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At 258m Westmeath .. by Moac   (Show all posts)
padodes
2007-03-25 10:12:28
Usefulness of GPS
To give a short reply to Michael McA 's query about the interest one might have in getting a GPS unit for use in the hills, my own answer would be very affirmative. GPS isn't a rival to map and compass; it's a complement and a particularly serviceable one in many circumstances, not least when visibility is bad and you don't want to engage in tiresome pacing. Above the treeline on all Irish mountains there is usually no problem with good satellite cover or geometry. The position indicated by the unit is generally more than adequate for very precise navigation. Under tree cover or when you are following a narrow track hemmed in by trees, it is sometimes possible to lose signals partially or completely, but any good opening will allow you to get a position fix again. The more recent GPS units have high-sensitive chips by SiRF which are often capable of assuring good reception even in these cases. As far as batteries are concerned, you always carry spares. Since today's units only require two AA size batteries, this is no extra weight. As far as buying a unit is concerned, it obviously depends on one's budget, but there is a lot to be said for getting a unit that will at least allow you to link up with a computer. There exists quite a deal of software today that will allow you to scan a section of map which you can then calibrate and use to plan your trip and transfer waypoints directly to the GPS. If you save the track you followed, you can afterwards upload it onto the computer and project it onto the calibrated map (or Google Earth, perhaps) to see exactly where your steps have taken you. The only experience I have myself is with Garmin units and I can certainly vouch for their general reliability. The Rolls Royce of GPS units for walking is often considered to be the Garmin GPSMap 60CSx today but the cheaper eTrex models do the job as well without as many bells and whistles. There are other excellent products from companies such as Magellan, Silva, etc.
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