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Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS 
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Post Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Hi all, i am very new to Geocaching (first started on boxing day last year)
In this time i have been using the paid for iphone app for my geocaching. My problem with this is that when using the iphone to locate gz, i seem to be walking back and forth with in a 10 meter radius.

the compass will tell me to walk 5 meters in this direction, all to change and tell me 9 meters in a different direction!

I was wondering if it is worth buying a GPS (looking at the Garmin Etrex 30)? I understand the varying factors with accurate coordinates in correspondence to a cache. But for just finding the exact coordinates laid, is a gps more accurate than the apparent "5 m accuracy" the iphone GPS claims on the app? And do the GPS's bounce about making you walk in circles for GZ?


Sorry if this sounds a bit like word vomit, i just woke up!!

Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.


10 January 12 12:00 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
There isn't much advantage in terms of accuracy if you look at a "real" unit in comparison to an iPhone 4. If you put down the phone/GPS close to GZ it will eventually settle and give you a better idea. But don't expect anything better than 5m - that's just how good GPS is.

If your happy with the functionality and battery life so far, then my advise would be to stick to your phone. Eventually when you go on longer trips and you need a more rugged device you can revisit the whole topic.


10 January 12 12:31 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
I can't comment on the iPhone, but my Android HTC is very slow to react in comparison to a "real" GPS, so I can certainly understand your frustration.


10 January 12 12:41 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
It's also a good thing when you get to 5/10m to stop looking at the device and start looking around you, asking yourself 'where would I hide something if I was here'

Your GPS will never be meter perfect with the current technology, 5m is about as close you'll realistically get.

Your eyes are the best technology you have at that point!


10 January 12 1:18 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
CraigRat wrote:
It's also a good thing when you get to 5/10m to stop looking at the device and start looking around you, asking yourself 'where would I hide something if I was here'

Your GPS will never be meter perfect with the current technology, 5m is about as close you'll realistically get.

Your eyes are the best technology you have at that point!


Yes, this was the best lesson I learnt. Get as close to GZ as the gps seems to want to take you before sending you in circles and then stop looking at the gps and look for good hiding spots that match the clue.

Another of my good strategies is to look at the gps as I approach and try to walk in the same direction and at the same speed for the last bit. At this point, the gps is often quite accurate as to the direction and distance to GZ so look ahead that distance and spot the likely GZ. This works especially well in an area that is open but then you need to head into trees for the last bit. When you're in the open, the gps is generally more accurate and is pointing at the right spot so look ahead then


10 January 12 1:53 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
CraigRat wrote:
Your GPS will never be meter perfect with the current technology, 5m is about as close you'll realistically get.

A lot of cachers forget that the coords are just as good as the cache owner measures GZ. If he is off by 5m and you are off by 5m you could look 10m away from the cache and nobody did something wrong.


10 January 12 2:37 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Philipp wrote:
CraigRat wrote:
Your GPS will never be meter perfect with the current technology, 5m is about as close you'll realistically get.

A lot of cachers forget that the coords are just as good as the cache owner measures GZ. If he is off by 5m and you are off by 5m you could look 10m away from the cache and nobody did something wrong.


I agree, this is true and I always keep it in mind. But I generally find my gps is not much more than 4m away for many, many of the caches I find. It's uncommon for me to find something as far as 7m away using my garmin oregon 300 - to the extent that I do take note that it's a bit out if it's that far or more


10 January 12 2:46 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
I've made lots of finds using the iPhone, though I do also have 2 dedicated handheld units. I often find that when I first turn on the Geosphere app it can take a while (30 seconds or so) to lock properly even if it was on a few minutes before, and has an accuracy of 1431 metres. I also find it doesn't update the remaining distance as often as a real GPS as you approach GZ.

The advantage of the phone is that a work service call might easily take me outside the 500 closest to home unfound radius I can fit in the Garmin. I can have every cache in NSW/ACT already downloaded at my fingertips.


10 January 12 7:30 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Maybe give one a test drive and compare it side by side with your phone, if possible.

Dedicated GPS units like the Etrex are better at doing GPS stuff IMO (including geocaching), however they don't have the finery of a smart phone.


10 January 12 7:53 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Philipp wrote:
There isn't much advantage in terms of accuracy if you look at a "real" unit in comparison to an iPhone 4. If you put down the phone/GPS close to GZ it will eventually settle and give you a better idea. But don't expect anything better than 5m - that's just how good GPS is.

If your happy with the functionality and battery life so far, then my advise would be to stick to your phone. Eventually when you go on longer trips and you need a more rugged device you can revisit the whole topic.


Exactly right, my first 500 or so finds we're on an iPhone, but now I have an Oregon 550. The main advantages of the gps unit is batteries - you can swap in a new set - not an option on the iPhone, and rugged / water proof design.


10 January 12 10:21 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
For most of the time that I have been caching I have used a combination of an iPhone and a basic eTrex H. Generally I see how I go with the iPhone and only resort to the eTrex if I am having trouble getting the iPhone to give me good accuracy. I would estimate that I only turn the eTrex on for about 1 cache in 10. For the rest I use all of the strategies mentioned above. Sometimes the gps in the iPhone seems to "stick" for short periods and not change your location as you move. I find that being able to go to the eTrex avoids a lot of frustration in those cases. If I was starting again, I would still go with the iPhone plus a basic GPS unit.


11 January 12 5:01 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Out in the open the iphone is ok but next to tall buildings it is hopeless.
I only use my iphone as a backup or if I don't have my real GPSr with me


11 January 12 8:45 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Hi Pvt.Cache

Can't help with info on the phone. I started geocaching a few months back using a ETrex20. Most of the caches I have found with this unit has put me really close to GZ. Still developing my cacher eyes through. Heaps I don't find first up.
If you would like a closer look at the unit to make a comparison send me a pm.


12 January 12 12:02 am
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Caching on northern rivers NSW with an iphone is almost useless. I have one and love the fact that WHEN THERE IS SERVICE I have quick access to nearby caches. BUT more often than not when I get near a cache here I have no phone reception and limited wifi as well. SO the trusty GPSr comes into play 9/10 caches... I just need to remember to download possible caches in locations when I am travelling.


15 January 12 1:05 pm
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Post Re: Iphone Geocaching vs Hand Held GPS
Skippy wrote:
Out in the open the iphone is ok but next to tall buildings it is hopeless.
I only use my iphone as a backup or if I don't have my real GPSr with me


One time I found the iPhone to be really really useful and better than the Garmin was caching in inner-city Melbourne. You are lucky to be able to get a lock at all in half those alleyways, it was much more sensible to use Google maps/satellite to look at the location. Then start looking 1/3 of the way down the right hand side of the alley.


15 January 12 8:59 pm
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