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GPS map questions
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
Posts: 535
Location: Mesa AZ

PostPosted: 1/30/2007, 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Thanks for the insights into what goes on behind the scenes in the map making world. I didn't realize the Census Bureau was such a big player in the mapping game. A long time ago in a far away place I had my first job out of college at the Census Bureau and I am not that surprised that many errors are made by them. Their focus is incredibly broad. I was in the Industry division that produced their annual Census of Manufacturers. I didn't stay there long because I was interested in other things at the time.

Anyway, I agree that no none should stake their lives on the accuracy of these or any maps because they certainly are not perfect. When in the field hiking I use the mapping info as a general guide but all navigation is dependent on both the map and what I can see in front of my face which can be at odds with what the map is telling me.

It's good to look at several maps of the same area as you do. I often look at not only the 100K and 24Ks but also the Forest Service maps and third party trail maps of the same area. Each gives a slightly different representation of the same area and enhances my feel for the place I think. Some third party trail maps are outstanding for hikers. National Geograhic does a lot in Colorado, Rainbow Expeditions does great in Southern Arizona, and I have others from Sawtooth in Idaho and Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. If you are doing aggressive stressing type hiking you can never have enough input in advance of the hike. And you must appreciate that the maps can be wrong at times although the good third party maps may be the most up to date if they did their own by actually hiking the trails and maybe using a GPS.

Here in 2007 and for the last few years anyone can map a road or trail with 10 meter accuracy or less by simply walking or driving and recording and saving a track. This is probably simplistic but why do we need aerial photography to accurately postition roads when we could have someone drive the road with a GPS recording the track. If a professional service did this they could use a professional model GPS capable of sub-meter or sub-foot accuracy and really nail it. Is this too simplistic or hasn't the government caught on yet.

Any way thanks for your input. By the way, what is a "red card". PM me or post that answer if you want.
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Davis2001R6





Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 5591
Location: Italy

PostPosted: 1/30/2007, 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I was wondering about the Red Card as well.
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Cholla





Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 379

PostPosted: 1/30/2007, 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Windymesa, thank you for your input. It's a bit early in the day to start drinking, but I read your post all the way to the end. Laughing As a newbie to GPS and digital maps I bought NG the Weekend Explorer Phoenix Area first. It would cost an aweful lot more to get all of that info buying paper maps. Even if I can't load the maps to my GPS I find the software useful as another source of info. I also bought City Navigator as the first fully compatible Garmen software. I'm waiting for TOPO to arrive in the mail, so will work with that next. So far, so good. At the moment I see a GPS as giving me additional information, but have always relied on my senses and basic map reading skills to find my way. I would still never go into unfamiliar areas without map(s) and compass and a healthy respect for the unexpected.

Anyway, I'm not bored at all and am happy to learn whenever I can. And welcome to AZ Hikers.
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windymesa





Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 76
Location: Peoria, Arizona

PostPosted: 1/30/2007, 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

gpsjoe: ok ..get another drink, cause I'm bored sitting in Winslow tonite.

The government has caught on to gps'ing roads and trails... ADOT has spent a lot of money on vans/hardware to digitize the center lines of most major roads in Arizona, and I use thier data for road centerlines in GIS. The Land Management agencies have people riding 4 wheelers (quads) with Trimbles for submeter accuracy... trying to get a handle on all the "new roads" created by ATV enthusiasts. In some cases, orthophotography (aerial) is the most economic way to digitize, if the feature you want to map is identifiable. I have worked with the Arizona Trail Assoc, and they have sent me there GPS'ed trail segments (using Garmins), I quality control them by laying themon the orthophotos where I can see the trail (the Garmins do a good job), I then turn them into lines and they are then put on GIS produced maps. Digitizing by GPS is expensive, unless a labor of love like the Arizona Trail Assoc volunteers.

I am sitting here writing this in the La Posada Railroad hotel in Winslow, Arizona on my way back from setting up digital mapping capability for the Indian Land Surveyors in Window Rock. They were showing me a software package called "All Topo Maps"... another raster scan package of the USGS quad maps... but a lot of features surveyors like... I can't keep up with all these cool mapping softwares, so I come in and see what you folks are using, and what you think of them... and steal what ideas I can for the fire program. By the way, if you get a chance... stay at the La Posada... it is truly a work of art from a past era... designed by guess who... Mary Jane Colter of Grand Canyon Architect fame.

GPSjoe and Davis: The Red Card... is a card used by the wildland fire agencies to identify the positions you are qualified to perform on a wildfire incident... either suppression, wild fire use, or prescribed burning. The "Red Card" is issued by the agency that sponsors you, or homeless people Wink . Wildland fire personnel come from all agencies, feds, state, city, private, and some are retired, or self employed. Many have jobs totally unrelated to thier wildland fire positions. Each fire postion has it's own training and experience requirements. And of course, your employer has to be flexible enough to allow you to disappear from your "real job" for weeks if not a couple months while you dissappear into the backwoods of Idaho or Montana or Arizona or where ever they send you.

