A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2019 Sep 4, 14:31 -0700
Here is my report into the possibilities of using W3W to be rescued from a shipping container having only a smart-phone. That is before it became much more fun to me to enquire where on Earth one might find banana.skins.trip, broken.backs.hurt, or tight.shorts.excite. I think we’d better stop there.
At Humber Yawl Club there is a somewhat derelict metal shipping container/site hut at 53.726396 -0.582820. I began the experiment about last Sunday afternoon when it was quite hot using a Samsung Galaxy III phone with no previously downloaded W3W app. Outside there was a particularly strong TK Mobile signal and good GNSS signal. Being careful to take the lock inside with me, I entered the oven and closed the door. I was surprised to find there was still half a triangle mobile signal. I was able to dial and make the phone ring at my home, so I could presumably have called the authorities. I checked on a GNSS co-ordinates app and there was no GNSS signal present.
I tried to download W3W and it downloaded. To my surprise it also gave me a position very close to the container at 53.726425 -0.582926, so did Frank Reed’s GPS Spoof app. Then I thought “Ah but what if the receiver was using its last known position?”, so I switched off and drove to a petrol station a couple of miles away, switched on, and switched off again. This time when I switched on back in the oven, W3W gave me a position on the A40 Westway in London (possibly a default position) about 200 miles away.
I didn’t know what to do next, so I switched off, came outside, walked, to the SE corner of the boatyard, and switched on again at flocking.guessing.anguished. Yes there was an l, otherwise very appropriate. Then I switched off and returned to the oven where I switched on again. Sure enough we were still at flocking. guessing.anguished.
I dialled my house again just in case the gremlins in mobile boxes could track me, but if they could, they couldn’t change my W3W position from the SE corner of the boatyard.
Conclusion, from my admittedly not very scientific experiment it appears that there are certain benefits in using W3W to find people stuck in shipping containers, but you need to be careful. If they entered the container many thousand miles away, you might be directed to the wrong side of the Globe. DaveP