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mikecable

Technology In The Field And On The Road

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mikecable

Sometimes I'm an idiot. While I tend to be an early adopter for home and school technology, I've long resisted upgrading my phone. But I finally managed to step on my old clam shell Pantech (which both kids and colleagues laughed at). This past Wednesday my new Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro arrived. I'm now part of the smart phone 21st century. The Rugby Pro is the militarized version of the Galaxy, designed to survive both impacts and submersion.

On this past Monday I also received a Google Nexus 10 tablet for free (part of the teacher professional development program I'm very involved in). Both the phone and the tablet use my Google account, and the same Android apps work on both (usually).

Most of my fellow teachers started searching for educational apps this past week in our workshop. I started searching for apps to help me in the field. I found topographic map apps, GPS hiking apps, geological time scale apps, macro-photography apps, dip and strike apps, compass apps, and on and on and on.

I realized something. First that I'd been an idiot for not adopting this technology sooner. But secondly I realized how much gear I could jettison. I used to consider my technology field kit to include my cell phone, a point and shoot camera, a car GPS, a field GPS, and at least on some trips a field microscope and a tablet or notebook computer.

Most trips I would forget something, or forget to charge something, or forget the charger, or forget to carry it into the field. That seldom happened with my phone however.

I can now carry one ruggedized device (and one charger) that will perform all the same duties--usually just as well and often better.

I've found numerous valuable apps for field trips--but I'm still evaluating many of them. The one that I will recommend now is Stream Gauge Maps for Android from the Google Play Store (for free).

Approximately 5,000 of the 6,900 U.S. Geological Survey sampling stations are equipped with telemetry to transmit data on streamflow, temperature, and other parameters back to a data base for real-time viewing via the World Wide Web. A map of the realtime stations is produced every day. This map service pulls from the US Geological Survey throughout the day.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gcsresearch.streamgauges&hl=en

Moderators and admins--I believe this might be a good topic to pin in the collecting equipment forum. While I've been slow to join the smart phone universe, I'm sure many are already there and would love to learn of new apps for Fossil Tricorders.

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Uncle Siphuncle

hang onto your handheld gps... phone gps apps don't update when u r out of data range.

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squali

Look at solar chargers for keeping the phone powered during long days out. All of these apps Suck power while running in the background

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mikecable

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005LY5CWG/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

post-7463-0-24799700-1375309970_thumb.jpg

I bought this tripod adapter for my smartphone. A bit more expensive than some, but so drop dead simple in design I couldn't resist.

post-7463-0-38102800-1375309969_thumb.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VEJYEO/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

For use with this monopod. Only weighs about 10 ounces, and collapses down to 15 inches.

I was happy with the regular camera app that was pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro. It has a macro setting that is quite good. I've settled on Aviary for any additional photo editing I want to do in the field. I did add a specialized camera app--GeoCam Pro.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=wazar.geocam

It superimposes geographic data onto the photo--compass direction, GPS coordinates, altitude, level, date/time. Not something you'd want to post publicly if it's your secret honey hole, but great for personal records. It also uses triangulation to give you distances and height.

post-7463-0-62566500-1375309905_thumb.jpg

I took Squali's advice and bought a solar charger. Fully charged via the sun or USB it will recharge my phone twice.

Dan--the GPS on my phone works without using the data plan, and without coverage. Maps won't update--no live traffic, etc. But I've downloaded maps for offline use. And I was able to use the GPS before the phone was activated. I still haven't settled on my highway GPS--I'm leaning towards Sygic, CoPilot Pro, and/or Google Voice Navigator. Google is free, but the offline abilities are limited. CoPilot premium with offline maps for the US was $8.99. Sygic is free, but the US map pack is $29.99. Nor have I decided on a field GPS or topographic map solution yet.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/geograph-tx/id323930546?mt=8

I do wish the Geology TX app for the IPhone linked above was available for my Droid. There doesn't seem to be anything comparable. They have other states as well--something you Apple folks might check into.

