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Succumbing To The Temptation...


Team Panda

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I've been into Geocaching for about a year now. There aren't a great number of cachers in my area so after a very short time, I learned that if I was going to find a lot of caches, I was going to have to drive farther and farther to find them. Obviously, with today's soaring gas prices, that can be a daunting thought.

 

But then out of curiousity, I finally got around to looking at the Benchmark pages and this forum. I knew what a benchmark was from my backpacking days and my time in the military, but I'd never considered what it might be like to HUNT for them.

 

Honestly, the more I look at it, the idea of having only scaled coords and a description to work with and the detective work involved in tracking down a location from landmarks that may be gone, underwater (In my area) or just plain lost and forgotten is a challenge that really appeals to me.

 

I've gone out looking for one already, and every landmark mentioned in the description is long gone but I think I can talk to a few old-timers in the area and at least get a baseline to work from so I'm not giving up on it yet.

 

So anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for all the great info I've found in this forum so far and I'm loking forward to my first find!

 

And as always, all tips/hints/tricks/helpful links offered will be much appreciated and put to good use!

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Team Panda -

 

Welcome to our section of the geocaching hobby! Benchmark hunting has lots of aspects as you already know. Many benchmarks you'll search for are not there. However, just like gambling, the intermittent success is psychologically addicting! Be careful though, it can lead to driving. I drove 3 hours each way this last weekend to do some benchmark hunting.

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I'm hooked, this is very cool.

 

I just found my first one today and no, it wasn't a hard one. (EJ1040) I didn't even need to know what an ellipsoid was! (Good thing too!) I found that I really did need to pay careful attention to the description but once I read the WHOLE description, it was exactly where it was supposed to be.

 

The coords were only 47 yards off and that's pretty impressive considering it was done by a guy with a map, ruler and pencil!

 

Logged it with GC, logged it with NGS, and now all I need to do is go out and find a few hundred more!

 

:unsure:

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Panda,

 

A quick Pointer in terminology.

 

Basically there are 2 basic types of survey control lumped under the term Benchmark at geocaching.

 

First it is important to know that the word Benchmark in terms of the Geocaching understanding is actually a mongered word.

 

A Benchmark here is any survey marker in the database, but in terms of the actual survey terminology, benchmark is actually 2 words; Bench Mark, and the term is referred to as Vertical control, or in other words, a point of measured elevation.

 

With Vertical control it is important that you know that the horizontal location is scaled, and that location is usually not as accurate as your GPS. This is why with vertical control you will see this "coords off" thing a lot. It is acceptable. These stations were never surveyed in the manner that would make them horizontally accurate. It is ok. The Scaled coordinate is not technically considered wrong, just scaled, and we are allowed to offer an improvement to that if we like.

 

Horizontal Control is often called Triangulation, it could be either optically or GPS observed depending on when it was done. It's horizontal location is to be considered way more accurate than your GPSr will be able to resolve, However you may find that the datasheet will say the Vertical component of that location is scaled. We have no way of testing this to improve it so we don't.

 

On some station marks that were observed wit GPS you will find them to be highly accurate in both the Horizontal and the vertical. There will be no improvement needed for those stations either.

 

It looks like you may have been reading this forum for a while, But feel free to delve back into the many things we have discussed already, there are likely a lot of question that you may have that may already answered, also feel free to ask more any time. Also, feel free to look at the NGS website for their many goodies and most importantly the links that work with the datasheets. Learning to read the datasheet well, will unearth a wealth of knowledge that will be of more help that you might imagine. There is a page there which will define the datasheets many uses to you.

 

In addition, the Datasheet as downloaded from NGS will give fresher data. Data which is a fully 5 years more recent than what is in the Geocaching Database. The best way to think of it is to use the geocaching database to see what the geocachers have found or not found in the way of benchmark hunting, and use NGS for the most recently updated scientific Data, and actual station recoveries.

 

Good Luck!

 

Rob

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Thanks for the pointer, Rob. I'll admit the learning curve on this stuff seems pretty steep. Every answer I find leads me to four more questions but I'm sure I'll figure it out well enough eventually!

 

Thanks again and rest assured, I'll be back with questions as soon as I narrow the field down a bit.

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