Jump to content

Loved To Start Geocaching, But No Gpsr


twhang
Followers 1

Recommended Posts

I'm brand new to geocaching and have everything but a GPSr.

 

While everything I've read has said that a GPSr within the $100-140 is considered a beginners piece, I'd like to go even lower. I'm still a student and simply don't have the money to spend on this kind of equipment.

 

Honestly, I'm not too worried about losing whatever capabilities a higher priced system has to offer, I'm really more interested in the opportunity to go hiking and climb around than find treasures.

 

So along those lines, I probably don't need a mapping system, nor would I need color screens or a very precise antenna.

 

I was also confused about the PC linkup, are these absolutely necessary? Can I just punch in the coordinates by hand on the handheld? Because if a PC linkup is necessary, I might be in trouble considering I have a Mac, unless there is software for that too.

 

I'm looking at getting a Magellan eXplorist 200 or 100, both of which I've found for under $100 on eBay, and I'm told that they're good because they have a WAAS (?). Their waterproofing is also a big benefit and personally, I like the look more than the Garmin eTrex line.

 

I'm told this forum has a Garmin bias, but I just need a simple honest opinion -- hell, I'd even buy an older unit if it promises reasonable accuracy and capability to survive a decent beating.

Link to comment

It has been said that the Garmin little yellow (not its official name, but universally so called because of its color) has found more caches than any GPSr ever. It's well under $100 now. Though there are units even cheaper, this one is a classic. A fine little work-horse.

 

And, yes, you can input coordinates by hand. The unit is all you need.

Link to comment

Welcome twhang...

 

Be sure to check out the forums Garage Sale. Often a great place for excellent equipment.

 

Watch em frequently the really good deals go quickly.

 

Got my Magellan MeriGold, vehicle mount, car adapter, mapsend, and Palm PDA all from the Garage Sale.

 

Now that I am firmly hooked into enjoying this.. eventually will upgrade to color in both gps and pda.

Link to comment

Welcome to geocaching! You might want to find a local that will take you out for a hunt. That way you can see exactly what it is you need. The most basic GPS will do as well as the most expensive as far as finding caches.

 

If you have more questions either post here or email any of us and we'll help the best we can.

 

El Diablo

Link to comment

I've seen the Garmin Gecko 101 for as low as $49. A very nice, compact, fully functional unit. It's only dowside is that it doesn't have a data port, which can be a problem if you get even semi serious about the sport. But if you want a basic unit that is cheap and will get you to a cache, the Gecko 101 is the way to go.

 

was also confused about the PC linkup, are these absolutely necessary?

 

No its not necessary but its a very, very nice thing to have. There is something to be said for the ability to download several hundred cache coordinates with a few clicks of the mouse instead of spending a minute or two entering one set .

 

I'm looking at getting a Magellan eXplorist 200 or 100, both of which I've found for under $100 on eBay

 

If its an eXplorist, vs. the basic yellow eTrex, the eTrex wins hands down simply because it has a data port (there are programs that work with Mac). They both have patch antennas. They both have WAAS. They both are waterproof, but the eTrex has the data port and the eXplorest doesn't. If you search these forums you will find even Magellan fans who wouldn't consider an eXplorist for that reason.

 

If money is your only criterion, the Gecko 101 is the cheapest unit on the market and compares very well to units that cost twice the money. It has WAAS, its waterproof and it's also very compact and incredibly easy to use.

 

'm told this forum has a Garmin bias, but I just need a simple honest opinion

 

Not sure where you heard that. There are many Garmin fans here simply because Garmin makes excellent GPS units. There are also many deovted Magellan users who post here.

Edited by briansnat
Link to comment

 

'm told this forum has a Garmin bias, but I just need a simple honest opinion

 

Not sure where you heard that. There are many Garmin fans here simply because Garmin makes excellent GPS units. There are also many devoted Magellan users who post here.

The honest answer is that both companies make excellent units that will get the job done. I originally chose the Garmin because at that time it was the only one that was water proof. I'm clumsy, I fall in streams, creeks, lakes and small mud puddles. I'm not sure if Magellan now makes a waterproof one.

