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Guest Seamus

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Guest Seamus

Hail to the forum!

 

I'm in the early stages of shopping for a GPS unit, to be used primarily for GeoCaching, though other uses may eventually crop up as well.

 

I would like to solicit some advice on makes/models of GPS units with the following features:

 

Must have:

-- Relatively low cost

-- Water resistant design

-- Decent accuracy

-- Good number of waypoints

-- Receive in moderate foliage

 

Good but not necessary:

-- WaterPROOF design

-- Mapping

-- External/detatchable antenna option

-- Reversible routes

-- Multiple routes

 

Don't care:

-- Screen backlight

-- Color screen

-- Lunar/fish cycles

-- Restaurant/service locator

-- Doesn't have to be super-small or -light

 

Having recently acquired a Handspring visor, I kicked around the idea of trying one of the GPS modules for it, but have decided against it, for the non-ruggedized nature of the PDA. I figure I would probably be better off dropping some of the palm-inherited features, such as mapping and huge amounts of storage for a more outdoors-capable design.

 

The ability to operate in tree cover is probably a concern for me, as I'm in the MD/VA/WV/PA area, and there's quite a lot of tree coverage around most of the trails I'm familiar with. From what I've heard, this can cause problems with most GPS units.

 

Mapping that included parks and undeveloped areas would be a plus, but is not really necessary. Roads and highways won't be of too much use, as I get by just fine with a road atlas when I'm in the car.

 

Right now, I'm considering primarily the Magellan GPS-315, with the Garmin eMap strongly tempting me to spend the extra $50. I just may cave in.

 

If anyone has any suggestions or advice, I would be glad to hear them. Thanks, and hope to see you (or at least your caches) soon!

 

-- Seamus

KC5UGQ

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Guest Mike_Teague

I would go for a Garmin 12xl, or a used II+/III, or III+...

 

they all are as close to waterproof as they can be (will have no problem in heavy rain, etc, but I wouldnt chuck one into a swimming pool and leave it for an hour).. Caution, the Emap is NOT even close to waterproof (or resistant, I wager).. It's not an outdoor unit, its made for automobile use. All can take external antennas (the II/III's antenna's are detachable).. III and III+ have mapping (of little use for geocaching, IMO)

 

All 12 channel GPS's should give the same accuracy... Some will have better _reception_ though, from antenna design, etc. I find that my GPS III works better under tree canopy than the Etrex. The main problem being, the Etrex will lie to you.. You have no way of knowing when it's bugging out. I had it sit for a good 10 minutes showing an EPE of about 30 feet, showing the SAME position, whilst I bushwacked about 300 meters under the trees.. On the higher-end garmins, the satellite screen gives very useful info about individual satellite position in the sky, signal strengths of each, DOP, etc. You can look and see WHY you're not getting a reliable fix, and by looking at _where_ the satellites actually are, you can find a suitable clearing, to get a new fix.. (maybe ya just need that 3rd satellite to the south, etc)

 

They all have routes that are reversible. I personally have never found a use for a route. When necessary, just follow your track, if ya get lost (I guess some people would have a use for a pre-planned route).. The garmins have the infamous "trackback" feature, where the unit will automagically transform your tracklog into a route for you to navigate with if you cant just follow it on the screen..

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Guest Mike_Teague

Actually, I was just browsing garmin's site, and noticed they have a new software version for the Etrex, 2.10.. Apparently it adds an "advanced skyview", with satellite positions and signal strengths... Forget what I said about it lying to you, if that's the case!

 

Very Good!, now I gotta get that damned cable to update the thing!

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Guest peter

quote:
Originally posted by Mike_Teague:

Caution, the Emap is NOT even close to waterproof (or resistant, I wager).. It's not an outdoor unit, its made for automobile use. ...

They all have routes that are reversible. I personally have never found a use for a route. When necessary, just follow your track, if ya get lost (I guess some people would have a use for a pre-planned route)..


