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Helpful Hints for Newcomers 
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It's all in how you get there....
It's all in how you get there....

Joined: 28 March 03 6:00 pm
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Post Helpful Hints for Newcomers
Ok it was suggested to me that we should have a helpful hints guide here somewhere for the newbies of geocaching.

So lets get the ball rolling.

First helpful hint, Approvers/reviewers are here to help you. Embi and I are open to discussion about possible caches and any ideas you have for a cache. If you are unsure just email us the idea and we will see if we can get it through the guidelines. Or tell you why the cache won't be accepted, and maybe try to work out a way to get it on the site.


07 January 04 11:48 pm
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Second Helpful hint:

The geocaching community are a wonderful group of likeminded people sharing the same interest many for different reasons. Some like myself like find new places and meeting new people. Some like purely the challenge or simply the find. Others hate to fish and just like to get away from it all.

The easiest way to learn more about cahing is to get out and do it. I attempted three different caches before I found out you needed to use Degree minutes decimals instead of degrees minutes seconds. It wan't until a year later I found other cachers who had also make the same initiation mistake. Made my first find and that year later my first caching friendship very rewarding.

This forum will answer all your questions. Event caches are a bonus to the sport / game. They are a great way to see how others work and the tips and tricks that make a pastime of caching just that little bit easier. Also a great way to put a face to a name. Hey pesky!


The Bronze. Red Ochre Geocaching - Cachers do it by numbers!


08 January 04 12:31 am
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Post Newcomer
Hello,

My name is Peter and I have just recently started to get into this great game/hobby/sport. (what would you call it?) I have also got my wife interested in it and she has actually found more caches (do you pronounce it "cash" or "caysh" - I have seen it both ways) than me so far.

There are a couple of questions that I have which I would appreciate some guidance on:

1. Locating the waypoint.
I have a Magellan Platinum GPS which is quite a fantastic little toy. I have also loaded the whole of Australia on it from the DiscoverAus Streets and Tracks disk. I enter the waypoint from post and it immediately tells me where it is and basically how to get there, so I am reasonably good at getting to the area that the cache is located in. However in the 6 or 7 caches so far, not one has been exactly at the co-ords posted. The GPS has indicated upto 20 metres away from the actual spot of the cache. Is this normal as I have seen logs where people have said that the co-ords were "spot-on". I know that there is an EPE error that I should be compensating for, but it becomes difficult to know which direction to compensate. How do you handle this error?

2. I want to utilise my PALM PDA to download the log sheets and also I want to download the waypoints directly into my PC and view them on DiscoverAus S&T. I have started to read about this function, but have found it a bit confusing. Is there someone that I can see that could guide me throught this area?

What would also be usefull to my wife and I is to have a field trip for new starters guided by some experienced geocashers. This would be of tremendous help to learn how it is done properly and get some confidence. As I say I think I am doing ok in getting there, but the last few metres is where it becomes tricky.

THanks for any help

Peter


08 January 04 11:15 am
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Post oink.
Piggy Helpful Hint 1: Turn GPS "ON".

Piggy Helpful Hint 2: Have batteries in it...

Piggy Helpful hint 3: Beer is your friend. So is Mud & truffles.


08 January 04 9:23 pm
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Post Re: Newcomer
pprass wrote:
Hello,

My name is Peter and I have just recently started to get into this great game/hobby/sport. (what would you call it?) I have also got my wife interested in it and she has actually found more caches (do you pronounce it "cash" or "caysh" - I have seen it both ways) than me so far.

There are a couple of questions that I have which I would appreciate some guidance on:

1. Locating the waypoint.
I have a Magellan Platinum GPS which is quite a fantastic little toy. I have also loaded the whole of Australia on it from the DiscoverAus Streets and Tracks disk. I enter the waypoint from post and it immediately tells me where it is and basically how to get there, so I am reasonably good at getting to the area that the cache is located in. However in the 6 or 7 caches so far, not one has been exactly at the co-ords posted. The GPS has indicated upto 20 metres away from the actual spot of the cache. Is this normal as I have seen logs where people have said that the co-ords were "spot-on". I know that there is an EPE error that I should be compensating for, but it becomes difficult to know which direction to compensate. How do you handle this error?

2. I want to utilise my PALM PDA to download the log sheets and also I want to download the waypoints directly into my PC and view them on DiscoverAus S&T. I have started to read about this function, but have found it a bit confusing. Is there someone that I can see that could guide me throught this area?

What would also be usefull to my wife and I is to have a field trip for new starters guided by some experienced geocashers. This would be of tremendous help to learn how it is done properly and get some confidence. As I say I think I am doing ok in getting there, but the last few metres is where it becomes tricky.
THanks for any help
Peter


Hi Peter
1) You need to let your GPS "average", by standing in the one spot for a short while with the best coverage you can get. Some GPSr even have a special average function. A minute or two is usually the norm, although many cachers put it down and wait 5 or more minutes while they go off and search likely places first. There is an art getting a good average, it takes time and expeirience. GPSr very often "overshoot" when you walk up to Ground Zero (GZ), and beginners often get excited that the GPSr says they are 1m away when in fact the real poisiton could be 10m, 20m or more off. If you have marginal satellite coverage then it gets worse.

