Best system for mapping?

Menard_LaPue

New member
I appreciate the ideas - out in the field now, so will be a little slow to digest them and get back to reporting on what works. Its pretty amazing how many dirt roads end on the topo maps, yet I just keep on driving... This is why satellite images are so much better for finding access. My gut feeling says I will end up with a windows machine for the work, but the tablet is fast, plus the battery lasts so long. Not sure about loading a serious amount of sat. images though.
 

scott7022

Nobody
<<Looking forward to answers as well!!>>

Scott7022, I see you are in Russia. I spent 10 years there, 6 full time in central Siberia working in the field. GPS was illegal when I lived there and they were putting people in jail. Because of the "State Secrets" act were weren't able to know true north or the exact location of our wells, which made fun when trying to tie down-hole directional surveys between westerners and Russians. Everyone knew which star was the north one though, so there was a work-around. Driving to the field in winter was 500 km of winter road. I was often insecure with no navigation system, since every turnoff looked the same. Does all this sound familiar?
With iPhone and other smart phone explosion this is kind of a non issue anymore. But I find Russians very capable navigators using lost techniques as you described but horrible at directions. "I'll meet you at Red Square."
"Where at Red Square?"
"One the side of the road"
"Which road?"
"Lenninaskya"
"Which end?"
"Nearest Metro"
"Which Metro....?"

LOL! I am teasing a bit but seems more difficult. This fact hasn't changed with my ability to speak the language. We had Garmin units but then we were supported by a big company. This is Russia and so things are negotiable. I am sure you know how it goes. I see GPS units in cars and not just cell phones so I think it has been relaxed significantly. This said I would be careful bringing something sophisticated into the country. I remember reading something in Russian that mentioned GPS units on a customs form.
 

k9lestat

Expedition Leader
"I'll meet you at Red Square."
"Where at Red Square?"
"One the side of the road"
"Which road?"
"Lenninaskya"
"Which end?"
"Nearest Metro"
"Which Metro....?"

sounds trying to field interview a suspicious person at 2am.
"where do live?"
"down the street."
"where is down the street?"
"up the road."
"what neighborhood?"
"the hill"(12 miles away)
"where do you stay on the hill?"
"by the spot"
" ok mr. science professor, if i wanted to mail you a letter, what would i put on the envelope?"
"oh, my grandmas house."

lol.
 

scott7022

Nobody
sounds trying to field interview a suspicious person at 2am.
"where do live?"
"down the street."
"where is down the street?"
"up the road."
"what neighborhood?"
"the hill"(12 miles away)
"where do you stay on the hill?"
"by the spot"
" ok mr. science professor, if i wanted to mail you a letter, what would i put on the envelope?"
"oh, my grandmas house."

lol.
The Russian language is very specific, accurate, and direct. For an example
English
"What is the name of your cat?"
"The cats name is Misha."
"Is Misha a boy or a girl or neuter?"

Russian would have answered those questions in a single sentence. They have masculine, feminine, neuter endings to verbs and nouns and don't get me started on plurals!!! We, for the most part add an S. Here very different and gender effects the pluralization of the verb and the adverb, if used, plus the noun, nouns, or pronouns! Grammar has strict rules, no exceptions like english, so I guess once you got it you're good. I ain't gots it yet!

So it may be a case of lost in translation. But, my day to day experiences would suggest otherwise. If you watch the Oliver Stone Putin interviews it gives you a pretty good example of some of the complexities. They subtitled it so you could hear the tone of the words used. A big deal here. kind of like Joey from friends:
"How you doing?"
How yooouu doing?"
 

sonof40

New member
when you say "making maps" - what exactly do you want to do while in the field? are you just recording waypoints and tracks with notes or ...?

i use an Android tablet with built-in GPS and the AlpineQuest app. the USGS topo maps provided by the Caltopo map source will give you terrain, mines, wells, old cabins, etc. and you can get cacheable satellite data from the Bing or HERE map sources. of course you can get street maps as well from several sources, but it does not do turn-by-turn navigation. it also has a "land management" layer provided by Caltopo that you can overlay at any opacity and see who is responsible for that area (BLM, NFS, state, etc.). you can use any map source as an overlay and combine several layers even, such as MVUM trails, terrain shading, etc.

you do have to pre-cache any map source you want to use in the field, but it's much easier than with Google Earth. while you have internet, you simply pick your map source, draw a rectangle over the area you want to cache, specify what zoom range to download, and let it rip! the app is fairly generous as to how many map tiles you can download at once (compared to similar apps), and if your area exceeds that amount you can simply run it again and it will pick up where it left off (only downloading the missing tiles).

for map making, you can create waypoints with any icon, name, and description you like and even take a photo with the device and attach it to that waypoint. tracks and routes can be created by drawing directly on the screen, or you can record a track real-time form the GPS input. it can import and export GPX and KML/KMZ, as well as some other formats i think. it's not GIS program though, waypoints and routes/tracks are the extent of the notations you can make. there's no polygon or area type tools, etc.

all of the tablet/phone apps offer similar feature sets (Backcountry Navigator, Orux, Gaia, Locus), but i've found that AlpineQuest has the right mix of intuitive interface and advanced features for myself to prefer it over the others.

also, worth noting, if you're tech-savvy, you can use the open source Java software MOBAC to pre-make map files of very large areas on your desktop computer and avoid having to do the pre-cache routine within the AlpineQuest app. MOBAC can make files for several of the popular Android apps actually.

i'd recommend a 10" tablet since you want to interact with the maps a lot. i use an 8" currently - it fits in the Jeep well and is plenty for basic use. you also want to make sure you get one with a microSD slot and that is modern enough to support at least a 128GB card (which are reasonably priced currently, 256GB are the largest available at this time but pricey).

a challenge with Android tablets can be finding one that has a true GPS chip built in (one that doesn't require network/wifi assistance). nearly any tablet that has cellular data capabilities will have this feature (which can be used even outside of cellular range. it's just that the cellular radio chipsets almost always include the GPS features). however, for WiFi only tablets, avoid the "lite" version of any Samsung tablets as those definitely do not include a fully functional GPS. personally i would only buy from somewhere you can test it and return it if you go with a WiFi only one (FYI, Best Buy will price match Amazon). you want to ensure that an offline map app can achieve a GPS lock even with WiFi and cellular data turned off. the free app GPS Status & Toolbox can be used to test this (put it in airplane mode then turn on only the location/gps feature then open the app and see if you can get a sattelite lock in decent time).

i've successfully used several different tablets mounted in vehicles over the past few years (Motorola, Sony, LG). they've all had Verizon service though - i'm willing to pay the additional $10/month on my plan to have data around town for things like streaming radio, real-time traffic in Google maps, etc. all of them have worked well in terms of getting a quick GPS lock with simply being mounted on the dash. heavy forest cover or deep canyons will of course make you lose signal intermittently with nearly any device. note that if you get a tablet with Bluetooth, you could use a separate external GPS device which might offer a better antenna/chipset - i've never had the need for this extra complexity.
Great read. Can you give any insight into getting MVUM maps? I don't see them in the "Ad Maps"
 
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