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PinkNosedPenguin

Phone vs GPS

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3 minutes ago, kunarion said:

Also, the "Apps" deprecate and then go away.  The "free" or one-time-pay ones do, without funds to sustain them.  The App and its whole company kind of evaporates, you notice no updates in 3 or 4 years yet the phone's OS changes and the API changes, and the App you preferred, eventually stops working.

Ah don't remind me :cry:

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15 minutes ago, LizzyandCo said:

Ohhhh. So basically I'm expecting too much accuracy. Guess I need to go back and try again on a couple of my DNFs. 

 

About "accuracy", yes and no.  Typically the 30 feet is the point where you put it away and start looking, as mentioned.  What you may try is to get reasonably close to "0", and see what you find.  But what you really need is to get an idea about what the device is telling you.  For example, I usually see my GPS jumping around and also often settling in the area of one particular tree.  That's the place I'll concentrate my search.

 

 

Edited by kunarion

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2 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Yep, I'd even suggest that a vast majority of complaints about "smartphones" could actually be directly squarely at whatever app they chose to use and whether they liked it.

But it's a fair complaint.  It's not all that different from platform arguments that occur when dealing with other apps, like GSAK.  Sometimes the best or easiest-to-use tools don't exist for a particular platform.  I have yet to find a phone app that manages all of the most basic, important functions that a purpose built unit does intrinsically. As you say, that's not the fault of the phone, it's a problem with the apps that are available.  I don't like having to switch between several apps on the phone and performing various calculations unnecessarily.  And when I knock the 'official' app, it's because the authors should know better, especially when it comes to features important to the proper placing of caches.

 

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5 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Sometimes a group of people will have have GZ's at different locations each declaring that is where the cache should be :) Those are fun times.

And then again, the are at times 'problem' COs whose coordinates are often off by a good bit more than the 10-30m you mention.  We have one in our area who seems to have given up sorting out his actual problem, whatever it is, and is just re-posting coordinates provided in logs by experienced finders.  However, early searchers find that rather frustrating.

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This whole 'forget the GPS as you are within x meters proximity' is all quite true, but is something that new members often forget when PLACING a cache.  I think many of them are still just taking snapshots of the coordinates, rather than doing a more careful survey of the numbers, and CONTEXT is EVERYTHING.  The smaller the cache and the greater the number of possible hiding locations, the more important it is to adhere to best practices when it comes to establishing the cache's coordinates, otherwise it quickly devolves into a frustrating needle/haystack situation. 

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8 minutes ago, ecanderson said:

I don't like having to switch between several apps on the phone and performing various calculations unnecessarily.  And when I knock the 'official' app, it's because the authors should know better, especially when it comes to features important to the proper placing of caches.

 

I switch to entirely different devices when placing caches.  The Garmin GPS and desktop PC.  I like that the Official App is not for hiding caches, because people who have just now heard of Geocaching install the App, and they need to get off "Apps" and get into researching how to hide a cache first (nevermind that you can't edit a cache page from an "App").  I'd expect that at some point, it will be made more fancy, but I won't use such features.  It will still be the The Garmin GPS and desktop PC. 

 

 

Edited by kunarion
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18 minutes ago, LizzyandCo said:

Ohhhh. So basically I'm expecting too much accuracy. Guess I need to go back and try again on a couple of my DNFs. 

Yep.  :)   

Something as simple as signal bounce (rocky areas, tall buildings...) can make you do the crazy bee dance, thinking eventually you'll get that thing down to a foot.   That rarely ever happens.

We use both GPSrs and phones,  and we both put them away and start looking when it drops to 20 feet or so.   ;)

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That's because you've got some experience to work from, kunarion.  It's the new users that have come to this game by way of phone apps that aren't being as diligent, mostly because even if they somewhat understand the problem, don't have the right tools in hand.

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Thank you for all the replies! I will bear all these pointers in mind and try some more. Finding micros in a 30 ft radius seems a little terrifying/daunting but I'm going to try to develop some geosense. Lol

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16 minutes ago, kunarion said:

Also, the "Apps" deprecate and then go away.  The "free" or one-time-pay ones do, without funds to sustain them. 

The App and its whole company kind of evaporates, you notice no updates in 3 or 4 years yet the phone's OS changes and the API changes, and the App you preferred, eventually stops working.

 

Oh... don't get me started...    :)

My favorite "app" was with the windows phone, the easiest OS I ever used. 

