Benchmarking 101: Downloading NGS datasheets

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GrizzFlyer
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Benchmarking 101: Downloading NGS datasheets

Postby GrizzFlyer » Sun 2006-08-13, 17:37:21

4/24/2011 NOTE: This tutorial has been augmented by Benchmarking 102: DS World. The methods below still work, but you may be better served by installing the DS World program and using that program to locate benchmarks using a graphical format.

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This is a tutor on how to acquire and install NGS benchmark data onto your PDA and GPs units.

GOAL: To provide the cacher with sufficient information to hunt benchmarks in the field using only portable electronic devices, similar to how cachers hunt geocaches in the field.

PROBLEM: Pocket queries for benchmarks are presently not available from geocaching.com. Benchmark data from geocaching.com is available only in .LOC file format, which is very limited in useable information. To become useful, the data should be in a .GPX format.

HISTORY: Wanting to be a little more active in benchmark hunting, I checked around the internet and found a couple of sites that, when combined and with a little modification, provided enough info to allow the acquisition of the necessary data, manipulate it, and place it in a useable form on both a Palm OS PDA and a GPS unit with an expandable memory card. Here is how it is done, using a computer with the Windows OS and the GSAK program, and a PDA running Cachemate.

PROCEDURE:
1: You'll need a program called BMGPX. It is available here: FUZZY'S PAGE (Thanks, Fuzzy !!) This program will convert NGS benchmark data to a .GPX form useable with GSAK.

2: Download BMGPX onto your desktop. Unzip it, and place the BMGPX.exe icon onto your desktop.

3: The data you'll be using is from the National Geodetic Survey, a part of NOAA. Their benchmark data request website is here: NGS DATA . The available data we'll work with to get started is by county. There are some filtering options available by clicking on the <datasheet retrieval page> link or by going to NGS DATASHEETS , but for right now we'll stick with the county data. Select the appropriate state and click the <Get County Archives> button, then select the county you wish to download, select the PC Unzipped file format, and then click the <Download File> button. Depending on how you have your web browser set up, you can then download that file. I would suggest that you place it on your Desktop.

4: Drag the icon for the downloaded NGS data to the BMGPX.exe icon on your desktop. That will create a new file ending in .GPX. For Lucas County, the file is oh095.gpx, and is now 1.59 meg in size.

5: Start GSAK. Start with a clean database, clear out any waypoint data from previous pocket queries or files. Import the newly-created .GPX file into GSAK. You should then see all the benchmarks listed.

6: Upload the new GSAK database to your PDA using whatever method you have previously used to upload regular geocaching waypoint files. I recommend placing benchmarks in their own category in the Cachemate program. You may want to choose <edit categories> in Cachemate and create several benchmark categories, which would give you the ability to separate the data by counties or by whatever filter you chose [see 3, above].

7: Do the same thing to upload the data to your GPS or memory card.

You're done.

NOTES:
A: The NGS file for Lucas County contains 250 benchmarks and is 1.15 meg in size in unzipped form, so for those of you who are still on a dial-up internet connection, you might want to experiment with downloading it in the zipped file format and then unzip it before dragging it to BMGPX.exe.

B: Those of you who have a GPS unit capable of selectable databases can place a bunch of them onto your memory card and field-select which one you want displayed. Newer GPS units that can display both a geocache file and a POI (Point Of Interest) file at the same time can see all geocaches and POI's at the same time if you choose to. Be sure to save your benchmarks as a POI file in Step 6, above. I do not recommend saving benchmarks as a geocache file if you can have the option of separate geocache and POI files.

C: Be sure that the way you choose to label the benchmarks on your GPS matches with what you label them as on your PDA/Cachemate. Otherwise, you'll have a heck of a time trying to find it on your PDA.

D: I have not yet located a method to filter out those benchmarks that you have already found.

[edited 8/14/06 1100 for a clarification]
Last edited by GrizzFlyer on Sun 2011-04-24, 22:39:28, edited 4 times in total.
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GizmoGuy411
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Re: Benchmark downloads: a primer

Postby GizmoGuy411 » Mon 2006-08-14, 13:40:06

Great primer GF! I'll have to give it try.
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OrangeDawg
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Re: Benchmarking 101: Downloading NGS datasheets

Postby OrangeDawg » Fri 2007-01-05, 01:44:28

I've been looking for something that does just this! Thanks Grizzflyer!
[url=http://www.geocaching.com/profile/?A=897559:19olzmea][img:19olzmea]http://img.groundspeak.com/stats/img.aspx?txt=Let's+get+together+and+cache!&uid=0c616b4b-478c-4e00-ba79-5f10c88276aa[/img:19olzmea][/url:19olzmea]

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Re: Benchmarking 101: Downloading NGS datasheets

Postby armygreenx » Thu 2010-10-14, 14:12:43

Is this tutorial still accurate? I seam to be having issues actually finding the option to download the county data. I am still messing around with it though. If i figure it out i will reply.

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GrizzFlyer
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Re: Benchmarking 101: Downloading NGS datasheets

Postby GrizzFlyer » Thu 2011-04-21, 22:19:31

The tutorial is still accurate and works well.

BUT, the NGS/NOAA just came out with a new app that makes the process much, much easier. I will update this info soon.
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