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david4814

How Far?

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My wife and I just started and we looked for a few caches the other day. We found nothing. My question is how far from the coordinates can a cache be? One of the points we downloaded to our Garmin is right in the middle of a busy intersection, both on the map on this site as well as pointing us there on the ground. That can't be accurate. I get the accuracy of the Garmin, the best I had was 5m so I know if we went straight to a coordinate we could be at least that far away. We also went to one that seemed to be pointing us to a fountain but also found nothing. We thought maybe it could be up on the statue but I seriously doubt a cache would require us to climb on it so we didn't. 

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Generally, the cache should be within 10 meters of the listed coordinates. I would always try to get the GPSr to 0 meters or as close as you can get, then start searching.

 

If you're in an area of bad reception, like a ravine, or next to a tall building, it might be more. If you're in  a good area like the middle of a grassy field, I would expect to find the cache within 5 meters of the listed coordinates, assuming the original coordinates are accurate.

 

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Accuracy can vary depending on your gps vs what the cache owner used, the time of day, the terrain, the availability of a clear sky view to acquire satellites, etc.  In general, from one day to the next, I can get down to a 1 meter accuracy at best.  All bets are off on deep canyons, or dense overhead foliage that obstruct a clear view of the sky.

 

In general, if you're starting out, I would recommend concentrating on caches that are large, or maybe small.  Urban hides, like you describe near the statue, can be very very small and challenging for a beginner.  After the size, I would recommend starting out with Difficulty ratings in the 1 to 1 1/2 Star Difficulty.  Once you start getting in to 2 Star and above, it gets kind of subjective what people think Difficulty actually means.

 

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Remember to look at the hint on the cache page (if there is one) and to check past logs and photos for clues.

 

For urban hides, in particular, check the map showing satellite imagery.  This may suggest other areas to search.

 

Also Google “cache containers” to get an idea of what you might be looking for.  You might be surprised at just how small an urban cache can be.

 

You could also message the COs (cache owners) to ask for a little extra help to get you started.

 

Stick at it, and good luck!

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1 hour ago, The_Incredibles_ said:

Generally, the cache should be within 10 meters of the listed coordinates.

 

Definitely there is no such leeway. The official guideline is that the cache owner must visit the geocache location to get accurate coordinates with a GPS-enabled device.

Check the link to learn how to calculate accurate coordinates.

 

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7 hours ago, david4814 said:

My wife and I just started and we looked for a few caches the other day.

 

It can also depend on the type of cache you're looking for.  Puzzle caches usually (not always) have dummy/false coordinates and require you to solve the puzzle to get the actual final coordinates.  Without knowing what type of cache you were looking for, it's hard for anyone to chime in with specific comments regarding your search area.

 

That being said, I'm usually OK with finding a cache 20-30 feet (6-9 m) from the posted coordinates, with a +/- accuracy error of 10 ft (3m).  A large majority of the hides I've found are easily within that distance.

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Since the OP made no mention of reading the cache page, that would be my first suggestion since the source of the coordinates used was not stated.

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3 minutes ago, gpsfun said:

Since the OP made no mention of reading the cache page, that would be my first suggestion since the source of the coordinates used was not stated.

 

7 hours ago, david4814 said:

One of the points we downloaded to our Garmin is right in the middle of a busy intersection, both on the map on this site as well as pointing us there on the ground.

 

This seems to suggest they were on the website, but as it’s been said cache type makes a difference!

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8 hours ago, david4814 said:

One of the points we downloaded to our Garmin is right in the middle of a busy intersection, both on the map on this site as well as pointing us there on the ground. That can't be accurate. I get the accuracy of the Garmin, the best I had was 5m so I know if we went straight to a coordinate we could be at least that far away. We also went to one that seemed to be pointing us to a fountain but also found nothing. We thought maybe it could be up on the statue but I seriously doubt a cache would require us to climb on it so we didn't. 

 

The icon is often pretty close, or at least enough information to find the cache.  Even if it's slightly off, it tends to not get corrected unless there are logs with the better coordinates.  Most of the time, the cache description and hint are all you need once you're close.  Especially with an LPC in a parking lot, which could be 50 feet off or more, and you'd still know where the cache is - the only thing in the area that is not asphalt.

