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GPS ATV trails

GPS ATV trails
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  • That(GPS measuring technology) is definitely a better way to map trails for All-Terrain-Vehicles than I was offered the technology to learn with while in college.  I actually used a compass for direction and pacing for distance.  For a simple map of a trail system that was acceptable in terms of precision for such a map, perhaps even by today's standards, however, it was on a very small parcel of land encompassing only about four (4) hectares.  On a larger parcel of land, or where the trails deviated from the simplicity of a single loop the compass and pacing method would be so distorted by the time the "traverse" could be "closed" that it would no longer resemble anything better than we can now view using Google Earth.  

    Later as a surveyor I was involved in a mapping project which would become a three-dimensional model of the roadways for large tracts of land over 10,000 hectares.  

    During this mission, my partner and I were using RTK methods to gather the raw data.  We programmed the GPS rover to record a position every 15 meters while driving a vehicle up to 100 kilometers per hour.  This was working well except certain areas between base stations which were in valleys or nearing the range of the radio link to the base.

    This is where I invented the "Scott-tenna" , the name which my partner dubbed it in my honor.  It was simply a matter of understanding that it is not the wattage of the radio that determines the distance in which one can make a radio link so much as the height of the antennae.  As it may be well known by now, in doubling the height of the radio antennae, one could experience double the range of the radio link, however, merely doubling the wattage of a radio in the absence of adjusting antenna height may only yield a fraction of that extendable range - and so the "Scott-tenna" was was born.

    It was a simple thing.  really it was only a method of making the height of the rover radio antenna double.  The GPS antenna was mounted to the vehicle at a known height above the pavement, which made for simple math.  The radio antenna was magnetically mounted to the top of the vehicle, which made it a non-variable as well.  In the areas that created the most frustration, such as valleys and areas on the velvet edge of the range of the equipment, it was in my time of need to increase the height of the manufacturer's version of the radio antenna by improvising, adapting, and overcoming the limitations we were dealt.  It was at this moment that I removed the radio antenna from the top of the vehicle and fastened it to a wooden stake of one meter in length using duct tape, then affixed another wooden lath to the first, again using duct tape.  It was extended out of the passenger-side window and controlled by the passenger (co-pilot) of the vehicle, who was responsible for protecting it from low tree branches extending into the path of the vehicle.  This was done simply by leaning it rearward to decrease it's height and to deflect the tree branches by being less perpendicular to the antenna.

    This "Scott-tenna" was actually greater in height than the manufactured configuration by a factor of almost three (3), increasing the range of RTK solutions by  a substantial amount.  This resulted in an earlier completion of the mission and a new sense of possibilities in adaptation in times of crises, or at least in terms of the desire to arrive at home sooner to the loving arms of my wife.

    -Scott D. Warner, R.L.S.

     LSU Senior Director

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