ArborTrail - Hints and Tips
Once you stop using paper and pen to record tree survey data and use instead an electronic device such as a PDA you are completely at the mercy of it. If you should drop it, break it, lose it or if it should just stop working, run out of battery power you could be facing the loss of a lot of work hours. It is no laughing matter to have to revisit 140 trees because you dropped your PDA in the canal or on a rock or because it just decided to pack up!
By following a few simple safeguards, you can practically eliminate such possibilities.
1.First and most important, you MUST purchase one or preferably two SD (secure digital) Memory storage cards. These are universal miniature data storage disks which will fit all PDAs. They are brilliant! And the are cheap.
You can get them in different sizes such as 1GB, 2GB, 4GB etc. I purchased two 1GB cards on EBay, brand new and for a few pounds each. Please do likewise!
2.Now as you survey, you save the tree survey data from within ArborTrail to the SD card. You do this every 5-10 trees or so. So, that should, for some reason, your PDA fail on you, you can remove the SD card, place it into another PDA and continue working.
3.And this brings me to the next recommendation. Buy a backup PDA. It doesnt need to be fancy or expensive, I bought a cheap iPaQ off Ebay for 70. If you are surveying far from home, the last thing you need is to be stuck with a dead PDA! You need a backup. The cost of the backup PDA is a necessary overhead which you accept; it can save you a lot of time should you need it.
4.During a tea break, swap over the SD cards. Place the one with the saved data in your car, pocket, wherever, but separate from the PDA. Put a new fresh SD card into the PDA. So, this way you have a backup of some of the survey, should you lose the PDA etc. I have an SD slot on my Dell laptop, so I can actually just make a backup of the cards contents quickly onto my hard drive. You can buy USB SD card adaptors to enable you to do this with any kind of PC.
5.Consider keeping a Spare battery if you intend to work for most of a day in one go. Remember to keep the PDA car charger adaptor handy, so that you can plug your PDA into the charger whenever you stop for a tea break or dinner.
6.Be economical with your battery power. Use reduced screen brightness. Switch off Bluetooth and any other power hungry functions. Switch the PDA off as you leave a tree and on at the next tree, dont just leave it on non-stop.