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Everything posted by rjosprey

  1. I bought a used Axim V30 Pocket PC ($140) on Ebay and a new Bluetooth GPS Sirf Star III on Ebay ($100). Any PPC with either built in GPS or Bluetooth and Bluetooth GPS will work; card based GPS break easily if dropped. For more than 5 hours on the PPC you will need an extra battery, Ebay again, the unit will also play MP3s, video, connect to the Internet when near open WiFi (in the USA - libraries, ranger stations and many others) and most things a standard PC will do. You do have to be careful about touching the screen accidentally and it is not a rugged as either a GPS or IPod, but I have dropped it on rocks and other than a few screen scratches it still works fine. It works best for me with MS Pocket Streets in major cities, and BackCountry Navigator downloads of 7 1/2 minute topos and aerial views in developed countries. Maps are not available for Mexico and many other Third World countries. I recommend you get a 4GB ECC (error correction and dependability) SD chip (check pricewatch.com or newegg.com for the best buy, about $38 delivered) for all those maps, music and videos.
  2. I far as I can see, the maps that come with Garmin, TomTom and Megellan are maps of standard roads. By paying more you can get topo maps that are 1:100.000 these can be National Geographic, Garmin or Megellan. For laptops/PCs you can get Delorme maps. But to get 1:24,000 maps is with USGS maps used by BackCountry Navigator (Pocket PCs and PDAs only), plus you get black and white aerial downloads. There are some very expensive solutions sold primarily to geologists that have 1:24,000 maps. The BackCountry Navigator maps are downloaded via a link and take up a lot of memory; I use a 4 GB ECC x150 SD chip. While the 1:24,000 maps are old, typically 1983 or earlier and there maybe changes in the civilized areas (roads and buildings), the topographical lines are great for the backcountry traveler/hiker. I like the USGS maps and wish they were updated. USGS PLEASE UPDATE! praying now.
  3. My hiking partner uses a Garmin 60 CSX with the same Sirf Star III chipset. We usually agree to location to about 6 feet. But her unit shows a smaller error normally than my PPC/Bluetooth setup. I was having some problems with bombs and slow loads, but after sticking in a 4 GB ECC SD Card, purchased here, the problems are gone.
  4. I like backpacking and built a solar setup. I grabbed a surplus cut connector Unisolar (unnamed in the surplus shop, $15) 5 watt 13.4 volt amorphous panel that is laid on thin stainless steel with Tufzel (Teflon vinyl) coating. Yet the panel is fairly thin and weighs about 7 oz. You can dance on this panel and it is primarily used on sailboats. I rigged it two ways with a straight connector from the panel to one unit and with three plugs in series for GPSR, cell phone and Pocket PC. This way I can charge three things on a bright day or one when it is cloudy. I also have a connector that plugs directly into the panel connector and into a Ham HandiTalkie. Of course one has to be careful not to overcharge, but most units have some protection against overcharging. Also in series all must be somewhat discharged to get them to let the juice flow and charge - part of the reason I have the single device option. I need to add an AA battery pack to it to recharge my flashlight batteries but these bright and efficient Luxeon emitters or Nichia LED lights last about 50 to 100 hours on a charge. I have a tiny Digital Volt Ohm Meter (DVOM) for when I am dealing with batteries and don't want overcharging. The whole solar setup cost me about $20 as I got most of the connectors from dud chargers, and got used chargers at thrift stores to replace the duds. It works fine but in full sun the single connector charges most devices in about 30 minutes - a bit fast. The unit can be set on the top and back of a backpack or summit bag; the solar panel is a totally flexible and nearly indestructible. I have two larger Unisolar Panels, 15 watt ($80) and 35 watt ($150), that I paid full price for, and could just connect into the setup for a faster charge under poor light on a car camp.
  5. Any GPSR can dance, Nav arrow moves around, when you stop. Get a declination set compass, set the declination for your area, and you can read off the bearing in degrees; now pick up the compass set it on the bearing the GPSR shows and point it at the cache!
