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My New Article – How I Homein On Cache Coordinates


Thot
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Another good article, but I have to disagree with your first statement. The compass pointer (Bearing to 'cache) display is the one that I use almost exclusively for zeroing in on the 'cache. I usually do a two or three leg triangulation and once I have a rough center, start searching working out from there. That said, it's valid information.

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<_< I'll have to agree with most in this topic. When I am driving around or toward a cache, I'll be on map view. When it's time to actually close in on the rascal, I flip over to compass view. Only on severely overcast days or lots of tree cover have I had problems and then I try with the triangulation method as mentioned. If it helps, my 9 yr old son uses the "Hey, this looks like where I would put a cache". Actually, he hits them faster than I do sometimes. <_<
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I find your article interesting. Out of just plain unfamiliarity, I have always used the map screen to get me to my parking location and then switched to the compass screen to get me to the cache. Funny things tend to happen to the compass screen when I stop walking. As I'm walking, when my GPS indicates I am 30 feet from the cache, I note the distance and direction, and quit looking at the GPS and just walk the 30 and and search from there. So far thats worked for me. I did have to use my compass and do some triagulation for a micro I could not find. I'll have to try your suggestion with the map screen instead of the compass screen.

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First, what not to do.  Most units have a screen that looks like a compass.  I consider this display useless, and in some cases worse than useless

 

I emphatically disagree with this. Its the primary screen I use and it's the screen that the vast majority of geocachers use. It is pretty accurate when used properly.

The "spinning needle" that you describe usually comes when the user slows down too much for the sats to figure out your direction of travel. This can be addressed by picking up your pace, or if you are close to the cache, backtracking a ways, then walking briskly towards your target.

 

You are also assuming that most people have mapping GPS's , when in fact the opposite is true.

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I use the map screen on my eTrex Lagend to get me to a parking area, then switch to the Navagation screen (the screen with the arrow pointer).

 

I follow the pointer until I'm 40-45 feet from the cache, and pay close attention to the direction of the arrow. The cache is normally found about that distance in roughly that direction.

 

The 2 Garmin's I have (lagend and yellow) all require you to be moving at least a slow walking pace to keep on track. If you stop, the reciever is usless.

 

Occasionally, like others, I will walk away and come back to the cache from a different direction (triangulation).

 

Personally, the Navagation (compass, or arrow screen) my most used screen.

Ed

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I use the map screen on my eTrex Lagend to get me to a parking area, then switch to the Navagation screen (the screen with the arrow pointer).

 

I follow the pointer until I'm 40-45 feet from the cache, and pay close attention to the direction of the arrow. The cache is normally found about that distance in roughly that direction.

 

The 2 Garmin's I have (lagend and yellow) all require you to be moving at least a slow walking pace to keep on track. If you stop, the reciever is usless.

 

Occasionally, like others, I will walk away and come back to the cache from a different direction (triangulation).

 

Personally, the Navagation (compass, or arrow screen) my most used screen.

Ed

Agreed

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[The compass screen is] the primary screen I use and it's the screen that the vast majority of geocachers use. It is pretty accurate when used properly.

 

The following remarks are not intended to say you’re wrong, rather to explain why I don’t understand.

 

I can't figure out whether this is a Garmin user thing or what. It’s a difficult thing to put into words, but I’ll try.

 

Whichever screen you use the objective is to get close to the coordinates. I get to within somewhere around 6-12 feet using the map screen (because of this discussion I checked it today). You have to be walking for either the compass or map screen to work. The line it draws from my location (the arrowhead) to the cache points toward the coordinates of the cache. That is, it points in the same direction the compass points, so I've never seen any advantage to the compass.

GPSscreen.gif

The Magellan zooms to a 100 foot scale. Is the Garmin map screen a courser resolution? If the Garmin this display stops distinguishing direction at 20+ feet out then I can see why you’d want something to get a little closer before you start hunting. I can get just a close with one as the other, but the map doesn't go wierd as you get close. You can be directly on the waypoint and everything looks normal – you are on top of the cache coordinates. Also, the map display adds a geometrical picture of your position relative to the cache – it helps keep you oriented.