Once it got up n running fine (and it's fee system accepted), it got canned for iOS and android...

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15 minutes ago, ecanderson said:

That's because you've got some experience to work from, kunarion.  It's the new users that have come to this game by way of phone apps that aren't being as diligent, mostly because even if they somewhat understand the problem, don't have the right tools in hand.

 

Also, people see in the Forums that "A Smartphone Is Fine".  Their Smartphone is NOT fine when, for example, it's Android 4.1, and has no magnetic compass sensor.  It's finer when it's faster, has the useful features, more modern, and has the most current updates.  But it's more of a sliding scale of fine.  Sometimes once people figure out Geocaching, they switch from "Apps" entirely and use a handheld GPS instead.  I kind of use both.  But that's up to people to decide.  How much stuff you want to carry around, balance the cost, and just how "adventurous" the adventures are. :P

 

But a "Hide A Cache" App would be cool.  That's a fine art, there are many important things to do beyond what An App could do (such An App could have tutorials for all that), and, yeah, getting the best "Ground Zero" point is part of that.  I do a lot of tests, including using a couple devices to guide me back to the spot, as I set up a cache.  It's more than "find a cache" click and go, placing a cache is a whole new ballgame.

 

 

Edited by kunarion

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54 minutes ago, kunarion said:

Also, the "Apps" deprecate and then go away.  The "free" or one-time-pay ones do, without funds to sustain them.  The App and its whole company kind of evaporates, you notice no updates in 3 or 4 years yet the phone's OS changes and the API changes, and the App you preferred, eventually stops working.

I suppose that's one upside to a GPS. It will continue to work even when technology changes. If Garmin were to shut its doors today, the "modern" era of GPS receivers (those that connect via common USB protocol with mass-storage mode) will continue to work until the hardware physically gives out. Even the older models will still communicate with the GPS satellites and help you navigate even if you can't get it to connect to a computer. And because GPS primarily functions offline, there's little security risk in using old models with old software/firmware. So if there's an interface you're used to and enjoy, you could conceivably use it indefinitely.

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Another aspect to coordinates people don't think of is that with the square/rectangle of accuracy that 3 decimals can technically get you, the location of the pin could 'average' anywhere within that square, or if you're looking at a map to see where the pin is, chances are it's either in the least-value corner of the rectangle or centered.  For example, either at a gps location decimal .123000 x .456000 or halfway between .123 x .456 and .124 x .457 (ie .123500 x .456500) which would be entirely dependent on the device.

So even averaging a location using values limited to 3 decimals is problematic.  Now if the device does averaging at a higher precision, you could get a much more accurate pinpointed location -- buuuut, as soon as you save that final coordinate to gc.com you're back to the 3 decimal precision.

 

You can see that effect with the what-3-words website which provides coordinates but shows you the actual coordinate region identified with the coordinate's precision.

 

I almost think that geocaching apps would be better doing that - instead of giving a pin on the map, give the bounding box for the coordinate precision in use. (regardless of map imagery alignment accuracy, the coordinate grid itself is static) That at least might help people think about coordinates in a better way. Just like seeing the bubble around the device location depicting GPS estimated accuracy (+/- x meters/feet)

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Th

10 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Another aspect to coordinates people don't think of is that with the square/rectangle of accuracy that 3 decimals can technically get you, the location of the pin could 'average' anywhere within that square, or if you're looking at a map to see where the pin is, chances are it's either in the least-value corner of the rectangle or centered.  For example, either at a gps location decimal .123000 x .456000 or halfway between .123 x .456 and .124 x .457 (ie .123500 x .456500) which would be entirely dependent on the device.

So even averaging a location using values limited to 3 decimals is problematic.  Now if the device does averaging at a higher precision, you could get a much more accurate pinpointed location -- buuuut, as soon as you save that final coordinate to gc.com you're back to the 3 decimal precision.

 

You can see that effect with the what-3-words website which provides coordinates but shows you the actual coordinate region identified with the coordinate's precision.

 

I almost think that geocaching apps would be better doing that - instead of giving a pin on the map, give the bounding box for the coordinate precision in use. (regardless of map imagery alignment accuracy, the coordinate grid itself is static) That at least might help people think about coordinates in a better way. Just like seeing the bubble around the device location depicting GPS estimated accuracy (+/- x meters/feet)

The error is a circle, not a square, and only if the error in latitude is equal to and independent from the error in longitude. If they are correlated or unequal, it'll be more like an oblonged oval.

