Using the eTrex 20x in rural PNG


Its not too often that one gets to experience the use of technology in the way we do things in this beautiful country of ours – PNG.

In many parts of PNG, knowing one’s land border is not only essential but also important for one’s family’s survival and livelihood. Knowing where land mark starts, who shares your land border, user rights, ownership and resources available at your disposal, brings you peace of mind as well.

My father always talked about land borders when family meet because, unlike land borders in the cities or towns, where land markers easily identifiable, in the bush, you just have to associate landmarks with oral history. Sometimes a landmark might become overgrown with bush or you might loose your orientation deep in the forest.

I decided to help my father use a Global Positioning System device to try mark land area so that I could have a exact land map that can be viewed on a computer, its’ topography measured and featured measured.


I used the eTrex 20, one of Garmin’s array of GPS devices. I bought the GPS on Ebay, had to shipped over to PNG, then travelled home, walked around the land, collected data and then tried to formulate a map of the land online. Its still a work in progress.

The ETrex 20 has a 2.2 inch display, has an internal memory and microSD cards slot as well. It can produce a map, uses a compass and can plot your movement as you walk highlighting stops at points and how long you stopped at a point on the ground. It tracks your speed on the ground whether by foot or bicycle. It also lists elevation which I found interesting! To help power it up, it uses two Alkaline AA batteries.


As you begin walking, you can then click on the thumb-stick each time to mark the points on your land border. The flags on the map on screen indicate the actual point in degrees. These represent the actual position along the longitude and latitude lines that mark positions around the globe.

Here is a good video that explains longitude and latitude.

During the evening, I checked one of the options which was to identify with satellites the GPS device would read from. Here was what I saw