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Saturday, March 15, 2014

update on Grid Locators

I received an email with the valid question of how to determine one's location, i.e. Grid Locator with high digit precision, in preparation for the RaDAR (Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio) contest.

Please allow me to initially direct to a prior blog entry of mine on the topic:

It will now be a challenge for all RaDAR Contest participants to determine their location while mobile. The RaDAR program hereby challenges the Amateur Radio operator in expanding his knowledge in orienteering, in findings his way from point A to point B. If you were in the Boy-Scouts or a similar organization, you will probably have no problem with this, for all others, it will be a new challenge, apart from the physical aspect of the RaDAR program.

So, what can you do? The easy way will be to have a GPS device or a SmartPhone with a suitable application. I successfully use:

Theodolite - which has 15 digit precision USNG / UTM grid locator precision. I assume that the reading is not 100% correct given that a smartphone is not a dedicated GPS device, but likely good enough for relaying to rescue services if ever you needed to. Really nice is it's integration with the camera. See a review of the application here.

Locate! - boils it down to the essentials. Also 15 digit USNG / UTM precision. Easy to use.

Here is a whole list of more apps which you may try out.

But how about doing it how it really should be done - by reading from a map?! Learn here how to read a USNG / UTM map.
Once you have that figured out, go here to download maps for free, ready for you to print out, which can also be bought for little money.

Regarding the use of the Maidenhead Grid Locator System, I am not sure if to recommend it or discourage it's use. It is Amateur Radio centric and as such likely meets instant recognition by HAMs, but Search and Rescue Services would maybe not know what it is. Should we thus burden the HAM who is receiving our coordinates, to have to convert them into Long Lat coordinates or UTM? I believe not, since I prefer to keep things simple and effective. No need to add another layer of complexity. Also, I know of only one iPhone application, to give me the Maidenhead Grid Locator with 8 digit precision, which is HamLog. One problem with it however, it currently saves your grid location only to the device that you enter the log entry in. It does not transfer to it's cloud server! You therefore have to copy/ paste that information yourself into the "Notes" field of the log entry page, which is a slight nuisance. But - it's still the best iOS app and the best HAM Log service I've found, I highly recommend it.

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