A few thoughts on GPS – My GPS no more?

It is great when you read all the information supplied by the gear testers in the Outdoor magazines. There is little written a year or two years on from their words of wisdom. I am pretty rough with my kit especially technical gear like GPS. I have over the years used GPS as in the military when I was with the RAF Mountain Rescue teams a few of the technical troops showed me there great uses on the hills. The RAF teams used them a lot on the USA F15 crash in the Cairngorms in 2001 to mark wreckage etc for the investigation team. 

I look back in 2012 this was the norm for a GPS

Accuracy 3 metres – 95%

National Grid

Battery Life 50 Hours (Not yet)

Weight  150 grams

Satellite Acquisition Cold 2 mins       Warm 1 sec

Satellite Retention – HFU

Cost APPROX WITH MAPS £350 nowadays they are more accurate and so many models to chose from. 

My view on Rescues all GPS Should be downloaded after every days search as standard. This holds huge information of where has been searched accurately for Search managers!  I wonder how many Rescue Teams in 2016 use them for this ?

2001 Line probe and marking with GPS. USA F15 crash Cairngorms.

2001 Line probe and marking with GPS. USA F15 crash Cairngorms.

In the early days we used them just for grid references ideal on marking crash sites etc but as I got a bit more tech savy I was hooked and have had most options and models since they came on the market.

etrex

From the simple Garmin,Etrex, Sat map and I now have my system on my Iphone which I use as a back up for map and compass.  As I am out a lot on my own it is of great use to me. So many times they have been a great addition to my navigation tools especially in winter. I did a bit of work in the past with my pal the GPS ” navigation Guru “Lyle Brotherton who wrote a lot on Gps and its uses in his superb book on navigation and for those who are technical or just want more information it is in his book. Ultimate Navigation!

Training in the past with GPS Garmin

Training in the past with GPS Garmin

I few years ago I bought the Satmap is has done me  well and I mapping extremely good but had lots of problems with my rough handling and sent it away for various fixes which were costly. I had a few problems with the screen and a few other things like the battery compartment opening being flimsy ( that was fixed twice for free). Satmap are very good  and this was as always quick and efficient service but it is costly. Recently I sent it away again as I had another snag with a line on the screen and was quoted with a £60 fix plus others nearly £90 and as I had the device for 4 years it was not worth it. I was also quoted that I could have a £30 discount for a new device of about £350. I decided not to go with it old age and pension so I decided they could keep the device so if anyone wants a free case and battery pod contact me!

What I got back – 

“We have completed the assessment of the device you have sent in for repair. The cause of the broken screen is due to impact damage to the TFT LCD screen. The broken TFT LCD screen can be rectified With a TFT replacement. The cost for the TFT replacement is £60. We are also recommending a Front Clam Replacement (new specification with highly visible orange buttons). The cost for this is £22 plus postage and this covers brand new front casework, new buttons, seals and screws.

I have included a link here to make payment for the TFT and Front Clam Replacement.”

However, we are offering a small trade in discount for Active 10’s, against a purchase of a new Active 12 unit. The value is dependent upon an assessment to confirm that the hardware is in full working order, which in this case he Motherboard is. As the condition of the casework, buttons and seals does not affect the value we are able to offer you £30 discount on the purchase of an Active12. 

We have some options for existing Active 10 users wishing to upgrade, they are as follows:

Active 12 Unit only (no mapping/accessories)

• Satmap Active 12 GPS unit

• 1 year free access to Satmap Xpedition Premium (online mapping and planning tool).

• 10% map discount voucher (terms here http://www.satmap.co.uk/discvoucher.php)

• Documentation, including Quick Start User Guide

• Price £290, not including discount (plus £8.95 secure delivery)

 

This option will allow you to use all of your existing accessories and mapping. The only A10 accessory not compatible with the A12 will be the screen cover, due to the change in dimensions.

Active 12 SOLO (no mapping)

• Satmap Active 12 GPS unit

• 1 year free access to Satmap Xpedition Premium (online mapping and planning tool).

• 10% map discount voucher (terms here http://www.satmap.co.uk/discvoucher.php)

• Power bundle, including 2700 mAh LiPol rechargeable battery and wall/car charger

• Standard carry case and lanyard

• USB cable – for charging and data upload / download

• Documentation, including Quick Start User Guide

• Price £320, not including discount (plus £8.95 secure delivery)

Any accessories that you have sent in with Active10 will be returned with your Active12 as all accessories are compatible between the two devices (however the viewing area of the outer screen cover varies slightly between models). 

If you would like to go ahead with a purchase of an Active12 please let me know – alternatively use the payment link above to continue with the repair to the A10.  

Kind Regards

Technical Support

Satmap Systems Ltd.

Such is life !

Satmap

Satmap

Now I use my Iphone IN A PROTECTIVE CASE with OS maps with OS Mapfinder which is ideal for me and always carry a spare battery  and connecting cable on the hill for my phone a “no brainer”.

Iphone and case with mapping and spare battery and cable is my system. I find that I can enlarge the maps on the screen and its easier for my eyes to take in the detail on a enlarged screen. Any views?

Iphone and case with mapping and spare battery and cable is my system. I find that I can enlarge the maps on the screen and its easier for my eyes to take in the detail on a enlarged screen. Any views?

I love that I can enlarge the screen in difficult areas and this is great if you like me have poor eyesight. So in the end this is what I will do and always carry my map and compass with me and have an enlarged map of any tricky navigation areas on my route.  The maps are fairly reasonable priced and you can download them as you need them from OS.

Lots of great info in this book for all those who want more info out there on GPS and simple navigation tips.

Lots of great info in this book for all those who want more info out there on GPS and simple navigation tips.

As a rescue tool the GPS is exceptional it should be carried by each search party on a big search and downloaded to show where you have been. I wonder still how many Rescue teams do this? The GPS has so many uses but few use them to their capacity?

My GPS  when I when I was with the RAF teams had so many way points marked in so many areas like – 4 gully on Ben Nevis, Goat Track Cairngorm, Glencoe, Lost Valley beleach Glencoe, and the top of climbs so many others that I used in an emergency a great tool for Rescue and training!

To any firms out there – If you want any GPS tested by a normal person I am there and willing?  It will get a real trial? Feel free to contact me !

2016-april-police-notice-no-map

You still need the old skills as well as technology never forget that!
Some comments on Twitter!

@snoweider @HeavyWhalley I really rate the Garmin Foretrex 301. No mapping but does the basics really well in any conditions.

@snoweider Yep, in winter I feel the balance tips in favour of having buttons that can be used with gloves (and guaranteed waterproofing).

lucy Arran I’m a happy smartphone navigator (with the usual disclaimers) , and often run tracks (carry spare batt) but prefer a seperate GPS in winter.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A few thoughts on GPS – My GPS no more?

  1. Davie says:

    Heavy, not sure if you are aware but the latest options for a robust IPhone case come with an additional battery fitted. This enables you to fully charge your phone on the hill and provides an additional 20% for emergencies. Highly recommended by some of the “Hunters” out here.

    PS Coron’s navigation skills are improving, thankfully as my eyesight is failing. We’ve had some interesting events going off course and some magic spot on navigation in near whiteout conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

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