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caseyb

Ngs Faq

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One of the things I would like to create for the NGS forum is a BRIEF Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) thread that we can use to educate new benchmark hunters. I am going to post a few Questions and Answers here, and I am really hoping that others will add some questions that have come up in the past. Eventually, I will compile all the questions and answers and create a new thread that will be stickied to the top of this forum.

 

So please, help me out. What are some of the most frequently asked questions? Feel free to provide answers as well, but please keep your answers as short as possible. It is ok to provides links to pictures and additional info, but please don’t just link somebody to a 500 page document or 25 post thread as an "answer". Again, the keyword is brief.

 

Lets see how this goes:

 

A brief FAQ:

 

Q: Do I have to log my finds with NGS?

A: No. Submitting a report to NGS is 100% optional. If you are just benchmark hunting for fun, and are not interested in submitting your data to the government that is fine. Have fun.

 

Q: Should I log my finds with NGS?

A: Again, whether or not to log a find with NGS is up to you. You are never obligated to do so. However, in certain cases the information you find when looking for a benchmark may be valuable. For example, if you find a mark that has not been recovered in a long time or a mark that has been destroyed, that is valuable. If you find an error in the datasheet, or if you discover that something has changed in the description of how to find the mark you have information that may be of high value to someone in the future. By reporting it to NGS you can share that important information with people who need it.

 

Q: I am not a professional surveyor. Am I qualified to be submitting a recovery report to NGS?

A: Yes. You do not need to be a surveyor to provide useful information. However, there definitely are a few things you should be aware of. Make sure the data you are submitting is accurate. If you are new to the game, you might want to hold off before sending in any reports of “not found”. You should know the difference between a reference mark and a triangulation station before submitting something dealing with that. There are lots of people in these forums who can answer any questions you have.

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Some help with the CAQ (Constantly Asked Question) of "what is not found/found/poor/destroyed" would be of great use. I think the most asked "not found" question is what to do with a benchmark "stem"--is that "found-poor" or "not found"?

 

A quick guideline for what the NGS considers "destroyed" marks would be in order. As has been mentioned here in the forums, proving a negative is harder than proving a positive--just because it isn't there doesn't mean it is destroyed. You don't have to detail what to do in order to report a destoyed mark, just say that the criteria for destroyed marks is pretty stringent and that the forum reader might want to search previous posts for guidance (we have gone over it a number of times here).

 

Clear up the "report no more than every year" question:

Q. I heard the NGS said that they don't want benchmarks reported more than once a year. Does that mean I should report them yearly?

A. No, you fool! (You may want to take that out) Use your judgement. If the last reported date for a mark is 1979, then yes, report it, even if nothing major has changed in the description. The report at least tells surveyors that urban sprawl has not taken another mark. If it was reported last year but something major has changed, then again report it to help someone else find the mark. Think about how you would feel if you had that data sheet and wanted to find the mark--if it was set in 1942 and there were no recoveries since, would you feel confident of being able to find it easily? On the other hand, if there was a 2005 recovery that only stated that the mark was found as described, you would believe you could locate it with little problem.

 

Q. What sort of description changes should I report?

A. Again, think of what YOU would want if you were looking for the mark. Measure from nearby landmarks--telephone poles, curb, road center, large trees, house corners, etc. (When a mark is in front of a house, I typically report the address--is that ok?).

 

How is that? I am sure others will come up with more!

 

Matt

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A. No, you fool! (You may want to take that out) Use your judgement.

LOL

 

Seriously though, thanks a lot for the input. I hope others will contribute as well.

 

-Casey-

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Q. What is the difference between the GeoCache outcomes of searches and NGS outcomes of searches?

 

A. Found: GeoCache wants to hear about every find. NGS only wants to hear about finds where the monument has not been found in 12 months or there is an important change.

 

Not Found: For GeoCache, this is a fairly causal rating. For NGS, professionals might spend extra time and money to use a more distant mark if they believe your report, so this rating shouldn't be given unless a serious and competent attemt was made to find it.

 

Note: available for GeoCache, not available for NGS

 

Destroyed: For GeoCache, you are essentially recommending that hobbyists not waste their time looking for this. For NGS, the way to report it is different, and you are so sure it is destroyed, you are suggesting to professionals that they would be better off spending thousands of dollars establishing a new monument rather than bothering to look for the destroyed one.