2) You will need:
a) A GPX file with all the caches, available with Premium membership.
b) The GSAK program available gsak.geocaching.com.au This generates HTML files for all the caches
c) iSilo which allows you to view HTML files on the PDA

More info in the Software part of this forum.

Regards
EcoDave :)


08 January 04 9:43 pm
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Post 
Thanks Dave,

I always get this urge that it is a time trial and I need to find the cache quickly. But from what you are saying you should take your time and allow the GPS to settle to get a proper reading. What I might do is practice in my backyard by placing an item and noting it with a waypoint and then try and relocate it. This should prove the averaging function.

Thanks

Peter


08 January 04 10:31 pm
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prass asked about knowing in which direction to compensate for EPE.

EPE is a measure of the confidence circle so moving in any direction is valid.
http://www.nps.gov/gis/gps/WhatisEPE.html has some formulae and
http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/rsl/projects/gp ... 2003.shtml has some more info.

The best direction is the one that leads you to the cache :lol:

You will eventually find caches placed in areas your Magellan Platinum shows as without detail. You could consider adding Oziexplorer ( www.oziexplorer.com )and some topo maps to your collection of tools.


08 January 04 10:42 pm
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Post Leek's caching tips for newbies...
<p>Here are my tips so far... but i"m still learning...</p>
<br>
<u><b><font face="Arial" size="2">Planning</font></b></u>
<ul>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">Some brief planning before your attempt on a
cache can make the whole experience vastly more enjoyable. Especially if your
target cache is in a bush area, plot it on a map and find its general
location... Find the most appropriate entry point and route to the general
location of the cache... Look at different maps to make sure you pick up on
those obscure tracks that may lead you to your eventual goal. 10 minutes of
planning can save you hours of walking coz you didn't notice that river,
ravine or freeway between you and the cache...</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">Use a tool like GSAK (http://gsak.geocaching.com.au) to categorise, classify and research the caches in your chosen area. Use this and mapping software to identify clusters of caches which can form the basis of a good caching trip.</font></li></ul>
<u><b><font face="Arial" size="2">Finding</font></b></u>
<ul><li>Make sure that your GPS is set up the same way as everyone elses. Choose the coordinate style of DD.MM.mmm and choose the datum of WGS84. If you don't do this, then you are unlikely to find anything and anything you hide will be difficult for others to find.</li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">Don't assume that your GPS will always lead
you straight to the cache... This will be affected by the satellite signals
at the time the cacher placed the cache and the quality of the signals at
the time you are hunting. Occasionally, the coordinates will be completely
off, so feel free to share this in a log in a suitable manner (see logging).</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">Be aware of the number of satellites that your
GPS is tracking... this can be as few as 3 and as many as 12... The more the
merrier, but sometimes you just have a crappy day. Also be aware of the
geometric spread of satellites your unit can see... 4 satellites in a straight
line in the sky won't give you very good accuracy!</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">If you're having trouble getting good reception,
try moving around a bit... cliff faces, buildings and even yourself can block
out that vital bird required to get a good fix. Hold your GPS as high as you
can to give it a reasonably unrestricted view of the horizon. Climb a tree,
scale a cliff, jump out to that rock in the middle of crashing waves - just to
get a good signal...</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">When your GPS tells you that you're within a few
metres, that's <u>usually</u> good enough. Put your backpack and GPS down and
have a good look around the place. Look for semi-obvious hidey holes in the
vicinity and check them thoroughly... If you don't find the cache/waypoint
during this process, have another look at your GPS now that it's had a chance
to settle / average. You might find that it indicates that the cache is
closer, or on the other hand it might have decided that the cache is 15m
away... repeat this process and do the geocachers' spiral dance until you
narrow down the search area and eventually find the cache...</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">If you're in a public area, try very hard not to
give the game away... People are very suspicious these days, so it is wise to
disguise your activities... Look at your GPS subtly and maybe pretend it is a
phone or stick it in your pocket and bring out your camera if you are
attracting too much attention... <br>
Whatever happens don't give any of the non-geocachers (muggles) reason to
believe that there may be something of interest near where you are standing...
If it is too busy, abandon the search and come back another time... <br>
<b>You may get to log a find by being careless, but the cache placer could
lose a cache... <u>And they will know who caused it...</u></b></font></li><ul>
</ul>
</ul>
<b><u><font face="Arial" size="2">Replacing</font></u>
</b>
<ul><li><font face="Arial" size="2">Make sure that you close the container
properly and then replace in <b><u>exactly</u></b> the same position / way
as you found the cache. Be <b><u>even more</u> </b>careful not to be seen
doing this... If you think you may have been spotted, retreat to a safe
distance and keep an eye on the cache location for a reasonable time</font></li></ul>
<b><u><font face="Arial" size="2">Logging</font></u>
</b>
<ul><li><font face="Arial" size="2">Write what you want in the cache logbook,
but when logging your find on the website, be careful not to give too much
away... Don't provide detailed descriptions of the route you took,
descriptions/photos of the type of cache container or the manner in which it
was hidden. Feel free to mislead people, or to provide clever comments that
will only make sense once someone has finally found the cache.</font></li></ul>
<p><b><u><font face="Arial" size="2">Hiding</font></u></b></p>
<ul>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">When hiding a cache, try to think of the
following:</font>
<ul>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">Why am I bringing fellow geocachers here?
Is the location of interest, or is my cache construction / hiding method
interesting enough to make the location worthwhile? Beware of placing
cache-litter just for the sake of it...</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">Is the way in which I have hidden my
waypoints / cache socially acceptable?</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">Will the environment of the cache location
suffer if 10s of geocachers visit it in the coming months... If you can
avoid environmental damage, then do so, either by hiding your cache
sensitively, or providing sufficient clues to ensure that people do not
flatten a 10m radius of vegetation around the cache...</font></li>
</ul>
</li>
</ul>
<p><b><u><font face="Arial" size="2">Cache & Cache Contents</font></u></b></p><ul>
<li> <font face="Arial" size="2">Try to pick a cache container that fits with
the environment / location in which you hide it... Think about the effects of
moisture, sun, sea and sand on your container... Will it last the distance?</font> </li>

