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Global Positioning Systems Field School


Staff members of the Cultural Resource GIS Facility (CRGIS) have been teaching GPS field schools and courses since 1995. Between 1995 and 2006, CRGIS conducted approximately 18 classes, totaling more than 230 students, for National Park units, State Historic Preservation Offices, local organizations and other cultural resource professional partners.

This five-day course offers an overview of basic GPS concepts as well as providing hands-on experience using GPS equipment in the field, processing GPS data and using GPS data in geographic information systems (GIS). Covering the basic functionality of Trimble GPS equipment and software, the class explores organizing a GPS field survey, preparing the GPS equipment, collecting data, processing field data and using the resulting information in ArcGIS. Students in the course will have the opportunity to design their own field survey and carry out the survey in a real-world situation. Following the fieldschool, students should feel comfortable designing their own GPS field survey, carrying out the fieldwork, performing the necessary post-processing of GPS field data and exporting the GPS data to GIS. Designed for users new to GPS and GIS, no prior experience is necessary, however knowledge of the Windows environment will help students.

Topics covered include:

•  Overview of GPS Concepts
•  Getting to know the GPS equipment and conducting fieldwork
•  Introduction to Pathfinder Office software
•  Project development and data dictionary design
•  Introduction to post processing and file editing
•  Exporting data to GIS
•  Overview of basic GIS concepts

Equipment Used:
CRGIS teaches GPS fieldschools using Trimble GPS equipment. Students may request handheld GPS receivers, such as the Trimble GeoExplorer 3, GeoExplorer XT or mapping grade GPS receivers, such as the Trimble ProXR model. CRGIS will provide all equipment, in the form of GPS receivers, for the duration of the course, although students are encouraged to bring their own receivers.

Course Notes:
CRGIS will arrange to hold a GPS fieldschool at your own facility, or in another location convenient to you. Classes usually consist of up to 16 students, with teams of two or three people per GPS receiver in the field and for hands-on exercises. CRGIS will supply one instructor per team of students for the duration of the fieldschool, allowing students more time to explore the equipment and software, as well as ask questions. Students should be prepared to be in the field collecting data with the GPS receiver for some time each day of the course.

Course Costs:
Costs for the course will vary depending on your location and other circumstances, and can be negotiated on an individual basis. All cost estimates will include the salary costs of up to 5 instructors for one week, as well as travel costs for those instructors. Depending on your choice of location, course costs may also include computer rental or reservation of a training room.

Detailed Fieldschool Outline

Day One

Overview of GPS Concepts

•  The role of satellites in GPS
•  How positions are collected with GPS
•  Identify sources of error in GPS data
•  What is differential correction?

Getting to Know the GPS Equipment

•  Assemble the GPS equipment
•  Set data collection parameters
•  Locate active satellites

Introduction to Data Collection

•  Create, open and close files on the GPS receiver
•  Collect generic points, lines and areas using the GPS receiver

Introduction to Pathfinder Office Software

•  Access and navigate through Pathfinder Office software
•  Transfer data between the GPS receiver and the computer via Pathfinder Office
•  Display and query data on-screen

Day Two

Project Development and Data Dictionary Design

•  Develop purpose and best method of field survey
•  Write outline of information required
•  Determine level of accuracy needed
•  Identify features to collect in the field with GPS
•  Identify attributes and values for each feature

Entering and Downloading the Data Dictionary

•  Enter data dictionary information into the computer via Pathfinder Office
•  Download the data dictionary from the computer to the GPS receiver

Project Fieldwork

•  Operate the GPS receiver in the field, mapping features identified in the data dictionary
•  Maintain a team logbook and fieldnotes

Day Three

Introduction to Post-Processing

•  Download GPS data from receiver to computer
•  Process base and rover files
•  Conduct differential correction
•  Display field data collected on screen

Introduction to File Editing

•  Edit features collected with GPS on screen via Pathfinder Office

Project Fieldwork

•  Return to field to continue data collection with GPS receiver

Day Four

Post-Processing and Editing

•  Return to the computer to download, process and edit additional field data

Project Fieldwork

•  Return to the field to continue data collection with GPS receiver

Day Five

Post-Processing and Editing

•  Return to the computer to download, process and edit additional field data

Export to GIS

•  Export corrected and edited GPS data into a shapefile format via Pathfinder Office

Basic GIS Concepts and Introduction to ArcGIS

•  Overview of basic GIS concepts and ArcGIS software
•  Outline of ArcGIS functionality and basic tools

Project Documentation

•  Creating file inventory forms
•  Creating metadata for spatial data files