 

Urban caches can be tough, prepare for a challenge.  Do you have examples?  Do the logs show that others are finding the caches?  Are there mentions of it being in the middle of the road?  Did you make a suitable log mentioning that you couldn't find the cache?

 

There's a high-terrain and difficulty cache near where I live that has the icon between the north and southbound lanes of a busy highway.  Here's my log after I pondered the mysteries of that cache page, parked on the too-thin shoulder of the road, dodged traffic, checked out that median, and gave up in confusion.  I finally found it a year later.  So that can be right, though not everything is quite as it seems.  As mentioned, read the cache page, and it's OK to skip the ones that are above your pay grade.

 

There was a Micro at a Fountain also near where I live, a magnetic Nano the size of a fingertip.  The hint helped by telling you to sit on the bench, and the cache will be at your elbow.  So, be sure you know what size container you're looking for.  And rather than a container, it may be simply a stage of a multi-stage cache, where in some way you get information for the next stage.

 

Good luck!

 

Edited by kunarion

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5 hours ago, arisoft said:

 

Definitely there is no such leeway. The official guideline is that the cache owner must visit the geocache location to get accurate coordinates with a GPS-enabled device.

Check the link to learn how to calculate accurate coordinates.

 

 

I'm giving advice on searching NOT hiding.

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17 minutes ago, The_Incredibles_ said:

 

I'm giving advice on searching NOT hiding.

 

In that case I would say that 10 meters is not enough. 15 meters is quite normal deviation from the the accurate GZ. If the cache is any further it is very time consuming to find.

 

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1 hour ago, arisoft said:

 

In that case I would say that 10 meters is not enough. 15 meters is quite normal deviation from the the accurate GZ. If the cache is any further it is very time consuming to find.

 

 

We'll have to agree to disagree on that. We both have a lot of finds. I never find caches 15 meters out. If it's that far out, people will be posting logs asking the owner to update their coordinates.

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11 minutes ago, The_Incredibles_ said:

We'll have to agree to disagree on that. We both have a lot of finds. I never find caches 15 meters out. If it's that far out, people will be posting logs asking the owner to update their coordinates.

 

We don't have to agree about our experiences because we do not find the same caches. :D

I start reporting about wrong coordinates starting from 4 meters. If the error is 10 meters for a long time I may post a NM log instead.

Some weeks ago I got a FTF from a cache which was 58 meters off.

 

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11 hours ago, david4814 said:

My wife and I just started and we looked for a few caches the other day. We found nothing. My question is how far from the coordinates can a cache be?

Under ideal conditions, a consumer GPSr will be accurate to about 3m (10ft). That applies both to your device, and to the cache owner’s device, so you may find the container 5-6m (16-20ft) from ground zero under ideal conditions. Under less than ideal conditions, both GPSr readings can be much less accurate. Once you get within that distance of ground zero, put your device away and look around for places where a container could be hidden.

 

11 hours ago, david4814 said:

One of the points we downloaded to our Garmin is right in the middle of a busy intersection, both on the map on this site as well as pointing us there on the ground. That can't be accurate.

I've found a few caches that were hidden in the middle of a street, or in the middle of an intersection. They've either been in pedestrian bridges/underpasses, or they've been tricky "hidden in plain sight" caches that look like they belong.

 

But usually, caches with coordinates in the middle of an intersection have been puzzle caches. Some owners of puzzle caches deliberately place the posted coordinates in "impossible" locations so no one tries to search for it there, as another reminder that the cache is not at the posted coordinates, and that the puzzle needs to be solved to get the actual coordinates.

 

 

Anyway, here are some other beginners tips that I've posted before.

 

A common recommendation for beginners is to stick with small small.gif size, regular regular.gif size, and large large.gif size caches. Until you're more experienced, avoid micro micro.gif size caches, some of which are smaller than most beginners can imagine (sometimes called "nanos"). Save those for later, after you have some experience.

 

Also, stick with caches that have a difficulty rating of no more than 2 stars stars2.gif. Save the more difficult ones for later. You may also want to choose caches with easy terrain ratings. (The difficulty rating tells you how hard it is to find the cache once you get there. The terrain rating tells you how hard it is to get there.) And it is often best to start with traditional 2.gif caches, which will be at the published coordinates. Multi-caches 3.gif or mystery/puzzle caches 8.gif or other cache types can require more work just to figure out where the container is located.