 

Said another way, the map gives all the information the compass gives, plus it adds other things the compass doesn’t do. It adds a picture of your location relative to the cache. And, it’s stable – it doesn’t go weird as you reach the coordinates. I know you feel it doesn’t do this, but I’ve seen a number of people on these forums describe the same thing that happens when I use it -- crazy stuff when you get very close.

 

I just have to find a Garmin user to go out with and see why you guys like that thing.

 

I’ve listed advantages of the map display. What advantage do you feel the compass has over the map?

 

You are also assuming that most people have mapping GPS's , when in fact the opposite is true.

 

Of course, if you don’t have map screen then you have to use the compass screen -- assuming you have one of those. That’s a different issue. I did assume most people have map screens. If most don't then I need to add a note about that.

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You don't have to use the compass screen, or the map screen. I like to use what Garmin calls the Trip Computer screen, which can be configured to show almost anything. I have mine set to show bearing (direction to the cache), heading (the direction I'm moving), distance, and speed. Comparing the heading to the bearing tells me whether I'm going toward the cache, it doesn't change when I stop.

 

The 'highway' you mentioned sounds like the CDI, or course deviation indicator. It moves right or left, indicating which way you need to turn to get back on your original course. It's mostly worthless for caching, but can be useful when boating or flying.

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Like Thot, I tend to use the Map page for most of my hunt also.

 

I just keep zooming in as I get closer to better indicate the location of the cache. It works pretty good and is less confusing than the spinning or stationary compass. My Legend will zoom in to 20ft which is some pretty good detail and direction assistance.

 

The map page gives more of a visualisable placement of where things are in relation to you, the cache, a trail, a road, a lake, or stream. It makes it a lot easier IMO than having no certain location to focus on and trying to follow an uncooperative compass that only gives you a direction and not an "X" marks the spot.

 

I guess perhaps this variation of gpsr use may be a crossover to the thread about Map People and how they visualise and relate to their surroundings. I read a map far better than I read a compass and make sense of its information. Therefore it makes more sense to me to use what I know (maps) then rely on something that is less detailed.

 

Honestly, both are used in my hunts, but more so the map. The compass to check direction, the map to locate the cache and keep my location in the environment as a known constant.

 

I hope some of the above made sense. I know what I was trying to say, but not sure if I was clear enough.

 

PJ

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Honestly, both are used in my hunts, but more so the map. The compass to check direction, the map to locate the cache and keep my location in the environment as a known constant.

:blink: I'm not clear why you use the mock compass to "check direction." The map has a line pointing from you to the cache. This line points in the same direction as the mock compass points?? :D

 

I hope some of the above made sense. I know what I was trying to say, but not sure if I was clear enough.

It is difficult to explain. I've tried about three ways and still I don't think I've been clear.

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Honestly, both are used in my hunts, but more so the map. The compass to check direction, the map to locate the cache and keep my location in the environment as a known constant.

:blink: I'm not clear why you use the mock compass to "check direction." The map has a line pointing from you to the cache. This line points in the same direction as the mock compass points?? :D

Your going to get a kick out of my answer :D

 

Because I don't trust anything on its own. I require verification of things. So I will at times switch views "just to check" that one of them isn't lieing (sp) to me.

 

Yeah ok, call me weird -- everyone else does (and some folks even call me worse, way worse! :D )

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On a Vista map, you can also select the Pointer that points to the cache while the position arrow points in the direction you are moving. Of course the arrow on the Navigation page is more detailed. I suppose anything works once you get use to it.

Edited by Alan2
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Either the map *or* the compass on my Garmin V is susceptible to getting "confused" as to its orientation. In my area, this happens frequently under heavy tree cover, at the bottom of a ravine, in an urban area, etc. The difference is, with the compass screen, I find it much easier to look at an arrow and say "I need to go east", or to compare the onscreen compass to a real compass. I also find it easier, even under good reception conditions, to point at a known bearing rather than an indefinite line on a map screen.

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My GPSr is a little yellow eTrex. I use the compass page for the most part as I do not have mapping capabilities. To get to the parking areas, I use my atlas and gazeteers! I like maps. :blink: When my unit's compass stops working, I use a real compass and the bearing indicator on the unit. Those two items get me really close to, if not on top of, the cache!

