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A Drone Goes Orienteering Mapping

Drone with camera

Drones in orienteering mapping?

This is not to claim that making orienteering maps is boring, as one dictionary suggests that a drone is  “A person who does tedious or menial work; a drudge” ….. on the contrary, anyone who knows me will know that I find the work stimulating and rewarding, and certainly not menial. Indeed making orienteering maps is one of my passions in life, and another (there are more!) is the theory of flight Continue reading A Drone Goes Orienteering Mapping

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A Bit of Latitude Crept into the Datum

Geostationary Satellites

Australia and New Zealand Datums

Thanks to our active tectonic plates, the datums of both countries are becoming rather outdatumed. For example, Australia has had about 1.5m of land mass shift from its 1994 position relative to the earth’s surface.

NZ has implemented its new datum NZGD2000 and projection NZTM2000.

On 1 January 2017, Australia’s first step in a multi-year process is heralded by implementation of GDA2020.  The second stage is in 2023.

In Switzerland we are changing too from CH1903 to LV1995. So the reference system in Switzerland we are using is more than 100 years old and it takes more than 20 years from the new measurement to changing to the new reference system. — from Gian-Reto at OCAD Inc.


The latest Australian official advice re the datum changes is on the ANZLIC Committee on Surveying and Mapping website for GDA2020

Also worth reading is this presentation from RMIT.

NZ Map Grid

For New Zealand datum change see the NZ Land Information website for NZGD2000

OCAD Co-ordinate Systems

The OCAD co-ordinate system combines datum with the country map grid. e.g. GDA94 Zone 55.

OCAD Inc already has in place the new NZ co-ordinate system based on NZGD2000.

When the Australian parameters are available, they will do the same for GDA2020.

Transforming from Old to New

Very simple. Under the Map | Transform menu you select Change Co-ordinate System, then select the new co-ordinate system and it is done.

Geostationary satellite image source Wikipedia

Not entirely unrelated

GPS registers most accurate signal yet. NASA aerospace analysts recently calculated the signal-in-space accuracy of GPS to 38 centimeters. Good news for farmers and auto-drive car developers. Read more and also click the image at top of that reading for GPS info you might not be aware of.




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Auto Generated Orienteering Maps for WOC 2016

Topo socks

Really? Auto generated orienteering maps?

Well yes and no. Read all about it on the WOC Sweden 2016 website. If you haven’t seen such maps before you will be surprised if not amazed. Continue reading Auto Generated Orienteering Maps for WOC 2016

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Thumbs Up for InReach SE Satellite Communicator


InReach SE delivers every 10 minutes

InReach SE night-O route
InReach SE night-O route

Two more bush tests of the InReach SE and it worked flawlessly in ‘tracking’.

The image at right is of the waypoints during a 3 hour night orienteering event. I was able to watch from home in real time as Anitra orienteered. The InReach was set to deliver a location for every 10 minutes.

As a user of Route Gadget, I had to keep reminding myself that the straight lines between waypoints mean absolutely nothing in terms of actual route. In fact, although the term ‘track’ is used in the manual, what it delivers on the screen is really the same as a ‘route’ in GPSr terms.

Battery life

Over the course of the 3 hours (plus probably 30 minutes prior and post event), it used just 6% of battery capacity. This is considerably better than SPOT 2. The quid pro quo is that the InReach weighs 190 gms vs SPOT 2’s 120 gms and InReach is 4cm taller including aerial.

However, in our case it will normally be used when mapping, bush walking and trail riding thus the difference in weight and size is not consequential. Critically, InReach works for us whereas SPOT 2 does not.

InReach SE carry
InReach SE carry

Surprising performance

For the night orienteering event, the InReach was in a waist-belt pocket with just half the aerial poking out as in the image at left. It didn’t miss a beat. Even when SPOT 2 was working well in the first 2 years we had it, it had to be fully exposed and preferably off the body to work well.

However, continuous tracking is important only if you want to follow on the internet the route of a person using the device. If you are interested purely in the SOS aspect, then all the device has to do is deliver a single waypoint at that time. I am confident the InReach SE will, but based on our SPOT 2 experience, I cannot be confident that SPOT 3 would work in the terrain and vegetation where we normally operate.

We are now a lot more comfortable again with the other partner being out in the bush for solo mapping, bush walking and trail riding. We recommend InReach SE as a safety device at least for we older solo bush venturers who are susceptible to more serious injury in a fall and the like. And for adventurers like Grum who have an audience that is interested in their progress.

What is your experience?

There are a number of features we haven’t yet explored so will report on those eventually.

In the meantime, if you use a satellite communicator device then in the comment box below please do relate your experience. Pt email a full post if your prefer. Include the general location(s) where it has been successful and unsuccessful and the terrain (flat, hilly, mountainous if you are in NZ) and tree cover. Also why you use it.




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Certainly InReach in the Bush


A good start for the InReach

InReach SE satellite communicator
InReach SE satellite communicator

This is the second post in a series on using the InReach personal satellite communicator.

It arrived in town last Monday. I didn’t get it until Thursday as that particular courier company does not deliver to our bush suburb. So they leave it at the Post Office but don’t bother telling us.

A short walk in the local bush

Anitra took it clipped to a belt. You can see the result on this InReach map share page. This area of bush has been used for Cyclic Navigator, a rogaine and mountain biking orienteering. Back about 1986 a foot orienteering event was staged by Brumby I think.

SPOT 2 probably would have shown 1 waypoint if any. I set the InReach to take a waypoint every 5 minutes. If you click a waypoint on the map you get info such as time, speed and position.

Why didn’t it show the last waypoint or two? I think this is because in non-SOS mode it communicates with Iridium every 10 or 15 minutes. It would have been turned off before the last one or two waypoints could be sent.

So Far?

Very happy with that small test. And I’m also pleased with some of the messaging facilities − more on that later.