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icezebra11

"Send to Garmin" insights

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I admit that I am one that greatly misses the old Garmin Communicator Plug-in.  I'm old-school, pretty much a GPSr cacher.  I have c:geo on my phone but my handheld is my go-to caching method.  So for those of you that also love your Garmin, I want to share a few things I've learned as I've been trying to get more comfortable with the (sorta) new "Send to Garmin" (STG) feature, which was released in April 2017, to load caches into my GPSr.  First, here is Groundspeak's direction on using the feature:


  1. Download the latest version of Garmin Express.
  2. Search for geocaches you want to find.
  3. Add those caches to a list.
  4. Visit My Lists.
  5. Select Send to Garmin in the (...) menu.
  6. Unplug and go geocaching!

 

The method seemed simple enough.  I set up a new list that I named "GPS Transfers" and followed the simple instructions transferring a few caches one day, then a few more another day, etc.  But when I later went to find caches that I had transferred to my GPSr using "Send to Garmin", some were not showing up on my GPSr.  This was very frustrating because I do a lot of back country caching where there is no cell service so using my c:geo app wasn't an option to get the coordinates I needed. 

After quite a bit of research (reading various Forum threads and playing around with the STG function) I have discovered why some caches were disappearing from my GPSr and it has to do with how STG works.  What I thought I had been doing was simply adding new caches to my GPSr.  I put caches in my new list and did a transfer.  Then sometime later when I had other caches to transfer, I'd clear out my transfer list of the ones I'd already transferred and add the new ones to the list.  Then I'd transfer the new ones.  Several times I got to the field and the caches I thought I had loaded were not on the GPSr.  Now I know what I was doing was a flawed approach.

Maybe some of you that are more tech savvy than me will say "DUH" but what I have learned is that STG doesn't transfer one .gpx file for each cache, it is a bulk transfer of all the caches in the list, in one file, and every transfer from a particular list is done with the same file name.  So each new transfer just overwrites that file in the GPSr, therefore reflecting just the cache list at the time of the transfer.  Which is why, unbeknownst to me, each time I cleared out caches I'd already transferred from my list, the next time I transferred caches some were deleted from my GPSr.  I had assumed that once I transferred a cache it was on the unit until I deleted it directly from the unit.  Now that I know better I shouldn't have that problem again!
 
You can set up and transfer from multiple lists if you want additional segregation of caches as each list has the STG option and it's own unique transfer file name, so transfers from one list won't affect transfers from a different list.  You will find the bulk transfer file(s) on your GPSr in the GPX folder, the same folder where individual caches were stored using the Garmin Communicator Plug-in (GCP).  For me, that transfer file is called "GPS Transfers - MB*****.gpx", the first part being the name of my list and the second part being what appears to be a batch file number assigned to the list.
 
Caches I have loaded in the GPSr in the past using the old GCP method are still in the GPSr and are not overwritten or impacted by the new method.  If the cache was loaded with GCP, it will still show in the "Find a Geocache" list or the "Show Found" geocache list (if you marked it that way in your GPSr).  The caches you retain in your transfer list(s) need to be the entire list of caches that you want in your GPSr, including Found caches if you also want those in the GPSr.  Found caches that are transferred using STG will appear in the "Show Found" list in the GPSr.  However, if you have previously loaded a cache in the GPSr using GCP and have logged it as Found on the cache page but haven't marked it as Found in the GPSr, that cache will still show as unfound in your GPSr even if you have transferred it as a Found cache using STG.  Delete the old individual .gpx file for that cache and it will then show up in the "Show Found" list if it's been transferred using STG.  I don't keep Found caches on my GPSr so it doesn't matter much to me, but for those of you who do like to have them on the GPSr you'll be aware of hat little hitch.
 
And now that I've figured this all out, I realized an additional benefit with the STG method.  Managing caches on the GPSr is easier with the STG method than the GCP method.  With the old GCP method, to delete caches from your GPSr you had to connect the GPSr, open File Explorer, navigate to the correct folder, select the individual .gpx files and delete them.  The biggest pain with that was you had to know which GC numbers you wanted to delete as there was no other cache description in the file name.  Now, just keep your transfer lists up-to-date with every cache you want on the GPSr and there is no longer a need to use File Explorer to delete caches from the unit.   Deleting caches in the list is easy to do since the list has the cache names.  Just delete the caches you don't want on the GPSr from your list, do a transfer, and they no longer are on the GPSr.
 
