Oh! No! More on GPS

To: "birding-aus mailing list" <>
Subject: Oh! No! More on GPS
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000 06:22:20 -0700
Hi all,
Tony, you didn't mention the satellite phone (subscribers to the Iridium network must be feeling sick), the CB radio, the 'flying doctor' HF radio, the EPIRB, the emergency flares, the strobe light, the fluorescent paint spray cans and the 10 klms of pink plastic tape.
Also, Tony, a lightweight digital watch and a short stick can substitute for a heavy watch with hands.
Seriously though, Tony has a valid point.
Anyone doubting the ease of getting lost should try the following exercise:
On a dull, shadowless, cold miserable day (i.e., a typical Victorian day) go into an unfamiliar mallee area that is fairly well vegetated;
walk by yourself into the bush until you are out of sight of roads and tracks and away from any sound of human habitation;
spend the next 15 minutes following an interesting bird call;
stop, close your eyes and turn around a couple of times;
open your eyes (and pick yourself up);
walk back to the road.
When you finally accept that you are lost, get the compass and GPS unit out of you pack (or wheelbarrow).
Of course, you would have taken a compass reading before you left the road and noted the general direction you were about to go in.
If you took and stored a reading on the GPS unit before you left the road you can now take another reading.
Because you have moved since you took that reading you can now see on the screen the compass bearing you need to follow to return (approximately) to the place where you left the road. The screen showing this info depends on the particular unit you are using.
If you didn't take a reading and stored it on your GPS unit before leaving the road, turn it off to save the batteries and put it back in your pack.
(You could, of course, use your GPS unit to help you go to one of the other locations you have stored in its memory!)
Remember, the GPS unit is not a compass; it just calculates and displays compass-type info with reference to stored locations.
You will need to use your compass to actually see the direction in which you have to travel.
If all of this fails to get you back to safety, get out your whistle and blow like mad and hope your buddy back at the car will hear you.
(No! No! No! This did not happen to me. But I have been in the situation where I could see the possibility!)
Paul Taylor makes some valid comments.
I would add the following:
If you are using a compass in conjunction with your GPS unit it seems to makes sense to set the GPS for 'magnetic north'.
The Atlas record sheets are designed for DEG/MIN/SEC.
Magellan suggest that the GPS unit should be re-initialised if you have moved more than 300 miles since last turning the unit on. (At least for the Pioneer model.)
Don't use your GPS unit next to another GPS unit (to compare readings, for example). Interaction between units can cause incorrect readings.
Bob Forsyth's suggested links are worth following. However, be prepared for a long (but interesting) journey.
To shorten the journey slightly go first to:
Point to ponder: It has been suggested that I have a strange set of priorities!
Is it strange to consider being in the wrong Atlas square is a fate worse than death?
Now it's back to birds.
Bob Inglis
Woody Point, SEQld
27 deg 15 min 18 sec S
53 deg 5 min 38 sec E
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