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Total Cost To Get Started


stiney51
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Complete newbie here, I've never really looked into a GPS unit, but my wife and I do like to go out hiking and snowshoeing so I've often thought about it. Generally speaking we stick to paths and places we know but this idea of Geocaching seems like a great thing to do. (An old friend we met at a wedding got us thinking about this last weekend as she apparently is pretty active doing this)

 

That being said, we have 2 two young children so money isn't easy to come by.

 

Realistically, what should we expect to spend for a GPS unit, and are there other expenses we should expect to incur (software etc)?

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Realistically, you can get started for the price of the GPS. For recreational use, I have a bias for Garmin units. If you are going to make the plunge, you might as well get one of the units in the new H series because they are more accurate than the older models and the cost differential is very small. The basic eTrexH is sufficient. - in my opinion, that's probably the only one of the basic handheld Garmins to consider. But, if you get started with this, you will soon prefer more features. Also, the eTrex does not come with a cable and the cable requires a serial port or an adapter to convert it to use in a USB port. So, I'd suggest getting one of the mapping handhelds - they all come with a USB cable. You don't need a unit that takes a memory card unless you want to add a lot of map data. The map that comes with the mapping units is basic - very basic. But, for caching, you don't need an internal map.

 

It's nice to be able to transfer cache locations directly from your computer to your GPSr, but you do not need to purchase additional software to do it. The software that comes with the mapping handhelds is sufficient to do it. MapSource also has a feature that allows you to view your waypoints in GoogleEarth You can also download EasyGPS - a piece of shareware. If you get the eTrexH, you would need that because it does not come with software.

 

There is another piece of shareware that I like using - USAPhotoMaps. That program downloads maps and photos from the Terraserver website. You can't transfer that data to your GPSr, but you can move waypoints and tracks back and forth and visualize your GPS data on the maps and photos.

 

There are several sources for purchasing GPS units online for discounted prices. I recently purchased one of the newer models from Offroute.com. They gave me good service. With the free shipping, it was within a handful of change the best price I was able to find on the web.

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I think jmundinger gives you good advice, but you also might want to consider buying a used unit in the Garage Sale forum here. I found when I got started that going that route let me get my feet wet inexpensively, and within a few months I figured out what features were and were not important to me. Then I was able to make an informed purchasing decision for a new GPS that fit my needs and budget well.

 

At that point I sold the first GPS for only a little less than what I paid for it. It was like a 6 month lease program. ;)

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embra gave you great advice on how to get started without spending so much. If you buy from another user then usally you get everything you need along with someone to ask for help from when you first get started.

 

Yeah new is nice, but also more expensive and you pretty much on your own figuring it out.

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Complete newbie here, I've never really looked into a GPS unit, but my wife and I do like to go out hiking and snowshoeing so I've often thought about it. Generally speaking we stick to paths and places we know but this idea of Geocaching seems like a great thing to do. (An old friend we met at a wedding got us thinking about this last weekend as she apparently is pretty active doing this)

 

That being said, we have 2 two young children so money isn't easy to come by.

 

Realistically, what should we expect to spend for a GPS unit, and are there other expenses we should expect to incur (software etc)?

 

I just started a week ago.

Here is my purchase list to date:

$280 - GPSMap 60CSx (after $50 rebate)

$60 - Topo 2008

$10 - Screen Shield

$20 - 2gb memory chip

$20 - 4 Travel Bugs to place (soon)

$30 - Yearly subscription to GC.com premium

-----------------------------------------------

$420 total so far.

(I intend to get the $140 bundle of US street maps, dash holder and cigarette power cord)

 

YMMV

Edited by Fogtripper
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I started off with just a $35 eTrex Venture I happened to find on craigslist. I used that for the first six months and really have nothing bad to say about it. I just recently dropped $323 on a new 60CSx but that had a $50 mail-in rebate + I sold my old eTrex for $80 (?!?!) so really I have about $190 into a brand spankin new 60CSx. As embra stated, the resale on these Garmin units is so incredible that you can rest assured if you ever wish to leave the hobby/sport you can recoup a lot (if not all) of your costs. I also just picked up a Visor Handspring Deluxe PDA from a buddy for FREE! look for the deals, they're out there. Oh yeah, also bought a premium membership. I didn't need it with my cheaper GPSr, but now that I can download hundreds of caches into my new unit it is will worth the $3/month.

