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Searching For Benchmarks


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I have been searching for benchmarks in my area. I can find them well, but I think there are gaps in the information. I run zipcode searches, but I have no idea of the radius I'm getting results from. How do you get all of the benchmarks for an area of a state without there being holes where you missed a search.

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I'm just getting serious about benchmarks (convert from caching, thanks guys) and have found the radial and box search functions on the NGS website very helpful. I took an old TPC I had, gridded it up and then did the box search. Since you control the inputs, you know exactly how much area you are getting. Plus, since it is coming right of the NGS site it is (I assume) the latest data available. There are probably other/better ways, but this is working for me.

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A lot of us do variations of the same theme. I download the county archives and use a Perl script to turn them into waypoints for MapSource. Other people use BMGPX or other tools to turn the data sheets into waypoints.


Once I have waypoints for every benchmark in the county, I do all my planning by eyeballing MapSource. After I go on an expedition and find a benchmark (or look for one and don't find it) I change the color of the pin in MapSource, so that I can see at a glance where there are a cluster of benchmarks that I might want to go hunting on the next expedition.

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I use two approaches for building a list of benchmarks that I want to search for.


The first is by USGS Quad. Since I'm an old-fashioned, paper map-centric kind of relic, I often poke around the database until I find an area that looks interesting and promising (promising = lots of marks not found by other benchmark hunters). Then, I determine which USGS Quad or Quads cover the area and run a list of stations by that/those quad(s) on the NGS site. I sort the list by latitude for ease of handling, and use that as a basis for running Geocaching and NGS datasheets for my hunt. NOTE WELL NEWGUYS: Always look at the most recent version of the NGS datasheet (through the NGS site, not "view original datasheet" on the Geocaching site) before you hunt for a mark. The NGS datasheet often has lots more relevant and current info.


The second approach is this: I'll poke around the database (say, by doing radial searches centered on the center of small towns or courthouses - I get the coords from MapSource) until I find an interesting and promising area. Then, I pick one benchmark as my "central" mark for the hunt. On the datasheet for that "central" mark (say, the spire on the county courthouse), I click on view nearest benchmarks. The resulting list tells you distance and direction from that central mark as well as if each mark has already been searched for.


I prefer NOT to use counties or ZIP codes as planning areas as they can be very irregular in shape, and that often makes for difficult planning. I like round areas and quadrangular areas; I just find them easier to deal with.


Hope this is helpful.



Edited by seventhings
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We have the advantage of using a laptop for most of our benchmarking. We downloaded the NGS county archives for all nearby counties that we travel through. We run the downloads through BMGPX and then load it into GSAK. From GSAK we export the waypoints to Mapsend Topo and the SD card for the Meridian.


We can then see any benchmark in the area where we are or soon will be and can call up the datasheet in the GSAK database.



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Thanks for all the replys. I use Mapcreate Topo, and I am attempting to get a general area of coverage around my home coords. (Say 30 mile radius or more) If anyone has a link or just some info on how to search the NGS database I'd appriciate it. I went to thier website but coulden't find what I was looking for.

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