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I have a GPS 12-How out of date?

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I have just started geocaching in the last couple of months. I have a Garmin GPS 12 that I used for search and rescue work a few years ago. It still works great and appears to be pretty acurate. I am wondering about buying another unit. What am I missing in the experience.

Nothing wrong with that unit but if memory serves me correctly it goes through 4 x AA batteries in about 10-12 hours. More modern Garmin units offer up to 32 hours use on 2 x AA batteries as well as mapping and auto routing capabilities. Also newer units use USB connection vs. Serial which is getting tougher to find on modern laptops.


Personal preference really as any GPSr will do the trick - just depends how much you want to put in - get out.

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"Wa-tak-shi-no-key-yo-ku-ga-tash-ka-na-ra-ba". (sorry old Iron Chef line)

if memory serves me correctly the 12 had 2 digit displayed after the . this makes it much less accurate than the ones that have 3 and 4.


NOTE: Ignore that. It does have 3 digits after the decimal point


GPS 12





Total: 500

Nearest: 9 (automatic)

Proximity: 9

Routes: 20 reversible routes with up to 30 waypoints each, plus MOB and TracBack® modes


TracBac™: Automatic track log navigation with 1024 track log points


Map Datums: Over 107 including one User Datum


Coordinates: Lat/Lon, UTM/UPS, MGRS, Loran TDs, plus 7 grids, including Maidenhead and User UTM




Receiver: Differential-ready 12 parallel channel receiver continuously tracks and uses up to twelve satellites to compute and update position


Acquisition Times:


Warm: approx. 15 seconds

Cold: approx. 45 seconds

Autolocate™: approx. 5 minutes

EZinit: easy initialization, 45 seconds

Update Rate: 1 second, continuous



Position: 15 meters (49 feet) RMS*

1-5 meters (3-15 feet) RMS with Garmin® GBR 21 DGPS receiver (optional)

Velocity: 0.1 knot RMS steady state

Dynamics: 6g's


Interfaces: NMEA 0183 and RTCM 104 DGPS corrections


Antenna: Internal patch


Physical Specifications


Size: 2.1 W x 5.8 H x 1.2 D inches (5.3 x 14.7 x 3.1 cm)


Weight: 9.5 ounces (269g) with batteries


Display: 2.2 H x 1.5 W inches (5.6 x 3.8 cm) high-contrast LCD with electro-luminescent backlighting


Case: Ultrasonically welded, waterproof to IPX-7 standards


Temp. Range: 5°F to 158°F (-15°C to 70°C)





Memory Backup: Internal rechargeable lithium battery


Power Source: 5-8 VDC (4 AA batteries)


Battery Life: Up to 24 hours

Edited by Michael
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The "12" was my first GPS - a great little unit. It only has six character waypoint names but you can get around that with software that drops "GC" form the cache codes. What is it missing compared to newer unist? - color display, waypoint and tracklog memory, WAAS, maps ...

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I just replaced my gps 12 because the screen failed but I used it with no problem.


I have all fo my marine waypoints in it and I'm tring to get them out now. I only have a serial cable and can't find the drivers for it. I'm going to try using old marine software and an old computer and see. Hopfully I can DL the waypoints with out seeing the screen.

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It will find caches just as good as a newer one,never had a problem with my GPS 12 ,........


This (partial) quote is the "bottom line" to all of the above posts.......all the rest is just opinion and "fluff"


Just use your "12" and ,while doing so, decide what newly available features you absolutely just can't do without.


And then, later on, you'll look back, and fondly remember your "12".

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While all the new units have ,more features than the GPS 12,the map screen on the 12 will show you where the cache is relative to your position,just follow the track or use a hand held compass and follow the bearing to it.The newer units do have maps,and an electronoic compass,but a hand held compass is more accurate and you dont relly need those maps for geocaching.

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I have a Eagle Explorer which was bought new in 1999.


Near my home there's a marker (sorry, english is not my first language) for which i got the exact position from my town's Technical Services Dept. I was told it was within 1 cm true.


