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Everything posted by NothingBetterToDo

  1. I've known about this sign for years, go by it at least every year on fall color runs, but I finally remembered to take a picture of it. I'm sure it serves a purpose, but I have no idea what.. it seems kind of silly at first glance. Anyone know what it's for? We did briefly search the immediate area, didn't find anything but the ground growth here was pretty thick, and it drops off quite severely several feet behind the sign. Here's the photo. Thanks!
  2. Mapquest also has aerial photos of many locations, many of them much more recent than terraserver. I've found everything on terraserver in my area to be from the early 90's, but Mapquest has photos from as recently as 2001.. and they're usually in color, too. Easiest thing to do is put in the nearest city or address if you know one, and bring it up in mapquest and see if it has the "Aerial Photo" tab on the top of the map. I've also noticed that zooming in on mapquest's photos often gives you a photo from a different time period. Perhaps the low resolution photos were used for the large-area pics, and as you zoom into an area they switch to new, updated high-resolution photos.
  3. Which part of that structure is the actual mark? The datasheet says this is a stone monument imbedded in the ground, and a found report describes something like a rock in the ground with a chiseled cross on it. Is this structure of rocks simply there to protect the actual stone monument?
  4. How about updated descriptins when the how-to-get-to has changed because of recent road improvements? Many in my immediate area (several monumented as recently as 1991) have descriptions that refer to a handful of intersections that have since been turned into no-access overpasses, as well as a state highway that was moved a few blocks to a new bypass. Would updated get-to descriptions for these be beneficial, or are surveoyrs smart enough to figure it out on their own?
  5. I haven't hunted for many, but I have been acumulating datasheets in preparation for a marathon day of mark hunting this coming weekend, and here's my thoughts. Keep in mind that these are the thoughts of just me, hobbyist benchmarker, giving a biased opinion as to how to make it easier for us. Requirements of your real target audience might be different.. 1. Be descriptive, avoid abbreviating and using shorthand on everything. AH8961 is a good example of a very hard to read description, as well as some of the "don't"s listed below. 2. Since power poles are a dime a dozen, if it doesn't give a distinct description of the pole, such as a pole number or ID placard, I find these "distances from the power pole" useless, and often confusing. 3. When giving distances from larger objects (like roads), be sure to describe what PART of the object the distance was taken from, like someone mentioned earlier. Being accurate to the fraction of a foot doesn't help when you're not sure what part of a 40-foot highway the distance is from. 4. When giving distances from linear objects like roads and fences, give the distance in a direction perpendicular to that object's line. Too many times I've seen descriptions say "xxx feet northwest of the centerline of highway xx", when highway xx in the area of the mark is due east-west. I've not been able to figure out that one yet. Another idea that I've never seen before but might make it easier in some circumstances... in addition to a detailed description with exact distances from this or that, how about a general description, when the landmarks around it allow? An example: "From the intersection of highways x and y, look for the witness post on the small hill on the northwest corner." Too unprofessional sounding? I dunno, I'm not a surveyor, just a guy with... NothingBetterToDo
  6. Well, I'm not sure if this will help anyone; I did it more as an experiment for myself... I have written a little program that will take a master file of datasheets (like you get one big file when you retrieve all marks in a county from the NGS) and separate that master file into seperate files for each PID (easier for printing), and finally prints out a table of information on all PIDs with the information suggested by RogBarn earlier. Not the real "Functionality" of a standalone program, but it's the best I could do in an afternoon at work while trying to make it look like I was doing something productive. But by itself it will be useful to me, simply for being able to separate the whole big data file into individual files for printing, and the tabular format can easily be input into excel or something else for sorting purposes. This was written in Perl. I know, that doesn't do a whole lot of good to most people, but it's a start; I'm going to try to take it and do the same thing in C++... but I thought I would throw this out there in case anyone who has Perl can play with it and give me some suggestions for improvement. I'd really like to know how well it handles an entire county of marks, since my "test" database only had 5 marks in it. I tried to account for all possible types of information but I'm sure garbage will appear at some point, perhaps. Unfortunately I don't have a webpage set up to offer the script to everyone right now, but I'll try to set it up when I get home. I'll edit this post when it's complete. Otherwise e-mail me at pokerdragon <at> msn {dawt} com (pardon the anti-spam-bot-jargon) and I'll be happy to e-mail you the source. p.s.... what exactly is the definition of a "Pocket Query"? Is this something in reference to PDAs only?
  7. Would you want to include the datum in the list? I'm trying to write something up. Are all NGS records in the same datum (NAD 83) for purposes of reporting coordinates?