<li> <font face="Arial" size="2">Apply common sense to cache contents... Are all
contents kid/animal/muggle friendly (e.g. sharp objects)? Will the contents
decay with age (12 months in a hot location can have funny effects on Chuba
Chups). Could the contents contribute to a bushfire (e.g. matches,
party-poppers, glass)?</font> </li>

<li> <font face="Arial" size="2">Adequately protect your cache contents... place
the log-book (the most important cache item) and writing implements in a
sealed plastic bag.</font> </li>

<li> <font face="Arial" size="2">If your cache is not transparent, mark your
cache externally to ensure that it is not regarded as a suspicious object
(e.g. Geocache - Contents Harmless)</font> </li>

</ul>
<p><u><b><font size="2" face="Arial">What to take with you...</font></b></u></p>
<ul>
<li><font size="2" face="Arial">To earn extra brownie points within the
geocaching community, take a cache repair/replacement kit with you: </font>
<ul>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">duct tape</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">spare geocaching.com cache sheets</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">zip-loc bags</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">spare pens/pencils</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">spare log-books</font></li>
</ul>
</li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">A first aid kit for that one time that you
have a nasty fall...</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">A mirror - for searching for those craftily
hidden waypoints</font></li>
<li><font face="Arial" size="2">A camera for recording those unforgettable
moments</font></li>
</ul>

I'll edit this message if I think of any other vital caching secrets...


Last edited by leek on 16 January 04 10:07 am, edited 2 times in total.



09 January 04 12:22 am
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Post 
A strategy that nearly always seems to help me when searching for a cache (once I get to GZ) is:

If I were hiding a cache here, where would I hide it? (OK, so I never found Back To Basics...)


09 January 04 11:42 am
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A strategy that seems to help me a lot is to restart your gps once you get to gz and then let it average out for a few minutes.


09 January 04 12:15 pm
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Take your wife/girlfriend and /or kids.
They are very useful for finding things that are low down and they also have a little more patience. :lol:


09 January 04 2:08 pm
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Post 
Hounddog wrote:
Take your wife/girlfriend and /or kids.
They are very useful for finding things that are low down and they also have a little more patience. :lol:

you obviously have never cached with my wife ;)
After 10 minutes searching she gets frustrated and walks off...:D


09 January 04 4:38 pm
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Post 
Hounddog wrote:
Take your wife/girlfriend and /or kids.
They are very useful for finding things that are low down and they also have a little more patience. :lol:


Oh, HD, you've just let the Secret Weapon become public knowledge!

Mama Bear finds a disproportionate number of our caches.

I say it's because she's shorter and more flexible than me, and so can look under more things. I also say that it's because she's always losing things herself and so has more experience at having to find things. (I always know where I put things, but you're not allowed to log your own caches...)

She says it's because she's smarter than me.

We stop the discussion at about this point.


09 January 04 5:26 pm
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Post Re: Leek's caching tips for newbies...
leek wrote:
Here are my tips so far... but i"m still learning...


All beginner cachers (and a few of us recently-newbies) should print this out and frame it.


09 January 04 5:28 pm
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Post 
Well done Leek on your well thought out pointers. Even if you have been into this "sport" for a while these are still worth reading and a good remindar.

As for hints to newbies, I always look on geocaching.com for the description and other finders logs on a cache. I do look at "spoiler" photos and sometimes these have been helpful in locating the general area, especially if the "birds" aren't flying that day. "Birds" are a term for satellites (in case you don't know).

Hint no 2 and this is only my opinion. Remember that someone has taken the time to find a place to put a cache for others to find and it there are problems with it eg co-ordinates off etc, send the owner a private message to express your concerns. They can then explain/rectify the problem. Again if you can't find a cache but have had a good look or if the cache needs maintenance or if you think it has disappeared, again send a private message to the owner.

Most of all have FUN. :D

Cheers, M


10 January 04 10:13 am
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