I put the coordinates in the Eagle, and about twice a year i test the gps accuracy against this marker to see if all's well.


Not counting the times when SA was on, the test results tell me that "all of the time" i get to within 12 ft or so of the marker.

But, about 60-70% of the time, when the gps tells me i've arrived, i look down and see the marker in the grass right under the gps, in front of my feet.


I'm going to buy a new gps soon, and i don't expect the results to be appreciably better. But the new one will have lots of things to offer that the old one did not have; and for me, those "gadgets" will be appreciated.

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I have just started geocaching in the last couple of months. I have a Garmin GPS 12 that I used for search and rescue work a few years ago. It still works great and appears to be pretty acurate. I am wondering about buying another unit. What am I missing in the experience.


I don't think you'll be missing much. Main differences with more modern units are the older receiver which may lose sat lock faster under tree cover or in a deep ravine, and no maps. It also eats batteries a bit faster.

You can still hook it up to a PC using a cable (find GPS Warehouse in the UK on the web; they sell special cables that connect the serial port of your 12 directly to a USB port on a PC without hassle - I have one and it works great, though it's an expensive cable).

I have a 12XL and a 60CSx, and I find that the 12XL is easier to use when you need to enter coordinates (as in UTM or degrees/minutes) directly into the GPS - you use the rocker to move to the number you want to change and then move up or down to change it. On the 60CSx you need to enter every number by picking it from a tiny menu, which takes a lot more time - I'd say so much that booting up a laptop, hooking it up and starting a mapping program to do it from the computer would be just as quick. The 12 or 12XL is designed for a simple operation: tell you where you are in UTM or degrees/minutes so you can find that position on a paper map, and take you to a waypoint you either enter directly or load from a computer. And they do that quite well.

A 12 is a hammer; the latest models are toolboxes. If you just need to hit a nail, you don't need the whole toolbox.

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I take a bit of exception to the statement that all else is "fluff". There are big advances in this technology and with every new model you are gaining more than "fluff".


Yes, the 12 is a great unit. It is rugged! Mine fell off the top of my car going 35mph and survived without a scratch. It is simple and effective.


The new units have more options and handy things, calculators, stopwatches, electronic compass (I perfer magnetic), and the like. Mostly good things. The new units also have mapping, WAAS, the high sensitivy chip, and the like which is why I use my 60cx instead of my 12. BUT, with every new step in GPS technology you have increased accuracy, reception, and probably reliablity as well (although I think the 12 is very reliable).


Do not discount the gains. I have an ancient Garmin 45xl also. A single channel multi-plexing thing. Compare that to my 12. No contest. Compare my 12 channel Garmin 12, to my 60cx with an internal 20 channel chip, mapping, unlimited storage, WAAS, and a chip that provides a position in almost any circumstance and that is a big difference. (keep a magnetic compass) If you are doing search and rescue ( I think you mentioned that, the high-sensitivity chip will be invaluable to you! You will be able to keep some sort of signal in the woods and canyons.


It is not all "fluff". It can be a life-saver.

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The one drawback with my 12 (which I started caching with) is that when you are navigating to a cache, it counts down the distance in .01 miles (which is 52.6 feet). That was fine before they turned off selective availability, because the unit's accuracy (like that of all other handheld GPS units) was limited by the satellites. Now the unit's accuracy is 10 meters or better, but the displayed distance is still shown in hundredths of a mile. Once you get to within .01 miles, you have to switch to the satellite screen and walk around unit the displayed coordinates (yes, they are ddd mm.mmm) match those of the cache.


That said, it was a dependable little brick. I still have mine and have fond memories of my girlfriend leaning close to check while I manually entered the cache coordinates (we didn't have a cable for it). Sometimes we never made it out of the house to cache at all. Fun times!

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The Garmin GPS-12 was my first unit, built to withstand a lot.  I use it as my backup, and since it can be sometimes difficult to get my phone to give me exact coordinates, I use the Garmin to get coordinates when placing caches.

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