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Can someone enlighten a newbie?

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First, I'd like to say how interesting this website is! I'm so glad someone gave me this link! This looks like loads of fun! However, I have a few questions:


1. I have already seen the threads about starter GPS units, but I am wondering if anyone has experience with the Magellan GPS Companion for the Handspring Visor. I already have a Visor, and it looks like the module would be a lot cheaper than a standalone unit. How well does this GPS work?


2. What is the best thing to use for a cache? There are SO MANY places I can think of for caches its not even funny! Which brings me to my next question...


3. Is it possible to get a GPS location underground? icon_eek.gificon_biggrin.gif I have one prospective location that would be loads of fun, but it requires a little...lets say...exploration! icon_smile.gif


Thanks in advance for the advice!

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Regarding #1, the PDA add on units get reasonable reception, but devour batteries. Also, PDAs are a little flimsy and generally are not waterproof. With a basic eTrex going for under $100 new many places, you might save a little money, but your savings would be moot if you end up spending a $100 getting your PDA repaired after a 2-3 terrain cache.


Regarding #2, if you search the forums, you'll find that several threads have discussed caching containers, and good filler items, at length. Personally, I like finding caches in clear, or semi clear containers (so I can just eyeball, then let the kids open - ammo cans, PVC tubes, etc., I open).


Regarding #3, the simple answer is 'no', your GPSr will not work in a cave. However, you could give coordinates to the entrance, then offer different navigational directions from there to the actual cache.


Good Luck,


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My brother was given the Magellan GPS Companion for a Christmas present and I bought a Garmin GPS V. We went on 3 cache searches together and he bought a GPS V. Enough said. I consider the Companion a "wanna be". It was better than nothing but no more than that for geocaching. Just our opinion.

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Thanks for the replies! Kepp them coming!


As far as durability goes, I've got that pretty well taken care of...its not really waterproof, but it better than no case at all. Its a prototype of the Active Armor case for the Handspring Visor.


Also, I just picked up a GPS Companion for $80-50 rebate, so I don't think I can beat $30.

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Thanks for the replies! Keep them coming!


As far as durability goes, I've got that pretty well taken care of...its not really waterproof, but it better than no case at all. Its a prototype of the Active Armor case for the Handspring Visor.


Also, I just picked up a GPS Companion for $80-50 rebate, so I don't think I can beat $30.

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Well I can answer number three for you to start. If your meaning something like a cave, no, not possible with direct GPSR coverage. For a GPSR to get coordinates you have to have direct line of sight for the GPSR to read data from the satellites.


As for number two. I think that most peopleare using old ammo cans or tupperware. the climate and conditions will dictate that as much as anything else.

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I got a Visor Companion for Christmas, and have used it to find 59 caches so far. From what I've seen of other GPS devices, it was a very good choice.




Yeah, I guess it does go through batteries... the Visor Companion seems to go through them about two to three times as fast as the Visor itself.


It's not very rugged. I've only dropped it once (onto a pile of leaves, thankfully), but when I'm crossing rugged terrain, I place it in my inside jacket pocket for safekeeping. Usually, it will keep a lock on the signal.


The first one I got never locked on to the sattelites, although it could see them. Magellan tech support said it was probably a missing chip, and after I exchanged it, it worked great.


When it rains, the whole assembly fits well in one of the fold-over sandwich bags. I still worry about getting it wet, though.


I also have the impression that it takes a little longer to get a lock on the birds than dedicated units.


One other thing -- a bug in the software causes a "fatal exception" when a DateBook appointment reminder pops up and you're using the GPS. *grumble*


Finally, the EasyGPS downloads from the Geocaching.com web site don't go into the Visor. I've just grown to accept it.


Pros: Memory. Compared to other units, it's got a ton, limited only by the Visor's memory capacity.


Lots of maps. It comes with Map Companion, which has maps of every county in the US. You can't fit them all on your Visor, but you should be able to get the ones you need.


Lots of features. Not having used other GPS units, I didn't realize until recently how much more stuff is stuffed into the Nav Companion software as compared to other GPSes.


Portability. I always have my Visor with me, and my GPS Companion is always in my jacket, so I'm ready to go geocaching on a moment's notice.


I also have AvantGo installed, so that it pulls in the "newest in state" page from Geocaching.com, and pulls a local list of caches from pathetique.com. Unfortunately, without adding hacks that make the system unstable, you can't cut and past the coordinates.


Finally, for really long hints, there's a piece of software, ''Hint Decoder'', which will ROT-13 the hint to decode it.


Given the choice, I'd pick the GPS Companion again. Others will disagree -- it's like the Windows/Mac/Linux holy wars icon_rolleyes.gif


(Oh, and for cache containers, go with ammo boxes. They're pre-camouflaged, they're watertight, they re-close tightly every time, and they make a satisfying ''pop'' when you open them. Always label the outside of your caches with a contact phone number, too. It makes the bomb squad less nervous.) icon_smile.gif

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Thanks for the info on the GPS Companion. So far, from driving around town its been fairly accurate. However, in Mapopolis (with the free maps) I have found that the icon is not quite where the road is while I'm driving. Is there any way to tell if it is the map or the GPS? Any way to calibrate the GPS to make it more accurate?

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A common suggestion around here is to find a good sampling of cache prior to hiding any. That way you can learn from the mistakes of others and get good ideas from the best caches.


That would also solve your problem of getting ideas for containers. You could see what works and what doesn't.


Just a suggestion.



Non omnes vagi perditi sunt

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I have found that the icon is not quite where the road is while I'm driving. Is there any way to tell if it is the map or the GPS?


It's probably the map. The roads on the map tend to have angular corners (I assume they're vector drawn) instead of rounded corners. If you're close to one of those corners, I'd assume that it's the map that's off.


I've also noticed that some freeway off-ramps don't match the map cleanly.


Finally, the lines on the map mark the center of the road. If you're on the side of the road, or in the outside lane of a multi lane road, that would also pull you off the line.


Then again, GPS is only good to within about 10 feet, and can be off more than that sometimes. For mapping, though, it should get you close enough to know what block you're on, every time.

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None of the maps match each other. They are all wrong. The streets are drawn where the streets aren't. Even betwen Mapsource Topo and Street for example. They're close but never exact. It's the nature of mapmaking. If you creat a waypoint and cut and paste from one map to another, the waypoint will never be on the same spot from map to map. The coordinates haven't changed, the maps have!



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I also just got the GPS companion for my visor. It does take a while longer to find the birdies than my husbands stand alone GPS, but we were out in some trees last weekend and I was reading more birds than he was. In fact I'm sitting inside my office building right now and I'm reading 6 satelites.


I just got mine on the 21st so I'm still getting used to it. One nice thing about using it with your visor is that if you don't like the Magellan software you can find other software out there for using a GPS with the palm OS.


I'm testing one right now called

PathAway So far I like it, but I just installed it last night. They give you a 15 day trial for free then you can pay for the full version.


"No matter where you go, there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai

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