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Question For Etrex Legend Users

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Today i tried to find my first geocache. I picked one that was close to my house and in a place that i was familiar with. I walked around an outdoor shopping center with Legend in hand and got within 19 feet. I did not find the cache.


I plotted the cache as a waypoint and used the Goto function. Than i drove to the general area and flipped over to the navigation screen. I am having trouble with the compass type thing. I guess i dont really understand how it works. At one point the pointer was pointing straight down so i turned around and began walking in that direction and my distance began to climb.... i was getting farther away??!! Than i turned and walked to opposite direction of the pointer and the distance began to decrease. Am i suposed to always walk in teh direction that the pointer tells me? If it points left do i turn and walk left? If it points down am i suposed to turn around and walk the other direction?


Am i using my gpsr properly? Why am i having trouble with the bearing pointer? Has anyone else had difficulty with this and can you offer and advice?


After I gave up (i had to be home to meet a friend) i realized that on the sattelite page at the bottom, my current coordinates are listed... i didnt realize this at first... would it have been better to just use my current coordinates and try to walk them until they read the coordinates of teh cache? Is this method used at all?


thanks alot...i am DYING to find my first cache but dont want to plunder into the wilderness until i have it down....



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I would suggest you keep the etrex flat (paraell to the ground) with the 'port' end away from you. That way when the arrow points up, you go straight. when it points down you turn around and go the total opposite direction. and it when it points left or right, you turn your body that direction and then go straight (at which point the arrow should swing around to 'up' again).


Once you get realatively close, say under 50ft.(depending on terrain) the arrow is likely going to swing around rapidly (sometimes called the 'bearing blues'). It does this because with each new received signal the gps updates you positon and thus changing the the direction to your point. At larger distances it doesn't matter, but right on top it, it might seem like the waypoint is jumping around (you). Especially if you ARE moving, trying standing still for a minute and see if it settles down to pointing one direction.

Anyways, when it won't stop doing that 'jumping' you should just ignore it. You might consider putting it away so your not distracted by whatever it wants to tell you. If you look around and can't find the cache, go back the gps, this time walking past the area on purpose the 'other' side. Do this two or three times to see if you can trianglate the cache's location.


You could use the current position to find you waypoint, but realize that its only so accurate. Even if you get exactly there (distance to point 0.0 ft), the cache might not be there, it might be 20 or ft in any direction of 0.0ft. What I do is, stop at say 100ft and look at your bearing (for referencing a magnetic compass) and distance. And try to decide where I might hide the cache, then move 20 or 30 foot closer and repeated, unitll I either get to 0 or it starts spinning. By this point if your lucky you know what small area the cache is likely in, and begin phyically searching.

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Welch gave some good advice. The legend does not have an electronic compass. This means your compass works by GPS only. If you stand still your compass will not work. For the GPS compass to work you must be moving, the faster the better. As you move along GPS takes your position every couple seconds then your Legend figures out what direction you are moving.


Also try practicing in your back yard. Drop a marker then save your location as a waypoint. Then walk away and practice finding your marker.


You said you were looking in a shopping center. Was this a micro? If so it may be easier to find a traditional cache in a large container, like an ammo box that is rated easy to find.


As I am new to the sport too I usually go after caches that were found recently so I am pretty sure they are still there.

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i didnt realize this at first... would it have been better to just use my current coordinates and try to walk them until they read the coordinates of teh cache? Is this method used at all?


Many of us used this method for our first few caches, until we read the owners manual. It is a time consuming method and not easy. The navigation screen is the way to go.


As the other posters said, you should be moving for the Legend's compass to work and the faster, the better. One issue is that as people arrive near the cache, they slow down, which makes the compass less reliable. Sometimes I'll walk away and approach the area again at a faster walk. This helps. Another method is to keep walking until the needle does an about face. This means you passed the cache and can narrow down where it is.


Finally don't expect to find the cache right were the GPS says. Your GPS has an error of 20-30 feet and so did the GPS of the cache owner. Therefore, the cache could be 60 or more feet from where your GPS says it is.

Edited by briansnat
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Hey Tad -


I use a legend and have pretty goodluck. Yes holding it out flat facing farward is good. I usually make sure that I have track up instead of the default north up which helps you always having your front in front of you.


The legend seems a bit slower to update copared to the venture. I turn off some map features and track recording, it seems to make the screen refresh faster.

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awesome awesome advice...thanks a lot! Before i read your responses i took my dog for a walk, marking waypoints and going back to them. I was very successful with this and I feel that i have a much better grasp. I also tried with the map function all the way zoomed and that worked well for me as well.


This is a side note, but I think i had a good idea for gpsr units that are designed for geocaching. It seems like a digital camera would be a very beneficial feature on a hand-held. Geocachers could capture points of interest or even clues without carrying a second, sometimes cumbersome, digi-cam. I know it will probably add on to the weight and possibly draw from the waterproof design, but it could increase marketing specifically for geocachers.


thanks again for the info all...



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I have a new Legend, and I have had the same problem you described with the Navigation screen. (I.e. the course arrow doesn't update properly-it starts out ponting in the right direction, but doesn't change as you walk past the waypoint.) I found that if I redo the goto (find the waypoint again, then click "goto") it will point in the right direction. However, I have also found that it is much easier to just use the Map screen at all times.

Edited by kpgdenver
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Another thing you ought to consider is that if YOUR GPSr is swinging around wildly in the 20ft circle of confusion, then the person who placed the cache and marked the waypoint probably had a similar error. Thus, the cache could be 40 feet from where your GPSr indicates. My wife and I cache together. I use the GPS. She uses the force. She finds the majority of the caches without the technology.


The map feature is handy for triangulating. Walk in a straight line to the cache from about 100 ft away and note the trail left on your map (be sure that tracking is turned on). Do this again from a couple of different directions. Your lines probably won't cross, but you can get an idea of where the cache is. This is really fun when you're working around the bank of a large creek and the only crossing is a mile in either direction.

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