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Everything posted by imajeep

  1. LOL ROTF That's great! I actually did not see that coming! No, I guess I won't, will I...
  2. Never one to follow the crowd, I got a Navman Icn 530 last year. Dirt cheap ($250, including maps), has the SIRF III chipset, and works everywhere that wasn't built yesterday (the north side of metro Atlanta comes to mind). But not suitable for geocaching at all. For that, I use the Garmin 60 Csx, which I suppose makes me a crowd-follower after all. But in this case, the crowd is absolutely right--it is a phenomenal unit.
  3. Ooooh! Tell me, tell me! Just kidding--I'd already looked it up. And yes, I am a math geek. So is my wife, which is incredibly fortunate!
  4. I'm a fellow newbie, and I understand your sense of frustration. I've been there. Here is a suggestion on how to get familiar with your GPS: Start with your house/apartment. Mark a waypoint outside the front door, then walk a couple of blocks away. Now, use the GPS to navigate your way back home. You should get to within 20-30 feet of where you started, at which point the 'needle' on the GPS will start swinging around. Practice like this on a few different places, to get the hang of vavigating to a waypoint. You will learn the idiocyncracies of your unit. If your unit can record a tracklog (a 'bread crumb' trail), take a few walks with the record function on. Try holding the unit horizontally for a part of the walk, and try clipping it to your belt. When you get home, load the tracklog into the PC mapping software that came with your GPS unit. If you don't have any software, download EasyGPS (free) to copy data from your GPS to your PC, and download Google Earth. EasyGPS will transfer the data as a GPX file, which Google Earth can open. You should see the track you recorded in Google Earth when it opens the file (it's a very cool effect!). Sometimes the tracklog will be broken, or it will be wildly inaccurate (a couple of hundred feet off--20 to 40 feet is normal in Google Earth). Did that happen when the unit was clipped to your belt? If so, then you know you have to hold the unit level to get a good reading. If you have a forest or woods nearby, take your GPS there and try it out under tree canopy. Many units lose their signals under tree cover (it's the water in the leaves that does it). If your unit loses signal under tree cover, practice finding a clearing to get a reading. Then practice triangulating on a cache location by finding two clearings, and getting a bearing at each one that points to the cache. Where the two bearings intersect, that's where you will find the cache. If you play around with your GPS unit this way for a few days, you will develop a feel for what the unit can do, and what its weak points are. Pick some easy caches first--after you find a few, you will start developing a feel for where and how perople hide caches in your area. I found three at lunch today--even a couple of weeks ago, I would have had to search a lot longer for each one. Hope that helps!
  5. I'm probably getting 20-25 hours, which I think is pretty good. I'm really pleased with my 60.
  6. I got a Garmin eTrex Vista in April. It worked great until the leaves came out on trees late in the month. I quickly sold the Vista on eBay and bought a Garmin 60 Csx. What a difference! I have used the 60 under heavy tree canopy in Georgia and Illinois, and it works like a champ. I have used it in the deepest canyon I could find, downtown Chicago, with similarly great results. The difference is the SIRF III chipset. It's been king of the hill for a while. But there are other enhanced-sensitivity chipsets out there, and rumor has it Garmin is going to use them for upgraded versions of the eTrex line. So there may not be as much difference between the eTrex and the 60 in the future.
  7. I found a cache today with a religious tract that someone had deposited. Now, I've got nothing against religion, but my understanding is that prosetylization and agenda-ism are not in the spirit of the game. So, I took the liberty of treating the tract as a travel bug and moving it to the first round cache (you know, the ones with the swinging lids ) I found on the way out. I duly noted that I was doing this in the cache log book and in the online log of my visit. No invective, just a polite BTW. So, here's my question: Was removing the religious tract okay to do, or was it a breach of etiquette? Thanks.
  8. We are going to be in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks, and we want to do a day hike. We're going to be staying in Santa Monica, and we don't want to go too far from there--we've ruled out the San Bernadinos and Santa Barbara. We're looking for a 5-7 mile hike with 1000-1500 feet elevation gain, somewhere around the Santa Monica NRA. I thought this would be a pretty easy search, but the sheer number of possibilities is overwhelming. So, what would you recommend? Thanks David & Liza Veeneman 'imajeep'
  9. Thanks for the thread. Very helpful--I've been looking for sites like these. I'll mention one other that I've found: Backpacker Magazine has a pretty good database of trails, with descriptions and GPS tracklogs.
  10. If you have a laptop computer and Google Earth, here's how to get a pretty good idea: Connect your GPS to your laptop and fire up real time tracking on Google Earth. I did it this morning, and Google Earth had my position to within about a meter--and I was tracking from inside my house! Garmin GPSMAP 60 Csx--gotta love it.
  11. Gee, I did it just yesterday, on GCVMGY. Here's a link to our log. As my daughter would say, massive hilarity!
  12. In another posting on this site, a user reported that Garmin is preparing to upgrade the eTrex line with more sensitive receivers and better antennas. You might want to wait until the upgraded units are available.
  13. I like ExpertGPS. I use it to plot routes over aerial photos, which I find easier to work with than Garmin's topo maps.
  14. Garmin GPSMAP 60 Csx has the SIRF III chipset, but the eTrex Vista Cx does not. Difference in reception is noticeable. With my Vista, I could only get a fix in a clearing. With my 60, I can get one just about anywhere.
  15. I've been looking for those sites. Backpacker.com has some, and TrailRegistry.com has some, as well. Are there others? I'm kind of surprised the US National Park Service (or someone else) hasn't collected GPS maps of the trails in national parks. What really surprises me is that nobody is doing for GPS hiking what geocaching.com does for geocaching.