A resolution down to 3 decimals past the minute is at most 6 feet. A 4th decimal will resolve to 7 inches. Consumer units aren't even going to be sensitive to the 4th decimal place, and under most conditions, aren't even that sensitive to 3 decimals, but are more sensitive than 2 decimals can provide. So there isn't much usefulness of a 4th decimal. Three is still detailed enough to tell you what side of the street you are on.

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1 minute ago, Mineral2 said:

The error is a circle, not a square, and only if the error in latitude is equal to and independent from the error in longitude. If they are correlated or unequal, it'll be more like an oblonged oval.

Current location bubble is a circle/oval, yes. Coordinates are a grid. Location should be a bubble, but coordinates depicted as a grid cell would be more instructive than a pin which could lie anywhere within it lat/lon grid space on the coordinate grid.

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I came across something interesting while walking down my local rd, I pulled out my phone, (iPhone SE) and was horrified to see that I could not get a fix, even though I had excellent reception. It was a few kilometres out!, usually the phone is pretty accurate, but the one time when I really needed it, it did not work. I think all things being equal they are probably equally good but as mentioned further upthread, the hand held is bound to have a better antenna. This could have been just some sort of an anomaly but I wouldn't want to trust a phone if I didn't have to.

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2 hours ago, gallet said:

I came across something interesting while walking down my local rd, I pulled out my phone, (iPhone SE) and was horrified to see that I could not get a fix, even though I had excellent reception. It was a few kilometres out!, usually the phone is pretty accurate, but the one time when I really needed it, it did not work. I think all things being equal they are probably equally good but as mentioned further upthread, the hand held is bound to have a better antenna. This could have been just some sort of an anomaly but I wouldn't want to trust a phone if I didn't have to.

I had something similar happen recently. I pulled up near where the cache was hidden; my Tom Tom had taken me there, and then pulled out the phone. Eighty metres to the cache it reckoned and didn't appear about to adjust. I pulled out the Garmin GPS and it showed eight metres. It was eight metres. No problem, I find the GPS more user friendly anyway.

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@Goldenwattle

 

I see you are also a TomTom user.  Seems most here are using Garmin for automotive.  PM me (or better, email) sometime if you like and perhaps we can talk about getting the best use in a caching environment.  Depending upon which model you have (we have nearly all of them in test here), might be able to make helpful suggestions.

 

I recall vividly my earliest attempt to find geocaches after a friend introduced me to the hobby in 2008.  I didn't own a purpose built handheld and phones weren't any good for this sort of thing, so I tried to use my TomTom GO 720 to find caches by reading the coordinates off of the display.  At that time, I didn't appreciate the 'road snap' function of these devices that attempted to correct for rough coordinate fixes by making assumptions about your position being on the nearest bit of road, assuming you were anywhere near one.  What was weird (and later changed, largely at my request to the developers) was that the displayed coordinates on the satellite page weren't the 'real' ones, but rather, the assumed 'road snapped' coordinates!  Talk about frustrating!  Soon got that sorted, realized it wasn't going to work, and went out to get my first Garmin, and old and trusty Summit HC.

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7 hours ago, gallet said:

I came across something interesting while walking down my local rd, I pulled out my phone, (iPhone SE) and was horrified to see that I could not get a fix, even though I had excellent reception. It was a few kilometres out!, usually the phone is pretty accurate, but the one time when I really needed it, it did not work. I think all things being equal they are probably equally good but as mentioned further upthread, the hand held is bound to have a better antenna. This could have been just some sort of an anomaly but I wouldn't want to trust a phone if I didn't have to.

 

Did you try toggling both wifi and background app refresh  ?  That seemed to force locations to update.  

Why that sometimes works I have no idea, but it did seem to be phone specific. 

The other 2/3rds had the same issue once in a while, went to 7.   

There's a new model SE coming out this, or next week.   :)  IIRC,  it's using the same processor as the 11s.

 

Edited by cerberus1

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@cerberus1, never thought about toggling the wifi, but shouldn't that be separate from the gps. I mean the maps work when there is no wifi signal.

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2 hours ago, gallet said:

never thought about toggling the wifi, but shouldn't that be separate from the gps. I mean the maps work when there is no wifi signal.