  8. A question for the experienced hunters... I have a couple questions about some descriptions I've found. The first one seems somewhat common, so I'm hoping someone has logged and photographed a mark with a similar description, because this description reads like a law book and I'm having a difficult time trying to envision what this mark should look like... is it underground, above ground on a post but set in concrete that is at ground level....? And any special purpose to the 4 inches of sign post bolted to the bottom: "SET ON TOP OF 8 FEET OF A COPPER-CLAD STEEL (MAGNETIC) ROD WITH 4 INCHES OF SIGN POST BOLTED TO THE BOTTOM AND SET IN 8 INCHES OF CONCRETE IN A 6 INCH DIAMETER HOLE THAT IS FLUSH WITH THE SURFACE OF THE GROUND." Second one: "AT ENGINEERS STATION 1799+55" Are these engineer's stations something that can be identified by the public, like some sort of physical object, or is this bit if info not going to help me? Thanks!
  9. Sure, the pink signposts make them easy to find... but then again, Surveyors aren't out there for the challenge of finding the mark. Perhaps you could persuade the NGS to give only vague vicinity descriptions, and an encoded message that you can "cheat" and un-encode for more accurate details when you're stumped.. but somehow, I don't think that's the purpose When you set out you don't know if it's going to be easy to find or not. Sometimes it's a relief, sometimes it's disappointing. Depends on why you're out there. But as someone mentioned, it does cut down on the "long lost benchmark" idea; you don't get that feeling of discovery. If you're looking for a challenge in finding an object, search for some geocaches in the vicinity of the benchmarks you're looking for. I know of a couple (from driving by, haven't had time to visit and log them yet) that are clearly marked, and it's a good thing, because recent development in the area has rendered the previous descriptions useless, casing them to have been next to impossible to find without the markings. Just like the speed of light, it's all in your viewpoint or frame of reference.
  10. Here's the datasheet - It's interesting to note that this is the "Guardian of Elevations", yet ironically there is no vertical data on the datasheet.. quote:SITE IDENTIFICATION Unique Number : 99L9000 Name : POINTE-AU-PERE Established By : Canadian Hydrographic Service - F & O Province : PQ Prov. Identifier : None NTS Map No : 022C09 STATION COORDINATES Method : Scaled Latitude : N48° 31' 01" Longitude : W68° 28' 10" Agency : Geodetic Survey Division - NRCan UTM : Zone = 19 N = 5373883 m E = 539180 m VERTICAL DATA None STATION MARKER INFORMATION AND LOCATION Marker Type : Survey Plaque Inspected in : 2000 Status : Good Inspection Comments : None Accessible by passenger car or light truck and a walk of less than 50 m POINT-AU-PERE "THE GUARDIAN OF ELEVATIONS" A COMMEMORATIVE MONUMENT. French Location Description : POINTE-AU-PERE "LE GARDIEN DES ALTITUDES" UN MONUMENT COMMEMORATIF. HISTORICAL COORDINATES NOTE: Coordinates listed below are no longer maintained by GSD and should be verified with your provincial agency before use. None There are a couple additional pictures located about 3/4 of the way down this page. Note the contrete column directly behind the plaque which appears to have some kind of marker on top; although the datasheet lists the plaque itself as the monument. I'm driving out east thataway this fall for a scenic vacation, maybe I'll drive up here and take some pictures Update - NGS DOES appear to have a nearby reference to this mark.. it has PID AH9256, but neither this site nor NGS's site is able to bring up the datasheet. A search on NGS based on the coordinates of the plaque put this point 3.3 miles from the plaque, with a designation of "Pointe Au Pere".. but no other info seems to be available. [This message was edited by NothingBetterToDo on April 28, 2003 at 12:21 PM.]
  11. I did some web searching, and here's what I found... Unfortunately, this point is in Canada, so it won't be in the NGS database, and consequently, can't be "logged" Father's Point is much more popularly known as "Pointe-au-Pere" since it's in the French-speaking province of Quebec. The Canadian Geodetic Survey does have a page dedicated to this point.. known as the "Guardian of Elevations". There was some sort of special ceremony commenorating that point, and there are pictures of the monument, but I don't know if it's the monument itself that contains (or is) the "Benchmark", or if there's an actual survey disk nearby. I'll do some more checking and maybe put up a page on my website with anything else I find; it appears that the Canadian Geodetic Survey requires you to create a login account. In the meantime, here's the site that contains some pictures of the monument and info on the ceremony: http://www.geod.emr.ca/index_e/info_e/guardian_e.html More to come hopefully... [This message was edited by NothingBetterToDo on April 28, 2003 at 12:09 PM.]