 

Happy Caching!

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I'm very new to geocaching too and completely hooked. Lots of good advice here I wish I would of asked for.

 

I spent about $400 getting all the gadgets I think I need (probably more than a actually needed). GPSr, software, gear, TB's, Ammo Box's, etc...

 

For me its a one time - long term investment. Worth every cent for the the way I get to spend time with my family. Better than any movie or amusement park if you ask me. Good luck and have fun!

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So if I'm going to take the plunge and buy a "good" GPS unit, can someone point me in the right direction.

 

It seems the Garmin CS units get the most talk around here so what is the real difference between the models and which is the best deal/value

 

60CSx (seems to have a memory card which others don't but I can't see that being a big need for me right now) is around $290 with the mail-in rebate

60Cx is about $20 cheaper ($270)

60CS is available for around $200 without searching too hard

 

Is the Cx just a new model of the CS?

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Garmin uses letters to indicate some of the device features. C means it has a color display. X means it supports expandable storage (Micro SD Cards). H means it has the new high-sensitivity receiver technology.

 

In my case, CX was mandatory. Color screens are simply a must for me, because color can be used to convey additional map information on the small screens. External storage was also a requirement, because otherwise you are forever limited to the tiny internal storage.

 

Also, some models come prepackaged with some accessories. For example, the eTrex Venture Cx and the eTrex Legend Cx are the exact same device (except the Venture is yellow). The difference is the Legend comes with a small Micro SD card and a USB cable, while the Venture does not. MicroSD cards are very inexpensive ($20 for 2gigs), and many people have USB cables of that type, so for some it wouldn't be worthwhile for pay extra for the Legend over the Venture.

 

Dan

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So if I'm going to take the plunge and buy a "good" GPS unit, can someone point me in the right direction.

 

It seems the Garmin CS units get the most talk around here so what is the real difference between the models and which is the best deal/value

 

60CSx (seems to have a memory card which others don't but I can't see that being a big need for me right now) is around $290 with the mail-in rebate

60Cx is about $20 cheaper ($270)

60CS is available for around $200 without searching too hard

 

Is the Cx just a new model of the CS?

The CS is the old model without the sensitive chipset. It also doesn't have expandable memory, but it's the reception that's even more important here. It is way outdated by the C(S)x and the H series.

If you want current, make sure you get one of the latter two.

Confusingly the 60 range doesn't use the "H", as this represents Garmins own chipset. The 60 uses the acclaimed SiRF III technology.

 

Also, the "H" range doesn't seem to use the "S" for Sensor (altimeter and electronic compass) any more.

 

In short, if you get an eTrex make sure it's "H" series, if you get a GPSmap60, make sure it has an "x" on the end.

 

BTW, you're really lucky. We have to pay double these prices in the UK.

 

I don't think anyone has mentioned yet, that depending where you live, gas will be the biggest expense over time.

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Several people keep pushing the newest latest greatest units.

The fact is the older units work great for geocaching at a much lower price then the newest GPS's.. The "older" unitd get you to within 5 to 10 feet, and I haven't seen any of the newer ones work any better, Ok maybe a foot closer, and at what price???

 

Humm, lets see should I spend $50 to $100 for an older (but working fine) unit or should I spend $300 to $500 on one of the newer units?

 

You can buy the used GPS's and have money left to buy a pocket PC or a Palm Pilot and have money left to buy some gas as well.

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Several people keep pushing the newest latest greatest units.

The fact is the older units work great for geocaching at a much lower price then the newest GPS's.. The "older" unitd get you to within 5 to 10 feet, and I haven't seen any of the newer ones work any better, Ok maybe a foot closer, and at what price???

 

Humm, lets see should I spend $50 to $100 for an older (but working fine) unit or should I spend $300 to $500 on one of the newer units?

 

You can buy the used GPS's and have money left to buy a pocket PC or a Palm Pilot and have money left to buy some gas as well.

The big reason the newest are pushed is the extra sensitivity of the chip set. This allows the unit to aquire and hang on to signals in conditions the older units sometimes have trouble with (heavy tree cover the most common). Also the expandable memory can store more maps.

 

But, yes, the accuracy is about the same. It's just when that older unit loses signal lock just before you get to the cache site...

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