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GPS vs Smartphone APP


Chazbo1948
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Howdy again...

 

First,let me be correct by saying happy "almost" 2015! So I'm wondering what your thoughts are regarding the use of stand alone GPS units versus paid or free smartphone geocaching apps? I can't afford the expensive (over $200) units but I did get a lower end Magellan GPS. I have not tried the $10 official geocaching app but have downloaded the Cgeo free app from the play store. I get similar results from both. Do you think the paid app works much better than the free one? I understand that you rarely land right on ground zero and there's the cache right in front of your nose. I figure if I get within 10 - 20 feet I'm doing pretty good but that sometimes leaves a lot of wilderness to explore. The other day my app was telling me I was within 2 feet. After looking and looking and expanding my search area and posting a "did not find" I was informed by the CO that I was way off. Soooooo...is this common or is it most likely my equipment? How close do you expect to get and what are your search methods? I'm wondering that if over the months/years since the time a cache is originally placed those who find it don't put it back exactly where they found it? Coordinates can be correct but the cache has wandered. So far I've never placed a cache but I suppose it's up to the CO to check on it from time to time. Just wondering what your thoughts are on this subject.

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I am no expert but it depends on how well your phone's GPS receiver is. My phone was HORRIBLE that this. At best I was 20 feet off, normally 30 feet off. In the woods? 30-40 feet was normal but then you see people who have phones getting down to 10 to 20 feet with phones with no issues.

 

If your getting down to 10-20 feet that is really good! I never used Cgeo free app before but I don't think the paid app will be any better as it just adds features and functions (does not do anything for the accuracy itself.

 

So I went the route with a expensive GPS and I love it. When I turn on all satellites on I normally get 15 feet at the most away from a cache even in wooded areas (unless the Geocache coords are really off).

 

So bottom line: If you are getting within 10-20 feet then your not going to get much better then that.

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I've only ever found caches using my phone, so I'm a bit biased. I actually bought a GPSr device earlier this year (an eXplorist), but the UI was very cumbersome and it never seemed to get me to the cache. I gave up and sold it a month or so later. Hated it. Hated having to run PQs and then hook it up to the computer. Hated running into limits on the number of waypoints I could store. Hated the tiny screen and having to use buttons and toggles to navigate the menus. Hated having to replace the batteries twice in a week even though I rarely used it.

 

I realize they aren't all like that, but I think GPSrs just aren't for me. I've been spoiled by the live data, the high definition touch screens, the intuitive interfaces. Only occasionally have I been let down by the GPS receiver, which admittedly is not as reliable as that of a GPSr. That and the need to be in an area with adequate cellular signal...but I live and cache in a large metropolitan area with only occasional dead zones, so it's not much of an issue for me unless I'm travelling.

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I find the accuracy of my GPS to be far superior to the accuracy of my phone. I only cache with my phone when I forget my GPS, or if I stop on the way somewhere when I wasn't planning on caching.

 

In the end, if your phone is accurate enough for your searching needs, and you don't find there is lack of accuracy (or don't get frustrated if there is), then your phone is fine.

 

BUT, please please please, don't HIDE a cache using only your phone. Cachers who search for your cache need your coordinates to be as accurate as possible, and caches hidden with phones often get reports of coordinates being "off" when they are finally found.

 

Cheers!

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BUT, please please please, don't HIDE a cache using only your phone. Cachers who search for your cache need your coordinates to be as accurate as possible, and caches hidden with phones often get reports of coordinates being "off" when they are finally found.

 

Cheers!

 

I no longer own the GPSr I bought, so the phone is the only way I am able to. I've only had comments like that a handful of times, and of those the vast majority (90% or more) are comments about the coordinates being off by only 20 to 30 feet...which is well within the range of acceptable even for GPSrs. And only a handful are actually by folks who have more than a few dozen finds. Nothing like getting a comment about coordinates being "off" from a newbie with 5 finds to his name. :laughing:

 

The trick is to use an app that will average the coordinates...and do it several times, coming at GZ from multiple directions.

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The trick is to use an app that will average the coordinates...and do it several times, coming at GZ from multiple directions.

 

This is a good idea too; averaging several readings will yield good accuracy. But, I would not say that accuracy to within 6-9 metres is a good goal for cache-hiding.

 

A (very) common occurrence around here is someone placing a cache using a phone, then one of the FTF-hounds spending a great deal of time finding it, then posting "good" coordinates using their GPS, then every log thereafter stating that they used those "good" coordinates to find the cache, and even repeating the good coordinates in their logs. After awhile the CO clues in and modifies the coordinates to match the "good" ones.

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The trick is to use an app that will average the coordinates...and do it several times, coming at GZ from multiple directions.

 

This is a good idea too; averaging several readings will yield good accuracy. But, I would not say that accuracy to within 6-9 metres is a good goal for cache-hiding.

 

WITHIN 6 to 9 meters...or 20 feet (+/-) is entirely reasonable. Nobody said it was a "goal" to make the coordinates that far off, though. Whenever I average coords, I make sure my phone reads an accuracy of 5 feet or less on every try. Every device is different. Even GPSrs can have "bad days". I've received logs that say "great coordinates" one day, and the very next log states that they are off by 20 feet. It's gotten so I generally feel safe ignoring comments about accuracy unless I see a trend (lots of folks commenting on it)...and that has only happened maybe twice in the two years I've been hiding caches.

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Even GPSrs can have "bad days". I've received logs that say "great coordinates" one day, and the very next log states that they are off by 20 feet. It's gotten so I generally feel safe ignoring comments about accuracy unless I see a trend (lots of folks commenting on it)...and that has only happened maybe twice in the two years I've been hiding caches.

Yup.

I quickly realized everyone thinks they have better coordinates. However, I do wish that if an extensive search at gz, especially with more than just me, is fruitless, and previous logs said coords were off and they found it, that people would actually provide those alternate coordinates. It used to happen more often and seems to be a practice that's slowed. Even if the suggested coordinates are off, we can't know until we find it trying those coordinates; so it's better to try a few 'options' with the hope that someone's actually is more accurate.

ie: If you find it with coordinates you believe are better, post them anyway!

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Yup.

I quickly realized everyone thinks they have better coordinates. However, I do wish that if an extensive search at gz, especially with more than just me, is fruitless, and previous logs said coords were off and they found it, that people would actually provide those alternate coordinates. It used to happen more often and seems to be a practice that's slowed. Even if the suggested coordinates are off, we can't know until we find it trying those coordinates; so it's better to try a few 'options' with the hope that someone's actually is more accurate.

ie: If you find it with coordinates you believe are better, post them anyway!

 

Or at least log "Found it xxx feet in yy direction" as a minimum.

eg "Found it 40 feet South of coordinates"

 

At least if everyone if off by a similar distance at direction, it helps narrow things down!

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