# For those that cannot understand my love for UTM

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For all of those who I've told I LOVE UTM but never understood, I've put together a web page that breaks down the basics of UTM navigation, as well as provides some advanced material, as well. My site is:

See you!

This is a great site the UTM stuff is cool and you have some REALLY good prices on GPS units. As soon as I have some money, I'll call you.

Steve

Very nice Web site!

When I first discovered and understood UTM, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The bigest draw back I found was 1) you needed to have UTM grids on your maps. 2) Different maps can have different scaling. Using one of the clear plastic UTM things doesn't work on all maps.

Now with deg,min I can locate myself very easily at any time with a simple straight edge, an orientering compass, and my GPS. You can always find a spot with deg,min, the corners work well.

Set a corner as a waypoint. Set go to and get bearing. Draw a line from that point at 180° from the bearing. Pick another point and do the same. Where the lines cross is where you are. Note: If you're on a trail or by a stream. Where the first line crosses the trail or stream is where you are.

I haven't given it enough thought to come up with a way to set in the coords for a point on a map using a simular technique. At this time UTM beats me out here. Guess I'll have to work on this one.

UTM goes down to the Meter, so you would be able to find the distance between points right off a UTM map(USGS maps), in meters. Find the northing and the easting of the two waypoints, then find the hypotenuse, which is the distance in meters.

Problem of the UTM, is if you were in one UTM grid, but your waypoint is in another grid, that would make it hard to figure on a map without a UTM ruler.

http://mac.usgs.gov/mac/isb/pubs/factsheets/fs07701.html

Finding and Ordering USGS Topographic Maps

[This message was edited by Geoffrey on April 06, 2002 at 03:00 AM.]

It is very much like MGRS. Thats Military Grid Reference System. Accuracy to 10m on a 1:50,000 map is expected from every soldier. I have probably spent more years doing MGRS than some of you have been living. In the Gulf War, GPS was just coming of age. The smaller units (us) didn't get GPS equipment. We had a LORAN unit, but it was only good near the coast. My unit was stationed at the airbase outside Khobar Towers. LORAN was OK. In late January 1991, I was selected to lead a 6 man spcl ops team north. They gave me the LORAN unit. Once we got NW of Riyadh, it was worthless. We ended up in the desert 50km east of Rafah. In the ground assault, we pushed in with 18th Abn Corps, 24th ID (mech). We went north up MSR Texas, then swung East through As Salman, Iraq, and finally halted 100 hours later near a HAWK missile Battery. This was all done with MGRS maps and a good compass. Later on, GPS became more available. I imagine every squad has at least one now. But unlike the pyramid games, you do not find a battery machine in the desert. So I still teach cadets map-compass-protractor.

One good thing about MGRS. Maps are all to the same scale. I prefer 1:50,000, but I can use others. By the time I retired from the army, I had collected quite a few maps, and I use them quite often. It wasn't till just weeks ago that I got my first USGS topo-map.

Sorry for the rant... just an old soldier remembering...

Mike. KD9KC. U.S. Army Retired.

It is very much like MGRS. Thats Military Grid Reference System. Accuracy to 10m on a 1:50,000 map is expected from every soldier. I have probably spent more years doing MGRS than some of you have been living. In the Gulf War, GPS was just coming of age. The smaller units (us) didn't get GPS equipment. We had a LORAN unit, but it was only good near the coast. My unit was stationed at the airbase outside Khobar Towers. LORAN was OK. In late January 1991, I was selected to lead a 6 man spcl ops team north. They gave me the LORAN unit. Once we got NW of Riyadh, it was worthless. We ended up in the desert 50km east of Rafah. In the ground assault, we pushed in with 18th Abn Corps, 24th ID (mech). We went north up MSR Texas, then swung East through As Salman, Iraq, and finally halted 100 hours later near a HAWK missile Battery. This was all done with MGRS maps and a good compass. Later on, GPS became more available. I imagine every squad has at least one now. But unlike the pyramid games, you do not find a battery machine in the desert. So I still teach cadets map-compass-protractor.

One good thing about MGRS. Maps are all to the same scale. I prefer 1:50,000, but I can use others. By the time I retired from the army, I had collected quite a few maps, and I use them quite often. It wasn't till just weeks ago that I got my first USGS topo-map.

Sorry for the rant... just an old soldier remembering...

Mike. KD9KC. U.S. Army Retired.

It's okay, Mike. The rant is good. Sound like you had a great time. I love talking about the good old days, too, and I was only in the Corps for seven years. UTM USGS topo maps are starting to get very popular - and with good reason.

