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Newbie Frustration


NascimentoCC
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Most gadgets are so fun! When they work. As it is with this new geocaching hobby of the family. It's so satisfying! When we can find it.

 

Hence the frustration. We've been unsuccessful more often than successful. I have a Garmin etrex Legend Cx. Color. WAAS enabled. I know how to download the coordinates. The gps gets me to within 10 feet and it turns out the cache can't be within 50+ feet because I'm in the middle of a dirt parking lot! Yet I know I'm in the right spot. I look around and there's nothing. The nearest possibility puts the gps at 50-70 feet. This has happened often.

 

Am I using the gps wrong? Even if I use my eyes (and the others' in the family too), the cache manages to remain hidden after 30 minutes of searching. What other suggestions do you experts have (besides reading the FAQ again)?

 

Thanks! It's so fun to find these treasures that I'm not ready to give up!

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I like to look at the satellite view before I do out to the caches. It might be helpful to look at the satellite view of the ones that you didn't find, that way you can see if the coordinates that you had match up, to see if you were in the vicinity of the cache. You can change the map on geocaching.com on the upper right hand corner of the map. Its fun to play around with.

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Am I using the gps wrong? Even if I use my eyes (and the others' in the family too), the cache manages to remain hidden after 30 minutes of searching. What other suggestions do you experts have (besides reading the FAQ again)?

 

Thanks! It's so fun to find these treasures that I'm not ready to give up!

 

Also check that you have the correct datum WGS84 selected.

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I'm sure with more experience that your find rate will be in the 90% range. We all experience DNFs, but that is part of the learning experience. A good team is Premium membership, GSAK, and a PDA of your choice. A PDA will give you the cache page at the cache site, etc. I use a Map GPS 60CSx and with GSAK I can have the type of container, type of cache, and HINT displayed on my GPS...Happy hunting and stay safe.

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It it's a mystery/unknown, the cache is not at the listed coordinates. And there are some cache hiders known for using 'soft' coordinates. (They deliberately give wrong coordinates to 'make it tougher'.) And, sometimes, the cache owner just makes a mistake. (I FTFed one with the coords .18 mile off.)

If the problem is conistent, you may be doing something wrong. If it's a occasional abberation, it might be the cache owner doing something wrong.

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I have a garmin venture HC , I notice that sometimes it tell me I am 20 feets away and I found the cache, but then I check and it said 1-4 Feet away . I know we got like a 30 Feet range. What I am doing is holding the GPS still andmove slowly when am close, and then search

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Thanks for some good suggestions, experts.

 

I knew that Google maps had the regular map, but I poked around and really find the aerial map to be really helpful. I compared it with a couple of caches that I've found and it's dead on! I haven't yet checked You Tube, but I imagine that will be helpful too. I had the datum correct already so that's not it. And I'm looking for 1/1 caches mainly, no more than a 2, trying to get an eye for this. I know I'm always really close, so to find the cache 40-50 ft away from where the gps says is single digits is almost counterproductive and I can't find a pattern.

 

Anything else?

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I feel your frustration! I almost gave up on geocaching because of that.

 

This could be wrong. But by my understanding GPSs can be up to 10 feet off. So if the hider was 10 feet off and you are 10 feet off then that means the cache could be anywhere within 20 feet of where you are. Plus some people don't put the cache right at the coords so that can make it harder too.

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Thanks for some good suggestions, experts.

 

I knew that Google maps had the regular map, but I poked around and really find the aerial map to be really helpful. I compared it with a couple of caches that I've found and it's dead on! I haven't yet checked You Tube, but I imagine that will be helpful too. I had the datum correct already so that's not it. And I'm looking for 1/1 caches mainly, no more than a 2, trying to get an eye for this. I know I'm always really close, so to find the cache 40-50 ft away from where the gps says is single digits is almost counterproductive and I can't find a pattern.

 

Anything else?