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Q. The NGS mark recovery form says not to report if there has been a report in the last 12 months. I have found a mark and the most recent recovery date is 13 months ago. There is nothing significant to change in the verbal location description. Should I submit a mark recovery to the NGS on this mark?

 

A. Yes.

 

===========

 

Whenever I've asked for clarification on this, the answer always seems to indicate that the answer to the above question would be "Yes".

 

If the NGS feels that the answer to the above question is not "Yes", then:

 

1. In the proposed FAQ, make the number of months or years completely clear.

 

2. In the Mark Revovery Page, make the number of months or years completely clear.

 

Believe me, I have no intention of running around once a year, doing some circuit of marks I've already found. However, if the NGS doesn't really mean that only 12 months is the minimum, then say it.

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Q. I found a mark and its horizontal coordinates are listed as SCALED. I have the coordinates from my GPS for this mark. What format should I use to report the coordinates to the NGS?

 

A. Although the Geocaching site uses the DDD MM.MMM format, here at the NGS we prefer that you use the DDD MM SS.S format. Also, please be sure to use the NAD 83 datum.

 

=================

Note: or could the last sentence be instead:

 

You could set your GPS to either NAD 83 or WGS 84 datum since the two are closer together than the accuracy of your GPS unit.

Edited by Black Dog Trackers

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Great project, Casey! Thanks for taking this on.

 

A few suggestions for the FAQ:

 

Q. I happened upon a benchmark, but it isn't listed on Geocaching.com. Can I report it to the NGS?

 

A. Not all marks in the NGS database are in the Geocaching.com database. Use whatever information you have about the mark (such as its coordinates, station name, or county) to look for it in the NGS datasheet database at http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/datasheet.prl.

 

* This one could be an addendum to the FAQ about how often to report a mark, although it has more general applicability, too. We need to tell people to check the datasheets *on the NGS site* before submitting a recovery report. Because the Geocaching.com database can't possibly keep up with the ongoing changes in the NGS database, it's important to view the latest version of the datasheet on the NGS site before submitting a report. (Or, I would argue, before even looking for a mark.)

 

* All of the questions and answers in the pinned thread from Deb on the main Benchmark forum would be good ones to include, too.

 

Patty

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* All of the questions and answers in the pinned thread from Deb on the main Benchmark forum would be good ones to include, too.

good idea.

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Q: I found a PID a couple years or so ago and logged it on the Geocaching site. Should I submit a mark revovery on the NGS site?

 

A: Yes, unless there is a recovery note dated less than 12 months before, or any date after, the date that you found the PID.

 

If you choose to submit a mark recovery, in the entry box called "Enter date of recovery", you must enter the date you found the PID, not the date you submit the mark recovery.

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I am just starting with the benchmark hunting, and have been reading quite a few of the threads. One thing that I think should be added (unless I just missed it above) is what should be emailed instead of posted on the NGS site, and what are the correct email addresses?

 

I mention this because I saw a change posted for one contact and read the name of another contact elsewhere and feel it should be made very clear for all.

 

Ernie

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Actually, that is stated on the NGS recovery page. It says if you want to mark a station as destroyed to email the evidence to Deb Brown. She is the arbiter of all destroyed marks.

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OK, so then from what I have read, database errors (wrong county, etc.) get emailed to Cheryl and reports of destroyed PIDs get sent to Deb. Any regular recoveries would be posted to the NGS thru their web site. Am I correct then?

 

The reason I'm asking is that there are several PIDs listed in my area as radio towers that I know don't exist. I was planning on checking the sites since I am in the area of these pretty regularly to see if any marks were left behind. I then will report them and wanted to be sure I had the information correct.

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ErnieD1125 -

 

If a tower is gone and you want to let the NGS know, I'd suggest taking pictures of the area showing the tower's former location and any other evidence and information you have that the tower has been removed, and email it to Deb at the NGS. You can email her by clicking on her name in the NGS Mark Recovery Page. She will tell you of any further details she needs.

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Q: I found a PID a couple years or so ago and logged it on the Geocaching site. Should I submit a mark revovery on the NGS site?

 

A: Yes, unless there is a recovery note dated less than 12 months before, or any date after, the date that you found the PID.