 

El Diablo

Link to comment
I'm looking at getting a Magellan eXplorist 200 or 100, both of which I've found for under $100 on eBay

 

If its an eXplorist, vs. the basic yellow eTrex, the eTrex wins hands down simply because it has a data port (there are programs that work with Mac). They both have patch antennas. They both have WAAS. They both are waterproof, but the eTrex has the data port and the eXplorest doesn't. If you search these forums you will find even Magellan fans who wouldn't consider an eXplorist for that reason.

They're releasing new Explorist models that come with data ports. However, if money is an issue, the basic eTrek is a good choice.

 

Wulf

Link to comment

 

'm told this forum has a Garmin bias, but I just need a simple honest opinion

 

Not sure where you heard that. There are many Garmin fans here simply because Garmin makes excellent GPS units. There are also many devoted Magellan users who post here.

The honest answer is that both companies make excellent units that will get the job done. I originally chose the Garmin because at that time it was the only one that was water proof. I'm clumsy, I fall in streams, creeks, lakes and small mud puddles. I'm not sure if Magellan now makes a waterproof one.

 

El Diablo

actually i heard it from the navicache guys. they painted a picture where GC was Garmin biased while NC was Magellan biased. Whatever though, I'll take a deeper look at some of the eTrex models.

 

one other thing, i saw something about external attenas, now are these for cars? or could i weave a string of this stuff through the webbing on my pack?

Link to comment

i just took another look at the garmin website, and i cant tell which etrex models have the data port and which dont.

 

i'm going to assume that the models that cannot accept maps do not have data ports, while the mapping units do? is that fair to say?

 

because in that case the basic unit would be an etrex legend, which on ebay seems to be going for about $150.

Link to comment

sorry, more questions:

 

for reasons unknown to me i checked out the walmart website and was suprised by prices even lower than those of ebay (that's ebay prices w/o the help of a sniper).

 

as far as tthe garmin products go (the magellan prices aren't too good) the items i'm looking at are the plain etrex (the yellow submarine as you folks like to call it), the etrex venture, and the etrex legend.

 

after looking at the comparison of the legend, venture, and basic, i cant tell which of the two higher models are better than the other.

 

now, your database/basemap is what comes preloaded on your gpsr? if so wouldn't it be better to get a world wide city database with the venture over the legend?

 

next, map points: whats the different between points of interest and "uploadable information"? would i be able to preplan my trips on my computer and load those direct to the legend vs only having POI for the venture?

 

thanks for helping, i'd just like to be properly educated before spending a 100+ bank on something.

Link to comment

All eTrex models have a data port. The Legend is better than the Venture. The Legend has mapping capability and a base map. The Venture can only download points of interest..

 

now, your database/basemap is what comes preloaded on your gpsr? if so wouldn't it be better to get a world wide city database with the venture over the legend?

No, the Legend has cities AND a base map. Admittedly the base map is very limited. It only has major roads, bodies of water and geographic features. But some day you may want to get one of the more detailed mapping programs like Mapsource Topo, which will make your unit even more useful. The Venture has no basemap and no capability to download maps.

 

The Legend is one of the most popular GPS's around, chiefly because its a full featured mapping GPS at a very good price (as low as $130 if you shop around).

 

 

next, map points: whats the different between points of interest and "uploadable information"? would i be able to preplan my trips on my computer and load those direct to the legend vs only having POI for the venture?

 

I'm not sure but I think that this is a reference to the Legend's ability to accept maps. Yes you could create a track on your PC and upload it to the Legend.

Link to comment

If your budget can possibly stretch to accomodate the Legend, it's a unit you won't grow impatient with in a year's time. I can say that because I've had mine almost a year and, contemplating what to do with my Christmas bonus, I decided not to get a new GPSr. I'm still perfectly happy.

 

It has twice the screen resolution of the little yellow, for sharper images and menus, very intuitive controls designed to be used one-handed, and base maps that I found pretty useful (though I did eventually break down and by topo maps for it). It also comes with the data cable, which you'd have to pay for separately otherwise.

