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Topics - boogyman

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Trip reports / Flanders is drowning
« on: January 19, 2015, 06:04:27 PM »
Over the last few weeks we've had a lot of precipitation, so one expects a lot of water out there. But this much? These pictures are taken not so far from where I live, while hiking last Saturday. Admitted, the area is called "riverland", but still...

Trip reports / Walking with colleagues
« on: December 25, 2014, 12:59:51 PM »
Last year (2013) a hiking colleague and I had prepared a simple walk, and we sent an open invitation to all our colleagues to do this walk together -- as some kind of social/team event. We were surprised about the number of colleagues that actually joined us, and several of them suggested to repeat the initiative in 2014. And, even more surprisingly, many said they were in for a "more sportive" walk.

So this summer (2014) we prepared a one-day hike in the Ardennes. It is a rather adventurous hike, one I would recommend to anyone who likes hiking and navigating. It includes several more technical passages: a bit of scrambling, crossing a river, longer stretches where you must navigate, away from the paths.

Since we wanted to do this hike during the summer months, and with several colleagues on holidays, we set two dates rather than just one. In our open invitation to all colleagues, we made sure to mention all the attention points, because we wanted to avoid that people would get "stuck" in the middle of nowhere. As a result we were 9 for the first session and 6 for the second.

We enjoyed these two saturdays, and from the feedback we got I am sure the colleagues enjoyed it as well. Here-below links to the albums of the two sessions:

September 13:

September 27:

Trip reports / Visiting Belgium
« on: May 10, 2014, 02:46:50 PM »
On popular request  :) I will gladly write a few posts about our country. Or, to be more precise, about my own suggestions for those visiting Belgium. Please note that I give my personal opinion in this thread, so it might be contradicted by others (and especially by publicity).

Two things that I must not forget.

First, there is no such thing as "rights of way" in Belgium. Pay some attention to where you walk - as in "is this path open to the public or not". However, I often use paths of which I am not sure whether they are open to the public, and I have only once been thrown off private property (to be clear: it was a huge wooded domain and there were no fences nor signs). The landlord was really polite and not at all agressive.

Second, if at the entry to a forest there is a sign notifying that a hunting party takes place, don't go further. Contrary to (for example) France, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are allowed in the woods in a mutually exclusive way. Therefor, hunters won't expect walkers in their line of fire. Needless to point out the risk huh?

From a purely administration point of view, Belgium is divided in three regions, namely the Flemish region, the Walloon region, and a third region called Brussels-Capital. In a first post the focus is on the Flemish region. The Walloon region will follow - it certainly holds a more than a few cards for outdoor enthusiasts.

Trip reports / Using the Long Distance Paths in Flanders
« on: April 26, 2014, 06:07:09 PM »
If you go hiking in the northern half of Belgium (roughly the Dutch speaking part), you are bound to use a mix of (too much) paved and unpaved paths - simply because there is too much construction. Of course, those who outline the "GRs" (GR = Grote Routepad, or Long Distance Path) struggle with the same phenomenon. Nonetheless, in general the GRs are really enjoyable paths for hikers.

Today I combined a stretch of two different GRs: first "Dijleland" and then "Hageland". Dijleland could be translated as "Valley of the Dijle" whereas Hageland could be translated as "District of the Hedges". Both go through areas where a lot of battles were fought during the first World War.

Nonetheless, the bizarre moat on photo 6 was dug just before the second World War. It was intended to stop the German tanks: a concrete wall of about 4 meters (more than half of it below ground level) with a ditch dug at the side facing Germany.

The track of this walk is here:

and here's the photo album:

It's six weeks now since I started using an eTrex 20, so I thought I'ld share my experience with you.

This is my third satnav in the eTrex series: my first was an eTrex Legend H (it's display died), then an eTrex Legend HCx (still working but it's accuracy suffers badly, completely my own fault), and now I went for the eTrex 20. Here-below are a few conclusions, after having used it more or less "seriously". Please note that these are just my own personal findings, they are not the results of extensive lab-tests.

