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North Up?

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I grew up with paper maps and was content to work with North Up and only very occasionly had the need to work out my position using direction up.


However the small screen on my gps convinced me I needed to train myself to use Direction Up as that is, to me, more practical displaying more of the route, especially if moving East/West for example. As satnav works direction up as well I wonder if many people still work North Up?


By the same token I wonder how many understand map symbols these days or whether they simply follow the arrow?

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When I'm navigating with my GPSr, I use direction up because that shows me what I'm encountering from my point of view as I move along the path. I find that makes it easier for me to see the decisions I need to make.


When I'm driving my car, I use north up because I'm using the screen as a map, not as something leading me around. In that situation, I find north up provides me with an instant frame of reference so I can understand the map in terms of my knowledge of the area. This turns out to be true even when I'm using my car's system to navigate.


My wife, on the other hand, can't stand north up. She always expects the car to show her what's in front of her on the map.


I know what you mean about direction up showing you the more important part of the map. I've never quite figured out why nav systems aren't better about adjusting where they put you on the screen when in north up mode. I sometimes run into this problem in my car, and I work around it by zooming out farther so I can see where I'm going. But I've seen systems that put you so far towards the bottom of the screen that no amount of zooming would solve the problem.

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Would I be so brave as to suggest it's a male/female thing?


I (Mr Delta68) prefer North up on the GPS whereas Mrs Delta68 prefers direction up.

I have never been a map turner



Well in my case it is the other way around. With paper walking maps I turn the map; so I also have the GPSr direction up.

My wife is the North up one in our house.


Long before GPS I was a map turner with walking maps. That was the way I was taught, and I find it easier. Now with car maps I don't tend to turn them. I see them as different experiences. When walking I'm looking at details - there is a hedge on the right, a lake on the left.. and where exactly does that path run? I find this much easier with the map direction orientated. But with a car, where it is more by route numbers and towns, I don't feel the need to turn the map.

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However the small screen on my gps convinced me I needed to train myself to use Direction Up as that is, to me, more practical displaying more of the route, especially if moving East/West for example. As satnav works direction up as well I wonder if many people still work North Up?

Factotem knows my views on this as we have discussed them at length on the trail. I'm north up, he's direction up :laughing: .


It came to a head a couple of weeks back when he forgot his GPSr - luckily I carry a loaded spare, but we swapped the orientation for him. If I ever have occasion to look at his GPS it leaves me completely confused :laughing: .


For satnav, with a 3D dislay, I use direction up, but that's a quite different thing, you're not map reading, you're just following instructions.


I don't really understand the comments of those who say they use direction up "so that it matches the ground". It matches the ground when you use north up too - the brain aligns them with no effort at all, it's merely a matter of whichever you are used to.


Rgds, Andy

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I don't follow your last comment :unsure:




If it's north up then you need to hold the GPS at weird angles for it to match the ground.



No, I don't need to change the way I hold the GPS at all.


I think what Andy was saying is that when the GPS is North Up, and I'm travelling a different direction then it's easy for me to visualise myself on the GPS map going in the right direction and to transpose the map to the ground features; so if I'm going along a track E -> W then I know with no effort that a fork to the North on the map/GPS will actually be on my right as I approach it.


This all takes a certain degree of spatial awarness ability, and that's something that some people find easier than others; and I think studies have shown (whether we like it or not) that blokes tend to be better at it than girls.


So when it comes down to it, we all do it the way that works best for us and there's no 'right' or 'wrong' way.

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i have had this discussion many times and it seems different strokes for different folks. I personally have always used north up both on paper maps. memory map and Garmin discovery mapping on my Oregon. However I couldn't do that with the sat nav, it has to be direction up so I can follow the road ahead whatever its orientation. My husband on the other hand always has direction up. One of my caching friends (female) prefers direction up on her Oregon. The screen seems to move around all the time and her batteries run down much quicker than mine.

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However that is NOT the same as having the map orientated/matched to the ground (unless of course you're heading north at the time).


Edit to rephrase:


It may not be the same for you, but it is the same for me. There is no practical difference for me between twisting the map around physically, and me orientating myself within the map virtually.

Edited by MartyBartfast
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I don't follow your last comment :unsure:


Given that I normally hold my GPS in my hand and pointing in the direction I'm walking 'direction up' aligns the map with the ground. If it's north up then you need to hold the GPS at weird angles for it to match the ground.


Maybe you're just happy to hold your GPS that way?

I hold my GPSr normally, with north up - isn't that what this discussion is all about? If I rotated the GPSr I would just be doing direction up in a different way. The map on the GPSr isn't oriented the same way as the ground, but it matches the ground. I don't have to do any conscious mental adjustment to relate the two.


Another advantage of north up is that text on raster maps is usually heavily biased towards north up.


Rgds, Andy

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Thanks everyone for your interesting replies. I have just done a quick scan and for the gps it is just about 50/50, with the sat nav I think there is a small majority for direction up. This does surprise me I would have expected almost unamimous Direction Up. If I am going on a caching trip I would normally input the coordinates and let the sat nav navigate me direction up. For a long trip I might not even turn it on until I near the destination (I don't have real time traffic updates).


In my opening post I forgot to mention that in addition to the Gps, Direction Up I also have a PDA with memory map North Up which I use as back up and to read cache pages. I also have different mapping but lets not open that can of worms.


Kind regards


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North up for me, and I'm female, so I guess I buck some of the gender suppositions.




Another female here who prefers North up for everything - maps, sat nav, GPS.


I don't like it when I get "maps" on tourist leaflets and they aren't North up. I have to keep turning them round - most annoying.

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