I agree with Byron about the triangulation thing, but I can't say I like the thing about the first line crossing the stream is where you are. THere have been lots of instances where I didn't put the extra effort into my triangulation and wound up in a bad situation because of something like that... for instance, if you are near a branch of stream that stream that the map might not show for some reason, you might think you are someplace else along that line until you triangulate.

Other than that, it is indeed a sound argument and a good case for LAt/Lon, however, the case is a bit weaker if you get one of the newer maps that have the UTM grids on them. Many companies are nod doing maps in UTM because of the easy and accuracy. LIke Mike said, you can easily get 10 meters out of a UTM map - if you give me any two points on the map, no matter how far, I can give you a distance down to 10 meters in a few seconds without pluging it in to my GPS. I can give it to you within 20-30 meters in a few minutes without a calculator. You can't do that with Lat/Lon.

If you want, I have a clear plastic locator that has the three different sizes you will find on UTM maps - 25k, 50k and 100k. I'd be happy to send one to you if you would like.

Mark

I agree with Mark on the stream thing. The assumption has to be correct as to which trail, stream, power line, etc. you are close to.

There is a series of maps that are used in the Washington, nothern Oregon area that use a nonstandard scale making UTM unusable.

That all said. I believe that anybody traveling in a wilderness type area should know how to effectively use an old fashioned map and compass. If they wish, as I have, add the convience of a GPSr then it would be wise to learn both UTM and degrees methods of navigation. As with most things of this type there are times and cases where one will work better than another.

Byron

I couldn't agree with you more about the Map and compass. Technology is great, but it's never there when you need it most. And, you CAN use UTm with a map and compass...

Sorry to hear about the funky scales in your area... UTM is based on many different projections, so I don't see why your area would be abnormal. BUt I assume that you checked and you seem very knowledgable, so I'm not going to dispute it. I'm just sorry it is so.

I couldn't agree with you more about the Map and compass. Technology is great, but it's never there when you need it most. And, you CAN use UTm with a map and compass...

Sorry to hear about the funky scales in your area... UTM is based on many different projections, so I don't see why your area would be abnormal. BUt I assume that you checked and you seem very knowledgable, so I'm not going to dispute it. I'm just sorry it is so.

I agree heartily with those who prefer UTM.

For geocaching, I use the same combination of map/compass/GPS techniques I’ve long used for backpacking and other back-country travel and navigation.

Instead of the standard large-sheet 7½ - minute topographic quadrangles, though, I use MapTech Terrain Navigator to produce what I call “MiniTopos,” which are the same quadrangles reduced in size to 8½” x 11" at a military scale of 1-50,000 instead of the standard 1-24,000. I print these out on either water-resistant paper or water-proof synthetic sheets and grid them for UTM. Thus no romer scale or other device is necessary to plot a GPS coordinate on the map; you can make your plot with your fingertip or even just a glance. Scaled down, the maps are much smaller and easier to deal with then the original, large-sheet topos - though they have identical detail - and they’re much more durable in bad weather. An added plus is that the good, sharp lines provided by the UTM grid make for excellent compass triangulation plotting.

In a compass I favor a British Francis Barker prismatic, Brunton Eclipse, or Brunton/Silva Model 54. All three offer outstanding accuracy and precision not only in plotting map triangulations, but in plotting courses of travel (‘lines of march,’ as the Brits say), as well. In addition, due to its tritium lamps, the Francis Barker is 100% functional under even the darkest conditions.

Far and away, regardless of conditions, I’ve had the best results in obtaining a bearing to the cache - or whatever the navigational target is - with the GPS, then following that bearing to the ‘target’ with a good compass, with map consultation part of the process from beginning to end.

With a good compass and attention to detail, it’s not difficult to get good old-fashioned compass triangulation accuracy in map plotting down to one tenth of one percent of the map scale

This is my first time in a geocaching forum, and look forward to exchanging ideas.

Francis Barker compass? Hey... that is also known as the M73 or M88 Liquid Prismatic Compass made by Physer - that's a KILLER compass. I had a 73 one when I was in the Marines - got it by reccomendation when I went to the UK to do some training with the Royal Marines. I've never looked for another one stateside... can you get them over here?

I would like to get some more info about what you do with ordinary maps to converty them to UTM - I'll be in touch!

You're dead right - Pyser-SGI manufactures the prismatic I called the "Francis Barker" (that's how one outfit in the UK markets them). The M73 is a bit heavier; the M88 is the same compass, but mostly aluminum for the sake of weight. They can be very hard to get here stateside (it would take a Recon unit to get mine away from me!), but I'm setting up a venture combined with the map system I described, plus other equipment, and will be making them available. Their accuracy is unbelievable and they're 100% functional, even in pitch darkness. They're the modern version of the the Mark III prismatic the Brits used during WWII - the only thing that's really different is the tritium. (If it ain't busted, don't fix it, right?) Looking forward to hearing from you on the maps.

