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Can one download the documented histories as well?

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I carry a file of benchmarks in my GPS and in CacheMate, and usually look for a few benchmarks around whereever I'm caching. Unfortunately, the gpx files from GC.Com don't contain the documented histories of the benchmarks. All I have to work with in the field is the benchmark PID, and a set of coords. It would be really nice if I could also download the documented histories from the NGS, so I'd know if I was looking for a radio tower or a disc or whatever.

 

Can this be done?

 

Happy trails....................

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There are several old discussions about how to cary entire datasheets with you on a handheld. They include:

What Is Your Method, Meshing County DL's with GC.com

What Is The Best Way?

Bm (only)datasheets To Ppc, What do I need?

 

The full up-to-date datasheets can be found on the NGS website at http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/datasheet.prl If you can live with datasheets that can be several months old, you can select "ARCHIVED DATASHEETS", otherwise you can click on "DATASHEETS". You can download them by PID, COUNTY, etc. (Some counties are so large that trying to download the up-to-date data can cause problems)

 

Patrick

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There are several old discussions about how to cary entire datasheets with you on a handheld.

 

Many thank to you and Black Dog Trackers for the good info. That was just what I needed!

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Question: Wouldn't you know what type of benchmark you are looking for if you've downloaded it onto your GPS?

 

No, that info doesn't go into the GPS, thus the question. The only data received in the gpx file is the PID (DJ1751, etc.), coords, and no datasheet or other info. So, you may know you're in the vicinity of benchmark DJ5695, but you wouldn;t know it's a disc, tower, water tank, or rivet. You also don't get the physical directions to the mark from the datasheet.

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SOME GPS's also can have a little more info in them about the mark. My Magellan Meridian can also show me the mark's designation (station name), in addition to the PID. Unfortunately, it is limited to te first 200 waypoints in the file. But, a PDA running Cachemate is the way to go paperless. It's a snap, and you can get whole counties at once from the NGS database, with the complete NGS data sheet (well, sometimes the really long ones get truncated by BMGPX).

Edited by Klemmer & TeddyBearMama

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So, basically what you guys are telling me is that you download a benchmark date base location with no idea of what you are looking for –is that fair?

 

No. That is not an accurate statement.

 

For benchmark hunting, one needs the most recent NGS datasheet, which contains info not appearing in GEOCACHING.COM/MARK. The physical description of the site is very important--especially since the published coordinates of a benchmark can be off by several hundred feet.

 

The datasheet can be in paper form, or it can be stored electronically. Trying to find benchmarks without the datasheet would be a very frustrating experience. Since you have twenty-eight caches under your belt, I'm sure you can identify. A GPS receiver is valuable, but the last part of the search is based on physical observations!

 

Loading info into the GPS unit from a database is a convenience, but it is not the only tool used in the search.

 

-Paul-

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I would add to what Paul said ...

 

Sometimes you can just walk up to a benchmark. It might be a prominent disk on the side of a building or set in a bridge abutment. Sometime it's been recently used by a surveyor and is festooned with colorful flagging and orange paint.

 

For that, your GPS is all you need.

 

Quite often, however, it becomes a mystery. A disk may be set in a grassy area, then overgrown by sod. You may have to use a metal detector or probe after measuring from nearby landmarks (e.g. 16.3 feet northwest of a hydrant, 7.0 feet south of power pole 350AJ, 44.9 feet east of cross chiseled in the rim of a manhole near the centerline of a driveway). That description - on the datasheet - may have been written 60 years ago, before the driveway was upgraded to a public street and the pole was moved and renumbered.

 

That's where the challenge and fun of benchmark hunting comes in - deciphering what's on the datasheet, imagining what the area looked like decades ago.

 

The datasheet may also be critical in figuring out which of several lightening rods on a building is the benchmark, or whether the church spire you see today is the one used for the benchmark or a replacement built on the same site. (A replacement doesn't count.)

 

There's a greater learning curve for benchmarks than for caches, but a lot of us feel it's worth the effort.

 

-ArtMan-

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You need the notes.

 

The coordinates for the NGS database can be off by quite a bit, up to over 1/10th of a mile if they are SCALED instead of a ADJUSTED coordinates.

 

Also if you only have a PID# and coordinates, it's real easy to find the wrong BM for the PID. Sometimes you'll have a benchmark and several AZ (azimuth) marks nearby, all with scaled coordinates. You won't know just using the PID which is which. And sometimes the AZ marks will have their own PID, sometimes they won't.

 

I like downloading the county sheets, then converting the files to a gpx format using bmgpx, then using gpx2html to view them on my browser. You'll get the entire history and all the information you need. I even got a shortcut on my firefox browser to access these files by typing "BM AA1234" where AA1234 is the PID number.

 

Also the geocaching database is only valid to 2000 or 2001. It's missing the last six years of recoveries and new BM put up since then. Lexington County SC put up over 300 new benchmarks in 2003, all of which are the NGS database but not geocaching.

 

Cheers

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Relic Hunter, you can start off quick and dirty and just print off the Geocaching.com page for each benchmark, especially if it's been found on geocaching before. I still do that, but I check the real NGS page for each mark before I go out, to see if there's been an update and if there's additional info. Everyone develops their own technique after a while.

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The only reason to check the NGS database is to see if the benchmark has been declared destroyed. Not found reports may cause some folks to bypass looking for the benchmark, but we would take a quick look at least to verify that it is probably gone.

 

We download the 'county archives' from the NGS and have them in their own database in GSAK on our laptop. When we head out to find benchmarks, the laptop goes along, so we have the info handy.

 

We only log our 'reports' on GC.com.