 

If you choose to submit a mark recovery, in the entry box called "Enter date of recovery", you must enter the date you found the PID, not the date you submit the mark recovery.

I would change that to "can" instead of "should" because it could be interpreted that the NGS is requiring a submission.

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Green Toad,

 

The Question was asked by a Geocacher as "Should I". That was excerpted as a non attributed quote from the Pinned and Locked Thread which is the NGS FAQ. It was based on many geocacher inquiries which began, Should I. NGS did not use the word Should, nor are they advocating Should. They advocate, "Sure if you want to".

 

This is the NGS Forum, A forum created for discussing NGS recovery. Meant in part to help remove some of the barriers to discussing this. Recovery to NGS is what this forum is about, so if you are here, Recovery to NGS is not something we semantically tiptoe around. If you are here, you came to talk about the NGS aspects of recovery, Not just benchmark hunting as a game.

 

If you want to talk Benchmark hunting as a Game where NGS recovery is treated as an option then that forum is found here: http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showforum=10

 

Otherwise the Semantics are fine for the FAQ as based on the Nature of this Forum.

 

Thanks for your interest.

 

Rob

Edited by evenfall

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I have several questions about reporting benchmarks to the NGS. I am asking here because I believe the answer will be worth including in the FAQ.

 

Just in case it is not clear, these questions are in refernce to reporting finds to the NGS.

 

1. I found JK1248 (Pike's Peak) back in 2003. It was last recovered in 1986. Since I did not know about reporting to the NGS, nor the reporting guidelines. The only information that I could provide is that I found the mark and its 2 reference marks, as far as I can tell I am the only person on GC.com that has found all three marks. Unfortunately, at the time, I did not make any references of each marks realationship to each other.

 

So, would it be acceptable to report the mark as "Found" (in this case, Good Condition) and include the WGS-84 coordinates for each? I feel uncomfortable reporting "Found as Described" since I cannot confirm the relational information in the data sheet.

 

2. I recently found KY0380 (Oakdale 2) and KY3598 (Oakdale RM1 Reset). The information in these data sheets are generally correct and anyone reading them should be able to find the marks. The only corrections would be in reference to a railroad that no longer exists (it is now a rail to trail) and KY3598 was refernced to be on the side of a bank and 1 foot south of the curb. The building is no longer used as a bank and the sidewalk is approximately 8 feet wide now, but the mark is still there.

 

I did not have a tape measure with me to measure the exact distances. If I were to report these, how should I report the changes without explicitly confirming the other measurements? (i.e. "13 FEET EAST OF THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF BUILDING, 25 FEET WEST OF BRICK PILLAR AT THE NORTHEAST CORNER ENTRANCE TO BANK") I have no doubt that this information is correct, especially considering that there is no evidence of a change in the entrance to the building. KY0380 also refers to a train station that no longer exists ("0.05 MILE NORTHWEST OF PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD STATION").

 

I am using this as a hypothetical, but I drive by this building every day, so I will go back and perform more accurate measurements.

 

3. When should 'Found as described' vs 'Found' be used? When using 'Found as described' should each piece of information in the datasheet be confirmed, including distances? Or can 'Found as described' be used when the datasheet is accurate enough to find the mark, but the distances were not confirmed.

 

4. If the 15 degree rule is violated, should GPS readings be considered useless? Or, could I 1) get a GPSr reading 75 feet north of the mark and state it as such, or 2) get a poor read at the site and state in my description tha the 15 degree rule was violated.

 

My main concern is that I would like to report these marks with the proper corrections, but do not want to be seen as saying that the information that I did not correct is correct when I was unable to verify the correctness. I think this will most commonly happen in reference to distances, either inches, feet, or miles; since it is easy to determine if a road, building, or railroad still exist.

 

 

-stroh

Edited by Green Toad

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Green Toad,

 

Let's have a look.

 

> I have several questions about reporting benchmarks to the NGS. I am asking here because I believe the answer will be worth including in the FAQ.

 

What you are asking are specific questions, not really general ones, The FAQ is really for the most basic questions which arise.

 

> Just in case it is not clear, these questions are in refernce to reporting finds to the NGS.

