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Erratic Garmin Etrex


Toast & Figs
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We are relatively new cachers, and for our first GPS we bought a Garmin eTrex (the yellow one). I realize this is a fairly basic model and by its nature will not be nearly as accurate as a pricey one.

 

However, it has been increasingly erratic and I really am considering throwing it off the highest cliff I can find unless someone can perhaps give me some helpful advice. :rolleyes:

 

On most of the latest caches we have looked for (and failed to find because of this GPS) it will tell me the location is, for example, 7 feet to the NW. As soon as I start going that way it tells me the cache is 53 feet (or some other unreal number)in the opposite direction or a completely different direction, etc. It cannot seem to decide where to point me, or what the actual distance is, and this has happened consistently in the last several areas we searched--some wooded, some not, all with fairly good amounts of clear, open sky.

 

Secondly, I cannot get an accuracy better than roughly 18 feet on average--sometimes as much as 30 feet. Is this normal?

 

Any tips would be good. Thanks.

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More or less everything you describe is perfectly normal. The GPS will not take you directly to the cache. That's why this game isn't a gimme.

 

To get the best reception possible, hold the eTrex away from your body (as your body blocks the signal) and hold it face up. If you are in a wooded area, be aware that the reception may decrease considerably, and there isn't much you can do about that.

 

Jamie

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Yes, normal in all your questions.

 

Don't throw lil' yellow off a cliff. That would be very bad. Give it away or something. Heck, put it in the "emergency" box in the back of your vehicle. If you should purchase a more expensive model with "better" accuracy, say a Vista, you will find the basic etrex was just as accurate.

 

The only GPSr I've seen out there that is prevalent in stores, etc, was a really worthless Cobra model someone I knew purchased. The best entertainment that unit could provide was the satisfaction of watching it being chucked off a cliff. After 45 minutes, the best it could muster for reception was 2 satellites. They took it back to the store, got a basic etrex, and were up and running quickly with happy faces from finding caches.

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The GPS will only work if you are moving. If you stop, the arrow will become erratic. Keep walking slowly and it should point you in the right direction.

 

What you need to do is follow the arrow untill you get close to the cache (30 to 40 feet).

 

When you get about 35 feet away, look ahead in that direction about that far away. Walk to that spot...put your GPS away and begin looking. You will normally find the cache there.

 

The GPS is only accuarate to about 12 to 30 feet. Don't expect it to take you exactly to the cache.

 

You can also walk away 45 or 50 feet away and return from a different direction and see if it points to the same place.

 

Keep looking and don't give up!! You will get it!!!!

 

Ed

 

ps: there really isnt a lot of differance between the lower priced GPSrs and the upper priced ones as far as accuracy is concerned...it's the extra bells and whistles that add to the price. We have quite a few finds with our "old yellow" and still use it as a back up.

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OK, OK, I won't throw it off a cliff. There are a few tips here that I will try. We have found a handful of caches already, but I was concerned that Old Yeller had started acting strangely as of late. I guess he's not damaged, just a little cranky perhaps?

 

Thanks to all! I will give him a reprieve and not throw him to his doom. At least not yet....

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We are relatively new cachers, and for our first GPS we bought a Garmin eTrex (the yellow one). I realize this is a fairly basic model and by its nature will not be nearly as accurate as a pricey one.

Actually, price has little to do with how accurate a unit it. Increased price is due to the bells and whistles - color display, electronic compass, barometric altimeter, maps, auto routing, etc.

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Signal bounce can make it act oddly. That will happen with all units. And as others said, if you aren't moving at a brisk pace, the arrow will start doing a Linda Blair. This happens most frequently as you approach the cache and slow down. When this happens, I back up and approach the area walking faster. It usually straightens the arrow out. A GPS with a magnetic compass won't have this problem, but its gonna cost you a lot more for that feature.

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briansnat Posted on Mar 28 2005, 05:22 PM

A GPS with a magnetic compass won't have this problem, but its gonna cost you a lot more for that feature.

My Electronic Compass GPSr was only about $100 more than the unit without it. Have always been glad I have it. While the actual Electronic Compass always knows where it is, the directional GOTO arrow can ocassionally get confused (nothing's perfect I guess). Just take several steps till it comes back to it's senses and then it will continue to work while you are standing still.

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An electronic compass will always know which way north is. However it won't know where you are any better than a regular GPS so the problems you would have within the last 20' or so to a specific waypoint are still there.

 

The only thing the eletronic compas ever did for me was point more or less at the cache when I stood still.

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:rolleyes: Hey! I am having the same problems with my little yellow fellow.

I feel for you guys! I never had any trouble with finding caches in the past. Now all of a sudden we have come up empty (0 for 3). (the cliff idea has crossed my mind)

Now as outlandish as it sounds to some of you. I am suspecting that the recent earthquakes in the Indonesia area (that have already have been confirmed to have moved the earths axis some minor amount). And might contribute to a substantial difference in accuracy when it comes to finding coordinates here on earth. Remember, the satelites in space stayed in place, it was the earth that wobbled slightly. I never heard any reports whether or not this was a permanent situation or temporary. And if permanent, can this be compensated for? :P email me if you have info..... greypaw62@netscape.net

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Everything described sounds well within normal for all GPSr that I have had experience with both Garmin and Magellan consumer products.

 

When I feel the GPS is giving erratic readings, setting the GPSr in the clear with a good view of the sky as possible, paying attention to antenna polarization and then leaving it to download a full(?) almanac which takes anywhere from 10-15 min on average, really seems to help.

 

Could be just mind over matter but makes me feel better anyway.

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:laughing: Hey! I am having the same problems with my little yellow fellow.

I feel for you guys! I never had any trouble with finding caches in the past. Now all of a sudden we have come up empty (0 for 3). (the cliff idea has crossed my mind)

Now as outlandish as it sounds to some of you. I am suspecting that the recent earthquakes in the Indonesia area (that have already have been confirmed to have moved the earths axis some minor amount). And might contribute to a substantial difference in accuracy when it comes to finding coordinates here on earth. Remember, the satelites in space stayed in place, it was the earth that wobbled slightly. I never heard any reports whether or not this was a permanent situation or temporary. And if permanent, can this be compensated for? :rolleyes: email me if you have info..... greypaw62@netscape.net

The amount that the earth moves is very minimal. Also the GPS satellites can be and are adjusted for these differences usually within days.

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I think it's been said, but let me reiterate:

 

-price and accuracy...a falacy - unless you get a five pounder with a huge antenna. The etrex is a great little unit. At 7' ANY unit starts circling.

 

-I like the electronic compass because standing still doesn't mess you up, but at 7' it doesn't know what to do, either.

 

-I'll give you $20 and postage for your etrex right now, sight unseen....if you like being robbed.

 

-approach from 3 different directions, the last 40', if you're having trouble...but MOSTLY, shut the thing off and look around.

 

-and have fun out there.

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Dritzz, also get on a local forum/disscussion and ask if anyone else had any problems over the same time period. Back in January I had a really bad day of caching, where I couldn't find squat, got frustrated, cut myself badly on barbed wire, et al. I find out from a cache owner I shouldn't have been anywhere near a barbed wire. Hmmmm. That got me thinking.

 

Well, after talking with folks, EVERYONE in this area had problems that weekend, and everyone was batting around 50% finds. Weird sunspot activity or something was causing erratic GPSr behavior.

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