GPS basics

Discussion about software such as GSAK, OziExplorer etc, as well as all things hardware, GPSrs, laptops, PDAs, paperless caching, cables etc
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Teirae
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GPS basics

Post by Teirae » 18 August 10 11:04 am

Hi all!
I'm really really really new to this. But have been so excited about it for so long, I've only now had a chance to sign up and actually start.

I just have one minor snag. I don't own a GPS (yet), that is not counting the one on my husbands phone. Which brings me to my real question.

What do I need to look out for when buying my first GPS. What are the BASIC features that are a must to do geocache, and then what are the EXTRAS that people have found handy (and why) but not essential.

is a gps on a phone good enough? ideally i would like to get an actual one, but if using the phone one means i can get my 'hands dirty' so to speak sooner then that would work. another stupid newbie question - are car gps the simular thing?

(in asking this too, if there is already a thread or something on this please just let me know and i will read what people have already said)

*excited*

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Papa Bear_Left
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Re: GPS basics

Post by Papa Bear_Left » 18 August 10 11:25 am

As to the phone GPS: it depends. (You'll hear that phrase a lot!)
The iPhone 3 doesn't have a good reputation for accuracy, although the new iPhone 4 seems to be much better. I've seen a few Blackberry cachers who seem to find caches OK, so I assume their GPS is adequate. The accuracy of my Nexus One (Android) is OK, and I gather most other Android phones are also fine.

The trouble with phones as GPS is that they're comparatively fragile and generally not able to be left with the screen and GPS on for long periods without using up the battery charge.

However, there's geocaching apps for the major smartphone platforms, so you can certainly give it a go! Stick to relatively low difficulty caches and you should be able to get close enough for a search of the likely spots to have a good chance of success.

So, the bare minimum you need in a dedicated GPS is the ability to add waypoints and the ability to get a "magic arrow" that points to those waypoints.
The entry-level unit is still the trusty yellow eTrex, generally available for under $150 around the place, often less than $100 on special and for much less on eBay, etc.
Newer models add maps (nice, but possibly not essential if you have the smartphone), better satellite reception (also nice, especially in heavy forest or deep gullies), more and better waypoint storage (again, possibly stuff that the phone can handle for you), and better interfaces (touchscreens instead of the eTrex's fiddly buttons)

Almost any outdoor GPS (as opposed to a car satnav) will be perfectly adequate for geocaching, so you can't go far wrong!

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Teirae
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Re: GPS basics

Post by Teirae » 18 August 10 11:34 am

Thankyou Papa Bear_Left =)

I've just conned my husband into letting me get one (spend a few hundred really) and even got him interested too =)

I have so many questions already...i might make a seperate post =P

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shrek4
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Re: GPS basics

Post by shrek4 » 18 August 10 11:06 pm

Were quite new ourselves.

We started with an iPhone 3G and quickly found it wasn't very accurate.
We upgraded to a Garmin Oregon 200. This is a great unit. We did find it annoying that it didn't have magnetic compas though. Experimented with shonkymaps and open street maps but eventually bought garmin street maps for turn by turn instructions while in the car then kick her into geocaching mode to get to the cache.

Next we got the iPhone 3GS. Accuracy was better and now with the updated geocaching app runs very well. As mentioned though not a 'long term' solution as quickly depletes the battery.

Next we got the Garmin Oregon 400C off of eBay second hand. Put street maps on it and it is great. ESpecially liking the magnetic compass and map combination makes this the ideal show stopper. If looking new I'd go the Garmin Oregon 300 as the minimum. We just bought my father in-law one off of ebay.

I've now got the iPhone 4 and the speed and accuracy of this rocks. Again, battery is the issue and I worry about the all glass body in terms of ruggedness. I really only use the iPhone if I haven't got the garmin with me.

While these are more expensive options I know I'd have quickly out grown the basic etrex.

Good luck!

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Yurt
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Re: GPS basics

Post by Yurt » 19 August 10 9:42 am

I'd still bet on the Etrex for accuracy against any of your fancy expensive models though! It might not be better but it can equal them. And it kills a phone GPS, I found that out yesterday.

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Re: GPS basics

Post by caughtatwork » 19 August 10 10:02 am

Yurt wrote:I'd still bet on the Etrex for accuracy against any of your fancy expensive models though! It might not be better but it can equal them. And it kills a phone GPS, I found that out yesterday.
I wouldn't.
As an etrex (yellow) owner for a number of years and nearly 1,500 finds with it, I upgraded to an Oregon 450. The difference in accuracy is notable and the ability to gain accurate reception under trees is substantially better on the Oregon 450 than the etrex.
Sure, I found 1,500 caches with the etrex which does certainly say it is more than adequate in terms of capability, but to say it is equal to the new models I think is a long bow to draw.

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Yurt
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Re: GPS basics

Post by Yurt » 19 August 10 11:56 am

caughtatwork wrote:
Yurt wrote:I'd still bet on the Etrex for accuracy against any of your fancy expensive models though! It might not be better but it can equal them. And it kills a phone GPS, I found that out yesterday.
I wouldn't.
As an etrex (yellow) owner for a number of years and nearly 1,500 finds with it, I upgraded to an Oregon 450. The difference in accuracy is notable and the ability to gain accurate reception under trees is substantially better on the Oregon 450 than the etrex.
Sure, I found 1,500 caches with the etrex which does certainly say it is more than adequate in terms of capability, but to say it is equal to the new models I think is a long bow to draw.
Well I'll know after a few weeks as I'm getting the Garmin 60 CSX - although that may still be short of the mighty Colorado or Oregon, who knows? If the difference is better reception under cover of trees, between buildings and in valleys then yes they would be better.

