Metal Detecting Research and Permissions – GPS Marking While Driving Using Smartphone

I have the fever.  I cannot drive through the countryside without adoring old properties.  But often, It’s just not the right time to stop and ask permission to detect.  I may be on my way somewhere else, or filthy because I’ve just done a hunt, or some other reason.  Other times I need to find out who actually owns the property before asking – often at a library on online – and then decide the best way to get permission.

To record these locations, I keep my iPhone handy on the seat next to me.  I have geopositioning turned on for photography.  When I drive by these awesome locations, I slow down (if possible) and snap a picture.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a good photo – or if it’s blurry – All I really want is the GPS coordinates.   And I don’t want to fiddle with buttons or trying to line up the viewfinder, etc. because this is often on backroads where doing so would be dangerous. (By the way, I always turn GPS off for photographing at hunt sites to protect the property owner’s privacy.  In fact, I use Camera+ for those photos and just leave GPS turned off on that app.)

Actual GPS marking photo (gps data removed here)


After this, I can use my computer to extract the GPS coordinates of each photograph I took.  You can use Picasa for this if you want to get fancy and it will place the photos on the Google Earth or Google Maps for you.  I usually prefer to just manually grab the coordinates from the photos and put them in Google Earth.  I then take the coordinates and do my normal research about the property.  I’ll often arm myself with some research and return to ask permission (dressed nicely, in a good mood, etc.)

One reason I don’t import the photos into Google Earth is that the photos make your myplaces.kml file huge.  Often I want to grab the file for my iPhone and I need it to be compact and quick to load over 3G.  You can still import the photos into Google Earth and keep your myplaces file small, but you’ll need to remember to isolate your photos in a folder and then uncheck that folder when you export your “today’s hunt” waypoints for your GPS device or whatever. (update: I’ve changed how I do KML files now.  I add photos and overalys in a separate KML file that is not in my Google Drive folder – loading it in only when needed.   Thanks to Robert on the Google Earth team for these tips!)

And yes, there are many other apps and devices that will mark locations, but the new smartphones have the camera easily accessible (it’s on the front screen on iPhone, even without entering your lock code.) and you don’t have to fiddle with things while driving.

I’m sure someday there will be an app that does all of this more cleanly, but it’ll be hard to beat the “grab and snap” capabilities of this method.

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