Map - Compass - GPS workshop
May 9 & 10, 2015
9 AM to 4 PM each day
Most travelers in the back-country agree that having a map and compass, and optionally a GPS receiver,
is appropriate safety planning. However, having these things doesn’t provide benefit if there is no
understanding of how to use them.
GPS receivers are often carried without map and compass backup, assuming that maps and compasses
are no longer necessary through modern technology. However, GPS receivers can fail, so having an
understanding of maps and compasses is still important. Additionally, an understanding of
topographical maps and coordinate systems is necessary to correctly choose the various options in the
receiver settings menus.
SATRA trail cataloging project
We are developing a project to capture and make available the GPS track of every ride that we are doing
this year. These will be available as downloadable track files from our website. These files can then be
viewed with Google Earth on your computer, or loaded into a GPS receiver to retrace club rides.
Because not every rider will necessarily be able to attend every ride, or there may be two rides at the
same time, this project will require a group of active members that are interested in participating with
the gathering of trail tracks.
To start this project off we have asked Lethbridge College to provide a 2-day map, compass, and GPS
workshop. The intent of this workshop is two-fold. Firstly to allow participants to become more
knowledgeable about maps, compasses, coordinate systems, etc. for personal safety in the backcountry; and secondly, to train the participating members in collecting trail tracks. By being together in
a classroom / hands-on environment participants will understand the content in the same way, and can
support each other during the year if someone has difficulty with a GPS receiver or software technique.
The fee for the course is $25. The balance of the workshop fee being charge to us by the college is
covered by SATRA.
To participate in this course you must be a current member of SATRA, plus have been a member for the
immediately preceding two years.
What to bring
Lethbridge College has equipment available for the class to use, but if you already have a compass and
GPS receiver you’re welcome to bring them.
Room 2026. This is on the second floor of the Cousins Building on the Lethbridge College’s campus.
Enter the south entrance, take the stairs to the second floor, and enter the hallway. Room 2026 is the
first classroom on the right. (click for Google map) (street view)
Parking lot A is available on the weekend. This is immediately to the east of the building’s south
entrance. (click for Google map)
There will be a 1-hour lunch break provided each day, but bringing your own lunch is recommended in
order to get the class going on time again in the afternoon.
If you have questions about this workshop, about the trail track project, or want to sign up, contact
Steve Dormaar at [email protected], or 403-330-1541.
Introduction to National Topographic Series (NTS) maps
Map scale and map measurements
Scale and unit conversions
Relief and elevation
Longitude & Latitude coordinates
UTM Coordinate system
Civilian Coordinate system
Military Coordinate system
Converting Latitude and Longitude to UTM
North American Datum (NAD)
Introduction to compass reading
Taking a bearing
Magnetic north, true north, and map (grid) north
Converting magnetic north readings
Global positioning systems (GPS)
GPS receiver set-up & menu options
Clear the active track at the beginning of the ride
Close the track and the end of the ride to be ready to import to a computer
Export from computer software as GPX (GP eXchange for use in other receivers), and
KML (Google Earth) files
The software used in this workshop is Garmin’s free Basecamp as it seems that most members
use Garmin receivers, but OziExplorer or Magellan’s free VantagePoint is similar.