If you're CERTAIN that it's WGS 84 that your datum is set as (worth checking again), you could try a bit of ground truthing by checking benchmarks or even say street corners or other coordinates using google earth. Another thing that might be getting in the way is YOU :grin: make sure that the unit has clear vision of the sky; just holding it in front of your belly (Not saying this is what you do) might really be affecting the ability of the unit to make a good calculation. Try setting the GPS on something stationary with a really god view of the sky in all directions and see where it settles down. Then try going in the direction indicated to find the cache... those are the common things that I could see affecting location errors. If you find that your GPS is consistently off the ground truthed benchmarks, consider a warranty replacement.

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I almost gave up on one that seemed like it would be simple. I went back 5 times to look, and my gps was dead-on within 10ft and still couldnt find it. Out of frustration I just stood there admiring the park and it caught my eye in plain sight. I had a total facepalm moment as I was imagining it being a lot harder than it actually was.

 

Same with an LPC I had problems with, turned out the access panel on the side of it was a magnetic facade. dadgum sneaky cachers!

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Some thoughts.

 

First, the online maps can be off by a good bit. They'll get you in the ballpark, but the gps really should get you within 10 feet or so (30 feet only on a really bad day or when the cache owner deliberately made the cords sloppy--oh, and those folks get ignored by me). Are the caches always 50 feet away? I agree with the folks who say to double check that your datum is set to WGS 84.

 

Are your batteries fresh? Makes a big difference.

Does your unit have an off-road and a on-road setting? When you get near the cache, flip over to off-road.

Are you hovering over your gps? You might be blocking the signal a bit. Hold it away from your body.

Do you leave your gps on between caches? Mine always seems more accurate as the day goes on.

 

The first few are tough; it gets easier fast!

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All the suggestions so far are spot on. Often times especially when using a non-high sensitivity GPS (as the one you are using) you can find that how you hold the GPS can make all the difference in the world (as mrbort points out).

 

When I cached with my eTrex Legend I tried to make sure that once I got within a reasonable distance of the cache I started holding my GPS out in front of me as if I was holding out a book to read (.1 miles is a good guideline, or even earlier in very heavy tree cover). You don't have to have your arms fully extended but hold the unit away from your body at least a foot or so with the face of the unit angled at least 45 degrees, although flat with face straight up is also very good.

 

Keeping the unit out like this gives you much better reception as you close in on the cache. If it has been dangling at your side, around your neck, hanging on a belt loop or otherwise close to your body you'll greatly hinder reception and as a result accuracy.

 

Remember that getting a clear view of the sky doesn't 'instantly' provide perfect accuracy. It will take a few minutes of good reception for the GPS to start to gain accuracy and collect data from the satellites, hence changing how you hold the unit at .1 miles from the cache.

 

This technique made an enormous difference for me with my Legend. It even helps with my new Oregon under heavy tree cover.

 

Eventually you'll get to the point that just getting within 50 feet will have you finding most of the caches you seek as you'll learn to recognize hide locations and tell tale signs of where caches are.

 

Best of luck!

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Another thing to try with the Garmin units is to recalibrate your compass after you've been in the car for a while. I'm not sure why this helps with accuracy, but I suspect that the recalibration process (which entails holding the unit flat and turning a two very slow circles) simply gives the unit time to pick up on satellites.

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When all else fails.... set the gps down, walk away a bit, and let the unit settle down. Many times we've done that and it helps tremendously.

 

Agree that help me a lot !!!

sometimes you start walking around with the GPS and it goes crazy pointing to the right direction. Just settle it down, meanwhile you can observe around the place.

 

Have fun !!!

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Am I using the gps wrong? Even if I use my eyes (and the others' in the family too), the cache manages to remain hidden after 30 minutes of searching. What other suggestions do you experts have (besides reading the FAQ again)?

 

Thanks! It's so fun to find these treasures that I'm not ready to give up!

 

Also check that you have the correct datum WGS84 selected.

 

I am also a nubie who has had the similar sort of frustration and trying to work throught it. I do have a question about checking that I have the correct datum WGS84. I have a oregon 400t. How do I check if the datum is WGS84?

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Another way to narrow it down is to approach from different directions. This will more or less triangulate the cache location. I also have to say that 1/1 rated caches are the worst caches for me to find. I believe there is a hex involved.

