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Feel Like The Scarecrow.....


Max99nTPA
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I'm a newbie and have found my first 2 caches in the past 2 days. So far so good, but I'm wondering if you all have some advice.

 

I have a Garmin Venture (now I wish I had gotten the Legend, but can always upgrade)...anywhoooo, Getting to the general vicinity of the cache seems to be no problem. I get to within a few hundred feet, and I'm fine, but then, my arrow points me in one direction which ends up NOT being the direction I need to go. I noticed this both times, because the distance to the target was getting bigger even though I was following the arrow. So, I turn around an walk in the direction that makes the distance go down and sooner or later the arrow swings around and points me there also. Is this common? I have the unit set to battery save, which the manual notes refreshes from the satellites less frequently, could this have anything to do with it? Would having a unit with a built in compass make a difference here? Of course, then I guess I'd need to upgrade to the Vista B) I really like the Venture and would like to stick with it for a while before I upgrade, rather spend extra cache (pardon the pun) on upgrades to my MTB and trinkets to leave and place in my own cache.

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Your Venture is just fine for caching. The battery saver mode may have something to do with it. Also, you can follow the distance number, instead of the arrow. Walk in the direction that causes the distance to go down. Not knowing a whole lot about Garmin's, I can't help you too much. Someone will have an answer though.

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hi and welcome,

 

as you get closer to the cache pay less attention to the arrow on your gpsr and more attention to the distance countdown. when you are within 20 to 30 feet of the cache start paying less attention to the countdown and more to looking for the cache itself. seldom will you zero out the countdown and find yourself standing on the cache as there are differences in receivers, satellite geometry, and the gps gods! for tough ones try stopping when you are about 30 yards out from the cache and take a magnetic compass bearing to the cache based on the bearing given by your gpsr and then follow the compass bearing to the cache based on the distance to the cache shown by your receiver. also, it is a good idea to just slow down as you approach the cache to give your gpsr time to settle down and to give yourself more time to think about where you would have hidden this cache if you were placing it in this area. additionally, time and hunts done will improve your skills. hope this helps. -harry

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Thank you both for the replies. Makes sense to me. One quick follow up. I did get a magnetic compass, but I'm not really sure how to use it to drive me to the cache. The needle always points North, so I'm not sure how it points me to a cache that could be in any direction. Does anyone know of an online tutorial about how to use the compass with the GPSr to hunt??

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I have the Garmin Legend and I get the same problem. I think its more the nature of GPS technology rather than the unit itself. I usally have the distance to destination, pointer, and accuracy on the screen. I watch the pointer until I get down to say 100 feet. By then I am moving too slow for the track up map mode to work reliably so I disregard the pointer and use the distance only. By then its more searching and using the clues to find it. There are times though when my unit tells me I am 5 feet from the cache, then i have to consult the accuracy to decide if I belive it or not.

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Thank you both for the replies.  Makes sense to me.  One quick follow up.  I did get a magnetic compass, but I'm not really sure how to use it to drive me to the cache.  The needle always points North, so I'm not sure how it points me to a cache that could be in any direction.  Does anyone know of an online tutorial about how to use the compass with the GPSr to hunt??

You should be able to get a bearing from your GPS this is the direction to the cache in degrees. If you turn the compass so that north lines up with the compass arrow then there should be degree markings and you can see which direction the cache is in. This is a really simple explanation. I don't know of a good tutorial but if you go to your local library you may be able to check out a Boy Scout Merit Badge Book on Orienteering. Give that a try and see what you can learn.

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...I have the unit set to battery save, which the manual notes refreshes from the satellites less frequently, could this have anything to do with it?  Would having a unit with a built in compass make a difference here?  Of course, then I guess I'd need to upgrade to the Vista B)  I really like the Venture and would like to stick with it for a while before I upgrade...

The main difference with a built in magnetic compass is that you get heading data when stopped--the GPSr will only give you heading data while you are moving. Moving very slowly also impairs your heading data with a GPSr.

 

I would recommend only using the battery save mode on long hikes when you don't want to carry a lot of extra batteries. Keep your Venture in normal mode for a while, and see if the battery life is a problem. You can decide to get some Nickel-Metal-Hydride rechargables if you want to buy less AA cells. A set of 4, with charger, is about $25 at Walmart, Target, etc.

 

I use a Venture, and don't remember ever using the battery save mode other than playing with all the features when it was new.

 

I've found that the best way is to approach until your GPSr reads less than 20 feet (or about 1.25 time the stated accuracy) and then put it in your pocket and start looking. Chasing the needle as short distances is sometimes referred to as the "newbie waggle-dance".

