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Messages - Lost Soul

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Maps / Re: Five reasons why we should still read maps
« on: May 14, 2015, 01:24:16 PM »
Ianj37, The problem with GPS is that people become over reliant on it.  A 'why bother with map and compass because its difficult compared to looking at the GPS screen' attitude.  As has been stated several times elsewhere on this forum.  GPS is seductive even to the most hardened of map and compass navigators, who in turn have relied on GPS and come unstuck.

However, I certainly agree with all you state in your 10 May post.  Map and GPS is not a bad philosophy, but GPS is the back up.  Assuming the signal are not corrupted GPS gives you an undeniable position fix but does little for situational awareness.  On the other hand a map is second to none for that.

Certainly on a recent holiday in Namibia, GPS was very useful.  Driving vast distances.  Miles upon endless miles of uninhabited desert, mountain and bush.   

The only mapping available was 1 million or 1/2 million scale. Very little topographic information and so not easy to position fix unless one happened across a very infrequent road junction or was on a wiggly mountain road.  OK could have done it by timing and distance etc particularly on the endlessly straight roads, but GPS was far more convenient.  So GPS came into its own here. 

Grab a lat and long transfer to map and all was well.  Maps had lat and long grids, but their register with the landscape seemed to be a bit out in places.  But so what.   Using both we were certainly able to know where we were in the landscape.  Good situational awareness.

New Member Introductions / Re: Baldy Goes Walking
« on: May 14, 2015, 01:00:08 PM »
Welcome to a very friendly and informative forum.

Maps / Five reasons why we should still read maps
« on: May 02, 2015, 09:21:23 AM »
Interesting item from BBC News Website.

This is an interesting subject.  Below I quote verbatim something I wrote for another Navigation promoter, journalist and author with whom I am in occasional contact.

Alignment of Churches and Burial Yards.

In the spring of 2012 I found myself taking a short cut through the Brompton Cemetery in London. Having a new awareness of natural navigation I stopped and said to myself I’m in a graveyard so where is East? The graves will tell me that. I looked at the graves assessed their orientation and found that there was no consistent orientation.  The only consistency was that the grave’s headstones and memorials faced the paths that crisscrossed the cemetery.

The sun was out, so using my wristwatch, making appropriate compensation for BST, I determined where East should be.  It was certainly nothing to do with the orientation of this graveyard.  Total confusion! But the given wisdom says the gravestones are always aligned east-west.  It’s one of those givens we have always known so what has gone wrong?

This set me off on a quest to find out if the received wisdom on orientation of graveyards and churches is in fact valid. Now at the time of starting this investigation I was aware of a paper that had been publicised on the Natural Navigator website whereby somebody had researched orientation of churches and found them not to be orientated exactly east-west but within a few degrees of that. Well the results of my own researches have thrown the conclusions of that particular learned paper into question.  They have also reinforced something my Grandmother used to say.  ”Believe all of what you see, half of what you read, and nothing of what you hear.”

In a not very random manner I began visiting burial sites with or without an attached church. In all I visited 22 sites, 13 with church and nine without  (burial yards). I visited a fair number of sites in Horsham (where I live) and a number of other places in Sussex which quite frankly just interested me. I also visited a number of places in London. The attached table [not included in this post, but if anyone wants to see them plaes ping me a PM and I will supply] lists all the places I visited plus gives information about my observations.  The green highlighting picks out those sites that are with in 10 degrees of east – west.  Where possible I checked out historical magnetic variation / deviation to see if when laid down the sites had been orientated to magnetic east.  There is no evidence of this being the case.

Of the churches I visited seven were mediaeval one Georgian and five Victorian. Of the burial yards I visited one was 17th century five Victorian two were 20th century and one was of unknown origin date. In taking these sites and considering East West alignment within plus or minus 10° I found that just over half the churches conformed to this criteria were as only one third of the burial yards did.

Some of the churches are considerably misaligned in that respect.  Notably Horsham Parish Church, 13th century, 20 degrees out of alignment;  Horsham Unitarian Church, early 18th century, 40° out of alignment; All Saints Parish Church Roffey (Horsham), late 19th century, 55° out of alignment.

Only the oldest and youngest of the burial yards had true east-west alignments. And they are Bunhill Fields just outside the City of London, mid 17th century.  And Botolphs Non Denominational Cemetery at Botolphs in West Sussex, late 20th century.  A consistent feature of the Victorian burial yards is that the graves face the paths. And the paths seem to fit the local geography.  For instance in the Brompton Cemetery which is flat and rectangular the main avenue is straight, 60° off of East and at right angles to the main roads at either end.  All other paths are either at right angles or parallel to it.  On the other hand Highgate West Cemetery is on a hill with the paths snaking and curving around the site.  Which means of course that the graves here are facing every which way. Highgate East Cemetery has some curved paths but mainly straight ones 20° off of East etc .

