CTC Navigation Bootcamp 2015 - Assignment #3 - Navigating the Plains

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Now that you are familiar with basic positioning and map reading it's time to get into the field for some real navigation hands-on!

Assignment 3

Type: field assignment
Date: Friday 20 Feb
Deadline: Tuesday 24 Feb
Duration: 2-3 hours
Submit one set of answers per team
All team members to participate & understand

Trail Loading

Identify an off-road track near your city/residence and create a trail in Google Earth
You can also use the Ottiyambakkam or Nanmangalam trail from the previous assignment
Load the trail in your mapping application (OruxMaps) on your Smartphone

Getting Ready to Navigate

Travel to the physical location of the start of the off-road track you loaded
Switch on the GPS on your Smartphone
Ensure you have a clear view to the open sky
Open Oruxmaps and Enable "GPS tracking" (top-symbol on the right toolbar)
Once your phone has obtained a satellite lock a red triangle will appear which indicates your current position

Field Navigation

Enable "Track logging" (Red dot symbol, 2nd from top on right toolbar)
Now start moving along the off-road track shown on the map
The point of the red arrow indicates the direction of movement
As you walk you can adjust your direction to align the red arrow with the loaded track
As you move forward Oruxmap will show the actual trail traversed by you (traced by the build-in GPS of your Smartphone):

As you walk along the track watch out for any other landmark - e.g. a big tree, building, split in track, etc.
Near the landmark create a waypoint (Choose "Create" from the pindrop menu at the top)
Give an appropriate name to your landmark e.g. "Big tree"
The location of the landmark will be shown as a green balloon on the map
Touch the balloon to see its exact location as latitude, longitude:

Continue until you reach the end of the loaded track on the map
Now you can disable "Track Logging"
That's all ! You can return home now for some post-field GPS log analysis

Exporting the GPS log

Let's now export the GPS log from your smartphone and do some post field analysis on the laptop
In Oruxmaps go to the Route Menu (top) and choose "Manage tracks/routes"
Click on the Track which you logged in the field and choose "Share as...."

Choose "GPX" format and share it as an email to yourself
The track will include both the trail you walked as well as any waypoints created during the walk

Analyzing the GPS log

Save the GPS log from your inbox on your laptop:

Open Google Earth and import the GPS log (Go to "File" menu and choose "Open")
The trail you walked will now be displayed on the satellite map:

Zoom into the trail to closely review the trail followed
Zoom into the waypoint you created (e.g. "Big Tree") along the trail and check if you can see the landmark on the satellite map
You can also verify the latitude, longitude of the location of the landmark on the map (bottom right corner of screen) and see if it matches the coordinates shown above in Oruxmaps on your phone

Congratulations! You have now successfully created a trail on a map, loaded in your phone, navigated along the trail in the field using your phone GPS, created a waypoint near a landmark, downloaded the GPS log on your laptop and reviewed your actual walked trail and waypoint after your field trip in Google Earth. You have completed the first step towards navigation: CTC organizers do the same to create and navigate trails during treks, hill runs and off road MTB rides.

To finish this assignment take a screenshot of your actual trail / waypoint shown in Google Earth, upload in a public album online and share the image link in this answer form for review.

For more practice you can search for and create other trails around your neighborhood in Google Earth and navigate them with your phone. 

Now that you are familiar with navigation in the plains we'll be scaling a small hill nearby the city in the next assignment on Tuesday. Welcome to Topography - the basics for navigating in the hills !



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