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Spehert77

Inexpensive GPS devices?

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Hello!

 

My kids (8 & 10) and I are new to geocaching. It's something we've taken up while I've been furloughed from work and we're really growing to love it.

 

I've been using an app on my phone and for the most part it's been okay, but 1) it runs my phone battery down 2) the GPS isn't always the best and 3) I worry about dropping my phone while we're climbing up hills or scrambling under bridges.

 

Can anyone recommend a decent GPS device that isn't too expensive? I'm looking for something for less than $100. I'm being very careful with my spending while I'm furloughed, but we plan on continuing to geocache throughout the summer and fall.

 

Thanks!

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How about an old, surplus phone fished out of a drawer?  No matter if it's no longer on "a plan".  Just set it up over WiFi for offline caching, and use it much like you would a GPS unit.  The Groundspeak app will work offline, and various 3rd-party caching apps do too, eg Locus Map (Android), Cachly (iOS).  No SIM needed, no plan needed.

 

If you drop it and it breaks, meh.

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5 minutes ago, Viajero Perdido said:

How about an old, surplus phone fished out of a drawer?  No matter if it's no longer on "a plan".  Just set it up over WiFi for offline caching, and use it much like you would a GPS unit.  The Groundspeak app will work offline, and various 3rd-party caching apps do too, eg Locus Map (Android), Cachly (iOS).  No SIM needed, no plan needed.

 

If you drop it and it breaks, meh.

 

This is a GREAT idea. Thank you.

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PS, deactivated phones can still make emergency calls, no SIM/plan needed.  Occasionally useful.  B)

 

But for normal use, you may as well keep it in Airplane Mode.  Battery will last longer if the radio circuits are off.

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Posted (edited)

Caching with a dedicated GPS is far more satisfying, and more reliable than with a phone. Inexpensive units can be found easily these days. I suggest looking on eBay. They are plentiful, and can be had for cheap. I just recently picked up a backup Delorme PN-40 for $39. Fantastic GPS with full mapping, compass, altimeter, and geocaching support.

 

Some ideas:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Garmin-eTrex-Legend-C-Waterproof-Hiking-GPS-backing/143595602383?epid=48453191&hash=item216ef701cf:g:VqkAAOSwXQRerw-5

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Garmin-eTrex-Legend-C-Waterproof-Hiking-GPS-Manual-Color-Map-Navigator-Bundle/114247136500?epid=48453191&hash=item1a99a8f4f4:g:dYIAAOSwfWFe1675

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Garmin-eTrex-Legend-digital-electronic-Handheld/233614014635?epid=82024020&hash=item36647af8ab:g:XQ0AAOSwhIRe3xFS

 

I strongly recommend ditching the phone and going with a dedicated GPS. You will be happier in the long run, and the experience is more immersive IMO. Good luck!

Edited by Tahoe Skier5000
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1 hour ago, Tahoe Skier5000 said:

Caching with a dedicated GPS is far more satisfying, and more reliable than with a phone.

(removed)

I strongly recommend ditching the phone and going with a dedicated GPS. You will be happier in the long run, and the experience is more immersive IMO. Good luck!

Really? We've cached with a phone for years, and wouldn't even think about switching to GPS. This topic is highly debatable. 

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24 minutes ago, TmdAndGG said:

This topic is highly debatable. 

Absolutely.

 

I use both. Most of the time, I use my smartphone, which is more than capable enough, and much more convenient than my handheld GPS receiver. But I do use my handheld GPS receiver when I need better durability, battery life, and/or GPS reception than my smartphone phone provides.

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As a few say, a modern phone is about the same in "accuracy" as any handheld GPSr today.   :)

Given that civilian GPS is still only "accurate" to around ten feet, now that phones have GPS, battery is the deciding factor.

With the long-outdated GPSr models shown, there's no comparison with a modern phone.

Of course some phones perform better than others.  Just like any other products one buys...  

The other 2/3rds used her blackberry in '05 (and the Trimble app) and it was mediocre at best. 

 - Today, with the performance of new phones, there's really no difference other than what you like best.

