Things have changed in the hand held
GPS world since phone manufacturers have changed from
using mobile towers as base stations to using the full
“GNSS,” (short for GPS + GloNASS the Russian satellites)
this gives an accuracy of 3-5 m (or better?).
I had no idea about this and when my
Garmin etrax Vista (which is a middle aged version of
the Etrax Frank was talking about) list its
functionality I replaced it with a more expensive Garmin
Montana. Neither give more accuracy than 3-5 m although
the Montana does offer a point collection feature that
allows you to collect say 50 location measurements and
average them thus reducing some random errors.
I mostly used the GPS’s for
documenting my walks and for navigation while overseas.
There was a small amount of archaeological use.
Then my lovely indestructible Sonim
phone wore out and I decided to replace it with a “smart
phone” and was surprised at what was available in terms
of data collection using the GNSS power of my Samsung
Galaxy Note 2. Apart from simple tracking, I can use
Google Earth/Maps so I know where I am – with additional
maps possible through various add on “apps” as well as
other apps for data collection and interaction with
survey level GPS’s, georefereferenced photos and
smoothish importing into other programs. This is so much
more than the simple GPS tracker idea.
The level of GPS accuracy is the same
between the Montana and the Note and seems in line with
that reported by ESRI for the Iphone4. Why the Montana
is in a draw in my office is the software for the
Samsung is so much better to use than the Garmin
software (I could never get Basecamp to work properly)
and there is much more choice from other vendor.
My prediction is that if Garmin don’t
lift their game they will be out of the handheld
business very soon. They are releasing an Android GPS
called the Monterra which is US$600 but apart from its
more rugged design is less functional than my Note.
I am taking about top of the range
for non-survey GPS here – the GPS Frank mentioned is
Garmin’s entry level model – there are details on Johnny
Appleseed from who I have bought my two Garmin GPS’s.
You do need to check what sort of map you might need.
Many GPS’s come pre-loaded with US maps which of course
only have a vague understanding of Australia. It can
cost almost as much as the GPS to buy the maps!!
When you upgrade your phone Frank you
may indeed get a GPS inside it and what’s more a camera
which can take georeferenced photos.
There is much more I think is worth
opening up for discussion such as mapping use of Google
Earth and GIS applications and I was wondering whether
some sort of occasional discussion in the Light Railways
Research Section might be warranted.
P.O. Box 2397