Oct 26, 2012

Backpacking with an iPhone 5

This is a continuation of the iPhone 4 as a GPS post.

My goal is to eliminate all electronics except for my iPhone 5. This past weekend was my first "beta" test. The functionality I was replacing was:

1. Eliminate my Garmin eTrex. Functionality includes
A. Importing a saved track in .gpx format.
B. import topo maps around the track to be used offline.
C. Create waypoints at points of interest.
D. Save the track of the hike (if power permits)
E. 20 hrs battery life with 2 lithium AA.
F. Get sunrise sunset data
2. Eliminate my camera
A. Would like geotagging and accurate time stamping of photos
B. would like image stabilization.
C. Low light capability
D. Panorama photo capability
3. Eliminate separate phone
4. Eliminate music device.

New functionality I'd lIke to add includes:
- voice memos with time stamp to annotate waypoints
- offline blogging of trail journal
- kindle book reading capability.

So I ordered a iPhone 5 with AT&T service that uses a SIM card, as recommended by the Adventure Alan's excellent post on the subject that can be found here:http://www.adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
The secret to battery life is to disable the all radios in the phone except for the GPS. The only way to disable the phone short of jail breaking, is to put a SIM password on the SIM. When you power down the phone, and restart it, it asks for your SIM password. If you click OK instead of Unlock, the phone is disabled, but the GPS still works. (If you wondered, airplane mode disables all radios AND gps)

Get Needed Apps
1. Gaia GPS - (guy-yah) Adventure Alan recommended this, and he was right. Best GPS app with offline cached capabilities and open source maps.
2. Maplets - this doesn't always help, but maplets has "specialized" maps done by parks and other government services. Can be helpful
3. Camera - native app - has panorama capability
4. Voice Memos - native app
5. Camera+ - has image stabilization, and other editing features.
6. Kindle - book reading app.
7. BlogPress - offline blogging app.

Prepping the phone for backcountry use
Upload track into Gaia GPS. Click the track in saved, click the share button, and click "show on map". Try both the USGS and Open Cycle Maps to see which will better suit needs. I found OCM often shows existing trails better, but is in metric elevations. Once you pick your map, go to saved, highlight track, share, and click "download maps for track". Now they are cached for offline use.  See http://www.gaiagps.com/wiki/downloadmapsalongtrack

Long push power button, and swipe to turn off phone. Power back up and click OK to keep SIM locked.

Turn all radios off, except location services: Bluetooth, Wifi, push notifications, etc. google on how to maximize phone battery for help on this.

In my last trip, I found I used 35% of the battery using the GPS and camera regularly. Be sure to background Gaia before sleeping the phone by hitting the home button.

In the next post, I will detail usage of Gaia GPS app, and each of the other recommended apps.



The Great Hive said...

I am one of the Gaia devs. We tend to pronounce it guy-yuh, though it can be said a few ways I think.

The app is named for the Greek goddess of the earth.

Jason Brewer said...

Just stumbled across your blog and so far *thumbs up*

Question: What AA external charger did you get? I've seen a wide variety of prices and such on Amazon. Input would be awesome!

Thanks in advance!