  12. Thanks for all the replies. I definitely see the point about taking pictures of the environment. I never realized until you all mentioned it, but in looking at other people's finds, looking at the pictures of the surroundings is just as fun as the BM itself. In studying all the different data sheets in the past, I did learn the difference between horizontal and vertical controls... but was so engulfed in going on my first hunt that I never once considered which kind I would be visiting (as I mentioned, the fact that my first mark was just a reference, and not the actual mark, completely escaped me..). Thanks for the reminder.. it might have been awhile before I remembered there was a difference. So I won't be concerned with exact coordinates, I'm going to try to seek out some older marks, and I'll focus more on surrounding environment pictures to give everyone an idea of what my little corner of the world looks like. Thanks for your advice!
  13. Some notes from a fellow first-timer... I find BM hunting to be very enjoyable, particularly for benchmarks in more rural / remote areas, as opposed to one in the middle of a well-traveled downtown sidewalk. The reason for this.. and it's going to sound really cheesey, but it's just the way I am.. is to me, I found it to be like visiting a long lost friend. Here's this little guy, whose sole purpose in life is to be a benchmark.. an important but often terribly lonely job. It just gives me warm fuzzies to visit this object that hasn't been paid any attention to.. sometimes in many years.. and just say hi, clean it up a bit, and acknowledge its existence. I haven't done it but once, but this is the kind of feeling I get when finding these out-of-the-way ones. I also look forward to finding some really old ones, just for the history aspect. I've geocached a few times, and finding them is fun, but with a few exceptions, there's not really any history to go with them, if you don't count the people visiting it in the last year. By history I'm referring to envisioning some guy, roaming out on the plains on horseback in the 20's or 30's, on an old neglected dirt road that has since become an interstate, putting in a benchmark for future generations to use, and the past surveyors who have used that mark in their work over the years. There's also something to be said for the fun of just coming across one by accident; seeing that witness post on your drive home from work that's been there forever but you never noticed it before; or coming across one in the park on your way to a cache. A couple of our first finds were exactly that... "Cool! A witness post! Pull over!" As for being FTF, there is definitely a little satisfaction in being able to be the first one to log a benchmark, as well as a small level of disappointment when the BM has clearly been recently visited by surveyors. Takes away a bit from that "lost lonely benchmark" idea. If you plan ahead, and use this site to build a list of marks to find on a given hunt, it's easy enough to see which ones have been found by fellow hunters, and which ones have not... you won't really know if it's been recently visited by surveyors until you get there.
  14. Well, almost 6 months after buying my GPSr, I finally got off my butt and we went out benchmark hunting, starting with one that I remember seeing many years ago which probably was the starting point of my interest in this area. We pulled a couple other nearby marks off of the ngs site, and stopped "impromptu" at a few clearly marked with witness posts alongside the roads we traveled. The marks we found were these: PP2972, PQ0693, PQ0694, AE4682, AE4688, PP1824 My inexperience shows in PQ0693, the mark that after 10 years, I still didn't realize was just a reference marker to the actual station which I probably walked right over on the way to the reference mark. Will have to plan another trip (Mankato is 2 hours from my current home, but I went to school there and I wanted to find that mark again, so that's where we went.) I have a few questions for the veterans amongst you all... 1) Please check out our finds. Any comments on things to improve / do differently are welcomed. 2) After reading through many posts, I've determined not to send my finds to NGS unless there is either no recovery listed within 20 years, if I'm confident of it's (former) location and could not locatie it, or if the description is incorrect or could benefit from updated references. Thoughts on this policy? Should I report them all for benefit of surveyors or am I just wasting the NGS's time? 3) I have an Etrex Venture GPS. Works well; all my finds were only off by +/- .005 minutes, and I suspect that some of this error is due to not letting the GPSr "settle", which I've gathered is necessary for better readings. But my elevations consistently showed 10-20 feet lower than expected. Is this normal? I suppose with the given accuracy of a hand-held GPS, this would logically apply to vertical accuracy as well as horizontal.. but it was odd that it was consistently lower. Should I be worried? 4) Does NGS ever lay any NEW benchmarks? I understand that the most obvious places.. mountain peaks, hilltops, etc are long ago marked.. but in areas of new development for instance, where modern marks may not exist.. if urban sprawl spreads to these areas, are they surveyed and new benchmarks placed to assist in future development? A final note that's probably of interest only to me, but maybe I'm not the only person that's fascinated by this kinda stuff. If my calculations are correct from wandering around outside the building, and from aerial survey maps, it appears the 45 00.000 N.. midway point between the north pole and the equator.. runs directly through my cubicle at work, within a few feet. Maybe I'll call the NGS and have them set a benchmark in my desk Thanks for listening, and I hope to find many more of these seemingly lonely, unnoticed, yet important little circles in the coming summer!
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