1) Speed of location fix as well as accuracy are (very) good. I should mention that I have enabled GPS and GLONASS satellite reception, as well as WAAS.
2) Display quality is fair in sunlight to good otherwise.
3) Speed of processing: from time to time you notice that the device has only just enough, or maybe just not enough cpu power. For example when redrawing the map, or when handling stored tracks. But you have control over this, by enabling only the map(s) that you need, by storing only the track(s) that you need, and by setting the level of map detail to display.

4) Handling capability of the device is not good.
4a) Garmin moved the joystick to the top-right corner of the frontpanel - which is really the worst place, when you handle your satnav with your left hand (which I always do).
4b) The mounting system does not allow you to detach nor re-attach the device with a single hand. Unless you are sleight of hand, maybe.
5) The build quality feels a lot less robust as that of the older eTrex models. Concrete examples:
5a) It is really easy to close the battery lid "in a wrong way", almost certainly leaving the unit all but watertight (but as you can imagine, I have not checked this).
5b) The locking mechanism of the battery compartment: you would expect it on a toy, not on an outdoor device.
5c) The slot holding the microSD card is just too fragile, compared to where it is located (underneath the batteries). I am not that clumsy, but when changing batteries I have to be really careful not to open the slot holding the microSD card accidently -- when your hands are cold, I bet you might have trouble.

6) When you want to use GPX files on your device, you'ld better be sure that your GPX files are written "the Garmin way". Just writing well-formed GPX files is not enough: GPX files which work perfectly well for any (other) app may still go wrong on the eTrex 20. Worse, they might confuse the device and make it misbehave. If you can prepare your GPX files well in advance, using the "correct" tools, that is not a problem. However, when you are in some sort of emergency situation and cannot choose everything you'ld like to, this might make the device miss its goal altogether...

Trip reports / A hike in The Gaume
« on: April 17, 2014, 12:20:23 PM »
With a week of Easter holidays coming up, and with such a promising weather forecast, Ines (my other half) and I decided to do a four day hike. Having done many walks in the Ardennes, and only few in the Gaume, we wanted to do a few legs of the TransGaumaise. We did not want to carry a tent with us, so rather than following the "official" legs of this long distance walk, we designed our own legs -- targeting around 20 km per day and looking at places where there are accomodations to stay overnight (and to reprovision). The unavailability of a sleeping place in one area forced us to make a minor change to our intended route. On Saturday (April 12) we were off, by train to Florenville...

Overview (attention, Wikiloc shows the trip details of leg 1 only):
Leg 2 on Wikiloc:
Leg 3 on Wikiloc:
Leg 4 on Wikiloc:

And the photo album on Google:


General Discussion / Aurora Borealis in the UK
« on: March 01, 2014, 10:09:52 AM »
As can be seen in this nicely illustrated BBC News article

General Discussion / Magnetic North -- impact on Brussels airport
« on: August 29, 2013, 09:07:57 AM »
Kind of "funny": since the magnetic north has moved a degree, Brussels airport is adjusting the names (or labels) of the runways:

Compegps -- under the brandname"TwoNav" they produce apps for iOS and Android, but they also manufacture satnav devices. See here:

Any hands-on experience with these devices?

Navigational Questions & Answers / Grid declination for UTM grid
« on: July 22, 2013, 07:09:23 PM »
Hello all,

I have a couple of topomaps (scale 1:10K) on which a UTM grid is printed. The map datum is WGS84. But there is no north indication whatsoever on these maps -- ie no true north, and no magnetic north (* see footnote).

Now, I believe that it must be possible to calculate the (utm) grid declination in function of:
- latitude
- distance from the central meridian of the UTM zone
=> for the center of the map.

But I cannot find the formula to use. Anyone who could point me in the right direction?

Many thanks,

(*) The reason why is simple: I bought them online from a "topomap poster print" service, and there is no legend printed on these maps; the only annotation is the UTM grid.