I joined the CF Army Reserve when I was 17, backin 1989. We used map and compass a considerable amount of the time, especially since we were an 81mm mortar unit.

Thanks to Geocaching I "discovered" that the military grid system is actually just a subset of the UTM coordinate system!!! I had no idea where these grids were coming from and at the time I didn't really think about it that much.

I always take my compass with me and have done compass only caches before with great success. Thanks to Geocaching I've learned about UTM, NAD27, WGS84 etc.. all things I didn't pay any attention to before.

I find it interesting listening to the US viewpoint on UTM. I'm not sure how long ago we started using 1:25000 , 1:50000 etc. maps with Metric (UTM) gridlines. I've never seen a map that did not have UTM grids on it.

As for the availability of your maps, we here north of the border are a bit envious. You see, up here the Queen owns our maps and there really is no comparison to your USGS websites. We have a cheesy, poor quality site called toporama. Other then that we have to purchase the maps on CD for \$\$\$ or on paper for about \$15 each.

Cheers,

Rob

Mobile Cache Command

heh heh. 81mm Mortarman, eh? Were you the one who had to hump around that heavy darned base plate? Unfortunatly, I've had that duty a couple of times myself and I'll be the first to admit that it was crummy. Luckily, though, I was originally a Dragon gunner so the times I had to pull that duty was few and far between. But I always felt bad for that poor SOB with that huge slab of metal on top of his pack.

About the maps - There is a company there in Canada that does some really awesome maps - they are GPS manufacturers, but they have a huge in-house GIS department. It's www.navitrak.com - I don't have the phone number, but get the number, call and get extension 115 and talk to Michelle. Ask her about thier maps. She's a really sweet lady and she'll help you out. Everything they deal with is UTM, I think 25k scale.

Mark

heh heh. 81mm Mortarman, eh? Were you the one who had to hump around that heavy darned base plate? Unfortunatly, I've had that duty a couple of times myself and I'll be the first to admit that it was crummy. Luckily, though, I was originally a Dragon gunner so the times I had to pull that duty was few and far between. But I always felt bad for that poor SOB with that huge slab of metal on top of his pack.

About the maps - There is a company there in Canada that does some really awesome maps - they are GPS manufacturers, but they have a huge in-house GIS department. It's www.navitrak.com - I don't have the phone number, but get the number, call and get extension 115 and talk to Michelle. Ask her about thier maps. She's a really sweet lady and she'll help you out. Everything they deal with is UTM, I think 25k scale.

Mark

quote:
Originally posted by markusby:

heh heh. 81mm Mortarman, eh? Were you the one who had to hump around that heavy darned base plate? Unfortunatly, I've had that duty a couple of times myself and I'll be the first to admit that it was crummy. Luckily, though, I was originally a Dragon gunner so the times I had to pull that duty was few and far between. But I always felt bad for that poor SOB with that huge slab of metal on top of his pack.

We usually had trucks although many times we didn't. Once we got dropped off in the wrong LZ and had to hump a couple of clicks. Boy was I sore the next day!

Here is a question. I'm under the impression that you yanks have 6 man mortar teams. Is that true? We are setup for 3 man teams, #1 is senior, usually a Cpl and runs the gun, does the sighting in. #2 drops the bombs. #3 drives the truck. Many times we did it with just 2 guy's and I've done it with just 1 (and a truck of course!!!). Of course everyone takes turns and everyone knows how to do everything. I've done everything from Line Cpl to MFC.

Rob

Rob

Mobile Cache Command

Six-man mortar teams? Someone was pulling your leg. And the TWO guys with the mortars hump them everywhere the guys with the .50 cals, 240 Gulf, SMAW and stardard M-16 goes. We do a workup twice per year - it's a 50-mile hump over the course of two days. We then set up a command post for headquarters and a perimeter. Those guys with the mortars have to hump the 50 miles with the other grunts. Usually the A-gunner carries the baseplate, the Gunner carries the tube and sight. Most times a regular grunt will carry parts and rounds, too, to help out. At the end, which is usualy a week, they pack it all up and hump it back.

Now, that is just the Marine Corps, the most underfunded branch of the American military. I don't know about the army where they have money to burn on extra manpower. But I couldn't imagine that they would have six people running a mortar position.

