On X route planning and general questions (1 Viewer)

Joined
Aug 10, 2018
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260
Location
Bozeman, MT
My wife and I took a wrong turn up in the mountains a couple weekends ago and didn't recognize it until we were at the bottom of a relatively slick track into a valley in the snow. We realized our error and made it out with minimal drama, but it exposed a weak link in our system.

The system up to this point has been a combination of Google Maps on a cell phone to get to trailheads and satellite image and topo maps (in digital and physical format) with a proper compass for actual trail navigation. I really enjoyed land navigation when I was in the Army and I enjoy orienteering courses as a civilian, but there are easier (better?) tools available.

With that I'm considering buying a Samsung Galaxy Tab A and using the On X app. Does anyone have experience with the Galaxy Tab A used in this way? How is the GPS accuracy; real-world battery life; does the app/gps keep up in real time with vehicle movements?

It looks like the recommended procedure is to navigate to trailheads with something like Google Maps and then use the app on the actual trail. Cell service being what it is in the mountains, I'd really prefer to plan a route out at home, download offline road and trail maps, and then use the app from my driveway over the trail and back. Is that not how people are using these apps? Can it be used that way? Is there an app that would serve me better than On X? (On X is local and I'd like to support them, if possible.)

I appreciate any knowledge and experience you can share. Thanks!
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Messages
1,263
Location
Sacramento area, CA
 
 
I don't use On X so can't help you there. But if you are considering other options, I use APRSDroid on a Galaxy Tab S2. APRSDroid supports having downloaded OSM topo maps. I have an APRS adapter that connects the Tab S2 to my 2M ham radio via Bluetooth. With this setup friends that are running similar setups see my position on their maps and I see their position on my map on the Tab S2. If there are APRS repeaters in the area, positions get relayed to the Internet and the wife can follow my travels from home.
I find the Tab S2 GPS is pretty spot on and tracks so that I don't notice a lag. I don't really worry about battery life as I have it plugged into the 12v with a USB charger.
I also run a free OSM routable topo map on my Garmin Navi that I could use for driveway to backcounty and back. You do your route planning in Garmin's Basecamp and download it to the Garmin device.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2018
Messages
260
Location
Bozeman, MT
The APRS has a lot of the same capabilities as the Blue Force Tracking systems we used in the Army. None of my radios have digital connections right now, but a lot of the local ham club guys are going that route. I think SAR and the fire crews are using some of that tech as well. It's definitely something to look into.

I'm hoping to find a single tool, with a really intuitive interface, that can do driveway to adventure to driveway.
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Messages
1,263
Location
Sacramento area, CA
 
 
I use an analog ham rig Kenwood TM-V71 (with its separate dual bands can use it for both comm and APRS) connected to a TinyTrak4 (APRS modem) and its BT adapter.
My friend has single band mobile ham rig for comm and for APRS a separate analog Baofeng HT with a Mobilinkd (APRS modem) with a mag antenna.
Don't need digital rigs or rigs with APRS built in and can be done fairly inexpensively.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2018
Messages
260
Location
Bozeman, MT
I've got a UV-5R around that doesn't get used. I should rig up an APRS rig to see what all it can do.
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Messages
1,263
Location
Sacramento area, CA
 
 
This site maps activity that gets forwarded to internet. Link should show Bozeman area.
Google Maps APRS
You could try APRSDroid app on your tablet before you buy the "modem" as it can connect via internet also.
You could see a call sign you know on the map or the local ham club will have someone that can get you past any gotchas in setup.
Notice a number of folks in your area are running weather stations (WX on the map) clicking on them will get you data.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2018
Messages
114
Location
Los Angeles
I have a somewhat related question. Was about to start a thread, but might as well pile in here instead.

I started the free trial of OnXOffroad this morning and let's just say my expectations and reality weren't on a level playing field with this one. I expected far better in terms of trail discovery and community-driven information than it offers.

Basically, I expected:
  • every trail to be similar to their Featured Trails
  • to be able to save trails to a list that I could return to later and explore
  • more community sourced information like photos and trail conditions
  • to be able to see something closer to turn-by-turn directions, at least for the primary route on a trail
Instead, some of the trails have community-sourced information. It seems like there's a limit of 10 photos to a trail. There's no commenting or recent information on trail conditions. There's no way to save a trail for easy reference later; only saving specific waypoints. I totally don't understand this; if a trail is a series of waypoints, why do I need to save more waypoints on that trail in order to save that trail?

Am I missing something? Is there another app that offers these features?
AllTrails is close, but it's not specific to offroad/overland uses. Gaia is difficult to use.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2018
Messages
260
Location
Bozeman, MT
OnX is local to this area and I was able to message one of their employees. It looks like OnX falls short of what I was hoping for from a route planning, driveway to trail to driveway standpoint. I wasn't expecting turn-by-turn navigation, but I was hoping for a better solution than manually drawing line segments to create my routes. I mean, even the 15+ year old Blue Force Tracker allows for better route planning than that.

I looked at Gaia a bit over the weekend. It looks really clunky. It's probably very powerful, but oftentimes the tool that can do everything doesn't do anything well.

I'll keep looking.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2018
Messages
114
Location
Los Angeles
OnX is local to this area and I was able to message one of their employees. It looks like OnX falls short of what I was hoping for from a route planning, driveway to trail to driveway standpoint. I wasn't expecting turn-by-turn navigation, but I was hoping for a better solution than manually drawing line segments to create my routes. I mean, even the 15+ year old Blue Force Tracker allows for better route planning than that.

I looked at Gaia a bit over the weekend. It looks really clunky. It's probably very powerful, but oftentimes the tool that can do everything doesn't do anything well.

I'll keep looking.
I'm in an email convo with them right now as well. And I agree, I'm pretty disappointed by an app that everyone seems to be raving about.

I wasn't expecting full-on google-style turn by turn directions, but something that marks the most popular path through a trail and drops waypoints along the way would be nice. That said, it would be relatively simple to track the percentage of users who travel on what section of trail and create a heatmap (Strava does this).

There are so many choices in the OnX app that confuse me. I can't even save a trail without adding my own set of waypoints that represent that trail? Why?
And I agree on Gaia, "clunky" is a good way to put it. I've tried it a few times and shied away because it's difficult to use. Guess I'm still on the hunt as well. Let us know if you find something better.
 

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