Which tablet GPS software for AKC dog tracking tests?
I'm looking for a tablet/gps/software combination for use in the field. I'm currently using a DeLorme PN-20 which is satisfactory, except the display is too small and labeling waypoints is very awkward. I think my requirements are:
  • Tablet - 10" display, at least 6 hr battery life
  • GPS - satellite gps
  • Software - use downloadable satellite images for the US, create tracks, measure distances to and between objects, easy to edit waypoint names/comments. I've looked at OziExplorer Android, but I'm still trying to work out whether it will meet my needs.
I'm not committed to any particular OS and I can probably handle interfacing the tablet/software with my existing PC network. This setup is for use in AKC dog tracking tests, if that means anything to someone out there. TIA for any advice or general wisdom you can offer.
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Brollins, and welcome to the forum. You could look into DeLorme's PC software. I think both of its applications, Street Atlas and I think also Topo, allow for downloading of satellite imagery to your hard drive. I'm not sure of what quality the satellite maps are, perhaps others will comment on it.

DeLorme software would let you add your annotations to the map.

If you are in areas with Internet coverage, you could consider using online maps (Google Earth) for this perhaps, too.

If you decide to go with a Windows tablet, you will have a variety of GPS receivers to select from (if the tablet itself doesn't have a built-in GPS receiver/antenna). There are GPS units that connect via Bluetooth (which could be a bit more convenient for you to use since no wires are required between it and the tablet), or USB connected GPS receivers. These (BT or USB) units cost around $50, and likely any one will do a fine job, so I think the important part is to decide on a suitable mapping software (the GPS hardware is the easy part).
You will need to make your own maps for OziExplorer, which is something that I do, but would scare away many "ordinary" users.

As I mentioned over at GPSReview, I really wonder if an iPad would meet your needs. Satellite imagery (google maps) is included at no extra cost and there are many other apps that could be used.

As Marvin says, you would need internet coverage to use Google Maps, and would need to buy one of the 3g or 4g iPads for this. Also note that only those versions have the internal GPS chips. I'm sure there are iPad apps that also let you download satellite imagery in advance and store it on the device for use with no internet connection. But again, you'd need one of the connected iPad's just to get the GPS chip (it could be used without a data plan however).
You need to think about the degree of accuracy required, too, it seems to me.

I have no idea how precise an iPad GPS is, but most consumer GPSs only are accurate to +/- 3 meters.
Thanks for your great advice. Reading my own post again reinforced that DeLorme Topo 8 works fine for me on a PC. If I could get that working on a tablet, that would meet my needs. So I think I'll pursue that avenue rather than trying to match new hardware and new software at the same time.

The biggest issue may be the functionality of DeLorme Topo 8 through a touch screen. I read some of the woes of using it on an Acer Aspire One + BU-353 which seemed to be CPU/driver related. I've made a separate post here to find someone with experience with the Topo 8 - touchscreen issue.

Thanks again for your wisdom and advice.

P.S. Thanks to SpadesFlush for the accuracy issue. Sub 3m accuracy is not an issue for my use for reasons which I won't bore the forum with a 10 page, off topic post!
I don't specifically have an Acer Aspire but can't think of any reason it won't work with a BU-353 as long as it is running any version of Windows.

Marvin Hlavac
Sub 3m accuracy is not an issue for my use for reasons which I won't bore the forum with a 10 page, off topic post!
Definitely not off topic, and we love to learn about different uses of GPS.
AKC tracking tests. These are sport tests that demonstrate a dog's ability to follow the path that a person has walked. In these tests, a separate "track" is plotted for each dog on the day prior to the test and marked with flags. On the day of the test, a tracklayer walks the track, picking up all but the first flag. After a defined time, the dog and handler are brought to the start flag. To pass, the dog must follow the track and indicate any articles dropped by the tracklayer. The basic tracking test track is 4-500 yards long, 1/2-3 hrs old, 3-5 turns with an article at the end. The advanced track is 800-1,000 yds, 3-5 hrs old, 5-7 turns, 3 articles, and 2 deliberate, fresher crosstracks by two people. I am an AKC licensed judge for these tests. Contrary to immediate impressions, the GPS would not be useful in determining whether the dog was on the track or not, since that must be determined from landmarks from a significant distance. The GPS IS useful in the advanced tracking tests for two purposes. When the tracks are being plotted, the GPS (with satellite photos) can show the distance between the current position and various map objects (such as trees, a creek, a road, etc.). This is very helpful in plotting the tracks. The second use is to show the general configuration of the track. After rough maps (not to scale) are hand drawn in the field, the judges must make official maps of each track. Having a GPS representation of the track with parts of the track to scale, really helps in drawing official track maps. Creating the official maps is particularly onerous and a non-trivial task, so the help of the GPS is significant. Despite these advantages, GPS has not been significantly adopted by tracking judges. Of the perhaps 20 tracking judges on the West Coast, I am probably the only one who is using GPS consistently. My contact with judges in the other parts of the country has not found any others who are using it. If there was a reasonably priced, user friendly configuration of hardware/software for this purpose, it would probably be widely adopted. The ultimate market (perhaps 50-100) is not large enough to justify commercial development.

Well, I can (and on occasion, have) gone on for days on this subject, but that is probably enough for this forum.

- Bob Rollins
Marvin Hlavac
Bob, thanks for the explanation. I suspected this setup was not meant for a dog handler, as they unlikely are permitted to use GPS during tests. :-)

Please do keep us posted of the progress of the project. It may help others to know which software and hardware you've tried, which worked and which didn't.

Good luck! About