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Got the GPS, got the gist, don't got no patience :->

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Hello all!

I received a Magellan Meridian Platinum for Father's Day so my son's and I could participate in Geocaching. We found our first cache yesterday, the "Tierrasanta Arch" in San Diego. Lessons learned...look for the trail if you know there is one, and don't go bushwacking unless prepared (I was wearing shorts....no sunblock or bug repellant either). Oh well...lesson learned. Still, we had a great time, and can't wait to go out again. Anyhoot's, I am writing this email for any advice you can give a newbie about my model of GPS (the instructions are somewhat lacking), the website (must read posts and such), any other geocahing pages etc. (Un)fortunately, I am a quick learner, and tend to take things on with the hands on approach...that is why my legs are scratched up as heck, and we spent 2 hours finding a cache that probably shouldn't have taken that long. Any advice at all is appreciated, and I will continue reading posts and the like for info also. Thanks in advance!



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Welcome, Ashtro. Very glad to have you joining us. There is one thread in particular that I will give you a link to. It was quite helpful to us (we're newbies too!), and I think it will be to you as well. It is the "what's in your pack" thread, which gives people's ideas as to what to bring with you on geocaching excursions.






Good Stuff!


Matt & Julia

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In your Setup, make sure your North reference is set to True, and your Compass orientation is set to GPS. Most if not all of the cache hides are hidden this way. Not all GPS units will have that nice 3-axis floating compass that you have.


When you get near your target, allow the averaging to work for a couple of minutes while you look for the cache in the general area. You won't want to follow the target float (otherwise known as the bumblebee dance) as the unit averages the signals it is receiving from the satellite.




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#1 Don't trust your GPS all that much. Many newer geocachers want to get down to one or two feet and they expect to find the cache right there. In reality, it could be 50, or more feet from the spot that your GPS indicates.


#2 Once you get to within 40-50, put your GPS away, start looking for something that's either an obvious hiding place (hollow stump, crevice, etc...), or something that looks unnatura like a pile of sticks, or rocks.


You already found a cache, so I can't imagine much more I can tell you.


"Au pays des aveugles, les borgnes sont rois"

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There is a great yahoo group...Magellan or Meridian, the name escapes me but I have it on my Yahoo Groups page, which is helpful. Magellan also has a better manual on their web site.


When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.

Henny Youngman (1906 - 1998)icon_cool.gif

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I have a Magellan Sprottrac Pro. I bought a very handy instructional video specifically for my unit at Walmart, for about $10.00 or so. I would assume that the meridian has a similar video. It goes into great depth on just about everything you may ever or never want to know about your GPS.

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Brian is right.

Originally posted by BrianSnat:

#1 Don't trust your GPS all that much. Many newer geocachers want to get down to one or two feet and they expect to find the cache right there. In reality, it could be 50, or more feet from the spot that your GPS indicates.

Don't force the coordinates. There are many things that will make your GPSr very from the cache coodinates.


#2 Once you get to within 40-50, put your GPS away, start looking for something that's either an obvious hiding place (hollow stump, crevice, etc...), or something that looks unnatura like a pile of sticks, or rocks.

We call these Geo obvious hiding spots. Places that catch your attention. I also look for evidance of others searching.



Pepper playing nice!


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Read the manual. Unfortunately the MeriPlat comes with only a quick user guide as a printed manual. It shows you everything that you will likely discover anyway without the manual. It should also, however, have come with a CDROM which contains a more in depth manual.


I haven't been doing this long, but I use the nifty 3-axis compass, don't see a compelling reason not to use it ... works when not moving, under cover, etc. But I'm still learning and this may be a lesson I have yet to learn. If you do continue using the electronic compass go through the manual instructions for calibrating for the first use.


Definately follow the advice to let the unit settle in on the coordinates. I have been using a technique I saw in another forum where it was suggested to put down the GPSr when you arrive at the coordinates, start scouting the area in the immediate vicinity, and then come back to the GPSr (if you haven't already found the cache) ... it will likely have adjusted it's sense of whereabouts ... recenter yourself according to the new coordinates and start scouting again. This has helped me on the last two caches.


Have fun!



