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2oldfarts (the rockhounders)

Geodetic Interactive Spatial Referencing Devices

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Translation:

 

Benchmark Hunting - for newbies and us oldfarts

 

This is for the newbies who don't feel like posting on the forums for whatever reason they may have. It is intended as a guide to the most common aspects of benchmarks. I will relate the methods we (the 2oldfarts) use to do things.

 

The first thing we do is to choose an area to hunt in. Then we choose the benchmarks we want to locate. We check the benchmark 'datasheet' to see if the position is 'adjusted' or 'scaled'. We read the 'description' of the benchmark so we know what to look for when we get to the location of the mark. We also want to know what is stamped on the disk so we can verify that we have the correct disk.

 

After locating the disk we take a picture of the disk and the GPSr (showing lat. & long.). If the disk is in an area that may make it hard for the next seeker to locate it (or the coordinates are way off), then we take a 'view' picture showing the surronding terrain. Some on the forums will question a 'found log' if there is no picture for proof of your find. In reality, NO picture is required to log a find. It does make the log a little more interesting, though.

 

If we can not find the disk and we know we will try again before too long then we will not log the mark. If after several tries and there is still no disk then we will log a DNF (did not find). We post a 'note' for the odd times like when we figure out the mark is on land posted with 'No Trespassing" signs.

 

We only log "destroyed" when there is no doubt that the mark has been destroyed. Just remember, it is better to log a DNF than to log a Destroyed and then have someone actually find the mark! There goes your credibility (at least with the hardcore benchmarkers here on the forums.) when that happens. It has happened more than a few times. If you find the benchmark out of position (on it's side, for instance) then log it as a found and note in the log the condition of the mark, in this case "poor" or perhaps "should be declared as destroyed" .

 

If the coordinates are 'adjusted' then your GPSr should get you within 20 feet of the mark, plus or minus the error in the signal for that day. If the coordinates are 'scaled' then they can be off target by as much as 1/3 mile (that's the farthest we seen them off.). These are why you must read the description for scaled marks.

 

If you have any other questions and don't feel comfortable getting on the forums, feel free to e-mail or PM any of us regular posters and we will try to answer your questions.

 

Just remember, the whole idea is to get out and have some fun hunting benchmarks!

 

John

 

Boy are some people long winded. :rolleyes:

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Wow John, nicely put. Thanks for writing that our so clearly.

I wish you had written that before I tried to find my first benchmark. The only thing missing is a pointer to some of the great pages that tell about the various kinds of markers and the terminology used to describe the locations.

I still find the differences a bit overwhelming and have to go back and read over some of the terminology every time I look at a datasheet...For instance "wingwall", well, lets just say that a google search for wingwall made it as clear as mud!

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Good job, John. However, scaled coordinates should be within 1/3 mile but I did locate one that was off by nine miles. Also have found marks listed in the wrong county. We can't emphasize enough to go by the description and not by the GPSr.

 

I don't use scaled or adjusted coordinates to locate a mark unless roads, terrain, etc. have changed drastically. I follow the description as to how to get to the point and revise it as necessary. When I find the mark, then I'll set the GPSr on or near the mark for five minutes during which time I take pictures, then take an average reading for another minute.

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When you kind folks request the assistance of the aged wise ones, if you would be so kind as to include in the request one of the following it, would greatly improve the chances for a successful answer.

 

1) the PID#

2) the benchmark designation (or what is stamped on the disk)

3) the coordinates of the mark

4) the Geocaching number (GCXXXX)

5) a picture of the benchmark

6) what info you would like us to supply (as in - How do we do this or that.)

 

It helps if you can be as specific as possible.

 

Thank you for your interest in our enjoyment of the benchmark hunting sport (I guess it can be called a sport).

 

John

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I would like to add the link to dustyjacket's site which has a very nice selection of photos of different survey markers, witness posts, etc. Would that be OK to include here?

Edited by happycycler

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:) Here is a method to search for Benchmarks NGS has declared "Destroyed."

 

Go to the NGS "datasheet ->By County" web page. After selecting a state, the next page lets you pick your target county. On that same page, you can go to the "Data Type Desired:" box and arrow down to "Destroyed Marks Only (Normally not published)." That choice is at the bottom of the list.

 

This will give you a list of destroyed marks in the selected county.