 

Think of it this way: if you buy one and don't get addicted to geocaching (hahaha! Like that ever happens!), you can always turn around and sell it and get most of your money back.

 

And -- oh, yeah -- I'm sure the equivalent Magellan model is good, too (so nyah, navicache guys!).

Link to comment
next, map points: whats the different between points of interest and "uploadable information"? would i be able to preplan my trips on my computer and load those direct to the legend vs only having POI for the venture?

I'm pretty sure that you can upload routes (and tracks) to both eTrex Legend and eTrex Venture - I can do it to my basic yellow eTrex, and I don't think that's something they would remove from the more advanced units.

Link to comment

We picked up a Garmin Legend on eBay for Tilly. It has lots of features and is a great first unit. Cost $105 including shipping; that's now mine.

 

Tilly received a Garmin Legend C (dozens more features) for Christmas. New cost: $283 including shipping.

 

Our 4-year-old Garmin Street Pilot rests on the dash of our search vehicle, interfaced to the laptop with Delorme Street Atlas 9 when traveling or caching. This featureful model is bidding at $102.50 on eBay, expiring at about noon on 1/16/05.

 

We recommend all of them for similar uses: Expert -- Legend C; Noob -- Legend; Vehicle mounting -- Street Pilot.

 

Google for "Garmin Legend Comparison" if you need a feature-by-feature comparison.

Edited by ValleyRat & TillyMouse
Link to comment
It has been said that the Garmin little yellow (not its official name, but universally so called because of its color) has found more caches than any GPSr ever. It's well under $100 now. Though there are units even cheaper, this one is a classic. A fine little work-horse.

 

And, yes, you can input coordinates by hand. The unit is all you need.

Good point about the yellow being readily available and inexpensive. The bonus of the Etrex yellow over the Explorist that was suggested is the capability of using a data cable if you choose to purchase one later (or if someone in the Garage Sale Forum has one packaged with it)

 

edit: you'll be more than happy with even the "basic" Etrex yellow. Not a mapping GPS but if your primary concern is caching, it's more than sufficient for that. And as was suggested earlier, the Etrex yellow is a very popular unit in the caching community.

Edited by robert
Link to comment

This site doesn't have a Garmin bias but I do. That doesn't mean I won't reccomend a Magellan.

 

Here is my take based on reading your post.

 

First you asked about a PC cable. One time looking for an hour where there is no cache because you keyed in a wrong coordinate will show you the value of the PC cable. It's the #1 accessory for a reason.

 

Second any GPS at all will work for geocaching. Even the crappy Cobra's. Cobra's tend to be on clearance anymore and both Garmin and Magellan users don't like them much, but heck find on one clerance and it's a good start. Even old fossilized GPS unites that don't have WAAS, and don't have enough digits for accuracy DDD MM.MM as opposed to DDD MM.MMM that modern GPS's have.

 

Having said all this you don't even need a GPS to enjoy geocaching. You will need to be able to figure out how to find the spot where the cache is at on a map and navigate there, but that's just a challenge of a different sort. You can do that while you find the perfect deal on a GPS.

Edited by Renegade Knight
Link to comment

Offroute.com has a great chart that shows the features of various GPSr units (Click Here). You'll notice it lists both the Garmin and the Magellan models if you scroll to the right - that Navicache guy must have been a Magellan fanatic! :o

 

Some of the terminology on the chart may be confusing, but at least you can see exactly which units have what features.

 

"Data I/O" is the ability to up and down load data from your computer and is a VERY nice thing to have, both for convenience and for the reason mentioned by Renegade Knight. I disagree with RK in that I also wouldn't buy a unit without WAAS - it reduces the error in your position significantly, and you can find WAAS enabled GPSr units pretty cheaply these days!

Link to comment

Okay, well I'm more or less set on the Etrex legend, but i also recently stumbled upon a GPS 60, which looks nicer (not that asthetics ought to mean anything) and it also has an antenna which is not built into the body, which i read on a site, increases your reception with satellites.

 

is the gps 60's capabilities on par with the legend, or would i be taking a step backwards?

