Wanting to use iPad for marine field data collection

Discussion in 'iPad Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by akbreezo, May 29, 2012.

  1. akbreezo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    #1
    Hi all,
    I've been using a Trimble Geo XM unit for GPS integrated data collection in the marine environment for several year, but it's beyond buggy and cumbersome to use. I'd like to explore the possiblity of using an iPad for data collection as an alternative. So, my questions are:
    1. In remote areas of the Gulf of Alaska, where I work, how does the GPS function work? From what I've understood, as long as I get an iPad with 3G I should be able to receive a GPS signal whereever I am.
    2. With regard to 3G, if I only use it for GPS functionality on the water, do I have to pay for the 3G service?
    3. Are there any recommendations on apps for data collection (i.e. forms that can download to a database or export csv)? I have come across TapForms and Form Central as possible options for this.
    4. Anything else I should consider (besides the obvious issues associated using the iPad in a marine environment)?
    5. Is an iPad with the proper set up a good substitute for a Trimble?

    If there is a more appropriate resource to ask these questions, I'd love to know.

    Many thanks,
    Bree
     
  2. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Location:
    Oregon
    #2
    The GPS is only in the 3G/LTE Version (or in the iPad 2 3G version). The non-3G unit uses wifi triangulation to get a reasonable position. You are not going to have that out at sea.

    Assuming you have 3G connectivity in a remote part of that gulf? If so you will get a position as long as you connect to the towers. You don't need a data plan its just looking for the cel phone towers.

    Then you are going to need maps that are resident on the device and not dependent on the internet. There are a few providers of those for marine maps i believe. Just looking in the app store there are several but i have not used any of them.

    On data collection no specific apps - there are a lot of them do you need lat/long as part of that? You may want to look at Formotus. Like you said you will need an otter box or something to keep the grime and salt spray away from the iPad.

    Trimble devices are dedicated and made for that environment. There are other rugged tablets our there from Trimble and others. Most of those run Windows 7 though.
     
  3. akbreezo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    #3
    Thanks for the reply. There will not be 3G in all of the areas we are working, so I'm guessing we would be out of luck in these instances?

     
  4. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    I believe you will get a GPS fix without connecting to the towers, but it will not be as fast (cold start or warm start) or as accurate. The Geo has that massive antenna, something that a consumer device does not but you should still get a fix.

    When i have been in the mountains with both iPhones and the iPad away from cellular range, i have seen a fix but it jumps around a lot more.
     

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