 

Actually, I've found the eMap to be reasonably water resistant when kept facing up. I use it clamped to the handlebars of my bicycle and it's been through lots of rain showers without any problems. If it looks like it'll be raining for hours I put it in a ziplock bag but I don't bother if it's just scattered showers. The main weak point on water resistance of the Garmin units is that the battery compartment is not watertight. On the eMap this is compounded by having the memory cartridge slot inside the battery compartment and providing a path for water to get from that compartment into the electronics. But for showers it's easy enough to orient the unit so the battery compartment stays dry. For waterproofness while seakayaking I use an Aquapak bag which also provides bouyancy. The Magellan 315/320/330 do have the advantage that they float by themselves.

As to routes and maps, I find them both to be very useful, but mainly for driving to the vicinity of a cache (or anywhere else for that matter) - not for the hiking part. DeLorme's Street Atlas or various web sites will automatically calculate an end-end route for you and upload it to your GPS. So when driving you just have to glance at the eMap whenever it beeps and turn in the direction of the arrow at the next intersection.

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Guest Mike_Teague

now that you mention it, I have used routes in that fashion..

 

I used to use Street Atlas 7 to generate driving directions to caches, but after being led astray onto closed roads, trails that are in the database as roads, dumb (completely idiotic!) routes onto tiny sidestreets, thru alleys, etc. etc, I decided to just keep using my hardcopy delorme topo-road atlases for individual states..

 

I'll use SA7 just to get a quick idea of how to get there.. Once actually in the area, if necessary, i use the paper maps... Once out of the car, I've not found a map suitable for use in geocaching. USGS 7.5" quads are not detailed enough, and most are more than 20 years old to start with...

 

as for water resistance, I seem to remember the III (and I presume II+ and III+) were waterproof to some international standard, I forget the name of it, but essentially they could be submerged under 1 meter of water for 15 or 30 minutes or some such.... The battery compartment is not sealed, as you said, but the terminals that enter the guts apparently are, then it also has the hydrophobic membrane in the hole for pressure equalization due to air pressure... it may not operate, especially in salt water, if it gets submerged, but once rinsed and dried out, I figure it would.. I've dipped my III in the lake several times to wash it off, and it's never malfunctioned..

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Guest peter

minals that enter the guts apparently are, then it also has the hydrophobic membrane in the hole for pressure equalization due to air pressure... it may not operate, especially in salt water, if it gets submerged, but once rinsed and dried out, I figure it would.. I've dipped my III in the lake several times to wash it off, and it's never malfunctioned..

 


 

My luck with Street Atlas has been pretty good. I still glance at the plotted route before uploading to make sure it's reasonable and insert a 'Via' to reroute it elsewhere if it's not, but probably 90% of the time I use the route it first gives me.

 

As for the waterproofness: yes, the eTrex/12 series/II/III series are all rated to be submersible to one meter and the eMap is only rated for light rain/mist. But I think the main difference is just that the battery compartment in the eMap opens into the electronics through the memory card slot. I've washed mine off in streams too - I just make sure to keep the battery compartment dry. BTW, for use in salt water I'd recommend putting the III+ in a waterproof bag as well. I wouldn't want to risk salt water on the battery terminals leading to corrosion and poor contacts.

My main point is that with rather minimal care the eMap makes a fine GPS for my applications of hiking, bicycling, and kayaking, despite Garmin's rather artificial distinction between 'Mobile' and 'Outdoor' units.

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Guest O-man

The map issue you raise is an interesting one. I belong to a local orienteering club and have learned to trust the topo lines, even on an old map. When planning your route forwards, its nice to be able to "see" the terrain features you will encounter. For example, from point A to point B a straight line will always be the shortest route - if you are a bird. For a human to make the trip in the most efficient manner in hilly country, you must contour (follow the brown line) to get there with the least amount of effort expended. I haven't yet seen the GPS device that has decent topo maps, so I always consult the link on the geocaching site for the topo of the area - and sometimes print it out. Old maps are generally still good for large terrain features, and its usually just trails and fixtures that have changed.

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