Computer Mapping and GPS

GoogleEarth - a free mapping program
that provides color photos of almost the
entire earth along with a host of other

UTM Flyer - a free utility that works with
Google Earth. It allows you to enter
coordinates in UTM (Google Earth normally
only works with Lat/Long).

GPSTrackmaker - a free program that
allows you to upload and downlaod info
from most GPS receivers and convert in
between the most popular data formats
including gpx and kml.
Brookings County K9 Search and Rescue
Brookings County K9
Search and Rescue
Brookings, South Dakota
MapTools - Tools for mapping
GPS coordinates
US National Grid Resources
Minnesota Geospatial Information
While GPS units are normally used during searches (see information below), map and
compass skills are still important to know. Canine handlers will need to accurately report their
location, the location of missing subjects or a clues to Search Managers.  

Topo Maps                                                                                    

During a search you may be given an aerial map or a topographic map. A "topo" map is a
paper representation of ground features for a specific area or region.  Terrain, mountains,
valleys, streams, rivers and man-made features such as roads, railroads, buildings, dams,
and levees are all represented on a "topo" map.  

"Topo" maps also display contour lines. These brown lines show elevation changes. Contour
lines also identify physical features in the area. The distance between Contour Lines indicate
how steep the terrain is. The contour interval is found in the map scale. For example if the
contour interval is 50 feet, every time you go up to another brown line, the elevation
increases by 50 feet. Therefore, the closer the contour lines are to each other, the steeper
the ascent or descent. There are two thicknesses of contour lines. The heavier lines are
called index contours and are usually marked with numbers that give the height in feet or

The Scale is found at the bottom center of the topo map. The ratio scale of 1:24,000 is  
commonly used for search and rescue. The graphic scale represents distance in miles, feet
and meters and used to make estimates of distances on the map.

The numbers running around the outside of the map represent two grid systems that can be
used to find exact locations on a map. Latitude and longitude, are given at each corner of the
map and in equally-spaced intervals between the corners. UTMs are the smaller bold

To determine location, read the "easting" marks at the top and bottom of the map from left to
right. Vertical position is given in meters north. Northing marks on each side of the map are
read from the bottom up. Horizontal position is given in meters east.  These are referred to as
easting and northing positions. When reading remember this saying "Read right up" meaning
your first reading is going from left to right (easting) and then from the bottom up (northing).

Using a "grid reader" makes it easier to determine your location on a topo map. These small
plastic grids are placed over quads or squares on the map. Using the grid reader you can
pinpoint specific locations within that quad.


Take the time to get to know the parts of a compass.  Orienteering compasses work very well
and the straight edges on the sides can be used to measure distances and determine
headings on topo maps.

Taking a bearing...                                                                         

1. Orient the Map - Line up compass edge along the outside border line of the map and
rotate your body, compass and map in unison until the arrow is pointing to north on the
compass. Once they are lined, do not move your map! You have now oriented the map to
magnetic north.

2. Point the Compass to Your Destination - Line up one side of your compass, drawing
imaginary line from the place you are to where you want to go to.  Important -  compass
should point in the direction you want to go.

3. Set the Compass Heading: Turn Compass Dial until "N" points to true north on your map.
The Orienting Lines should now be parallel with the (North-South) map grid lines. Your
direction or true bearing in degrees is read at the Index Line on the Compass Dial.

4. Follow Your Heading: Now, while holding the compass in front of you with the
Direction-of-Travel Arrow pointing away from your body, rotate your body along with the
compass until the red needle faces North. You should now be facing the direction you are
going. Pick a visible landmark on the horizon that lines up with your direction of travel arrow.
Now put your compass away and walk toward it.

Be sure to learn more and practice reading topo maps, using the compass and grid reader.

GPS Units                                                                                     

Handheld GPS units determine your exact position using signals from a network of satellites
orbiting Earth. GPS units include built in maps and the ability to connect to computers to
download routes.
Topographic Map
Aerial Map with tracks from GPS
Garmin Astro. One line is track
layer the other line is where the
K9 followed.
Garmin Astro is a great tool. showing
current location of dog and the
ability to download exactly where the
dog worked in an area.
Grid Reader
Taking a bearing using map and compass
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