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I use the map screen to get to the parking spot and then the compass screen (on a Meridian Gold) to get to the cache. Only time I might use the map is where there is more than one cache (or several waypoints for a multi-cache that need to be visited). The map screen shows them all, the compass screen only points you towards one. A few times I've saved walking distance by snagging other points along the way. The only other screen I use is the satellite screen to check reception. All other screens I keep turned off.

 

On a Meridian, one advantage of the compass screen (which I customize with EPE and distance) is that it shows sun/moon position. That can be handy for orienting the GPS when stationary. Only rarely do I use a magnetic compass - when I can't see the sun or when the reception is very poor.

 

One common mistake I see beginners (and not so beginners including me) doing is staring at the GPS screen all the way to the cache. If you're following a trail the only time you need to check the screen is when you have to make a decision which way to go at branch points. Much better to look where you're going and not trip over things on the way. I've seen several bad falls as a result of people looking at the GPS rather than where they're going. It also helps when returning if you've looked at the surroundings on the way.

 

The other use for the map screen is retracing your steps to the car. I rarely bother to waypoint it but I often use the track on the map screen to get back on course. Just follow the track and you get back to where you started. It's particularly helpful when you've been wandering around in the bush for a while getting disoriented and want to get back on the trail you came in on.

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I’ve listed advantages of the map display. What advantage do you feel the compass has over the map?

 

It's a lot easier to read. Less clutter. I find that when I flip to the map screen I tend to have to stop to check it out while I can easily view the navigation screen while walking.

 

I agree that the map screen can be helpful, but I do take issue with your statement:

"First, what not to do.  Most units have a screen that looks like a compass.  I consider this display useless, and in some cases worse than useless. "

 

Many, if not most, geocachers find that screen to be very useful and for a large percentage of geocachers its their only option. Since your article is meant to be helpful, you're telling an awful lot of people that their GPS unit is "worse than useless", when in fact the opposite is true.

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I’ve listed advantages of the map display. What advantage do you feel the compass has over the map?

 

It's a lot easier to read. Less clutter. I find that when I flip to the map screen I tend to have to stop to check it out while I can easily view the navigation screen while walking.

Ah, I see. I forgot to mention that I turn off as much of the background detail as I can, so there's minimum clutter on the screen. Nearby caches are shown but the bold line drawn to the one I'm after eliminates any confusion. Your're right, with the detail on, the screen is cluttered. I remember that when I first got the unit.

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It all boils down to what you are most comfortable with and if your preference makes you successful in finding caches then obviously your method is best for you. I'll use both screens during a hike to and from the cache with the compass screen being the choice maybe 90% of the time due to a bunch of different reasons most of which were covered by Hard Oiler. I also use a magnetic compass way more than the average cacher but there again it is a personal comfort zone thingy.

 

Cheers, Olar

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Of course, if you don’t have map screen then you have to use the compass screen

 

I think where the confusion here is that what you are calling a map screen is really known as a plotter screen on most non mapping gps's.

 

Lowrance gps plotter screen.

 

I use this on my non mapping and mapping gps with the maps off. It lets me see where I am and where the marked waypoint is. I found it easier then using the compass screen when navigating. The other nice thing about this screen is that I can mark Icons on it and see them also for finding my way back to the start.

 

:lol:

Edited by gm100guy
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Interesting technique. I kind of use the same "hunt dance" technique with my Meridian when I can't find the cache. I don't use the EPE because the unit is averaging, which works fine in most cases. However, I find most caches with the compass like screen because when you approach the cache, the plotting screen is not precise enough. On this screen I also have the distance and the XTE, indicating the perpendicular deviation from the route, which I find very useful. Then the cache is difficult to find, I definitively use my magnetic compass to triangulate, it’s my GPSr’s lover . Besides, I completely agree that the screen with the highway is useless when you are geocaching but it can be useful to keep you on tracks in the (sand) dunes or on the water; I actually use it in these two situations.

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Based on the comments I got in this thread and Pmail I’ve revised the article. I revised the first paragraph a little and added a sidebar immediately after it about the compass screen.

 

I also tweaked other parts of the article, but these were the primary changes.

Edited by Thot
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It's easy to put anything you want, any spelling of any word, into the spell checker of almost any program. Passing a spell checker is no guarantee of correct spelling. A spell checker will also happily pass the correct spelling of the wrong word. Most are close to worthless. A good dictionary is what is needed.

