Edit: I'm looking for an antenna, not criticism on whether I need one, all the rest is just background😉

My family enjoys short day hikes through heavily wooded countryside with mild hills.(Northen Michigan.)

The problem is navigating. Cell signal is spotty at best so GPS is pretty much out of the equation and orienteering (using compass + map +line of sight) is out due to lack of line of sight.

Actually, navigation isn't a big deal, just stay on the trail and use a pedometer to track steps. I'm a gadgeter so I'll take any excuse to solder and learn something.

I know about as much as the average Joe about RF (pretty much nothing) but I got a few keywords. Looking for a highly directional antenna, preferably as small as possible though I know antennas are sized by signal.

I'm pretty sure AM/FM should be available out there (haven't taken a pocket radio out to check,) any other bands I should consider?

A loop antenna seems like it's best because it is flat but might not be directional enough. I apologize, I have more questions than answers and would greatly appreciate any help on the subject or keywords to google to death. Also this is my first time here so criticism [on the post] is encouraged.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't need cell signal for GPS. \$\endgroup\$ – brhans Jan 19 '20 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ it is unclear how you intend to use the antenna for navigation \$\endgroup\$ – jsotola Jan 19 '20 at 16:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can carry a power bank and use an offline GPS mapping app. I have a few, from a single 16850-powered bank in a 'lipstick' format up to a nice Huawei 20,0000mAh device. Weight increases with capacity. For a day hike a 10,000mAh one is probably more than enough, especially if you put your phone in airplane mode so it doesn't keep trying to find cell towers in the middle of nowhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Spehro Pefhany Jan 19 '20 at 16:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ If lack of cellphone service causes your phone to suck its battery dry, switch off the phone part. Many Android phones let you disable the telephone service while leaving everything else active. \$\endgroup\$ – JRE Jan 19 '20 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Map and compass \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Jan 19 '20 at 17:23

Cellphone service is not required for GPS, and for hiking is actually detrimental since powering a 2-way radio wastes limited battery.

When back country hiking, I take an old smartphone in airplane mode. With the cell radio powered down, I'm often good for a week or more on a single charge. If you need more than that, bring a battery pack.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the extra Knowledge on Using Cell based GPS receivers, all that is good. However the Tinker in me has decided on a a Direction Finder so a Direction Finder I will make and an antenna I will need \$\endgroup\$ – Echo Nemo Jan 19 '20 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EchoNemo Why don't you explain what a direction finder is and what you expect it to do in your question. \$\endgroup\$ – user1850479 Jan 19 '20 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ A direction Finder is a device used to to find a direction...usually referring to Directional Antenna and a Reciever ....I do not ask for anyone to determine whether I need one, just what kind \$\endgroup\$ – Echo Nemo Jan 19 '20 at 21:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EchoNemo The way this site works is that you ask a question and then people vote on the best answer to the question you asked. If your question is "how do I figure out direction in the woods", "use a GPS" or "use a compass" are probably going to get the most votes. It sounds to me like you actually want to know how accurately you could figure out direction using a directional antenna and ambient RF sources. Why don't you ask that question? \$\endgroup\$ – user1850479 Jan 19 '20 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should I delete this and re-ask or can we go from here \$\endgroup\$ – Echo Nemo Jan 20 '20 at 1:10

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