Never stop because you are afraid - you are never so likely to be wrong.
Jason T. McAvoy
Copyright © 2010-2013 Jason T. McAvoy. All rights reserved.
Every research field has its fair share of specialized techniques, tactics, and equipment. How Sasquatch research is conducted is no different and you will find that methodologies vary almost as much as the researchers themselves. Every researcher has his or her opinions on what works, what does not, and what equipment is best suited to accomplish the mission at hand. There are a few pieces of more specialized equipment, though, that I feel is essential for any researcher. As with everything this list is ever evolving, changing, and updating as technology does.
In today’s world technology moves at an extremely rapid, and almost, exponential pace. So the second set of specialized items GPS and Camera; they used to be two categories but now are one thanks to new technological advances. The world that these fall into is again extremely varied. Everyone also seems to have their preference. This seems to be base largely on reputation and experience. So the next two sections are not meant to give a recommendation but to give you, as the researcher, a few things to think about.
In the realm of photographic equipment it needs to be kept in mind that you really need more than one type of camera. A typical digital camera has extremely hi resolution, tons of features including video, and can hold hundreds or thousands of pictures. This is great but digital pictures can be altered and will not stand up to scientific scrutiny for that reason. Therefore you also need a camera with “film” to photograph the most important evidence for scientific analysis. Other things that need to be considered are the ruggedness of the camera. Options such as lens and external flashes, weight (since you may carry this a great distance), software compatibility, and video quality is also applicable. This search can be very extensive, in depth, and quite expensive, especially, if you test with the trial and error method. However, all of these are things that need to be thought about and taken into consideration ahead of time. This so you will have the best piece of equipment for your money that performs every task that you need it to and you are not left wishing you had made a different choice.
GPS (global positioning system) technology is moving forward at a record pace never seen in that market before. This is highly beneficial for the researcher but it can also be extremely confusing. As with any other piece of equipment that you take into the field the GPS has to be tough. You must expect it to stand up to the harshest of conditions and environments. A GPS also must also be able to display and/or record all of the information that you need for your research. Many GPS systems now have multiple systems built into them such as weather readings, altimeter, odometers, topographic maps, and integration of all the information into your computer system. When picking a GPS keep in mind that some of your research and at some point maybe your life may depend on it. So a few extra dollars on it may be money very well spent. As with most types of equipment there is no perfect on just the perfect one for what you are doing.
The reason that these two particular pieces of equipment are grouped together is simply because of technological progress. The more technology progresses the more multiple devices get combined into one. This is seen most commonly in the cellular phone market. However, this is beginning to change and this trend is starting to be seen in more devices. The GPS and digital cameras are no exception to this trend and in some ways I believe it is long over due. Some GPS systems now have touch screens and cameras built into them. They also have the features to be shared between researchers and have the software for your computer that makes transition of information fast and painless. The same is starting to be seen in video and still shot cameras; more and more of them have GPS taggers on them. So anytime a picture or video is shot not only is the time and date marked so is the exact location.
Technology to us, as researchers, is a double edged sword. It can be our worst enemy or our best friend. As it advances it will cause our evidence to be more closely analyzed, with better accuracy, and also fall under more scrutiny. It will also lend more validity to your evidence collected and allow each researcher to do more with less so the amount of potential evidence will increase exponentially. So it is very important to look at the latest and greatest thing that has just hit the market. Sometimes it may be all hype but again it may be just what you need for you and your research.
As researchers we have a desire for information at our finger tips. A result of this and our advances in technology we have managed to shrink the world and make it smaller so to speak. Despite this, however, the world is still a big place and many areas are still in hospitable for us. Sometimes this is because of nature being what it is and other times it is of our own doing as humans. I feel very safe in saying that one of the goals is to be able to travel to these places, do research and bring back the information to share with the rest of your social network, job, or what have you. In order to do this you must make it back alive and in one piece. This is more of a challenge than it sounds like at times.
Communications systems in these areas are less than stellar. So are the transportation systems as they also fall prey to all types of events and breakdowns. So suffice to say that when “it” hits the fan as they say, you are not left with a lot of options. The options that you do have at the time aren’t great. As experience has shown not just with myself, but with others that I am aquatinted with, when it comes to rescue, the market does not have much to offer.
Sure there are SAT COMS (satellite phones and systems), ELTs, Personal Radio Beacons, and a few others out there. They all have one thing in common though they are really expensive. In addition most are emergency use only. So even if you are safe you cannot contact others to let them know that and they do not need to send the cavalry after you. So for years this has been a problem and a logistical nightmare. You had to have plan A-Z, code words, call signs, rendezvous points and the challenges were enormous. It just seemed that it made your life as a planner infinitely harder.
Enter the SPOT to make our lives easier. The SPOT is a Satellite Personal Tracker that in many ways makes up for the short comings of all other rescue devices in this category. The SPOTS four basic functions are ALERT 911, Ask for Help, Check In, and Track Progress. SPOT uses satellites and the same basic technology that handheld GPS units use. It uses these GPS satellites to determine the user’s location and transmit that information to either a dispatch center (ALERT 911) or to a cell phone, email, or map (thank you Google Earth™). SPOT uses commercial satellites rather than military satellites. This means that 99% of the Earth has SPOT coverage (minor exception is part of Antarctica), and as long as SPOT has a clear view of the sky the reliability is 99.4%.
The SPOT is a ruggedly tough, extremely reliable, rescue insured (optional), tracking capable (optional), rescue device that can be used in situations other than a rescue. In addition to this it is also affordable as compared to other devices that do not have the features that SPOT does. It also has features that are optional, highly recommended, as well as useful.
When things go horribly wrong and sometimes they do this little device can make the difference not if you get rescued dead or alive but possibly if you get rescued at all.
Night Vision and Infrared
Night Vision equipment is probably some of the least understood and yet most desired pieces of equipment for researchers. Its benefits are phenomenal but depending on the “generation” of the device the drawback and downfalls can be too. It is strongly recommended that you do a significant amount of homework before buying this type of equipment. There are multiple generation types of these devices. There are just as many if not more options that can be bought or added to them. The include but are not limited to, camera adaptations, integrated enhanced infrared, built in still picture capability, screen color changes, and digital night vision/infrared. All of these features have pros and cons as well as technological limitations. As a researcher you do not want a piece of a equipment that cost half of your budget but does not perform to expectations. The prices of these devices vary as greatly as the quality of the technology in them. Just as with GPS systems night vision systems are becoming more compact, advanced, and integrated with other devices and systems as technology increases. These are all things to think about and consider when doing your research into a product.
Night vision and Infrared equipment contribution to your research can be unparalleled once the right device for you is chosen. It allows you to conduct research at night that would other wise be impossible. With integrated infrared it also allows you different views into the night and the ability to operate in complete darkness. Night vision by itself requires some type of ambient light even if it is star light. From a fixed position it also allows you to conduct surveillance on locations in the dark of night from a distance that is much greater than could be seen with the unaided human eye. This provides a great advantage to the researcher and also adds a little be of security as well. The benefits of this type of equipment make it well worth the money spent.
Any type of specialized equipment while affordable will mostly likely consume most of even the best research budgets. The type of equipment used is as specialized as the type of research that we do. It is highly recommended that the researcher do his/ her homework prior to purchasing any type of specialized equipment. There are varying opinions on what types of equipment works, what does not, and who makes the best type. I feel that those 3 general areas are pieces of specialized equipment that every researcher can agree has great added benefits to their work. As with anything as technology advances and moves forward so will the capability of the equipment and hopefully so will the quality and amount of evidence that it helps to provide.
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