 

You may search similarly for destroyed marks in the Radial Search and Rectangular Search functions.

 

On the datasheet->BY Pids page, you can pull up the datasheets for destroyed marks if you check the box beside "Include Destroyed Marks."

 

This post may not have listed the options exhaustively, but the rest should follow from this start.

 

GH

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To log a benchmark that you have found you will need to go to the benchmark's page.

 

To get there you first go to benchmark homepage if you know the PID # for the benchmark. If you do not know The PID#, then go to "other search options" (click just below the PID "GO" button).

 

Click on the By Designation (the little circle) and then enter the name of the benchmark that you want to log. It is usually stamped on the disk. Enter the abbreviation for the state where the mark is located. Go down below where you can input coordinates and click "find benchmarks". If more than one appears you may have to try several to get to the correct one. If you don't know the name of the benchmark, you can input the coordinates for the one you found and click "find benchmarks" and try the closest one (usually the first in the list) to see if it matches the one you found.

 

Once you have found the correct benchmark, go to it's page and in the upper right corner click on the "Log this Benchmark" and fill in the blanks. After you "log" the benchmark it will take you to a new screen and there you can 'upload images' if you would like.

 

If you upload a picture it is helpful if you put something in the title to let others know the general location of the benchmark (for when people are viewing the benchmark gallery.).

 

Have fun benchmarking,

 

John

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Can’t Find your Benchmark at Geocaching.com?!?

 

It is a very common question in the Benchmarking Forum to ask what to do with benchmarks that don’t seem to be in the Geocaching database. I wanted to take just a moment to explain something about Bench Mark Hunting and how it works in the Geocaching Database, for those who may be curious about the what’s and why’s.

 

First, a little background about Survey Markers. In the United States there are literally millions of Survey Markers and Monuments set, both temporary and permanent and as you may well imagine it all has a purpose. It would be a massive undertaking to try to bring the catalogs together. There have been several Agencies of the US Government that have set Survey Monuments for several reasons, as have different branches of the US Military. A Short but not all-inclusive list could include the NGS, NOS, USCG&S, CGS, USGS, BLM, NPS, USE, USACE, USAF, USN, et, al. Each agency has a mission to carry out, and these markers are used for these mission’s purposes. It is common that the right hand (being one agency) does not know what the left hand (being yet another agency) is doing, but sometimes they intermingle.

 

In addition, nearly every State has it’s own various Agencies, as do the Counties and Cities. Then there is the Private Surveyors who support the industry on all various levels. They too set survey monuments in the field for a number of different reasons. What I want you to know is that there is a very high likelihood that in the search for Bench Marks, a hunter will come across many various markers, which will not seem to be in the Geocaching Database. It is not you. You are likely not doing anything incorrectly. This is a correct outcome. They will not be found in there, and likely will never be.

 

The Geocaching.com Database uses a copy of a database that was issued by the National Geodetic Survey. Today, the NGS is a department within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, otherwise known as the NOAA. This Agency, the NGS was originally set forth by Thomas Jefferson in the Early 19th Century, charged with the task of measuring the Coastlines and Heartlands of the United States. This kind of Survey falls under what is called Geodetic Research. Its overall mission has not changed all that much over the years although the technologies and methodologies have improved greatly. Over the nearly 200-year tenure of this Agency, it has also changed names a few times to hopefully best reflect the mission. What started out as the Coast Survey, later became names that most in Benchmark Hunting will be most familiar with as; US Coast & Geodetic Survey, National Ocean Survey, and National Geodetic Survey. This Agency is charged with maintaining a network of survey monuments, which are of the highest order of accuracy possible and are the reference standard for all other forms of survey in the field. These markers each can serve different purposes, but most of them are responsible for Vertical Control, Horizontal Control, and in same cases a bit of both kinds of data at the same time. There are other applications but these are beyond the scope of this subject. The current NGS Database uses only Survey Markers, which have qualified as being within standards of high confidence for accuracy, and only then are they included in the National Spatial Reference System. What this means is that there may be survey markers in the field which were monumented by this Agency, or one of it’s former agency names, which was rejected from continuing inclusion in this database because it did not meet, or no longer meets the standards. It also means that other Agencies may submit their Survey Markers to the NGS as well, but if they do not meet the standard, they are not included.

