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Garmin etrex Venture HC


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This is my first GPS unit, i just got it for Christmas. Yesterday was my second time ever geo caching, and this device went wild on me. Every few seconds it would tell me to go in a complete opposite direction. I tried standing still for minutes at a time, i tried turning it off and on again, nothing seemed to help. It was a cloudy and cold day, and the ground was covered in a blanket of snow. Do you thing that the overcast caused interference with satelites? Please help!

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All consumer model GPSr have a limited amount of accuracy. Figure most of the time it'll get you within 30 feet. Do your best to get to ground zero and put the gps away and start searching.


Even with a electronic compass the gps likes to have you move at a steady pace in one direction. That way it knows which way to point you. If you are standing still it won't know which way you are facing. Attempting to follow exactly every direction the arrow points is what we call doing the drunken bee dance.

Edited by BlueDeuce
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It was going crazy when i was 1/4 mile away from the cache. I did try to follow the pointer and that's what messed me up the most. Do most of you carry a compass as well?
No. I opted for the Summit HC instead of the Venture HC for exactly this reason. I rarely do the Drunken Bee Dance out there, and I attribute that to the best use of the integrated mag compass. As I just noted in another thread, I cache with a friend who owns a 60Csx, and he had never use the unit's mag compass until we started caching together. He had always chased the blue arrow on the map instead. After the first few days, it was apparent that of the two approaches, sneaking up on a hide with the red arrow of the compass (assuming fresh batteries, but that's another story!) is often a quicker solution to a find.
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I used to have a Venture HC and found it to be a very accurate and reliable unit, just as accurate as my Astro 220. But I never let the GPSr tell me which way to go. I prefer to navigate myself by the numbers.


If you know how many feet are in a thousandth of a minute of longitude at your latitude then it's pretty easy. Where I'm at in the NW it's about 4 feet for 1/1000 minute but that varies with latitude. Feet/minute of latitude never changes - it's about 6 feet/thousandth of a minute.



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I've been caching for about a year with my Venture HC and I love the thing. It's super accurate, so although I usually do have a spare compass on me, I have not had to use it while geocaching because the Garmin just works.


Make sure WAAS is enabled. Remember that the Venture HC does not have an electronic compass, therefore it can only tell you which way you are heading if you are moving. If you are walking towards a destination and then stop, the unit might get a little confused at first when you start walking again but only very briefly; it has to see which way you are heading in relation to the satellites. So just keep going in a straight line until the unit corrects itself, which should only be a few seconds.

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I was walking while trying to read the thing, then i would stop for a 20-30 seconds and try to make sense of it all. Went back out today and it led me all over the place yet again. The terrain was hilly, and i am near a lake.


There is your problem. It will not know what direction you are traveling if you are stopped, or walking slowly. You need to be walking at a brisk pace. If you start seeing the needle point all over the place, speed up, don't slow down or stop.


Also make sure you have the unit level.

Edited by briansnat
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I always thought that there was a magnetic compass in it but the moving part has sensors. You go in circles to calibrate these.


Is that how they work?

Some Garmin units have a device as you describe. The Venture does not. On the other units, they need to be rotated in 1 axis (or 3 for newer units like the Dakota 20) two times such that the compass will find a bearing of magnetic north. It seems that the magnetic sensing system (it's actually a single IC) is sensitive to changes in the supply voltage (of the batteries) which is why those of us that use this feature either swap batteries frequently or wind up doing recalibrations fairly often. These ICs contain no moving parts, however.


Here's a sample of a cute 3-axis unit made by Honeywell. Whether it's this or something like it in the Dakota 20, I have no idea:


This is all way cool stuff they make into tiny packages these days, ain't it?

Edited by ecanderson
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Also make sure you have the unit level.

I'm curious - since we're all talking about a unit with no mag compass (hence your appropriate advice on keeping a move on!) - what does holding the unit level accomplish or change if there's no mag compass?!? Have never heard that before.

The unit's patch anntena works best in that position. If you get the best possible sat readings then your direction will be better.

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The unit's patch anntena works best in that position. If you get the best possible sat readings then your direction will be better.

OK - guess that would explain it. Not sure I've noticed a huge difference with things being a somewhat off kilter, though. Vertical orientation seems to do fine, too. OTOH, having the unit anything but level drives the compass nuts on those units that have them (except for the few 3-axis models).
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Don't forget to always be moving forward when you have a "go to" loaded.

My wife was very bad about thinking she needed to back up a few feet on the trail while looking. The GPSr would point her 180* from where she really needed to be going. It assumes that you are headed in the opposite direction so it will flip you around 180*. Just something to think about.

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