 

When you start your search, think about where you might hide something. Do you notice anything unusual? Is anything too new, too old, too organized (e.g., UPS: an Unnatural Pile of Sticks/Stones), too symmetrical, not quite the right color or shape, etc.? Don’t look only on the ground; the cache may be knee-level, waist-level, eye-level, or overhead. How might the container be secured in place? With magnets? With a hook? With string? With fishing line? With something else? Does anything move when you touch it? (Be careful when touching things though.)

 

Go ahead and read the cache's additional hints (if provided), and read the past logs and look at any photos in the cache's image gallery. They may help you understand what you're looking for, and how/where it may be hidden. It may also help to look at some of the cache containers available online. For example, check out the cache containers sold by Groundspeak. Also, take a look at the Pictures - Cool Cache Containers (CCC's) thread in the forums, and check out some geocaching videos on YouTube.
 

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38 minutes ago, The_Incredibles_ said:

We'll have to agree to disagree on that. We both have a lot of finds. I never find caches 15 meters out. If it's that far out, people will be posting logs asking the owner to update their coordinates.

I've found a couple where the device's EPE was in the range of 75-100 feet (23-30 meters). Those have been in steep canyons with heavy tree cover, and the cache description pointed out the poor GPS reception in the area, and included extra hints to help seekers narrow down GZ.

 

12 minutes ago, arisoft said:

I start reporting about wrong coordinates starting from 4 meters. If the error is 10 meters for a long time I may post a NM log instead.

I think 4 meters (13 feet) might be just barely notable if the CO had provided me with perfect coordinates. But assuming that the CO also used a consumer device (accurate to about 3 meters at best). an error of 4 meters is well within normal expectations.

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5 minutes ago, niraD said:

I think 4 meters (13 feet) might be just barely notable if the CO had provided me with perfect coordinates. But assuming that the CO also used a consumer device (accurate to about 3 meters at best). an error of 4 meters is well within normal expectations.

 

This is correct but more accurate coordinates are always more accurate. If most players report that the cache is 4 meters west the CO may correct coordinates accordingly.

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12 hours ago, david4814 said:

My wife and I just started and we looked for a few caches the other day. We found nothing. My question is how far from the coordinates can a cache be? One of the points we downloaded to our Garmin is right in the middle of a busy intersection, both on the map on this site as well as pointing us there on the ground. That can't be accurate. I get the accuracy of the Garmin, the best I had was 5m so I know if we went straight to a coordinate we could be at least that far away. We also went to one that seemed to be pointing us to a fountain but also found nothing. We thought maybe it could be up on the statue but I seriously doubt a cache would require us to climb on it so we didn't. 

I just have to ask. Was it a traditional cache?

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1 hour ago, arisoft said:

This is correct but more accurate coordinates are always more accurate. If most players report that the cache is 4 meters west the CO may correct coordinates accordingly.

Or maybe the CO learns to ignore silly reports that complain when the search radius is within normal expectations.

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7 minutes ago, niraD said:

Or maybe the CO learns to ignore silly reports that complain when the search radius is within normal expectations.

 

Expectation is that coordinates are accurate. Cache owners just try to make the cache harder to find by using offset coordinates.

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1 minute ago, arisoft said:

Expectation is that coordinates are accurate. Cache owners just try to make the cache harder to find by using offset coordinates.

Who said anything about intentionally offset coordinates? I was assuming that the cache owner was providing the best coordinates he could (within the 3m accuracy of a consumer device).

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1 minute ago, niraD said:

Who said anything about intentionally offset coordinates? I was assuming that the cache owner was providing the best coordinates he could (within the 3m accuracy of a consumer device).

 

You said a moment ago.

 

13 minutes ago, niraD said:

Or maybe the CO learns to ignore silly reports that complain when the search radius is within normal expectations.

 

This means that CO is using offset coordinates intentionally.

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44 minutes ago, arisoft said:

This means that CO is using offset coordinates intentionally.

No, that means that the CO is using coordinates that are within normal expectations for the accuracy of consumer devices.

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57 minutes ago, niraD said:

No, that means that the CO is using coordinates that are within normal expectations for the accuracy of consumer devices.

