GPS bearings and the wonders of technology

Downloadable Google KMZ file
(For those who know how to import such into Google Earth...)

(Note - this page should have opened as a separate frame.)

If you have a GPS unit and wish to find the cemeteries listed on Google Earth, be aware that there are some traps. In the first case, this site has the bearings shown on mouseover of the green button next to the cemetery name. This may be so even when the associated link is not active. As and when you access a cemetery page, this same bearing is usually shown on the upper right of the header. If there is no bearing, it infers that we have no data, that perhaps that cemetery info is derived from other than physical souces.

If you have your own GPS unit on the ground, be aware that it will report position in a number of formats, and the default setting may NOT match Google. Thus when you find a location in Google, and go to that point using your GPS and expecting to arrive there, you may have a surprise. This occurred for us; we blithely accepted the reading the hand held unit reported, and assumed it was in DEGREES-MINUTES-SECONDS. (eg S23 33' 8", E147 43' 33")

It was not.

In fact, the default setting for our unit was DEGREES-MINUTES-DECIMAL MINUTES (eg S23 33.223', E147 43.792'). The decimal part of the minutes was in fact a % of 60 seconds. Thus 43.792 minutes was in fact 43' 47.5 " , nearly half a minute away in terms of position!

To fix this we had to investigate the settings (Nav) and when we selected Lat-Long a second screen came up asking 'what units?' and offering, amongst others, DMS (degrees-minutes-seconds) which we chose and all was OK.

We have to admit that we had the error of our situation clearly defined by Paul Blair. Paul, we owe you one, and hope this little story allows the fishermen amongst us to consider exactly why they couldn't find their mate's fishing spot from the co-ordinates given at the pub that night...


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