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Upgrading From An Etrex.

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I realise this topic has come up several times before, but my poor little brain is still confused, so don't be too cross with me for asking again.


I currently have the basic eTrex, with which we have found 80+ caches. However, I don't have a data cable, there is no base map, etc., so I'm thinking of upgrading.


I am quite technically minded (having worked in IT Support), but for some reason, GPSr's just confuse me. So, to put it in layman's terms, please could someone recommend a GPSr for about £300 which would allow me to download multiple waypoints (rather than hurting my fingers on the eTrex's little buttons trying to put them in), show us roads near to a cache (so that I don't have to keep printing out multimap pages), and preferably that can store more than 500 waypoints?


Also, a couple more basic questions: how are such waypoints shown on the GPSr when they have downloaded? Do they appear as the GC**** number, or is there more info? Also, do you need some kind of interface software, and does that generally come with the GPSr, or do you have to buy it seperately?


I have an iPaq, and hear people talking about using them for Geocaching, but I don't have a clue how! I assume you need special software?


Sorry for asking so many daft questions - I feel that as a fairly experienced cacher, I should know these things... any help would be appreciated!

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Most of the more expensive gps units come with a data cable, To send the waypoints to your gps you can use easygps which is a free download, The waypoints will be identified by the GCxxxx number. The basemaps on most gps units are poor so a additional purchase of a garmin mapsource cd is reqiured (for garmin obviously ) not sure about other brands. If you have an ipaq you can run programs such as memory map on it and this will give you Ordnance survey quality maps on your pda (expensive program but worth every penny) If you have an ipaq you can send all the cache info onto it as the gps wont be able to store much more than the waypoint name. If you are a premium member you can download pocket queries to your pda, If you are not you can cut and paste info from a cache page into a text document.

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You problem may be lack of premium membership rather than inadequate GPSr. Your current Etrex is capable of receiving multiple waypoints but you will need a serial cable. Once you get these things, you can download from gc.com a single file containing multiple cache data. You can then load the file into a PC program such as GSAK. In this program you can decide the name given to each cache, the GXxxxx name can be used but is not very helpful in large quantities, GSAK will allow you to define new cacche names based on the original full length cache name. Finally you can choose which caches are to be downloaded into your Etrex via the serial cable.

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Thanks for all your helpful replies, and I'm even more embarrassed now, as I didn't notice that pinned thread... :blink: And I' on this forum almost every day... oops.


Re: Us 4 and Jess's question over whether I'm selling the eTrex, thank you for your interest, but I think my in-laws may be buying it, as we have just introduced them to Geocaching.


In response to the other comments, I am a Premium member, so that makes life a little easier. I am aware that you can connect a serial cable to the eTrex, but A. I don't have a serial port on my computer, and B. my opinion is that upgrading (now that I can finally afford to do so!) may give me other benefits, such as the base map, what do you think?


If I use GSAK to define new cache names, can the eTrex cope with more than six digits?


Once again, apologies for being useless and not noticing the pinned thread - I will have a browse through it now! Thank you for all of the help you have already given me. :rolleyes:

Edited by ryme-intrinseca
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To add to the comments above, and in summary, the only thing you won’t be able to do with a basic etrex that you want to is basemapping on the unit. As Mark wrote above, you can buy a serial cable quite cheaply to allow multiple downloading of waypoints. However, regardless of your GPSr, you WILL need premium membership to do this properly. This enables queries to be defined which will e-mail you with cache lists up to 500 in number. (You can define 20 of these). What you will also need is some waypoint management software, which you can import these files into. I use GSAK. With this, you can filter as you like, and then export these to your basic etrex. You can rename them automatically, either using smart names, or just the GC**** number. You can also tell it to put the “GC” part at the end, so they don’t all end up in the G part of your etrex waypoint list (which is VERY incovenient)! I use this method.


Finally, as you have an IPAQ, you can go the full paperless caching route. Markandlynn have an excellent guide to this, but in short, you should be able to do it without much extra software. I have a palm, and all I need on top of GSAK is some software on the palm to catalogue all the cache details. Someone with an IPAQ will be able to recommend something for this.


THEN, all you do is define your queries on GC.com. Open the files you will receive in GSAK. Filter them and do what you want, then export 500 chosen ones to your GPS using GSAK, and export the same to your IPAQ.


Phew – I hope that was some help! I know what you mean, I needed it explained to me in words of one syllable when I started paperless, and all thaks to Markandlynn for doing that for me!




EDIT - this crossed in the ether, but I'll add here that the etrex can only cope with six digits, but if you put the GC part of the name at the end, then it doesn't matter too much (I find). Sorry if this is a bit simple sounding!!! :rolleyes:

Edited by purple_pineapple
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Our etrex can only cope with 6 digits but with gsak you can export using a function called %drop2 which gets rid of the GC prefix you can also use %smart for a "smart" name in fact there's loads of options have a look in the help file at gsak.net


as purple pineapple say above (beat me to it)

quiet at work today

Edited by markandlynn
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Phew, thank you, that makes a bit more sense now! Maybe I've got GPSr Envy syndrome, I don't know... perhaps I don't really need to upgrade, the Yellow has proved alright up until now. It's just that sometimes it would be better to have more than just a vague arrow.