Link to comment
Okay, well I'm more or less set on the Etrex legend, but i also recently stumbled upon a GPS 60, which looks nicer (not that asthetics ought to mean anything) and it also has an antenna which is not built into the body, which i read on a site, increases your reception with satellites.

 

is the gps 60's capabilities on par with the legend, or would i be taking a step backwards?

Never heard of the GPS 60 so I had to look it up. It looks like a stripped down version of the excellent 60C(s).

 

From the specs I see there are some trade offs vs. the Legend. The GPS 60 is not a mapping unit, while the Legend is (big advantage Legend). The GPS 60 has a 'geocaching' mode like its big brother 60c(s) (slight advantage GPS 60). The GPS 60 has a quad helix antenna vs the Legend's patch antenna (slight advantage GPS 60), The Legend is lighter and quite a bit smaller than the GPS 60 (advantage Legend). The GPS 60 has only 1 meg of memory vs. the Legend's 8 (advantage Legend). The GPS 60 has a jack for external antenna while the Legend doesn't (advantage GPS 60).

 

I've owned a Legend and currently own a Vista and a 60CS. It appears that the GPS 60 has a similar look, feel and interface to the 60CS. While I really like my 60CS, I still prefer the feel of the eTrex. It's designed for convenient, one handed operation and is nice and compact and also easier to carry that the 60 line.

 

Either the GPS 60 or eTrex Legend would be fine choices. The mapping capability of the Legend is a major plus, but to make it more useful you'll want to purchase the detailed mapping software (Topo, Metroguide or City Select) somewhere down the line. The base maps in the Legend only show major roads. If you have no interest in mapping, the GPS 60 might be the better choice. It will give you slightly better reception than the Legend and if you choose to add an external antenna, much better reception than the Legend.

Link to comment
...and it also has an antenna which is not built into the body, which i read on a site, increases your reception with satellites.

I've read many debates about the virtues of a quad helix antenna (usually, but not always, protrudes from the body of the unit) vs. a patch antenna (as used on the eTrex series). I did a lot of research on this and discovered that each type can be superior to the other, depending on conditions.

 

Quad helix generally performs better in flat areas or under dense tree cover because it can pick up satellites from horizon to horizon. Patch generally performs better in cities (tall buildings), near cliffs or hills, and in ravines because it is oriented to the satellites overhead, and is less prone to multiplexing (receiving reflected signals that degrade accuracy).

 

You'll frequently find yourself in both situations while geocaching, so there is no real advantage of one type of antenna over another. Like the Magellan vs. Garmin debate, there are devotees on both sides of the antenna debate who will swear that they've "proven" one is better in side by side tests - I wouldn't give those assertions much weight.

 

A separate, external antenna that plugs into the unit can improve reception, but do you really want to be carrying an external antenna around with you in the woods (a plug in external antenna is more useful when the GPSr is used in a vehicle or boat, where portability is not a concern).

Link to comment
...and it also has an antenna which is not built into the body, which i read on a site, increases your reception with satellites.

I've read many debates about the virtues of a quad helix antenna (usually, but not always, protrudes from the body of the unit) vs. a patch antenna (as used on the eTrex series). I did a lot of research on this and discovered that each type can be superior to the other, depending on conditions.

 

Quad helix generally performs better in flat areas or under dense tree cover because it can pick up satellites from horizon to horizon. Patch generally performs better in cities (tall buildings), near cliffs or hills, and in ravines because it is oriented to the satellites overhead, and is less prone to multiplexing (receiving reflected signals that degrade accuracy).

 

You'll frequently find yourself in both situations while geocaching, so there is no real advantage of one type of antenna over another. Like the Magellan vs. Garmin debate, there are devotees on both sides of the antenna debate who will swear that they've "proven" one is better in side by side tests - I wouldn't give those assertions much weight.

 

A separate, external antenna that plugs into the unit can improve reception, but do you really want to be carrying an external antenna around with you in the woods (a plug in external antenna is more useful when the GPSr is used in a vehicle or boat, where portability is not a concern).

i guess i was considering the issues of having an external attenna, but i think i could pull it off. i've got a lightfighter raid pack with pleanty of milspec webbing that would work fine for weaving an antenna through... but then again i have no idea how much an external attenna costs.

