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Thread: GPS recommendation, please

  1. #1
    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    GPS recommendation, please

    My needs are a bit different than those of most of our bushwackers. I have two reasons for getting a GPS:

    I would like to be able to give GPS coordinates to F&G or FS should I find anything I'd like to report. For instance, I found a dead adult bull moose on Big Bickford Mtn., but I could only give a very rough idea of the location because I honestly don't care much where I am when I'm out exploring. I'm never interested in finding a summit. I just explore habitat and use the sun as I go along. So, if I happen upon something I'd like to report it would be great to have coodinates.

    Also, is it true that the GPS can be used as a homing device? If so, then that would be a bonus in case I get injured and fail to show up at home and my cell phone gets no signal.

    It certainly does not have to be a fancy unit. It just has to provide coordinates of a given spot.

    Thanks for any help

  2. #2
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forestgnome View Post
    My needs are a bit different than those of most of our bushwackers. I have two reasons for getting a GPS:

    I would like to be able to give GPS coordinates to F&G or FS should I find anything I'd like to report. For instance, I found a dead adult bull moose on Big Bickford Mtn., but I could only give a very rough idea of the location because I honestly don't care much where I am when I'm out exploring. I'm never interested in finding a summit. I just explore habitat and use the sun as I go along. So, if I happen upon something I'd like to report it would be great to have coodinates.

    Also, is it true that the GPS can be used as a homing device? If so, then that would be a bonus in case I get injured and fail to show up at home and my cell phone gets no signal.

    It certainly does not have to be a fancy unit. It just has to provide coordinates of a given spot.

    Thanks for any help
    If you only need coordinates for a specific location, then nearly any GPS should do. The stock answer for what to buy has been either the Garmin 60CSx or their Vista HCx, but ... those are way more GPS than you've spec-ed out. Probably the entry-level Garmin, which I think is a Geko, would work.

    As for homing device - short of a personal locator beacon device, about the only thing on the market I'm aware of is the Spot.

  3. #3
    Senior Member audrey's Avatar
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    Forestgnome, I'm curious...why report a dead moose? Is it because they'd want to see what he died of though apparently healthy?

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forestgnome View Post
    My needs are a bit different than those of most of our bushwackers. I have two reasons for getting a GPS:

    I would like to be able to give GPS coordinates to F&G or FS should I find anything I'd like to report. For instance, I found a dead adult bull moose on Big Bickford Mtn., but I could only give a very rough idea of the location because I honestly don't care much where I am when I'm out exploring. I'm never interested in finding a summit. I just explore habitat and use the sun as I go along. So, if I happen upon something I'd like to report it would be great to have coodinates.
    Any basic (hiking) GPS will do this. See http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=26163. The extra features of a mapping unit (eg Garmin 60CSx) are primarily useful for navigation.

    Also, is it true that the GPS can be used as a homing device? If so, then that would be a bonus in case I get injured and fail to show up at home and my cell phone gets no signal.
    No a GPS is not a homing device. If you want a homing device, look at a PLB or Spot. The PLB is probably a more reliable way of calling for help which rescuers can home on. Many of your "moosey" areas are poor radio locations (low, vegetated).

    Strictly speaking, it is possible to home in on any radio transmitter, so if you carry an FRS or Ham radio (and the rescuers know that you have one and what frequency you will be on) they may be able to home in on it. Unless you are able to contact someone on the radio (or on a cell phone), the rescue will have to be initiated by some other method.

    IMO, the PLB is your best choice.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 11-25-2008 at 07:52 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bcborder's Avatar
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    High-sensitivity receivers

    Quote Originally Posted by forestgnome View Post
    It certainly does not have to be a fancy unit. It just has to provide coordinates of a given spot.
    My first GPS unit, a Garmin etrex Vista, could not always lock on the satellites in narrow valleys or under dense tree cover. And, even under clear sky, I sometimes had to wait up to five minutes for the unit to fix its location on power up.

    I upgraded to a GPSmap 60CSx last year and I can walk around with it in the bottom of my pack and and I've yet to lose the satellites, no matter the terrain. And if the batteries are running low it beeps.