 

At a time in the not too distant past, the NGS offered their entire database of survey monuments, and the supporting data for them on CD-ROM. This database contained 736,425 Survey Markers at that time. It since has discontinued the practice of offering the database on CD-ROM. It does still offer the Data, but not in it’s entirety in one package as it had with the CD-ROM. Of all the Monuments that are represented in that data, the current physical status (an important distinction) of a good many of them is not currently known.

 

Geocaching.com is using a version of that CD-ROM Database. Since there have been no new updates issued to this Format, there have been no updates to the Geocaching.com database. This will and does result in finding the inaccuracies of the Data at the point it was published as well as not having access to the Data added and corrected, or updated since the time the static copy was published. It will mean that you will find Markers that you think should be in there and they will not be. Some of the reason will be that they never were. Other reasons will be that the NGS continues to update it’s Data, as well as add and subtract to the state of Markers in the field to maintain the integrity of that data, which is not reflected in the copy at Geocaching.com

 

Currently, there has not been an NGS update to the Geocaching.com data for some time. It is unclear as to whether this will happen again, but there some who are looking for ways to make this happen. Until it does, the sad truth, if you choose to feel that way about it, is that if you find a Mark that is not currently included in the GC Database, you cannot log it. There is no provision to take credit for things that are not there, and many other agencies do not offer their data to the public. By all means, do keep data for what you find but cannot log at this time in your own database. Things evolve all the time, and someday, you never know when things may change at some future time.

 

Most of all, Have fun Bench Mark Hunting!

 

Rob

Edited by evenfall

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To help those that wish to download benchmarks by the county quanity, I will go step by step for 'my' method of getting the county downloaded and ready for use.

 

It will help if you have several programs already on your computer. The first is 'DSWIN' from the NGS. Then get Watcher and 'BMGPX'.It helps to have them all in the same folder where you can easily find them.

 

The first step is to go to the NGS archved datasheets page.Pick the state and then the county you want, then click "PC UNzipped" and download. This may take quite a bit of time if you are using a dial-up connection and the county is a large one. Our home county has about 2,000 benchmarks in it's file. If you are on dial-up, perhaps you have a friend with high-speed internet who will download and save the file to CD for you.

 

Once the file has finished downloading click on the 'file' button on your taskbar and choose "Save As" and give it a name (usually the county name with the designation BMs (as in "Coconino County BMs)), and select 'text' as the file type. Don't forget where you want to save the file. You can now use this file to create a 'Watcher' file by dragging and dropping this file on to the BMGPX icon (the white square with the blue top bar) you got when you downloaded BMGPX.

 

Next, open the "DSWIN" program. Click on the file button then select 'disk' then select your file that you just downloaded and saved. From here you can read the datasheet for each individual benchmark if you wish. Now click on the file button for this screen and select 'save as', enter the name for this file, but leave the 'file type' blank, then select "dsselect format".

 

This screen gives you options about which parts of the datasheet you want to save. For our uses, we find the following the most helpful....Designation, PID, Latitude, Longitude, POS_SRC(used for scaled or adjusted position designation), stamp, monumentation, setting, and All rec. date.

 

We select the 'comma' as the delimiter since we use Microsoft Works Database. For "Output" we click on 'header' and 'single line'. Click on the 'OK' button and save it to the same folder you are using for all the other benchmark programs and files.

 

Right click on the Icon that was just created and select open. Then select 'open with' and 'browse' and choose your database. Be sure to save this database in your folder before closing it.

 

You are now ready to use all this info. If you right click the Watcher file you can open it with EasyGPS and load the waypoints to your GPSr.

 

We have a laptop computer so it is great for having all this data when we head out for a full day's hunting or when we're on vacation (we can download the county where we will be.).

 

If you need more info all you need to do is holler very loudly and I might be able to hear you, or you can just ask (using any of the standard methods). :P

 

John

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What equipment is needed for benchmark hunting?

 

You don't really need much for most of the benchmarks out there. Most of the time all we need is the GPSr and camera and laptop (most folks seem to prefer a PDA). We use the laptop (old eyes!) with several applications running at the same time. These being Watcher,Mapsend Topo, a database, and a notepad (to log the find details and what pictures we took while out hunting.) If we have to hike very far I usually take the extra batteries along (Hate having to go back to get them when the camera goes dead!). The compass is small enough to go in the shirt pocket.