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xonenine

"Fossil Collector", and "Geology Sample Collector", both from Major Forms, for Android look useful, if not as useful as the app you found for iphone... :)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shopzeus.android.majorforms_1017

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shopzeus.android.majorforms_1000

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mikecable

"Fossil Collector", and "Geology Sample Collector", both from Major Forms, for Android look useful, if not as useful as the app you found for iphone... :)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shopzeus.android.majorforms_1017

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shopzeus.android.majorforms_1000

I found those, and have downloaded Fossil Collector. I don't like the fact that it has no geologic maps, or GPS. I do like the fact that you can save voice, photo and video notes to a collection. I'm starting to research geocaching apps. They look like they might be very useful, albeit without geological maps.

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mikecable

post-7463-0-69949200-1375313731_thumb.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002JTWRN8/ref=oh_details_o07_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This was my choice for a car mount. I don't have a convenient place for a dash mount, and have never had much luck with suction cup mounts. This mount is rock solid in my center console (Ford Fiesta), in the forward cupholder next to the parking brake. I can angle it where all it takes is a quick glance to the right and down to see the screen of the phone in landscape mode. It's quick and easy to rotate the phone to portrait mode, or to rotate the entire holder so the copilot can view it. The phone mounts solidly and quickly, and releases just as easily. I can also easily transfer it to my hunting partner's vehicle (a Ford Focus, so the cup holders are very similar). Might not work for everybody, but works for me.

I'm considering one of these armband sports cases for the field.

post-7463-0-59458200-1375314157_thumb.jpg

I'm way too much of a nerd and a geek.

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Auspex

Kirk, Bones, and Spock never had it so good :)

Regarding the monopod; please be careful about using it as a hiking stick: it can suddenly let you down (literally) when you are in the best position to get hurt.

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mikecable

post-7463-0-83469200-1375319072_thumb.jpg



Kirk, Bones, and Spock never had it so good :)

Regarding the monopod; please be careful about using it as a hiking stick: it can suddenly let you down (literally) when you are in the best position to get hurt.

While I've always liked the idea of a collapsible staff (preferably one that served as a light saber as well), I've never trusted the concept in reality. Right now I'm using this

post-7463-0-83469200-1375319072_thumb.jpg

and/or a number of wooden staffs/canes. The reason I posted this monopod is because it is so collapsible and light weight. I would never trust my weight to it. It's actually only rated for a three pound camera.

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Auspex

I figured you were hip to the limitations, but it never hurts to put the caution out there for others to read (and maybe heed). ;)

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Uncle Siphuncle

technology is cool. as an engineer i embrace it. however i don't put all my faith in it. in case my devices fail me, i usually have a marked up paper map to navigate me in, then note suspected hot zones. i find that if the map becomes lost or destroyed on my trip, having gone through the process of making it burns a useful mental image if done within a couple days of the trip. the fun part for me is reading the geology onsite, especially the nuances, inliers and outliers than don't show up at mapped scale. so i hope there is never an app for everything.

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mikecable

post-7463-0-88779100-1375397132_thumb.png

Technology is cool. And sometime a little scary. Gary and I, as well as some of my students have been captured on Google Maps. This was the morning of rocket launch day. We watched the Google Street View car drive by.

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mikecable

The small town where I teach isn't as dusty, desolate and forsaken as this picture makes it look. Almost, but not quite.

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mikecable

Aaargh. Safety violation. The student at the near launch pad doesn't have his goggles in place. Bad science teacher.

Edited by mikecable

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squali

Ever hear the one about the guy that looked his house up on Google earth?

It wasn't his car in the driveway.

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mikecable

I'm teaching maps, mapping technologies, and GIS right now in 8th grade science. Geological maps are now part of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills--hurrah. But our online text said that GPS was now accurate to the centimeter level. I thought this was a typo and did some research on GPS.gov.

The U.S. government is committed to providing GPS to the civilian community at the performance levels specified in the GPS Standard Positioning Service (SPS) Performance Standard. For example, the GPS signal in space will provide a "worst case" pseudorange accuracy of 7.8 meters at a 95% confidence level.

