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GPS and how to load bench marks


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Howdy Dwayne23, sorry so long in responding but I have been absent from the boards for awhile. Here is how I do it.


First off, you are going to need to get each state's benchmarks from the NGS. Their benchmarks each have an individual datasheet, which is going to be a .dat file. Your GPS won't read files like that, and must be converted to a .gpx file.


Ok, to get each state's file from the NGS:


Go to this link:




and click on archived datasheets---then monthly archives. Now choose the states zip file you want and download it, and then unzip it.


OK, now you need to download a NGS to GPX converter, which you can get here:




After installing this piece of software, you will take each the states NGS file you want to convert and convert it to a GPX file. Once converted (and it will take a while depending on how many datasheets per state), then you just load this gpx file into your Delorme. You will then have all the information for each benchmark.


I have a PN-60 but don't know if I have ever actually downloaded benchmark gpx files to it, to know if it will handle that large a gpx file. I usually use my Garmin Nuvi, which you can convert the gpx file to an actual poi file and load all the datasheets into it . What I like about the NUVI and loading to it (beside all the information of the datasheet)is you can set proximity alerts and when driving down the road get an alert/ding when you get within so many feet of a benchmark.

Edited by LSUFan
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Unlike LSUFan, I have been reading the boards, I just missed this question somehow until LSUFan responded. LSUFan gave you an approach, so you can try it. I've done things along those lines, and I didn't find it very useful. The main problem, as I recall, was that the information I found -- which I think was the same kind of thing LSUFan's talking about -- was all benchmarks, not limited to the benchmarks on geocaching.com. If that's what you want, then take his advice. Me, I'll boldly admit I'm only interesting in benchmarks I can log on-line, so what I do with my PN-60 is enter the marks I'm going to look for manually.


I use the "find nearest benchmark" link on cache pages to get a list of the benchmarks in the area, then I look at them for ones that look like that might still be there and that I'll be able to get to. I write down the IDs, GZs, and sometimes a couple quick notes about what to look for and where. If you've looked for benchmarks, you know this, but in case you don't, when the mark lists adjusted coordinates, use them as is, but if the coordinates are scaled, then look through the logs to see if anyone's posted accurate coordinates since the actual location is typically significantly different than scaled coordinates. If there's nothing like that in the logs -- or if there are no logs, which is exciting -- then I look at the description and try to work out where the mark is using the google space view, then I use those coordinates. These last two steps are a big reason I do this manually rather than using a generated list of benchmarks.


Once I have the marks I'm going to look for, I enter them into my PN-60 by hand. Normally "enter by hand" would be the end of the story, but since you mention you're using a PN-60, I'll describe exactly how I do it with mine, since after some practice, I've come up with what I think is a fairly simple procedure:


1. VERY IMPORTANT and something I often forget: FIRST load the PQ of where the benchmarks are. The waypoints you're about to add go with the PQ, so if you get to where you're going and realize you haven't loaded the PQ yet, any marks you've entered will go away with the PQ you had loaded before, so you'll just have to enter them again.


2. Push the thumbtack key. If, like me, the logos on your keys have worn off, the thumbtack is the little middle key at the bottom of the keypad. This brings up a screen that allows you to enter a waypoint.


3. Scroll to the name and enter the ID by pushing the enter button.


4. Scroll down to the coordinates and push enter to change them. If you're a long way from the benchmark, then you'll have to adjust the first mark a long way, too, so I sometimes wait until I'm in the area before I enter them.


5. Correct the coordinates, then push enter. (Do NOT push QUIT: that will discard your changes. I accidentally do that all the time.)


6. Scroll down and push the View button and confirm the benchmark looks like it's in the right place.


7. While you're at the view screen, if you push the thumbtack button again, the next waypoint entry will start with the same coordinates. If you're entering the marks while somewhere else, this helps minimize the changes you need to make for each one.


Yes, I know, I've dreamed of having benchmarks just pop up automatically while I'm caching as would happen if you could get all the marks in an area, but after doing this for a couple years, I don't really think it's practical. Many benchmarks are gone or inaccessible, and even many of those that are viable require advance planning to reach. Deciding which benchmarks to go for ahead of time while comfortably in front of my computer works better for me than encountering them on the fly.

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