 

Some of the things we have in the truck all the time.

 

shovel

metal probe (pointed rod for poking into the sand and dirt)

metal detector (for known buried benchmarks)

water (warm weather only) (for cleaning off the disks so they can be read)

Gojo (hand cleaner)

paper towels (for wiping the mud off the disks)

100 foot tape measure

small broom/brush (whisk type broom)

AA battery charger that has a DC adapter (nice to have freshly charged batteries)

flashlight or 2 or 3 (and extra batteries)

 

Stuff we keep in the house and cart back and forth.

 

GPSr

compass

camera

extra batteries

laptop computer and power adapter

special maps if needed

 

Many of the items in the truck do double duty and get used for other activities, also.

 

Just start out light and add items as you find that they would be handy to have along. If you're going to be doing 'intersection stations' then a shovel and probe are not needed for that excursion. If the weather has been dry, then a small broom to clean off the benchmark should suffice for getting a good picture. As you find more benchmarks you will see a pattern to the items that help and those that just take up space.

 

Remember the primary goal is to enjoy what you are doing, so go have some fun now.

 

Good hunting,

 

John

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For anyone interested, there is a program written by Clyde English, a gentleman in Australia and a cacher. This program, called GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) combines the best features of Watcher and gpsbabel under a GUI interface. The program can be downloaded and used for free. Since I started using GSAK, I have not used any other program for tracking cache finds, looking for caches, etc. If you are a paying member on GC.com, you can download a GPX file to GSAK and then use a variety of search criteria. I also use it for benchmark hunting, although some slight modifications have to be made manually, as the program is designed for caches. There is a good help section/tutorial, and the tutorial has "hot links" - if your pointer is over something you want to find out about, click on it. It's free, it works great, and I highly recommend it. The home site for the download is here. I think you'll like this program.

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Hey guys, noob here. I am very interested in getting started hunting benchmarks but had a few questions I hadn't seen answers too yet.

 

First, I would like to log my finds on my computer, as well as the geocaching website. That way I will have my own history as well as in case I find benchmarks or other survey markers that are not in the database. How would you all suggest I log them along with their photos? I, of course, can set it up in word or excel but was wondering if anyone had found a more efficient system.

 

I was also wondering the percentage, guesses are fine, of benchmark hunters that are out there to just find a "disk" per say as to those going out and checking the database benchmark directions to report errors to the NGS? Is it generally the hardcore benchmark hunters that check the directions and submit the NGS reports or is the general idea that anyone hunting benchmarks should be checking the directions and helping the NGS?

 

Thanks

kEVIN

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Kevin

 

To answer the last question first: most are in it for the fun. I'd 'guess' maybe 5% log their finds with the NGS, Maybe 15 - 20% log on the Geocaching website. The rest who find benchmarks (may or may not log on Geocaching & if they do it is only for 1 or 2 benchmarks), do so by accident, that is they are next to a cache or they have one in the yard, etc.

 

It is best to read the discription for the benchmark you want to find, whether or not you plan on logging with the NGS. The description will guide you to the right place for locating the benchmark.

 

The general idea is to go have fun hunting for something while using your GPSr. If you find logging with the NGS fun, then by all means, do so.

 

For my personal records I try to keep it as simple as possible. I use Works Database to keep track of the info I find relevant. I use the following 'fields', PID#, Designation, Found/Not Found (us), First to Find, Found/ "Not found by",Monument date, & Found Date.

 

For the pictures I keep them in the Main Geocaching folder > Benchmarks> alphabetical folders. Each picture is renamed with the designation of the benchmark and if it is a view photo, I use the designation of the benchmark and the direction the picture is looking.

 

Hope this helps answer your questions.

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I'd 'guess' maybe 5% log their finds with the NGS, Maybe 15 - 20% log on the Geocaching website. The rest who find benchmarks (may or may not log on Geocaching & if they do it is only for 1 or 2 benchmarks), do so by accident, that is they are next to a cache or they have one in the yard, etc.