In case you haven't figured it out, my two mistresses are maps, and fire.

Time for another drink... Very Happy and time to see who.... would spend a Tuesday nite at the La Posada in Winslow, Arizona Question .

Take care,
Dave
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
Posts: 535
Location: Mesa AZ

PostPosted: 1/30/2007, 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

windymesa: Sounds like you have a fun job there. Keep talking to us, I have enjoyed reading your posts.
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Davis2001R6





Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 5591
Location: Italy

PostPosted: 1/30/2007, 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Thanks for the info on the red card. Would like to here some field stories sometime, sounds like an interesting job to say the least.
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Nighthiker





Joined: 05 Jan 2003
Posts: 1714

PostPosted: 1/31/2007, 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Crews hve broght bck some of the maps, excellent updted info nd the printsouts are alot better quality than the ones available locally. I noted in the past that forest service would report positions using magnetic north and BLM folks would report positions using true north. Noted on the maps you folks make GPS Datum is listed. At work we are getting the red cards nd setting up crews for the 07 season.
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PineHiker





Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 16
Location: Pine, Arizona

PostPosted: 5/4/2007, 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Wow, this has been a great thread to read, thanks folks. I have just recently purchased the Garmin 60CSX and have had loads of fun experimenting and playing around with the tracking feature and the various free/demo software packages. Right off the bat I noticed how valuable the tracking feature can be on these units. Iíll be doing the complete Highline Trail soon and was wondering if anyone has tracked the whole trail and created a GPX file.
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Cleck





Joined: 22 Jul 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Phoenix, AZ

PostPosted: 7/22/2007, 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I understand that I am new here and this is only my second post, so I will try to not be too assuming and I hope I am not overstepping my role here by giving my input on this topic.

A bit of background about me (to add credibility..perhaps Shocked )...

I currently teach outdoor classes at a local college here in Phoenix. I teach everything from Rock Climbing and Rescue to Land Navigation and Backpacking. I served our Country as an Airborne Ranger in 1st Ranger Bn as a Sniper until 2003. This experience and the schools/training required to complete my job lend well to the classes I teach today.


In my Land Navigation classes, I constantly remind my students that I view the GPS as a tool similar to a calculator and nothing more. The students are required to learn all of their skills with a compass and a map well before GPS units are even allowed to be brought to class. The students are able to plot points on the map, navigate to these points, and triangulate their positions via landmarks. Basically, they possess basic orienteering and map reading knowledge before they learn how to integrate a GPS unit.

To me, this is equivalent to learning basic math before using a calculator. Yes, someone that only knows how to use a calculator may be able to find the same answer you do faster, but they are reliant on that tool. The information the calculator gives the user is only as accurate as the information entered. A small typo can give a giant error! And if the user does not understand basic math first, the error will go unnoticed.

I feel that it is extremely simple to use a GPS in conjunction with a map, provided the correct map datum and coordinate system are used. Throw Lat. and Long. away and set your GPS to use UTM (universal transverse mercator). When purchasing a map from a local shop or printing one from your computer, just make sure it has UTM lines on it (available as an option on USGS maps!). This coordinate system is the same system most of us used in high school algebra, a simple Cartesian system. I teach students to use a protractor for precision, but with a bit of practice, the jumble of numbers on the GPS screen translate to a point on the map. Students are able to easily identify what is on the map at locations I call out using the UTM coordinate system.

If the system I am describing is used, the GPS is used to confirm your position on a map, never to replace it. The most expensive mapping software in the world doesn't show up any clearer on your GPS screen than a nice USGS 7.5 minute map does in your hand. Once you learn how to plot these points on a map, you can draw your route right on the map and rely on terrain association and basic orienteering to guide you through the woods instead of having your face buried in an electronic crutch (GPS unit)

I am more than happy to discuss this system in much further detail in its own post if anyone would like to learn more.

Remember, I wouldn't take a math test with a calculator alone, it always helps to know how to work the problem out on paper yourself! Smile
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IGO





Joined: 08 Feb 2005
Posts: 4144
Location: Las Vegas

PostPosted: 7/22/2007, 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

I think the vast majority of hikers you will meet here would say that orienteering skills come way first before GPS and that a GPS is just another thing ya gotta have when you already have 12 tents, 19 pairs of boots, 4 kayaks, 2 4x4's, 7 sleeping bags AND a dog that carries his/her own water. Razz
I love my GPS and use it for a dozen different things, none of which are navigation.
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"Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes - all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them." John Muir
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Cleck





Joined: 22 Jul 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Phoenix, AZ

PostPosted: 7/22/2007, 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

IGO wrote:
...a GPS is just another thing ya gotta have when you already have 12 tents, 19 pairs of boots, 4 kayaks, 2 4x4's, 7 sleeping bags AND a dog that carries his/her own water. Razz


Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy


IGO wrote:
...I love my GPS and use it for a dozen different things, none of which are navigation.


Mine gets used mostly for teaching and geocaching anymore. How does the saying go?... "I use million dollar satellites to find tupperware in the desert" Very Happy
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