Now all the burial yards and churches I visited were of Anglican or nonconformist denominations.  However, out of curiosity I visited the Hoop Lane Jewish cemetery in Golders Green. That threw up quite a surprise. The cemetery is divided into two parts, the east side is a traditional Sephardi Cemetery.  Gravestones laid horizontally and facing nominally 150° to 160°. The west side for all other Jewish traditions has horizontal gravestones and here the graves face anywhere between 300° and 340° dependent on the sector of the site. The two halves of the burial yard faced in opposite directions; make what you will of that.

In conclusion what I can say in respect of burial yards is that basically Victorian sites are non-aligned. Factors affecting the alignment are very much influenced by adjacent roads. The site is either parallel or at right angles to the road. And in terms of the burial structures, as we all know Victorians liked to make statements about themselves and therefore the grave site orientation appears to be all about visibility (i.e. always facing the path) and nothing to do with religious convention. This can be very clearly seen in the St Pancras Church (just by St Pancras station). Where mediaeval graves were cleared away to make way for the railway and the post-railway Victorian edifices face every which way.

Churches fare much better in their alignments and in so doing do the graveyards, which themselves are in line with the church.  The older the church i.e. 11th or 12th century the better the alignment. However, as noted above there are exceptions. The most significant example being All Saints in Roffey which is aligned parallel to the road making it 55° out of alignment.

Bottom line?  Be very wary of blindly using church or burial yard orientation as a means of knowing direction.  If it is Victorian or anything to do with the Victorians forget it.  Be cautious – but not necessarily dismissive - of anything that is parallel to or at right angles to the adjacent road.  If it’s very old the road could have been aligned to match the structure not the other way around.  The only trustworthy sites appear to be medieval or earlier.  Yet again maybe I can stretch a point up to the 17th century.

Prior to the above I wrote an earlier piece in November 2011 on the alignment of Christian Churches in Israel.

I recently visited Israel doing the Holy Land tour. Basically visiting lots of churches built on sites reputed to be where significant events in JC's life took place. I don't dispute he was born in Bethlehem. It’s just that the Church of the Nativity, like the rest of the original churches, were built some 300 years after the event by Emperor Constantine's wife. On sites she determined as being the spot. Anyway before I digress too far with my theories of historical inaccuracies based on hearsay and myth I will move on to the point of this message.

Now in the UK all churches face east; 090 degress give or take a couple of degrees [well I know a bit better now!!]. So I said to myself in which direction do the churches in Israel point? Do they point east, or to Bethlehem or to Jerusalem or what? With trusty compass in hand I set out to answer the question. Without exception 080 deg magnetic is the answer. Irrespective of whether the Church was very old, old or new.

By this I mean very old would be Churches based on those built by the Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries, in turn on the foundations of the original 4th century Byzantium buildings of the Constantine era. Old are churches associated with JC’s life events or otherwise, built say up to a couple of hundred years ago. And new are items built in the last few decades. Some replacing much older structures.

Essentially there is a considerable accord in the direction the churches face. And that is right across geographical location, the historical record and irrespective of which denomination owns them. Magnetic declination for Israel is 4 deg east. Which makes the direction the churches face 084 true. So why do they point 084 true and not due east? [I never did get an answer to this last question.]

New Member Introductions / Re: Hello
« on: February 23, 2015, 10:07:46 AM »
Welcome Mark331 to a great friendly and very informative forum.

Training tips / Re: Making the simple uninteligable
« on: January 31, 2015, 02:22:53 PM »
ianj37 I know the feeling that is why my posting name is Lost Soul!

Training tips / Making the simple uninteligable
« on: January 31, 2015, 09:01:35 AM »
How not to explain one the of fundamental principle of navigation.

Satnav (GPS GLONASS COMPASS Galileo) / Re: Rubber Casing on GNSS Buttons
« on: December 30, 2014, 08:49:11 AM »
Looking at the pictures on the original post.  The buttons have aligned lateral cuts in them.  Just a thought, but has the damage been aggravated by sharp finger nails?

Emergency & Backup Equipment / Re: Rescue me balloon
« on: November 25, 2014, 07:08:28 PM »
Just as an update to my post above.

Came across this yesterday for entirely different reasons.  something called a Helikite   A cross between a balloon and a kite.  Used in professional circles, including the military for hoisting things aloft. 

2 things of note.  First is that normal balloons tend to get forced down towards the surface in a high wind - which is what will happen to the rescue me balloon.  So detracts from its utility as a visual signal.  The Helikite does the opposite due the nature of its design.

The Helikite has a maximum wind speed limit of 35 mph.  Which is probably well in excess of the Rescue Me Ballon's capability.  And still not good enough for the British hills and Moorland on a bad day.

Nice idea Rescue Me Ballon chaps but fraught with impracticalities.  That severely limit its functionality to all but a nice Californian sunny day.