  6. I have been using a Axim X30v PPC/Bluetooth Solar Sirf Star III GPSR for nearly a year now with BackCountry Navigator software. The pluses: Free downloads of 7 ½ minute quads for USA, cheap - $106 for GPSR, $140 for used PPC, $20 for 1 GB chip, $30 for BackCountry Navigator software with great backcountry coverage. That is cheaper if you already have the PPC or a PPC phone. Full info from gpx downloads except for cache container size – need cachemate or SAK to get container size. The Solar panel on the GPSR recharges it – and it last about 14 hours anyway. The accuracy is usually about 6 ft from the cords of the $400 Garmin CSX and the maps are much better than the Garmin. It works with the MS Pocket Streets. You may be able to use WiFi directly to get maps, cruise the Internet, check email and log your finds. Lots of other programs work on the Pocket PC. It gives a precise bearing to the cache or any point you select and you can use a compass to get that direction even stopped when the Nav arrow is spinning. The negatives: a battery last about 5 hours on slow speed 208 MHz – extra batteries are needed. Touching the screen or a button can throw it into another program. You must keep the PPC and GPSR within 30 ft of each other or it loses contact. The PPC screen can more easily be broken in a fall than most GPSRs. It bombs and must be reset more often than most GPSRs. The setup and functioning can require a bit more of a computer geek. Download time for maps can be very slow on dialup and may require extra memory cards – a 100 miles by 100 miles takes around a GB of memory – so it is wise to backup maps and use the ones for the area you are hitting. If I lost everything I would buy another PPC and Bluetooth GPSR because I like detailed 7 ½ minute maps for getting to remote locations.
  7. In Mexico many areas don’t have fences to keep livestock in, even where fences exist, livestock escapes. Many people won’t drive at night due to fear of hitting a cow, horse, sheep or donkey and it totaling the vehicle and possibly killing them in the process. Down south many trucks put on a cow pusher front bumper. A cow pusher is a heavy steel bumper covering the entire front of the vehicle. My 4WD has one as it is meant for driving in Mexico, and it gives me enough peace of mind to drive at night. Sometimes it helps me pushing my way through a herd of sheep on the road. If you set a cache in any ranching area it is possible to run into livestock.
  8. The generic Solar Bluetooth GPS, delivered from various ebay vendors about $US 106, with Sirf Star III chipset is not the smallest of the Bluetooth receivers, but it has two advantages; left on the dash the built in solar panel recharges the battery, from dead to fully charged after 4 days in the sun. But generally with normal usage a couple of hours a day, never even needs to be plugged into the cigarette lighter. Also the unit has an antenna jack and for about $US 20 delivered, you can get a magnetic mount antenna you can lay on the roof and will give you about 3dbi gain - good enough to navigate in most wild or urban canyons.
  9. I have had some good experiences with my PPC and Bluetooth GPSR and some bad. First I realize that the Nav screen works - the good - but it doesn't matter what the orientation of the GPSR or your PPC. Huh, well yeah, if you hold the PPC up when moving than the Nav arrow will indicate whether you need to move left, right or continue straight, points up on the screen, on your track to stay on the line to the cache, and under Backcountry Navigator it will tell you your speed and degrees that you need to change your direction. Of course if you turn the PPC nothing turns on the screen - so keep it straight up. The arrow is large enough but all the other font for degrees, coordinates and speed is small. Humm, maybe I don't need a sighting compass, as long as I am moving. The other good thing is that by putting your Bluetooth GPSR in your pack at the top pointed to the sky, the GPSR pickup is getting redirected less, tilted less and that is probably why it seems to beat handheld units for accuracy - some handhelds have the same Sirf Star III chipset and are probably equally accurate - I observe that any repointing or tilting causes it to go off a bit. The bad - my pickup GPSR has a magnet on back that perhaps was the cause of a reversal of magnetization of my sighting compass – the north needle points south! When on top of Carrizo Mountain in the pitch dark, no moon, it was so whacko, that there was confusion about the way off, no waypoint had been set when I left the jeep road, but as soon as I glanced at the sky and the city lights in the wrong canyon I knew the error - and went completely against the compass - because it had to be wrong - the needle pointed south - not towards Polaris - north. So having a magnet on the back of the pickup, Bluetooth GPSR, may be nice on the dash where it keeps it over a bolt, is potentially bad on your compass. I corrected the magnetization on my sighting compass with a rare earth magnet - I was a little surprised it just didn't reorient and prevent that, but I had a rare earth magnet at right angles lock in the needle enough to pull off a switch in north south - I was lucky there. Sometimes your instruments are wrong - wow - glad I wasn't flying a plane.
  10. Found this Desert Iguana near the truck hiking to Borrego Mountain West GCTKFR
  11. I cache at night - mostly to avoid the desert heat in the summer. It is a lot more fun when you carry less than a gallon of water and aren't dripping sweat all over your glasses. I have downloaded a program that lets me determine moon rise, set and phase. I like long desert wilderness mountain climbs, and these are a lot easier with some moonlight. I have found the new generation of headlights and flashlights to be wonderful - that is either Nichia LEDs for smaller lights or Luxeon emitters for larger headlights and flashlights - both provide many hours and sometimes days of good light on a single set of batteries. The best have steps of illumination - the lower levels giving light often for over a 100 hours. Oddly the flat surfaces of caches are easier to find by the point illumination of a light. If you are close to civilization on a mountain climb than the sea of city lights below can be quite beautiful.
