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For Newbies, And Veteran Geocachers....


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I've researched up and down Garmin and Magellan. Currently I own a Garmin eTrex Legend, and I'm looking to upgrade. My GPS, makes me run circles around the cache most of the time, and is a real pain once you get within 200 feet. With all the biasses out on the market, my question is, for Geocaching, what is the best model that is affordable?

 

(Affordable being <$300)

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Unless you own a malfunctioning unit ;) , your being a "Drunken Duck" ;) in the woods has to do with technique not your GPS. You need to learn DISTANCE AND BEARING. When your walking and the GPS is updating distance on every step you take .... you probably have a good signal and you should note DISTANCE AND BEARING. Within 100 feet just walk the distance and bearing and do not stray from the course. Lay out a ruler and get a good idea of just how far 100 feet is.

 

Hey .... it is rocket science! Try going out with some other cachers to really see if it is the GPS or not. Throwing money at the problem may not make it go away. Spend the money on a nice new PDA instead.

 

;) ImpalaBob Garmin MAP 60C.

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You're not likely to find a GPSr that will take you any more directly to the cache than the one you've got. If you keep walking brisky toward the cache, you should see from the distance/bearing information where the GPSr thinks it is. The more slowly you go, the more the arrow is likely to bounce about, but with a separate compass (I never did like built-in digital compasses) you can still keep your bearings. You will probably be disappointed if you give up on this one and spend more money on a different GPSr; the difficulty you're talking about is a matter of fine-tuning your skill in interpreting and using the device, rather than having a bad device. (Which isn't to condemn you and say you're doing it wrong or anything -- the way these devices behave can be confusing and it takes some getting used to. But I am positive that you can end up happy with what you have, and find as many caches as you want with it.)

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Best? Garmin 60C or CS or the 76C and CS. Best Bang for the Buck the GPS V.

The high end Explorist seems like a good canditate for one of the top spots.

 

If you don't have maps you can go either way. If you do, stick with Garmin so you don't have to buy maps twice.

 

The real best will be the GPS VI when it comes out, but Garmin's not saying anything about if they are evne thinking of such a GPS, but I keep hoping. In the mean time though the 60C is what I might end up getting when I get tired of waiting. I don't need the Electronic Compass.

 

One last thing if your GPS is leading you around in circles at 200' you are either in the woods or you have a bad GPS.

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I was a Garmin guy until I recently bought a Magellan eXplorist 500. I love it. Keeps signal way better than the Garmins and the color screen is awesome on. Oh.... the expandable memory on them is a great feauture also.

Edited by Special Ed
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For under $300, the eTrex Legend C and Vista C. The new color units reportedly outperform the old eTrex models considerably.

 

Also the Map60, which is the B/W version of the popular 60C(S).

 

Also, the Lowrance iFinder Pro, or iFinder H20 are very good units for the money. Their user interface isn't up to Garmin's (or even Magellan's), but they perform very well and are a bargain. You can get one, with mapping software, for about $260.

Edited by briansnat
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The Mr. and I use a Garmin 60c and a Magellan Meridian for caching. If I had to go with one I think it would be the Magellan.

 

The Garmin is faster, has lots of options for finding more than caches (gas stations, food, parks, addresses) and is small enough shove in a pocket and is easy to read. The down side is that I tend to lose signal in deep woods. Sometimes a fat butterfly flying near the antenna will cause me to lose the satellites.

 

The Magellan is larger in the hand (at least the Meridian is) and has no useable lanyard attachment. As far as signal goes..I've seen the Mr. keep signal in a culvert under 4 feet of earth. He's also usually way closer to ground zero than I am. For caching it's the one we rely on. For getting us there it's the Garmin.

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I've been using a Legend the entire time I've been caching, and its done well enough for me to find caches. The times I have DNFed it has never been the fault of the GPS. Sometimes its been bad coords, sometimes its been muggled, but ussually its due to me just plain not seeing the cache. I'd love to blame the GPS, but I can't, it works too gosh darn well ;)

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I agree with those who suggest that you simply get yourself a compass and not worry about replacing your GPSr. While I'm not a veteran geocacher (just under 100 caches found), I think the problem is in the inherent slowing down as one approaches a cache. We slow down, look around, the GPSr needle begins to spin as we slow down, and the next thing you know we're going in circles.