All I can say that the Etrex is much, much better than a phone! (don't know about new iPhones but would you want to take something that expensive into the bush and drop it in a creek?)

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nibbler
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Re: GPS basics

Post by nibbler » 19 August 10 2:42 pm

It really depends on budget IMHO. I used an Etrex for years as I was a holiday time only cacher.
When I had a few extra $$ upgraded to Garmin 300 which is great because
: it has additional capacity for the number of caches to be loaded
: abilty to down load logs
:additional micro SDS card
:easy to use
and finally the best function creates a .TXT file for all the caches that you have maked as found during a days caching.
This saves a huge amount of time :D :D

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Re: GPS basics

Post by Bewilderbeest » 20 August 10 4:13 pm

caughtatwork wrote:
Yurt wrote:I'd still bet on the Etrex for accuracy against any of your fancy expensive models though! It might not be better but it can equal them. And it kills a phone GPS, I found that out yesterday.
I wouldn't.
As an etrex (yellow) owner for a number of years and nearly 1,500 finds with it, I upgraded to an Oregon 450. The difference in accuracy is notable and the ability to gain accurate reception under trees is substantially better on the Oregon 450 than the etrex.
Sure, I found 1,500 caches with the etrex which does certainly say it is more than adequate in terms of capability, but to say it is equal to the new models I think is a long bow to draw.
What he said. Actually not quite. I used an etrex for about 500, it was perfectly adequate, and I still have it as a backup. I'd recommend it as a good starting out unit, or low cost unit for someone on a budget.

I upgraded to a Garmin 60csx for the next 500 which had notably better reception than the etrex.

That got lost in the US in Feb, I'm now on an Oregon450, the reception in particular but also the accuracy are noticably better than the 60csx, but even better is the on-board cache details...now more juggling GPS & PDA for the description, past logs etc! \:D/

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nibbler
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Re: GPS basics

Post by nibbler » 20 August 10 5:25 pm

Hey i am a she ...The lizard queen !!! dont know how that got there :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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roundcircle
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Re: GPS basics

Post by roundcircle » 20 August 10 10:29 pm

Why do you need a GPS? One of the folk here recently found their 1000th cache with out one. =D> (Not me of course. I can't find them with one! :shock: )

Spend as much as you can afford. Most of us started with something really cheap. Once we knew were here to stay, we spent more on a better one.

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Teirae
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Re: GPS basics

Post by Teirae » 22 August 10 12:23 pm

Thankyou everyone!!

roundcircle ~ hehe you know I actually did think that, cause there are a few I know where GZ is already, but truth is if I do something I want to do it properly...and it doesn't feel the same without a GPS =P so even though I know where GZ on a few, I still use my GPS to get there =P I'm a dag I know.

I ended up getting a Garmin GPS 72. So far I'm really happy with it. I'm only problem is it said i can put 500 waypoints in.. but Ive only worked out how to put in 12..after that it wants me to write over the other ones...I'll work it out though.

...I forgot what i was going to say next...nope..its gone...

Thanks for all your advice


ADDIT: Ha! I remembered!! The only thing Ive really noticed that I could want later is a cable to connect it to the computer. But obviously that isn't an essential, just would save me transcribing etc.. maybe in a bit, does anyone know how much they go for and if they are easy to get?

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roundcircle
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Re: GPS basics

Post by roundcircle » 22 August 10 1:43 pm

Teirae wrote: The only thing Ive really noticed that I could want later is a cable to connect it to the computer. But obviously that isn't an essential, just would save me transcribing etc..
I disagree. A cable is essential. I personally realized this after spending an hour looking for a cache that had one co-ordinate digit typed into the GPS incorrectly.

I also strongly recommend GSAK. Again, I realized this when I went out and found the few caches I had typed in and had time to spare. I knew there were caches nearby, but didn't have the details. GSAK allows me to easily load in heaps of caches.

To get the most out of GSAK you should get a GC.com membership to enable you to use pocket queries. This will allow you to download whole batches of caches, rather than one at a time.

You can use GSAK for free for a reasonable period. I think premium membership is worth it, but probably the lowest priority if you have to manage the budget, and who doesn't.

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Teirae
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Re: GPS basics

Post by Teirae » 22 August 10 8:22 pm

Thanks Roundcircle! another stupid n00b question - what is GSAK? =P

I'll probably go google/search site for it now anyway...hehe
I know being able to d/l a whole heap of them rather than one at a time!


ADDIT ~ ;) looked it up

thanks Roundcircle!!

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Re: GPS basics

Post by Dooghan » 22 August 10 9:05 pm

caughtatwork wrote:
Yurt wrote:I'd still bet on the Etrex for accuracy against any of your fancy expensive models though! It might not be better but it can equal them. And it kills a phone GPS, I found that out yesterday.
I wouldn't.
As an etrex (yellow) owner for a number of years and nearly 1,500 finds with it, I upgraded to an Oregon 450. The difference in accuracy is notable and the ability to gain accurate reception under trees is substantially better on the Oregon 450 than the etrex.
Sure, I found 1,500 caches with the etrex which does certainly say it is more than adequate in terms of capability, but to say it is equal to the new models I think is a long bow to draw.
That's going to depend on what version of the Etrex yellow you had. These been about 3 different version of the yellow now using about 4 different chipsets. At one stage the yellow had a better chipset then the 60C(S)x series. Now days they both use the same chipset the MTK v2 - MTK3329. The Oregon series uses the newer ST Micro Cartesio chipset. I still think the Etrex yellow would give the Oregon a run for it's money.

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