  12. The polyurethane foams - most of the insulating foams - are just plain fragile, they crack, birds peck on them and make holes and if thick they sometimes bleed days later. First use Goop glue to prepare the surface, let it dry, than an all-purpose joint plaster sticks very well. The stone sprays are supposed to be covered by a polyurethane clear coat- than they rarely crack - than a bit more stone spray to dull it. You might want to wrap the plastered or foamed container in a plastic bag with strapping tape to get a smoother but creased surface - more like a rock. You can mix up the stone sprays to get a more realistic rock. Than you have a cache.
  13. Made my own cache container using paint and polyurethane foam - won't do that again as one bird showed the fault by pecking a few little holes - fixed those but plaster would be better. The stainless container is designed to keep 4 pounds of coffee.
  14. it doesn't give you a topographical presentation with the caches displayed as you walk by or up to them - gives your position on the map and the cache - no need to even bring up the pointy arrow. Isn't that what the GPS'r is for? A Bluetooth GPSR is just a receiver - no screen, two buttons, two lights - without the PDA you see nothing.
  15. I use BackCountry with my Axim X30v PPC/Bluetooth Solar Sirf Star III GPSR and although it gives a warning on install to the PPC – this software was designed for a previous version – it still works fine. It didn’t even get the satellites on the PPC prior to installing BackCountry Navigator. I follow topos and it shows the caches. As a “Map and Compass” kind of guy I am accustomed to topographical maps. No need to even “point” at the cache, “activate” to lock on and go to the “nav” screen just follow the cursor to the cache icon. There are some areas around here, wild parks, where there are so many caches that it just saves time. But I have one problem with it – if I don’t find it right off – I have to go to Cachemate to find the size of cache and difficulty as these don’t show in the gpx downloads under BackCountry Navigator. But since Cachemate is sorted on GC code that is easy. But I am still learning how all this stuff works. I can see that when you don't have the maps and gpx files for the particular area synced you are stuck following a pointy arrow on a blank map screen with cache boxes and you approaching or a nice topo with no cache boxes - that only reminds me of my shortcomings.
  16. Yes, about 5 hours, but I have three batteries - two are extended life and last about 8 hours each. While your PDA and standard GPSR makes you paperless, at a great price, it doesn't give you a topographical presentation with the caches displayed as you walk by or up to them - gives your position on the map and the cache - no need to even bring up the pointy arrow. This is all new to me - as I have just gotten the Bluetooth GPSR, and I am a newbie at caching, but not at wilderness hikes or map and compass, and prior to my purchase had only a GPSR of the old type with one less digit on Lat and Long - hard for geocaching. I cache with an addicted geocacher and old hiking buddy, X-girlfriend , who at least up to now had the better GPSR - and I have about 100 topos and my sighting compass for the long wilderness trips. For me this was the way to go as I already had the Pocket PC, memory card and 3 batteries - cost me only $106 for the Bluetooth GPSR and $30 for the software - well, I already had Cachemate $8. I don't recommend my setup for someone not really into geek stuff - as it can be time consuming to understand, download and setup. But following this advice whether yours or mine can save some headache and expense – what they already own might be a good indication of what they should try to setup. The Bluetooth GPSR works with some Bluetooth smart phones also - now that might be interesting to try or read about - so there is yet another path one could attempt to setup if they already have a Bluetooth smart phone.
  17. The Axim x51v is an amazing Pocket PC with a spectacular screen, great for those who can see tiny detail in maps on the screen. The manufacturer added GPS units are generally meant for driving streets and with the proper software can even give voice direction commands. I can follow the progress even with a topographical map through the city, but with no directions or voice; the software I use is for the boonies, parks and wilderness - that is Backcountry Navigator available at www.backcountrynavigator.com (US$30, 21 day free trail) - but than you must download gpx cache files for an area and the topos or with a fast connection maybe aerial photos - although these are sometimes difficult to understand unless you can also look at another map of the area. I do have MS Pocket Streets but have not yet installed it. The stuff from the manufacturer is more of an out of box solution. In buying a new Sirf Star III off the shelf the best Bluetooth devices are about $106 either for a generic Solar Sirf Star III off Ebay or http://www.semsons.com/soblgpsspofa.html or Globalsat ST-338 on Ebay and http://www.semsons.com/glbtgpsrebts1.html . Off the shelf without additional software you are lucky if they even give you a navigation arrow or a satellite lock - mine gave neither on the PPC but worked on the PC - but my Axim X30v with 2003SE OS works with Backcountry Navigator. Usually the more updated the operating system the more likely the system WON'T work with the software. I find that I still want Cachemate installed because as far as I can see with my limited familiarity is that CACHE SIZE IS NOT DISPLAYED. If you are a real geek, loving technology, putting it together from different sources for the components and software saves money, but can lead to problems if your OS is to new - i.e. not compatible. As for durability the standard type GPSRs are often at least water resistant and can take more knocks than most PPCs although I have dropped both the Bluetooth GPSR and PPC on rocks from about 4 feet and they are fine except for a few scratches. The card mounted GPS units are likely to be damaged in such falls. You have an excellent start just head towards durability and extra batteries.
