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Posts posted by arrowroot

  1. The GPSMAP 76S' manual put me to sleep, so here's some hints that may help you out:


    1) Holding down the PAGE key toggles the electronic compass on and off. Remember to turn it off! It sucks up batteries like you wouldn't believe. Because of its increased current drain, the machine may shut itself off when low, and not give you the chance to turn the compass off when you reset it, before it dies again. Carry spare AAs!


    2) There's a boatload of options. For caching, I like the following settings on the map screen: Change two of the data fields to have Accuracy and Distance to Next. This helps you decide how close you are to the waypoint. With up to nine fields, there's bound to be others you'll want to use. I also like to keep the time visible on the map page.


    3) Use the "Bearing Line" which will give you a moving line pointing to the waypoint. The Course Line, on the other hand, only shows the line from your starting point and doesn't move.


    4) The basemap has some serious accuracy issues. MapSource Metroguide has been pretty good for me, but your mileage may vary.


    5) Carry spare batteries.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  2. Unlike Geosynchronous satellites, such as those for DSS (DirecTV/EchoStar) and weather radar, the GPS birds are in Low Earch Orbit, and have an orbit of much less than a day. So they spiral around the world. The closer they are, the shorter the orbit time.


    They go all over the place. So sometimes they're here, sometimes they're there. They can't be 'directed' to go anywhere except for very minor course corrections.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  3. Another Illinoisian chiming in:


    The Mapsource Metroguide has been lots more accurate (and certainly more complete) than the basemap in my GPSMAP 76S. For the next few months until I take a road trip, I anticipate that I'll be happy with the maps I've loaded that cover Lake Geneva to Kalamazoo and all points between.


    Are there problems? Sure. It puts my house about a block and a half away. It has in the shopping center around the corner both the Thai place that's there now (although it just gained a new name a month ago) and the Italian place that was in the same storefront three years ago. It's very spotty on Cook County Forest Preserve trails. It calls the trails at Illinois Beach State Park streets, which they haven't been for decades.


    But those same problems exist in nearly every electronic map database you'll find online. Basic GIGO problem.


    In terms of the pain of transfer? Yeah, I'd like to see a 1GB version that can hold more data, but just wait a few years, it'll come. An hour to load a full set isn't too bad. I did some checking, and the route I drove last summer to Orlando via Cincinatti, Frankfort KY, the Smokies, Charlotte, Savanna, etc., was covered by one full load for about each three days of travel. I keep the laptop along on the drive for watching DVDs anyway, so it's no big deal (gotta get the car adapter, tho).


    To me, the biggest pain is that my laptop has no serial port, and the USB adapter hangs up at 115KB, so it's twice the time it could be. Still, it's only an hour. I wait more than that to recharge my camera battery.


    Now, I'd love to be able to filter the data, cut it down so I can expand the range. Maybe emphasize parks and forests vs. residential addresses? Cut out all the dry cleaners?


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  4. The Gift Economy, where you do something nice for someone, with the expectation that other people will do something nice for you (as seen in the movie "Pay it Forward" and the "Mars" series by Kim Stanley Robinson) is one of the reasons I find caching fun.


    I put out a cache for others to find trinkets, enjoy a walk, expand their horizons. Others have laid out toys (or the occasional Where's George buck), plotted puzzles and so on, with no expectation of a profitable return.


    This is a good thing.


    There's side benefits: We trash out. This does nothing for me, but makes the parks & woods more pleasant for the next visitor -- whether or not they're caching.


    And it's growing: Charity cache events, the Earth Day stuff being planned, etc. are just the tip of the iceberg. I'm a devout capitalist, but this gift stuff is really contagious.


    Play on!


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  5. I don't know about everywhere, but in the Chicago Area, all ZanyBrainy toy stores (owned by financially-strapped FAO Schwartz) are going out of business.


    4 AA Energizers were $2.39. Quite a deal. I need to go back there and stock up.


    Maybe I shouldn't tell you... there's bound to be limited quantities.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  6. On my one backcountry trip so far (southern Indiana in July is more humid than you can imagine), we were happily hiking, when we saw a trail marker, indicating the trail we thought we were on ran perpendicular to the track (old log road) we were hiking.


    This was only an hour or so into the hike.


    We had a compass, a topo map (no GPS -- they weren't reasonably priced then)... but it still took us fifteen minutes or so to figure out where we were on it, and which way we should take on that perpendicular trail.


    The sun was inivisible behind clouds, there were numerous ridges making it difficult to gauge our exact location, and it didn't help that the log road wasn't marked on the map.


    What had happened? We were seduced by the easy walk of the road which had begun at the trailhead, and missed a turnoff.


    With the GPSr, I would have known exactly where I was, but still might have missed the turn.


    So don't be too hard on him... but take extra batteries. Which reminds me... has anyone tried hand-cranked or solar rechargers for long trips? I can't imagine how many AAs I'd have to carry for an AT through-hike.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  7. Wish I could join you.


    I was all set... but then confirmed it was Sat, not Sun, and all day Saturday I'm tied up in the Solo and Ensemble contests my son is in (violin duet, piano solo).


    Maybe next time.



    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  8. quote:
    Originally posted by Freelens&Mosie:

    ...when you place a styrofoam cup in a vacuum? Does it get bigger?


    I have my own little world. But it's OK...they know me here.