 

You just need to understand what data is online and what is offline. If maps are working when you have no wifi OR cellular data, then the app has either stored map data for offline use, or it's using a temporary cache of data. Maps aren't GPS. GPS can work without cellular data or wifi because all GPS is is receiving the satellite signal to determine the device's location. Apps use GPS data in some way to depict the device location on maps - that process may require cellular or wifi data. GPS itself does not.  Older devices considered GPS reception as wireless activity and would turn it off along with data reception when turning on Airplane mode.

 

iPhones at least began to allow turning on location services even when airplane mode was on. These days they're pretty much entirely distinct. Go on an airplane, enable airplane mode, and you'll most likely still have gps enabled and you can tracklog your flight (provided the device can track the satellites at that speed) - but the settings for that is a whole other ballgame :P

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Posted (edited)
On 2/20/2020 at 10:40 PM, fizzymagic said:

 

This is the most important point.  The Official Geocaching app is quite poor in this respect; it tends to "lock up" and the GPS position stops updating for minutes at a time.  Locus Map Pro does not exhibit this behavior. 

Hey Fizzy had a question about Locus map.

Is there a way to get it to do off road navigation like a Garmin etc? Not try and follow any routes just a compass pointing at the location with distance? Looking for a good app like that when I don't want to use my Garmin. 

 

 

Edit found the user manual online and figure it out. Hopefully this will be all the things I needed in a program.

Edited by SparkyInCali

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46 minutes ago, SparkyInCali said:

just a compass pointing at the location with distance

 

That part's easy, as I see you've already figured out.  :)

 

You can also get fancy, with effort-sensitive auto-routing on trails.  For that, install the BRouter (bike router) companion app, use it to download routing info, and configure Locus to use it.  (Don't use the BRouter app directly; let Locus call it up behind the scenes.)

 

bf3f851a-70c2-4c2d-992d-abad356ff72d_l.j

"After 50 metres, continue straight".

 

There's also a cool web interface so you can test-drive the routing.

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I gave up on dedicated GPSR (Garmin) over five years ago.

My last one was an eTrex 30. At about the same time I bought it, got a tiny $100 android phone (Samsung Galaxy Pocket) and installed Osmand Maps on it as well as a local official topo app. I thought the latter blew the former totally out of the water even back then.

 

-GPS reception about the same (I have to admit, the eTrex probably won here, but not by much)

-Digital compass actually worked, in contrast to the eTrex 30. There were loads of other annoying software bugs in the 30 as well.

-Phone was MUCH faster in general use and navigation than the eTrex

-Poor build quality of the old eTrexes shone through and was still there in the 30. Even though I did not use it much and never really exposed it to harsh conditions, side buttons dried up and broke after ca 2 years. Pretty terrible for equipment that's supposed to be "rugged". My Galaxy stood me for four years before I swapped it to a newer one, not because of breakage, but because I wanted something faster with a bigger screen, which could be had for another $100  (a newer Galaxy on sale).

 

These days I also own a modern Galaxy and am very satisfied with it as a navigation device for my outings. I see very small market for dedicated GPSR for the general population, but there could be a few reasons to get one:

 

-You need something that is completely usable under heavy rain (Cell phone capacitive touchscreens are not. However this is alleviated slightly by "button navigation mode" in ruggedized devices such as the Xcover, but I never tried it myself)

-You really like Garmin's software package for planning routes (not a good reason either; GPXes can be exported from there and imported into any device)

-You definitely need something that uses ordinary rod batteries for whatever reason

-You need something with an always-on display

 

The above does not apply to most.

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Posted (edited)

I have had both a Galaxy S8 and S8 Active, and neither one holds compass calibration (and we're talking serious errors of many 10s of degrees or worse) for more than a day.  Not sure why, and you'd better remember the secret code if you ever want to find the calibration routine in the sensors page.

 

Edited by ecanderson

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13 minutes ago, ecanderson said:

I have had both a Galaxy S8 and S8 Active, and neither one holds compass calibration (and we're talking serious errors of many 10s of degrees or worse) for more than a day.  Not sure why, and you'd better remember the secret code if you ever want to find the calibration routine in the sensors page.

 

I've been using an S8 Active for more than two years now, and never have any compass issues. Just checked it after reading your post and it is right on the money.

 

Most android phones auto adjust the compass just by moving the phone through a figure 8 pattern.