    I'd definitely be looking at a "high sensitivity" GPS, even if you only want coordinates.
    Last edited by bcborder; 11-25-2008 at 07:52 PM. Reason: grammar

  6. #6
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcborder View Post
    I'd definitely be looking at a "high sensitivity" GPS, even if you only want coordinates.
    I wouldn't consider anything else.

    See http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=26163

    Doug

  7. #7
    Senior Member BobC's Avatar
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    Not sure a basic GPS is going to make you happy. Similar to what bcborder said above, I bought a Garmin Etrex Legend and found that it rarely worked under any kind of serious tree cover. I've heard that any of the Garmin models that end in 'x' have a stronger antenna, but of course, they're the more expensive models.

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    Senior Member NeoAkela's Avatar
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    I don't know about the more basic models, so I'm afraid that this won't help answer your original question. But, you never know if you might wish to do more with your GPS someday, such as mapping, charts, and other fun diversions, so it might be better to shell out a little more for something above the basic model.

    I've had my Garmin 60csx for a few years now and it has never let me down... never lost a signal, even in Mahoosuc Notch, or the Subway in King Ravine. I keep it in my belt pocket with no external antenna, and with full exposure to the cold on winter days. Two AA batteries and it is good to go for a full day or two. I've read some reviews on other models losing signal on occasion and battery life quickly, which was why I finally settled on this one.

    Of course, with a Garmin GPS you have to figure in another $100 for the proprietary topo software.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobC View Post
    Not sure a basic GPS is going to make you happy. Similar to what bcborder said above, I bought a Garmin Etrex Legend and found that it rarely worked under any kind of serious tree cover. I've heard that any of the Garmin models that end in 'x' have a stronger antenna, but of course, they're the more expensive models.
    In Garmin GPS model names:
    * x = removable memory card
    * H = high sensitivity
    * S = sensors (magnetic compass and barometric altimeter)
    * C = color display
    But this does not apply to all models.

    * 60CSx/60Cx, 76CSx/76Cx: high sensitivity, removable memory card
    * all eTrex H models (both mapping and non-mapping): high sensitivity
    * all Colorado, Oregon are high sensitivity (IMO, the 60CSx is better and cheaper)

    And no the difference is not a "stronger antenna". Both patch and quad helix antennas have similar performance. (The advantage of one over the other is a common myth.)

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 11-25-2008 at 10:35 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeoAkela View Post
    I don't know about the more basic models, so I'm afraid that this won't help answer your original question. But, you never know if you might wish to do more with your GPS someday, such as mapping, charts, and other fun diversions, so it might be better to shell out a little more for something above the basic model.

    I've had my Garmin 60csx for a few years now and it has never let me down...
    Agreed. I use both topo and road maps in mine.

    IMO, the mapping is worth the extra cost. Also, IMO, the 60CSx is the best hiking GPS available. (The 76CSx is electrically identical--some people prefer one, some the other. The best way to choose is to go to a store and try both in your hand.)

    Doug

  11. #11
    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audrey View Post
    Forestgnome, I'm curious...why report a dead moose? Is it because they'd want to see what he died of though apparently healthy?
    Audrey, F&G likes to hear about this stuff because they like to see cause of death. I assume they monitor wasting disease and other diseases and ticks, etc., and they'd also like to know if one was shot and not removed. The one I found had died very recently. Nearby, I had a wonderful close encounter with a huge, golden coyote who, I believe, had been feasting on it.

    Thanks for the feedback and the Garmin 60csx is most likely the choice.

    happy off-trailin'

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    Senior Member Paradox's Avatar
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    Can an ordinary cell phone that is turned on, be homed in on? I have heard some claim that it can be. On Law & Order they are always finding perps by where a specific call bounces off a cell tower.
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  13. #13
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paradox View Post
    Can an ordinary cell phone that is turned on, be homed in on? I have heard some claim that it can be. On Law & Order they are always finding perps by where a specific call bounces off a cell tower.
    To answer your question, I did a search (hmmm, where have I read that before? ) and found this interesting link.