 

John

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The only reason to check the NGS database is to see if the benchmark has been declared destroyed.
Sorry, that's not the only reason. Because the Geocaching.com database is about five years old, it's missing a lot of recovery reports that appear on current NGS datasheets. To me, that's the real value of using the latest NGS datasheets. Geocaching provides photos and the reports of those who don't file to NGS. To me, the two sources complement each other nicely.

 

-ArtMan-

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Reply: I suppose everyone develops their own tactics after a while but is checking two data base resources necessary?

 

I don't check two databases. I only use the NGS database for my recoveries since the data is more complete and more recent than what is on GC.com. Like others I download a county at a time, then I print it off and keep it in a folder. I use GC.com as a place to post my pics, keep track of my stats and keep in touch with others. If you don't want a whole county at a time you can download by PID, radial area, or quad.

 

Also, it is somewhat possible to tell what kind of benchmark you are hunting for based on the designation, but usually not enough to truly confirm that any station you find is the station being hunted for. For example, any mark that is a letter followed by numbers, or two letters followed by numbers, e.g. K 123 or AA 154 is almost certainly a disk. Sometimes the setting agency will be appended to the name--H 258 PADH. A rivet will often have RV in the designation, e.g. RV 141 RDGRR. Triangulation stations are named,e.g. BUNKER, STEEL, AVON. Intersection stations are also named--JONESTOWN ST JOHNS CH CHRIST, LEBANON RADIO STA WLBR S MAST--and often indicate the type of structure. Bolts and chiseled squares have names that often don't help much, other than to let you know they aren't disks,e.g. 87 PRR is a bolt, but 9 PRR is a chiseled square. USGS disks from around 1900 are often named for the elevation, e.g. 401.00 USGS, or have a cryptic name--"PTS 30 1899 1905".

 

Hunting this way is fraught with (benchmarking) danger. If I am hunting for LEBANON RADIO STA WLBR S MAST and see 4 masts, am I sure there were always 4 masts here? Or could one or more new ones have been added and this is no longer the most southerly? When looking for 8 PRR, I know enough to look on a bridge or stone wall near the coordinates, but if I find a bolt AND a chiseled square (and sometimes a disk to!), which is it? There are 4 corners of a bridge to check, plus each headwall, and often the steps of wingwalls. K 123 could be a disk, and most likely is, but it could also be a steel rod. A disk set in a concrete post could be anywhere, including 2 inches under dirt and leaves. How do you find that in a 1/10 mile radius? And finally, when looking for a triangulation station, how will you find the reference and azimuth marks without descriptions? I have searched for all types of marks without having a description (for a number of reasons, mostly involving me forgetting to do something), and have had minimal success.

 

Where was I going with this?? Hmmm... oh yeah!

Pick what works for you. You don't NEED to use two resources, but using both GC.com and the NGS database has its merits. I use the NGS site as my "gold standard". I go to it for all final answers, downloads, etc. I use GC.com for quick lookups, to share with others, and to see what others are up to. Hunt with your description in hand, whether it is on paper, on a PPC or on a laptop. And if you have a web connected mobile device, bookmark www.pacyber.com/bm.cgi. That site will allow you to pull the latest NGS datasheet from anywhere you have an internet connection. I used to use it all the time when I had a Blackberry.

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The only reason to check the NGS database is to see if the benchmark has been declared destroyed.
Sorry, that's not the only reason. Because the Geocaching.com database is about five years old, it's missing a lot of recovery reports that appear on current NGS datasheets. To me, that's the real value of using the latest NGS datasheets. Geocaching provides photos and the reports of those who don't file to NGS. To me, the two sources complement each other nicely.

 

-ArtMan-

 

Considering that we have found over 30 benchmarks that other have not found (Including NGS, USGS, and others), unless the benchmark has been declared destroyed we have found no need to check for newer logs on the NGS site.

 

It may make it easier to find the benchmark if someone posts a new set of coordinates, but using the Geocaching database has been sufficient in providing directions on how to get to the individual marks.

 

If you feel that checking for the latest updates helps, then by all means do that. We find that just doing a double check on a DNF is worth the effort. If someone has logged a recent find on the NGS, then the benchmark will probably be there when we get to that spot.

 

There have been enough people who have found "Destroyed" benchmarks that we will at least do a quick check in the area to satisfy our curiosity.

 

The question was "Is it necessary?" and the answer is still no, it is not necessary, but some do find it helpful.

 

John

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I normally do NOT look at GC.com BM's before going out. It is what it is, and I prefer the challenge of not knowing what others have or haven't found. I do carry about 5 counties worth of data in my Palm PDA, about 28,000 marks (Cachemate - great!). These are the (mostly) complete NGS Datasheet descriptions. On return, logging on both the GC and NGS is a little tiresome (and I'm behind again!), but I do it. It's often interesting after a hunt to see what others on GC found or didn't ("HAH! That one was obvious - why couldn't he find it!").

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And around here, the geocaching.com database does not list the 300+ benchmarks that were placed in Lexington County SC and Saluda County SC in 2002 and 2003 but yet have their own PID. The NGS site does list them. No, I don't get credit for geocaching.com for finding these but I can still log them on Waymarking.com and submit a report to the NGS about them that will show up on Clayjar's statistics.

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I use Pocket Queries for geocaching, does anyone know if I can use them for Waymarking, too? I have the waymarks in my GPS but no info for my pocket pc. It would be so helpful to download waymark and benchmark info to Pocket Queries.

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gipsie: The info you want is HERE.

There is no way to do a Geocaching.com PQ, but we do the equivalent with some help from the NGS website and the BMGPX program you will see described in the link. It works nicely, and works especially well for paperless benchmark hunting (using a PDA for the benchmark descriptions).

Edited by Klemmer & TeddyBearMama

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