Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

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Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Alpinelover-Jess » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 2:40 pm

Hello everyone! So excited to find this forum. I “discovered” hiking two years ago and have fallen head over heels, it’s just the best way to spend my time I feel! I am still very much a novice and trying to increase my experience. I recently had a fairly hairy experience where I attempted a short cut and became disoriented in some fairly dense bush land so wondering if anyone had some advice or had suggestions of navigating courses, GPS and PLB equipment? Many thanks, Jess
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Baeng72 » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 4:02 pm

Hi, if you have a smart phone, you can install the Avenza app which allows you to store offline-maps and has GPS/tracking functionality.
In Victoria (and possibly other states), the website GetLost has free Topographic maps that work with Avenza, so you can see where you are, see lankmarks, tracks, and record where you've walked, etc.
https://www.avenzamaps.com/
https://www.getlost.com.au/
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby ChrisJHC » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 4:29 pm

Consider joining a bushwalking club.
Most of them will either have classes for beginners or lots of old-timers who will be willing to help.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Alpinelover-Jess » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 4:41 pm

Hi guys, this is terrific! Many thanks for your suggestions. Downloading the Avenza app now and I've found a local bushwalking club, terrific suggestions, many thanks!
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Biggles » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 4:56 pm

A GPS would send you on a merry go round shopping spree — the number of devices out there makes for quite a bit of intensive reading! After the device comes a seemingly endless cascade of updates, and they are not cheap (Garmin's are about $180 each for a CD with patchy compatibility across devices e.g. Version 6 maps are buggy and blighted on the GPSMap 64s).

I bought a Garmin GPS Map64s In 2017 from a boatie; removed his marine maps (on an micro SD card) and installed OSMap and Vicmap TOPO maps (some obtained off this forum) and have been very happy with in-field (performance of batteries) and post-trip (Garmin Basecamp for reviewing trip/route and plotting waypoints). I think I picked up a RescueME PLB1 beacon around the same time as the Garmin GPS (any PLB must be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority). Bushwalking clubs sometimes run training courses for using GPS devices (which should always be used in conjunction with a printed map of the wider area you are traversing). Make sure with a PLB you don't leave it around where it can be tampered with or activated. The AMSA issues huge fines for either accidental or deliberately false beacon activations (becaons should also never be tested as this reduces their battery life).

Keep your phone for emergency use when walking rather than drain the battery with a GPS app.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Baeng72 » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 5:11 pm

Biggles wrote:Keep your phone for emergency use when walking rather than drain the battery with a GPS app.

I've never found Avenza to drain the battery in any drastic manner. I run it tracking all day on the iPhone without issue.
The biggest issue with a smart phone is turning off mobile data and/or putting it in flight mode and only turning on phone functionality when you think you'll get coverage (on a peak or ridge).
The phone will ping for towers all day and flatten the battery when it can't find a tower if not in flight mode/mobile data off.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby ChrisJHC » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 7:22 pm

Biggles wrote: Make sure with a PLB you don't leave it around where it can be tampered with or activated. The AMSA issues huge fines for either accidental or deliberately false beacon activations (becaons should also never be tested as this reduces their battery life).


Sorry, but that’s just wrong.

I have never heard of AMSA levying a fine for accidental activations.
I was contacted by AMSA a couple of months ago as a novice had accidentally set off one of our beacons. I was the emergency contact.
Simply explained what had happened and they were fine.

There is also a simple process for testing your beacon and (if done correctly) it doesn’t set off the emergency responders.
I wouldn’t do it too often (as it will slightly reduce the battery life) but there is nothing wrong with an occasional test.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby QWERTYUIOP » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 7:41 pm

Hi,
A very good way to improve your navigational skills is to participate in rogaining - A sport similar to orienteering but over a longer period (usually 6+ hours). Your team (2 to 5 people) chooses which route to take and what checkpoints to collect within the set timeframe. Team with greatest points comes out one top. Just be careful of "metrogaines" - they are events held in towns so there isn't a large navigational component but are interesting nonetheless. Competitions are held in every state of Australia. The organisers' are very welcoming to people new to the sport and will be happy to give you tips/instruction etc. Below is a link to the Victorian association. https://rogainevic.org.au/
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Warin » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 7:58 pm

Biggles wrote: (becaons should also never be tested as this reduces their battery life).


The test button is there for a reason. I use it about 2 weeks before a trip. If it fails I am up for a new PLB.
The alternative is it fails when I need it, ah no ... always test. There is a very slight reduction in battery life.

