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GPS in Railfanning

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GPS in Railfanning
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 6:13 PM
Has anyone tried to use a GPS reciever to find a secluded train watching spot? I have not taken the plunge and bought one myself. If what I have heard about them is true, it seems like they would be useful. Let's say I find a site on a USGS map and program it's coordinates into the reciever. I could then follow the reciver to that site. Maybe the magazine authors could include Longitude/latitude coordinates in their articles.

Comments anyone?
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, August 18, 2001 7:29 AM
I use GPS at work, both a commercial grade unit and my own consumer grade unit. The accuracy claims to be within one meter but I think it is closer to ten meters, but that is still pretty close. If you cannot find the object you are looking for when it is only 10 meters away, it is not likely to be found at all. When navigating using a topographic map, I find using the UTM scale better than using lat-long. It is more precise and easier to locate on the map. UTM tick marks on the map are only 1 kilometer apart. Lat-long tick marks are much further apart and the divisions between do not easily divide by ten. A UTM tick mark is the one or two large number and two small number markings along the edges of the map. The easiest way to train yourself is to locate yourself on a map, set the GPS to UTMs and look at the reading and compare it to the tick marks on the map.

If you do not mind my saying, if you have a topographic map with you, you ought to be able to find a particular spot along the rail line without GPS just by comparing the map features to the land features. But that is up to you. Good luck.
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 12:53 PM
I've frequently used a GPS/Laptop combination when chasing trains in an unfamiliar area. It's another way to enhance the railfanning experience, just like using the combination of a scanner and an employee timetable.
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 21, 2001 8:53 PM
Thanks to both Randy and John for their replies.
I read about well known railroad places in the magazines and see published pictures of them. Sometimes, the authors given driving directions, sometimes they don't. I have often wanted to go to some of these places and see them first hand.
I thought that if the authors and photographers would give latitude/longitude coordinates of the places they photographed and wrote about, the rest of us would have a precise way to find the place in question too. The authors would not have waste a lot of magazine space giving driving directions. All that would be needed would be the name of the USGS quad map and the lat/long coordinates.

I don't know, maybe it would not work in practice.

Thanks,

George in Murfreesboro

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