I log my finds / did not find with the NGS just because I hope that someone actually benifits from it somehow. Though lately with all of the missing data, I wonder if anyone on their end actually notices. :lol:

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Hi Rescue,

 

As a Surveyor, I use the NGS database often and I also use the Stations in the field as well. More often, I use data that is based upon, or tied into this NGS database in many ways. Everything has a place and an elevation, and the records are kept.

 

What you may not realize is that every city and town, county and state, Many government agencies including the armed services use the data in this database every day. They check to see how and where rivers flood, and if they can control this or maybe minimize it, and help the inertial navigation on an aircraft locate an airport as well as how a space shuttle flies home. They help ships navigate hazardous waters, and are the basis for how we measure the tides of the oceans and their effect upon our shores. Many are the frame of references for maps, and are also why when we flush our toilets or when rain falls on our streets, we no longer worry where the waste and water goes. They are at the basis for much of all engineered design. They helped us determine where to build hydro electric dams, are why the bridges line up from shore to shore and how insurance companies know whether you need flood insurance where you live, or not.

 

These stations form the basis for something known as NSRS or the National Spatial Reference System. If you look in any phone book in America, seek out the Engineering Firms and Surveyors, the County and City Planners, GIS Managers and Departments of Transportation, the Railroads and the trucking firms who track freight with GPS, And finally ask any geocacher how important it is to them to use the mapping functions on their GPS, if the map matches the territory, and their way was never lost.

 

Going back nearly 200 years now, if it were not for the work of the geodetic surveyors, there is a great deal we could not take for granted, as many things we know about our world and how we relate to it are thanks to them. :-)

 

Does the NGS Notice? You bet! And they appreciate every time a Geocacher logs a recovery with their agency. Just because some are old and hard to find does not mean that the data that they represent was not and is not helpful, it all still very much is, in ways we might not know or realize. Currently, on average the NGS servers see about 200,000 NGS Datasheet downloads a month, to the general public, nationally from the NGS website. That adds up to 2,400,000 NGS datasheet downloads a year, so thank you for submitting your recoveries!

 

Rob

Edited by evenfall

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A few months ago we had an extended discussion about intersection stations and the reliable recovery thereof. Intersection stations, of course, are those vertical structures like church steeples, water tanks, radio towers and smoke stacks that have their own PIDs. John and Shirley asked me to copy my comments from the original thread to this thread. Instead, I have elected to re-write my comments (and, I hope, make them clearer and more succinct).

 

The problem with intersection stations is that they look like very easy (sometimes, effortless) recoveries, but they're not. If the station is described as the steeple on St. Bob's in Gotham City, you drive to Gotham, find St. Bob's, observe the steeple and snap a photo from your car window as you wait for the light to change and, bada-bing, you've got yourself a "FOUND IT". Well, churches get re-built, water tanks get replaced by waterspheres, and clunky old airway beacons get replaced by tall, slender antennae. And when these structures are replaced, the likelihood that the replacement structure is in the same, surveyed location as the predecessor is, well, zero. Most church steeples and water tanks were first observed in the 1930's. A large proportion of them have been replaced over the past 70 years. I have had NGS determine that several recently "found" intersection stations are, in fact, DESTROYED. Oops.

 

OK, so here are my criteria for claiming a righteous find on an intersection station. As is the case with all benchmarks, the datasheet description rules and we always check the NGS datasheet for updates before we go into the field, we always ensure that our GPS is set to NAD83, and we triple-check the adjusted coordinates we've loaded (using MapSource) to ensure that our GOTO validly goes to.

 

1. DESCRIPTION: The first criterion is "Does the structure conform to the datasheet description?" If the point intersected is described as the weather vane on top of the steeple, does this particular steeple have a weather vane on it? If it has a ball or a cross, I'm inclined not to post it as a find unless I have several other pieces of good evidence. If the water tank is described as having four legs, does it, in fact, have four legs. If a water tank was first observed in 1934 but the location is currently occupied by a watershpere (late 1960's and later), then it is not the station. If the steeple is described as rising from the west face of the church but the steeple that you're looking at rises from the south face, then that is probably not the station. Simply put, does the structure conform to the description.

 

2. LOCATION (physical): The second criterion is "Does the structure stand in in the spot, relative to other structures, road, etc., that the description says it does?" If the rotating beacon is supposed to be northeast of the north end of the north-south runway, then any beacon-looking object on the airport that is not in that spot should not be a find. To satisfy this criterion, you generally have to get out of the car and take as close a look around as conditions permit. I've done the occasional drive-by recovery, but I feel much better about evaluating the structure's relationship with its environment without the distraction of having to drive safely at the same time. Simply put, is the structure located where it's supposed to be?