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Aha, a new San Diego cacher icon_smile.gif. There's a San Diego thread in the West/Southwest forums, come on by and say hello! There's probably going to be some sort of local cacher picnic/event this summer, too. There are tons of great caches in the San Diego area, so if you're a hands-on person, I say go for them and learn by experience. Our first ten caches taught us more than any amount of yakking on the forums icon_smile.gif. You obviously have your datum set correctly and know how to set a waypoint (er, you did input the coordinates in the GPS and have it lead you to the cache, rather than walking around watching your current coordinates and trying to get them to match those on the cache page, right?), so you've got the basics. You'll grow more familiar with your GPS as you use it. Input a waypoint, have the GPS lead you to a waypoint. Those are the biggies. No doubt there's also a function where you can save your trail and backtrack along it, which is useful for getting yourself OUT of the woods again when all the trails start to look alike. I don't know if your unit has a built-in compass; if not, bring a separate compass, and once you're within forty feet or so of the cache, take a bearing. GPS is less useful on direction the slower you're going, and the closer you are to ground zero.


As you've figured, if the terrain on a cache is 1 or 2, there's going to be a trail, and it's probably going to take you very close to the cache. If the cache is more than 50-60 feet away, see if the trail winds around closer to the cache rathe than bushwhacking toward it. Learn what poison oak looks like, if you don't already know. Don't be ashamed to read the hints on a cache, and the comments of those who have recently logged it. Often they give good information about the approach to take. Once you've done a handful of caches, you will begin to be able to use the Force and cache hiding spots will leap out at you.


I know I *should* wear long pants, but I get too hot. I've been thorn-scratched, brambled and poison oaked more than I care to recount. Luckily I don't appear to be allergic! We carry handi-wipes in our bag, which may be useful for getting some of the oak oil off, as well as cleaning the inevitable scrapes.


I'd also recommend getting a decent hiking staff -- lots of canyon caches around here and some fairly steep terrain, the odd stream crossing, etc. You'd be surprised how useful a stick will be. Plus, you can use it to poke underneath logs, in hollows, etc -- places you won't want to stick your hands. There *are* rattlesnakes in SD -- we've only met one, but better the stick than your hand.


I don't mean to be all negative, though -- this is a fantastic city in which to be a geocacher, with endless opportunities for caches both easy and difficult, and plenty of nice locals. Have fun! i

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Definitely mark you car (or bike, or entry into the woods, or whatever) as a waypoint. There is no feeling worse than not quite remembering how to get back.


Definitely carry more water than you think you are going to need.


Definitely let someone know where you are going.


Do not print the coords too far in advance. I always make sure the day before that the cache is still there.

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Waypointing the car is a good idea, but the neat thing about the MeriPlat as well as other Meridian series is he doesn't have to choose to mark where the car is at. There are two other options. Assuming you turned on your unit when you got out of the car and got satellite lock before you started your hike, merely allow backtrack to create a route, or what I do, follow the track back.




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Yea that book you get with the MeriPlat is not very handy. Gotta love that compass, but i was finding a cache last weekend, GCB0C4 the compass was showing a new direction every minute, set it down and watched the river for awhile and it finally zeroed in.


"We never seek things for themselves - what we seek is the very seeking of things."

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)



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Did you buy the Mapsend Software ? You will need that for detailed mapping info and you will need a memory card. And don't think your limited to 64mb of memory. I use a 128mb Sandisk in my MP. Its a matter of renaming file names to get the additional memory usage.

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Wow! Thanks for the all the great info thus far icon_cool.gif! I have posted subjects in other forums and have never seen one replied to so quickly. It seems like most hobby forums have thier cliques, and won't reply to a newbie until you've been there awhile....what's up with that icon_confused.gif? Anyhoots, to answer geosync's question, with the MerPlat came the Mapsend Topographic disc for the U.S. (still trying to figure it out icon_confused.gif, unfortunatly I have had a rather busy week). My wife brought me the 64 MB card because of price mainly and the guy at the store thought that was the only one that would work. Man this is a great hobby...I plan on taking my son's soon-to-be Venture Scout troop (of which I will be an Advisor icon_biggrin.gif) out a lot!


hmmm.....I think I am getting a bit to heavy on the emoticon usage.... icon_rolleyes.gif....lol...


Ashtro1969 (someone who is in the know icon_wink.gif...)

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Well Ashtro1969, you will love the Meridian P. I love mine and I have the entire east coast on the 128mb card. The software saves data to one file name and saves it in 4 chunks, each 16mb in size. (thus the 64mb size) However, you can simply change the name of the file and reload another 64 mb.


Anyway, you probably won't need more than the 64mb unless you plan to travel.


Have fun......


[This message was edited by geosync on June 19, 2003 at 01:03 PM.]

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I wouldn't be to concerned about bushwacking instead of following the obvious trail. Many of your fellow geocachers including myself seem to have a blind spot when it comes to following trails. Just yesterday I bushwacked to a cache that had a very nice trail. I also spent another half hour picking the weeds out of my socks afterwards. I guess I will never learn. icon_wink.gif

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