 

okay, so let me get this straight, mapping vs. non-mapping:

 

a mapping unit will have an actual map on your screen with your coordinates, so assuming you've purchased topographic maps for it, it would show ravines and hills and potentially unpenetrable barriers where as a non-mapping unit is just an arrow pointing in the direction of the gps coord?

Link to comment
okay, so let me get this straight, mapping vs. non-mapping:

 

a mapping unit will have an actual map on your screen with your coordinates, so assuming you've purchased topographic maps for it, it would show ravines and hills and potentially unpenetrable barriers where as a non-mapping unit is just an arrow pointing in the direction of the gps coord?

Yes, a mapping unit will display a map and your position on the map. If it's a topo map, it will displays hills BUT not necessarily all the impenetrable barriers.

 

IMO, for Geocaching, the most useful maps for me are autorouting maps because they can show me how to park as close as possible to a cache. OTOH, if most of your caches are in large parks or in the woods, then I can see the benefit of topo maps. But generally speaking, if you are 'caching in urban/suburban areas, maps with good street level detail are more useful.

 

GeoBC

Link to comment
okay, so let me get this straight, mapping vs. non-mapping:

 

a mapping unit will have an actual map on your screen with your coordinates, so assuming you've purchased topographic maps for it, it would show ravines and hills and potentially unpenetrable barriers where as a non-mapping unit is just an arrow pointing in the direction of the gps coord?

Yes, you'll see an actual map, and you're a little triangle pointing in the direction you're moving (see: Bond, James). I found even the base (free) maps to have enough topo information to be useful in this regard -- you get major roads and landmarks, like streams and bodies of water. The purchased ones are that much better, but they're not cheap.

 

It should be said, though, that even a non-mapping unit does a little more than give you an arrow. It also draws a track as you move, following your course...which can be very helpful retracing your steps (or your drive). So, at the end of the day, you have a little trail of breadcrumbs showing every place you've been.

 

Then, if you've bought the topo maps, you also get maps for your PC. Upload your trail of breadcrumbs, and it'll draw a line on your map showing you stumbling all over the state forest looking for tupperware. This is impossibly cool.

Link to comment

If there is any way at all you can come up with the extra $50, I’d recommend the Garmin Legend. The basemap extends the usefulness more than you would think.

 

Otherwise, either a Gecko or Yellow eTrex would be a good buy at $50-85. (amazon.com is the place to buy)

 

I haven’t noticed Groundspeak being more Garmin-biased. After I did my research, which included Groundspeak and user reviews at amazon, I decided to go with Garmin since the Garmin customers were happier overall. The Garmin Customer Service in particular got better marks than Magellen’s. The Garmins had fewer complaints about out-of-the-box functioning. The Garmins were smaller and had higher-resolution screens. All these things were the reason I went down the Garmin path.

Link to comment
IMO, for Geocaching, the most useful maps for me are autorouting maps because they can show me how to park as close as possible to a cache. OTOH, if most of your caches are in large parks or in the woods, then I can see the benefit of topo maps. But generally speaking, if you are 'caching in urban/suburban areas, maps with good street level detail are more useful.

 

The Legend doesn't support auto routing so that's moot. The Topo does a better job of showing what is between you and the cache, whether its a ravine, cliff, stream, etc... It also shows most roads, though not with the detail that something like City Select or Metroguide do (most minor streets are unnamed on Topo). The latter two (CS and MG) do a better job of showing you around town but don't have the terrain detail that Topo has.

 

I have City Select and Topo and use Topo for most of my geocaching. I find knowing what is between me and the cache to be extremely useful. That's largely because I prefer caches that involve longer hikes over more rugged terrain. If I were chiefly going after urban, or suburban caches in town parks I could see the advantage of City Select or Metroguide.

Link to comment

If you buy your GPS device online, amazon.com has the Etrex Legend for $135.94 plus free shipping. They will also knock off an additional $30 if you sign up for their credit card making the cost come down to $105.94.