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I'm another user of the map screen. I have the impression that using the mock compass is very common and in part because "everyone" else does (I'm not talking about the experienced users posting here). My inclination is to encourage people to try the map screen. If it ultimately doesn't work for you but the compass does then, of course, use what works for you. Everyone has different talents/skills.

 

Whether it's called a map screen or a plotter screen depends on the manufacturer. I consider it a map screen (as per Garmin) whether it shows background maps or not. I have a mapping GPS with topo maps loaded and just the other day I could see that I needed to go around a canyon to get to a cache rather than "straight" to it.

 

Note that different techniques may be called for depending on the type of environment.

 

PS. Most Garmin models have a triangle arrowhead for your position. Some basic ones get "cutesy" with the walking man. I also believe the map screen on the basic ones is more difficult to use to find the cache because you can't zoom in close enough to see the relative positions of you and the cache.

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I don’t see any reason for waiting until you’re 5 minutes away from a cache before turning on the gps’r. In order to get a good almanac I like to keep mine on at least 30 minutes before hitting a cache.

I use a Meridian and I keep the EPE and Distance window on in my compass screen. If you have a bad EPE the data the Gps’r gives you is pretty worthless. If I have bad satellite geometry and/or heavy tree cover I will find an area near the cache with a good sky view and let the unit average out for several minutes. I will then use the compass pointer to set me in the right direction and start the search when the estimated distance has been traveled.

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I don’t see any reason for waiting until you’re 5 minutes away from a cache before turning on the gps’r. 

I’m not sure who recommends waiting until you’re 5 minutes away from a cache before turning on the gps’r?

 

If you’re referring to my article I say

 

At least 5 minutes before reaching the general area of the first cache . . .      [emphasis added]

I say this because Magellan recommends you have it turned on for at least 5 minutes to be sure it's fully ready. It means don't wait 'til you get there, jump out of the car, turn it on and immediately take off for the cache.

Edited by Thot
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Glad I looked in on this thread. I have to weight in on the compass screen for my primary use. I have an old Magellan 315 (love it!!!) but I find the plotter screen useless due to zoom (as mentioned) Also liked the comment about the old fashoned compass as the GPS lover. I'v also gone many a place with the old "magnet stick" long before the GPS days. Been having that wierdness close to the target thing lately, forgot all about the averaging!!! Had two caches within one step of my plot, then I think I got too "tech-y" and spoiled, and wanted to walk right up to it. Still, when in the target area its hard to beat good old " if I put it here" instincts. Boy I love this Sport! :D

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I was waiting for the part where you'd say to just walk in different directions until the numbers on the cache page matched up with your current position.

DOH! :(

 

I did exactly that last weekend!

 

Just for fun, of course (and for the challenge). I also have a pretty good feel for the space-time continuum thingy, errr... have good understanding of lat/long.... and can tell from the numbers the direction I need to go to hit a target point.

 

Hrrrm. I guess this is what my GPS does in map mode...

 

At any rate, thought you might get a kick out of knowing some clown out there actually applied the technique you outlined in jest. :lol:

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I was waiting for the part where you'd say to just walk in different directions until the numbers on the cache page matched up with your current position.

thought you might get a kick out of knowing some clown out there actually applied the technique you outlined in jest. :(

Jest? I thought that was his preferred method and didn't want to embarrass him by saying anything. :lol:

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Just to give my 2 cents worth:

 

The line it draws from my location (the arrowhead) to the cache points toward the coordinates of the cache.

Not all GPSr's will handle this the same. My Garmin 12 draws the line from the point I started the GOTO and never updates it. On the my Rino I can change it between Course (from start of GOTO) and Bearing (from current postion).

 

You have to be walking for either the compass or map screen to work.

Yep, you do. So why is the map screen better? If you're standing still, and change facing, the map screen is just as "useless" as the compass. And, again, not all units handle this the same way. My Garmin 12 has a diamond to show my current postion - no help in direction of travel. The compass page on each of my units also has a direction of travel mark, so I just remember which way I was last moving and can orient.

 

I can get just a close with one as the other, but the map doesn't go wierd as you get close.