Emergency & Backup Equipment / Re: Rescue me balloon
« on: November 22, 2014, 09:36:11 AM »
Interesting idea, and it is nice and light in weight too.  OK I know its a development product and its from sunny California.  It flies at a height of 150 feet above the ground.  Its a visual signal.  So of no value in mist or a cloud base of less that 150 ft.  Not untypical conditions in the UK any time of the year dependent on the weather system blowing through.

How robust is the tether?  What is the maximum wind strength both continuous and gusting it will tolerate before it breaks?  Again I think of the British weather.

General navigational Kit / Re: Altimeters
« on: November 17, 2014, 08:49:54 PM »
In my opinion and experience the barometric Altimeters on these navigation gadgets are somewhat cheap and nasty.  Nevertheless they are a lot more accurate that GNSS 3D vertical position information.   Couple of years ago I bought a Suunto Ambit (Sports and Navigation watch) in the sorry belief that the altimeter would be reasonably accurate and position fixing on bland terrain would be enhanced.

Unfortunately I very rapidly had similar experienced to Hugh. So I set up a little test. 

Stable weather conditions.  In the car at the top of a hill take a reading.  Drive in a generally down hill direction stopping a couple of time to take a reading.  Bottom of the hill take another reading turn around a go back up the hill.  Stopping to take readings in the same spots as on the way down as well as at the top.  Surprise, surprise big variations in the order of 20 to 30 feet.  Yet the time to conduct the complete test was only 10 minutes.  Repeated it a couple of times with the same sort of results.

Given that there was only a 10 minute gap between the two sets of readings on the hill top then the differences could not be put down to atmospheric pressure changes,  Remember 1 mbar change in pressure represents a height difference of 30 feet.  And in the worst of storm conditions a 1 mbar change per half hour means you are in the midst of something verging on biblical in its advance and ferocity.
I would keep the thing on my desk nailed to a reference altitude (i.e a fixed data point around which other readings and displays are meant to move) and note what it did.  The reference altitude would drift in quite a dramatic way over a period of a few days.  In fact it had a habit of making near step changes. 

As a consequence I had a couple of "meaningful" discussions with Suunto.  In the end they agreed to replace the unit for me.  The replacement is much more stable and the hill test produced much more repeatable results.  Interestingly it had to go back to them by Fed Ex.  The van driver said to me when he picked up the watch.  Oh we get to collect a lot of Suunto watches for warranty return.

For a hand held Sat Nav I use a Sat Map Active 10.  That provides height information which correlates extremely well with the contour date on the displayed OS maps.  Its derives it height information by interpolation of data from its digital mapping data base. 

No reliance on GNSS 3D Vertical plotting or separate barometric altimeter.  Just uses GNSS 2D position fixing.  If that is accurate and the height information in the mapping data base is accurate then what the gadget is telling you is accurate; notwithstanding the inherent errors described by Hugh above.

New Member Introductions / Re: Hello from South Wales
« on: October 23, 2014, 08:56:30 PM »
Welcome to a friendly and informative forum.

New Member Introductions / Re: New to the forum
« on: October 23, 2014, 07:10:47 PM »
Welcome to a very friendly and informative forum.

Satnav (GPS GLONASS COMPASS Galileo) / GNSS Tracker
« on: October 03, 2014, 03:36:31 PM »
Just culled from the latest IAOPA Europe E News letter.  Whilst not land navigation it still may be of interest.

AOPA Russia's new Tracker
This summer AOPA-Russia has introduced a new software service for the Russian aviation community – AOPA-Tracker.
Satellite tracking devices such as SPOT or Delorme InReach are already used by thousands of pilots worldwide. These trackers can provide much-needed help when the pilot is able to press the ‘SOS’ button, but they lack automatic alerting capability for when the pilot can’t press the button or the device becomes inoperative because of an accident.
Russia, with its vast territory and lack of adequate SAR services, needs the very best alerting system, which AOPA-Tracker provides. With AOPA-Tracker, flight progress is monitored and rescue procedures is activated when necessary, even if the pilot is unable to call for help.

AOPA-Tracker monitors flights by logging moving tracking points, and expects an ‘OK’ message to be received after a successful landing. If the tracking points disappear, or are transmitted repeatedly from a single location, AOPA-Tracker first attempts to notify the pilot by sending an SMS message to a mobile phone. The pilot can reset the warning by replying by SMS, clicking on a web link or sending an ‘OK’ message from the satellite tracker. If that does not happen, in 20 minutes SMS messages will be sent to emergency contacts.

The service is currently free for anyone to use. AOPA-Russia membership is not required. The service and all messages are Russian-language only. If you want to try the service and are ready to deal with Cyrillic letters, check it out at (you may also try google translate at

General Discussion / Re: Preventing water bottles freezing in winter
« on: August 05, 2014, 08:13:55 PM »
that and the protection from predators, although some are perfectly capable of finding and catching animals beneath the pack...)

Just to prove the point.

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