Wilderness Survival / Nutrition
« on: August 29, 2012, 06:54:21 PM »
Hi all - here in Belgium, I believe that only very few people go out to pick mushrooms "in the wild". That is a real big contrast with France -- especially in departments like Gard, Lozère, and several others in Languedoc-Rousillon. There, many people are "crazed" about picking mushrooms. The pharmacy in France is thé place where they know which mushroom is edible, which is poisoned, etc. Just pop in at the pharmacy with your basket full of freshly picked mushrooms, and they will help you eliminate the "dangerous" ones. Sounds bizar, doesn't it? Yet it is "everyday life" in that part of France...

Satnav (GPS GLONASS COMPASS Galileo) / OziExplorer
« on: August 23, 2012, 07:53:23 PM »
If there isn't a thread for OziExplorer yet, then maybe it is a good idea to create one indeed. That being said, I am not sure how to organize the feedback about my experience with Ozi. I'll just start by telling you its main features that I use frequently, and then we can make it kind of a Q&A thread. I've been using Ozi for many years now, and I must admit I am still very happy with it.

Ozi allows you to interactively manage waypoints, routes, and tracks on an electronic version of a topomap. The electronic topomap looks exactly the same as your paper topomap, because it is created from that paper topomap, by scanning it (to a JPG or a PNG file for example) and then calibrating it using a program that comes with Ozi. The only difficulty is to find a scanner that is large enough. Of course, a lot of topomaps have already been scanned and calibrated by people all over the world, so you could re-use those. Attention, there is the obvious question about the license price of the topos that you are using -- after all, in most cases you use an electronic version of a topomap that you did not buy as a digital product. I assume that, if you buy a paper topomap and then use it electronically, you are covered (but I am not sure).

OziExplorer also allows you to connect with a GPS, in order to:
- exchange waypoints, routes, and tracks between Ozi and the GPS device
- receive position information from the GPS -- Ozi becomes a "mapping satnav"
Be aware that you can NOT exchange map data between Ozi and a GPS device.

When you use the "mobile version" of Ozi on a smartphone running Windows Mobile or Android, or on another mobile device running Windows or Android, and if that device has a built-in GPS receiver, then you can use Ozi to turn that mobile device in some kind of a "satnav" (to use the forum's terminology) that uses the electronic version of your paper topomaps. Very handy feature: although it feels like cheating, you don't even have to think anymore to find your position on the topomap. Ozi takes over the role of your thumb, and continuously shows you your current position on the map (Ozi even lets you draw your own "pointer" to indicate your current position, so you could effectively draw a thumb).

And then there are many "peripheral programs" that have been published around Ozi. I use just one of those: OziPhotoTool. My digital camera has no GPS on-board (therefore it does not geo-tag my JPGs), but of course it writes a timestamp in each JPG, the exact time the picture was taken. Using OziPhotoTool you can correlate your JPGs with a track that you registered. It just uses the timestamp in the JPGs (corrected with the time-difference between the digital camera and the GPS time).

OziExplorer also has a published "programming interface". That allows you to control Ozi from another program, and to manipulate Ozi's map objects in real-time. Several such programs have been developed over time, among others to track and display the position of "moving objects", like for example vehicles in the field.

Although I have been using the PC version of Ozi since many years, I use a Garmin eTrex Legend as my primary outdoor satnav. But I always use Ozi to manage the data (mostly waypoints and tracks). As I have already indicated in another thread, I am using the Windows Mobile version of Ozi on my smartphone as my backup satnav. And since it has the same features as the PC version, I never have to think twice about "how to do this or that".

Hi all, I am Chris -- and whatever scale I look at it (house, village, country), the conclusion is that I live in a small place (Schriek, Belgium).

My interest in navigation is related to my hobbies: day-hikes are definitely my most beloved hobby, preferably in the mountains, and most of all in Le Parc National des Cévennes (located in the South of France).

In that context I have been using a GPS since long, but among the hikes that I (co-)organized, a couple are really in plain nature, away from any trails, and with very bad GPS reception in some places. And in those occasions, other navigation techniques are of course a must...

I discovered this (site and) forum just recently: my daughters gave me a copy of The Ultimate Navigation Manual as a present for father's day. So now I am really looking forward to follow this forum, and I will of course contribute when I can.

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