Six-man mortar teams? Someone was pulling your leg. And the TWO guys with the mortars hump them everywhere the guys with the .50 cals, 240 Gulf, SMAW and stardard M-16 goes. We do a workup twice per year - it's a 50-mile hump over the course of two days. We then set up a command post for headquarters and a perimeter. Those guys with the mortars have to hump the 50 miles with the other grunts. Usually the A-gunner carries the baseplate, the Gunner carries the tube and sight. Most times a regular grunt will carry parts and rounds, too, to help out. At the end, which is usualy a week, they pack it all up and hump it back.

Now, that is just the Marine Corps, the most underfunded branch of the American military. I don't know about the army where they have money to burn on extra manpower. But I couldn't imagine that they would have six people running a mortar position.

quote:
Originally posted by mrcpu:

Here is a question. I'm under the impression that you yanks have 6 man mortar teams. Is that true?

Not unless things have changed. Three would be 'by the book', two if the crew is attached to a larger unit.

I did some thinking and it may be that the 6 man teams I heard of where 120 mm, vehicle mounted mortars.

I was doing some surfing a while back and came across a PDF file on the net specing out GUIDED mortar rounds.

The idea is that dropping mortars on a house full of bad guys next to a school might not be a good thing so they are working on laser guided mortar rounds. With the high trajectory it gives the round time to locate the laser signal, arm and "glide" (More like FALL!!) onto the target.

Obviously you would need to still do the trig to place the round roughly above the target but then you would get pin-point accuracy.

Kind of takes all the fun out of an area weapon doesn't it!

My question was, if you can get a guy in position with a laser, why not shoulder fired missle or some other similar Weapon?

Rob

Mobile Cache Command

Actually, we already HAVE lasar guided mortars, even for the 81mm mortars. Your question: If you could have a guy to paint the target, why doesn't he just fire a missile himself? You are in the military, right?

Well, I don't know about you, but if I am in a four-man recon team sent to destroy a target in a very hostile area with a bunch of people running around, wanting nothing better than to send me to meet Mr. Jesus Christ himself, the last thing I would want to do is to lug in something like a Javelin or Dragon, fire one shot leaving a smoke trail (and wire for the Dragon) leading back to my position so all of the nice upstanding individuals who survived and managed to become angry could know where I am.

And of course, the fact that you get one shot with a shoulder-fired missile and they only go one kilometer where a morter round goes a heck of a lot further and an aircraft-fired missile a lot farther still doesn't really help things out, either.

I'd rather paint the target, have it lit up with missile or morter fire and be able to adjust where rounds are falling until I can be sure that I sent every last one of them to met Buddah, Allah or whoever the God of thier choice might be.

Now, I'm not speaking for everyone... that's just me. There actually might be people in the military who like being caught. Certainly not me, however.

Besides... Have you every carried a missile system? Especially in rugged terrain? It's not something you can do silently or swiftly. Darned thing is always bumping against trees, getting tangles in bushes... I had a rough enough time with my 30 pound Barret .50 rifle... the thing was ungodly heavy and long and stuff always got lodged into where the scope met the upper receiver... finally got smart and wrapped the thing with an OD green towel.

[This message was edited by markusby on April 10, 2002 at 07:01 AM.]

Actually, we already HAVE lasar guided mortars, even for the 81mm mortars. Your question: If you could have a guy to paint the target, why doesn't he just fire a missile himself? You are in the military, right?

Well, I don't know about you, but if I am in a four-man recon team sent to destroy a target in a very hostile area with a bunch of people running around, wanting nothing better than to send me to meet Mr. Jesus Christ himself, the last thing I would want to do is to lug in something like a Javelin or Dragon, fire one shot leaving a smoke trail (and wire for the Dragon) leading back to my position so all of the nice upstanding individuals who survived and managed to become angry could know where I am.

And of course, the fact that you get one shot with a shoulder-fired missile and they only go one kilometer where a morter round goes a heck of a lot further and an aircraft-fired missile a lot farther still doesn't really help things out, either.

I'd rather paint the target, have it lit up with missile or morter fire and be able to adjust where rounds are falling until I can be sure that I sent every last one of them to met Buddah, Allah or whoever the God of thier choice might be.

Now, I'm not speaking for everyone... that's just me. There actually might be people in the military who like being caught. Certainly not me, however.

Besides... Have you every carried a missile system? Especially in rugged terrain? It's not something you can do silently or swiftly. Darned thing is always bumping against trees, getting tangles in bushes... I had a rough enough time with my 30 pound Barret .50 rifle... the thing was ungodly heavy and long and stuff always got lodged into where the scope met the upper receiver... finally got smart and wrapped the thing with an OD green towel.

[This message was edited by markusby on April 10, 2002 at 07:01 AM.]

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