 

I would suggest starting out looking for regular size caches. This will give you some experience in what to look for. Move down to small and finally to micros.

 

Find someone locally that is an experienced cacher. There are caching clubs almost everywhere and go with them caching. This will let you know if you have an issue with your GPS, and teach you how to look for a cache.

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I don't know how many times I've practically looked at a cache and missed it!

 

As to the Oregons and WGS84 - when I get home I can check, but I'm 99% certain they default to WGS84 so if you haven't messed with that setting you should be good.

 

Thanks, entropy512 and maingray, I am set up on the WGS84. I know there is a learning curve and expearence only get one better at knowing what to look for but trying to convince my wife that we will get better at this is a different story. We are going out again this afternoon and just hope for some luck. Thanks for everyones help.

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I don't know how many times I've practically looked at a cache and missed it!

 

As to the Oregons and WGS84 - when I get home I can check, but I'm 99% certain they default to WGS84 so if you haven't messed with that setting you should be good.

 

Thanks, entropy512 and maingray, I am set up on the WGS84. I know there is a learning curve and expearence only get one better at knowing what to look for but trying to convince my wife that we will get better at this is a different story. We are going out again this afternoon and just hope for some luck. Thanks for everyones help.

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To the OP... please don't get too frustrated. Your find rate will get better as you get used to some of the hiding styles. I know that there are caches I find now that would definitely been DNF a year ago - just by knowing what too look for.

 

I would suggest trying to cache with some local cachers - this way you can get their point of view on the hides. I know that the first time we came across the "fake electrical cover" cache, we never would have gotten it if experienced cachers hadn't been there.

 

Really the best thing is to meet cachers and talk about the ones giving you difficulty - chances are they will be able to help you find it, or to give advice about if the coords are off, etc. Going to a local event is a great way to meet cachers, and to ask about certain hides.

 

As for coords, I have never had much luck with my GPS (yellow etrex), and use it to get within about 30 feet - then let geosenses take over. Someday I will get a better device, but for now it works out OK.

 

My rate of DNF is about 1 DNF for each 4 or 5 finds.

 

Hope this helps some, and keep caching (especially if you can get to more rural areas - really cool!)

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....

My rate of DNF is about 1 DNF for each 4 or 5 finds.

 

....

After 7+ years of doing this my DNF rate is about 1 DNF for every 5 finds - so don't feel bad.

 

Here are some general hints:

 

Look for caches with a difficulty of 2 or less for your fist few caches. Stick with regular sized caches for your first few. Micros can be quite hard to find sometimes. Stick to areas you are familiar with. Look for anything out of place or unusual. Look for unusual piles of sticks, grass, leaves, rocks, sand, etc. Feel where you cannot look. Think vertical, not all caches are on the ground. Look up or at eye level. Look for traces of previous searches to zero in on the spot. Think like the hider - where would you put a container in this location? Look for things too new, too old, too perfect, not like the others, too many, too few. Change your perspective - a shift in lighting can sometimes reveal a cache. Keep in mind that many micros are magnetic or attached to something (via string, wire etc). Slowly expand your search area to about 40 feet from where your GPS says ground zero is. Bring garden gloves and a flashlight - they help! Be prepared to not find the cache more often then you think.

 

Most of all - have fun!!

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Eight of your 10 finds are micros. Only one is a regular. Try looking for regular and small caches for a while. You are setting yourself up for frustration by starting with what can be the toughest kind of cache to find.

 

I'd also suggest that you attend a caching event if you can, and maybe go out caching with some more experienced cachers that you meet there. They may be able to make sure you have your GPS set up properly, too.

Edited by knowschad
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Read the previous finders' logs to see if they contain any hints. Look at the picture gallery for the cache as well. If you see the word "nano" in any of the logs, or if someone posted a picture of the logsheet and it is a long, thin (ribbon-like) strip less than 1/4" wide, then the container will be about the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil, or the container might be a drilled-out (hollow) bolt. Both of these "containers" are often "hidden" in plain sight on signs in parking lots!