                We started our first year with blue legends, and with just leaves above us, or walking in a valley,  we'd lose signal.

Good luck finding a clearing again to regain signal...

By our second year we "upgraded" to 60cxs, and were surprised we got sat-signal in the house.  These days, phones do that.  ;)

I still use a GPSr, the other 2/3rds prefers a phone.  Just what we're use to.

 

I'd suggest waiting on a GPSr (if you feel that's really what you want to do), rather than spending any money on something that's worse than your phone.

We notice a few folks here in the forums that did that ...started with a long-outdated GPSr, than say phones are so much better.   :D

Save a lot more (double it at least) if you're enjoying the hobby.  You're staying a while, buy a good (not "cheap") model then

It'd suck to spend anything more to find you don't like it as much as you thought later...

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TmdAndGG said:

Really? We've cached with a phone for years, and wouldn't even think about switching to GPS. This topic is highly debatable. 

 

But If you haven't cached with a regular GPS, then how do you know what you've been missing? :P 

 

I've used both over the years, and strongly prefer a standalone GPS. There are a lot of reasons for this, but primarily because I find a standalone GPS to be more immersive and more useful, especially when combining caching with hiking. Redundancy is another reason... If I drop my GPS, chances are it will be just fine as they are built to be reliable and rugged. Worst case, it breaks, and I have my phone as a backup to both navigate and call for help if needed. If I only cache with a phone, it drops, and the screen breaks, I'm now without a phone AND a GPS!

 

That said, I get why some people prefer the phone app... its polished, its easy, its convenient, and anyone can get started playing immediately. Having used both the app and GPS though, the GPS just makes the experience much more fun. 

Edited by Tahoe Skier5000
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Once you realize there's more than just "the app", that changes the equation somewhat.  :P

 

But for a full discussion of phone-vs-GPSr, those threads have already been filled out nearby.

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3 minutes ago, Viajero Perdido said:

Once you realize there's more than just "the app", that changes the equation somewhat. 

Yep. One of the most important benefits of premium membership IMHO is full access to the API, allowing third-party apps to work at their full capacity.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Viajero Perdido said:

Once you realize there's more than just "the app", that changes the equation somewhat.  :P

 

It doesn't really matter how many apps there are, or what each app does. The basic problem is that you are putting all of your eggs in one basket and relying on one physical device for everything. If you are caching mostly in urban areas then sure, using a phone only is perfectly fine. Start doing more serious caches involving hikes, and redundancy becomes more important. 

 

Regardless, I actually used the app the other day for a quick cache in town. The dumb compass arrow had me going in the wrong direction. It was completely off. I closed the app and restarted and it worked fine. That sort of unreliability is pretty typical of most of my smartphone experiences though, and it doesn't inspire much confidence in using it as a primary geocache device :blink:

Edited by Tahoe Skier5000

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, Tahoe Skier5000 said:

If I drop my GPS, chances are it will be just fine as they are built to be reliable and rugged. Worst case, it breaks, and I have my phone as a backup to both navigate and call for help if needed. If I only cache with a phone, it drops, and the screen breaks, I'm now without a phone AND a GPS!

True, although we have (as far as I can remember) never dropped the phone while caching.

34 minutes ago, niraD said:

Yep. One of the most important benefits of premium membership IMHO is full access to the API, allowing third-party apps to work at their full capacity.

Definitely. Much prefer Cachly over the generic app.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One reason that I like using phone are the satellite maps. I practically always look at the map instead of using the needle.

Edited by TmdAndGG

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Totally debatable topic. I've been mostly caching with a phone lately because my GPS was knackered. I dropped the phone a few times (only screen protector broken), I don't want it to get soaking wet in rain thus leave it in my pocket and effectively can't continue, and the battery runs empty quickly and I end up hiking/cycling with a charging cable. I finally bought a new second-hand GPS from an elder couple who wanted to use it for hiking but never did. Cost 110 Euro while Garmin still lists it at 250 Euro new. I'm so glad I did this. Will also be useful for hikes outside this very build-up country where I'd rather keep phone juice for calling emergency services should it ever be necessary.