 

At the beginning yes. CO used the most accurate coordinates as could. If most playes report that cache is 4 meters west from the GZ, it is obvious that coordinates are not as accurate as they could be. In this case the CO could adjust coordinates to be more accurate and still within normal expectations for the accuracy of consumer devices. Or the CO may keep wrong coordinates because it makes the cache more difficult to find.

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13 minutes ago, arisoft said:

If most playes report that cache is 4 meters west from the GZ, it is obvious that coordinates are not as accurate as they could be.

Or one player reports that the cache is 4 meters west of GZ, another reports that it is 4 meters east of GZ, and others report that the coordinates are spot on.

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5 minutes ago, niraD said:

Or one player reports that the cache is 4 meters west of GZ, another reports that it is 4 meters east of GZ, and others report that the coordinates are spot on.

 

Lets move the goal a little more. If a professional land surveyer says that the cache is 4.554 meters west from the GZ, do you think that coordinates are still accurate?

Edited by arisoft

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17 minutes ago, arisoft said:

Lets move the goal a little more. If a professional land surveyer says that the cache is 4.554 meters west from the GZ, do you think that coordinates are still accurate?

 

Of course not, but we're not using survey-grade equipment here or doing something where absolute accuracy is required. We're using consumer-grade equipment, which is often no more accurate than a few metres, and we only need to get "close enough". Quibbling over 4 metres in geocaching would be considered absurd in most parts of the world. That's completely normal and acceptable.

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29 minutes ago, The A-Team said:

Quibbling over 4 metres in geocaching would be considered absurd in most parts of the world. That's completely normal and acceptable.

 

The question is whether it is acceptable after it is clear that coordinates are not correct. Let's say that the CO knows exact coordinates but changes them 4 meters east because it is completely normal and acceptable. Then many finders report that cache was 4 meters west from the GZ. What should the CO do?

Edited by arisoft

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2 hours ago, arisoft said:

The question is whether it is acceptable after it is clear that coordinates are not correct.

How would it become "clear that coordinates are not correct"?

 

2 hours ago, arisoft said:

Let's say that the CO knows exact coordinates but changes them 4 meters east because it is completely normal and acceptable.

That's a different situation. I was assuming that the CO was acting in good faith, getting coordinates that are as accurate as possible with consumer devices (i.e., within 3m).

 

2 hours ago, arisoft said:

Then many finders report that cache was 4 meters west from the GZ. What should the CO do?

Personally, I would marvel at the consistency of everyone's equipment, that they all found the cache 4m west of their GZ. I think it's much more likely that some would find it spot on, others would find it 4m west of GZ, others would find it 6m west of GZ, others would find it 5m southwest of GZ, others would find it 5m northwest of GZ, and so on.

 

Personally, I try to follow the advice I give to beginners: Once my device says I'm within 5-6m (16-20ft), I put it away and look for places where the cache might be hidden. I wouldn't even notice a difference of 4m.

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5 hours ago, niraD said:

How would it become "clear that coordinates are not correct"?

 

There are many ways. For example, some players have professional gadgets. Even consumer grade receivers can achieve 0,5 meter (2 foot) precision when used with DGPS Network connection. And mostly propable you can get pinpoint accuracy by using a land survey map. Officially suggested method is using averaging. Do you know how it works?

 

5 hours ago, niraD said:

That's a different situation. I was assuming that the CO was acting in good faith, getting coordinates that are as accurate as possible with consumer devices (i.e., within 3m).

 

When someone is using offset coordinates intentionally to make a cache more difficult to find they may think that they are acting in good faith. We have COs who openly state that they do not have accurate coordinates to make them harder to find. They really believe that it is the way to play this game.

 

5 hours ago, niraD said:

Personally, I would marvel at the consistency of everyone's equipment, that they all found the cache 4m west of their GZ. I think it's much more likely that some would find it spot on, others would find it 4m west of GZ, others would find it 6m west of GZ, others would find it 5m southwest of GZ, others would find it 5m northwest of GZ, and so on.

 

When reported direction varies in all directions, coordinates are most propably OK. When most players find the cache west from the GZ, there is something wrong. One major problem is that players who report that coordinates were X meters off never tell the direction which is more important factor for the CO to refine the position.

