FootPrints Mapping Software - A Review

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A Review: “FootPrints” Gold Prospecting & Map Making Software

By Terry Soloman –

I was able to review three separate Footprints DVDs: The Little San Domingo FootPrint; Vulture West FootPrint; and the Black Canyon City FootPrint. I asked two professional Arizona gold prospectors – who have staked and currently own Arizona gold claims, to assist me in this review. I also invited a gold prospecting “Greenhorn” to give me his thoughts.

What is “Footprints?”

This is a detailed DVD that puts almost two-dozen important and meaningful tools into the hands of the individual prospector. For instance, the “Little San Domingo FootPrint,” is a 35-square-mile, high resolution “Orthos” map of one of the richest placer gold areas in Arizona.

Ortho photography, or “Orthos”, is a type of high resolution aerial photography which has been digitally manipulated so that its dimensions represent true dimensions on the earth’s surface. All of these FootPrints DVDs, feature an incredible 9” resolution. When you consider the extreme cost of Orthos mapping, from $18,000 - $20,000 per 10-square mile block, this software would be a bargain if it just stopped there. But these software programs are much more than just a great map.

The Little San Domingo FootPrint, covers an area just 35-miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. This DVD shows the location and outline of all known gold claims in the district and, you can pull up actual copies of the claim documents and maps filed with the County and BLM. The claims are mapped to their actual boundaries, based on original county filings. You will not find this map layer anywhere else. It provides layers of mapping including land ownership; Private; Federal; State; Forest Service, township, range and section.

To the new and seasoned gold prospector alike, this is a powerful tool. It allows you, at a glance, to see areas that have already been claimed – and more importantly, land that has not been claimed. The software then allows you to move in for a very close look at that open land, and gives you more than a dozen more tools to help evaluate your possible new claim - without ever leaving your computer chair.

The two professional gold prospectors both commented on the dexterity of this software, and its ability to perform a number of difficult and complex jobs. One tool they were both drawn to immediately was the “Hydrology Tool.” Each FootPrint provides a data set showing streams, rivers, washes and drainage basins. Water flow and wetness map layers are also included to help visualize water movement.

This tool allows you to chart natural water flow and movement through the areas you are interested in, giving you hard clues to where placer gold may be located – and cutting down your testing time by showing you where to look before ever stepping foot on the claim. I watched as the two prospectors combined tools and map layers, then compared notes and tried even more combinations.

They used several tools, including the FootPrints “Geology” layer which indicates basic rock types and age. They also liked the shaded elevation maps, and USGS topo maps, which along with high resolution imagery, helped them to understand the terrain and how to get into it. As I watched these skilled gold miners work their new found tool, I wondered how my Greenhorn would fare.

One of the things I like the most about this software is its stability. It will run on just about any computer, old or new. One of the things I did not like, was the load time (2.5Gb), almost 14-minutes on my 2007 XP Dell Inspiron Notebook. A problem I quickly forgot about after opening the program.

To test the GPS mapping tools included in FootPrints, we drove out to a spot in the Little San Domingo, chosen by my two professionals using the FootPrints DVD. We took GPS waypoints in several locations, simulating gold claim boundaries, test areas and gold nugget finds. We were able to take those readings and successfully add them to our custom FootPrints map, then print out a full color, high resolution map copy. We were all very impressed with the results.

After explaining the basics of the software and how to use it, I turned the Greenhorn (a 50-something business owner from the East Coast who was in town for a gold prospecting vacation) loose with it. I was surprised at how quickly he seemed to understand what he was looking at. He really got excited after finding an area that looked promising to him, and seeing it was not yet claimed.

I cannot really explain the functionality of the FootPrint DVDs fully in this short review. These DVDs can be used in many different ways, with multi-tiered combinations of information and images. We all agreed that this software is far superior to any other single research or mapping resource available to the individual gold prospector in Arizona – period. I look forward to future FootPrints of Rich Hill, and Greaterville.

FootPrints Giveaway! AGA is giving away out Three FootPrints Review Discs – a $200.00 value! If you win our free drawing, you’ll receive “Black Canyon City” – “Little San Domingo” & “Vulture West.” To enter, send an email titled: “FootPrints” to: [email protected] by April 7, 2010. Good Luck!

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