Meanwhile... I have been ploughing my way through the pinned thread, and it seems that a popular choice for those upgrading from Yellow is the Legend C. It seems that, although this is a lot cheaper than the Vista C, the only significant differences are that the Legend has no electronic compass (not a problem, I like my little magnetic compass!), and that it does not have a Barometic Altimeter (that may be a problem, but as I don't know what it means, I'll assume not...).


Also, according to Global Positioning Systems , the battery life for the Legend is 36 hours - if that's true, brilliant!


All this is making me tired :rolleyes: . I feel really out of my depth with this type of technology, a feeling I'm not used to and don't like too much!


Thanks again for all your help though, I feel a bit more informed now.

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Why change? Don't !!!!!! :rolleyes:


My wife bought me a basic yellow etrex for a present a few years ago now which I still have and am completely satisfied with. It must be an earlier version than yours as it only holds 250 waypoints and doesn't have a magnetic compass.


Although I thought of upgrading to one with a basemap (I bought my wife a Magellan Sportrak) I have never really needed or wanted it. And its no good anyway if you take it abroad and dont have the readys to purchase a local basemap.


However, I do recommend if you decide not to change to another GPSr (I wont say upgrade) to get the data cable for linking it to a computer. You can use the cable to download the latest software for your unit from the Garmin Website.


I use the software Mapsource (It shows Roads, etc - I have UK version) on my computer and usually, not always, plan caching trips with that - entry of waypoints on the computer is a lot easier than on the Etrex, and the waypoints are easily downloaded to the GPSr using the same data cable, but even having that said, in a race between me and my wife to enter a new waypoint, its pretty well even stevens - one handed use certainly improves with practice - i dont get along with the new toggle lever thing which my etrex hasnt got and I still do like the location of buttons and find it really easy to use.


Data Cable - cannot remember how much they are new, maybe 20-30 pounds, but Ebay may be worth a look. And if you are that technically minded the info is in the user guide to make the cable yourself - a trip to Maplins perhaps? Although combined data/differential cables aren't commercially available, it looks like it is possible to make up a cable that can add on a differential input to the GPSr as well as serial data - Now that is getting technical! And where would you get the differential signal from ? (Thats probably the start of another thread)


Battery Life - how about rechargeables ? And yes, we have got through our fair share of batteries - Savers do a pack of 20 for 99 pence which we have found worth getting even if they dont last as long as duracells or similar - although I think they do!


The only consideration I would have in changing to another unit is would I get improved reception with a different type of unit antenna/aerial. Between my wife's Sportrak and my Etrex, sometimes one gets good reception and the other doesn't and vice versa, so I am not really sure on that one!


Keep your etrex - it looks like they last for ever......... (and i like the colour)

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Right - have made a decision. Found a data cable on eBay for £6.49 plus £2.00 p&p. Don't need an adaptor as have just found that my work PC has a serial port.


Have therefore saved about £240 for the time being... if I want to buy a new GPSr in the future, at least I can advertise my Yellow as being "with data cable"!


Thanks to everyone for saving me money (for the time being, anyway!). Buying a cable has got to be better than entering waypoints for all the London caches and hurting my poor index finger! :rolleyes:

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Everyone, I just wanted to say thank you for your advice - I have purchased a lead from eBay for £6.00, it arrived super-fast, and WOW! It makes things soooo much easier, why didn't I buy one months ago? And Garmin's EasyGPS program is so easy to use, even for a hopeless case like me.


Everyone with an Etrex - if you haven't got a lead, buy one now!! Who needs a super snazzy colour base map anyway? That's what road atlases are for!

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The yellow is a good solid caching tool...i have 2 yellows and rate them HIGHLY..the vista c has prooved to be brilliant tool,especially under thick tree cover..not lost a signal once !, handy when caching at night..plus the road mapping has certainly taken us to caches much quicker...It took me a long time to decide whether to upgrade to the vista, the base map and upgrade swung it for me.

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I gather that the Vista C (I have one too now) has a 'quad helix' arial and the other Etrexes have a patch arial... er at least that's what somebody told me, except that now I say it, I feel like an actor in Holby City spouting medical technobabble. :unsure:


Anyhow, it is certainly great under trees and keeps it's signal far better than a yellow (as compared to the yellow of a regular caching partner), however, I am not convinced that the arrow is any less likely to lead you a merry dance as you chase it around! :unsure:


Yellow work fine. Basically after that you are paying for features that you may want but you probably don't need. However, I do like my features!! :blink:

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I gather that the Vista C (I have one too now) has a 'quad helix' arial and the other Etrexes have a patch arial...

The Vista C has a patch aerial like the other Etrex's which means it works better when held horizontally. I don't know the exact spec of the receiver but when I went from my Etrex Legend to the Vista C I noticed a great improvement in reception. It works under tree cover and also in my house!!


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