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On 5/28/2020 at 10:26 PM, tr_s said:

-Poor build quality of the old eTrexes shone through and was still there in the 30. Even though I did not use it much and never really exposed it to harsh conditions, side buttons dried up and broke after ca 2 years. Pretty terrible for equipment that's supposed to be "rugged".

So, yeah, the build quality on the eTrex line was always built like a toy. The newer eTrex (20/30(x)) are better than the old vista/legend models. But the Oregon and GPSMAP models are built like tanks and last some people more than 10 years.

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8 hours ago, Atlas Cached said:

I've been using an S8 Active for more than two years now, and never have any compass issues. Just checked it after reading your post and it is right on the money.

 

Most android phones auto adjust the compass just by moving the phone through a figure 8 pattern.

There's so little info on this.  I do that only after I bring up the sensor page, and do either the figure 8 or the standard Garmin rotations and the little arrow changes color, but then I go back the next day and it winds up being 45 degrees off or more.  I've heard that the magnetic clip on my holster may have something to do with this, but don't know if that's true or not.

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5 minutes ago, ecanderson said:

I've heard that the magnetic clip on my holster may have something to do with this, but don't know if that's true or not.

 

I think this was your issue. I do not use any  magnets near my S8 Active, and the compass almost never needs calibration. 8^)

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Posted (edited)
On 2/15/2020 at 5:39 AM, PinkNosedPenguin said:

I thought this would be a very frequent question but am struggling to find helpful answers :huh:

 

My wife and I use our phones for Geocaching (Samsung S8 and S7 respectively) with the Geocaching App. But other Geocachers almost always seem to use dedicated GPS devices, claiming they could mever use their phone as the battery wouldn't last long enough. We rarely have a problem with battery life, and carry a portable charger just in case. We also like being able to geocache on a whim ("Oh look there's a geocache 200m from where we are!") because we've always got our phones on us, right?

 

So my question is, if I was to spend up to £200 on a budget GPS, and be organised enough to download caches onto it in advance, would I benefit from:

1. increased GPS accuracy

2. better signal under trees

compared to a phone?

 

And if the answer to both questions is YES, would you rate the Garmin eTrex 32x device?

 

Thanks in advance :D

 

Accuracy would be about the same in normal conditions, although I don't believe phones benefit from WAAS, so a standalone GPSr would have the edge. Signal strength is generally better on a standalone GPSr since they have stronger, more sensitive antennas. 

 

IMO, there is simply no going back to a phone once you've tried a standalone GPSr. Standalone units are vastly superior for hiking/caching in so many ways, and make the experience much more enjoyable. They are obviously not as connected as a smartphone, however with proper planning ahead of time, that is a nonissue. IMO, the disconnected nature of a standalone GPSr greatly enhances the overall experience since we are already so connected to our phones in everyday life. In short, a standalone GPSr provides a more immersive, and more satisfying experience. 

 

The Etrex 32x seems like a great unit. I haven't used this particular model before, but I've owned a number of etrexes over the years and have never been disappointed with them. Good luck to you!

Edited by Tahoe Skier5000
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3 hours ago, Tahoe Skier5000 said:

They are obviously not as connected as a smartphone, however with proper planning ahead of time, that is a nonissue.

Not being constantly connected is one of the perks for me that makes hiking and geocaching more enjoyable.

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Airplane mode.

Unless you don't like the existence of the temptation to have it constantly connected, even when you've completely disconnected it.

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On 6/7/2020 at 4:49 AM, thebruce0 said:

Airplane mode.

Unless you don't like the existence of the temptation to have it constantly connected, even when you've completely disconnected it.

 

Exactly. Though the mere disabling of mobile data is probably what most people would do these days. Staying on mobile data by the way takes absolute loads of battery, especially if the phone switches over to a 2G network which can often happen in the woods or backcountry.

Don't agree with the "once you go dedicated GPSR, you never go back" at all. It was all decidedly unsmooth for me. Tethered to a PC dependent on a hefty (and expensive) software package for the planning of routes or caching, then uploading it...

Far step back from having one device that can just pull the relevant data off the Net and you are good for your outing, at least for me.

But to each their own.

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11 hours ago, tr_s said:

Tethered to a PC dependent on a hefty (and expensive) software package for the planning of routes or caching, then uploading it...

Basecamp and OSM maps are free.

 

Honestly, I think many of you make more work for yourself when planning a geocache outing using a GPS than is necessary. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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