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A Real Noob


tmusick
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hello everyone. new to the sport and am getting frustated. I have tryed to find three caches in my area , and have failed to find any. did find the codinates, but no caches.much time spent looking,a little poison ivy. if any advice please help. thanks. :P

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I'm in the same boat but feel lucky to have found 5 / 8 of the caches I've searched for. I am using a garmin emap and have found the unit is showing me between 20' - 40' from the location when in reality I am right over top of it. I am considering a different GPS unit as I seem to have a horrible time keeping a signal locked in while in cover that I'd consider minimal.

 

Although I'm a newby too, I started searching out some virtuals that let me be in the open to get used to how my equipment functions.

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I'm in the same boat but feel lucky to have found 5 / 8 of the caches I've searched for. I am using a garmin emap and have found the unit is showing me between 20' - 40' from the location when in reality I am right over top of it. I am considering a different GPS unit as I seem to have a horrible time keeping a signal locked in while in cover that I'd consider minimal.

 

Although I'm a newby too, I started searching out some virtuals that let me be in the open to get used to how my equipment functions.

Not to discourage you but 20-40 isn't all that bad, especially if its in a wooded area. I was out today to micro that was in a open nicely mowed area and the only cover was this scruby looking tree the cache was hidden at and it still told me the cache was 15ft away. Thats just as accurate as you can get, sure sometimes it might lead to within 2ft, but its more normal to get 20ft.

I've never used an emap, http://www.garmin.com/products/emap/

but before you go spending more money you might try to cache with other people area your area to see how their gps react under similar conditions. That way even if you decide you want something else you might have an idea of what you might (or not) like to buy.

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Just wanted to mention that the eMap, while not being the "latest and greatest" unit out there, is still quite sufficient for geocaching purposes. It's the unit I started with, and the one I still use today.

 

If you're concerned about the reception and accuracy of the unit, don't be. 20-40 feet is pretty good for any GPSr of its generation, and is certainly good enough to get you to where you're going. If you find that the reception is a bit spotty under the canopy, you can try an external amplified antenna. I purchased one to help with questionable conditions, and found that it did help to suck in a signal when the going got a bit tough. The current crop of amped antennas are cheaper and better than the one I was running a couple of years ago, so you'll probably see an bigger improvement than I did for less money, should you decide to take this route.

 

A lot of the difficulty in finding caches is less the fault of the GPS unit than it is just a matter of getting acclimated to hunting geocaches, and getting a feel for how and where they're hidden. Give it a few shots, and as others have suggested, go out hunting with some experienced cachers. Pretty soon, you'll figure out what to look for, and you'll be up to speed in no time.

 

Have fun!

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I just started a month ago and I have the emap and it's been doing a great job. I have no good reason to upgrade at this time.

Like Seamus said, once you've found a few and have seen what to look for, you'll be on your way.

I didn't find the first one I searched for. Well, I almost did but it ended up being on an island in the middle of the river :anitongue: . Then I found a few and had a couple more Did Not Finds then found a few more but that's just part of the game.

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:( What I have found, with my Magellan SporTrack Pro, is that I don't go by the # of feet away I am, but actually look at the coords. On numerous occasions, the distance is off by a fair amount but the actual coords are right on. Of course, that depends on the variables, like cloud cover, foliage cover, length of averaging of the signal at the time & point when the person placing the cache actually placed it as well as when I'm out there looking for the cache. Clear days seem to have better results than heavily clouded, but then again, I prefer to Cache in the rain :D I, too, will shut the GPS down when in range and just do some detective work. Good Luck & Happy Caching!!
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B)I don't go by the # of feet away I am, but actually look at the coords. On numerous occasions, the distance is off by a fair amount but the actual coords are right on. 

Could someone explain how distance is determined if not by using the coordinates?

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B)I don't go by the # of feet away I am, but actually look at the coords. On numerous occasions, the distance is off by a fair amount but the actual coords are right on. 

Could someone explain how distance is determined if not by using the coordinates?

 

You know the coordinates by the cache page. In my Magellan the coordinate screen does not give direction and distance to cache. The compass screen shows heading - bearing - speed - distance to cache.

 

The GPS figures the disance from your position to the waypoint you entered for the cache position.

 

So yes, the coordinates (yours and that of the cache) ARE used. You just can't see all that on most GPS (as I understand it - and from the screen shots of GPS's I have seen). As described above - you can see the disance and direction but not the positions.

 

What he was trying to explain was that he does not use the compass screen that shows distance to the cache - but uses the coordinate screen where he mentally does the comparison himself.

