So I finally broke down and got myself a GPS last week – a Garmin GPSmap 62s – and a copy of National Geographic Topo for the state of Colorado. I also got the Above the Timber software, but I haven’t gotten around to installing that piece yet… anyway, it seems the manuals for these things only get you so far, so I’m hoping that some of you tech-savvy folks can answer a few questions for me.
- 1) WAAS: I have this turned off because, as I understand it, it only helps if you have a clear shot of the horizon. Otherwise, it just eats up your batteries. Is this correct?
2) Even if I do have a clear shot of the horizon, I need to be moving fast enough to rely on satellites (rather than compass) for it to do any good. Is this correct?
3) To calibrate the barometric altimeter, I’ve been going to the NOAA site and finding the barometric pressure (in millibars) for the area I plan on visiting that day. I set this in my GPS at home, before traveling. Does the GPS retain that information and use it once I hit the trailhead, or does it think the barometric pressure I’m entering is for the location I’m in when I set it, and then readjust it somehow as I travel?
4) How reliable is using barometric pressure for determining altitude and elevation changes, and does it make more sense to rely on the elevations on a map, and then reset them each time I reach a “known elevation” during my hike?
5) I’m trying to preserve a “clean track” for each of my hikes. When I hike “to” a destination, I tend to wander a bit, and also I hike a lot slower because I’m usually going uphill. For this reason, I believe the GPS is relying on the 3-axis compass (which I calibrate at the trailhead) to determine my coordinates and set waypoints on the track. However, when I hike back to the trailhead I (a) don’t wander as much, and (b) move a lot faster, so the satellite tracking then kicks in. I *think* this will give me a cleaner track, but I’m not sure.
- a. Is satellite tracking more accurate than 3-axis compass?
b. What about during times of cloud cover, when I might lose satellite reception? Does it make sense to slow down and let the compass take over then?
c. In Track Manager, if I Save my “destination to trailhead” track Copy Reversed, does it create a track with the waypoints' numbers reversed, from trailhead to destination? (Please say yes!)
6) I’m also trying to create a single GPX file that includes (a) the track as freehand line, (b) track as waypoints, and (c) manually created waypoints that I’ve set along the path. I found out (the hard way!) that if I don’t associate the named waypoints to a route in my GPS, then they get overwritten by the automatically-created waypoints in my track, when I import them into Topo! So now I create a route and add the waypoints to it first. Then I import the track as freehand line, track as waypoints, and named waypoints into Topo and edit them (rename, add comments, etc.) so they make sense to me. Is there a way to then Export them in a single GPX file, so that someone else can upload them into their GPS or Topo program? When I create all this in Topo, and then I go to Export, only the waypoints show up – there’s no option for exporting the track.
- a. Do I have to manually edit (and combine) the two files in notepad? (Please say no!)
b. Or is there a 3rd party solution that can do this for me?
c. Am I just not doing it right in Topo?
If anyone can answer any ONE of these I’ll be grateful! Thanks so much.