 

As you get to within 15 to 30 meters of the cache, take note of the bearing and distance. Put your GPSr away, set the bearing on your compass, and approximate distance. When you get to where your compass and distance estimate tell you the cache should be, put your personal search engine to work: start thinking like a cacher, and find the cache.

 

If you need to, back away from your suspected location by at least 15-30 meters, get the GPSr out again, and get a new bearing and distance. Again, use your compass and distance estimates as soon as the GPSr gives you the info you need.

 

My experience is that I over rely on the GPS receiver when I'm close to the cache, when I should be using my eyes and my brain. Your eyes and brain are more useful than your GPSr, and way less expensive!

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I use a Magellan Meridian Gold. My research told me to go with Magellan if I didn't want to lose signal under trees in the summer. I can't recall any DNF's because of lost signals.

 

If you can put up with auto-averaging and learn to deal with the slingshot effect of the Magellan, then you won't need anything else. It's kind of like having a racecar in a town that has a 35mph speed limit.

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Just when you're absolutely positive fer certain sure that you've seen or heard it all: "The down side is that I tend to lose signal in deep woods. Sometimes a fat butterfly flying near the antenna will cause me to lose the satellites.". B)

 

If it gets any deeper around here we're gonna have to learn to breathe through the ears. Astounding. B)

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Those of you who have said the Magellans "do not loose signal" ...... Could you quantify this?

 

Does this mean that the unit is still ticking off the feet while you are walking ..... or is the unit just not saying it has a signal lose?

 

My point is that if Garmin adjusted the firmware to not report signal lose until 5 minutes after signal lose .... then I could probably say my 60C nevers looses signal. I guage my signal integrity by watching my distance change while I am walking. If it is not updating every step then I know my distance may be unreliable but I stay on my bearing and guage my distance based on my last good signal point. Being X-Army, X-Scout, and X-Explorer I initially learned orienteering and to rely on DISTANCE & BEARING and topo maps to find my way. The GPS is definitly icing on the cake! :huh: ImpalaBob

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Those of you who have said the Magellans "do not loose signal" ...... Could you quantify this?

 

Does this mean that the unit is still ticking off the feet while you are walking  ..... or is the unit just not saying it has a signal lose?...

Magellans can and do lie about having a signal. When comparing a Sport Track Pro vs. a GPS V once we figured out that it didn't always tell is about signals loss and that it lied about position when it didn't have a signal (so it didn't know where it was) it turned out to be comparable to the V in signal loss.

 

However both the new Color Garmins and the Explorist's do get a better lock than the GPS's they replace. The GPS's (Pro and V) both worked well enough in the woods the difference in the end was one of settings. I'd like to mess with an Explorist though and put it through the paces.

Edited by Renegade Knight
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I have a Garmin Legend. Every now and then, I get this urge to upgrade to a color model, but then I remember that the little bugger has gotten me to almost 700 caches and still works great, so what's the point?

Point?........you're kidding, right? :(

It's $300 I can spend on other things, like gas to get me to the caches... :huh:

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Magellans can and do lie about having a signal. When comparing a Sport Track Pro vs. a GPS V once we figured out that it didn't always tell is about signals loss and that it lied about position when it didn't have a signal (so it didn't know where it was) it turned out to be comparable to the V in signal loss.

 

I was using a MeriGold and my 60CS while driving through the Holland Tunnel. The 60CS lost reception moments after entering the tunnel, while the Meri claimed to have a lock a mile into the tunnel, under 90 feet of bedrock and water. I figured that either its one incredible GPS, or it wasn't telling the truth. A check of the sat screen showed it was the latter.

Edited by briansnat
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If you are now using Garmin software it would make sense to stay with a garmin instead of having to buy all new software.

 

If you think that buying another GPS with the hope of having more luck finding caches you may find yourself being disapointed.

As you gain more experiance with your geocaching your are going to learn to spot caches a lot faster, some are easy to find soe are harder to find.

 

i see you have one find listed. How many DNF's do you have and what there Difficulty ratting. If you are starting out stick with 1's and 2's.

 

Being 20 or 30 off is not uncommon, some times cacher can make mistakes when posting coordinates, terrain can also effect accuracy of your GPS.

Edited by JohnnyVegas
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Those of you who have said the Magellans "do not loose signal" ...... Could you quantify this?

 

Does this mean that the unit is still ticking off the feet while you are walking ..... or is the unit just not saying it has a signal lose?