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On 6/6/2020 at 6:48 PM, Viajero Perdido said:

How about an old, surplus phone fished out of a drawer?  No matter if it's no longer on "a plan".  Just set it up over WiFi for offline caching, and use it much like you would a GPS unit.  The Groundspeak app will work offline, and various 3rd-party caching apps do too, eg Locus Map (Android), Cachly (iOS).  No SIM needed, no plan needed.

 

If you drop it and it breaks, meh.

 

A used Casio G'Zone Commando can be had for $50 or less.  That's what I bought as a personal challenge to find the cheapest used Geocaching device ever.  It has a replaceable battery.  But it can only be updated to Android 4, so that limits the Apps that can run today.  I have Locus Maps Pro on mine.  Also, it's slow, has low resolution, it's very outdated.  But drop it off a cliff, no biggie.  It probably survives the drop, too. :)

 

You can wifi tether a phone such as that to your fancy main phone, for live info.

 

You might find a used Garmin Etrex for less than $30.  If you don't mind hand-entering coordinates, you're golden.  If you hope to pre-load caches, that's a whole different discussion.

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Like anything, each tool has a learning curve. I cached for a number of years with an Extrex Vista HCX. Then I took a hiatus (LGITW) and recently returned to the game. The buttons on the HCX were getting wonky, so  treated myself to a modern Garmin. Took me several months to get comfortable with the improved technology. If aside from battery life you're happy with the cel phone, I'd recommend pulling out an old phone that still works, turn off the radio and invest in an external battery. It will extend your field time greatly and they are very light and very small these days.

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On 6/9/2020 at 7:18 PM, Tahoe Skier5000 said:

 

...The dumb compass arrow had me going in the wrong direction. It was completely off. 

I've had he same the happen to me with my brand spanking new garmin Oregon 700.

 

I believe the direction arrow relies on movement in a consistent direction to update. Once I get close, the arrow gets less reliable and I usually use the distance counter.

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39 minutes ago, ras_oscar said:

I've had he same the happen to me with my brand spanking new garmin Oregon 700.

 

I believe the direction arrow relies on movement in a consistent direction to update. Once I get close, the arrow gets less reliable and I usually use the distance counter.

 

That probably just means you need to recalibrate the Oregon's magnetic compass. I sometimes have to do that after changing batteries as the batteries themselves can have a magnetic field that throws the compass off.

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Never did that. Gotta scare up the 'structions!!!  thanks for the suggestion.

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3 hours ago, ras_oscar said:

I believe the direction arrow relies on movement in a consistent direction to update. Once I get close, the arrow gets less reliable and I usually use the distance counter.

 

There's a Heading setting for Compass, "Auto" or "Off".  In "Off" it only uses the GPS to determine compass heading, and that requires movement.  Usually it should be set to "Auto".  Plus you definitely have to calibrate the compass at times.  Calibrate Compass in a menu on the Compass screen.

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Set to Auto. Also found the calibrate setting in the same screen. Should I calibrate every time I change Batteries?

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17 minutes ago, ras_oscar said:

Set to Auto. Also found the calibrate setting in the same screen. Should I calibrate every time I change Batteries?

 

That's probably overkill, I only recalibrate when I notice the pointer seems erratic when I'm slowly turning. I've only had to do it a handful of times since I bought the 700 a couple of years ago.

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Just when i think ive go it all figured out. there's some little detail.

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I had a strange occurrence last week. I had planned a cache route an hour's drive from my home coordinates. Since it was an area I was unfamiliar with, I turned on the GPS, selected the cache nearest the paring coordinates for the park I was caching in, and set it to navigate on road. An hour later it turned me down a dead end road to a footpath. Horrified, I pulled over and zoomed out to get a sense of where i really needed to go. The route from there was a straight north line to the cache. In between was a blank screen. No map no nothing. I switched to geocaching and the map immediately filled in. I was able to ue the map image to manually nvigate to my desired location. Why did the geoaching car profile not have a map but the geocache profile does? All settings are the same on both profiles, except geocache car has a road navigation dashboard and is set to navigate on roads.

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