SAR Fundamentals/GPS practical


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[edit] Subject

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[edit] Authors

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  • Brett Wuth

[edit] Scope

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SAR Fundamentals Manual: Ch.13 "Navigation"
Basic SAR Skills Manual: Ch.7 "Navigation"

[edit] Prerequisites

What should students already know/have accomplished before the lesson is presented.

Prior to this lesson, students have been introduced to the following concepts:

  • map datums
    • know the difference between NAD27 and WGS84/NAD83 and can determine which one a topographic map uses
    • are able to set the map datum on their GPS
  • UTM
    • can set their GPS to display UTM
    • can read the 3 components of a UTM from it: Zone, Easting, Northing
    • can convert a 13 digit UTM to a 6 digit UTM
  • can identify the failure modes of a GPS

[edit] Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson Students will

  • know how to read their current location on a specific model of GPS
  • choose how long to wait for their current GPS location to settle
  • build a visual/spacial sense of how the UTM grid overlays real land
  • choose appropriate direction to walk to achieve intended changes to their current UTM

Advanced students will

  • know how to enter waypoints into their GPS
  • know how to get distance and bearing from their GPS
  • for GPS's without magnetic sensors, get a sense of how far they need to travel for the GPS to know their current heading

[edit] Time Plan

Total Time: 75 minutes

Time Material


3 min

Introduce topic title

Introduce Instructor

Present Objectives

Break students up into small groups (often best for instructor to chose groups to give students opportunities to work with others)

  • Have each groups sign-out a radio, and one or more GPS (one per student if possible)
  • Assign each group a call sign
  • Do a radio test

  • Distribute GPS instructions
  • Review how to set up GPS
    • Map Datum: NAD27 vs WGS84
    • Grid system: UTM (Canada)

  • Review how to read UTM (Zone, Easting, Northing)

  • Review how to determine accuracy (e.g. 11m)
    • waiting makes more accurate

  • Distribute maps (may have been given at start of course)
  • Establish a return to class time

  • Using the answer sheet, the instructor chooses a nearby Target Letter for row ii. All the students fill it in.
  • Each group randomly chooses letters for rows iii to vi. They write them in and the instructor records them on his sheet.

  • go outside the classroom and record the Zone, Easting, Northing and Accuracy
  • Review how to compare Eastings and Northings to compare relative distance and direction

  • as a class, walk to the UTM for the Target Letter of row ii.
  • locate and go to the nearest feature.
  • record the Feature Number, Zone, Easting, Northing and Accuracy for the feature.
  • Compare accuracy of exercise sheet with current accuracy. How do the 2 errors combine?

  • break up into assigned groups and proceed to the remaining 5 Target Letters they have chosen, find the nearest feature and record the Zone, Easting, Northing and Accuracy for the feature.
  • Some groups will complete early, have them do additional targets

[edit] Aids

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more material. See ~/sar/pc/training/subject/sar-fundamentals/components/subject/19-navigation-GPS

[edit] Question bank

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See Question bank

[edit] Frequently Asked Questions

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[edit] Feedback

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[edit] License

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Copyright © 2011, Brett Wuth. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

[edit] Reference Material

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[edit] Notes

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