 

3. LOCATION (Cartesean): The third criterion is "Does the structure stand at the NAD83 adjusted coordinates listed on the datasheet?" Your GPS GOTO should point directly at the structure and display a reasonable distance from at least three different vantage points. I try to get a confirming indication from all four sides if I am at all unsure that the structure is the described station. Simply put, does your handheld concitently point to the station?

 

4. EVIDENCE (negative): The fourth criterion is "Is there any evidence that the structure is NOT the station?" If the church steeple was first observed in 1934 but the building's cornerstone says 1958, then it is very unlikey that you can claim a find.

 

5. TESTIMONY (locals'): The fifth criterion is "What do the locals say about the structure?" Whenever possible, I ask around. A few months ago, I went looking for a fire department siren tower in Maryland. Before poking around the fire station, I checked in with the desk officer who introduced me to the Chief. He told me that the tower has been there since he was "a kid" (I estimated 40 years ago). As the tower was first observed in 1970, I took the Chief's statement as strong evidence that I had a find.

 

6. EVIDENCE (positive): The sixth (and final) criterion is "Is there documentary evidence to confirm that this is the described station?" Many structures have cornerstones, manufacturers' plaques, historical signs, etc. that tell when the structure was built. If you can get close enough (easy with churches, tough with water tanks), you can get some good evidence, pro or con, for logginf a find.

 

To log a "FOUND IT" on an intersection station, I MUST meet the first three criteria and not violate the fourth, and I'm really happy when I meet either or both of the fifth and sixth criteria.

 

These criteria comprise a standard that I apply to myself. Others may have different standards or practices. But I've come across at least 20 destroyed intersection stations that other benchmark hunters have logged as "FOUND".

 

For an interesting intersection station recovery, see JU3147

 

So much for succinctness.

Will

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Do we get a hint as to what modifications need to be made or shall we just skip the whole idea? I am not a programmer and have no clue what needs to be modified for benchmarks.

 

Is it intended for PDAs or will it work with a laptop?

 

John

Just finished converting the .DAT to GPX and importing into GSAK today. I didn't have to use DSWIN, just BMGPX. The changes that I found that were "necessary" involved using a text editor to change the exported GPX. The BMGPX program unfortunately gives the BM the wrong type and container.

 

Search for "type>Unknown Cache" and change it to "type>Benchmark"

 

Search for "container>Regular" and change it to "container>Virtual" or perhaps "container>Not Specified"

 

GSAK works on the computer, not a PDA. For use on a PDA, you can use GSAK to export just the benchmarks as either a LOC or GPX. I use a GPX with GPXsonar on the PDA since it lets me see all the notes for the BM, and also a LOC for my GPS since all it wants is the name and location.

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Well I downloaded GSAK and then went to the NGS to get a county download. I picked a county and clicked "UNzipped" and downloaded to a folder that has "BMGPX" in it. Did the drag and drop and 'voila' a GPX file. Opened it with GSAK and it was already setup for benchmarks. So I did all the counties of Arizona! :P:ph34r:

 

I really like the ability to transfer the waypoints to Mapsend Topo.

 

Thanks,

 

John

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Here's an update on using GSAK version 5.1.1 21 FEB, 2005.

 

When you go to the NGS site to get the county archive files, you can get them ZIPPED. Then you save them to your benchmark work folder (ours is the one with BMGPX in it.). Next unzip the file and drag and drop it on the BMGPX icon. Open with GSAK and start the fun.

 

When you first open the folder sort by date placed and you will see the oldest marks for that county.

 

If it is a large county with more waypoints than your GPSr will hold you can use the "set for next nn records" for the number of waypoints your GPSr will hold, and then set a filter. To set a filter, click "search" then "filter". When the box opens go down the list to "user flag" and click (clear) "not set". Click GO. Now go to "File" and click "export" and choose the correct mapping program. When the box opens go to the box for "WPT file to create" and click on the folder at the right end of this box. Navigate to your mapping program folder where all your waypoints are stored and click open, then click 'generate'. You can now view the first batch in your mapping program. You can also send them direct to your GPSr if you wish.