 

> 1. I found JK1248 (Pike's Peak) back in 2003. It was last recovered in 1986. Since I did not know about reporting to the NGS, nor the reporting guidelines. The only information that I could provide is that I found the mark and its 2 reference marks, as far as I can tell I am the only person on GC.com that has found all three marks. Unfortunately, at the time, I did not make any references of each marks realationship to each other.

 

> So, would it be acceptable to report the mark as "Found" (in this case, Good Condition) and include the WGS-84 coordinates for each? I feel uncomfortable reporting "Found as Described" since I cannot confirm the relational information in the data sheet.

 

Pikes Peak is a Triangulation Station. This is a Horizontally Positioned Survey Marker. The Data sheet already contains the EXACT position of the station. A position which is accurate to millimeters where your Handheld position is accurate to within roughly 10 feet on average. The Station is not Positioned with WGS84, In Fact, It is an integral part of NAD83 Datum, so WGS84 simply does not apply.

 

If you want to file it as a found, the NGS website allows for you to backdate to the date you were there. Since there are not many details you can certify, a simple recovery stating you found the Station Mark and the all of the Reference Marks in good condition will suffice.

 

> 2. I recently found KY0380 (Oakdale 2) and KY3598 (Oakdale RM1 Reset). The information in these data sheets are generally correct and anyone reading them should be able to find the marks. The only corrections would be in reference to a railroad that no longer exists (it is now a rail to trail) and KY3598 was refernced to be on the side of a bank and 1 foot south of the curb. The building is no longer used as a bank and the sidewalk is approximately 8 feet wide now, but the mark is still there.

 

> I did not have a tape measure with me to measure the exact distances. If I were to report these, how should I report the changes without explicitly confirming the other measurements? (i.e. "13 FEET EAST OF THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF BUILDING, 25 FEET WEST OF BRICK PILLAR AT THE NORTHEAST CORNER ENTRANCE TO BANK") I have no doubt that this information is correct, especially considering that there is no evidence of a change in the entrance to the building. KY0380 also refers to a train station that no longer exists ("0.05 MILE NORTHWEST OF PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD STATION").

 

(if you catch the bug, you will start bringing tools... Yup... :-) )

 

>I am using this as a hypothetical, but I drive by this building every day, so I will go back and perform more accurate measurements.

 

Found in good condition. Building formerly doing business as a Bank is now doing business as a ????. Modifications to the original Bank entryway are suspected but unconfirmable. (see, you cannot be sure so you are giving the next user a heads up to try to confirm this for themselves) The Railroad right of way is now a right of way for a rails to trails pathway. Railroad Station has been since removed from referenced area.

 

> 3. When should 'Found as described' vs 'Found' be used? When using 'Found as described' should each piece of information in the datasheet be confirmed, including distances? Or can 'Found as described' be used when the datasheet is accurate enough to find the mark, but the distances were not confirmed.

 

> My main concern is that I would like to report these marks with the proper corrections, but do not want to be seen as saying that the information that I did not correct is correct when I was unable to verify the correctness. I think this will most commonly happen in reference to distances, either inches, feet, or miles; since it is easy to determine if a road, building, or railroad still exist.

 

Well, Use your best judgment. Compare the area to the description. If the description is just like what you are witnessing, then it is as described. If it is not and you still found it, then Found is good. If you did not check the dimensions given then did you confirm the description as described? Yes? No? If you still found it anyway then did you "found" it? :-) Your judgment will develop the more you use it on this sort of thing.

 

Stroh, Your heart is in the right place, so let your conscience help you. If you did not verify all of it, you cannot say you did. If you did find it and you feel the description works, then say so. I don't always use all the various ways that a station is described, yet I find it. I may add o the description some new aspects of finding it without discrediting old ones.

 

The biggest thing I can say to you is that there is some general types of information but once we begin to examine a PID it becomes like a CSI episode, and I can tell you that everyone here will chime in with a hearty yes on that. So we really do have to look hard at the variables and examine what we think is true, or still true... Or not, and what is true now that wasn't even present then... I could go on and on, but rarely two out of 25 of these is that simple.

 

Feel free to ask as many questions of us as you like, it is what the Forums are for.

 

Happy hunting, Rob

Edited by evenfall

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My main concern is attempting to make corrections to specific parts of the datasheet without becoming too verbose by explaining that I did not confirm everything contained therein.