 

I had a similar experience yesterday doing a multi-cache in a park. Back and forth across the park - errors here and there (mine) got tired of the edit and then switching to the new waypoint - just used the coord. screen to see where I was as my wife gave me 123 - 456 meaning the decimal part of the two coords. That's all that will be changing when you are decently close to the cache.

 

Hope that helps - :(:D:D

Edited by CompuCash
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My understanding is that in these civilian GPS units, the conversion using the satelite information can only be figured within feet/meters, with up to as much as a 100 meter varience. That is what you see displayed on the GPS in one form or another. My Magellan SporTrack Pro seems to get me within 8 ft of any cache and sometimes closer, with no interference of trees and clouds, etc. I have one screen that actually says how far away I am and another that is a compass with a distance reading, but man does that thing swing at times. The technology in these units is not as advanced and sophisticated as that of the armed forces, which my understanding, again, can darn near pin-point an object. Of course, the more satelite pickup the more accurate. I went out one cloudy/rainy day and could only get one or two to pick up. Still got to my cache, though I was a distance from what it was reading. Not sure if this was any help to you.. but a little at least.

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B)I don't go by the # of feet away I am, but actually look at the coords. On numerous occasions, the distance is off by a fair amount but the actual coords are right on. 

Could someone explain how distance is determined if not by using the coordinates?

 

In my Magellan the coordinate screen does not give direction and distance to cache. The compass screen shows heading - bearing - speed - distance to cache.

 

The GPS figures the disance from your position to the waypoint you entered for the cache position.

 

So yes, the coordinates (yours and that of the cache) ARE used. You just can't see all that on most GPS (as I understand it - and from the screen shots of GPS's I have seen). As described above - you can see the disance and direction but not the positions.

 

I have the same unit he has and you can configure the screens to display whichever parameters you want on the various screens.

 

However I read his statement "the distance is off by a fair amount but the actual coords are right on," to mean the coordinates are more accurate than the distance to the target calculated using these coordinates. If it uses the coordinates it thinks you are at to calculate the distance to the target coordinates I can't see how the coordinates can be more accurate than the distance calculated using them. And, I'm can't see what other information it would use to calculate the distance.

Edited by Thot
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hello everyone. new to the sport and am getting frustated. I have tryed to find three caches in my area , and have failed to find any. did find the codinates, but no caches.much time spent looking,a little poison ivy. if any advice please help. thanks. :(

How very crazy...you live in my area!!!! Just email me if you want/need any hints to nearby caches. There are a lot of 1/1s in the area to start out with, and let me know if you need some help. :D:D

 

Happy caching

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I have one screen that actually says how far away I am and another that is a compass with a distance reading, but man does that thing swing at times. 

You can configure those values at the bottom of each screen to be whatever you want them to be. I don't use the compass screen at all. As you say it behaves erratically. But I still don’t follow you about the difference between the coordinates themselves and the distance I assume is calculated using these coordinates.

 

Each person finds the method that best suits them. I use the map screen with bearing and distance displayed at the bottom. I begin using this screen while heading to the location in the car. I configure the map screen so the arrow always points in the direction I’m moving. The map screen gives me good fix on where the cache is relative to me and my movement. By noting the distance, I can tell how far away it is and thus if there may be multiple paths to reach it. I continue to use the map screen (noting the distance periodically) until I’m very close. Then I begin watching the distance and move in various directions choosing the one that causes the distance to decrease. This takes me to the exact location the unit thinks the cache is within 2 feet. That’s when I start searching.

 

By the way I’ve found these Magellan units need 3-5 minutes of settling time after you reach the location. They seem to overshoot, carrying you beyond the target location until they settle in. You simply cannot believe the reading you get when you first arrive. I have the EPE (Estimated Position Error) at the bottom of the coordinates (waypoint?) screen and I flip over and check it while waiting for the gadget to settle. I don’t know if that’s true of all brands/units.

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Here are some tips for finding your first cache.

 

First practice in your back yard. Mark a spot, take a waypoint there. Walk away and find your waypoint.

 

Read through cache pages:

Look for caches found in the last few days, if the cache hadn't been found in a month or longer there is a chance it is missing.

Look for difficulty 2 or less.

Read the logs, look for "easy fine" avoid anything that says "looked for 30 minutes"

Go after a "traditional full or half size amo box" These are easier to fine than "mircros" which are very small containers.

Pick a cache that is in an area (park, trail) you are already familar with.

 

If you need more help look through the cache pages in your local area to see who the big cachers are (who's name shows up a lot) then email them and ask for help. Most people would be willing to go with you on a cache.

 

Search the web for local cahce organizations in your area.

 

Welcome to the sport.