    Actually, I wanted to know the answer myself (and without having Doug Paul tell me!)

    Edit: An excerpt from that article - "So, in general, you can not track someone using their cell phone, unless the person you want to track has the right kind of cell phone, connected to the right network, with the right service." If you go to the article, there are links in some of the key words above.
    Last edited by Kevin Rooney; 11-26-2008 at 11:59 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paradox
    Can an ordinary cell phone that is turned on, be homed in on? I have heard some claim that it can be. On Law & Order they are always finding perps by where a specific call bounces off a cell tower.
    Such TV shows often exaggerate technical capabilities--I consider them to be semi-science fiction. Hardly a useful source of info.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    To answer your question, I did a search (hmmm, where have I read that before? ) and found this interesting link.

    Actually, I wanted to know the answer myself (and without having Doug Paul tell me!)
    However, in this case, Doug Paul isn't sure that he agrees with the site...

    Edit: An excerpt from that article - "So, in general, you can not track someone using their cell phone, unless the person you want to track has the right kind of cell phone, connected to the right network, with the right service." If you go to the article, there are links in some of the key words above.
    (This article appears to focus on commercial cellphone tracking services. Paradox's question was about the capability.)


    You may recall that cellphone fixes were obtained on the missing climbers on Mt Hood (the fix was at the snow cave near the summit) and the family that got lost in the backroads of Oregon (mother and children survived, father died). I believe these fixes were obtained by trilateralization.

    The FCC has mandated in 1996 that the cellphone system had to be able to locate a cellphone within 125m by 2001. One solution is GPS within the cellphone, but a number of other techniques have been explored.

    The simplest method for cell phone location is the location of the tower used by the cellphone. This isn't very accurate--the error can be miles. (The cellphone system must do this to allow incoming calls.)

    Another method is triangulation: each tower receiving the signal measures the angle-of-arrival. One tower gives a line-of-location, two towers give a point. (This is how we use our compasses to determine our location.) The accuracy depends on the distance from the towers and the accuracy of the angle measurements--I doubt that this method is very accurate.

    A third method is trilateralization. The cellphone network employs very precise timing. Thus it is possible to determine the received signal time difference between two towers. With two towers, it is possible to locate the transmitter to a line, with three, it is possible to locate the transmitter to a (2-dimentional) point. I believe this can be accurate to 100m or so. (This same technique is used by GPS and Loran.)

    A fourth technique is location fingerprinting ("radio camera"). Many locations give a unique pattern or "fingerprint" of reflections from nearby objects. The patterns are memorized by sending a known-location transmitter around to various locations and recording their reflection patterns. An incoming signal can be compared to these patterns and thus located. This is reported to be accurate to ~40m.

    More info at:
    http://vecinillo.blogspot.com/2008/0...icion-del.html
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m..._53137306/pg_1
    http://www.allbusiness.com/informati.../721031-1.html
    http://spaceodyssey.dmns.org/NR/rdon...cartmanual.doc
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_tracking
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM_localization


    The cellphone system has to continuously track all operational cellphones to the level of the nearest tower (otherwise you couldn't take incoming calls). The phones must periodically communicate with the nearest tower to do this. (An out-of-range phone must also transmit every now and then to see if there is a tower within range.)

    AFAIK, the cellphone companies do not continuously track everyone to higher accuracy than the nearest tower, but it is clear from the two cases in Oregon that they can check their records and locate cellphones in specific instances. (The capability for continuous tracking may or may not exist--technically it is possible.) And the law requires them to locate the phone to ~125m accuracy for 911 calls.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 11-26-2008 at 02:10 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forestgnome View Post

    Also, is it true that the GPS can be used as a homing device? If so, then that would be a bonus in case I get injured and fail to show up at home and my cell phone gets no signal.
    I think you might be thinking of the Garmin Rino's that are 2 way radios with GPS's. One unit can "find" the other if they are both on (and the batteries haven't died). Maybe someone could explain further.

    Hey: Here's one for DougPaul: How does GPS satellite technology prove/demonstrate Einstein's Theory of Relativity ?
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