Bits and pieces of this are scattered in various Forum threads but some of this is not, so I hope my pulling this together helps clarify a few things for folks who like me, love their Garmins.
Cache on!
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Thanks for sharing your experiences.  I moved this thread from the "How do I...?" forum.

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Hi Icezebra11,

As someone who is old-school, you must be aware that every single experience and advantage that you note with the "Send List to Garmin" has been around for well over a decade with pocket queries. The difference is that pocket queries just get downloaded directly and manually installed to your device. Otherwise, the same bulk-load advantage exists, even for lists as lists can be turned into pocket queries. Pocket queries are actually easier to manage your caches since they filter in real time based on whatever attributes you set it up with (ie, available and not found). This means that each time you run the PQ and generate a new file, you can clean your finds off of your GPS as well as ignore disabled and recently archived caches. New caches will be there when they are listed. There's no need for manual maintenance of the list.

The Send to Garmin feature was supposed to be a replacement for the old Send to GPX feature that relied on the now basically defunct communicator plugins. But since it's only available with bookmark lists, which are currently only a premium member feature, they currently only compete with pocket queries, and pocket queries are currently the better and more powerful option for bulk download and management of caches. Should the Send to Garmin feature be added to individual cache pages and be made available for basic members to utilize, then it will be a viable replacement. However, given that the "Send to GPS" button only worked individually, no premium member should be relying on it as the primary means of loading geocaches onto their gps, instead utilizing it in cases where a new cache gets published after your local PQ has already run for the day.

Edited by Mineral2
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14 minutes ago, Mineral2 said:

...no premium member should be relying on it as the primary means of loading geocaches onto their gps, instead utilizing it in cases where a new cache gets published after your local PQ has already run for the day.

Really ?   No offense, but as someone who's a little old school as well, I don't get when it's (repeatedly) said in threads that no premium member should be relying/using  anything but pqs.  Maybe it'd feel different if it was said, "In my opinion...", and by one with a couple thousand finds.

We cache the way we like.  Rare for me to look for more than one cache a day, and only enter caches I'll do.  Thanks.  :) 

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2 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

Really ?   No offense, but as someone who's a little old school as well, I don't get when it's (repeatedly) said in threads that no premium member should be relying/using  anything but pqs.  Maybe it'd feel different if it was said, "In my opinion...", and by one with a couple thousand finds.

We cache the way we like.  Rare for me to look for more than one cache a day, and only enter caches I'll do.  Thanks.  :) 

This

For many premium members, PQs are probably the most efficient way to go. However, everyone doesn't cache in the same way. There are many who are more selective about the caches they look for or simply don't look for many caches. For those use-cases, individual cache downloads may make the most sense. I usually use PQs or bulk API downloads via GSAK, but there are still lots of cases where I may only want to download a handful of caches and individual downloads are the quickest way.

There's no one-size-fits-all as far as downloading caches.

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1 hour ago, The A-Team said:

There are many who are more selective about the caches they look for or simply don't look for many caches. For those use-cases, individual cache downloads may make the most sense.

"Selective" and "not many" definitely describe my caching approach.  I think that's evident in my statistics.  After about 75 or so "beginner" finds I just about stopped caching because I was so bored by it.  Thankfully I discovered more challenging caching opportunities.  I'll never go for a 1.5/1.5 again unless it's a required path to a cache I really want or has a personal meaning to me.  But I also recognize I'm one of only a very small percentage of cachers that share this approach.  So since keeping up a list is as close as I can get to individual downloads, it is the simplest way for me to manage the caches I'm interested in.

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20 hours ago, icezebra11 said:

So since keeping up a list is as close as I can get to individual downloads, it is the simplest way for me to manage the caches I'm interested in.

 

On any cache page, you can download an individual cache by clicking the button "GPX File" and placing that file into the /Garmin/GPX folder of a Garmin handheld GPS.

Edited by kunarion
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2 hours ago, kunarion said:

On any cache page, you can download an individual cache by clicking the button "GPX File" and placing that file into the /Garmin/GPX folder of a Garmin handheld GPS.

True, but I like the list method better due to its ease of removing no-longer-wanted caches from the GPSr.

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