 

To do the next set of waypoints from that file, go to the last checked waypoint and highlight the very next waypoint. Clear all flags and then set for the next "nn" records and repeat the process for exporting the waypoints.

 

It sounds tougher than it really is and if you need help just ask here in the forums.

 

John

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Thank you 2oldfarts and others for the benchmark lessons. I especially found the instructions for downloading the dat files from NGS, using BMGPX to convert them to gpx files, and then using GSAK to view them. I like to export the waypoints to Delorme’s 3D TopoQuads and was becoming frustrated with downloading 25 at a time from the Geocaching site. You sure have saved me a lot of time. Thanks also to Xangxa for posting the workaround that I needed to use the gpx files in GSAK. Now I guess it’s time for me to get out there and find some benchmarks.

 

Dzrtgrls :(

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Here is an update on some of the fun things we do with GSAK to make our benchmark hunting easier and more fun.

 

The way we use GSAK does make deciding where to go hunt for benchmarks a bit easier.

 

Since we get to different areas out here we download the counties (approximately 1800 benchmarks per county) where we get to do our hunting. One county per database. We then transfer the waypoints to Mapsend Topo since we have the Meridian Platinum. GSAK lets us save waypoint files directly to the SD memory card. We normally load in groups of 450 since the GPSr only accepts 500. This leaves 50 open waypoints for when we are in the field.

 

One of the big advantages of GSAK is the filtering available. Some of the things we sort on are "date placed (set)", "rock cairn", "Drill Holes", miles from home & directional bearing, Along a route, Latitude, and Longitude. For our large counties we sort by Latitude before doing the waypoint files so we have blocks of waypoints starting at the north end of the county and working south. GSAK allows searching the full text for specific words, so if you only wanted to see "church spires" or "chiseled squares" for instance that is how you would search. It would then list all church spires or chiseled squares for that county. This is accomplished by clicking on "Search" then "Filter" and then the third box from the top is "Full Text Search", just type in a word or 2 and hit GO at the bottom. Don't forget to try the "Arc/Poly" filter for sorting along a route or area.

 

When transferring the waypoints from GSAK to our mapping program we have GSAK set to use "Smart Names" so the waypoints show up on the map as "B 140" or "Boundary" or whatever the designation of the station mark is (Mapsend has an 8 Letter name limit.). The advantage to that for us is that we have the laptop along and can call up the data sheet in GSAK and find it quickly by sorting the designation alphabetically, then use the split screen to read that data sheet without have to open another program.

 

After sorting and filtering you can then send that set of waypoints to the mapping program and see if there is a reasonable concentration of that type of benchmarks in an area that you want to hunt benchmarks in.

 

One other advantage to GSAK is you can filter out the marks you have found and easily refresh the files on the GPSr so you're not seeing marks that you have found.

 

I don't know how well it would update a data sheet. I do know you can open a fresh pocket query in the original datbase and it will update the cache pages if there were any new logs or changes to the page. I would think it would work for data sheet logs as well. If I get around to trying it I will let you know.

 

John

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Here's a fun way to search your county benchmark database using GSAK. Have you ever wondered how many rivets were set in your county? Or maybe rock cairns, or chiseled marks?

 

It's quick and easy using the Search (filter). Click on Search at the top left of the main GSAK screen and select filter. In the box next to "Full text search" type "Marker: 'type of mark you want to search for' ". It will look list this example for rivets - "Marker: R = RIVET" but without the quotes. (Coconino county has 43 PIDs for rivets)

"Marker: 57 = LOOKOUT TOWER" without the quotes will show the forest fire lookout towers that have PIDs.

Just pick a type from the list and search.

 

Have fun.

 

John

 

The list of benchmark types...