The actual accuracy users attain depends on factors outside the government's control, including atmospheric effects and receiver quality. Real-world data collected by the FAA show that some high-quality GPS SPS receivers currently provide better than 3 meter horizontal accuracy.

This squares with my experience--I almost never am off by more than 20 feet, and usually am within ten feet.

But then there was this.

Higher accuracy is available today by using GPS in combination with augmentation systems. These enable real-time positioning to within a few centimeters, and post-mission measurements at the millimeter level.

Holy Batman. I want an augmentation system.

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jgcox

I want a hand held ground penetrating radar so I could scan shale or just the ground and get an idea of where to dig. Think about knowing which slabs of slate had fossils. The technology is already available just need to miniaturize it.

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mikecable

post-7463-0-12547900-1390075158_thumb.jpg

Anker® Astro 5600mAh Portable Power Bank Pack External Battery Backup Charger with Built-In Flashlight

$24 at Amazon with promo code

B2RMUW3U

I've only had a smart phone for about six months. But I rapidly went from doubtful to being a fan, to being enamored, to full-scale addict. Not the sort of phone addict that is constantly texting, Instagramming, Twittering and Facebooking. But the sort that is constantly using the camera, the GPS, note taking apps, field maps, compass, strike and dip apps, and so on. It's my alarm clock, often my radio, and occasionally my Internet. I use it at work, at home, at conferences and workshops, traveling and in the field.

So I use a lot of juice. I recently bought the external battery charger above and like it very much. It's compact, will recharge my phone fully from 20% twice with a bit left over, and will charge with any of the other chargers I use for my phone. It comes with a USB to mini USB cord. If you use an Iphone you will need a 30 pin or Lightning cord.

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squali

Mike,

GPS technology is indeed within the realm of centimeter accuracy. I currently use a GPS rover

with a cell phone link to a base station that integrates the satellites' data into real time.

This is known as RTK or Real Time Kinematic surveying.

Basically it entails a rover (your instrument) a base station (another receiver that broadcasts it's known position)

and the satellites. The software uses the predicted positions of the satellites

with the known position of the Base station to reduce error at the Rover location.

This technology has

virtually eliminated the need for construction stakeout. A lot of civil contractors have Dozers, Graders and Track hoes

equipped with GPS systems that can control the machines to the cm level.

A single user GPS system with cm accuracy is about $30,000 with the bells and whistles for surveying.

The machine control equipment is about twice that to purchase and install.

There are hand held units that will provide sub-meter accuracy for much less.

For locating fossiliferous outcrops I use a Garmin hand held since I can hopefully find my way within 30ft :D

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RyanNREMTP

What really comes in handy for me is when I turn the GPS option on that is on my cellphone camera and take pictures. Later I can go to the photo and go to options and then see exactly where I took the picture. Although I don't know if that will work if the picture leaves the camera. I've found a few apps that work great. One is like Trilobase but is phone or tablet supported. It doesn't go into the detail that Trilobase does but it does fine. I have this app on both my phone and tablet and they can sync together the information.

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Krazy Rick

I want a hand held ground penetrating radar so I could scan shale or just the ground and get an idea of where to dig. Think about knowing which slabs of slate had fossils. The technology is already available just need to miniaturize it.

Like you, I would love to have a handheld cat scan / X-ray type of device, to actually show a clear pic of fossils inside the rock, identify the fossil, & give exact measurement / depth, that would really help to avoid lugging useless samples around; that end up in the garden ..... the problem would be; that everyone else would have one too !!! :(:o:)

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RyanNREMTP

EBay has a couple of GPRs for sell ranging from 1500 to 10,000 dollars.

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Drjohn71a

Minelab has a free phone app that superimposes your travels, pics, and notes over Google Maps. Their CTX 3030 Metal Detector comes with a PC program in which you can both plan and document your travels and finds with Waypoints and Findpoints - each with attachable photos, labels and notes.

Edited by Drjohn71a

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