Edited by arisoft

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40 minutes ago, arisoft said:

There are many ways. For example, some players have professional gadgets. Even consumer grade receivers can achieve 0,5 meter (2 foot) precision when used with DGPS Network connection. And mostly propable you can get pinpoint accuracy by using a land survey map. Officially suggested method is using averaging. Do you know how it works?

I have a cache in a forest where I measured averages for almost two months and differences between a lot of averages exceeded 15 meters. Finally I asked a coworker with professional land survey equipment to go there with me and get the most accurate coordinates. The result was accurate within 2 meters, where in an open area it should be accurate within 1 centimeter and even less, and I used it as a GZ. But there are no complaints about somebody not being able find the container in the field.

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59 minutes ago, arisoft said:

There are many ways. For example, some players have professional gadgets. Even consumer grade receivers can achieve 0,5 meter (2 foot) precision when used with DGPS Network connection. And mostly propable you can get pinpoint accuracy by using a land survey map.

In the meantime, my devices, like other consumer GPS devices, have 3m accuracy.

 

59 minutes ago, arisoft said:

Officially suggested method is using averaging. Do you know how it works?

Yes. I've used it to get coordinates for my caches too.

 

1 hour ago, arisoft said:

When someone is using offset coordinates intentionally to make a cache more difficult to find they may think that they are acting in good faith. We have COs who openly state that they do not have accurate coordinates to make them harder to find. They really believe that it is the way to play this game.

Whether they think so or not, they are not acting in good faith. That's not the same thing as the normal variation expected from consumer GPS devices.

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12 minutes ago, rapotek said:

I have a cache in a forest where I measured averages for almost two months and differences between a lot of averages exceeded 15 meters. Finally I asked a coworker with professional land survey equipment to go there with me and get the most accurate coordinates. The result was accurate within 2 meters, where in an open area it should be accurate within 1 centimeter and even less, and I used it as a GZ. But there are no complaints about somebody not being able find the container in the field. 

 

This is exactly how it works in hard conditions. 15 meters deviation is quite normal for a single measurement and makes the cache hard to find especially when a mobile phone is used as a GPSr. Did you earlier measurements spread to all directions from the current coordinates? The correct position should be near the average of them.

 

9 minutes ago, niraD said:

Whether they think so or not, they are not acting in good faith. That's not the same thing as the normal variation expected from consumer GPS devices.

 

How do you know? One CO posted an innocent note on his cache stating directly that coordinates are intentionally off because they are supposed to bring you only near the cache. The CO didn't know it was wrong. He was in good faith that it is intented to do that way.

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13 hours ago, arisoft said:

 

This is correct but more accurate coordinates are always more accurate. If most players report that the cache is 4 meters west the CO may correct coordinates accordingly.

 

On one of my recent hides, the first two finders reported that their phones had them about five metres to the left of GZ, so I went back out for another check, taking both my Oregon 700, which I'd used when initially sussing out the location and then a month later when placing the cache, as well as my old GPSMap 62S. With both units sitting directly above the cache, their drunken bee dance was centred on my coordinates and, when I moved over to the other rock formation where the first finder had spent most of his time searching, both units said GZ was about 5 metres away in the direction of the cache. Aerial images aren't any help in resolving the discrepency as all they show are the tops of trees. At that point I decided to leave the coordinates as they are, and subsequent finders haven't had any trouble with it.

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16 minutes ago, arisoft said:
39 minutes ago, niraD said:

Whether they think so or not, they are not acting in good faith. That's not the same thing as the normal variation expected from consumer GPS devices.

How do you know?

Because you wrote (emphasis added):

 

"When someone is using offset coordinates intentionally to make a cache more difficult to find they may think that they are acting in good faith. We have COs who openly state that they do not have accurate coordinates to make them harder to find. They really believe that it is the way to play this game."

 

That is bad faith. Geocaching is a game of accurate coordinates (to the best accuracy provided by consumer equipment, anyway).

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1 hour ago, arisoft said:

 

This is exactly how it works in hard conditions. 15 meters deviation is quite normal for a single measurement and makes the cache hard to find especially when a mobile phone is used as a GPSr. Did you earlier measurements spread to all directions from the current coordinates? The correct position should be near the average of them.

As far as I remember current coordinates are closer to norther border of measured averages area coverage than to its centroid, but I do not have all averages available now, so I cannot verify it.

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