  16. I've started using a GPS unit for hiking (it's what got me started in geocaching), in preparation for a hiking trip in the western US national parks in a few months. I'm plotting routes for some hikes we want to do, using the Garmin 1:24K National Parks topo set. I'm checking the routes I plot against aerial photos in ExpertGPS and Google Earth. And in cases where I can see the trail in an aerial photo, I have used the photo to plot a route. I have been really surprised at some errors I am finding. The Garmin topo plots don't line up well at all with the aerial photos, and the aerial photos don't line up with each other. For example, take a look at the area around Mystic Falls in Yellowstone. And routes that I've created in ExpertGPS photos don't line up in Google Earth. Mystic Falls is good example of this problem, too. The errors are significant; running 80 to 100 feet or more. I can understand that topos can be decades old, but I was really surprised that the photo plots didn't line up more closely. Is this level of error inherent in topos and aerial photos? How reliable are the aerial photos in ExpertGPS / Google Earth for plotting routes? Thanks.
  17. Definitely get a USB-connect unit. Newer computers don't even have serial ports, and USM is much faster than serial if you transfer maps. Decide whether you want a mapping unit, and whether you want the SIRF III chipset. SIRF III is more sensitive than other chipsets, which means you will get a better signal under forest canopy or in canyons. Mapping adds to the expense of a unit, because the unit costs more, and because you have to buy topo maps--the base maps in these units aren't very useful. The SIRF III chipset adds more. Both Magellan and Garmin are good, as are the other major brands. I swear by the Garmin GPSMAP 60 Csx, but it's pricey, particularly once you throw in the cost of topo maps.
  18. I've noticed the same thing about my 60 Csx. I can pull in a signal under lousy conditions, but I get forty-foot accuracy, rather than fifteen-feet. I check the satellite page when I'm under heavy canopy to see what king of accuracy I'm getting.
  19. If I was going to use one unit for both, it would be the Garmin GPSMAP 60 Csx. But I don't. The reason is that, by the time you buy the car mount, power cable, and street maps, you can get a pretty good dedicated car navigator. I use the MavMan IC 530, which has the SIRF III chipset, and I like it. It's small enough to throw into the suitcase when I travel. Be aware that handheld units, including the 60 Csx, don't give voice directions. IMHO, that's a significant disadvantage.
  20. A lot of people talk about getting map sets so that they can use their handheld units for car navigation. I took a different approach, which I'd like to share. About a year ago, before I got into GPS, I bought a Navman ICN 530 car navigator. It was $300 (new) at that time, with complete US street maps. At any rate, I've been very impressed at how well it works. I've had the unit all over the country, and its map has only been wrong once, in a brand new area of Scottsdale, AZ. Las night, I was sitting in a restaurant fiddling with the unit before dinner (it's pocket-sized, but still has a nice-sized screen). Anyway, I stumbled across its satellite page, which I'd never looked at, and I saw that I had a strong lock on 11 out of 12 satellites. So, when I got home, I checked the specs on the unit and, sure enough, it's got the SIRF III chipset. You can't get better than that. In any event, I've been very pleased with this gizmo and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. I suspect it's not a whole lot more expensive than street maps, a car mount, and a car power adapter for a handheld. Cheers!
  21. I bought mine from Amazon.com. Not the absolute cheapest, but reliable. BTW, have no fears about the 60 Csx. It's an absolutely phenomenal unit. I can get good reception in deep forest cover, and in the deepest canyon I know of--downtown Chicago. That's the real benefit of the unit, courtesy of the SIRF III chipset.
  22. It also depends on what you mean by 'way off'. The normal margin of error for even the best consumer units is about 15 - 20 ft. So, if someone is 20 ft in one direction, and you are 20 ft off in another direction, you could be talking about a forty-foot variation. And unless you have verified the accuracy of your unit, don't trust its accuracy indicator. I started off with an eTrex Vista Cx that regularly showed an accuracy of 6 ft. I tested the unit by plotting waypoints with it at exact positions on landmarks that I knew would show up on Google Earth photos. Measuring with Google Earth, I found a true accuracy of about 15 - 20 ft under good reception conditions. I recently upgraded to the Garmin 60 Csx. The unit generally reports an accuracy of 15' to 18'. So, if you went just by the units' accuracy indicators, the 60 seems less accurate than the Vista. I re-ran my tests on the 60, and found that true accuracy was in the range of 15 - 18 feet under good reception conditions. The tests show that the 60 is simply much better at reporting its accuracy. So, run some tests to get an idea of the true accuracy of your unit. If you can, try to run some of them under degraded reception conditions, such as a woods or a canyon. That will give you a better idea of the true accuracy of your unit.
  23. You can isolate the problem by setting a waypoint when you observe the error. Then, when you get home, plot the waypoint on Google Earth or a topo program like ExpertGPS. If you see the same error on the photo or topo, then you know your fix is off. If you don't, you know your GPS unit's map is off. I just did a cache with my 60 Csx where the map was 60' off. Hasn't happened often, but then, I just got the unit. In my neighborhood, the GPS map is about 20' off (the normal margin of error of the unit). Google Earth is spot on.
  24. I leave a DNF every time. As a newbie, I have no way of knowing if a cache is gone or if I'm simply unable to find it. One DNF I logged recently, another cacher located a day later. Another one, the owner went out to check on it and reported it missing. So, you never know--report 'em all. No shame in it--it's no failure unless you give up. Fall down seven times, get up eight.
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