 

I've been reading a lot of info here online and checking sites such as ebay and I think I have finally settled on the Etrex Legend as my first GPS device. It looks pretty easy to use, and is relatively inexpensive. I'm just waiting to get my W2 so I can do my taxes and get my refund check so I can order myself one. :rolleyes:

 

Just my 2 cents.

Link to comment
okay so let say i get the eTrex Legend (i'm still 5050 between the legend and gps 60) are there any readily available and bug free topo software for my macintosh computer?

There are a number of topo software programs out there. National Geographic Topo, DeLorme are two that come to mind, but they aren't free and you'll have to check their specs to see if they work with Mac. There are also free websites like Topzone.com, but you can't use them to interface with your GPS.

 

But if you want to put maps directly onto your GPS your only choice would be the manufacturer's software. In the case of Garmin, its their Mapsource Topo. As far as I know Mapsource is not Mac compatible.

Edited by briansnat
Link to comment

This was a lot of help. I have a friend who got me hooked into geocaching and think it will be great for my childrent to learn about the country around us. I have been looking at what seems like thousands of recievers and i finally found help here. I had looked at the legend and thought that it seemed like it would be the best but for the amount i could spend. Thanks for the help!

Link to comment
f its an eXplorist, vs. the basic yellow eTrex, the eTrex wins hands down simply because it has a data port (there are programs that work with Mac). They both have patch antennas. They both have WAAS. They both are waterproof, but the eTrex has the data port and the eXplorest doesn't. If you search these forums you will find even Magellan fans who wouldn't consider an eXplorist for that reason.

 

If money is your only criterion, the Gecko 101 is the cheapest unit on the market and compares very well to units that cost twice the money. It has WAAS, its waterproof and it's also very compact and incredibly easy to use.

 

Just wanted to throw out a quick comment: the yellow eTrex & the Geko 101 are not WAAS compatible. I know, I own one of them and have been reading alot of features on new GPSr units in the past couple of days, looking to upgrade.

Link to comment
This was a lot of help. I have a friend who got me hooked into geocaching and think it will be great for my childrent to learn about the country around us. I have been looking at what seems like thousands of recievers and i finally found help here. I had looked at the legend and thought that it seemed like it would be the best but for the amount i could spend. Thanks for the help!

Enjoy your Legend! It's a nice GPS that you should get years of enjoyment out of. :D

 

Welcome to geocaching!

Link to comment
Just wanted to throw out a quick comment: the yellow eTrex & the Geko 101 are not WAAS compatible. I know, I own one of them and have been reading alot of features on new GPSr units in the past couple of days, looking to upgrade.

Don't worry about it. I leave WAAS off on my GPS and have no problems. For geocaching, it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

 

Here's a recent (short) thread about WAAS but if you do a search, you'll find a lot more.

 

Keep your yellow Etrex unless you want other features, but don't let the lack of WAAS deter you from the use of your GPS.

 

A quick story:

At an event last year a group of us happened upon a couple looking for the cache. The husband was looking all over and had been there for a bit. I walked right up to the cache, spotted the hide, and walked away to let him continue looking. As the rest of the group arrived (I'm a fast walker!) I let them know to go ahead and find it but do not compromise the hide. I wanted him to be able to enjoy the hide/find as much as possible, especially since he got there first.

 

After a bit of frustration on his face, we finally let him know that we had all found it. "What?!?" he exclaimed. He couldn't believe it. One of us asked him where he thought the cache was, and he pointed over the cliff. "Nope, it's not there, trust me." my friend replied. "But I've got WAAS!" the cacher said. Needless to say the cache was NOT over the edge of the cliff, but his right ankle was touching the bark covering the container. :D

 

:D

Link to comment
Don't worry about it. I leave WAAS off on my GPS and have no problems. For geocaching, it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

 

Thanks for the reply; I'm not necessarily concerned with WAAS for myself, I just wanted to make sure others didn't have the impression that these low-end units were WAAS compatible as claimed.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 1
×
×
  • Create New...