    I don't know about styrofoam, but marshmallows do. Unfortunately, they collapse again.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  9. I'm looking to put together a nice mix CD for driving out to the caches. So far, I've got

    "To Track You Down" - Pat MacDonald, from "Sleeps with his Guitar"

    "Lost Cause" - Beck, from "Sea Change"


    I know there's an old song called "Lost in the Woods" but I don't know who it's by.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  10. Illinois has a draft policy for cache hiding on state park land -- mainly registration with local managers, personal responsibility for the cache, and requirement for transparent containers. Seems pretty reasonable to me. Probably depends on individual managers' opinions. I plan to try it out later this year.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  11. I like my 76S. But so far, I haven't used any routing at all -- auto or not, because I've just been tooling around the neighborhood looking for caches. Come vacation season, I plan on doing a fair amount of driving. I expect I can probably build my major routes, destinations to hotels and so on, on my laptop, and download to the 76S the night before.


    Beyond that, I can pretty much find my way around.


    But I wouldn't put much stock in routing anyway. Garmin appears to have a database very similar to Mapquest, Yahoo Maps, etc., which basically suck at getting you there.


    For instance: My address on ALL those maps is about 1/4 mile west of where I'm currently typing.


    I was routed to a hotel in Pleasanton, CA that was a stoplight further down the road and on the opposite side.


    Your mileage may vary. Trust but verify.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  12. Here's another vote for common sense: scout out your hidey spot. If there are animal tracks in the dirt, droppings, a strong odor, glowing eyes or teeth in the hollow, it's probably occupied.


    My one hide so far is in a hollow log, in an area where there are hundreds of large fallen trees in a small area, due to a major straight-line wind storm two-three years ago. I scouted for a dry, shallow, somewhat exposed hollow that didn't look like a den. It wasn't much more space than the container, in fact.


    Then again, after the lid broke on the cheap plastic bucket, it was ransacked by a small creature that chewed up a couple of ziplocs (no food products present).


    On the other end of the spectrum, there is "Playin' Possum" at Busse Woods. Last time I was out there, there were numerous animal tracks in the snow in and out of the hollow, and a strong smell. I'd strongly consider another spot, if I were the hider.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  13. quote:
    Originally posted by Poindexter:

    Just press and hold the page key to turn the compass on and off.


    Much appreciated. As often as I say RTFM (Read The (ahem) Fine Manual) to other people, the GPSMAP 76S manual was so lengthy and dull, that once I got it turned on, I tucked the manual far far away.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  14. The GPSMAP76S' compass is a power pig.

    Garmin advises turning it on for a reading, then turning it off again.


    Too bad that's not an option on the Compass screen, you have to navigate through Setup to get at it (I could be wrong, I don't have it with me).


    The unit has a bad habit of shutting off when power levels get low. If it's cold and your alkie batteries are already sluggish, turning on the Compass will kill the machine -- and it'll shut itself off when you restart it, without letting you get to the menus again.


    I gotta get a couple of Lithiums, just for this weather.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  15. I can't see paying specifically to hunt at a park, except for a special event situation.


    I can see an 'environmental impact' 'user fee' thingy for the hider, though. How much would it be worth to me? I'd have a hard time with anything over, say, $30-50.


    For that kind of fee, I'd want to be able to pick up a printout of cache data at the park's HQ (maybe a beam kiosk for Palms?), it'd pay for a flyer to be given to cache hunters about environmental impact, and a free trash bag!


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  16. Another good reason for this synchronization date is the sorry state of cheap Palm development tools.


    Namely, PDAToolbox: It's quite inexpensive, produces nice-looking apps, but doesn't reliably let you know when a record has been modified (if you even *looked* at it, it gets the "dirty" flag). Having an exported date will let you know what data came from where, and when.


    Relevance? DougsBrat, Robert Lipe and I are working on various aspects of DougsBrat's GeocachingDB app for Palm/PocketPC. I decided to tackle the concept of sync/conduit, and it's driving me nuts trying to figure out what data is new.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  17. quote:
    Oh, indicaton of the WAAS bird on the GoTo pointer like the waypoint, sun, and moon.

    The WAAS sats are geosynchronous. Since they don't move, they may not have thought there was value in marking them.


    With the compass working, I know where the WAAS birds are:

    Just over the horizon /There and There


    Oh, and there are a coupla color GPS units. One of Garmin's auto-routing babies is color, and so's the iQue. But they're pricy. Comparable PDAs are only about $100 more than equivalent B&W models.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  18. Things I wish my GPSr could do (and as it's a Garmin GPSMAP 76S it already does a lot!):


    1) Quick menu to toggle between 'on foot', 'on bicycle', 'driving', so I can keep track of the distance/ave speed in each mode. I'd like to know how much hiking I'm really doing.*


    2) Related: Calculate Trip Computer data since last waypoint set


    3) WAAS usable in the midwest -- not a receiver issue, but as long as I'm at it


    4) Move cursor to location and mark new waypoint there. Currently, the GPSMAP 76S, if you mark a new point, sticks to where you are, not where you're pointing.


    5) Stylus and touchscreen -- I'm thinking strongly about the iQue


    6) MP3 Player, Cell Phone, 1-megapixel camera, cone of silence, death ray -- umm there is no #6



    * I might be able to calculate this with enough waypoints set, the calculating the distance between waypoints on the track... I'm not sure what software will do this, but it's not on the Trip Computer.


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

  19. What's handy to have along. So far, it's been winter when I cache, so no sunblock, mosquito repellent... but here's my current pack:


    2 AA batteries (darn GPSMAP76s likes to die when I switch on the compass, and won't come back on unless you feed it)


    One or more plastic grocery bags for trash-out


    Waterless hand sanitizer for when trash-out turns out to be less pleasant than expected


    Various trinkets


    A couple of trail maps I've picked up from local parks (including one I found while doing my trash-out)


    A couple of geocaching.com pages printed for hints (moving to Palm-based)


    2 Pens


    I am Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt. I have many names, you know

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