 

Also, I know that every profession has its own 'lingo' which mean different things to that profession than what the same words would mean to the general public. The last thing I would want to do is submit an update that unintentionally used a word or phrase that had significantly different meaning than from the one that I meant.

 

This is the basis for my question re: 'found' vs. 'found as described'. I know that surveyors are very precise in what they do, and, therefore, the meanings of words that they use. I just want to make sure that when I do make a submission to the NGS that I don't give the illusion of more precision than actually existed.

 

-stroh

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Stroh,

 

More answers...

 

> My main concern is attempting to make corrections to specific parts of the datasheet without becoming too verbose by explaining that I did not confirm everything contained therein.

 

Then study other datasheets for details on how others accomplish this and follow that lead.

 

> Also, I know that every profession has its own 'lingo' which mean different things to that profession than what the same words would mean to the general public. The last thing I would want to do is submit an update that unintentionally used a word or phrase that had significantly different meaning than from the one that I meant.

 

Again, take the time to steep yourself in the idiom, Study how it has been done. Why Rush? If you are in a hurry, simply file that you found the station mark or you didn't find the station mark, Simple as that.

 

> This is the basis for my question re: 'found' vs. 'found as described'. I know that surveyors are very precise in what they do, and, therefore, the meanings of words that they use. I just want to make sure that when I do make a submission to the NGS that I don't give the illusion of more precision than actually existed.

 

Well, I welcome your desire to be precise. It looks like your heart is in the right place if your desire is to become precise in your recovery work. If you see ways of offering a better description than what is currently available, what would be the harm in improving upon it?

 

What may have been precise in 1955, is perhaps not as precise 50 years later. We are recovering objects that have lasted at least a lifetime, maybe as many as four lifetimes. Generations have come and gone yet these Monuments are still here. Describe what you observed today. Compare the old with the new and see if you feel the old will suffice. If you don't then feel free to improve it. That is sort of the Hope here, You know?

 

Rob

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Green Toad...

 

Thanks for considering submitting to the NGS. There are a lot of people here in these forums that can help answer your questions.

 

From the standpoint of the NGS, we certainly appreciate any corrections you have. But for us, perhaps the most useful piece of information is the very basic, "is it still there?". If you submit a recovery with nothing more than that information, you are doing enough. Kudos to you if you submit more.

 

As far as your question about found Vs. Found as Described... I would say not to worry about it. If you found the mark, you found it. If you have a correction to include in the "to reach" section of the datasheet, thats great, just include that in the text section of the recovery form. NGS will put in the proper wording based on the info you send to us.

 

-Casey-

 

p.s. This is all off topic. PLEASE start a new thread if you are going to continue this. This is all really good information that others may want to read. But since it is under a topic that it has nothing to do with, it may get lost.

Edited by caseyb

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Casey,

 

Now that you have the NGS FAQ as a pinned and locked Topic, this thread has pretty much done it's work. I would see no harm if you wanted to close the topic. You could always start a new thread if you want to revisit it. And we can always cross link back here if need be. It will always be in the archives...

 

You started the topic so it is your call. Just a thought.

 

Rob

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I would like to suggest that the NGS FAQ topic remained pinned. I think this is an important topic for all newcomers (and a good reminder for others with short memories). Allowing this to sink into the archives means it will be more difficult to find and read less frequently than if it was to be maintained in a prominent location - like the top of the forum. Considering that the majority of these topics are truly an educational exchange, keep the basics up top and easily accessible.

 

In my opinion, of the 3 pinned topics in this forum, the NGS FAQ offers the most 'value' to the reader. Alternatively, pinning and locking a "read me first" type of topic with links to the NGS FAQ and other important topics might also be a reasonable approach.

 

/John

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Hi John,

 

No Worries, The NGS FAQ Pinned topic will remain a pinned topic.

 

This particular topic we are posting it has outlived it's original need to be. It helped define FAQ 1.0.. It is getting too long and the topics is wandering. It really is long in the tooth and it time to be closed.

 

As you what you may read first. Well, the topic is vast. I'd recommend going back through the many things we have covered in the past.

 

Feel free to start a topic if you have a question at anytime.

 

Rob

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Rob,

 

My apologies … I thought you were suggesting that the NGS FAQ be unpinned and closed.

 

/John

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