 

01 = LONE TREE

02 = CONSPICUOUS ROCK

03 = MOUNTAIN PEAK

04 = ROCK PINNACLE

05 = ROCK AWASH

11 = PILING

12 = DOLPHIN

13 = LIGHTHOUSE

14 = NAVIGATION LIGHT

15 = RANGE MARKER

16 = DAYBEACON

17 = FLAG TOWER

18 = SIGNAL MAST

21 = AIRPORT BEACON

22 = AIRWAY BEACON

25 = RADAR ANTENNA

26 = SPHERICAL RADOME

27 = RADIO RANGE MAST

28 = LORAN MAST

41 = ANTENNA MAST

42 = RADIO/TV MAST

43 = RADIO/TV TOWER

44 = MICROWAVE MAST

45 = MICROWAVE TOWER

51 = TANK

52 = STANDPIPE TANK

53 = ELEVATED TANK

54 = WATER TOWER

55 = TOWER

56 = SKELETON TOWER

57 = LOOKOUT TOWER

58 = CONTROL TOWER

61 = POLE

62 = FLAGPOLE

63 = STACK

64 = SILO

65 = GRAIN ELEVATOR

66 = WINDMILL

67 = OIL DERRICK

68 = COMMERCIAL SIGN

69 = REGULATORY SIGN

70 = MONUMENT

71 = BOUNDARY MONUMENT

72 = CAIRN

73 = LOOKOUT HOUSE

74 = LARGE CROSS

75 = BELFRY

81 = GABLE

82 = FINIAL

83 = FLAGSTAFF

84 = LIGHTNING ROD

85 = CHIMNEY

86 = CUPOLA

87 = DOME

88 = OBSERVATORY DOME

89 = SPIRE

90 = CHURCH SPIRE

91 = CHURCH CROSS

92 = ANTENNA ON ROOF

93 = MICROWAVE ANTENNA ON BUILDING

94 = ROOFTOP VENTILATOR

95 = ROOFTOP BLOCKHOUSE

A = ALUMINUM MARKER

B = BOLT

C = CAP OF CAP-AND-BOLT PAIR

DA = ASTRO MARKER (USUALLY A DISK)

DB = BENCH MARK DISK

DD = SURVEY DISK

DE = TRAVERSE STATION DISK

DG = GRAVITY STATION DISK

DH = HORIZONTAL CONTROL DISK

DJ = TIDAL STATION DISK

DK = GRAVITY REFERENCE MARK DISK

DM = MAGNETIC STATION DISK

DO = NOT SPECIFIED OR SEE DESCRIPTION

DP = BASE LINE PIER

DQ = CALIBRATION BASE LINE DISK

DR = REFERENCE MARK DISK

DS = TRIANGULATION STATION DISK

DT = TOPOGRAPHIC STATION DISK

DU = BOUNDARY MARKER

DV = VERTICAL CONTROL DISK

DW = NOS HYDROGRAPHIC SURVEY DISK

DZ = AZIMUTH MARK DISK

E = EARTHENWARE POT

F = FLANGE-ENCASED ROD

G = GLASS BOTTLE

H = DRILL HOLE

I = METAL ROD

J = EARTHENWARE JUG

K = CLAY TILE PIPE

L = ABSOLUTE GRAVITY STATION PLUG

M = AMMO SHELL CASING

N = NAIL

O = CHISELED CIRCLE

P = PIPE CAP

Q = CHISELED SQUARE

R = RIVET

S = SPIKE

T = CHISELED TRIANGLE

U = CONCRETE POST

V = STONE MONUMENT

W = UNMONUMENTED

X = CHISELED CROSS

Y = DRILL HOLE IN BRICK

Z = SEE DESCRIPTION

 

Duplicate post in the regular benchmark forum.

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I found the following at doheny state park today

 

Benchmark says

 

Corps Of Engineers - U.S. Army

DB-1890

Station Designation

Year 1984

Survey Mark

 

It is located about 200 feet south of N33 27.759 W117 41.340

 

If someone were to find it how I did, You can park at the public parking for the beach in Dana Point. At the permit machine look toward the start of the walkway from where you would see a hot ash pit to the left and a short wall to the right. At the left side of the wall in the sand there is a little monument with the above on it.

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Thanks everyone This thread has answered alot of Questions especially the scaled one which has been giving me grief. And using my pocket PC to bencmark hunt will make life alot easier plus I have been reading the bencmark logs and looking at the proper way to take pictures. I have been avoiding the ones not found so Iam going to go back and relook at them. Thanks Again

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Thanks to Black Dog Trackers for the following...

 

 

I just thought that I would mention that we have a page listed below, that is for the rockhounders in all of us...

 

I hope these links are helpful to someone...I have found several of them to be interesting indeed.

 

Shirley~

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