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Soon after I started blindleader EScout suggested I find some stable benchmarks near me and go to them a couple of time to see how the gadget behaves when you know you have accurate coordinates.

 

Here are EScout's comments:

 

"[T]here are super accurate benchmarks that are listed to one-hundred thousandths of a second. They are called adjusted (they are GPS adjusted.) This is an excellent way to test your GPSr and get confidence on its accuracy. (The stated "accuracy" on some GPSrs is really an "estimated position error." I think you may be pleasantly surprised when you go to one of these marks, like I have been when testing my GPSrs.

 

Datasheets

 

Go to this website, choose your state, county, GPS sites only. Sort by Lat or Long and then choose a disk or rod (not a CORS.) Lots of these are on public streets and other easily accessible areas ( Remember, if you enter the coords of the benchmark into your GPSr, you need to round off, so you will be within about a 3 foot diameter of the mark. Simple geometry will let you find the position of your rounded coords (one thousandth of a minute is about 6 feet in latitude.)"

 

I think this is good advice. I looked for benchmarks that were stability class A, if you don't find any try B.

 

I was suprised how close my unit came to the real coordinates. A friend with an identical unit went with me once and got almost the same reading as I did.

 

This exercize gave me a feeling of confidence about how to use the gadget.

 

Then, when on a hunt you must remember the person who placed the cache may not have been careful in measuring the location.

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One thing you have to remember to do is not rely too heavily on your technology. I know that's odd to say in such a technical sport, but consider this... You need to know what your accuracy is - that is, when on the satelite 'page' of your GPS's screen, what does it say your accuracy is? "Ready to navigate 27 feet" or something... Then you have to know how far off the gps says you are from the cache... "14 feet away" - okay, so that's 41 feet - in any direction from where you're standing. 10 steps is a pretty close radius to work in. Hang your GPSr around your neck, drop it in your pocket, etc... and LOOK - with your eyes and with your mind and nothing else. Are you looking for an ammo box in the woods? Then don't look in knot holes in trees that are smaller than your head. Common sense and attention to detail is what gets you to caches in the end - not the GPSr.

 

Think of it this way, use your GPSr to get you to the area, then look for the location.

 

 

And FYI - and for comparrason - I was in wide open space today and had 27 foot accuracy on my GPSr.

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Here is an excellent article that explains why, when you are standing at 'ground zero' on your GPSr, and still don't see it, that nothing is wrong with your geep. It's just the limitation of the satellite system:

 

The Coords are off 23 Feet! by AB4N

 

Hope that info helps.

 

I had quite a few DNFs when I first started out, and still get my share today with 200 finds under my belt. But once I hit my first 50, and then went back to seek the ones I'd DNF'd, I found them on the second try, every one.

 

Point is: It gets easier with a little experience. But then, out of 45 caches I sought over the last month, 7 were DNF's. Three of those were actually missing: the cache was really gone. So my other point is: sometimes it's not you.

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Here is an excellent article. . .

The article certainly gives a “feel” for the idea that there's error in the process. I'm not an expert in this by any means, but there are several things in the article that I think are misleading.

 

The author compares the transmitter power of a satellite based transmitter with a ground based radio transmitter. I don’t think this is a meaningful comparison. For a number of reasons a GPS transmitter doesn’t need to be as powerful as a ground based radio station antenna.

 

The author assumes that the area of uncertainty is equal to the Estimated Position Error (EPE) -- see Figure 1. I’ve never been able to be sure whether the EPE is an estimate of mean error, or mean plus one sigma or two sigma. Apparently there’s no standard. But, if one assumes the EPE is the mean/average error then the error is as likely to be greater than the EPE as it is to be less. So, his statement that “The actual coordinates can be anywhere in this circle” isn’t correct. Actually there’s a 50-50 chance they are inside that circle. On the other hand if one assumes EPE is the mean plus one sigma, 84% of the time it will be inside the circle.

 

I don’t think Figure 2 correctly represents the combined error of uncertanty. My old mind doesn’t do cumulative error math with confidence anymore, but I would have said it’s a circle with a radius of 33 feet around X (a diameter of 66 feet). As I recall cumulative error is the root mean square of the individual errors, so the square root of 23 squared plus 23 squared would be 33 and it would surround the person with the GPSr or the actual cache, however you like to think of it.

 

The author suggests in figure 2 that the total error (combined owner and finder error) extends a distance of 92 feet, whereas based on my experience and the thread where many people gave there estimates of typical distance from their GPSr indication to the cache is about 20 feet – far less than the author’s 92’ (or 46’ if you prefer to interpret the drawing that way.

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