 

My observation has been that the main misconception that new geocachers have to get over is that the GPSr is homing device--it is a navigation device, with some quirks. It doesn't point to the cache! It points to a point that it has calculated as matching the coordinates you gave it.

 

I like my Venture, for geocaching, hiking, and any other use I have found for a protable GPSr. I thought about upgrading for a while, but have gotten so used to using the Venture that I don't see any incentive to replace it.

 

After a few more cache finds (usually very few) you start to develop the "eye" for it. You will start to think like a cache hider, and mostof the time spot where a cache would be hidden from a good distance away.

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If you turn the compass so that north lines up with the compass arrow then there should be degree markings and you can see which direction the cache is in.

 

Also, it helps if you can get a decent compass. Get one with a rotating dial like this one:

 

177s.jpg

 

That way, you can rotate the dial to match the bearing on the GPS, line up the arrow with North, and your bearing will be shown. You just follow the arrow. That's actually the exact one I have. It works great, but I RARELY ever use it while caching.

Edited by SBPhishy
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Huh... I always use my compass when caching. I'll stop, take a bearing, and walk to the location. Many times, I've found the cache while the GPS'rs were still 'settling down'.

 

In answer to the above question about how to use a compass and GPS'r, let me expand just a little. You'll need to go through the screens on your GPS'r until you see Bearing. This is the direction you need to head to get to the target (heading is the direction you are going). Take the compass and turn the ring until the number you need lines up with the arrow on the base of the compass. Then turn the entire compass until the needle moves around and lines up with "N" on the ring. The arrow on the base of the compass will now be pointing in the direction you need to go. Having a lensatic style compass comes in handy at this point, but no need to get into that here.

 

Always carry a compass and know the direction back to the truck. That way, when your batteries fail you can still get home. Wally World now has a couple of compasses from Silva! Get the one with the lid and mirror.

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One other piece of advice on using a magnetic compass with your GPS.

 

Remember that the margin of error in the GPS also affects the compass bearing. So if your GPS is reading 25' accuracy and the distance to your waypoint is reading 15', you cannot trust the bearing.

 

What I suggest is going out in a clear direction about 2-3x (or more) of the accuracy, so if it reads 25', go 50-100' away then set the GPSr down on the ground or on a rock with a clear view of the sky and step away from it for a few minutes (to reduce the chance of your body influencing the signal. Then, read the bearing off the GPSr and transfer that bearing to the rotating dial on your compass, hold it in front of you and turn your body (not the compass) until the arrow lines up with the N. You should now be facing directly toward where the cache is hid, so look for good spots before walking toward it. If there are lots of good hiding places along the line, you might want to take another reading from 90 degrees away and triangulate on the spot.

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Thanks everyone for all the help. I've got the compass out and I understand what you are saying, but here is the thing, when I looks at the display for my Garmin Venture, it shows bearing as a directions (N,S,E,W) not in degrees. I've gone through all the settings and checked the manual, but can't see if there is a way to change from W to 270 degress. It only breaks it down to SE, NE, etc, so there are lots of degrees in between that I can't really figure from the 'letters' With all the Garmin people out there, I'm sure one can help me figure this out...I hope so.....I'll be bummed if I can't get Bearing in degrees, especially since I understand what you are saying to do with the compass....again, any help is much appreciated

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OK, I'm just an idiot :D There are a whole bunch of screens where Bearing is indicated as NSEW, then on the Find Waypoint screen, it is indicated in degrees. I scrolled right past it, I guess, I was looking for something that was on one of the navigation screens......Well, everyone please have a good chuckle at me, I know I am :ph34r: And thanks again to everyone for all the responses.

 

EDIT - Fixed some funky typos, I can't spell, well actually type, either

Edited by Max99nTPA
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Here's advice from a newbie, so take it with a grain of salt (or for people that know me, the whole shaker). I have a Garmin Legend and I use the map screen while I am on the move. And I usually have the map set to "track up". When I get down to 100' or so I flip to the navigation screen where I have distance to destination and bearing. That's when I pull out the compass. I check the distance and bearing against the compass and move in that direction. After a little while I have the general location and I start looking around. Once you get inside the GPSr's accuracy you have to just follow your nose.

Edited by Brianslost
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When I get close to a cache Ill switch to map mode and put it down on 100' resolution, walk towards the cache, go to 50 resolution and get down to 20' resolution. Then I will find my zero point, within a couple (10) feet. establish a center and search up to 50' out from center and will usually find it.

 

EDIT: You can probably edit what data fields you want where on the venture, as well as choose degree bearing over compass NSEW.

Edited by Volwrath
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