I use to service EPIRBs for life boats... suit case sized with clock work inside them... they are all good things - well made. Use the test button before your trip.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby peregrinator » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 9:31 pm

Warin wrote:
Biggles wrote: (beacons should also never be tested as this reduces their battery life).



. . . There is a very slight reduction in battery life . . .


Warin, I have had a now expired PLB, then replaced it with a half-expired current one. I've tested each of them only once, when they were new. Why? Because although I have read that, as you say, testing can cause a slight reduction in battery longevity, manufacturers do not quantify that loss in any meaningful way. Can you help us understand this issue? I.e., how 'slight' is 'slight'?
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Baeng72 » Mon 16 Aug, 2021 10:07 pm

The OP didn't ask for EPIRB (I'm extremely litteral, so probably explains how I get myself in knots about things), but I also use a Garmin InReach mini.
But it absolutely sucks for tracking/navigation in my experience.
It loses contact with the iPhone on Bluetooth, no matter how many times you reset it, or update it. Which ruins tracking.
For navigation you have the EarthMate app, which is no better than Avenza apps.
I've gone to Garmin for help on fixing this several times and like visiting a doctor who isn't interested in your symptoms and has already decided you don't know what you're feeling, a desultory experience.
But it has a "get me the *&%$#! out of here" button, which is a sine qua non that my partner demands if I'm going in the bush, which I guess is like an EPIRB.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby tom_brennan » Tue 17 Aug, 2021 11:28 am

peregrinator wrote:
Warin wrote:
Biggles wrote: (beacons should also never be tested as this reduces their battery life).

. . . There is a very slight reduction in battery life . . .


Warin, I have had a now expired PLB, then replaced it with a half-expired current one. I've tested each of them only once, when they were new. Why? Because although I have read that, as you say, testing can cause a slight reduction in battery longevity, manufacturers do not quantify that loss in any meaningful way. Can you help us understand this issue? I.e., how 'slight' is 'slight'?


A PLB up to its expiry date has to be able to transmit for 24 hours.

Let's say your test lasts for about - pulling a number our of the air - 30 seconds.

Assuming the test uses the same battery as in use, that would be about a 0.03% reduction in battery life... So use the test button.

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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby FatCanyoner » Tue 17 Aug, 2021 2:26 pm

There's some good resources around from experienced bushwalkers.

Ashley Burke has a great, free, online resource (it looks a bit dated, but the information is great): http://ashleyeylenburg.com/Navigation/contents.htm

Ashley has run navigation training weekends for my bushwalking club for many years, but he now offers the same as a commercial guide. You can check those out here: https://mountainsphere.com.au/navigation-training

Caro Ryan wrote a great little book which teaches all the skills you need to navigate with map and compass. You can buy it from her website: https://lotsafreshair.com/product/how-to-navigate/

Caro also runs training weekends through the Blue Mountains Climbing School: https://climbingschool.com.au/courses/i ... avigation/

I'd also point out that the best way to learn is by doing. Good navigators don't instinctively know where they are, they just know how to use a map to read the landscape and work it out. Finding yourself disoriented and in difficult spots is actually what hones your skills. Just make sure you have the basic knowledge in advance so you can then practice it when you find yourself in challenging locations.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby FatCanyoner » Tue 17 Aug, 2021 2:33 pm

tom_brennan wrote:A PLB up to its expiry date has to be able to transmit for 24 hours.
Let's say your test lasts for about - pulling a number our of the air - 30 seconds.
Assuming the test uses the same battery as in use, that would be about a 0.03% reduction in battery life... So use the test button.


Spot on. If a PLB says it has a 7 year battery, that means it is designed to still have enough charge to transmit for at least 24 hours when 7 years old. From the units I'm familiar with, the manufacturers recommend you test them once or twice a year. That standard testing regime (check the instructions for your model) is incorporated into the lifespan.

Personally, I'd rather have done the appropriate tests confirming my unit was working than worry about conserving a miniscule amount of battery.

If your unit does run out of battery before you're rescued, the rescue services will still continue to go to the location that was reported. They're not going to go think that after 23 hours you decided to turn it off because you no longer needed assistance.
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Re: Navigating tips, courses, GPS Suggestions

Postby Alpinelover-Jess » Sun 19 Sep, 2021 7:43 pm

Hello FatCanyoner! Thank you so much for the information and suggestions and I’m sorry for my delay in responding. I’ve purchased Caro’s book on navigating, it’s terrific, I’ll keep studying that and am hoping to do a navigational course in person soon. Thank you so much again!
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