  18. Any PDA works fine for just cache descriptions and logs. The cheapest $100 PDA will do this using Cachemate software. But if you want a true solution the best deals for real Geeks willing to figure out and configure the system – than something such as a Dell Axim X30 up to the X51v (high resolution screen http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/p...s=19&l=en&s=dhs ), with Bluetooth. Ipaqs are a little better but cost a lot more. You don’t need the high CPU speed some of these units offer, but you can turn the speed down of a high speed unit to increase battery life, but you need the Bluetooth. Then a Bluetooth Sirf Star III GPS – Globalsat ST-338 (about US$ 125, perhaps the best, smallest and under the hat the stealthiest ); or the generic Solar GPS (sold for about US$106 by Vivitech – Taiwan, F-Tech and Solarius, good car GPS with an antenna jack, one of the largest but still fairly small) is a solar rechargeable GPSR and can be fastened on top of a hat with one small powerful Goop glued magnet inside the hat – there is a magnet in the back of the GPSR to help it stay in place in a car and you can add some Velcro to secure any unit better . These units typically work poorly if at all with the provided software (interface problems with the pocket OS) but when you download Backcountry Navigation software (www.backcountrynavigation.com 21 day free trail, $US30 to activate) the combination allows you to download free topo maps, seamlessly from www.terraserver.com, download gpx files from www.geocaching.com and put it together, and you don't need cachemate software any more. You walk in an area and can see the topo, (aerial maps can be downloaded but are a little much for Dial Up Network, DUN) and all the caches . To download all these maps an external SD card makes it easier to just grab and go – all the maps and gpx files; a 1 GB SD card is about $29 and certainly big enough for my topos. Backcountry Navigation can do everything but is not intuitive and you have to spend time figuring out and going over online tutorials. But in the end you never need to input anything – but can if you choose to. The above units can be taken to a site with free WiFi, mostly libraries around here, or just connect to your PC, and you can download gpx files and maps directly to the unit or transfer from a PC or file your own finds – now that is a paperless solution. I’m sure a backup GPSR would be wise for real wilderness, but I have only an old one with one less Lat/Long digit – which is good only for getting your way back to the car on a road you can easily hit. I don’t carry my old GPSR at all, but usually carry a paper topo map and sighting compass as a backup (but I am a “Map and Compass” kind of guy). I love wilderness for my trips/caches. I carry two long-life batteries for the Axim and one regular battery – the GPSR I shut off when I don’t need it and let the sun recharge it – it takes about two sunny days to fully charge a dead battery – but last about 12 hours in use. The solution, Bluetooth GPSR and Bluetooth Pocket PC, is perhaps best for GEEKS because for others it maybe too time consuming and mind bending to figure out – this solution with all the software, hardware and 1 GB card cost about US$360 to about US$500 for the best ones – I already had the PPC and card so for me was only about US$136. Maybe for people who want an out of the box solution a Garmin GPS PDA is best; but the maps are lower resolution (worse), the PPC is slower (better on battery life, but worse on performance), the memory card is smaller, units under US$900 offer only street maps and the Garmin is less bang for the buck http://www.garmin.com/products/iQue3200/ ; an SD card GPSR, such as the current generation, 2006, of affordable Garmin PDAs, can also get damaged or fallout.
  19. I want to stick a cache in a place, which has few rocks and little vegetation, but is very beautiful. So I bought insulating foam and made an artificial rock around my cache. Than I camouflage painted it with rock spray and streaks, coated with polyurethane and did a little more camouflage spray to dull it. Appears a bird saw it on my patio and it pecked here and there - the resulting holes and white foam underneath of course showed the flaw of using such an insulating foam based camouflage container. http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/style_ima...icons/icon5.gif http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/style_ima...icons/icon5.gif Some sort of cement, hard plastic or plaster foam would be necessary to resist the creatures. So for now a simple rock like paint job will be my camo. java script:emoticon('', 'smid_17')
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