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Australian Orienteer Summer Edition is Mapped

Geostationary Satellites

Orienteering map technology

The coming edition of the Australian Orienteer carries three articles relating to technology and orienteering maps. Continue reading Australian Orienteer Summer Edition is Mapped

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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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The Lost Art of Navigation?

Map and Compass are not dead in the great outdoors…

… according to Tarquin Cooper and British adventurers Alastair Humphreys and Tristan Gooley (also author of The Natural Navigator).

Read the article The Lost Art of Navigation to find out why map and compass should still be used in this age of GPSrs.

Lichen on all sides
Lichen on all sides

btw I rather wonder whether The Natural Navigator has the tip about finding direction by checking for lichen growing on the side of trees? This photo is of the north side of a sign in Wheatsheaf, VIC. If you didn’t notice the other sides, which were similarly lichened, then you would likely be in directional trouble.

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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.