The closest my Garmin 12 gets is .2 miles (top to bottom of screen), not a lot of help when trying to get real accurate postioning. On the Rino the scale goes down to 20 feet - I can stand still and watch the signal drift - "Gee, I was on that side of the cache a moment ago, now I just floated past it, whoops there it goes north!" So which map isn't "wierd"?

 

I’ve listed advantages of the map display.  What advantage do you feel the compass has over the map? 

I have Bearing To Cache, My Heading (both in degrees), Distance to Cache, EPE. I've yet to figure out how to read the length of the line on the screen and translate that into distance in the field. I have a compass (real, not electronic) and find it easy to then set the bearing. With the compass page, as soon as I've set the GOTO, I can say "Let's go in that direction" - the compass points x away from N (which I can track easily) so I know about the proper way. With the map I have to orient the map (which way is north on it) and then look at the line to get the direction.

 

Whichever screen you use the objective is to get close to the coordinates.  I get to within somewhere around 6-12 feet using the map screen

With the compass page I get just as close (or closer) before it "goes weird" (if it does). If my compass needle starts spinning, I know that I'm on top of the co-ords (or at least as close as the unit/system will allow).

 

I think where you 'ticked off' the compass page users is your dogmatic statement of the uselessness of the compass. If someone wrote a guide that said "the map page is useless, so ignore it" you would probable either ignore his advice, think he's a jerk, or start arguing your point of view (or all three). Part of it is what you got use to. You like the map page, others like the compass. I grew up using a map and compass for navigation, so I can most easily use the compass type visuals. And maybe it is a Garmin thing, I just played with SporTrak last weekend, and found the compass to be very different - not as easy to use in my opinion - but it's not what I'm used to.

 

Your way isn't my way, if it works for you go for it. Just don't tell me my way doesn't work - after nearly 700 caches I won't believe you! :lol:

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I can get just a close with one as the other, but the map doesn't go weird as you get close.

The closest my Garmin 12 gets is .2 miles (top to bottom of screen), not a lot of help when trying to get real accurate postioning.

I had no way to know that. I think you may have hit on a reason why Garmin users don’t like the map method. My map screen would be useless for closing in too if the max zoomed view had no more resolution than .2 miles.

 

I’ve listed advantages of the map display.  What advantage do you feel the compass has over the map?

I have Bearing To Cache,

I could put that on the map screen but I don’t have any use for it unless I’ve switched to a real compass anyway which I only do when I have limited ability to move, in which case I use another screen.

 

My Heading,

I don’t have heading in degrees but the map tells me which way’s north and I wouldn’t know what I’d use heading for if I had it.

 

Distance to Cache,

I have that on my map screen – in fact it’s the key to the way I close in.

 

EPE. 

My map has that too.

 

I've yet to figure out how to read the length of the line on the screen and translate that into distance in the field.

Why would you want to? Distance in feet is displayed right on the screen.

 

With the compass page, as soon as I've set the GOTO, I can say "Let's go in that direction"

Same with the map.

 

- the compass points x away from N (which I can track easily) so I know about the proper way.  With the map I have to orient the map (which way is north on it) and then look at the line to get the direction.

Are you using physical maps? I never think about which way’s north. What does it matter? The map screen tells me where the cache is relative to me and the direction I’m walking. That’s what I want to know. It doesn’t matter to me whether the cache it toward the north, south or whatever. Does it matter to you? Why? I do have an arrow on the map screen that points north but I don’t pay any attention to it.

 

I think where you 'ticked off' the compass page users is your dogmatic statement of the uselessness of the compass.

I said something like that in the first draft which was changed in less than a day. And, useless meant not needed in the context of the map screen. The statement was saying, ‘In my opinion, if you have the map screen you don’t need the compass screen.’ And, the article hasn’t urged people not to use it for some time. I revised it based on the comments in this thread.

 

And maybe it is a Garmin thing, I just played with SporTrak last weekend, and found the compass to be very different - not as easy to use in my opinion . . .

Aha. Another possibility. I’ve never seen a Garmin compass screen.

 

Just don't tell me my way doesn't work - after nearly 700 caches I won't believe you!

I didn’t. Have you really read the article? No version of the article ever said that.

 

Incidentally, just so it doesn’t get lost in all the flack over the compass screen, as I said in the article, its main purpose is to explain the distance dance.

Edited by Thot
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