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What follows is a list of equipment we use to benchmark and why we use it. This is not a comprehensive list, but highlights the major tools we never leave home without. This post is meant to be in informational in nature and we request that you do not reply to this one. If you have a question about anything here, please start a new post and we will gladly answer it for you.
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1. A metal detector - many times the markers are burried and this is the best way to find potential "dig sites". Note metal detectors cannot be used in state parks, many city and county parks and at historical sites. Use at yuor own risk.
2. A trowel or two - Once you have gotten a "ping" from your metal detector, you have to start to dig to find the mark.
3. A shovel - Depending on the terrain and how far down the mark is supposed to be, a shovel may be more effecient than a trowel.
4. Bottled water and paper towels - after years of being buried, throwing some water on and rubbing clean with some paper towels is necessary to identify the mark and get a good picture.
5. Baby powder - we use this to pop out the lettering on the mark to make it easier to identify the mark and take a photo.
6. Digital camera - take the pic and post it with your log. It is the best way for everybody to know you logged the correct mark. At a minimum there should be theclose up of the mark itself. Technically there should be three pics - a close up of the mark itself (With marking easily read), a medium shot of the disc and surrounding area and a distant shot. Directions should be noted.
7. Surveying ribbon - If we find an old mark that does not have any accomanying signage to note that there is a mark nearby, we will try to make one ourselves by tying some surveying ribbon to a stick or nearby tree branch. Note, there is specific standards to using surveying tape that cannot be deviated from. Only one piece of tape is to be used and the "knot" has to be facing the mark.
8. Surveying flags - we use these mainly for our own reference as we are taking measurements of an area when trying to find a buried mark.
9. Paper and pens - taking accurate notes if there are any changes from the last report. (It also helps in labeling PIDS for easier identification when uploading them later).
10. Compass - directions to/from the mark from a well established reference point (Telephone pole, tree etc) is needed.
11. Current NGS data sheets on computer - like geocaching, we try to be paperless with benchmarking as well so we have chosen to load the datasheets into GSAK. However, paper copies are highly recommended when approaching a land owner to gain permission to seek a mark.
12. Microsoft Streets and Trips on computer - again, we use this in conjunction with GSAK like we would with geocaching to plot out our travel route and where we want to concentrate when searching for benchmarks. Note: many marks are SCALED and therefore the location on the map can be off up to a mile from its actual location.
13, GPSr - We actually rarely use it (but should do so as necessary). The reason we use it as necessary is to update scaled coords and report our find to the NGS. Updated coordinates are very useful. Reported coordinates need to be in hdd*mm'ss.s format.
14. 100 foot tape measure - the datasheets descriptions usually state x ft from a certain point. A tape measure takes the guesswork out of it. 100 footer is so much easier than a 25 footer when the distance is 75 plus feet.
15. A roller stick measure - this is similar to a tape measure but is a little more convenient if you are working at a traveled intersection. Both a roller stick and tape measure should give you the same results, so it is really just a matter of personal preference.
16. A unit converter. Distances on datasheets, especially the newer reports and marks are expressed in metric units.
17. Safety Vests - many times these marks are located on the side of roads.
18. Bug Spray - do I need to explain why?
19. Cell Phone - many times you are out in the middle of nowhere, far from the nearest town. It's nice to know help is a phone call away.
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