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I don't know how many times I've practically looked at a cache and missed it!

 

As to the Oregons and WGS84 - when I get home I can check, but I'm 99% certain they default to WGS84 so if you haven't messed with that setting you should be good.

 

Thanks, entropy512 and maingray, I am set up on the WGS84. I know there is a learning curve and expearence only get one better at knowing what to look for but trying to convince my wife that we will get better at this is a different story. We are going out again this afternoon and just hope for some luck. Thanks for everyones help.

 

Just to let you know, my wife and I went out yesterday afternoon to bike ride and cache. We ended up looking for four caches and found two. The first two we found back to back were micros and were hid in very clever spots. My wife found the first micro and it revived her thrill to cache. We felt we were on a roll but couldn't find the last two. My wife got a little discouraged with the last two DNF's but wants to go out this afternoon.

 

I appreciate everyone's encouragement that you just will not find them all but the racio will get better.

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It's possible your doing everything right.

 

10-15 feet error on your end and maybe 30 feet error on CO's end... 45 feet is not impossible. Read the comments of the previous finds and see if they have had the same experience.

 

I'm still getting lots of DNFs. :laughing: It happens.

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Try doing a hard reset on the GPS. Sometimes it can get the date mixed up and as a result be off.

 

Make sure you have the latest firmware installed on the GPS.

 

Most importantly, STOP LOOKING as soon as it isn't fun. You don't have to find everything. Some of the happiest cachers set a time limit on how long to look. Over 5 minutes and they are gone. For me there isn't a time limit but I will walk away quick if I get frustrated or the area isn't a place I would spend time in if there wasn't a cache. (Think parking lot, dumpster or drainage ditch)

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When all else fails.... set the gps down, walk away a bit, and let the unit settle down. Many times we've done that and it helps tremendously.

 

I recently set my GPS down on the little tree that held the cache to let it settle down while I explored the crevices and whatnot of the cliffs... Only after checking on it a few times (I had looked at the tree in a fairly detailed manner before) I noticed just that little not quite natural thing that was the cache. Very clever camo and very embarrassed that I had essentially set my GPS ON the cache :D

 

I try to mix it up with easy caches un rural areas, and then go to the woods or nearby parks. This help a lot , and I don't get frustrated. Have fun !

 

For sure -- caching in rural areas throws much less at a cacher usually (no need for the preoccupation about non-geocachers looking at you funny, often larger cache sizes in places where less camouflage is needed and the cache is a bit easier to spot). This is excellent advice IMO to anyone just starting out who hasn't quite developed the "geosense" and poise to walk up, find the cache and go on in urban/people filled environments. I'm still pretty new but my natural preference for a cache to take me somewhere with a walk and somewhere my dog can run not withstanding, I very much enjoy the actual HUNT in places where nobody is looking at me or caring why I'm poking in cracks and doing minute inspections of bushes or trees. Very very good point :D

 

Edit: Fixing the first quote.

Edited by mrbort
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Most gadgets are so fun! When they work. As it is with this new geocaching hobby of the family. It's so satisfying! When we can find it.

 

Hence the frustration. We've been unsuccessful more often than successful. I have a Garmin etrex Legend Cx. Color. WAAS enabled. I know how to download the coordinates. The gps gets me to within 10 feet and it turns out the cache can't be within 50+ feet because I'm in the middle of a dirt parking lot! Yet I know I'm in the right spot. I look around and there's nothing. The nearest possibility puts the gps at 50-70 feet. This has happened often.

 

Am I using the gps wrong? Even if I use my eyes (and the others' in the family too), the cache manages to remain hidden after 30 minutes of searching. What other suggestions do you experts have (besides reading the FAQ again)?

 

Thanks! It's so fun to find these treasures that I'm not ready to give up!

 

Also GPS units seem to work best when held flat, with a clear view of the sky. Unless yours has a compass in it keep it pointed in the direction you're moving. Sometimes it helps to let them sit still a while until they can get a more accurate reading. Also what everyone else said (difficulty ratings and they can actually be off by a lot)

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