one (Garmin 60CSX with topo maps) and I am very comfortable with it. I have often found it useful to try to NOT use the GPS and see how well I do without it - remembering landmarks and getting the direction from the compass, and then only check the GPS as a confirmation. My memory is pretty good and so far I haven't needed it unless I am enjoying using it to find interesting locations, but it is nice to know it is there.
 
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