 

My point is that if Garmin adjusted the firmware to not report signal lose until 5 minutes after signal lose .... then I could probably say my 60C nevers looses signal. I guage my signal integrity by watching my distance change while I am walking. If it is not updating every step then I know my distance may be unreliable but I stay on my bearing and guage my distance based on my last good signal point. Being X-Army, X-Scout, and X-Explorer I initially learned orienteering and to rely on DISTANCE & BEARING and topo maps to find my way. The GPS is definitly icing on the cake! B) ImpalaBob

I have a meriplat.

 

I gauge my signal integrity by watching the signal bars on the satellite page. Regardless of what people say about it never losing signal or it lies about the signal, when those bars go away, so too does the signal.

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I set the alarm for GPS fix on for both my meriplat and my explorist 500. Acquired a good signal lock with 7-8 birds, then went in a recessed, fortified nook in my house and covered up the units so no bars appeared on the sat screen.

 

The plat took 15 seconds for the alarm to sound, the 500 took about 10 or 11 seconds. Do the Garmani do this faster?

 

I rather like the way this works on the Magellans...I don't think I would want a fix loss alarm sounding for a signal that flits in and out briefly. I do think, however, that leaving the alarm off might lull one into having unwaranted trust in a non-existent/stale fix.

 

BTW, I was rather surprised to see the minimal signal levels the 500 required to maintain a lock...albeit with a 200 ft accuracy value.

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I do think, however, that leaving the alarm off might lull one into having unwaranted trust in a non-existent/stale fix.

 

BTW, I was rather surprised to see the minimal signal levels the 500 required to maintain a lock...albeit with a 200 ft accuracy value.

My STP (that I love, BTW) has a similar issue, which is especially distracting while autorouting. I've noticed a stale signal doesn't seem to trigger the software to prompt me OR refresh driving directions (especially important if you WERE close to a turn). It's easily solved with a tap of the "reroute" feature, but somewhat annoying. I'd compare say it's tantamount to me singing along to the radio and missing my exit... ;)

 

I, too, have found that almost all GPS units can show a lock, but with a 200' EPE. Lock doesn't mean it's doing you much good... It's all relative. If you like the Garmin software and interface, staying with Garmin will probably decrease your learning curve significantly on the next unit.

 

-p

Edited by Team GeoSpeedy
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I've researched up and down Garmin and Magellan. Currently I own a Garmin eTrex Legend, and I'm looking to upgrade. My GPS, makes me run circles around the cache most of the time, and is a real pain once you get within 200 feet. With all the biasses out on the market, my question is, for Geocaching, what is the best model that is affordable?

 

(Affordable being <$300)

It isn't the GPSr that is running you in circle but your understanding of using the GPSr. I would bet that no matter what GHSr you have your do the same thing. They all do basically the same thing and have the same accuracery etc... but it is most likely your misunderstanding that is causing you to run in circles. Thought I know satellite configuration can casue problems but it is not the GPSr but the whole GPS system so no matter what GPSr you have there will be inaccuraceries. I would suggest you evaluate you hunting methodlolgy.

cheers

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I currenly have a Garmin Etrex and Im wondering if Im an idiot or if this thing insnt as accurate as it should be. I can hold the unit in my hand and it says that i am 13 feet away from the cache but without me moving it will say im 26ft away. do all GPS units do this or should I invest in another one.

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As others have said.. when you get to 200 feet, take note of the bearing that you need to walk on, and project that with your hand-held compass, and walk that direction the requisite number of feet.

 

When you get there, check the GPS. If it still says 200 feet, something is amiss. Ideally you're now within 50 feet.

 

Now, set the thing down and look around for the cache for a bit. Come back and look at what the GPS says now. Does it say here? Or that-a-way on X bearing for N feet? If so, use the compass again and head that-a-way.

 

Yeah, it's kinda manual, but it works. That said, I use two Garmin units (a Rino 130 75% of the time and a 60CS 25% of the time) that have electric compasses. They work fairly well as long as I remember to recalibrate them after replacing the batteries, but I still carry a hand-held Silva Polaris compass to verify.

 

Usually when I finally find the cache the GPSr will be showing within 20 feet of where the cache is, quite often within 8-15 feet. So it works, albeit a touch slower than you may like or expect. Standing still for 30 seconds at a time allows the unit to "settle down", regardless of manufacturer. It's easier to establish a stationary target than a moving one.

 

Get the unit that works best for your wallet and has the features that you want. That way, you can't go wrong - as long as you don't "follow the arrow" into oblivion. :)

Edited by Cymbaline
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